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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


'If every man could mend a man....'

Posted on August 21, 2017 at 2:40 PM

I'm prepping in earnest now for the southern based Fusion Therapeutic Coaching Diploma running from September.

The northern hub training went really well. I ran the new 'Mindfulness Based Mind Management' trainers' day for the first time. I hoped it would be well received, but was absolutely bowled over by some really enthusiastic feedback, such as the email I received from BACP counsellor Donna Ward :

'The Fusion training model has picked up the best of other therapeutic models, fused together with Frances’ knowledge and evidence of what really works. Incorporating coaching, it is the full package!

For me it has provided the missing pieces of the jigsaw. I now feel hopeful and confident that I can really move my clients past sticking points and make some major breakthroughs. Frances’ knowledge and delivery was clear, professional and EVERY bit of what she taught us was useful. This was certainly not a course that was padded out.

It has changed my mind-set in so many ways. I have realised we don't have to complicate this process. What Frances has done with this model is fantastic. The Mindfulness Based Mind Management was a great course. It is very clear and easy to follow, concentrating on the facts and what really works; also what is realistic so it can be maintained.

Honestly, this has been the best training I have been on. Every bit of it was so valuable. I definitely got what I needed from the course. …definitely great value for money.

I feel very honoured to be part of Fusion. The skills I have learned will help gives people their lives back.'

Mending the world

At the start of the MBMM day, we set our intention by stating what we wanted from the training. I surprised myself with the level of emotion attached to my own response:

'I just want to help. I want this training to help you and to help your clients.'

It took me back to a saying I came across right at the start of my own journey as I emerged from a frightening experience of post natal depression, 'If every man would mend a man, all the world would be mended.'

It set me thinking. I reframed the word 'would' as 'could'. Through my experience, I had seen that many people wanted to help me, but didn't know how. Now training as a counsellor, I realised with a sense of despair that, not only was the mental health system broken, but that the training for mental health practitioners was seriously flawed too.

My dream

A dream started to take shape to make fast, efficient and effective help available to those who, like me when I was so ill, might be clinging on by their fingernails, desperate for someone to offer hope, practical information and a plan to help them reclaim their lives. It led me found the mental health charity Reclaim Life.

And that dream now continues with the launch of the 8 week Mindfulness-Based Mind Management programme; something that has the potential to touch even more lives and help more people improve their emotional resilience.

Thank you to everyone who has joined me now in a growing movement to change the face of mental health in the UK.

Thanks to the Foundation for Ribble Valley Families for sending me your trainees and for putting the model to good use improving the lives of local Lancashire families. Thanks to Social Sense and the Mindful Me team who are putting so much energy into getting the model into schools where it is so desperately needed.

Thank you to a lovely Fusion coach who is just starting on her own journey to found a charity to provide therapeutic coaching in Wales.

And thank you to all the Fusion Therapeutic Coachers and Trainers now out there doing great work.

1 day can change your life

Fusion coach-trainers Cindy Shilton and Jenny Capaldi are running a Fusion Breakthrough workshop together on Saturday 14th October at Simpson Village Hall. Please contact them if you are interested in attending. You can help publicise the event for them by sharing with your contacts.

Lots of good luck Cindy and Jenny

Bouncing forward

For me, as for many, personal change started with a terrible experience. It was German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche who said 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.'

The reality of post trauma growth means that many of us who have travelled for a while along the road of despair can emerge the other side of the experience with a powerful message and motivation to help; what someone on the recent diploma course referred to as 'bouncing forward.'

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