23 Mar 2018

BY: Caroline Cairns Clery


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Where to start? Where to start? Lines? Lines? Yes, okay. Yes, okay. Worlds? Worlds? Definitely! Definitely!

This can’t go on.

And it won’t! That’s enough of that. Especially as parallels are not identical. And neither are we human beings. But we do have collective patterns in common, which is a different matter. From physical characteristics like the fact that, other things being equal, we all have noses; through behaviour like the fact that, other things being equal, we all prefer to sleep at night; to mental functioning like the fact that, other things being equal, we think and feel and dream. So much so uncontentious.

Perceiving patterns, not only collectively, but personally and more minutely, which seem somehow to be similar despite the fact that they make themselves evident in completely different contexts or domains, is a different matter altogether!

Some examples: Bingeing (or restricting) on food with a parallel pattern of bingeing (or restricting) on relationship with other people. Or again and more straight-forwardly, experiencing a traumatic event and then subsequently having recurring dreams and flashbacks about it. Or again, and often more mysteriously, having experienced harm in the past and then repeatedly putting ourselves in situations which potentially or actually threaten to, or even deliver on, giving us more and similar pain in the here and now. Or again, and finally, for now anyway, repeatedly and inexplicably feeling guilty about all kinds of completely different things when we know in fact there is nothing to be feeling guilty about.

Patterns like this are often characteristic of people who seek therapy. They are cognitively and emotionally intelligent and perceptive enough about themselves to actually notice these sorts of parallels. They have also realised that their insight, understanding and ability to perceive parallel patterns, does not in itself make much, if any, difference at all to the way such patterns are adversely affecting their quality of life.

Parallel patterns in part, and speaking reductively, often might appear to simply be a product of our tendency as human beings to seek comfort in habit and making unconscious connections. But could it also be, from a more positive and purposeful perspective, that our even deeper, even more unconscious, self is trying to tell us something we have somehow forgotten or lost touch with? Taking the trauma example above, could it be that flashbacks and recurring dreams about what happened in the past, are telling us that we still have unresolved, connected feelings about it that need our attention now in the present so that we can forget about it, leave it behind us in the past where it belongs? Or again, referring to the example above of a pattern of bingeing (or restricting) on both food and relationship, that we need to attend to both to our physical and our psychological nurturing needs? Or again, if we are putting ourselves at repeated risk of harm, that we need to attend to why?

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

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

things 12 Aug 2017

BY: Caroline Cairns Clery

Anxiety / Healing / Therapy

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Is there ever a long period when we are not anxious about something?  I have spoken before in these blogs that it is often the case that when we must face and deal with the present reality of what we had been worrying about, it actually turns out to be not half as terrifying as we feared it would be beforehand. Sometimes, it is true, it turns out to be worse than what we feared, but usually our fears turn out to have been disproportionate.  Similarly, sometimes the things we were fervently hoping for can prove deeply disappointing and sometimes truly wonderful. But on the whole, once what we were hoping for actually arrives, it turns out to be mundane in comparison with our expectations.

Both hope for, and fear of, something happening involves anticipation. Anticipation, whether optimistic or fearful, usually, but not always, inflates and fills our imaginations so much more than the prosaic reality when it actually comes to pass.

Things can be so prosaic. They come and they go. Whether those things are events in our lives and relationships, or material things like a nice new dress or a new car, things always pass and move into history in a way that our sense of self never does. Even though it develops and changes through the course of our lives, our sense of self is somehow not a ‘thing’ in the way everything else is. And neither, of course, is anyone else’s sense of self a mere thing.

In psychotherapy or counselling we choose to try to be completely honest, perhaps for the first time in our lives, about our sense of self. It can be hard because our sense of self is not a thing. It is with us all the time, but it is mysterious and elusive just because it is not a thing.

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

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

mediation-image 02 Jan 2017

BY: Brian Murphy


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Meditation and Healing

To those looking for healing I strongly suggest that you very seriously look at the spiritual resources around you in your community, or search further afield to find a meditation tradition that has both depth and weight. Then enter it with reverence and to learn meditation and forms of prayer, as this will make a remarkable difference to your own meaning in life, and ultimately provide bedrock for your healing process – the journey that you are on.

Unfortunately, the meditation that the vast majority people are exposed to is the secularized and watered-down from the original meditation. It is not okay to take away something from its roots, and then expected it to function the same way, especially given the fact they were dealing with life threatening / life altering conditions. We need to be true to the source, and the source is found by returning to the tradition itself. Be that in Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam etc. The important thing is that we are authentically on a journey, and we plug into this ‘stream’ – the source!

It is my intention in writing this to wake up the treatment sector to the truth that light training in meditation is ineffective and unwise. Long-term specialized training is required to gain the real competency needed. This takes far longer than counselling or psychotherapeutic training. I feel very fortunate that I been the recipient of this via my formal monastic training as monk -15 years.  I know the difference it makes to work with people from that base, grounded in the centuries of tradition, bringing that entire specialist learning into the healing space is quite remarkably effective!

Addiction treatment and the treatment of similar conditions, which might for many people include a range of eating disorders, has been problematic for many years. In my wide experience, having run several large treatment centres in the U.K. and North America, levels of success are low chiefly because the spiritual component has as yet not been properly emphasized. I mean that the clinicians, therapist etc. have not done the preparatory work themselves, and they are simply teaching meditation and other similar spiritual approaches as a standard psychological intervention. This sidestepping ultimately negates very roots of the meditation process.

My approach, by contrast (and those of my friends) is very much about making use of the spiritual traditions that exist, plugging into thousands of years of vibrant traditions, and using psychotherapy as key component. By keeping with the original traditions, you get the benefit of an unaltered lineage that is deeply archetypal, transpersonal and intergenerational. It is a beautiful thing to see and work with! My primary purpose, as a spiritual guide is to change the person and orientate them towards what is deeply spiritual in their unfolding inner process.

Blog written by Brian Murphy, Psychotherapist at Inner Care UK in association with The Surrey Centre.

For more information on Brian and the Retreat Work he offers, please visit: http://www.surreycentreforcounselling.com/service/retreat/