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The Integrated Coaching Academy

Where Coaching and Counselling Connect

Prince harry, grief and how to really help

Prince Harry has gone very public about his mental health struggles resulting from the death of his mother, Princess Diana. In Apple TV’s ‘The Me You Can’t See’ he says he ‘boxed up his emotions’ for 20 years.

It’s true; people often attempt to deal with life’s losses and traumas by disconnecting and switching off their feelings.

The ‘box-it-up’ method can work for a while, as it did for Harry, but what tends to happen over time is that the lid of the box begins to lift all on its own and the anger and despair begin to tumble out in an uncontrolled way. For Harry, the lid of the box seems to have really started to open after his marriage to Meghan and the build up to the birth of his first child created a psychological pattern match to the trauma of his mother’s death.

Harry was filmed in an EMDR session with his therapist. It seems to have really helped. I wish he could also experience the Rewind Technique which was originated by Dr David Muss in the 1970s. It can be even more effective. I did some training with David. As a newly qualified psychotherapist many years ago, I was so amazed by the successes I was having for my PTSD clients that I wrote a book about it. It works in a similar way to EMDR by grounding the client and setting a cognitive task that anchors the brain into the neo cortex. It’s less well known simply because it hasn’t attracted the research and funding of the EMDR programme originated by Francine Shapiro.

Here, an EMDR therapist gives a succinct explanation about the underlying mechanism. She says:

‘The therapy works by the therapist creating a safe and trusting space. We identify the experiences … and bring them into the room in a gentle way to reprocess those memories so the past can be in the past and our past life experiences do not continue to create stress, anxiety and triggers in our current life’

The subconscious mind

What stays in the subconscious mind has the ability to control us. Allowing suppressed emotions to safely surface can actually process long term grief in just one session... if that is what the client wants.

Sometimes, however, the bereaved just want to speak, to be allowed to explore and express their emotions in their own time and in their own way. Fortunately, a Fusion Therapeutic Coach will have the empathic attunement to understand what the client needs from their practitioner.

Yes, if they want resolution, the Rewind Technique can achieve that quickly and efficiently but if they need to talk, a Fusion Coach knows how to offer the time and space for that to happen. It’s about making the model fit the client rather than the client fit the preferred therapy style of the practitioner.

My article this week looks at suppressed grief and how the reaction to unprocessed emotions can take us by surprise many years later.

I hope it helps…

Grief and how to really help

As James sat in front of me, memory after memory of his father’s death surfaced, released, and ran softly down his face.

‘He died when I was 10’, said James. ‘It was an unexpected heart attack. He went to work one morning and didn't come home. Mum thought I was too young to go to the funeral so I went to school on that day just, like any other day.’

James's mum wasn’t being cruel. She had hoped to protect her young son from the pain of seeing her so desperately upset at the grave side. She wanted him to escape somehow the turbulent and intense range of emotions that are a part of the journey through the grieving process. So she made life as normal as possible for him. She compensated by taking him on lavish holidays, buying him the latest gadgets and putting on her ‘I'm fine’ face in the daytime.

Crying alone

She had removed all the pictures of James's father in the house and he was now rarely referred to.

The mother-who-meant-well stayed strong and kept going. She was doing a good job she told herself. After a year, James seemed fine, was doing well at school and never mentioned his father at all.

But the grief hadn’t gone away and it was only after she put James to bed at night that she allowed herself to cry. What she didn't realise was that, in bed at night, James could hear his mother crying and would often cry himself to sleep too.

Both mother and son were going through an intense range of emotions they did not want to communicate to each other, for fear of causing more upset. They had both become isolated in a shared grief for the most well-intentioned of reasons and they were making a mistake that many of us make.

I must keep going

There are plenty of laudable reasons for not dealing with grief. People have to go to work to keep their job. They have to get the kids off to school. They have to mow the lawn, do the shopping, cook and pay the bills. They think if they give way to grief, it will be like a dam has burst. They won’t be able to cope with the deluge and will drown in a flood of their own tears.

But deferring grief is like living with an undetonated bomb. We fool ourselves that if we tiptoe around it, perhaps it won’t go off.

An open wound

However the loss and grief remain as a concealed, but still-open, wound. Although we may have put a plaster over it, it will not begin to heal until we acknowledge its presence and let some light and air onto the injury.

