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Nikki Catto – Nikki Catto Counselling https://www.nikkicatto.com Counselling and meditation for wellbeing Thu, 22 Jun 2017 12:51:35 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://i2.wp.com/www.nikkicatto.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/cropped-icon.png?fit=32%2C32&ssl=1 Nikki Catto – Nikki Catto Counselling https://www.nikkicatto.com 32 32 138076715 Counselling Through Neuroscience, Healing Ourselves Through Understanding The Brain. https://www.nikkicatto.com/general-therapy/understanding-our-brains-counselling-neuroscience/ Thu, 22 Jun 2017 12:51:35 +0000 https://www.nikkicatto.com/?p=389 Counselling through neuroscience can provide a greater therapeutic impact for a more sustainable outcome

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Healing through neuroscience

Counselling through neuroscience can help us understand how the brain works can offer understandable interventions for the client to bring about a greater impact on our healing

Our brains can be” re wired”. Our past experiences have wired or formed our brains in specific ways. Through understanding how our thoughts and emotions affect us we can learn to change this unconscious internal programming

Through therapy we raise the unconscious thoughts ,behaviours and feelings into our awareness, this helps us “release “and then begin to explore new ways of feeling which in turn can change our thoughts and behaviour and so begins the transformation.

To help consolidate these changes in our neuroplasticity (long term sustainable change in the brain) we can take several steps to help ourselves whilst in therapy;
1. Find activities that encourage us to focus and concentrate such as mindfulness, a puzzle, learning a language or musical instrument. This activates a certain part of the brain (nucleus basalis) to stimulate acetylcholine which tells the brain to “fix” the new more positive serving thoughts and memories being experienced.
2. Participate in an activity which gives the person a sense of fun and satisfaction. This makes the brain produce dopamine (present in anti-depressants) which is vital to enhance the changes in the brain. Dopamine also is responsible for will and motivation which is another bonus.
3. Repetition is important because it forms new synapses in the brain and allows the new ways of thinking and behaving to become habitual. This means we are letting go of our anxious, angry or depressive ways and establishing a more healthy mind set                                                          Why Mindfulness works (the effect on the brain)

 

 

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Why Mindfulness works (the effect on the brain) https://www.nikkicatto.com/general-therapy/why-mindfulness-works-the-effect-on-the-brain/ Thu, 20 Apr 2017 16:54:25 +0000 https://www.nikkicatto.com/?p=378 Mindfulness can sculpt the brain to help build resilience with mental health issues and improve coping skills

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Mindfulness promotes increased neurones (grey matter) in areas of the brain which in turn can produce life changing affects particularly with those suffering from stress, depression, anxiety, Attention Deficit Disorders, and other mental health issues . It is the routine of regular (daily) practice just like learning to play an instrument that will produce results. Eventually, we become more centred, considered and calmer individuals who are able to respond to stimuli in a more effective manner.
The following explains the specific way mindfulness can affect the brain and hence your wellbeing.

Prefrontal cortex;

The more you practice mindfulness, the more this area thickens with neurones. This is the area responsible for our higher level thinking such as decision making, impulse control attention, and empathy

Amygdala;

The amygdala shrinks with mindfulness practice. It reduces the neural connections between the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex and thus reduces reactivity (panic, anger etc) because this area is the seat of our fearful and anxious emotions.

Insula;

This area when increased in size will improve your ability to observe yourself and calm your mind down, it also is responsible for social emotions such as empathy . Concentrating on a sound, smell, taste etc will stimulate this area and hence growth of neuones.

Hippocampus;

The area responsible for mental dexterity, learning and memory. Mindfulness increases this area’s grey matter and creates other structural changes. and is extraordinarily susceptible to stress and stress-related disorders like depression or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Mindfulness strengthens the hippocampus.

Anterior Cingulate Cortex;

This area is so important for paying attention and self-regulation. The more you practice focusing and catching yourself when your concentration wanes, the more this area thickens. The development of this area could be really helpful for sufferers of Attention Deficit Disorder or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Temporal-Parietal function;

This part of the brain is responsible for connectivity to our body (sense of self) and it has also been proven to develop with mindfulness and is helpful for people with eating disorders, addictions and even Borderline personality disorders.

