Category Archives: News
THE SELSEY ACADEMY FIRE – Moving forward.
The 21st August 2016 was a sad day for Selsey. The Selsey Academy fire will go down in the history of the town.
It will be remembered in a similar way to the tornado that ripped through roofs in January 1998. After the tornado the stoical folks of Selsey pulled together. Yesterday, some 18 years later, the ‘Selsey Spirit’ rose again. Social media helped mobilise the ‘troops’ who organised themselves efficiently to supply food and drink to the firefighters. The smoke has cleared. The reality has begun to bite. Selsey has lost a focal point of the community.
Similar to Bereavement
The feelings that arise are similar to those of bereavement. Nobody has died yet a sense of loss hangs in the air.
There is initial shock. Statements are heard like ‘This can’t be true’, (Denial). Quite quickly awareness widens to acknowledgement. The Academy was destroyed by fire. It will leave a gap in the community. As the reality sets in, some people will express anger. Already and without concrete evidence there have been claims that the fire must have been started by an arson attack. When people feel helpless, the blame game is played. To play the blame game a ‘scapegoat’ is needed. You will hear questions like – Were the firefighters quick enough? and Were there sprinklers fitted in the building?
Each of these comments are normal when individuals feel powerless. The objective of the blame game is to feel less powerless. Try not to buy into it. It divides us and delays the process of moving forward. After this comes a sense of sadness for what was lost. Finally, acceptance will be reached and we will be able to move forward as a community.
The town is going through a process of disbelief, anger, blaming and sadness. All of this is normal and takes time until we reach acceptance
Possible effects on pupils
For students the process is more difficult. They need to adapt to the loss of their school. There is likely to be a period of anxiety about the future and about where they will go to school. They will also worry about their friendships.
Parents may notice a quietness in their children or an increase in teenage moodiness. They need time to adjust. This is big news to them. Their cognitive systems need time to process this knowledge. Children who have experienced a change in family situation in the last 12 months may feel the uncertainty more. Take time to listen to your child’s concerns and respond with the actual knowledge you have.
At present the precise arrangements for the children’s schooling is not clear, it can’t be as yet. It’s crucial that the children are supported at this time.
Parents can help by reassuring their child that clear plans are being made for their education. It may take a while to fine tune the details but what is certain is that a practical solution is being developed.
It is an unpleasant situation but if handled sensitively, your child will have developed important coping strategies and an ability to manage unexpected change. This lesson will be as important as any formal teaching of emotional intelligence.
Witten by Christine Tizzard Psychology
It had been a perfect day despite PTSD
You were having fun. All of a sudden the fear, the flashbacks, the avoidance and the panic of PTSD returns. Why now?
This is the question often asked by patients in clinic. There is a simple answer. Panic frequently re-appears in PTSD. When it does it often reduces sufferers to jelly. This often happens suddenly and without warning. It is all to do with PTSD triggers, (things that resemble or remind the brain of the index incident).
Big triggers and small triggers all can cause a massive panic response
Most people are aware of the big things connected with a trauma. Some people consciously make a corollary of things that were connected with the traumatic incident. These lists become their conscious trauma triggers. They believe that they can then anticipate the ‘hot spots’ and take action. Action to manage the uncomfortable scenarios. This does not often work.
The problem is, it’s the unconscious and unknown triggers that knock us off balance and on to our knees. For example, Gill is a successful career woman. She was raped six months ago. The trauma happened on her way home from a nightclub. Gill is very aware of certain triggers. She is scared of being alone in town at night. Particularly so, in a certain part of town. She also jumps at the sight of a certain make of car and freezes if she hears any door slam.
Gill recalled that recently she was hosting a presentation at her Gallery in Geneva. All was well. There were many high profile clients attending. Naturally she wanted to make a great impression. Instead, she suddenly found her mind racing, her heart pounding and a pressing desire to sprint right out of the room.
At that moment, she felt that her very survival depended on escaping. She lurched to the ladies room where involuntary shaking gave way to floods of tears. The presentation now seemed a threat. She was unable to regain her composure. Instead she called a friend to collect her and left by the back entrance.
