Author: Nadine Matthews (page 1 of 8)

Counselling in Universities

University can be a stressful time for students, the pressures of student loans mixed with wanting to succeeded and get into their chosen career can have a profound impact on a students mental health.

It seems that more and more university students at turning to counselling to help them through their studies.

The University of Surrey (figures released under the Freedom of Information act), state that in 2013-14 964 students requested help, and in 2014-15 that went up to 1,049.  Other patterns showing an increase in the demand of help is echoed by statistics issued by Royal Holloway what stated that in 2010-11 596 students sought help, this has increased to 780 in 2014-15.

Counselling is being sought for issues such as homesickness, depression, anxiety and procrastination.

In a study that took place during the 2014-15 academic year, 91 universities in the UK provided data, covering the previous 3 years.  Although the figures were based upon several months, rather than the whole year, it showed that during the 2014-15 academic year 68,757 students accessed help.

For example, The Royal Holloway say they offer short term counselling with the aim of providing their clients better coping skills for the longer term.

Offering short term counselling generally means that there is little or no waiting list and help is offered much quicker, thus allowing more people to receive assistance.

It can only be a good thing that more people are becoming aware the benefits of having a counsellor to speak to both for the clients and counsellors.

With people taking to social media and online platforms to help break the stigma and become more open about mental health it is giving other that platform to become more open about any stresses or problems they may be facing.

Chrysalis Courses looks at Continuing Professional Development – Reflective Practice

Whether we are in our first year of training as a hypnotherapist, in our third year of training as a psychotherapist, or whether we are a therapist of many years’ experience, Reflective practice is a process that we engage in, consciously or not, to ensure that we continue to learn.  Reflective practice is a continuous cycle of self-observation and self-evaluation that helps us to understand our own actions and how these may impact on other people. (Brookfield, 1995)

In training, we learn that therapy, regardless of style, is about relationship.  A positive and supportive relationship between client and therapist demands that we continuously consider the responses of both people in the therapy room. Understanding how our responses impact the course of therapy is a vital part of our professional journey.

Reflective practice helps us to relate our theory to our practice, and to process both in the field so that we continue to learn.  Without reflective practice, it is debateable whether we can be a safe, ethical or effective therapist.

To help us understand the process of Reflective practice, there are several models that break this down, which can incorporate different tools such as journal writing, quiet reflection, or peer or supervisor discussion.  It’s possible to reflect on virtually any aspect of our work, but perhaps most important to reflect when things don’t work out the way we hope or expect.

Reflective practice involves us being as honest as we can with ourselves.  If things go wrong, we have a tendency to defend our position.  However, we should be able to admit to ourselves and others that we may have made an error.  When we can do this, we can take stock of what happened and do it differently from now on.

There are several models of Reflective practice.  Most have developed as valuable tools in education (Gibbs) or healthcare such as nursing (Johns). The Gibbs model is influenced and adapted from Kolb’s model of experiential learning, (Kolb 1984), which in turn is highly influenced by research by Dewey and Piaget in the 1970s.  Kolb’s model (Figure 1) centres on the transformation of information into knowledge which takes place after the situation has occurred and involves the practitioner reflecting to build on her experience and knowledge. (Sheilds, R.W., Aaron, D.,Wall, S 2015)




Figure 1: Adaptation of Kolb’s learning model


Gibbs’ (1988) model (Figure 2) is one of structured debriefing to facilitate the reflective process.  This is most useful in therapy, where we are often engaged in quite abstract processes which can create a tendency to ‘wander off topic’ when discussing the process of therapy in supervision at a later date.

Both Kolb’s and Gibbs’ models acknowledge that there is much more to learning than, for example, taking the course in hypnotherapy and writing the essays.  The majority of our learning comes from experience in the field.  The reflective process allows us to focus on the aspects of an experience in order that we may learn from it.  In this sense, we are always learning, and reflective practice is arguably the most important aspect of supervision, where the supervisee is given time and space to reflect in a supported way.

Let’s put this into an example.  Let’s suppose a client has come to see us with an issue related to self-defeating behaviours.  We could use either hypnosis or counselling or both, and we put together a focused treatment plan over eight sessions.  After three sessions, the client says they are fine and cancels the following appointment, having no further contact with us.  Let’s break down this issue using Gibbs Model:


Fugure 2: Gibbs Model of Reflection (1988)


Starting with a description of the event:

I felt confident when the client initially presented.  He wanted help with an issue that I know well as my husband has had the same experience.  I took the consultation, filled out the necessary forms, worked hard to build rapport with my client.  Client seemed happy after the first session, reported little change after the second, but as I said to them, change takes time and we have eight sessions planned.  Client cancelled the third session.  I followed up to rebook but they said they felt fine and didn’t need to come anymore.

