Parenting together Making joint decisions for your children

If you were planning an expedition to the Amazon the planning would be started many months before hand – decisions would be made about dates, accommodation, modes of transport, safety plans – all put in place in advance. Some decisions may be made along the way as the landscape changes but the parameters are pretty much set.

With the parenting journey, many things may be left open, often viewed as something we know about from our family experience. What happens when you as parents are sitting at opposite ends of an argument about what’s best for your child?

The differences may not be expected until you actually experience a disagreement. What was obvious to one parent may not be to the other parent. As parents we come from different families with different ideas, often different values and there are many issues that are ‘hot potatoes’ when it comes to parenting.

To smack or not to smack – to vaccinate or not to vaccinate – to medicate or not to medicate …  type of education …… how many children ……. so many decisions to make …….

When parents cannot agree on a course of action, that incongruence can cause friction. You might find your you and your partner at opposite ends of an issue.

The position you and your partner have taken on any particualr issue will not be unfounded though. Every position we take in a decision is sitting on top of values and beliefs that you have developed from previous experiences, often from your family.

You will have heard the argument. ‘I was smacked as a child and I turned out ok.’ Your partner may say ‘I wasnt smacked and turned out ok too’.

When you have polarised views, sitting at opposite ends of the topic, that chasm between you may seem huge. It does not lend its self to an agreed position, so what do you do?

Option 1. Fight tooth and nail for your position without consideration for an alternative view.

Option 2. Inform yourself on the topic and make a considered joint decision after an informed discussion.

If you choose option 1 the conflict will continue. The agreement will be either forced by one party and the other resentful of it or the issue will continue to fluctuate in a push-pull fashion – the parenting of your child open to confusion.

Ask yourself, am I responding from an informed position and am I prepared to have a discussion to come to an agreement that most benefits my child? If so consider option 2 then there is at least an opportunity for some understanding where your partner is ‘coming from’ and vise versa. An opportunity for the left brain to be engaged with research and not just the right brain with emotion. You ideally will find some common ground if you continue the discussion rather than blocking the opportunity to talk it over.

Read articles, talk to people but not just the ones you agree with, not just the articles that already support your argument – you know what that article will say – try one that takes an alternative view – give yourself time to consider what other possible views there are.

At least then the next time you have the conversation, yes conversation, not an escalated arguement where your emotions are high and your logical brain is not accessible.

Between the polarised points there’s heaps of room for a conversation – it may be several conversations – the beauty of our brain is that it can take on new information, in fact it will notice new information immediately. Ideas can be reshaped, we can learn new ways – you can teach an old dog new tricks!

Unless you understand for your self and why the position you are taking is so important to you, then how can you be so sure it is coming from the right place – in the best interest of your child.

As your children get older you can teach them to make informed decisions, be the well-informed teacher. – one of your many roles as a parent.

For further counselling Email Ph0414728884

2019 – A new Year – what does it hold for you by Di Clough

Perhaps you began the New Year with positive thoughts and then made a lot of commitments to your self. Good for you – if you did this last year and it didn’t live up to your expectations perhaps reflect a little more.
Its no secret that we don’t actually have control over everything in the universe however it is reasonable to assume that actions that you take as an individual can have a huge impact on how your day goes and it also can affect those around you. Day by day you can impact on your whole year.
Lets start with today. When you woke this morning what was the first thing you noticed about the day? How did that feel? Ask your self “Is there something I could change about that moment of waking up for the day?”
How we wake up can influence how the day goes ….. it doesn’t have to, if it starts a bit rough, try not to allow the day to be totally affected.
Moment by moment we can change how we feel – influenced a great deal on how we are thinking – stop for a moment and check your thoughts and how that is impacting on how you are feeling.
Feelings offer us feedback – they are telling us something – reflect a little on what that feeling is and where it is coming from.
If the feeling is ‘dull’ and the thought is that ‘its another crappy day’ then if that’s what your thinking that’s quite likely what it will be – it will be a surprise if something good happens. You might say “well if I expect the worst then if something good happens I feel good”.
Reflect on what would make it good – take action – make it happen.
To do this we have to let go of some previous thinking …. based on previous experiences, previous events – if you keep doing the same thing then the outcome will be the same – to change something we have to do something different
‘If only’……this pattern of thinking assumes that what is happening now is not working and that something else needs to happen for it to be different, except it may have a shadow of that ‘something else’ is being controlled by someone else. What parts can you influence?
What can you do to influence the outcome you want?
While our brain does respond well to repetitive behaviour, mainly because it has done it before and knows what to do, but it does actually notice when something is different and is stimulated by that.
Are there some behaviours that have become commonplace in our lives but don’t actually enhance it – or maybe it does for a while but then it becomes habit, but lost its use.
What repeated behaviour do you need to get rid of ?
Where you put your attention is where your brain is committed so just take a moment to consider where you are focusing and for how long? Evaluate the quality of what you are giving attention to. Is it positive, does it produce positive thoughts, does it have a positive outcome.
Positive thoughts influence positive feelings and produce positive actions. It’s an attraction – a positive attraction.
If you are you struggling to find the positive and would like some help with clarification of possible goals – to change what is happening now and a plan for the future consider a couple of counselling sessions –
Counselling is aimed at creating sustained change that enhances your relationships or your situation. Individuals, couples and families can benefit from discussing some of those topics that are avoided in the every day.