As Prince Harry has observed, death has become a sanitised business.

We try to ignore it. We clean it up with phrases like ‘passed over’, or ‘slipped away’ rather than saying someone has died. Or we wrap it up and leave it on a shelf in a darkened room that we try not to visit.

We are taught, in the face of adversity to stand strong. We must stay in control. We have to keep a very British ‘stiff upper lip’.

But grief is not an illness. It’s a fact of life. We will all lose someone we love and we will all feel the pain. Being able to ride the intense waves of emotion that come with bereavement is an example of mind management and asking for help or talking to someone about how we really feel is a sign of emotional intelligence, not weakness.

As a therapeutic coach, I have a range of skills in my professional toolbox. But for James, as with most of my clients who are grieving, I used the simplest, yet most powerful of them all.

I listened.

Frances Masters MBACP accred GHGI

Frances Masters is a BACP accredited psychotherapist, coach, training consultant and author of the book PTSD Resolution: Reclaiming life from trauma.

In 2009, Frances founded the charity Reclaim Life; training its volunteers to work in the new, integrated coach-counselling model, Fusion.

As founding Principal of the Integrated Coaching Academy Frances gained accreditation for her training from NCFE as Customised Awards; 'The Fusion Therapeutic Coaching, Counselling and Training Diploma in Therapeutic Coaching and the distance learning programme Certificate in Therapeutic Coaching Skills'

Training programmes also include

The Integrated Coaching Academy certified Fusion Mindfulness Based Mind Management Skills Certificate

and new online training Breathe Stress Away

Fusion® Therapeutic Coaching is an approved NCFE training centre, an organisational member of he British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy and the Association for Coaching


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5 Rules of Successful Habit Formation

Posted on October 5, 2019 at 10:15 AM Comments comments (16905)

You have decided that you want to change your life. You've got a goal in mind. What can you do to ensure that you achieve success? You know that you will need to adopt certain success habits. The following rules will help you ensure successful habit formation.


Success habits don't just happen by accident. They are created by design. Creating a plan will increase the chances of your successfully creating a new habit. Think of the plan like a roadmap. Include your starting point, the final goal and all the steps along the way. Don't forget to note down potential stumbling blocks and how you will overcome them.

Many people include a vision board in their planning. This is a great way to see what your goal looks like and when placed somewhere that you will see it regularly can reinforce the goal you want to achieve.


You must be committed to your goal of creating a new habit. If you are not committed, then the chances of succeeding in attaining it reduce dramatically. It is important to believe that you will create your new habit and to be able to see yourself doing it.

Write down a positive statement that affirms you have created your new habit.

For example, if you want to create the success habit of waking early then you could write, 'I wake at 5.00 am every day refreshed and ready to start my day. I use my extra time to run for 20 minutes and to eat a healthy breakfast. I spend 30 minutes reading a motivational book because I know that it helps me improve my knowledge and will inspire me. Before I start my work I make sure that I plan my day and make sure that I know which tasks are important for helping me to achieve my goal.'

Know Yourself

Self-knowledge is crucial to creating new habits, as well as eliminating old ones.

You need to understand your strengths and weaknesses. It is important to know where you are right now, where you want to be and what needs to change.

By knowing yourself you can create a growth mind-set. This ensures that you understand that action is important as by taking action you create change which leads to success.


Habits take 21 days to become routine. This means that you need to ensure that you build time into every day to practice your new habit.

To ensure that you complete the full 21 days you need to plan and you need to identify any potential stumbling points that may cause you to want to skip a day. Knowing what might interfere in your daily habit practice ensures that you can put in place plans to overcome it.

Positive mind-set is key as is commitment. If you are committed to creating the new success habit and understand why it is important to your overall plans and goals then you will be more able to overcome stumbling points and ensure that you practice your new habit every day until it becomes a routine part of your daily life.


When you set out to create a new success habit you have your plan for how you are going to achieve it and what your life will look like once that happens. Don't forget to build in a reward. Make it something that you really want and value. It doesn't have to be big but it does have to be important to you. By planning a reward when you have created your new habit you will be more emotionally invested in creating the habit.

