Relationships are not always as easy to maintain as we would like. They can be full of conflict, pain and confusion. Relationships also come in many forms: friendships, those with work colleagues, familial and of course, those with our romantic partners. Pressures on couples can be many and varied; these may include work, finances and the pressures of being part of a blended family. This latter is part of the progression in society, with parents taking on children from their partner’s previous relationship(s) and children emotionally negotiating having step parents; sometimes two homes can present challenges for children and their parents.

In blended families, the step parent can often find themselves on the outside; perhaps not knowing what is expected, wanted or desired in terms of parenting a child/children of their new partners. Often couples want to blend children from both their previous relationships, yet may feel defensive if their new partner attempts to discipline their child or children. Thus conflict between the couple arises with neither feeling sure of what to do, what their new role requires, what their partner wants or what is best for the children.

A child in a blended family can feel confused, may display behaviour that is out of character or difficult to negotiate. This can arise due to having a new parental figure in their lives, new step brothers or sisters, plus newly acquired extended family. The child/children may experience their own conflict in divided loyalties to their biological parent who may only have access rather than custody. All the aforementioned can place stress on families: counselling, either couples counselling or family counselling, can help with these complex feelings and behaviours.

Counselling provides the space for those involved in the relationship(s) to discuss their feelings openly, and begin a process of listening in order to gain an understanding of how they can better interactive with one another. Sometimes an individual within a relationship or family group can feel unheard and, hopefully, counselling can provide a place in which this person feels enabled to vocalise feelings and explain behaviours.

Counselling can be an emotionally challenging process, but the rewards can be worth it. Opening up in a safe and non-judgemental environment helps facilitate greater understanding for the couple/family group of how each person involved feels. In this way, communication can become healthier and conflicts resolved.

(April 2020)


If you are suffering from the effects of being bullied, whatever your age, then counselling may be able to help you.

It is common for people to think that bullying only happens when we are at school or in a learning environment. However, individuals can experience bullying at any time of their life; at school, at work, in a social context or within a family structure, as an adult as well as a child. Whilst schools have structures in place to identify and deal with bullying, the adult within a work or family situation may feel they have nowhere to turn.

Bullying can impact very heavily on someone’s self-esteem; it can lead to any one or more of the following:

  • Social anxiety
  • Depression
  • General Anxiety Disorder
  • Irritability
  • Withdrawal
  • Suicidal thoughts

Physical symptoms may include:

  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Upset stomach
  • Tension in the body amy lead to stiffness

The impact on individuals may also lead to self-harming behaviour such as cutting, pulling out their hair, picking at their skin. Or resorting to a reliance on drugs and/or alcohol in order to cope. If you are suffering from being bullied, please do not carry on alone. Talk to someone and let them help you.

(April 2020)


(Useful website that contains self-help guides

Anxiety is something that most of us experience at sometime in our lives. We all recognise that ‘butterfly’ feeling in the pit of the stomach that indicates anxiety. As children we may have felt anxious about the start of a new school year, changing groups, not being picked for a team and/or sitting an exam or test. As adults these feelings may re-visit us if we are meeting new people, starting a new job or giving a speech. We can feel anxious when we hit a huge life event or are concerned about money problems or employment prospects.

Chronic anxiety is now a recognisable illness, in fact, 10-30% of the UK population is likely to suffer anxiety disorder at any one time: the writer Franz Kafka was a sufferer. 80 million pounds is lost annually to the UK economy with individuals who need time off because of chronic anxiety. However anxiety, although more prevalent today perhaps, is not a new phenomenon: Freud wrote about it in his text, “The Problem of Anxiety”, and Spinoza wrote, “Dread”, in which he examined our enslavement to fainting and hysteria, in the seventeenth century.

Anxiety can manifest itself physically and well as psychologically: physical symptoms such as, nausea, stomach aches, headaches and insomnia can be present. Anxiety and Depression work in co-morbidity – that is, they are often found together in the sufferer. Some people attempt coping strategies to alleviate the psychological distress caused by anxiety and depression through use alcohol, drugs, self-harm or develop OCD habits. Often these are self-defeating as they bring their own concerns, feelings of guilt and being trapped in a cycle of undermining behaviour. Anxiety often leads to circular thinking – that is, thinking the same thing in the same way over and over. There is, in many cases of Anxiety Disorder, a movement towards catastrophizing, with sufferer believing that the worst will happen whatever the indicators may be.

For the lucky ones these are transitory feelings that go away when the event is over or when the worry is sorted. However, some people live in a perpetual state of anxiety, unable to enjoy life or move forward with a sense of well being, due to overwhelming feelings of dread, panic and fear. In this instance counselling becomes a useful forum to work on anxiety issues and to talk through experiences from which anxieties originate. Behaviours and responses can be learned and if they are learned then they can also be unlearned. Help is out there. Don’t be afraid to ask.

(April 2020)