It was the following week during treatment that she suddenly recalled that she had registered a strong smell of a particular masculine fragrance. She remembered that her attacker had smelt the same. She hadn’t been aware of that hidden piece of the jigsaw previously.
Suddenly it made sense. It had been an unconscious trigger. A trigger that had remained below consciousness until the evening of the presentation. Now that she is aware of a new trigger, she is able to use techniques learnt in therapy to tolerate her acute sense of fear. She is able to use learnt strategies to reduce the triggers effect on her.
Set backs are temporary
The point is that for as many triggers we are aware of, there are also as many that remain just out of range. These are like rocks under the water. It is so important to recognise this fact. It is a tough fact to accept that even where fantastic progress is made during treatment, there are likely to be set backs. These set backs are just that, temporary ones. This is the nature of PTSD.
*Client’s name and occupatiation has been changed due to client confidentiality
Written by Christine Tizzard Psychology providers of independent psychology providers based in West Sussex
To praise or not to praise, that is the question.
Several research reports published recently have asserted that ‘overpraising’ children can actually set them up to fail. One such study carried out at Utrecht University in the Netherlands found that over exaggerated praise is well intended, but for. kids who have low self-esteem it can make them less confident. Eddie Brummelhein, a doctoral student at Utrecht, states that praise causes less confident children to believe that they must constantly achieve to a high level. Unfortunately, this belief actually stops those students trying new tasks in case they fail.
A similar study found that telling pupils they are clever before an examination can actually worsen their grades. The rationale is that in telling a student that they are bright can increase performance anxiety and fear of failure.
It is understandable that some parents are left feeling a little confused. Mums and Dads are left thinking do I or do I not praise my child? What is helpful encouragement and what is potentially damaging? So should you praise your child?
The answer is a resounding ‘Yes’. It is good to praise your child and to start praising them early. The guiding rule is that praise must be appropriate to the task accomplished. It must also be earned.
Exaggerated praise, however well-meaning is likely to eventually backfire. Too much praise and your child may acquire a tendency to give up early on tasks or to over inflate their skills. These behaviours could eventually result in underperformance, a lack of general efficacy and ultimately the Achilles syndrome, (the secret fear of failure.) Appropriate praise and encouragement on the other hand builds genuine self-esteem and self-confidence. Well-proportioned praise leads to self-belief.
The development of self-belief is essential for the concepts of stamina, perseverance and successful problem solving.
It is also the case that children are able to recognise when you are over egging the praise. When an adult gives exaggerated praise, children tend to think you are ‘bigging up’ their skills because they are really not good at something. Essentially praise that was meant to build esteem actually kills it stone dead. Some professionals assert that praise makes a child dependant on an adult and instead encourage parents to simply reflect back to the child what they have accomplished. ‘Oh you finished that puzzle’ rather than ‘well done for finishing the puzzle’. The belief being that the child will respond to ‘Oh you finished that puzzle’ with ‘I am clever’. This is potentially dangerous thinking. A young child needs to hear positive reinforcement to develop the ability to self-evaluate. They are unable to self-evaluate fully unless they are shown how to do this.
Many decades ago the Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky in his seminal work on child development spoke of the zone of proximal development (ZPD) and the role that parents play in scaffolding or helping a child to extend their skills beyond their chronological age. Praise given correctly is a vital component in scaffolding a child’s emotional and physical development. This remains true.
The key is to provide appropriate and encouraging praise in a timely and proportioned manner. It is not overpraising every routine thing your child does. The most effective praise contains the message ‘you have done well and you have the potential to build on this’. Not, ‘you are fabulous’, the ‘cleverest’ and the ‘greatest star’, even if, like most parents you really believe they are.
Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes (M. Cole, V. John-Steiner, S. Scribner & E. Souberman., Eds.) (A. R. Luria, M. Lopez-Morillas & M. Cole [with J. V. Wertsch], Trans.) Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. (Original manuscripts [ca. 1930-1934])
Written by Dr Christine Tizzard Consultant Chartered Adult, Child and Adolescent Psychologist. Clinical Director Sheehan Brooke Psychology. Chichester. www.sheehanbrooke.org
Mindfulness and its role in reducing inflammation in auto immune disease.
