White Flower
It is likely during your time on one of my Healing Weeks that you will experience the difference between these four types of ‘talk therapy’.  If you have ever sat in a therapy session as a client it is quite obvious that there are certain guidelines and boundaries controlling the nature of the ‘therapeutic relationship’.  Of course, it is absolutely vital that you can rely on the professionalism of the therapist and that the focus of attention is directed towards you at all times.
During a Healing Week all those ethical and professional guidelines remain in place.  There will however be a variety of environments in which we shall be talking and the unique nature of this intensive work means that, at times, there will be an opportunity to just chat.  In this case it is made very clear that the less structured feel to the conversation does not mean the abandonment of ethical guidelines regarding the therapeutic relationship and client confidentiality.  It is the clear and obvious adherence to these guidelines that allows the client to relax and know that they are safe and secure at all times.
Talk Therapies
The counselling experience is, of all the ‘talk therapies’, an environment of inner exploration.  It is, if you will, as if you have a definite but difficult journey you wish to make through a jungle.  You know that on the other side of that jungle is something you’ve always wanted but for which you haven’t dared to make the journey; perhaps it just feels too challenging or even dangerous.  A successful counselling experience is one where you feel that someone has been able to walk alongside you and help you negotiate the difficult parts of your journey because they’ve undertaken a similar path before you.  Your guide does not take over your journey but merely shines a torch to light the way.  You have been enabled to make all the decisions about which route to take and which to ignore and the success is all yours!
As a Counselling Psychologist, I have undergone 6 years of my own therapeutic process and still, to this day (because life is ever changing) I fall back on the guidance of that experience.  The joy of having been guided through the jungle, that life can sometimes be, is that once it is negotiated one can recognise similar patterns and observe, with better judgment, future pitfalls that can be avoided.
At its most wonderful, and invigorating, counselling is a journey of challenges;  it can be a wonder to us to experience the new ability to confront them.  With a renewed vigour we can embrace life knowing that we can walk away from the old fears that have kept us locked into endlessly repeating the same patterns of behaviour.
Doing what you have always done
Gets you what you have always got


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- coaching -

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So how does Coaching differ from Counselling?  Well, literally, a Coach is someone who encourages, motivates, explains and demonstrates.  A good coach will know what it feels like to be coached and understand the delicate balance between encouraging and ‘advice giving’.  The ultimate aim of coaching is to explore the areas of ‘can do’ in a client’s life and help them to grow.  It may be that the only ‘can do’ available to someone is to have enough energy to just exist.
Sometimes, All it takes
Is just …
Scuba Diver with Giant Fish
The reason I say ‘can do’ is because the minute we try to focus on bettering the things we can’t do we will often elicit fear which then disengages us from doing anything.  By identifying what someone can do we can develop building blocks to find out what else someone is capable of and build successes from there. 
A Coaching analogy…  
Jane dreamt of owning a beautiful vintage car but knew she’d never be able to afford one.  She knew she didn’t have the resources to even begin to imagine that she could one day be driving around town in an elegant vintage car.  One day Jane mentioned this dream to a friend but laughed it off as a silly idea.  The friend said “are you up for an adventure”?  Jane looked confused, whereupon the friend said “I know someone who collects old car parts - his backyard is full of them and he needs to get rid of them otherwise his wife is going to consider an ‘alternative lifestyle!’.  Seriously Jane, he always wanted to build one of those old beauties but never got around to it and now it’s too late - he needs to get rid of the whole lot and the only price to pay would be to take the whole lot off his hands.”  Jane was aghast and wondered if her friend was mad or had considered the logistical problem of finding a home for all that junk.  “But Jane, are you blind?  You know I work in the car industry and as such don’t you think I’d have friends who would be only too happy to help?  I wish you’d thought of talking to me before, you could be driving around like the Lady of the Manor by now!”  Jane was now rather nervous and demanded of her friend what exactly was it that she was meant to do with the scrap heap.  “Jane, you may not have the financial resources to buy a new vintage car BUT you do have the resources at your fingertips to allow you to build your own vintage car …..”
This analogy shows us how we often fail to see the resources we already have to achieve the dreams we have written off as ‘just a dream’. 