There is an opportunity to enhance your skills, improve your capacity to go forward in the way you want to – the future can have a different outlook.

A counselor may be able to assist you to recognise a wider range of possibilities, help you identify the most important issues, and develop strategies to empower you to develop the strength to move forward in a direction that seems to fit. This would be without judgment and no bias toward a particular destination.

Call or text Di on 0414728884 and book your first session

Are you a carer?

A role with challenges, so when Harry offered this article he’d written, I felt it offered an important contribution to supporting carers thus have included it here (Di).

Harry wrote:

Caregivers are at a higher risk of many physical and mental health conditions, and 17 percent feel that their health took a turn for the worse due to their responsibilities. One of the most common health problems experienced by caregivers is stress, which, as well as being unpleasant, can also trigger additional health problems. That’s why it’s crucial for caregivers to be aware of and manage their stress levels — and here’s how to do just that.

Be Aware of the Signs – Stress arises when you feel like you’re unable to deal with problems. A little stress here and there is no problem, but if you’re regularly stressed for long period of time, this can have negative effects on your health. Keep an eye out for the early signs of stress and deal with it before it becomes a larger problem. The key symptom of stress is a general feeling of being overwhelmed — as if problems pile up quicker than you can deal with them. However, stress can manifest in many different way — the American Institute of Stress Institute lists over 50 common signs of stress, such as headaches, difficulty sleeping, and common infections. If you start to feel the symptoms of stress, don’t ignore them — take action.

Use Healthy Coping Methods – As a carer, healthy coping methods should be part of your daily life, just like brushing your teeth. Three of the best ways to reduce stress are meditation, physical exercise, and making sure you get seven to nine hours of good quality sleep each night. When you’re in a calm and relaxed state of mind (such as after some vigorous exercise), you can try problem-solving. Think about the causes of your stress and come up with a list of ways to remove it. For example, if finances are a source of stress, you draw up a budget, look into loan options, or see if a local credit union or nonprofit can provide free advice. Make sure you take some time out for yourself, too — pursue your own hobbies and interests, catch up with friends, and occasionally let your hair down.

Avoid Unhealthy Coping Methods – When things get difficult, it can be tempting to turn to unhealthy coping methods, such as using alcohol, tobacco, or other substances. However, this simply covers up the symptoms of stress for a short period of time. Addictive substances do not remove the source of your stress, and once their effects wear off, the stress will return. Furthermore, substances of abuse are likely to trigger mental health problems all on their own, such as depression and anxiety. In other words, they will make your stress worse in the long run. They also impair your ability to think clearly, making it difficult to engage in problem-solving as effectively. Other negative coping methods to avoid include overeating, gambling, or compulsive spending.

Get Support When You Need it – Caregiving can be difficult, but you don’t need to face your troubles alone. You may be able to get support not only in the practical aspects of caring, but also for yourself. Look up charities and nonprofits operating in your area. Such groups are often organized by the health problem of the person you are caring for; for example, the Alzheimer’s Association gives free advice and runs support groups for caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s. You may also be entitled to financial and other support from the government — Aging Care has a good article here which goes over the major options available to you.

Caring for another person can be one of the most rewarding things you can do, but it is not without its challenges. Being a caregiver puts extra strain on your physical and mental resources, so it’s important to care for yourself, too. What healthy coping method can you start practicing today?

