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Belly Breathing and a Trip to the Circus

Posted on 6 December, 2016 at 5:45


Learn how to control your breathing and your imagination to help you feel chillaxed and calm. if you click on the Audio link below you will learn how to slow down your breathing using belly breathing. Take your time and belly breath for 5 minutes or so. Then grab your imagination and take a trip to the circus to help you learn how to relax your muscles and finally feel relaxed and calm. These exercises are good to use after a too busy day at school. Maybe you were feeling way too rushed and annoyed. Find a comfortable seat, click on the audio link below and see how you get on.

Work Life Balance.

Posted on 6 December, 2016 at 0:30

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Its Time to "Speak Up" About Men's Mental Health

Posted on 31 October, 2016 at 2:15

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The Term "Man Up" might be in need of a bit of an over-haul. Watch this video and consider its time to Speak Up!!!   

The ABC of CBT - A beginners guide to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Posted on 22 April, 2015 at 21:45


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Posted on 22 April, 2015 at 21:25

Mindfulness: Beware the Hype

Dean Burnett, The Guardian Newspaper, 22 April 2015

It’s a useful tool, but an army of therapists and counsellors would be needed for mindfulness to have the reach and effectiveness of drug-based interventions. Don’t throw away the antidepressants just yet.

‘The general gist of mindfulness is that, via a variety of techniques, it enables you to be more aware of your cognitive processes, and allows you to pay attention to what you’re thinking and feeling, and therefore maintain a calmer, more objective perspecti

A new study reports that mindfulness can be as effective as pills for treating recurrent depression. This is nice to hear. But is it believable? Is mindfulness really as potent as strong pharmaceuticals?


You hear a lot about mindfulness these days. It seems to have spawned an industry based around people trumpeting its benefits in various unlikely areas of modern life, such as weight loss, parenting, business leadership, horticulture (probably) and so on. This has also prompted a backlash, with many describing the popularity of mindfulness as a “fad”

It’s hard to blame people for this conclusion; when something has more dedicated apps than conclusive clinical studies, it does seem that it may have gone overboard. It’s almost got to the point where “mindfulness” is the psychological version of “quantum”; a term used by those who want to sound knowledgeable and convincing, without necessitating any awareness of what the word actually means.


This isn’t to say that there’s nothing to mindfulness at all; it’s got enough evidence for its effectiveness to have been endorsed by the NHS (then again, you could say the same about homeopathy until recently).

One potential problem that undoubtedly leads to confusion is that there is no specific definition of mindfulness that is agreed on 100% by scientists and practitioners. This may be to do with its more spiritual/religious origins coupled with the fact that anything that applies to how the inner mind works is inevitably going to be quite fuzzy and diffuse, given the intangible nature of the subject matter.


Overall though, the general gist of mindfulness is that, via a variety of techniques, it enables you to be more aware of your cognitive processes, and allows you to pay attention to what you’re thinking and feeling, and therefore maintain a calmer, more objective perspective. Such introspective methods of self-analysis are what the very first psychologists used to study the mind, so it would be churlish to dismiss them outright.


You can sort of see how it would be useful for things like depression, though. Depression is a mood disorder, where people suffer debilitating bouts of self-loathing, and dwell on unpleasant emotions which exacerbates and perpetuates the problem. Mindfulness teaches people to be more aware of their moods and to treat them more objectively. Such an approach obviously has the potential to be useful for anyone who suffers from an abundance of negative feelings. The study seems to support this idea.


However, there are several important caveats to consider before advising people to throw away their medication in favour of meditative practices and breathing exercises.


There is no specific definition of mindfulness that is agreed on 100% by scientists and practitioners

Firstly, while the study states that mindfulness (combined with cognitive behavioural therapy approaches) can stave off recurrent depression as well as antidepressants, it doesn’t prevent it entirely; it just stops it happening as often. In fairness, the same goes for medication. Depression is a real pain in that regard.


Perhaps more revealingly, the study recruited subjects diagnosed with depression who had suffered three or more major episodes and were on a maintenance dose of antidepressants. This may not seem important, but it may be crucial. Vitally, every subject in the study was already at the stage where they were being treated. One of the major hurdles of depression, and other mental illness, is that it prevents you from thinking or behaving rationally (from a typical person’s perspective). Engaging in the techniques and approaches required for mindfulness would require the ability to be objective and the willingness to look closely at your feelings and emotions. This is something many depression sufferers have great difficulty with. The subjects in the study had thankfully progressed to the point where they could do this, but those in the early stages of depression may have far more difficulty even attempting the approach that mindfulness recommends.


Add to this the fact that an army of therapeutic experts and counsellors would be required to apply mindfulness techniques to all the depression sufferers in the UK alone, and it’s clear that it cannot provide the cheap, blanket approach offered by pharmacological interventions. It may be a useful approach, but we still need to separate the hype from the reality.

Contact Lisa Pola Counsellin if you wish to explore Mindfullness techniques to manage wellbeing.



Sometimes a good Irish Coffee.....

Posted on 12 March, 2015 at 5:00

The Perfect Irish Coffee

(Makes 1)


50ml cold double or whipping cream


2 tbsp soft brown muscovado


50ml whiskey, preferably Irish


150ml-200ml freshly brewed coffee




Fill a heatproof glass with hot water and leave to stand. Whip the cream until the bubbles disappear and it has just started to thicken and form ribbons underneath the whisk; it is better to err on the side of too thin at this point. Put back in the fridge.


Dissolve the sugar in two tablespoons of hot water in a small pan and bring to the boil. It should go syrupy almost immediately, unless you’re scaling up for a crowd.


Take the sugar off the heat and stir in the whiskey. Empty the glass and pour the sweetened whiskey into the bottom, then stir in the coffee. Take the cream out of the fridge, whisk once, then pour it on over the back of a spoon (this helps to stop it sinking). Grate a little nutmeg over the top and serve immediately.