Write down your reward or get a picture of it and put it somewhere where you will see it every day. This will reinforce the desire to succeed and strengthen your motivation to achieve your goal.

By using the five rules above you will be creating a positive mental attitude towards creating a new success habit. Don't try to create too many new habits at once. It is simpler and more realistic to create one new habit at a time.

Managing your mind: How to spot thinking errors

Posted on April 29, 2019 at 11:00 AM Comments comments (5189)

Our thoughts have a powerful effect on our emotions, body and behaviours, which cannot tell the difference between something we vividly imagine and true fact. It's so easy to jump from A-Z, missing out all the letters in between.

Just imagine you see a good friend walking on the opposite side of the road. You smile and wave but they ignore you. There are a couple of ways you might react:

Reaction A

‘That’s John. Why’s he not acknowledging me?'

Well, that was rude! ‘What have I done to offend him?’

‘You can’t rely on anyone these days’

‘I’ll show him. Next time I see him, I won’t give him the chance to ignore me again. I’ll blank him first!’

Reaction B 

‘That’s John. Why’s he not acknowledging me?'

‘I wonder if he saw me?'

‘Actually, last time I was with him, he mentioned his wife was ill’

'I hope it’s nothing serious. It’s not like him to be so pre occupied’

‘Next time I see him I’ll make a point of asking how his wife’s getting along’

Managing the chimps

Thinking errors, or 'cognitive distortions' as they are often called, can result in us setting up a worry circuit that affects both body and mind. Our inner chimp is quick to make assumptions. It’s trying to help, but often gets it wrong.

We all know how jumpy chimps can be and they’re not that bright either. Can you identify any of your inner chimps below?

Baba the Black or White Thinker:

Baba talks in all or nothing terms with no areas of grey or other possibilities. She will say things like ‘no one likes me or ‘everything in my life is awful’.

Baba would do better to look for the grey areas, all the possibilities, options and possibilities. She might ask herself ‘What’s the worst that could happen? What’s the best that could happen and what are all the options in between?’

Keith the Catastrophiser:

Keith is a real drama queen when it comes to the future and everything assumes nightmarish proportions. When Keith is running the show, he will say things like ‘That’s going to be the worst thing ever!’ or ‘It’ll be a total disaster!’

Let’s be honest, Keith, earthquakes and tsunamis are disasters. Anything less than that is just a problem and the human brain loves solving problems. Keith needs to remember that overcoming challenges is how we learn and acquire wisdom. When we make mistakes or things go wrong, we are simply learning a way not to do it. Keith is an example of a chimp who is misusing his imagination to frighten himself.

Mick the Mind Reader:

Mick thinks he can tell what other people are thinking of him and it’s not very nice!

If Mick sees John in the street and John ignores him, Mick imagines that he has upset his friend and racks his brain over all recent conversations looking for ways in which he has offended. Next time he sees John he’s offhand, not considering that John may just have been thinking about something else that day and not seen him.

Just because you think something, Mick, doesn’t mean it’s true.

Brenda Bossy Boots:

If you find yourself thinking things like ‘I ought to, should, I must’, then Brenda is trying to rule you with her tyrannical thinking. There are so many rules in Brenda’s world that guilt is always present. Brenda’s voice can sound like a disapproving teacher or parent.

Challenge Brenda. Try breaking her rules. Expand the boundaries of your life and feel the benefit. Let’s face it; life’s too short to live someone else’s!

I’m always right

Notice how your thoughts connect to physical and emotional feelings and unhelpful behaviours in the diagram above. Start with a trigger event, which may be a thought and then consider the ripple effect between mind, body and action.

If you are going to a party and have the thought ‘no one will want to talk to me because I’m boring’, you might feel anxious or have a sense of dread as the party approaches. You might notice physical tension, like a knot in the stomach or tight shoulders. When you get to the party (if you bother to go after all that negative self talk) as you walk in your body language is likely to send out ‘I don’t want to be here’ signals. You might stand at the side of the room, not engaging with the people you think will find you boring, so one talks to you.

You leave thinking you were right all along!

On the other hand, if you approach the party with the thought ‘I wonder who will be there. It’s always interesting to meet new people and find out about their lives. Perhaps I’ll make a new friend’, the chances are, as the party approaches you are looking forward to it and the opportunities it will bring.