Author – Harry wrote

Harry Cline is creator of and author of the upcoming book, The A-Z Home Care Handbook: Health Management How-Tos for Senior Caregivers. As a retired nursing home administrator, father of three, and caregiver to his ninety-year-old uncle, Harry knows how challenging and rewarding caregiving can be. He also understands that caregiving is often overwhelming for those just starting out. He created his website and is writing his new book to offer new caregivers everywhere help and support.



Counselling can help beyond the crisis

Counselling has more to offer you than just in a Crisis – Di Clough

Counselling in a crisis aims to assist a client/s to deal with an immediate situation that has become extremely stressful or intolerable and is affecting day-to-day functioning. This is the most likely time that people decide to come to counselling.

The crisis point is when a situation has become critical and a change of some kind has become necessary. The situation may be a loss, a specific challenge, or sudden change that has not been within your control. It could be for a couple or members of a family, when communication has become extremely negative and resulting in conflict most of the time. Or for an individual when personal discomfort has become distress and is impacting on most areas of their lives. In each case they are no longer able to function as they normally would.

Crisis Counselling can be very effective and release the immediate pressure that has become intolerable – stabilizing the situation, enabling a continuation of a persons day-to-day functioning.

The Counselor is most likely to take a Solution Oriented approach to reduce the immediate crisis and suggest strategies to manage the responses that may arise in the immediate future.

The effectiveness of Crisis Counseling cannot be under-estimated. It is seldom, however, that the maximum benefit can be gained from just one session.

The immediate sense of crisis may be reduced however unless some ongoing change is made, the crisis may reappear, perhaps even in a slightly different form. There is benefit from taking a broader look at other aspects of peoples lives that may be impacted.

Counselling is aimed at creating sustained change that enhances your relationships or your situation. Individuals, couples and families can benefit from discussing some of those topics that are avoided in a safe space, to enable fruitful discussions that liberate the situation.

This does not mean that therapy has to become your new hobby, however you may be looking for ways to develop and improve the way you feel about yourself and your life’s journey. There is an opportunity to enhance your skills, improve your capacity to go forward in the way you want to – the future can have a different outlook.

A counselor can help you identify the most important issues, without judgment and no bias toward a particular destination. This may involve identifying your core values and needs and aligning them with a vision or purpose and giving some consideration what or who your best supports are to achieve this.
A counselor may be able to assist you to recognise a wider range of possibilities and with strategies to empower you enable you to develop the strength to move forward in a direction that seems to fit. This course of action can further develop as you cultivate your life space.

What a great opportunity

The Family Table

We are biologically wired to connect emotionally with others. If we cannot find that connection in our family, we will find it with others. Modern life places so many pressures on us timewise. Mobile phones have changed the way that we communicate and connect making it easy to connect to others outside the family while physically being in the family home. The question is who do you want to have influence over your children?

While ‘the family table is the name of a cookbook and a restaurant – the angle I want to take is the great potential for communication.

If you were asked whether you think that it is important that your family meet and talk – chances are you would say yes, then follow it quickly with how busy your life is between school, work, homework and sporting commitments.

Take a moment to think about how often your family sits down to eat together at a table, without other interferences like phones and TV. In a busy family most communication takes place when everyone is getting ready to go somewhere, and it’s in a hurry.

Getting your family back to the table for meals creates opportunities for chatting to each other. If you haven’t done it for a while, it may take some practice to re-learn how to communicate effectively.

Start by thinking about what days it is most likely that everyone can get together. Check everyone’s timetable, and if this is difficult, can some family members move their plans around where there is flexibility (e.g. going to the gym). Which meal is it, breakfast or dinner? Sunday lunch? When you see an opportunity, arrange for everyone to be there. Stress the importance of the opportunity for everyone to be together.

At the meal, it may take one family member to take the lead and facilitate. This person’s job will be to ask each family member, what they did today, or what they enjoyed about their day or their week.

Ask everyone else to listen, and they may have questions too? Allow everyone to have an opportunity to say something.

This will be more of a challenge for some than others but here they are learning skills in listening, and when it’s their turn, to tell their story.

Verbal communication is critical to socialisation – feeling comfortable asking questions and sharing information, and talking about yourself or your ideas. This is an opportunity for your children and you to find out more about their daily life when they are away from the family.