A recent research study carried out at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found a link between the practice of mindfulness and reduced inflammation in auto immune disease.
Conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, sarcoidosis and asthma all feature increased inflammation causing pain and distress. In some cases disease activity results in disability, organ malfunction and a marked deterioration in quality of life.
At an intuitive level people who practice mindfulness report that it reduces their stress and pain levels.
Less stress in the system is believed to result in a decrease in the production of the stress hormone, Cortisol. Less Cortisol production, it seems may contribute to reduced inflammation. Less inflammation in chronic disease is very welcome news.
As an example, perhaps you have noticed that after a few days on vacation your pain level seems lower. You may have also recognised that soon after you return home you start to feel worse again. It is well known that pain and anxiety levels seem to increase during stressful periods.
The practice of mindfulness can help you accomplish what is important and necessary to you without increasing your stress levels. Living fully in the present moment has a positive effect on general wellbeing.
Increasingly, it is also believed that meditation has a positive effect on disease activity. This is particularly so when mindfulness is combined with a diet rich in antioxidants and appropriate exercise is taken. It is crucial to state that before starting an exercise routine you must seek medical advice. More research is needed to fully understand the positive effects of mindfulness on inflammation
Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), originally designed for patients with chronic pain, consists of continuously focusing attention on the breath, bodily sensations and mental content while seated, walking or practicing yoga.
Sheehan Brooke Psychology is undertaking a research pilot study which will attempt to investigate the effects of Mindfulness on wellbeing in patients having a diagnosis of auto immune disease.
To achieve their objective the organisation is running the 8 week MBCT/MBSR programme specifically for people who have a diagnosis of auto immune illness. It will commence at the beginning of March 2014.
The only requirement is that participants agree to have their inflammatory markers tested by their GP. This involves a simple blood test at the beginning of the study and again six months later. Full information is available from Sheehan Brooke Psychology.
The MBSR programme will take place at the Sheehan Brooke Clinic Nr Chichester, West Sussex. The eight week programme is completely free to participants who agree to take part in the pilot study.
Sheehan Brooke also welcome enquiries from chartered psychologists having a research background and training in mindfulness who are interested in conducting the research in other locations in the UK and US
If you are interested in learning the practice of mindfulness and have been diagnosed with an auto immune illness please do get in touch.
The research study will be led by consultant chartered psychologist Chrissie Tizzard.
Chrissie is also chartered scientist who has undergone training in mindfulness and has completed a research doctorate using quantative and qualitative methods at Roehampton University.
Sheehan Brooke provide a range of Mindfulness courses and longer retreats in the UK and Cyprus.
Sheehan Brooke Psychology 9, The Courtyard, Trident Business Park, Selsey, Chichester, West Sussex PO20 9TY. Telephone 01243 775055
Why is anxiety so hard to overcome?
For many people anxiety can become a way of life. It tends to begin with worries about a certain thing or issue. Before long anxiety can seem all consuming. What once seemed simple to achieve now feels as hard as attempting to climb Mount Everest.
CTP see many clients in clinic who are reliant on medications such as Propranolol or Diazepam. They often believe they need these to function. Medication is often useful in the short term. For instance, it can be very helpful during an acute crisis. It is not intended or recommended for routine daily use. Clients often find that when they stop taking medication their anxiety returns. The good news is, it’s possible to break this pattern when you learn how to.
Anxiety – Why is it getting worse?
Why does anxiety become so disabling and how can get your life back? The simple answer is that when we feel anxious most of us are motivated to find a quick fix that will remove the unpleasant sensations. The quickest way to feel better is often to avoid a feared situation. When we ‘avoid’ we experience immediate relief.
The bad news is that avoidance usually results in an increased fear of the situation we avoided. This ramping up of fear makes the next attempt even harder. Worse still, anxiety also becomes attached to things, places and events associated with the original fear. It becomes easy to see how anxiety increases over time. In fact many clients say that they feel a prisoner to their anxiety.