As you walk into the room, you make eye contact with a member of one group. You strike up a conversation and show genuine interest in what they do for a living, their hobbies and interests. They introduce you to someone else. You focus on others rather than yourself. As the evening continues, you’re introduced to other people who have a sense of your warmth towards them. Someone invites you to another party next week.

And you leave thinking you were right all along!

Once we have a belief firmly in place, we look for evidence that we are right and filter out any evidence we are wrong

'Change the thought, change the feeling' is a classical CBT mantra.

It's a concept that is so simple to understand, but is not always so easy to do... as our clients are often quick to remind us!

Our mental health system is broken

Posted on July 24, 2018 at 8:05 AM Comments comments (3521)

How dare they call it 'Improved Access to Psychological Therapies' when desperate and suicidal people are being told the waiting list is 6-12 months?

Our mental health service is broken. Throwing more money at a broken system will not fix it. Change must happen. We need a new system not a patched up old one!

Problem: Those who are stressed and distressed are too often labelled and medicated without the underlying causes being addressed. They are sold a lie that their 'brain chemistry is out of balance' and the happy pills will fix it

Solution: Those uncomfortable emotions are actually trying to prompt people to make changes in their life to get their innate human needs met. Rather than numb down the feelings, shouldn't we all (mental health practitioners included) try to listen to what they are saying?

When are we going to teach this stuff in schools? Why are today's students becoming tomorrow's mental health patients?

While we all wait for those in power to sort out the mess, a Fusion Therapeutic Coach can help those in distress uncover the real problem, focus on solutions and take appropriate action to regulate emotions and get back in control of their life

See 'This is what 24 hours in a Suicide Crisis Centre looks like'

Our mental health system is broken

Posted on July 24, 2018 at 8:05 AM Comments comments (4244)

How dare they call it 'Improved Access to Psychological Therapies' when desperate and suicidal people are being told the waiting list is 6-12 months?

Our mental health service is broken. Throwing more money at a broken system will not fix it. Change must happen. We need a new system not a patched up old one!

Problem: Those who are stressed and distressed are too often labelled and medicated without the underlying causes being addressed. They are sold a lie that their 'brain chemistry is out of balance' and the happy pills will fix it

Solution: Those uncomfortable emotions are actually trying to prompt people to make changes in their life to get their innate human needs met. Rather than numb down the feelings, shouldn't we all (mental health practitioners included) try to listen to what they are saying?

When are we going to teach this stuff in schools? Why are today's students becoming tomorrow's mental health patients?

While we all wait for those in power to sort out the mess, a Fusion Therapeutic Coach can help those in distress uncover the real problem, focus on solutions and take appropriate action to regulate emotions and get back in control of their life

See 'This is what 24 hours in a Suicide Crisis Centre looks like'

The secret is out !

Posted on February 12, 2018 at 3:05 PM Comments comments (2823)

Coach-counsellor integration is no longer a guilty secret, thank goodness.

But, until the integrationists ‘came out’, there were many counsellors who felt judged by their supervisors or peers if they admitted to working in a goal-focused or solution-focused way. Just like the early CBT therapists, this was just a sticking plaster we were warned. Only ‘depth psychotherapy’ would have a lasting effect.

A few years later and things have moved on, as more and more understanding about the human brain and mind emerges from the new brain sciences. Modern, proactive mental health interventions are outcome informed and evidence based. We will not return to the dark ages of nodding therapy now. The genie cannot be put back in the bottle.

Anyway, who would want to crush innovation and the evolution of more effective mental health care? BACP are at the vanguard. They are moving forward fast with the promotion of coaching skills for counsellors.

The world of coaching is also on the move, responding to the change which is quite clearly in the air. Now the term ‘holistic coach’ or ‘wellbeing coach’ is becoming more common. 

There is a two way stream of traffic across the bridge of integration, it seems.

Fortunately, whether you are a counsellor looking to integrate coaching tools or a coach looking to deepen counselling skills; if you are a teacher, mentor, doctor, nurse, prison officer, social worker or anyone who works in the helping professions, Fusion training will definitely help you be more effective in your role.

