BY: Caroline Cairns Clery

Therapy

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Spirituality: The Search for Meaning

God. When it comes to religion I am with Groucho Marx, could not be part of any religion that would have me. Some would say shamefully. Perhaps even more shamefully (and I will be talking about shame in another blog), I cherry pick from the different religions. This is because I think they all in their different ways have something important to say to us.

As a psychotherapist, my experience is that when people come for help they are desperate in a very deep and meaningful way. They are experiencing a crisis in their existence and as we live in a world full of other people they are also being brave enough to look for help with that crisis. They deserve the deepest respect for that.

This existence – or existential – crisis of theirs may, in part, be to do with relationships, in part with work, in part with having previously had horrible experiences  which have made it difficult to put the memory of them back into the past where they belong, and in part, last but not least, they may be to do with very, very important personal questions like, ‘Who am I?’ and ‘Why am I behaving like this?’ and ‘What’s the point of (my) life?’.

Now these are deeply personal questions, yes, but they are also philosophical and, for want of a better word, spiritual questions too. They are about our deepest personal meaning and beliefs.

Each one of us is different, individual and unique. So each one of us at some point in our lives is likely to have to ask her or himself questions like this. Psychotherapists, as psychological servants to their patients and clients, can help them with this task, help them carry their heaviest burdens and assist them in trying to make the weight of them more bearable.

 

Blog written by Caroline Cairns Clery, Family Psychotherapist at The Surrey Centre

For more information on Carrie, visit:  www.surreycentreforcounselling.com/theteam

BY: Caroline Cairns Clery

Therapy

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Living for the Moment

Midsummer. Like Christmas – everybody looks forward to it and then in the blink of an eye it’s gone! What is it about expectation or anticipation that is often so much more exciting – snow-filled on Christmas day and rain-free in summer – than the actuality when it finally arrives?

Expectation, like so many other things in this world, comes with its own binary baggage – hope on the positive side and anxiety on the negative. Being a psychotherapist it is anxiety I want to talk about here, of course. Anxiety is always anticipatory.

Although it can seem to be in the present, as in the question whether one’s glass or plate is half full or half empty, anxiety (about too much or not enough in the glass or plate) is almost invariably future focussed. We worry whether we will be alright, whether things will go wrong. Having developed a pattern in the past of becoming anxious (eg ‘I will get so fat if I eat that pudding’,) our experience of the present with its fear of the future is spoiled.

I used the word exciting above, but it would have been more accurate perhaps to say the future is inciting. In other words, it draws us towards it. We live in time, growing older and maybe wiser. If we are to feel less imprisoned by anticipatory anxiety it is wiser to make the most of the present. It is a cliché, yes, but the present of the present is truly a gift. In the present we can actually do things to make the future feel less overwhelming.

In the present we can try to understand ourselves a little better. As best we can anyway! We can put anxiety in proper perspective, even see it, like physical pain, in almost evolutionary terms as a prompt to take care of ourselves in the here and now!

 

Blog written by Caroline Cairns Clery, Family Psychotherapist at The Surrey Centre

For more information on Carrie, visit: www.surreycentreforcounselling.com/theteam

BY: Caroline Cairns Clery

Therapy

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Getting Better

Mixed feelings. Patients and clients at The Surrey Centre often admit that they both do and  do not want to get better. Both/And! They see this as a fault, as a failing, and too often they feel ashamed of it when actually it is a truth of the human condition that we often, if not always, have mixed feelings. So ‘I like having my eating disorder, it gives me something to control’, can exist side by side with, ‘I can’t bear my eating disorder it has taken total control of my whole life’. We are full of contradictions!

So how can we learn to stop judging ourselves negatively for having mixed feelings? People coming here often say they previously found this too befuddling to think about on their own. For example, a woman may have initially started restricting her food intake and perhaps, begun to exercise rather too much, for perfectly good, legitimate reasons such as feeling a dress size too large and wanting to get fit. She often hasn’t noticed why over time she actually began using these activities to help herself cope with, even distract herself from, difficult feelings around relationships, work, depression etc,.

But sooner or later people who come to The Surrey Centre for help often say they found their dietary and fitness solutions to these relationship, work or depressive problems which were helpful at first have themselves now become a problem. Eating too little, using laxatives, even being sick after meals and exercising too much, began to take them over.

They need help to allow themselves to be human! We all do! Often, for people with eating disordered problems, this means having the courage to ask for dietetic help to eat healthily as well as psychotherapeutic help to think about the relationship problems, the work problems and/or the deeply unhappy feelings which triggered their eating disordered symptoms in the first place.

Blog written by Caroline Cairns Clery, Family Psychotherapist at The Surrey Centre

For more information on Carrie, visit: www.surreycentreforeatingdisorders.com/theteam

BY: Caroline Cairns Clery

Therapy / Uncategorised

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Insight

To better know and understand our feelings few would disagree that insightfulness is helpful.  But in and of itself insight changes very little. Unconscious, psycho-biologically driven behaviours are not much influenced at all by how much we know about them.

Clients and patients make this clear to me over and over again in their struggles with eating disordered symptoms.

Many of them say the urge to over-eat and then to purge totally overwhelms them and it does this so quickly and routinely as a response to stress that they come to The Surrey Centre in despair, feeling powerless to resist it despite knowing, i.e., having insight into the fact, that over time succumbing to it over and over again can and does cause awful damage to their bodies. And their minds, already struggling with self-respect, come to feel more and more despair about it. They need to know that I know resisting it is infinitely easier said than done.

At the other end of the spectrum the constant state of being split-off from their emotions and feelings characteristic of so many people who come with problems of self-starvation is a much slower, but in many, often subtle ways, just as overwhelming an experience. If not more so, because of how completely it affects their thinking and behaviour so that no amount of insight affects that at all. Their anorexia thrives on starvation and these women, and it is usually women, know, i.e have insight into the fact, that it does. But their insight doesn’t change it at all.

They tell me what makes a difference is feeling they are in a therapeutic relationship. Feeling understood, feeling helped, feeling they can be honest, feeling they can be in a relationship with someone who knows that normal thinking eating patterns can be recovered.

 

Blog written by Caroline Cairns Clery, Family Psychotherapist at The Surrey Centre

For more information on Carrie, visit: www.surreycentreforeatingdisorders.com/theteam