Irish coffee: a fine creation, or something best left in dark, sticky confines of the Irish theme pub?

Mental Illness In The Work place : Justice Shane Marshall speaks up

Posted on 24 February, 2015 at 21:10

ABC Radio National (Background Briefing) is currently running a series on mental health in the work place.   An excerpt from the audito transcript is posted below.   ABC IView has currently placed audio and transcripts on their website.

As part of a Background Briefing series on mental illness in the work place, Di Martin spoke to Justice Shane Marshall of the Federal Court. In an Australian first, the judge spoke candidly about his struggles with depression and the mental health issues that face the legal profession.

In what’s believed to be an Australian first, a sitting judge has agreed to be interviewed about his struggle with depression.

Justice Shane Marshall has been a Federal Court judge for 20 years.

‘I was first diagnosed with depression in 2008 and was given a mild antidepressant and some strategies for recovery by a psychologist,’ he told Background Briefing.

According to Justice Marshall, the heavy responsibilities of being a senior judge contributed to his illness.

‘The full complement of judges in the Federal Court in Victoria was 13. We were running at 10. I was looking after Tasmania as well,’ he said.

‘I remember coming back from holidays, coming back sick, and just continuing to work sick, being in a hotel room in Hobart and not been able to sleep because every time I coughed it felt like there was a knife going through my back, and then having to sit there and listen to submissions and then write the judgement. It was just relentless.’

The legal profession is renowned for high rates of mental illness—surveys show one in three lawyers and law students suffer depression. Justice Marshall says the pressures are getting worse.

‘One is almost tempted to go to law school and put up a sign up:”Beware: toxic profession.”’

While lawyers and some high profile barristers have revealed they live with a mental illness, there are few judges who have ever spoken publicly about the issue, and none that have been interviewed to the knowledge of Background Briefing.

Justice Marshall said the intense stigma around revealing a mental illness meant he went undiagnosed until seven years ago when a friend insisted he seek help.

‘I had a very supportive doctor who threatened to drag me to a psychologist connected to his practice if I didn't make the first appointment; but for that I probably would never have gone.’

Justice Marshall wants to break the silence around mental health on the bench, and to challenge the stigma that prevented him from seeking assistance.

‘I was just too proud to go to the chief justice and say I need help. Part of that was just the way I was brought up,’ he said.

‘Dad was a wharfie and Mum was a migrant factory worker. I was taught never to show any sign of weakness, just if there was an issue to tough it through.’

This article represents part of a larger Background Briefing program. Listen to the full report on Sunday at 8.05 am, repeated on Tuesday at 9.05pm.

Justice Marshall specialized in industrial relations law at the bar before being appointed to the bench by the Keating government in 1995.

With his working class background and frequent representation of unions, Justice Marshall’s appointment was not universally welcomed.

‘There was a feeling in some of the legal establishment that this person had come from an industrial relations background, who acted on the union side of the fence, had no right being on the Federal Court when the silks around coveted that job,’ he said.

‘So there was a lot of whispering and I suppose people who weren’t very happy about it.’

Justice Marshall says he worked three times as hard to overcome his symptoms, and no issues have been raised with either his judgments or his conduct on the bench. He says mental illness is no different from any chronic physical condition that needs to be managed with medication.

Two of his colleagues haven’t spoken to him since he first spoke up about his depression, however.

‘I don't know whether that's disapproval or they find it difficult to deal with it, or I have inadvertently offended them in some other way.’

Justice Marshall mentors young lawyers, and is worried about the growing pressures they face. He says that with an increased number of law schools, competition for jobs is intense.

Mental illness from stress is costing employers

If you are struggling with work related stress consider speaking  to your workplace /  GP to discuss referral pathways.  If your organisation offers an  Employee Assistance Program this might be a good first start.   Lisa Pola Counselling is available to contact to discuss counselling sessions in collaboration with your GP.  

There's A Hole In My Street ... .

Posted on 15 February, 2015 at 1:15

Fantastic video adapation of Portia Nelson's Poem "There's A Hole In My Street".  

Community North West and Artists have done a brilliant piece on cycling through the hard slog of personal development and change.  (read previous blog post for more details on Portia Nelson).  

Congratulations to all on this fantastic effort.  Thank you for sharing on YouTube.

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Keep on Keeping on......

Posted on 14 February, 2015 at 23:35

Personal growth and recovery can be hard work....


The good news is that there are now many avenues of support  available.

Online self help resources including e-therapies are emerging as the next wave of counselling treatments.  However, face to face counselling services will always be available to clients who prefer direct contact.

Visting your GP to discuss your emotional and psychological health status is always a good first start.  

Whatever route you choose to address your emotional and psychological wellbeing commitment and dogged determination will serve you well in goal achievement.

The late personal development author and entertainer  Portia Nelson is cautiously accredited with writing the following poem from her autobiography "There's a Hole in my Sidewalk".    

Debate continues around the authorship of Ms Nelson's poem but nonetheless "There's a Hole in my Sidewalk" continues to be reprinted and adopted by recovery facilities and motivational speakers.  



There's a Hole in the Sidewalk

I walk down the street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I fall in.

I am lost ... I am helpless.

It isn't my fault.

It takes me forever to find a way out.



I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I pretend I don't see it.

I fall in again.

I can't believe I am in the same place.

But it isn't my fault.

It still takes a long time to get out.



I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I see it is there.

I still fall in ... it's a habit.

My eyes are open.

I know where I am.

It is my fault.

I get out immediately.



I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I walk around it.



I walk down another street.

Portia Nelson
There's a Hole in My Sidewalk: The Romance of Self Discovery
(Beyond Words Publishing reissued in 1993)