Now, we consider our feelings, without analysing, just describing:

Initially my feelings were positive, confident of success.  However, when a member of my practice group suggested that the client might have made an excuse to leave because it wasn’t working, I felt frustrated and angry that the client hadn’t followed through.  I was anxious and defensive and felt that the client wasn’t ready to change. I don’t like making mistakes.

Evaluation – what was good or bad about the experience – make value judgements:

Positives about the experience of the client ending therapy was that it forced me to think about it.  Initially I was just blaming the client, but later I had to consider my part in this.  Had I really done everything as well as I could?  Negatives about the experience are that I got no feedback from the client, which could have been helpful for my practice.

Analysis – what sense can you make of the situation – bring in ideas from outside the experience to help you:

I contacted my supervisor at this point, who helped me see things more objectively. If I stop defending my position and take things back to basics, what of the Core Conditions?   Did I work to truly understand my client’s experience, or did I make a quick value judgement based on my own experience?  Did I believe that because my husband has a similar issue, his issue is exactly the same as my clients?  Moreover, am I confusing my husband’s experience, with my experience of my husband’s experience?

Conclusions – what can be concluding in a general sense from the analyses you have undertaken?

I think I might have not fully engaged with the client and I stopped listening to them.  I think I quickly decided what was happening for them, and then formed my treatment plan on that decision.  Perhaps I failed to listen to what they were really saying

And what can be concluded about your own specific, unique personal way of working?

Perhaps I am still trying too hard to be right, to be perfect?  It’s OK to leave the initial consultation not really knowing what to do next, or what plan to have in place.  It’s OK to keep gathering information.  I still have to work on my overwhelming need to ‘help’ someone who I think is more vulnerable than me. Perhaps my frustration with my husband’s inability to change was spilling over into my needing this client to change

Personal action plan – what will you do differently next time?

I’ll keep reminding myself to stay present with the client and to keep listening to them.  If I think I am making assumptions, I’ll check those assumptions by asking the client if my understanding is correct.  I’m working to keep understanding that each person’s experience is unique.  I know better now that I probably lost the client’s trust and I was suggesting things to them that either had no meaning or weren’t useful – the client probably felt unheard.


Note that Gibbs’ Model, like other models, is a cycle, whereby the conclusion is not the ending, but the start of new learning.

For Reflective practice, there are several models that will serve the purpose, and all will bring something valuable to the process.  Atkins and Murphy’s model of reflection (1994); John’s Reflective Model (1997) or Gibbs’ Model of Reflection (1998) are based on models of learning, where learning is recognised as occurring from experience reinforced by theory.  Action is an important aspect of the models, resulting in us doing something different in the future.  Reflection is only of value if it has the possibility of leading to action.  Gibbs keeps action as a key aspect, even though the model can result in a fairly superficial analysis of an incident but this could be a good starting point.  Later, we might decide to use a different model, like the Atkins and Murphy (1993) Model of reflection (Figure 3), which supports a deeper level of reflection with more emphasis upon the practitioner than the client.


Figure 3: Atkins and Murphy (1993) Model of Reflection

There is a difference between surface level reflection and a deeper level of thinking that involves self-analysis, metacognition and conscious control (Finlay 2008).  Laboskey makes a distinction between ‘common sense thinkers’ who use a trial and error approach and ‘pedagogical thinkers’ who are more conscious of their actions, and will ask ‘what is my intuitive response to this and why am I feeling or acting in this way?’ (Laboskey 1993).  The suggestion here is that the latter type of thinker takes a long term view of problem solving, remaining open to learning and recognising that there are no simple answers and conclusions are often tentative (ibid).

Considering the depth of the therapeutic relationship and the depth of the layers that we may be helping a client to uncover in respect of his presenting issue and goal for therapy, I suggest that those models that allow for pedagogical thinking would be more appropriate to our work as therapists.  The therapeutic relationship as a healing relationship involves complex dynamics and we would be doing disservice to our clients if we are unprepared to explore our part in the creation and sustaining of these complexities.  However, when we are starting our practitioners’ journey, the simplicity and structure of the Gibbs model is a good place to start.