Being able to identify: 
a) our resources and, b) the things that are truly difficult for us to do, allows us then to draw a realistic picture of where we actually stand in terms of fulfilling our life’s desire.  Coaching helps people discover any ‘invisible’ resources they haven’t ever considered and realistically works with the client to start ‘filling in the gaps’ in ways that they may never have thought possible.
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- mentoring
Sara & Ciara (& Golden Retriever) Chatting
Everybody benefits from a good old fashioned ‘chinwag’!
Believe it or not, it is possible to just have a good old chat with all the ethical guidelines around therapeutic relationships maintained steadfastly in place.

Sometimes, in a therapeutic setting, it is normal to just want to have a bit of a ‘gas’ - to just chat about this and that and to have a bit of a laugh.  Truth be known, most therapy clients are often curious to know a little about their therapists as people.  There are several schools of thought amongst Psychologists on this issue.  My personal opinion is that in a standard one hour counselling session both parties engage in all aspects of Talk Therapies, including just chatting.  I have always found that to be human above all things is the only way humanity can show itself.  Most schools of thought adhere to the lines of:  "The Psychologist is clinical at ALL times and does not reveal the human being behind the white coat".

Again, when the focus of attention is directed solely towards you, the client, then chatting can be an enriching process and will often allow the client to re-negotiate old patterns of behaviour in tandem with what has been learned in the more structured therapeutic environments.

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Cartoon of an Ancient Roman reading from a Scroll to a Small Child
The art of mentoring is not always that easy to master or even understand.  What is a mentor?  What does she or he do?  Greek mythology shows us that Mentor in his old age was a friend to Odysseus - a father-like figure.  Most school mentors are generally older than the child they are helping; they may be in a more advanced class or someone who is no longer in school but equipped with enough knowledge and experience to help a child in their school life.
As we get older, we will inevitably have friends older and younger than ourselves.  Sometimes, amongst those friends or in one’s wider social network, we may discover someone who has a great deal of experience in an area of interest to us.  Mentors are usually called upon to give of their knowledge and wisdom gained through particular life experiences.  Sometimes that can just be life itself.
The most important thing to realise is that in a good mentoring relationship, the mentee is NEVER told what to do.  A good mentor will never elicit in their mentee memories of nagging parents! 
In the instance of a Healing Week, as part of the programme there will be the opportunity to work together as in a mentoring relationship.  The particular experience I bring to the role of mentor is life’s challenges and how to face them with inner peace and strength while also acknowledging the pain and misery that one does inevitably go through.  In some cases, there is particular pain that can never go away, but it can be eased through the use of especially sensitive techniques that allow for a measure of peace and calm.

As a mentor, my role is to bring to the relationship any wisdom and insight that I may have gained through my experiences to help you find a way of doing what you need to do.
Mentoring is different from coaching in that it is (to my mind) a slightly less structured environment.  Through my own experiences, tinted with the brush of my profession, I can listen to you and voice any thoughts that I think may be of use to you in negotiating your own path.  The relationship is not one of patronisation, it is a sharing of experiences whereby a mentor's understanding and fresh perspective may create a new realisation in the mind of the 'mentee'.  A fresh perspective is of immediate benefit and results in new energy: physical, mental and emotional.
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Advice giving is not a helpful activity in any of the Talk Therapies.  Inspiration has to come from within.  So, it is with what is already within that we start.  This doesn’t mean that we don’t acknowledge long held dreams of becoming something different or leading a completely different life-style from that which we now live. It means that we discuss what you imagine yourself becoming and find out what building blocks you already possess in order to achieve that goal.  We also check what stumbling blocks might lie in your path and whether you have any abilities to avoid them or handle them.  Once a clear picture is outlined we then know what we need to improve upon to motivate the delicate changes required to start moving towards that dream.
Talking Heads image
Sketch of head and thoughts
Green Leaf
A Tunnel of Green Trees