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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


Just why is our mental health care so poor?

Posted on August 7, 2016 at 2:20 PM

I spent most of last Friday working on a blogpost. On a sunny Saturday, I spent the morning with a group of Fusion coaches who attended our regular group supervision. In the afternoon I went to a barbeque, stayed sober, and left early to bring together an ebook offering tips, tools and strategies for emotional wellbeing.


Today, Sunday, I am spending the afternoon writing this newsletter. It's lovely outside and the garden really could do with a bit of work. There's a green-striped deckchair on the lawn that looks pretty inviting. The pub next door is open and I can hear my neighbours chatting and relaxing outside.


Question: Why do I choose to do all this work when I don't have to? Why did the Fusion coaches choose to give up their Saturday morning to attend supervision?


Answer: Because I care, because they care, and because we believe there is a better way to help people with emotional health problems.


I am grateful to Fusion coach Di Danzebrink for bringing to my attention a trending twitter feed that broke my heart when I read through it. #MentalHealthCareSoPoor has caught the attention of young people who feel let down by our mental health system. It is full of statements of disappointment and despair.


I've taken the time to reproduce some of the thread here for you. These are real people with real problems calling out to those in charge to do something, anything, to improve the 'help' currently on offer in the UK.


Those of us who work in mental health have a duty to ensure we have a toolbox of skills that are really effective and will really help. It's difficult not to feel upset and/or guilty about what is happening in the name of mental health.





‘Oh you tried to kill yourself? Let's get you to tell the story 10 times to 10 different people..’


‘That happened so long ago you're not allowed to still be upset about it’


When I couldn't leave the house due to anxiety my therapist reply was ‘go for a walk’


‘It sounds like you have bipolar disorder because you're very moody’


‘When I was 14 my first psychiatrist misdiagnosed me as bipolar disorder within 10 min of talking to me’


‘I'm still waiting to start therapy after being referred in March.. lol’


Being yelled at by hospital staff for crying too much


One time and mental health worker told me he doesn't think I have bipolar disorder because I don't seem manipulative or angry enough


when you feel desperate enough to say how suicidal you feel and get ‘well you can't be that bad if you're telling us’


‘I struggle making phone calls because it makes me so anxious.’ ‘Okay. so here's a list of phone numbers you can call’


You will most likely be sent home from A and E in less than 24 hours after serious suicide attempts


No one cares unless your physical appearance reflects your mental health, no one should have to prove they’re ill


Dr says ‘you're clearly too social to be autistic’, but you haven't seen anyone socially in the year


You have to look at your meds on online to see what your doctor thinks you have


When people would rather go through mental illness on their own because doctors or cans do absolutely nothing


Because the only recognition to help you ever receive as if you attempt suicide


When you go to the doctor about depression and suicidal thoughts and get told ‘it's just teenage girl hormones’


When your anxiety makes you feel physically ill, day in day out, but that's impossible because ‘it's all in my head’


You are only considered a priority if you're suicidal, like why leave you get to that point….. prevention is key


‘You don't sound too bad on the phone. Have you thought about trying antidepressants IAPT telephone assessment’

When I got hospitalised for suicide at 16 CAMHS never called me after because I ‘wasn't severe enough’


My psychologist refused to see me after I missed an appointment due to my mental illness


Me. ‘I feel depressed’. CAMHS. ‘You wear make up your fine’


‘You're not even old enough to know how bad life really gets’. ‘Okay hey yeah, you're right I'm too young to be sad...sorry’


Not being taken seriously because you seem okay…. that's why it's called mental health..cos u can't see it?


I was told to ‘grow up’ when I told my doctor I was suicidal


When a therapist said to me ‘you're a good-looking girl I don't see what problem is’


My therapist once told me ‘at least you're not one of those starving kids in Africa’


My last suicide attempt I wasn't hospitalised because they didn't have the bed available


That they laugh at you for trying to diagnose yourself but will not diagnose you


My therapist said she was shocked I was so high functioning…. even when I wasn't eating, showering or sleeping


That after self harming my doctor told me to exercise when I felt anxious because I was on the heavier side


My little sister was diagnosed with PTSD. She was dropped off the patient list for being late to one appointment


I tried to kill myself and the doctor told me I should be grateful I'm not actually ill like the other people in the hospital


That I stopped going to therapy after my therapist accused me of embellishing my stories and lied for attention


That the only time I saw a doctor at the psych hospital was for 5 min after I was admitted

‘I'm suicidal’. ‘Have you tried art therapy?’


Your anxiety can't be that bad if you talk to people online


Your gender dysphoria is probably just a phase


Always being let down by the system ……then being promised help but get nothing


My doctor telling me my depression isn't as bad as someone else's they've seen because I can fake smile


‘We’re surprised you're still alive, we don't really know how to treat you …so we’ll use you as a case study instead’


Being sent to a therapist that wasn't even qualified to deal with the disorders I had, making me feel more helpless


There was no follow-up after leaving three nights in hospital for a drug overdose, because it'd happened before


Because I'm constantly told that if you think you have problems you aren't as bad as so-and-so


Phone feeling suicidal and get told to ‘go to bed’


In group therapy sessions with children ages 7 to 17 we were told you have it better than other kids


That I was told I wasn't depressed enough while in the emergency room hospital


The first two therapist I went to when I was 12 refused to help me because I was too young and too happy


That you are constantly re-diagnosed


I have to prove that I have an eating disorder. I feel like a failure. A fraud. I need to get skinnier so others believe my suffering


When you therapist forces you to have your parents in on all your sessions so you don't actually have a safe spot talk


Being advised to ‘have your daughter arrested for her behaviour so she can be noticed as bad enough the treatment’


One therapist telling me my body dysmorphia is nothing to worry about and just cut down on the cakes


That after four months of fully describing the extent of my illness, my therapist told me to ‘look on the bright side’


My CAMHS worker could no longer see me because of cuts to the NHS and I was apparently doing fine


when my friend committed suicide I was told if I'm still sad three months later, they'd consider helping me


They wouldn't listen to me about my being suicidal so I started shouting and it sent me home because I was a threat


That I was too young for the rehabilitation programme and so was discharged as ’recovered PTSD’


A psychiatrist tried to suggest to my parents that I changed my legal name to rebel against them


A psychiatrist who had never met me before tried to diagnosing me with ADHD


After not being seen for six months being discharged even though they kept cancelling my appointments


Telling a counsellor I wanted to die to be told I was ‘low risk’


You just need to exercise and smile and you'll be happy. Thank you for the amazing advice CAMHS


My doctor made me leave the room during an episode because he was running late


Because a lot of MH profs are too busy defending the feelings of their good colleagues instead of listening to us


to treat suicidal thoughts they give you meds with the side effect of increasing suicidal thoughts


The clinic closure came six months after my father’s suicide and two months after I lost my job


After five years of antidepressants and self-help leaflets.. yet and more depressed and anxious as ever


Having my therapist offer to text me every day to make sure I was okay ..and I never got a single message


Half of the time I was there and she kept talking about another kid from my school and how he got better and his problems


I explained how I felt my therapist and he said ‘maybe you're just a sad person



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