Lorna Cordwell

Head of Counselling

Chrysalis Not For Profit Limited


Brookfield, S. (1995). Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher. . San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Finlay, L. (2008). Reflecting on reflective practice. Open University.

Gibbs, G. (1988). Learning by doing: A guide to teaching and learning methods. London: Oxford Polytechnic Further Education Unit.

Hawkins, P; Shohet, R. (2012). Supervision in the Helping Professions. New York: Open University Press.

Kolb, D. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development (Vol. 1). New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.

Laboskey. (1993). A conceptual framework for reflection in preservice teacher education. In G. a. Calderhead, Conceptualising reflection in teacher development. London: Washington Falmer Press.

Sheilds, R.W., Aaron, D.,Wall, S. (2015, February 2nd). What is Kolb’s model of experiential education, and where does it come from?, Questions and Answers on Adult Education, . Retrieved from Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Univeristy of Toronto.


Young Minds

You may of recently heard about Young Minds in the news, so we wanted to tell you a bit more about the charity.

Young Minds is the UK’s leading charity committed to improving the emotional well being and mental health of children and young people. Driven by their experiences we campaign, research and influence policy and practice.

Young Minds work is vital in bringing the emotional and mental health needs of children and young people to the attention of the public, government and funders and to effect improvements. The shocking situation of very long waiting lists causing unacceptable waiting times to get help or the inability to access help of any kind, alongside the fact that ill children and young people are sometimes kept in police cells because of a lack of safe places in health care, and children and young people sent hundreds of miles away from their families to receive urgent inpatient care, have all been well reported in the press and media.

Young Minds reported that:

  • Approximately 850,000 children and young people have a clinically significant mental health problem.
  • 1 in 10 children 5-16 years, or 3 in every classroom experiences mental health problems, which doubled between the 1980s and mid 2000s
  • 60% of Looked After Children have emotional or mental health problems and are 6 times more likely to have a conduct disorder and 4 times more likely to attempt suicide
  • 1 in 12 young people self-harm and since 2002 there has been a 68% increase in the number of hospital admissions of young people self-harming
  • 95% of imprisoned young offenders have a mental health disorder

Young Minds needs volunteers to help with Parent Helpline, they ask that people volunteer 1 day a week for a minimum of 9 months.

The Parent Helpline is a lifeline for parents worried about the mental health of their child, the Parents Helpline is reliant upon donations.

Demand is the highest it has ever been. Over the last 12 months we helped a record high of 10,000 parents and carers but 2,500 more calls couldn’t make it through.


Improve the emotional resilience and mental health of children and young people throughout the UK by informing and actively engaging with children, young people, parents, policymakers and professionals


Overarching Priority

Build Children and Young People’s Emotional Resilience

Key priorities

– Inspire excellence in children and young people’s services.

– Improve Self-Harm Responses.

– Increase the influence of the Voice of Young People and their Families.

– Advance our understanding of how the Internet and Social Media can be a positive tool for building emotional resilience.


Father and child

  • 95% of callers tell us the advice is beneficial for them and their child
  • 1 in 3 callers call the Helpline a lifesaver
  • 96% saw positive changes as a result of our advice
  • With only 0.6% of the NHS Budget allocated to children and young people’s mental health, waiting times for mental health help are six, seven, even nine months (and in some cases, almost two years). The Helpline is immediate


Chrysalis Courses Spring 2016 Start Dates

In this blog we will be adding start dates for your Chrysalis Course. We will be adding start dates as they come out so if you can’t see the start date for your closest venue please keep checking back. This has been updated on 23rd Feb 2016, there are only a few start dates left to go and these will be released very soon.

Belfast – Saturday 14th May 2016

Birmingham – Sunday 1st May 2016

Cardiff – Saturday 14th May 2016

Chelmsford – Saturday 7th May 2016

Glasgow  – Saturday 14th May 2016

Guildford – Sunday 5th June 2016

Hitchin – Saturday 14th May 2016

Leeds – Saturday 21st May 2016

Liverpool – Sunday 1st May 2016

London – Sunday 1st May 2016

Maidstone – Saturday 28th May 2016

Manchester – Sunday 15th May 2016

Newcastle – Sunday 29th May 2016

Northampton – Saturday 7th May 2016

Norwich – Saturday 28th May 2016

Nottingham – Saturday 28th May 2016

Oxford – Sunday 22nd May 2016

Reading – Saturday 28th May 2016

Southampton – Saturday 4th June 2016

Worthing – Saturday 28th May 2016

If you have wondered what it is like to study with Chrysalis Courses then watch David’s story below, i am sure it will increase your enthusiasm for your first day this Spring.

