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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

1 powerful way to raise self esteem

Posted on January 19, 2018 at 4:35 AM

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

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…’’

Strange

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.


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