The bottom line is, to experience less anxiety, it is necessary to face fears. To achieve success, this must be done in a safe and gradual manner. Remember we are speaking about anxiety not genuinely dangerous situations.
1. The best way to get rid of anxiety is to slowly confront your fears. This is referred to as a gradual exposure. You may do this alone, with a partner or friend or with a therapist.
2. To confront fears successfully, you must be able to gradually increase your tolerance of discomfort. Concentrating on your breathing will be helpful. Learning basic mindfulness strategies will also be useful. There are many self-help books or courses on the subject.
3. Remember that small amounts of felt discomfort do not mean there is danger present. Take a moment to reframe your thoughts. A reframed and helpful thought might be ‘small amounts of emotional discomfort are clear opportunities for navigating change’. Alternatively, you might say ‘I am feeling nervous about doing this, if I press on I am increasing my tolerance. It will become easier with practice’. Your growing tolerance of small amounts of discomfort mean you are on the way to conquering your fear.
4. Break your plan to overcome a specific anxiety into small manageable steps. It is crucial that the steps you design are small but still large enough to cause some mild discomfort. Steps should not be overwhelming. Most people who are unable to overcome their anxiety fail because they make the goals too high and become overwhelmed. Goals that are too big simply increase anxiety and make the process much harder.
5. If a step seems too huge break it down into a smaller step. Although this might make you feel impatient, it is the safest and quickest way to achieve your goal.
6. Practice each step before moving onto the next. You should be able to complete each step without feeling anxiety before moving to the next step.
7. Reward yourself when you have accomplished each step.
8. If you fail, regroup and try again. Failing is part of the success process.
9. If anxiety persists after working through this hierarchy, you may wish to consider professional help.
Written by Christine Tizzard Psychology, Chichester, West Sussex
CTP is an independent psychology provider based in Chichester, West Sussex.
We have clinics located in Portsmouth, Brighton and Harley Street. A full range of assessment and treatment services are available. All our chartered psychologists are registered with the HCPC and British Psychological Society.
Banish the Blues! Depression group in the Chichester area.
Feeling depressed or blue? FREE 4 week CBT group (banish the blues) begins on Tues 28th January at 11.00am at Sheehan Brooke. There will only be a maximum of five people in the group. Text, Tweet, or Telephone to reserve your place NOW.
Sheehan Brooke is an independent psychology provider registered with the BPS and HCPC. The CBT group will be facilitated by a Chartered Psychologist. This is a free event for the local community.
During the 4 week course you will learn strategies to improve your mood and increase your general wellbeing.
With New Year’s Eve just around the corner, this next week is the perfect time to take a pause, sip a glass of wine and complete a personal year review. Be honest. How did last year go? What went well? What didn’t?
A personal review is a powerful tool, the fact that it remains private means that it is possible to be brutally honest with oneself? Gaining an awareness into ones deeper processes and motivation is an essential step towards self-fulfilment and perhaps even self-actualisation. The questions that follow may help you to identify key strengths that may be built upon and allow you to gain access to areas of functioning you might wish to improve.
What was the best thing that happened in 2013? What made it so good?
Which was my greatest accomplishment? Why?
What was my biggest failure and what did failure teach me?
How can I use the learning from past failures to ensure future success?
What word, phrase or theme describes my year?
What aspect was the most challenging in 2013?
What strengths did the challenge illuminate?
What weaknesses were made visible?
What are three things I am most grateful for?
What brought me the most joy?
What do I need to do more of to feel happier, self-fulfilled or at peace?
It can be useful to complete your personal review questions slowly and with thought and to periodically revisit your responses. The personal review does not carry the threat of entering special measures if a response is negative. Rather a negative response should be viewed as a potential gift and a chance to see that which can be improved upon. It is only through a heightened awareness that change can be achieved.
Written by Sheehan Brooke Psychology.
