Nicola CharrettCounsellor & Psychotherapist
Online and in Winchester, Hampshire

How Anxiety Can Help Overcome Fear Of Covid Jab

Everyone is familiar with conspiracy theorists opposed to people being vaccinated for what can often seem bizarre reasons. But that’s far from the only reason some will be hesitant to get the jab.

For some, the fear of needles - trypanophobia - is the real impediment to them getting the vaccination. Indeed, some may use purported fears over safety and testing as a cover for this.

This week, the Independent reported that a study carried out by Oxford University and published in Psychological Magazine found people with a phobia of injections were twice as likely to refuse the Covid jab. The survey of 154,000 UK adults found around a quarter of them had a potential needle phobia.

Researchers concluded that if trypanophobia were eliminated, vaccine hesitancy would be cut by ten per cent.
Speaking to the Independent, study leader Professor Daniel Freeman said: “For people with injection phobia, the sight, say, of a hypodermic needle will prompt an initial increase in heart rate and blood pressure.”

He added that as this drops people may faint, and the thought of passing out while awaiting the jab may put some off having it.

Surrey may find psychotherapy may find psychotherapy helps enable them to overcome this fear, which often manifests itself in anxiety at the thought of getting the jab and may be linked to unpleasant past experiences with needles and injections.

Work is ongoing to develop needle-free Covid vaccinations, with researchers at the University of Queensland in Brisbane working on a new patch, rather like the nicotine patches used by those trying to stop smoking.

However, even if it soon becomes possible to vaccinate against Covid without a needle, there are many other situations where people might need an injection in future, such as the flu jab, blood tests, dental appointments and the administration of anaesthetic.

For that reason, therapy to overcome trypanophobia will not just help with Covid jabs, but bring lifelong benefits.

Study Suggests MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy Could Help With PTSD

A series of clinical trials suggest that a breakthrough therapy that combines traditional psychotherapy with a psychoactive drug.

The most recent trial, currently awaiting publication in the journal Nature Medicine, combined 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), with targeted psychotherapy and found that over two thirds (67 per cent) of people who took part no longer qualified for a PTSD diagnosis.

As well as this, 88 per cent of the 90 patients who took part, who had PTSD caused by either combat-related trauma, accidents, abuses or sexual harm, found a meaningful reduction in symptoms compared to placebo treatment.

The reasons for this are still unclear, but it is believed that MDMA helps to reduce anxiety during the recall of traumatic memories, a core component of psychotherapy as it relates to PTSD.

PTSD is optimally treated when a patient is not feeling the three main symptoms of PTSD:

Intrusion: flashbacks, nightmares and intrusive thoughts,

Hyper-arousal: Insomnia, aggressive behaviour and hyper-vigilant reactions,

Avoidance: withdrawing from social activities and avoiding any stimuli similar to the cause of the trauma.

MDMA in combination with therapy has been reported to help reduce anxiety and defensiveness and allow patients to explore traumatic memories without being overwhelmed, as well as improving empathy and bonding between the patient and therapist.

The combination of the pair is important, and whilst there have been suggestions that MDMA-assisted therapy could be approved by government health bodies, the psychoactive drug itself may not be approved outside of the context of assisted psychotherapy.

For more information and advice from an accredited Surrey psychotherapist, get in touch today.

How Can Bereavement Counselling Help You?

The death of a loved one can be utterly overwhelming, and the feelings of loss and grief can be emotionally draining. Bereavement describes the sense of loss we feel after the death of someone we care about. But can anything be done to help?

It’s normal to experience a range of emotions, including anger, sadness, loneliness, guilt and anxiety during bereavement. But there’s no right or wrong way to feel. It affects people in different ways.

However, seeking counselling can help you work through such a difficult time, as noted by singer Sir Tom Jones, who, according to the get in touch today, had grief counselling when his wife of 59 years, Linda, dies in 2016.