That’s because the Fusion Model is based on the understanding that human beings have certain needs and that it is the role of our emotions to push us towards getting those needs met.

So, if you are working with human beings, no matter what their age, colour, creed, gender or status, they will have the same human needs. This also makes Fusion the ultimate multi cultural model for mental health and wellbeing.

Perhaps someone could tell Theresa May and we could start saving the NHS billions of pounds lost in the out of date and inefficient mental health system currently in place.

How mindfulness will help you stay strong

Posted on February 12, 2018 at 3:00 PM Comments comments (3101)

Are you able to deal with the stresses and strains of life?

Ups and downs are a normal and natural part being human. Life does not travel in a straight line; is not a plateau but a series of valleys and hills. But it can be tough, especially if you feel you’ve been stuck in the valley for too long. Sometimes we just have to stay strong and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

A little while ago, I wrote a guided meditation for Sally, a young woman who had lost touch with her inner strength and lost faith in her own ability to cope. Her mother and brother had both died in a car accident. Her marriage was in trouble too. Sally was beginning to crumble under the weight of her grief.

She made good progress as we worked together over 5 weeks and started to feel more positive but, just at the point of returning to work, she had a wobble. We started to practice meditation together. It helped her to stop fearing the future and accept there were things she could not control no matter how much she worried about them.


Mindfulness meditation is about surrender rather than demand. It is not about forcing things to go our way. It is relaxing into the way things are. It’s letting go.

It’s a time when we can rest in the presence of our breath, our body and our emotions with a detached, kind and gentle curiosity and in doing so; we befriend our breath, our body and our emotions.

We befriend ourselves.

This is one of the meditations I wrote for Sally. It’s designed to be spoken or read slowly and with periods of silence for introspection and insight.

The therapeutic suggestions are in bold as are the embedded seven pillars of mindfulness as outlined by MBSR creator Jon Kabat Zin.

I wrote a haiku for Sally too and that is at the end:

Guided mountain meditation

Either close the eyes, or half close the eyes, soft focusing on an area of floor about two feet in front of you:

Begin to notice the breath, saying silently ‘I am breathing in, I am breathing out.’

As you follow the breath you might notice the warmth or coolness of the breath as it passes over the upper lip

After a little while, the out breath may naturally extend as you begin to relax

Observe the breath as it moves down the diaphragm and then gently back up again.

Set aside the focus on the breath and simply begin to notice the rise and fall of the abdomen allowing the attention to ride and rest where it will

In your mind’s eye, bring up an image of a mountain

And, as you begin to pay attention to the mountain, you might notice its shape

It may be a small, wide mountain or a tall, narrow mountain. It doesn’t matter for, as you look more closely at the mountain, you may have a sense of it being the most beautiful, graceful and elegant mountain you have ever seen

And this mountain has a secret; it has been here since time began and the mountain has been a witness to many things

As you observe the mountain, you might notice how the sun passes over it, creating pools of light and shadow and, as the sun sets, how it is gently illuminated by the soft glow of the moon

Each day passes in this way

The mountain does not judge the day or the night, does not prefer one to the other, does not cling to the heat of the sun or the coolness of the moon, does not pull or push

The mountain appreciates both sun and moon, day and night, with a simple yet immovable presence

And so it is with the seasons: as you observe the mountain, you might notice how the green leaves on the trees, rooted in its crags and crevices, bathed in the full sun of summer, begin to redden and wither and fall to the ground. In time, autumn transitions to winter. Now snow caps the top of the mountain and cloud descends

And the mountain is silent and still with a wise strength that knows there is no need to fight the wind or repel the rain and in this way remains free from pain and free from suffering, trusting in the rhythm of the seasons and waiting to emerge from those passing clouds as the frozen earth is caressed by the first rays of early spring

The mountain is patient and present to each moment. It knows there is no reason to hurry. The buds on the trees will unfold in their own time

And isn’t it amazing how you can be an observer of the mountain in all its detail, moving in close to see the crags and crevices, the buds on the trees as they emerge, the little spring flowers bursting through the warming ground

And, if you wish, you can travel in your imagination, around to the other side of the mountain and see it for the very first time as though seeing with new eyes, perhaps noticing how different it seems from a new perspective

And you can, if you wish, in your imagination, drift into the mountain, become the mountain and have a sense of the mountain, with its solid base, like your seated base of hips and legs that extend firmly to the floor

Your spine and neck and head can extend tall like the lofty peaks of the mountain

We can all be like the mountain with its patience, trust and acceptance

We can be a witness to our experience and see with new eyes

We can choose to let go of attachment and striving

We can set judgement aside and understand there are things we cannot control.