Another benefit of learning these skills is that it can become more familiar for the family to talk about things that are happening within the family.

The meal, and having it at a table, sets the scene for everyone to be seated, with a purpose – this extends its use, to a family get together over a meal.

If you are already doing this then well done. You have enhanced your family’s capacity to communicate together and helped your children learn how to facilitate and hold a conversation. This will also bring you closer as a family as sharing does that.

Family life is not a walk in the park. Often issues arise that are hard to deal with, especially since you are directly involved, and often emotional responses to situations make it difficult to see what needs to change.

Counselling with a family counsellor can speed up the resolution process and restore family unity.

If you would like more information or
to make an appointment with Diane Clough, please call 0414728884

Does my child need to see a therapist?

Does my child need to see a therapist or a counsellor?

The lives of children can be quite stressful – there’s the expectations of the school environment, study and exams, friendships and family relationships, and as the child gets older personal development, peer support and self image. Then there’s the possibility of significant life events –an illness or a death in the family, parents separating, relationship breakups. Some of these events most people would find stressful and some of that discomfort is the feeling of having very little control over what’s happening. This can be very disconcerting.
Ideally there will be someone in the family for the child to talk to, a parent, a grandparent, aunty or friend. What the child probably needs more than anything is the opportunity to talk – in our busy lives such opportunities can be hard to find.

Most parents try to create this time. There are times however when your child seems unable to express what they are feeling and what you notice is a change in behaviour.
When do you know that the behaviour you are seeing in your child is a concern ? Perhaps when you start to worry, when you notice the difference in their behaviour – clearly that can get tricky too because children do change as they develop …… if you are worried talk to someone about it. If you have a GP whom you can talk to that can be a good start to help you decided what kind of help you need and who to go to.
Sometimes children can benefit from therapy.
It may be some issues the school has identified, attention difficulties you have noticed, including difficulty managing to complete tasks. It may be that they are getting upset or angry or complain of being bullied, or is doing the bullying.
You might notice changes in appetite, moodiness or spending more time in their room, activities they previously enjoyed no longer of interest and nothing has replaced that enjoyment, increased periods of anxiety or sadness …….
If your child does not share what is happening for them, with you, you might find a family member they would or have confided in or you could consider counselling. As a counsellor at this practice who sees children I would say that it is not always helpful to just refer the child to the counsellor to sort, with out some back ground information.
I would always recommend that the parent/s attend the first session either with the child or before the child attends, to enable a shared understanding of the circumstances the child is living in. All families are unique and family dynamics vary.
Depending on the age of the child they may benefit from an opportunity to talk to someone independent of the family to help sort something out in their mind. Whereas there will be times when it would be helpful for the family to attend some sessions with the child to enhance positive interactions in the family that will benefit the child, and in turn the whole family.

The counsellor can discuss these options with you at the first session or as sessions continue and also clarify issues around confidentiality.

The counsellor may also suggest to consider discussing a Mental Health Care Plan (MHCP) with your GP to assist with the cost of sessions with a Medicare rebate. To have a one hour session with counsellor Di Clough, the charge would be $100 for a child under 18 and with a MHCP you would be entitled to claim $75.95 back from Medicare.

Anxiety & Trauma

Anxiety and trauma are not the same but they can have similar qualities – they both can affect a person’s capacity to cope with daily tasks.

CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) is traditionally the therapy used to assist people with anxiety. It helps people identify their feelings and thoughts and how they affect the way they respond to things in their lives. It aims to help people change unhelpful thoughts, by assessing the evidence for their way of thinking, that may be well supported by another more positive way of thinking. It helps people reframe the way that events are perceived.

Developments in the understanding of the brain from a neuroscience perspective has offered new opportunities for working with people who suffer from anxiety and even more so with trauma and post-traumatic Stress.

The Body Remembers, the title of a book by Rothschild (2000), highlights the body mind link and gives us an understanding of why smells, sounds, and visual stimulation reminds us of past events or past times. Sometimes there is a feeling that is triggered but it does not always bring vivid memory of the event itself.

These sensory triggers can alert the survival part of your brain into ‘high alert’ mode. You may have heard the term ‘flight or fight’ mode. Suddenly you might notice that your heart is beating fast, or your chest feels tight, or you feel flushed and it’s not clear why. It can feel quite disconcerting and definitely out of your comfort zone.