How to cope with bereavement
The rush of emotions that result from the death of a loved one can be overwhelming. You must allow yourself time to grieve and remember that there is no right or wrong way to feel. Grief can be a unique and very personal experience.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to coping with bereavement, and what works will depend on each individual. How long it takes to learn how to cope with grief will also vary between individuals.

Part of the process is adjusting to living in a world that seems vastly different without your loved one, and the realisation that any dreams and plans you had with this person will no longer happen.

Sometimes it can be useful to try and differentiate between the feelings of loss, and the necessary adjustments that need to be made to find a way to live with the passing of a loved one.

What is bereavement counselling?
Some people may work out how to deal with bereavement with the help of family and friends, while others may need the support of a professional counsellor.

Bereavement counsellors are trained and qualified to help you process the feelings you have as you go through the stages of grief - denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance - and adapt to your new life.

Counselling provides a safe and supportive space in which clients can allow their most painful feelings to be expressed and witnessed, and can help you understand your complex and painful emotions and reduce the distress you may have about how you are feeling.

If you’re looking for a Surrey counsellor, get in touch today.

Tips To Tackle Nighttime Anxiety

If you’re having trouble getting to sleep at night, with your mind full of anxious thoughts such as the things you haven’t done, bills that need to be paid, meetings to prepare for at work, it can leave you feeling upset, irritable, and ultimately acerbate your anxiety.

Anxiety can be a major cause of insomnia, as well as many other reasons, such as waking up in pain, or Painsomnia. Often the causes are due to the fact when we go to bed, we just stop. Without busying ourselves with the distractions of our waking lives, any feelings of stress or anxiety are magnified when we go to bed.

So what can you do about it? Here are some tips to help tackle night-time anxiety

Prepare for bed

Get into a proper night-time routine so that you’re ready for bed at the same time each night, and wake at the same time each day. Avoid screen for at least an hour before bed, not only to avoid doomscrolling, but the light from smartphones, laptops and tablets can disrupt your circadian rhythms.

Acknowledge your anxiety

Instead of trying to ignore your anxiety, try to acknowledge it. Take note of what it is and how it feels. Sometimes identifying your anxiety can help it shift, as often it can be the fear of feeling it that can cause the issues.

Breathe it out

Meditating or practising deep breathing exercises before bed can help you offload any burdens and wind down. A good place to start is by taking 10 deep breaths. Focus on breathing deeply in through your nose and out through your mouth should calm your fight/flight response.

Do a ‘polyvagal’ exercise

The vagus nerve – which is the longest cranial nerve in the body – can be used to counteract your fight/flight system, which is important in reducing anxiety.

To calm your nervous system down, try sitting or lying comfortably. Then turn your head to one side as far as is comfortable, turning your eyes as far as you can in that direction. Stay there until you yawn, breathe deeply or sigh, and repeat on the other side.

Most importantly, remember to be kind to yourself, and if you’re suffering in bed at night, try getting up, have a walk, make a cup of tea, and try to sleep again in a short while.

If you need a Leatherhead psychotherapist, get in touch today.

How Do You Truly Define A Narcissist?

Many psychological terms are overused in common parlance, and one of these is the term narcissist, which is used to seemingly describe anyone who talks about themselves too much.

Narcissism, or more accurately people who have been diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder is a personality disorder with such limited research it was nearly omitted from the DSM-5: one of two main manuals for classifying mental disorders along with the ICD-11.

Narcissism is not about a positive self-image but about its extremes whether this comes at the expense of other people and how fragile it ultimately is. According to the DSM-5, narcissism consists of nine primary criteria:

A grandiose sense of self-importance, typically with the expectation that others will treat you the same way,

An obsession with power fantasies and the symbols of status, such as attractiveness, intelligence, brilliance, love and success,

An extreme self-perception of specialness. A narcissist will believe themselves to be superior to others and should be linked to
people of high status,

A need for admiration from others consistently,

An entitlement complex. They believe they deserve special treatment, to be listened to and obeyed,

A willingness to exploit the work of other people to gain success, status or power,

An unwillingness to empathise with the feelings of other people to the point that other people’s needs seemingly do not exist,

Extreme envy of other people, but also a belief that other people were just as envious.

