Tag Archives: Psychology

Nature can’t solve all of our issues – sometimes we need therapy! Check out this new book: The Essential Companion to Talking Therapy

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About 20 years ago I went through a very difficult relationship break up. At the time I had a young family and found the whole thing too overwhelming to deal with. No amount of talking with friends and family helped. The current fashionable advice – “getting out into nature” – also did not help. Interacting with nature by walking, gardening or getting involved in active conservation, is a wonderful panacea for some mental health conditions. But it cannot solve all of our problems, especially those that come out of the blue. So I turned to therapy and had a series of weekly sessions with a therapist who provided a safe, neutral space for me to explore my emotions, anxieties about the future, and concerns for my own mental health. It was an amazingly useful experience.

Fast forward two decades and, lo and behold, I am married to a therapist! Not the same therapist I hasten to add, it’s purely coincidental!! Having a relationship with one of your clients would be hugely unethical on the therapist’s part, and ethical behaviour is just one of the themes that is in my wife’s new book.

So this is the reason for today’s blog post: it’s publication day for The Essential Companion to Talking Therapy by Karin Blak.

It’s the first volume of its kind that explains what you can expect to experience before, during and after therapy takes places. The book also deals with the many questions that you may have, or didn’t know to ask, about the therapeutic journey. It’s an invaluable read for anyone considering or going through therapy or counselling for issues around mental health, relationships, family problems, and so forth. It’s also got a useful section for families and friends on how to support a loved one who is in therapy.

Most importantly it provides a clear and rational argument for why therapy works, something that I only discovered for myself by going through the process. I wish I’d had this book 20 years ago.

The Essential Companion to Talking Therapy is available from all online booksellers around the globe, as a paperback or e-book. There’s also an audiobook version in the works.

OK, I’m clearly biased, but it is great book: well done darling, I’m so proud of you!

We are now a two-book-author household!

Two very proud authors! A few days after I received the first physical copy of my new book, my wife Karin was sent a copy of her first book: The Essential Companion to Talking Therapy, published by Watkins.

As with mine, Karin’s book is available from all of the usual online outlets (I’ve linked to Bookshop just for convenience) and should be in stores at some point in the New Year. In the USA it’s published by Penguin-Random House. It’s a really remarkable book (ok, I’m biased, but it is!) not least because Karin wrote it in less than 6 months and poured her professional and life experience into it. I’m incredibly proud of her ūüôā

Here’s a synopsis of the book:

During her 15 years as a therapist, Karin Blak has found that, due to a lack of understanding of what therapy is, people often wait until crisis point to seek help. Even when they are motivated to find professional support, there are psychiatrists, psychologists, counsellors and psychotherapists; we have so many different types of professionals and approaches to therapy that confusion is inevitable. This book is a definitive guide to understanding talking therapies. It will clarify questions, misunderstandings, myths and grey areas in therapy, compassionately guiding the reader through their journey from beginning to consider therapy, to finding the right therapist, preparing for the first session, surviving common challenges, knowing when to end therapy, and when to return. Karin Blak reveals the rarely considered facts of how therapists work, how they themselves are supervised, how to know if your therapist  is overstepping boundaries, the role of a supporting partner, family member or friend, what the jargon really means, how to manage expectations, and when to move on from therapy. Each section contains honest commentary about the process of therapy, case studies showing examples applicable to real life, encouragements to act, practical suggestions and actions to apply if needed.

Vermicide: how do you deal with earworms?

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Warning: biodiversity content almost nil; bad language content significant.

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Language fascinates me, and one of the things that I find particularly intriguing is the way in which metaphors and analogies from the natural world find their way into our writing and speech. ¬†We talk of a “bird’s eye view” or being as “slow as a snail”; say that “from little acorns large oaks grow”, and we are as “ravenous as wolves”.

Which leads me to earworms. ¬†Nothing to do with real worms of course, but fragments of music that worm their way into your consciousness and stay fixed there, repeating over and over and over and over…….

According to Wikipedia other names include brainworm, sticky music, stuck song syndrome, and Involuntary Musical Imagery, but I’ve always known them as earworms. ¬†And I’ve suffered from them for as long as I can remember; typically every couple of days I’ll have part of a song stuck in my head that I can’t get rid of. ¬†In recent days it’s been “Long-haired Lover From Liverpool” by Little Jimmy Osmond (which I heard on a Top of the Pops Christmas Special); Joni Mitchell’s “River”; and “The Rain Song” by Led Zeppelin that featured on a YouTube playlist on New Year’s Day.

Earworms get worse when I’m stressed or when I have a hangover: indeed if I have drunk too much the night before (a rare occurrence these days) I will wake up with a headache, nauseous, AND SOME FUCKING SONG BOUNCING LOUDLY AROUND IN MY BRAIN LIKE A KANGAROO* ON AMPHETAMINES!

At their worst these earworms can last for days and be very hard to shift. ¬†They can also wake me up in the middle of the night and stop me from getting back to sleep. ¬†The only method that I’ve found that can suppress them is to sing another song to myself that masks the offending song. ¬†After much experimentation I find that “In My Time of Dying”, another Led Zeppelin track, is the most effective, perhaps because it’s slow and not especially catchy.

(Bugger, my son James is tidying his bedroom and playing music and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” has just come on – almost guaranteed to get stuck in my head!)

If you also suffer badly from earworms I’d be interested to know what methods you use to shift the little blighters: what works for you?

 

*See what I did there?