Tag Archives: counselling

Safer Internet Day

The internet is a wonder – a tool which has been in our lives for such a brief period, by many measures, but which has so quickly become absolutely vital to so many areas of our lives.

It connects people globally, meaning that we can build relationships and friendships, that we can explore other cultures, experience events on other continents, share news and current events. The internet has allowed isolated people to reach out, has made it easy for us to shop for our groceries without leaving the comfort of our homes, to build businesses with lower overheads – there are so many ways in which it enriches our lives.

But – because it has grown so quickly – the internet has also grown more rapidly than the security measures and safety provisions could match. And, whilst so many of us simply benefit from the entertainment, networking and opportunities that a global network can offer, it also gives the darker underworld that human life has always come with an untouchable place to pedal their wares.

For every fun forum where like-minded people can talk about their favourite author, there’s a dark web listing for illegal weapons or drugs, for every dating site where we can seek a soulmate there’s a hidden world where innocent lives are traded like a commodity.

For lots of us the internet still feels quite new and modern – and our learning has been gradual, embracing it in some parts of our lives but ignoring the parts that mean nothing to us. We still remember the world pre-world wide web, and the ways we experienced the world (and coped with being out of touch with people!) but for the younger generation, the internet has been an every day part of their lives the way that TVs have been a part of mine, but were new to the recent generations before me!

This means that navigating raising our next generations safely, with this untameable beast, can be quite the challenge – and that parents often don’t know a great deal about what their children can access online – either knowingly or not. It’s astonishing how much of the very extreme content on the internet can be found with just a couple of clicks – and that it’s deliberately designed to be that way, so that people can accidentally happen across it and be sucked in.

Though many people might be embarrassed to speak about it, looking for porn is very, very common – particularly with the curiosity of youth, and the accessibility of a handheld device in a quiet bedroom – and though there’s nothing damaging or dangerous about a healthy sexual curiosity, these free sites are also host to a terrifying number of ads and links to the dark web, where it’s frighteningly easy to get sucked down a web of increasingly extreme content. Addiction to these forms of content is a growing issue, and it isn’t just the younger generation being exposed to it – those who once would have struggled to find a source for their darkest thoughts to be fed are now just the tap of a screen away from like-minded people.

With Safer Internet Day the campaign to educate and protect people from this dark underbelly sees Governments worldwide being petitioned to have better controls and regulations, better policing and response to online crime. The biggest social networks are currently not held accountable for the actions of their users, absolving themselves of any responsibility or refusing to cooperate with criminal investigations in a timely manner, meaning that more people escape justice, more victims suffer, and more innocents are exposed to content which can cause lifelong difficulties or damage.

As a tool, as a way to communicate, as a wealth of experiences, the internet can be a wonderland, and has truly changed the way the world works in just a few short decades – but more must be done to protect users, and those shaping the way that it is used, from harm – whether it’s intentional or as a result of blundering into the wrong corners of the web.

Today, think about the content that you consume – and the information about your private life that you so confidently share with a world full of strangers, not all of whom will want to be your friend.

Limit the amount of information you share, be careful about updating your location in real time, or telling the internet at large that you’ll be away from home when your address hasn’t been well protected. Protect your children and their private lives by limiting how much you show of them and remember that, without their consent, you may even be breaking laws in sharing too much about them. In particular, remember that there may be some people looking who don’t have your own innocent view of your children, and who may have ulterior motives for wanting images or information about them – or about you. Don’t share your financial information, don’t agree to meet with strangers without building trust and letting friends and family know what your plans are, and please do be wary of letting your young people explore the internet unsupervised; though they may be making good choices, there are still others who may expose them to inappropriate material. Secure your settings, and if you’re unsure how to do this, visit the safer internet day website for some great resources and information.

If you have found your life impacted by the darker side of the internet, or perhaps you’re worried that you or someone you love have travelled further than you ever planned to down the rabbit hole of dark web content, please do give me a call; my services offer you a safe place to talk honestly, without judgement, and to find ways to control your own impulses, to process your experiences, and to heal from the hurt of being exposed to traumatic experiences.