We can accept times of darkness and winter chill

We can stay strong and steady

We can trust and wait for the sun to shine again

The mountain knows a secret

The air does not breathe

Water has no mind to swim

Snow is simply snow

The art of naked conversation

Posted on February 5, 2018 at 2:55 PM Comments comments (3038)


How often do we say exactly what we’re thinking?

‘How are you?’ is the only question to which no one really wants the answer, so how do we finally drop the mask and give ourselves permission to be more real? Let’s face it, there’s often much more power in what is not said than what is. No one particularly wants to hear about problems, but continually dodging the elephant in the room doesn’t mean the elephant isn’t there.

My 17 year old client, Paul, and his father had been dodging elephants for a while and the stress was now building. Paul had secured himself a string of A*s at GCSE and been strongly advised by his father to go for STEM subjects at A level to give him greater career opportunities.

But within weeks of starting sixth form, Paul knew he had made a bad mistake. He actually loved art, music and creative writing. Doing sciences made him feel like he was ‘thinking in circles but having to express himself in squares. I feel so boxed in’ he told me but he felt unable to talk to his father about it.

Emotionally absent

Actually, Paul’s father was one of the main problems. He was a highly qualified scientist specialising in Artificial Intelligence. Worryingly, Paul described him as ‘physically present but emotionally absent.’ He often worked from home but hardly ever emerged from behind the doors of his office.

As Paul painted more of a picture of his work, personality and behaviour, I began to feel his father might have a systemising brain, a term used by Dr Simon Barron Cohen to describe those on the autistic spectrum. If my hunch was right, then he would not have an instinct that Paul was distressed at all. He would not understand that his advice to follow STEM subjects might be at odds with Paul’s natural inclination or preference. He would not have a sense of context and would probably not be able to empathise with Paul’s current dilemma.

But it went deeper than that. It turned out that Paul’s father had never told him he loved him and had never even given him a hug. Real communication had all but broken down over the years. Paul respected his father deeply and wanted a relationship with him and, after I had explained the implications of systemising brain wiring, he began to realise his father was not actually being uncaring, it was simply that probably did not have the innate skills to relate to his teenage son.

A naked conversation

Direct action would be needed. Paul had to find a way to have ‘a naked conversation’ with his father; one where he told him exactly how he felt and what his needs were. I introduced Paul to the ‘communicating difficult feelings’ template and we set to work, collating Paul’s thoughts into the essence of what he felt he needed to say. It’s a formula I’ve used many times and in many different contexts and it always has an impact. One client, Barbara, came to see me on the brink of leaving her husband.

‘He has no instinct about what is going on for me’, she said despairingly. ‘Most of the time he seems indifferent to how I’m feeling. If I want him to do something, I have to write it on a list or it doesn’t happen. I have to make all the social arrangements and even tell him what to wear or he’ll turn up in odd socks!’

The template came in very useful for Barbara, as did the systemising brain explanation. She became much more forgiving of her husband when she realised he was not being bloody-minded after all. One real up side of systemisers is that they are very loyal and have a keen sense of fair play. They are often highly intelligent too. I asked Barbara what her husband did for a living. ‘He’s a rocket scientist’ she said with a wry smile. All was becoming clear.

Even if your partner is not on the spectrum, according to relationship counsellor John Gray, author of ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’ women will discuss feelings easily yet most men would rather mow the lawn ten times or lock themselves in the shed rather than have ‘that’ conversation.

Pauls’ letter

The letter starts with a positive statement to open communication. There is a tendency to switch off if something looks like it will be critical.

The template can be used to structure thoughts for a spoken conversation, but putting it in writing works well when trying to communicate with a systemiser as they often miss non verbal signals, and crucially, the letter ends with a call to action.

This is what Paul wrote:

Dear Dad,

I love you because you have always stood by me. When mum left, you became my rock. You have worked so hard for us to be able to stay in this house and keep me at my school. I don’t think you know how much I admire you and the work you do.