Sheehan Brooke is an independent psychology provider based on the south coast of England. In addition to providing a wide range of clinical services to both the private and public sector, the organisation places a large focus on bringing positive psychology to the individual throughout the lifespan. Please visit our websites www.sheehanbrooke.org and www.sheehan-brooke-family-mediation.co.uk or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.
Coping with Christmas after the death of a loved one is always very painful. Pain is often made worse because everybody else appears to be happy at this time of year.
While Christmas will be painful, there are a few things that can make the process a little easier.
It is important to recognise that sadness will come and go throughout the festive period. This is inevitable, grieving is the price we pay for love.
You can and will get through it.
These practical steps for coping with Christmas after bereavement may help.
1) Plan for Christmas day, get out pen and paper or the iPad, jot down things you might like to do if you were not feeling quite as sad.
List simple things; Maybe you always wanted to drink Bucks Fizz in bed but never could because your partner was teetotal, or perhaps you always wanted to walk in the country on Xmas morning rather than go to church – now is the time to please yourself, don’t feel guilty, do it.
2) Anticipate the parts of the actual day that you are likely to feel the worst.
If you can recognise where the major deep pits lie, you will be able to draw up a plan to be doing other activities at those especially vulnerable times. If you recognise that your dip in mood occurs after lunch, why not go for a walk, have a sleep or try and master something new.
3) Create a ritual that honours the past but sows the seeds of hope for the future.
Perhaps that might be to gather winter foliage from the country to make a seasonal wreath and then laying it at your partners resting place. Afterwards, why not meet up with a son, daughter or grandchild to do something different together, have a mulled wine, treat them to a meal, watch them ice skate, have a flutter on the horses. It is not important what the activity is. The importance is found in developing new rituals.
Why not create a ritual you can carry out and extend every year forward?
4) Buy yourself a present, wrap it nicely – pamper yourself.
Choose something you have always wanted (if finances allow). Open it on Christmas day. Immerse yourself in it.
5) Make an emergency ration pack.
An emergency ration pack is a small parcel made up of items that will lift your spirit even in your darkest moments. The idea is that you take time to select items that comfort or cheer you. When sadness hits you won’t feel like seeking out things that raise your mood, so be prepared, and have the ration pack ready before you need it.
A typical ration pack might include – chocolate, bath oils, favourite DVD, a magazine, notebook, a novel and painting set.
6) Accept invitations.
You may not want to go out. Try and be gracious. Accept the odd invitation. It will help you realise that life goes on. Socialising does not mean you have stopped grieving or have forgotten your partner. It does mean that you are courageously choosing to walk on for yourself while honouring your past life.
7) Count your blessings
Remember, you are lucky to be here, you have your health and the ability to choose to move forward. You are able to feel your pain, this means you will also feel joy again. Many are not so lucky.
8) Be kind to yourself, use mindfulness
Don’t be harsh on yourself when you feel sad. Feelings of sadness will pass, feeling broken and like life has ended is part of the grieving process. Allow yourself to experience your emotions without dulling them with excessive alcohol or drug use.
If you are unable to take any of these steps and/or are thinking that you can’t go on then it is essential that you seek help. Counselling or psychotherapy may help you to adjust to your situation. It may also allow you to recognise that despite your current feelings of sadness – you do have the chance of a positive future ahead of you.
Written by Christine Tizzard Psychology firstname.lastname@example.org
Teachers who practice Mindfulness are better able to reduce their personal stress levels and susceptibility to burnout.
This is the finding of new research undertaken by Lisa Flook, an Assistant Scientist at the Centre for Investigating Healthy Minds (CIMH) at University of Wisconsin.
What is Burnout?
Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It happens when an individual feels overwhelmed and unable to meet the constant demands on them. While similar to, it is different from compassion fatigue and vicarious traumatisation.
Burnout reduces an individual’s productivity and saps their energy, leaving them feeling increasingly helpless, hopeless, cynical and resentful. Eventually, individuals experiencing burn out may feel like they have nothing more to give.
Most of us have days when we feel stressed overloaded, or unappreciated, when this becomes a pattern, we become candidates for burnout. This has serious consequences on both professional and personal functioning.