Arrogant, pompous and superior behaviours.

One primary aspect of narcissism that is commonly found in literature is that narcissists have a fragile sense of self, and many of the criteria above highlight attempts to maintain a sense that they are exceptional.

For more information and advice from a Surrey psychotherapist, get in touch today.

Why Do We Procrastinate?

Procrastination is a mental process that is far too often misinterpreted and stigmatised, but by understanding the root causes for procrastination we can help manage our circumstances to lessen its impact on our lives.

It is no secret that we have become more fatigued, irritable, find it harder to sleep and are more prone to procrastination over the last year. It is also known as quarantine fatigue.

However, all of these conditions are interconnected and their causes are not rooted in what you would expect.

Fatigue is not about tiredness but mental exhaustion and stress. Irritability is as much about stress as it is about frustration and anger. Poor sleep patterns have been connected to fatigue and anxiety, and procrastination is not connected to laziness but is a coping strategy.

Procrastination, which is defined psychologically as voluntarily delaying an intended act despite an expectation of negative consequences, is rooted in our impulsive limbic system, as opposed to the prefrontal cortex which manages our future planning and other complex emotions.

When we are overpowered by strong emotions, the limbic system takes over, which is why we procrastinate on major tasks and focus on short term relief. This is also why we engage in “revenge bedtime procrastination”, or staying up late to enjoy ourselves in revenge for fatigue.

The first step to helping with procrastination is not to be as harsh on ourselves. Research has found that self-compassion as well as mindfulness exercises can help reduce the effects of procrastination because they allow us to come to terms and move past negative emotions.

As well as this, breaking tasks down into steps helps to remove the enormity of a task and helps improve productivity.

Accountability and rewards can also help by changing which parts of the brain are being stimulated.

For more information, advice and counselling from a Surrey psychotherapist, get in touch today.

How Do You Recommend Counselling To A Loved One?

If you’ve had the benefit and a positive experience from counselling or therapy, it may be tempting to nudge friends or loved ones to take the same action. But how can you do it sensitively, and what if they’re not interested?

It can be hard to see those close to us suffering and struggling emotionally, and it’s our nature to want to help. The pandemic has had a detrimental effect on many people, whether it’s from isolation due to the lockdown, or even .

Such compassion and concern should be admired, but it can also be problematic. They might not be open or ready for treatment, and it can be difficult to understand why they wouldn’t leap at the chance to engage with a treatment that would benefit them. So, how can you safely navigate this situation?

1. Provide them with (expectation-free) information

Providing information, whether it’s a leaflet, website details, or positive feedback from your own experiences is a good place to start. Done with respect and without ultimatums can open up a discussion about counselling, and you may provide them with some information they had not considered.

2. Be mindful of any hidden messages

You may intend to tell your loved one that you want the best for them, but there remains the possibility that they hear ‘you need fixing’, causing them to react defensively. Reinforce that you want to help them be the best they can, not that there is something wrong with them.

3. Consider what the ‘issue’ really is

Tale a moment to reflect on what you think the ‘problem’ is. Do they even consider it to be an issue, or is it something that bothers you more than them? It may that you need to work through the issue with a professional first.

If you’re looking for a Leatherhead counsellor, get in touch today.

Women Struggling With Work-Related Stress More Than Men

Women in the UK are suffering more from stress at work caused by the Covid-19 pandemic than men, new research from LinkedIn shows.

Business Leader reported on the findings of the professional network’s latest Workforce Confidence Index, which found that 73 per cent of women had reported work-related stress in the last month compared to 57 per cent of men.

The news provider noted that this indicates that the global pandemic is likely to hit women’s careers harder than their male counterparts.

In addition, it pointed out that 37 per cent of women were checking in on work outside of working hours in 2020, compared to 29 per cent of men.

Women have also been more likely to spend time looking for a new job in 2020, although the publication noted that a survey by LinkedIn in December found that the hiring rate for women over the age of 30 hit its lowest point during the first lockdown in April.