Yet, it makes me angry when I try to talk with you about what’s worrying me and you seem pre occupied and don’t really listen.

And I feel so sad that we don’t spend time together or have fun like we used to before mum left and that communication has broken down between us.

I am frightened that I’m doing subjects at sixth form that I don’t enjoy and I’ve made a mistake I can’t undo because you won’t listen to what I’m saying.

I regret taking STEM subjects and want to do art, music and creative writing instead.

Dad, there’s something I need from you now…

I need us to talk about this and for you to come and speak to my form tutor and explain how I feel and find out if I can change subjects or what my options are

And there’s something else…

I need a hug and I need you to tell me you love me (you never have)

Love Paul


I wondered how Paul’s father would react.

He intended to leave the letter on his desk that evening. I needn’t have worried. When he returned the following week, Paul was like a different boy. After his father’s intervention, the school had been very sympathetic to Paul’s needs and helped him change subjects without delay. It was still early in the term. Paul was bright and would be able to catch up it was felt.

But there was another more immediate result from the letter.

‘After he read it’, Paul told me,’ he came straight out of his office, gave me the biggest bear hug and told me he loves me and is really proud of me.’

‘Result’ I said (I had to stop myself from punching the air) ‘Looks like that template might come in very handy in the future’.

Paul agreed. ‘Yes, and it might come in handy when I get married too’, he said.

Told you he was bright…

Fusion training can be a life changer

Posted on January 31, 2018 at 1:55 PM Comments comments (3975)

I had a Skype supervision session today with a Fusion Therapeutic Coach. I do quite a bit of supervision via Skype these days as diploma delegates come from all over the country and some from abroad too. For me, it’s a real privilege to observe careers evolve and confidence grow over many years.

I always start supervision sessions with the important question ‘how are you?’

As life coaches and mindfulness trainers, we need to be authentic and able to walk the talk. How can we encourage our clients to ‘live their best lives’ if we are not working towards that ourselves?

Encouragingly, my supervisee today described herself as ‘living the dream.’

But it wasn’t always so. Five years ago, she nearly didn’t attend the diploma at all. With outstanding health test results and confidence issues at work, she phoned just 24 hours before the course to voice her concerns that she would not be in the right frame of mind to come along.

Having listened to what was going on, I felt the diploma would present a great opportunity for her to step outside her life for a while and take some time and space for herself. She had already booked into a pretty canal-side B and B for the 5 days of the course. ‘Perhaps this is something you can be doing while you wait for those other difficulties to resolve’ I said, and the decision was made.

She describes that decision as ‘a life changer.’

How different things are now. These days she is self employed as a Fusion therapeutic coach-trainer with a work/life balance that is enviable. She stays close to the 5 session manual and finds it consistently works well, charging £125 for the first session of 1.5 hours and £95 for subsequent 1 hour sessions. Five to seven clients represents her perfect work load as she also leads monthly ‘happiness recipe’ workshops; quite an achievement for someone who used to get flustered if she had to speak at a meeting.

Although the five session format works well to resolve problems and refocus on the preferred future, she finds that many clients want to maintain an ongoing coach-client relationship, so she has just signed up for the next Mindfulness Based Mind Management training day.

I spent most of last year writing this latest Fusion product and, when I did so, imagined it in a group setting. Once written, however, it became clear it would work well on a one-to-one basis as it embeds the Fusion mind management tips, tools and techniques with core mindfulness exercises such as mindful eating, loving kindness and a ‘just a minute’ breathing space.


1 powerful way to raise self esteem

Posted on January 19, 2018 at 4:35 AM Comments comments (2380)

Quitters Friday followed by Blue Monday reflects the reality that January can be a challenge for many of us. Feeling low can make us negative about who we are, or rather who we think we are.

We beat ourselves up for not sticking to our New Year’s resolutions and our already fragile self esteem crashes through the floor. Low self esteem merely fuels the fires of low mood, and so the downward spiral continues.

Cutting into the loop

I was asked recently how to raise self esteem.

There are many ways, but the one I am about to describe is particularly effective as it engages the right brain hemisphere and bypasses the resistant ‘yes but’ defences of the left. The left brain has long since formed a belief system around the personality of the person and continues only to look for the evidence it is correct.