Chrysalis Courses looks at Managing and Understanding Stress

One of the many things Chrysalis courses will help you understand, manage and facilitate others with is every day stress.

Apart from examining the self-talk we all engage in, it’s important that you understand the stress response so you can develop some techniques and strategies to help you deal with various forms of anxiety.

Step 1: Understand the stress response

When exposed to an event that the brain identifies as being challenging the fight, flight, freeze response is engaged. The brain produces stress hormones such as adrenaline and this triggers physical responses, which can include:

  • Sweaty palms
  • Increased heart rate
  • More focused eye pupils and muscle tension.

These physical changes help us to take actions to deal with the challenge. It is normal to experience physical signs in response to stress whether the danger is real or imagined.


The stress response is therefore healthy and desirable. When it saves our life it is certainly protective.

However, the stress response can also be damaging. If it is produced in excess or produced when the stressor is no longer there it is neither healthy nor desirable.


People also ‘turn on’ the stress response when they are required to perform in some way. Therefore it is normal to experience some physical signs of stress e.g. sweaty palms. What you need to do is learn to manage this so it does not become excessive and overwhelm the ability to perform.

Evidence suggests that we perform best when moderately aroused or stressed. Therefore the secret when performing – whether it be in a job interview, an exam or delivering a speech – is to harness the energy and use it to your advantage. The secret is to use moderate levels of anxiety to boost performance.

Step 2: Tackling the fear of “failure”

One major cause of performance anxiety is the ‘fear of failure’. Why do we think failure is not OK? It’s usually because we tend to feel that we’ll be embarrassed and rejected if we don’t succeed. We link our self-esteem with achievements and we assume that others will not respect us if we fall short of their expectations.

To tackle this fear it’s important to make peace with being human and making mistakes. “Mistakes are OK!” Remember that sometimes you will go well, other times things will seem flat. This is true even for the ‘experts’. Remember the most confident public speaker will have days when it doesn’t go according to plan.

Step 3: Learn to face avoidance

Our favourite trick for eliminating performance anxiety is avoidance. However, this does nothing but continue the fear. Acknowledging the fear and doing the task anyway is the most successful strategy. This is sometimes referred to as the ‘acceptance paradox’.


Step 4: Prepare

Whether you’re planning to attend a job interview, to chair a meeting, or strike up a conversation with someone you’re interested in, it helps to prepare first. You’re likely to have increased confidence if you have a plan and you don’t have to improvise when the adrenalin is pumping.




Preparation might involve:


Job interview

Conducting a mock interview beforehand, researching the job and the employer, being clear on what you have to offer the employer and why you want the job.


Seminar or presentation

Planning the talk, preparing aids such as cue cards, power point, practising out loud and getting feedback from someone who will listen, checking out the room where the presentation will be held beforehand.


Sitting an exam

Reading widely, targeted study, brushing up on exam techniques, looking at past exam papers.


Meeting new people

Observing how other confident people do it, knowing your body language and what works, knowing how to “do small talk”.



Step 5: Look at how your thinking can stress or calm you

People are extremely suggestible when they are anxious. Therefore if they’re engaging in negative self-talk they can bring about failure purely and simply because of what they tell themselves rather than responding to real external events. Likewise, engaging in positive and calming self-talk can help them to improve their performance and to act confidently.


If we put a tape recorder in your mind now I wonder what kinds of messages you would be giving yourself? Would we hear the inner critic or the inner fan club?


As human beings we often engage is unhelpful and self-sabotaging thoughts. Here are some examples:


“I just don’t fit in.”


“I’ve never been any good at study so I don’t know why that should change now.”


“Maybe if I’d enrolled in a Science course I would be doing better.”


“None of my lecturers like me.”


“I’ll never learn how to write well.”


“I don’t know why I have to learn this. I’ll never use it”

Note any that you particularly relate to and then:


Identify whether your thought is helpful or unhelpful.


Remember filling your head with scary thoughts diminishes your performance.


Replace unhelpful thoughts with calm thoughts.


Practice control and confidence.


Learn to relax so that when a stressful situation arises you will be in a calmer frame of mind to deal with it.



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