UK editor at LinkedIn Emily Spaven told the news provider that this is evidence that the global pandemic is having a greater negative impact on women and their careers than men. “Our latest data shows women are spending more time than men working out of hours or searching for new roles - often while juggling work with increased family responsibilities,” she said.

Research published recently by the University of East Anglia found that women were drinking alcohol more frequently during the first national lockdown in the UK, although alcohol consumption across both men and women increased during this period.

The study also found that, while women were drinking more often than men, men were consuming more per drinking session.

If you are struggling to deal with the stress caused by the global pandemic, either due to changes at work or in your home life, and feel you would benefit from some counselling sessions with a Leatherhead psychotherapist, contact me today.

The Relationship Between Physical And Mental Health

The mind and the body are two distinct entities, but when considering mental health and physical health, the two should be considered as being connected.

Poor physical health can lead to an increased risk of developing mental health problems. Similarly, poor mental health can negatively impact on physical health, leading to an increased risk of some conditions, such as heart disease and stroke, according to the British Heart Foundation.

There are several ways in which mental health can have a detrimental effect on our physical health.

People with the highest levels of self-rated distress are 32 per cent are more likely to die from cancer, and schizophrenia has been linked to double the risk of death from heart disease, and three times the risk from respiratory disease.

Your mental health can be affected by your physical health too, for better and for worse. Regular exercise is a great way to improve your mental wellbeing as it releases the feel-good chemicals called endorphins in the brain. Even a brisk 10-minute walk can boost your mood.

Good nutrition and a healthy diet can also influence how we feel. A healthy balanced diet is one that includes healthy amounts of proteins, essential fats, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and water.

Promoting positive mental health can often be overlooked when treating a physical condition. One such condition is psoriasis, which is an auto-immune condition characterised by red flaky sores on the skin and is typically triggered by stress. 1.8 million people in the UK are affected by psoriasis, and it can have an impact on emotional as well as physical wellbeing.

You should always talk your GP if any physical ailments are affecting your mental health, and a Leatherhead psychotherapist can also help with any mental health issues, so talk to us today.

Why Do We Give Presents Psychologically?

Christmas is rapidly approaching, and many of us have either already started or are planning to start our shopping for what looks to be a very different looking festive season.

This poses the interesting question for a Leatherhead psychotherapist; why, from a psychological perspective, do we give presents and what makes it such a wonderful experience for us.

Naturally, there are some sociological factors involved, particularly for big gift-giving events; we give presents because other people are doing the same. However, that does not get to the heart of why we find it so enjoyable, and indeed so stressful to choose a gift we know someone will like.

Research from the Journal of Consumer Research, which typically looks at questions like this from a more sociological and consumer research standpoint, have taken a look at the question from an anthropological standpoint and found some interesting results.

They found there was more to the psychology of gift-giving then simply the event that requires us to. In doing this study they found there were two primary goals in play when giving someone a gift, both of which are connected but completely identical.

The first is that the gift should make the recipient happy, which usually means giving them a gift they want. The second part of this is that the gift should strengthen the relationship between the two, which means giving them a thoughtful gift.

The problem, of course, comes that if you ask someone for a gift then it’s less thoughtful because they bought what you asked for, and the second part is riskier as you may get them a present they very much do not want.

When we succeed at both it provides a wonderful feeling, because it confirms that a strong relationship has been based on a foundation of mutual understanding, and few things are as affirming as feeling seen, appreciated and understood.

Study Finds Psychotherapy Effective When Medication Isn’t

A meta-analysis on the use of psychotherapy in anxiety and mood disorders where the initial medical treatment was not effective showed psychotherapy to be an effective treatment for improving the quality of life of people.

The study, published in Clinical Psychology Review, highlighted the need for a range of treatment options for people suffering with their mental health, from pharmacology to psychotherapy.