The resistance-busting technique is called ‘The overheard conversation’ and begins by relaxing the client very deeply and accessing an area of consciousness that sits between wake and sleep. The brains of people who are in this hypnogogic-hypnopompic state are noted to have alpha and theta waves present. Alpha waves are associated with deep relaxation and theta waves are associated with accelerated learning…or insight.

Those who have completed Fusion training will know recent research shows the moment of insight occurs in an area of the brain just above the right ear, known as the anterior superior temporal gyrus.

Much has been written about the mechanism of insight, but it’s true to say, a paradigm shift can occur in seconds and, when it does, the results can be dramatic. That is what happened for my client Joan, anyway.


Joan had been traumatised in childhood. We had to do some specific work around those incidents to bilaterally integrate the old memories. But, even though that work had been successful, Joan was left with very low self esteem. She had a perception of herself that allowed others to continue to bully her, especially at work.

Joan’s self image had been formed during her unhappy childhood. The messages she had received back then from the people around her had programmed a negativity that was resistant to logical challenge. Quite simply, she was running outdated software and it was time to upload something new!

Once relaxed, and with the defensive left hemisphere distracted and disengaged, I spoke directly to Joan’s right hemisphere in a guided visualisation. Guided visualisation is like walking someone through a dream and is a powerful mechanism for change. This is what I said to Joan with the embedded messages in bold:

A guided dream

‘‘Joan, I wonder if you could imagine turning up at a gathering. Lots of people you know are there and they are people whose opinion you value.

Notice what the room looks like, the sounds of voices chatting. As you take a glass of orange from a waitress, perhaps notice the coolness of the glass against your hand, the citrusy fragrance of the drink and the fruity taste of the orange as you take a sip.

And as you drift around the room, feeling relaxed, and wondering which group to join, you begin to pick up fragments of conversation from those around you.

‘Look, there’s Joan. I’m so pleased she came. She’s lovely to talk to. She’s one of those people who actually listens and is interested in what you have to say.’

‘Yes, she’s got a great sense of humour too. She’s fun to be around.’

‘It’s no secret Joan had a difficult child hood. Isn’t it amazing how she’s turned her life round? I was reading about that. It’s called post trauma growth. Some people emerge the other side of difficulties stronger in so many ways.’

‘I don’t think Joan quite realises how much she is respected around here. She’s bright and she’s a people person too. That’s a powerful combination.’

‘She’s certainly a tenacious lady. I think she’ll do well here.’

‘Do you think she’ll get promoted?’

‘She certainly deserves to climb the ladder. She understands at a very deep level. Look how much time she’s spent on learning and self development. We need more like Joan on the management team.’

‘Looking good too….’

‘Yes, always smartly dressed but it’s her bubbly personality that really lights her up.’

‘I know what you mean…’’


I saw Joan one week later. She’d noticed a shift.

‘I think I’m being more assertive’ she told me ‘but in a good way.’

It’s strange really but the better I feel about myself, the better other people seem to treat me. Strange, isn’t it?’

‘I think you understand at a very deep level’ I responded.

I had a feeling our work was almost done.

New Association for Coaching accreditation for 2018

Posted on January 9, 2018 at 8:20 AM Comments comments (1738)

The start of a new professional year is always exciting for me. I like new projects, new ideas and new opportunities and it looks like there will be plenty of those in 2018.

There are 2 new venues for the Diploma and Trainer programmes. They will both be super-fast track over two weekends. Responding to previous feedback, many people tell me they like the idea of immersing themselves in a learning experience and , when you stay away, it also feels like a bit of a holiday, especially when the surroundings are so beautiful.

And, now that mindfulness is such an integral part of the Trainer programme, many participants will be able to use the space for some work on personal as well as professional development. Several Fusion graduates have called the course ‘life changing.’ I know that is true as I’m still in touch with most of them.

The biggest change this year will be the Association for Coaching Accreditation for the training. It’s currently going through the process and was a lot of work to put in place. But I’m pleased I have done all the paperwork as Fusion graduates will find it very straight forward to achieve professional or executive AC coach status post training if that is the road they wish to take.