The Challenges of Working in the Current Context

Being present for clients remotely

Can remote therapy be the answer for our clients’ needs in this pandemic?

Navigating the unusual challenges of therapy in these strange times

It would be safe to say that in the current climate, everyone is stressed. If there is one thing we can say with any certainty about the current situation, it is that everyone is stressed. How that stress shows, for any (all) of us, is more individual, but the stress is everywhere. Where there (were)are conflicts and difficulties to deal with, this current situation has made everything worse for nearly everyone. Even the people for whom it is a relief to not be expected to manage the activities of everyday life and relationships, are still under a lot of mental and emotional pressure from what they can perceive about the world around them, which clearly feels mostly negative and depressing at this point.

So, what can we say about working clinically – remotely and in a pandemic?

Here a few thoughts. Working remotely has particular challenges. If you are working on the phone you only have the person’s voice to tune in to. We know people say so much more than words when they speak. If we just have the words, it’s doubly hard to hear the music behind them. If you are working with video as well, you have more information about the person; their expressions and their body language – from the shoulders upwards at least! But you also have information you otherwise would not have; you can see where they are, and you are in their space. Working in the consulting room together, it is the clinician’s job to safeguard the space, and we are all careful to pay attention to this part of the treatment. Working on video you have no agency about how the therapeutic space is protected. While this can present challenges, still, working remotely is usually infinitely better than nothing. Our clients need us more than ever during this difficult time, and even though providing therapy remotely may not seem ideal, it is a great deal preferable to leaving the clients much like unmoored ships in a storm.

Working in a pandemic, the patient’s/client’s right not to know about their clinician’s life situation and preoccupations is lost. The person is much less free just to concentrate of themselves. Their normal thoughts and fantasies about their counsellor/therapist are inevitably coloured by what they cannot avoid knowing – that we are all anxious and facing the same privations and problems in the outside world.

Another challenge is how to help people whose life experience before this was that the world is a dangerous place, and that people who are meant to look after you either can’t or won’t. They are facing a kind of PTSD; their earlier traumas are evoked by this one, and the many examples of denial, incompetence and callousness around it, that are regularly reported.

Plus, there’s a reason why the plot lines of horror films sometimes involve a silent, invisible, deadly enemy. It’s the stuff of primitive nightmares. It is very hard to find a safe internal place in these circumstances.

Finally, we are now facing questions about who has had the vaccine, who can get it and who has to wait. People are frightened and envious simultaneously. If they have not had the formative life experience of ‘fair shares for all’; the inherent unfairness of the whole pandemic and the vaccine allocations will produce more stress.Anxiety and envy will (may) be looming even larger than usual in the consulting room.

It is important to think about these things, to support each other in our work and to be able to work with the people who come to us for help. And it will be even more important in the future. This is in some way traumatising for everyone, and many more people will need what we can offer.

Jan McGregor Hepburn, 5th Feb 2021

Our recent course on Understanding Coercive, Controlling Behaviour and Domestic Abuse during COVID 19

While pre-COVID, two women a week in the UK were murdered by their partner or ex-partner on average, this particular statistic escalated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Recorded data in the first three weeks of lockdown in the UK revealed that 16 domestic abuse killings of women and children took place. In addition, global data suggests that reported domestic abuse (DA) incidents went up by almost 20 per cent during the same time frame.

In fact, such is the enormity of this problem, that the UK government is planning to implement the Domestic Abuse Bill in 2020.  It will create a statutory definition of domestic abuse, emphasising that domestic abuse is not just physical violence, but can also be emotional, coercive or controlling, and economic abuse.

We invited Christiane Sanderson, senior lecturer in Psychology at the University of Roehampton, and the author of Sexual Violence and Domestic Abuse as well as Counselling Survivors of Domestic Abuse, to conduct an online seminar that considers the extent to which the stress of lockdown and lack of accessible help has contributed to promoting coercive and controlling behaviour, as well as physical violence.  During this online course, which is now available as a video recording, we looked at the range of power and control dynamics that are used to control partners in intimate relationships– and reviewed how the severity of these dynamics increased during the COVID outbreak. The aim was to enhance our understanding of DA, its impact and long-term effects on survivors. The seminar discussed the spectrum of DA, including the dynamics of control and coercion in emotional abuse through to physical and sexual violence; and the role of shame and humiliation that silences those who are being domestically abused.