The meta-analysis showed that non-responders (people who do not improve after a course of prescription medication) responded very well to psychotherapy more often than not, with no significant differences depending on the particular disorder.

This proves that for anxiety sufferers in Surrey, a psychotherapist may be an effective option for treatment if medication is not working or has problematic side effects.

How Does Psychotherapy Differ From Pharmacotherapy?

When someone is suffering a mental disorder such as anxiety or depression, there are several options available, but the most effective and successful ones involve pharmacotherapy, psychotherapy or a combination of both.

Pharmacotherapy is the use of medication to help regulate the clinical symptoms of mental disorders and can only be prescribed by psychiatrists.

These medicines can affect behaviours and moods, and require careful analysis of a person’s condition to make sure the medicine works at intended.

Psychology on the other hand is a range of therapy methods where a mental health professional will help to resolve and overcome issues to improve a person’s mental state. This can involve working on underlying issues, resolving behaviours and helping to navigate crises.

Help For Better Mental Health During Lockdown 2.0

There is a growing awareness of the impact that the changes in our routines, the isolation, and COVID-19 related anxieties can have on our general mental health as the UK entered its second national lockdown.

However, it’s is worth keeping in mind that it is completely natural to be anxious about your health, that health of loved ones and friends, and uncertainties with finances and jobs. There are various ways in which we can help ourselves to manage our mental health better during the lockdown and the winter months.

Normalise it

Being able to normalise the situation can be a powerful tool in our arsenal to help manage our uncomfortable feelings. Remember to be kind to yourself, self soothe, and remind yourself that the lockdown is understandable and manageable, and try to make it all make logical sense.

Acknowledgement that the lockdown and the spike in infections are expected and normal for a pandemic, which, while is out of the ordinary for us, is being well-charted and predicted.

Accept the right here and now

Our minds will inevitably drift to fears about the future, a whole, sometimes irrational series of ‘what ifs’. While we might not have much power to affect the course of a global pandemic, focussing on what we have right now and what we are thankful for is a healthier way of coping.

Concentrate on the benefits of the lockdown, more time with family, no early morning commutes, even opportunity to finish that Netflix boxset.

Have hope

Hope and faith in the future can help make you feel better, and making yourself feel better during times of stress through positive psychological and behavioural methods is priceless.

Help others

When trouble seem so large that there doesn’t appear to be a way out, reaching out to others provides a sense of perspective and purpose. Whether it’s picking up some items at the supermarket for a neighbour, or providing socially distanced support, it will help.

Importantly, avoid drink and drugs, as that will not help you manage your stress, anxiety, depression or sleep issues. Do not buy into the fear, and maintain sensible measures for infection control.

If you are looking for a Leatherhead counsellor, get in touch..

Could Virtual Reality Be The Future Of Psychotherapy?

When it comes to talking therapies, the environment in which you talk to a therapist matters With an increasing number of sessions taking place remotely as a result of the current circumstances, several technologically driven solutions are being considered in the field.

One of the most interesting is the use of Virtual Reality for both one-to-one and group therapy sessions. A study published in Leatherhead, psychotherapy showcased the potential for the technology for people with body dysmorphic symptoms.

The study fitted VR headsets to a group of people who then customised their virtual avatar to resemble themselves.

This gradually builds up to mirror exposure therapy, where the person looks in a virtual mirror at their virtual avatar, being able to make adjustments to this body whilst all the while talking to their therapist about their concerns, thoughts and feelings about themselves.

What makes virtual reality so powerful for many psychotherapy goals is that it removes the feeling of judgement that can so often be a barrier to help.

At the same time, the control over the virtual environment and the ability to at the same time know they are safe in the simulation and also be exposed to what resembles the real environment that causes anxiety is a huge benefit.

As well as this, virtual reality sessions can be done remotely and yet feel like the therapist is in the same room as you, meaning that on a practical level they are particularly beneficial right now as so many therapy sessions take place remotely.

Even if the patient is away from Leatherhead, psychotherapy sessions operated in VR can potentially provide a greater level of care than telephone or video call therapy.

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