The Parasympathetic Nervous system;

Basically, the parasympathetic nervous system is our relaxed state and Sympathetic Nervous system is our more heightened state of being. Mindfulness is associated with increased parasympathetic activity which means lower heart rate, blood pressure and less muscle tension

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Five Minute Meditation for young people https://www.nikkicatto.com/adolescence/five-minute-meditation-for-young-people/ Tue, 14 Feb 2017 13:29:08 +0000 https://www.nikkicatto.com/?p=373 Here is a simple five minute meditation used for young people (11yrs up) However, what ever your age feel free to explore the experience

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Here is a simple five minute meditation used for young people (11yrs up) However, what ever your age feel free to explore the experience

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Teaching Meditation to Welsh Senior School Pupils https://www.nikkicatto.com/meditation/teaching-meditation-to-welsh-senior-school-pupils/ Tue, 31 Jan 2017 15:15:07 +0000 https://www.nikkicatto.com/?p=369 Nikki Catto has been teaching meditation to welsh senior school pupils

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Pupils seem to sense that meditation will help


Meditation in Schools
Over the last six years I have been teaching meditation to welsh senior school pupils, these pupils mainly display behavioural issues and some have other difficulties such as autism and anxiety. This is now being rolled out into mainstream classes to enable all students to learn life skills to manage themselves.
The results from the sessions have been heart-warming and the teachers have expressed surprise at how the pupils have taken to the concept. It is no mean feat to introduce sitting in silence to a form group of thirty plus pupils whilst sitting in a class room with noise from the corridors. However, they do it and love it. One young boy came up to me after his first session recently and said “ that was incredible”.
It is like the young people know deep down what they need and they pay attention and focus on the meditation. I just love it when people tell me that they have Attention Deficit Disorder so they probably will not be able to do this and they are the ones who have to be woken up at the end of the session because they got so relaxed that they fell asleep (I speak in plural because this has happened frequently). The sad thing here is that those kids have already limited themselves because they have been given a label, the good thing is just one session of meditation shows them that maybe they can change and that they can be ok. And that shows hope, and the power of hope can move mountains. They sense this and participate with even greater intent and their self esteem might just be a little better with this sense of empowerment.
What do I offer in these sessions? We explore what it is like to sit together in silence , they hear about how their brain works and how they can use their minds to help themselves. They explore breathwork and mindfulness exercises and then the final part of the session is relaxation through creative visualisation. With each exercise, I share with them why we are doing it and how it affects their brain and thus their bodies. I help to support schools to create a program to integrate the sessions by the teachers into the daily school routine for continuity and for it all to be self-sustaining.
The results have been astounding, young people are ready for this, they show this by their keenness to participate and their desire to do more. What is more, is that their self-reflection and life skills develop over time and these will be integrated into adulthood. Results will not only be positive for an individual but will help foster respectful and positive learning environments not only for pupils but teachers too and the wider society.

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Mindfulness in Pembrokeshire https://www.nikkicatto.com/mindfulness/mindfulness/ Wed, 12 Oct 2016 17:30:35 +0000 http://www.nikkicatto.com/?p=354 Mindfulness is a therapeutic approach to maintaining our wellbeing in a busy world.  Due to its life changing results it has become very popular in companies, schools and the National Health Service over recent years.  Companies such as Rolls Royce, London Transport, Proctor and Gamble, Saatchi and Saatchi and many more have found that Mindfulness […]

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Mindfulness is a therapeutic approach to maintaining our wellbeing in a busy world.  Due to its life changing results it has become very popular in companies, schools and the National Health Service over recent years.  Companies such as Rolls Royce, London Transport, Proctor and Gamble, Saatchi and Saatchi and many more have found that Mindfulness has improved absenteeism and productivity.  The way our brains are wired are not conducive to our modern day life style, due to this, anxiety, stress and depression have become more and more common.

Thanks to ground breaking neuroscience, research has now shown the positive effects that practising mindfulness can have on the brain and therefore, the whole body helping to relieve not only minor life struggles but more serious mental health issues.

Working with mindfulness with a trained counselling therapist can reap many positive benefits.

Nikki bases all her work on science, research and experience which she shares along the way.

Mindfulness can help;p1000659

  • Stress and anxiety reduction
  • Boost working memory
  • Mood regulation such as managing depression
  • Improve Immune system
  • Less emotional reactivity
  • Raise self-awareness
  • More efficient and creative decision making
  • Stabilise energy levels and promote focus
  • Improve personal and working relationships

And more……

Mindfulness & Meditation  

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Counselling in Pembrokeshire https://www.nikkicatto.com/general-therapy/choosing-a-therapist/ Mon, 08 Aug 2016 11:09:36 +0000 http://www.nikkicatto.com/?p=339 As all good therapists do, I realised it was time to commence my own personal therapy once more. Professionally, this is a sign of best practice, personally it’s simply good self-care. I didn’t expect to find it so difficult to find a therapist  to fulfill my counseling  in Pembrokeshire . There are so many therapists […]