Specifically, the seminar considered:

  • The nature and dynamics of DA, such as the role of charm and enticement, the use of control and coercion, the cycle of abuse, the nature of thought blindness that facilitates the trauma bond and the role of silence, secrecy and shame
  • The intergenerational transmission of DA through attachment and relational deficits
  • The characteristics of male and female perpetrators
  • The impact and long-term effects of DA on partners and children
  • Obstacles to leaving an abusive relationship
  • The importance of developing safety plans when leaving
  • The need for safety and multi-agency collaboration
  • The need for longer term therapy using a trauma informed practice model when working with survivors of DA

More details of this online seminar, which is now a video recorded course, can be found here

A new online Directory for Psychotherapists and Counsellors

Here are three good reasons why it makes sense to register with the nscience uk online directory of therapists and counsellors:

  • One – you will be part of an active network of psychotherapists, psychologists and counsellors
  • Two – you will save money when you register for nscience psychotherapy and counselling CPD programmes
  • Three – you will have access to the latest technology, making it easy for you to reach out to prospective clients and for them to find you online

An active professional network

By registering with the nscience directory of psychotherapists, psychologists and counsellors, you will become part of a unique, international community of practitioners. Each year, thousands of professionals attend CPD programmes in psychotherapy and counselling at nscience, in order to enrich their knowledge base and add to their repertoire of therapeutic skills. 

Why not join this vibrant community today?

Discounts on CPD programmes

nscience aims to present the latest advances in theory and research to psychotherapists, counsellors and psychologists through seminars, workshops, conferences, webinars and e-learning programmes, with a view to furthering their continuing professional development. 

As a registered Pro member of the nscience directory, you will receive a 10% discount on the cost of all our psychotherapy and counselling CPD programmes; as a standard member, you will be entitled to a 7.5% discount.  Don’t forget that this discount applies to every course you attend, so you can make a considerable saving if you are a regular attendee at nscience CPD in psychotherapy and counselling programmes.

Cutting-edge technology

nscience is recognised for its commitment to applying cutting-edge technology to CPD programmes for psychotherapists and counsellors: we were among the first to bring webinars, streaming and online self-learning courses to the therapeutic community. But we don’t rest on our laurels: we are continually investing in the latest technology. This means that, as psychotherapy and counselling practitioners, you can reach out to prospective clients online, in a straightforward way. Just as importantly, prospective clients looking for psychotherapy or counselling are easily able to find you  online. 

Our commitment to members of the nscience directory of psychotherapists, counsellors and psychologists is that we will continually strive to make it even better and smarter at delivering tangible benefits for members.    

Announcing Interactive and Structured self-learning courses for Psychotherapists and Counsellors

Would you find it helpful to achieve your CPD at your own pace? To access bitesize modules, whenever and wherever you want?  To keep a personal record of your CPD in psychotherapy with the courses you have completed and CPD certificates gained, stored in one place? 

Our new, dedicated psychotherapy and counselling e-learning / self-learning website – – is designed to do all these things: in fact, it’s been carefully created to make CPD for psychotherapists and counsellors as flexible, accessible and personalised as possible.

This new e-learning / self-learning programme has been designed with the learner in mind, so that mental health professionals can quickly and easily access CPD materials, select the course best suited to their needs, and then progress through it at their own pace, in their own time and in whatever setting they choose.  The courses have been designed to work perfectly on mobile devices, so they can easily be accessed whilst commuting, for example, or away from the office or consulting-room. 