Objective of Study
The purpose of the CIMH study designed by Flook who has advanced degrees in education and psychology was to help teachers manage escalating levels of stress. The demands of the curriculum coupled with the behaviour of a small percentage of pupils are a known recipe for feeling overwhelmed.
It is well known that burnout causes many problems including extended sick leave.
The practice of Mindfulness arises from centuries old meditative traditions that are now being taught in a secular way.
An increasing number of studies are emerging that focus on empirical research which is open to rigorous scientific scrutiny.
Mindfulness is a technique that when learnt can heighten an individual’s core sense of awareness. This includes an awareness of self; a noticing of external stimuli and body sensations. Importantly the practice develops an ability to register stressors but not respond to them.
Practiced well, Mindfulness produces a sense of calm and wellbeing. Let’s be clear, it does not remove the stressors per se, rather being able to practice Mindfulness effectively, changes reactions to stress. Used effectively, it can be a powerful tool to reduce burnout in teachers.
The cohort of teachers who took part in the study learned specific strategies for both preventing and dealing with stressors in the classroom. They learnt techniques such as ‘dropping in,’ a term to describe the process of bringing attention to the sensations of breath and other physical sensations, thoughts and emotions for short periods. They reported a significant stress reduction.
Mindfulness and stress reduction
Research is drawing clear links between Mindfulness and cortisol reduction. Cortisol is a stress hormone. It is an integral part of the fight or flight response. When we are stressed or scared cortisol production is ramped up. Excessive cortisol is known to increase inflammation in the body that over a period of time can contribute to physical health problems.
A previous study carried out in 2013 and published in the Journal of Health Psychology found an association between increased Mindfulness practice and decreased cortisol production.
The level of the hormone present in the saliva of participants was measured before and after taking part in a Mindfulness retreat.
Tonya Jacobs a post-doctoral researcher at the University of California said in a statement that ‘A direct relationship between resting cortisol and the scores obtained on any Mindfulness scale was identified’.
Bringing Mindfulness to Teachers
Teaching Mindfulness to teachers is an exciting new project that offers potential gains, in particular, retaining talented teachers in education. A large amount of interest has been expressed by teachers who have already observed how Mindfulness has helped their pupils. Now they are beginning to understand the wider application of Mindfulness in education.
Running Mindfulness training for teachers is a specially tailored programme based on the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Programme.
For further information on Mindfulness techniques for teachers, please contact Sheehan Brooke Psychology 01243 775055. The organisation provide a range of Mindfulness workshops at their s rural offices near Chichester West Sussex and at venues throughout UK and Southern Ireland
Further reading: Mindfulness for Teachers: A Pilot Study to Assess Effects on Stress, Burnout and teaching Efficacy (Pages 183-185) , published in Journal of Mind, Brain and Education September 2013, Lisa Flook, Simon B. Goldberg, Laura Pinger, Katherine Bonus and Richard J Davidson
Is my child experiencing depression?
One of the questions that parents frequently ask is “Is my child depressed’? Children, just like their parents have ‘down’ days. It might be that they have had a hard day at school, fallen out with a best friend or are simply trying to adjust to a new situation. Parents often panic when their child appears low and often wonder if he or she is beginning to display symptoms of depression.
Younger children do not always present as being depressed. Often they internalise their distress and act it out in a behavioural or physical manner. It is often difficult for parents, carers and teachers to spot the signs of depression in a child.
Below are the most frequent symptoms seen in younger children.
Older children and adolescents are more likely to present in a similar way to adults.
1. Depressed children do not always look depressed
2. Sleep changes
3. Appetite changes
4. Irregularity of bowel habits
5. School problems
6. Prolonged negative reaction to crisis
7. Loss of interest in usual activities
8. Change of friends and social behaviour
9. Expressing helplessness
10. Physical symptoms
If your child is displaying these symptoms for longer than two weeks or if there is more than one symptom it is time to consult your GP or child psychologist. Sheehan Brooke Psychology hold a free parenting clinic each Monday where advice is readily available. 01243 775055.