Call me now on 07849 037095 or email me on cnslng@outlook.com and I can help you.

Calm your breathing – and your mind

This moving graphic is a fabulous little tool I’ve found recently, and which is a great help in controlling your breathing and focusing your mind – which is very helpful if you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious.

Give it a try, and let me know what you think, and if it has helped you to calm your breathing – and your thoughts.

World Mental Health Awareness.

If you were on any social networks, or saw any news, on Thursday October 10th, you can’t have missed the wash of images, stories and personal moments being shared to raise awareness for World Mental Health Day.

Of all the awareness days, this is the one that gives me the most mixed of feelings.

Of course, being a professional counsellor, working with those who have vulnerabilities, have survived difficult situations and events, who continue to face challenges with bravery and with support, I think it’s vital to have an open and honest dialogue about mental health.

I see, and am happy to see, the changes in how openly mental health, crises of mental health, and the depression and anxiety conditions which impact so many lives are being spoken about. We have celebrity – and even Royal – voices telling their own stories, making speaking about these issues more commonplace, making it easier for people to admit when they are struggling, and erasing the stigma and shame that always used to be paired with mental ill health.

These changes are superb to witness – and to be a part of. To be a service provider, helping those who come forward to say “I am not ok, and I need help” – but equally, I know that speaking openly on social media may not be helpful for some. It may open their vulnerabilities to more dangers, to strangers and trolls, to those who take advantage, and those who dismiss their pain and challenges. This can make a person who is already struggling yet more vulnerable, putting them at risk.

I also know that speaking more openly about the mental health crisis the country is currently facing won’t improve the availability of crisis services, which are already stretched far beyond their capabilities in every county throughout the UK.

Crisis counselling services have huge waiting lists, funding to provide more availability, to train and provide experience and support for those who can, and want to, help, and ongoing support beyond the initial mental health crisis an individual might suffer is scant, and a tidal wave of people speaking openly on social media may be helping to remove the stigma and embarrassment around speaking about our challenges – but it does little to provide actionable solutions which can help people in crisis.

I don’t know what the solution is, and I know that – as the country lurches towards yet more uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the political imbalances in the UK – the issues of the NHS, mental health provision and funding for supporting the most vulnerable in our society is going to remain a problem that we don’t know how to solve.

I may not be able to help every person in crisis, but I and the kind, beautiful, compassionate people I have the pleasure of working alongside know that every moment we commit to supporting those who are battling their own struggles eases some of their personal crisis – and every person we help is incredibly important to me, and to my colleagues.

If you are struggling, if you are looking for a safe space to speak and process your fears, anxieties and events which have impacted your life, I can help. Call me or contact me with your name and contact information, and I will respond as soon as possible – and we can arrange a time where you can tell me more about yourself, and discuss how I can help you with your challenges.

Somerset and Wessex Eating Disorders Association

The SWEDA Support Group takes place on the first Wednesday of every month between 7.00pm & 8.30pm at our comfy meeting room in Shepton Mallet.

We have two qualified group facilitators, both with years of experience in eating disorders.

The next group will be on Wednesday 4th September at
The Coach House, Harvest Court, Park Road, Shepton Mallet, BA4 5BS.

Please feel free to bring along a friend (they are welcome to join in the group or wait in our waiting area for you).

Our self-help group is user led, so in each session the discussion will vary depending on who is attending and what they are bringing to the session. You will always have an opportunity to discuss what is important to you. This will allow you to talk about things you might not be able to discuss with others. We are not here to judge you. You might just want to ask for information or for some advice. You may just need to off load (whatever is important and beneficial to you). We want to give you the feeling of empowerment, a sense of community, letting you know you are not alone. Our members have found this form of support helpful when used on a regular basis; there is no obligation to attend every month. It is completely up to you.

SWEDA has always recognised the value of peer support – people coming together to support one another, share their successes and challenges and to encourage each other along the journey to recovery.

We hope to see you there.

For more information (including how to find us and where to park) please visit our website: https://www.swedauk.org/services/self-help-support-group