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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

Blog

How to use virtual reality to improve mental health

Posted on May 10, 2016 at 4:10 AM

There can be little doubt now that dual trained coach-counselling practitioners represent the bright future of mental health and emotional well-being.

 

My own professional accrediting body, the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy are increasingly acknowledging the gathering momentum towards full integration.

 

And I am pleased to say that Fusion® is right at the vanguard of this new movement with the longest established, the only evidence-based and fully integrated, working model, with the bonus of National College of Further Education (NCFE) accreditation.

 

Increasing numbers of counsellors are seeking to add coaching to their toolbox of skills.

 

Increasing numbers of coaches are looking to deepen and broaden theoretical knowledge by adding counselling and therapeutic elements to their skill set.

 

Many working in the world of wellbeing in any capacity, are seeking skills which will enhance their ability to help.

 

The holistic wheel of life

 

At the heart of the Fusion® model sits the holistic wheel of life. It acts both as a passport to communication between client and therapeutic coach and also is an effective conduit between the worlds of coaching and counselling.

 

Growing numbers of integrated therapeutic coaches now represent 'a third wave'; a new breed of 'super-practitioner'. They have access to an extended and powerful range of skills, offering effective help to resolve anxiety, depression, fears, phobias and PTSD whilst also helping their clients to refocus on a preferred future.

 

Practitioners always want to do their very best for their clients. And one of the most powerful ways of doing that is to be comfortable in harnessing the enormous, and often untapped, resources of the human imagination.

 

My article this week looks at recent research from King College about the use of virtual reality in resolving paranoia.

 

I have been using 'virtual reality' with my clients for many years. But I don't need them to wear a headset or connect up to expensive machinery because I understand how to 'tap into' the reality generator we all have.... in our mind.

How to use virtual reality to destroy fears and phobias

Tim's life had been getting pretty difficult recently.

 

He loved working in London, but the commute to his job in the City was taking him longer and longer.

 

‘I can only do one stop at a time now’ he told me. ‘It would be funny if it wasn't such a massive problem. It takes me nearly an hour on the tube to do a journey that only used to take fifteen minutes.’

 

‘What actually happens when you travel on the underground?’ I asked Tim.

 

‘I feel absolutely petrified’ said Tim. ‘I start sweating and shaking and looking at the doors. I can't wait to get to the next station and jump out.’

 

‘What are you thinking while this is going on?’ I asked.

 

‘I think the big problem is I’ve become worried about terrorism’ said Tim. It’s crept up on me. It never used to be a problem but there's been more and more on the news about people with backpacks. If there’s someone in the carriage now wearing one, or carrying a bag, I just start to assume the worst and I want to get away as fast as I can.

 

Do you think you can help me? I’m going to have to get another job at this rate!’

 

I was confident I could help Tim sort this out, and quite quickly too. We would just have to use a bit of ‘virtual reality’ to rewire his brain.

Virtual reality found to cure paranoia

 

Virtual reality has been in the news recently.

 

King's College London has developed a program which simulates a journey on London Underground in which a person is encouraged to interact with ‘avatar’ travellers.

 

In the experiment, 30 volunteers experienced virtual reality simulations where they encountered increasing numbers of ‘virtual’ commuters.

 

The research team, led by Professor Daniel Freeman from the University's Department of Psychiatry found the group of participants encouraged to interact with fellow travellers in virtual reality showed significant reductions in paranoid thoughts. More than half of the group who had been previously identified with paranoid delusions no longer had the problem by the end of the day of testing.

 

Professor Freeman observed that just a thirty minute session using the right psychological techniques helped people ‘re-learn’ that being around people was safe, and saw their paranoia begin to 'melt away'.

 

Your very own reality generator

 

The truth is, you do not need expensive virtual reality equipment to reproduce the excellent and inspiring results from King’s College, because we all have our own reality generator: the human imagination.

 

The resolution for Tim's problem was really quite straight forward. I simply encouraged him to close his eyes, relax and breathe all his stress away whilst imagining travelling comfortably on the journey which previously had caused him such a problem.

 

How and why did this help?

 

This kind of positive mental rehearsal ‘re-encodes’ the experience in the human brain. The powerful combination of relaxation plus visualisation stimulates alpha and theta brain-waves, accessing the ‘sweet spot’ for neuro-plastic change.

 

In this way, the ghosts of the past and spectres of the future can all be exorcised by a simple mechanism which encourages use of the imagination to help, rather than harm, and which re-wires a previous negatively-conditioned response.

 

The exercise worked its magic for Tim and he was finally able to travel comfortably on the underground again, which proved you can change your mind by changing your thoughts….

 

and no expensive equipment is required!

 

 

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