All of our new e-learning / self-learning programmes are fully immersive and offer a personalised way of achieving your psychotherapy CPD goals:

  • There’s a wide range of subjects to choose from: ranging from Affect Regulation to Expressive Arts Therapy
  • You choose the pace at which you progress through the course
  • The modules are designed to be easy to complete in one sitting, making it straightforward to break off and pick up again; to suit your own schedule
  • You can access the course whenever you like, for as long as you like – you’re not committed to completing the course in a given time; as long as you can access the internet, you can access your course
  • You can access our courses on PCs, laptops, tablets or your smartphones
  • Our courses have built-in opportunities to test your progress, making revision simple and helping you to master and remember key concepts as part of your CPD
  • Because you can have access to your chosen course at any time, pursuing your CPD through is like having your own virtual bookshelf of CPD titles
  • With your own personalised e-learning account, pulling together your psychotherapy or counselling CPD submission couldn’t be easier – all your course details and CPD certificates are stored in one easily accessible location!

Why not check out now, to see how a personalised e-learning account could enrich your psychotherapy or counselling CPD?

The Guilty Parent Syndrome

There are three factors to consider, although they often get mixed up together.

Firstly, a child takes good parenting for granted. Children are meant to be self-interested. This is how they grow into adults who can take care of other people.

If you force your child to be grateful and think about you rather than themselves, you won’t get a nicely rounded and kind adult. You’ll get someone unhappy and driven by guilt, or someone very resentful. All the things you do right for your child should be taken for granted. They will just complain about the mistakes you’ve made. And this can make you feel guilty.

Read full article

Feel guilty all the time? Here’s how to let it go and move on

Feeling guilty is awful, but what can you do about it? Here, an expert helps us to navigate and overcome this difficult emotion.

No-one deserves to feel guilty all the time. Whatever the cause, none of us deserve the daily punishment of dealing with longstanding guilt. So, what can we do about it? The first step is understanding guilt better and then finding ways to move on.

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Male shame – the scourge of men everywhere

What is the nature of male shame and is it different to female shame? By Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist. Dr Jan McGregor…

Shame is deep feeling that you have not only done something wrong, it feels like you, as a person, are bad. It’s part of being human and affects everyone. It is, however, often a bit different in how it shows in men and women. First, have you ever heard a powerful man, maybe at work or on the TV, and thought “has he got no shame?” Secondly: have you ever felt so shamed you’ve wanted to hide or hit out? If the answer to the first question is yes, then you could say that there is such a thing as male shame. You are less likely to have had the same reaction to a woman; partly, but not only, because there are not so many powerful women about. Women also tend to come across differently. If the answer to the second question is yes, well it was horrible, but it actually means you are in a better emotional state than the shameless person. Here’s why…

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Mum Guilt: Does It REALLY Go Hand In Hand With Parenting?

Actually, guilt is a pointless emotion, although saying this out loud can make people feel anxious. It wears you out and doesn’t actually solve anything. Here are some thoughts about why people might feel guilty, why guilt is pointless, and what to do. Firstly, it’s often said that the mother’s place is in the wrong. Parents are criticised if their child has problems or misbehaves, but there is very little help for how you actually do the job of bringing up children and supporting child development. If your child has a tantrum in the supermarket, you don’t get people asking if they can help you. They either avoid you or tut at you. Being criticised usually makes people feel guilty.

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What is Narcissism and How Does it Show?

Narcissism: A certain amount of a narcissistic attitude is healthy. Everyone needs encouragement and a belief in themselves. It’s important to be able to take pride in one’s achievements and accept other people’s appreciation of you. However, this has to be realistic; based on the knowledge that you have done something good, but that there are also things that you do not do so well.

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How To Be A Mental Health Leader For Your Team

Around the world, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on our health. It’s not just our physical health that the virus has hurt – it’s also done a lot of damage to our mental health. 

This year has been the most stressful year in history, according to technology company Oracle and HR research and advisory firm Workplace Intelligence. Their study of more than 12,000 employees, managers, HR leaders, and C-level executives across 11 countries found that Covid-19 has increased workplace stress, anxiety and burnout for people all around the world. 

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