As the memory attached to the feeling is not retrievable – it is not always necessary to go back to the trauma itself to help you deal with these feelings.

It is possible to learn to divert these feelings with increased awareness of any early warning signs, by taking some a gentle deep breaths – “breath in deeply, gently and breath out slowly through your mouth” this will start to slow down these escalated body responses – the outward breath particularly will slow down your pulse rate.

Then it is possible to allow the body to regain itself and allow the thinking part of your brain to engage…….

So much has been learned about anxiety and trauma and if you want to know more or experience some relief from your anxiety or trauma make an appointment to see Call or Text Di….. 0414728884

parenting – its not always easy

Its not always easy

 There are times when the moments of joy get taken over by feeling challenged and overwhelmed, wondering what to do next – you are not alone.

We know the basics – food and shelter – yet sometimes even that seems difficult, not just from a financial point of view but at some stages children can be quite picky about what they’ll eat.

Then there’s, safety and guidance, dealing with behavior that astounds you that a small child can manage, or a nine year old or a teenager – that’s the thing -children add new challenges as they go through different ages and stages – you may be starting to feel that you’ve got a handle on things and they change.

As parents, we are constantly learning new ways of meeting needs and managing behavior, so that they can be the best person they can be – so how do we do this?

Have you noticed a mother duck with her duckling or a bird feeding her chicks in a nest – she just seems to know what to do – some say this is it instinct, others say they repeating what they have observed when they were young.

Most often we learn about parenting from our parents – and they learnt from their parents. If you are sharing parenting with another adult, chances are their parenting style will be different, because they’re from a different family with different ideas. That in itself, can be a challenge!

You might say

‘I’m just doing what I have to do, as I do it,

and because there is so much to do,

I haven’t got time to think about if I’m doing a good job or not! ‘

You are important to your children. Emotional bonds formed by children with their caregivers (you) have a remarkable impact that continues throughout life. Remembering of course that you are not the only influence in their lives, but certainly a main influence in their early years.

A lot has been learned about the development of children at different ages and stages. That includes brain development, which teaches us more about what a child has the capacity to respond to and how best to get an outcome you want.

According to neuroscience a person’s brain does not develop fully until 25 years old!

Don’t struggle on your own. Take the time to step back and reflect upon what the role of a parent is and what kind of parent you want to be. If it strikes you that there’s a lot to absorb, just think about how much your child has to learn just in the first five years!

It certainly can be helpful to join a playgroup and meet other mums and dads or talk to family members.

It may also be helpful to talk to someone independent and take the opportunity to share your thoughts about what’s not working and what else to try. This will enable you to develop a clearer picture and develop some strategies to manage what ever comes up.

If you want to talk to someone who has talked to a lot of parents about their struggles and helped them find ways to manage their role as a parent with an approach they are comfortable with …. make contact with Di Clough 0414728884 for an appointment.





Grief & Loss

Grief and Loss

The epitome of grief is the loss of a loved one – it could be a person you see every day, or a person who’s had a significant influence in your life, even if you don’t see them often. The loss may be sudden or expected – a shock either way. If you were carer of that person suddenly your role has changed, your life changes –

There are many layers of loss and a significant layer is about change – Kubler Ross (1969) developed a model that was from her experience in helping people who were dying themselves – but it became clear that a similar process occurs if you are the one facing losing someone else, or something else.

The process from the period of shock and denial, to sensations of anger, to feelings of depression and detachment, and then as the person struggles to find meaning for what has happened a period of dialogue and bargaining towards an understanding about this part of their life that has changed.

It has been understood that these stages would not necessarily follow on in order, but the grieving person may float between them for a while, a developmental process that will differ for different people.

Interestingly this model has been useful for understanding many kinds of loss and change in peoples lives – losing a job, your home, your identity …….. periods of time when we have had to adjust to something different than what we were expecting.

Expectations about our situations and ourselves can drive us to meet out goals yet sometimes some things outside of our control can change an outcome, a change that we find perhaps uncomfortable, or in some cases seemingly unbearable.

Breath in – slowly, gently, deeply – breath out,

It sounds like a cliché, change is inevitable – change is a process and knowing that it is a process that moves – must allow that something new will present as the new comfortable, even if it takes some time, even if you don’t recognize it at first.

My considered thoughts: Di Clough, Christobel Counselling

Unit 4, Level 1, 11 Main Street, Beenleigh Ph: 0414728884