Chudleigh Counselling and Psychotherapy

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By devon-counselling, Feb 10 2014 08:03PM

Watching the effects of the floods on television recently, it’s quite easy to feel shocked at the awesome power of the sea and to imagine the emotions of those most closely affected. Seeing people mopping out their flood spoilt homes or recovering possessions from a house perched precariously on the edge of a gaping void, one can empathise with their depression and sadness, perhaps their anger and frustration as well; but are there feelings that many of us cannot quite comprehend?

Many affected appear to demonstrate a great stoicism, a very British character trait and we are likely admire them for it, while also sympathising with those who are not coping so well. But do we really see the true picture? What happens when the television cameras have gone and the rest of us move on with our lives?

What many have experienced in the past few weeks could be classified as psychological trauma. When faced with danger the normal physiological response would be a rush of adrenaline which readies the body for action together with a raised level of alertness, feelings of fear and anger. However, when an experience is so extreme that action is futile then it is truly traumatic and these normally integrated functions can become dislocated. There can be profound and lasting change in physiological arousal, emotion, cognition and memory such that an individual may sometimes feel emotion with little memory of what happened or, conversely, remember everything but feel no emotion. There may be nightmares and flashbacks or a general sense of unease.

In order for a person to recover from such an experience, physical safety must be restored and the person must have the opportunity to piece together the story of what happened to them, to be able to make sense of it. Unfortunately, especially for the current flood victims, it may take a long time for their homes to be safe again or for them to find a new, safe haven. Some may find comfort in being able to relate their stories to friends and families but others will struggle on, trying to get on with their lives, without being able to talk about it.

Such people could benefit greatly from having the support of counselling at this difficult time. With a counsellor, the person can explore all the implications of what has happened, not be forced to put on a brave face for the sake of others, but truly acknowledge and express all their feelings in a safe place with a compassionate professional who can help them put themselves back together in a way that allows them to put the events behind them.

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but an opportunity to regain strength and positivity.

By devon-counselling, Jan 25 2014 01:15PM

Something that keeps coming up when I'm working with couples is the different ways that we show our love for our partners and how often, sadly, such apparently simple communication can go awry.

What can trip us up is that there is not one single, simple language of love (despite what the songs say). And we generally show love to our partners in the way that we like to receive it, without realising that we might as well be 'speaking Russian' for all the effect it has. For example, Your partner might make you an early morning cup of tea because he is feeling loving towards you. Sadly, you might not realise his motivation. You might just think he's trying to hurry you to get up! Meanwhile, you might be feeling a bit unloved because it's been a very long time since he actually said that he loves you. Because you haven't talked about this, you could potentially go on failing to communicate and gradually become distant and discontented.

What we should be doing is asking the our partner how they would like to be shown love. What can we say or do, to let them know they are loved?

For example when one person was asked what an expression of love was for him, he said it was when his partner held his hand when they were out in town shopping. It didn't have to be all the time, but by slipping her hand into his occasionally, for just a few moments, he experienced a real lift and it helped him feel connected to her. The importance of this example is that she had no idea this small gesture was so significant to him.

Some people are resistant to telling their partner what it is that they actually like, because they think that this somehow devalues the loving gesture. Maybe this belief was okay when we were children and our parents often seemed to know exactly what we needed. But when we are adults, it's a far better strategy to teach our partner our particular 'language' of love and then we can sit back and reap the reward.

How about asking your partner today how you can show them your love and then let them know what does it for you. You may be surprised by the results.