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As all good therapists do, I realised it was time to commence my own personal therapy once more. Professionally, this is a sign of best practice, personally it’s simply good self-care. I didn’t expect to find it so difficult to find a therapist  to fulfill my counseling  in Pembrokeshire .
There are so many therapists out there advertising . It can be mind blowing, if you go onto a professional site and the therapist is a member of a governing body (BACP or UKCP) then they are all qualified therapists to a good standard.You do not need to worry about the letters after the name  unless you are looking for a particular specialty.
It never ceases to amaze me the number of therapists who never reply to inquiries, it takes ages to find someone you like then contact them and then you  have to wait for a reply ,and  then nothing might happen. I appreciate that this can really faze a potential client , it can put someone off from still seeking help .
I often receive a person`s issues in a long email explaining why they need therapy. Do not feel that you have to share everything or anything, it can be hard to open up to a complete stranger and you should consider confidentiality.
Maybe just ask if the therapist has particular experience in the issue you are wanting help with and then ask for a chat either on the phone or face to face. I often offer a free twenty minute appointment to see if we can work together and connect. This can help put first session nerves at bay too, it is all about minimizing the unknown.

Looking for Counselling in Pembrokeshire -Top Tips

  1. Be very clear on your counselling objective and look for the appropriate words and qualifications around this issue
  2. Ask around friends and colleagues if they can refer someone or if you find a therapist maybe ask around if people have heard of them. I feel word of mouth can really help instill confidence and like all things, there are good therapists and bad. It is about minimising your risks so you can feel as safe as possible
  3. Look for membership of BACP or UKCP, these organisations are our governing bodies and show we have trained to a certain level and follow a set of guidelines we call our code of ethics. They both have a complaints procedure too.
  4. Length of practice. I know  the difference in the therapy I offered when I first qualified to now. There is a huge difference in experience and knowledge base. Now, I am not saying do not go to a newly qualified therapist but ask how long they have been qualified for and if your issue is a very serious one such as sexual abuse, post trauma disorder, psychosis or eating disorders think very seriously about whether they can keep you safe whilst working and healing. All the qualifications in the world does not overshadow experience
  5. Ask about the therapist’s availability. I heard a story the other day of someone having a first session and when booking a second session he was told the therapist could not fit him into her diary! Ask first, tell the therapist in the initial contact your working hours and the day and times you are looking for
  6. Speed of returning a reply after  your initial inquiry and the nature of the reply can tell you a lot about the therapist
  7. Follow your instinct even if the therapist ticks all the boxes, if it doesn’t feel right, keep on looking.When you first arrive at the initial session trust your gut instincts. Do not be afraid of cancelling any second session. Finding a therapist can be like looking for a pair of shoes, you need to try a few on first.
  8. Once you have found a therapist that you can trust, feel safe with and can help you move forward , it will be something you value and hopefully will be a positive life changing experience!

 

http://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/counsellors/nikki-catto

 

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Establishing Trust with Online Therapy https://www.nikkicatto.com/general-therapy/establishing-trust-with-on-line-therapy/ Tue, 05 Apr 2016 09:46:39 +0000 http://www.nikkicatto.com/?p=288 Establishing Trust with Online Therapy. Trust is the foundation of any therapeutic relationship and trust building is a first step in any counselling interaction.

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The working alliance between client and therapist can be defined as the extent to which both work collaboratively and purposefully and connect emotionally (Horvath & Lubarsky, 1993). Trust is the key foundation for this relationship to be effective and this has been proven by many studies, to be a key aspect affecting the process and outcome of a therapeutic intervention. It is considered to be the largest significant single factor affecting the outcome of successful therapy in face-to-face counselling. 

Trust is the foundation of any therapeutic relationship. Trust building is a first step in any counselling interaction. It is a tricky stage in any relationship but with a client preparing to share their personal world, sometimes for the first time ever, this can be a make or break stage in anyone’s therapy. Below, is the Oxford dictionary’s definition of trust. The ‘someone’, will be the counsellor, the ‘something’ will be the process and relationship. 

“Firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability or strength of someone or something” 

In traditional face-to-face counselling, trust is just as vital. We maximise our safety at the beginning of our search for a therapist, looking at websites, validation, past client testimonials, checking qualifications, professional membership and so on. After all of this, we rely on our senses within the therapy room. A good therapist establishes trust by helping to build rapport, showing congruence and so on. 

So, what would be so different with establishing trust with online therapy? 

Firstly, let us establish what online therapy includes. Online therapy can come in several formats, email, messenger/chat, or via video conferencing such as Skype or Facetime.

One factor will be the trust in the process itself. Just as much as a client in face-to-face therapy would not be happy with a venue which was open and not sound proofed, a client needs to trust that all details and conversations are safe. This can be a tangible concern if therapy is via email or messenger. All mail correspondence needs to be secure and proven to be so. Video sessions such as Skype and Facetime are more naturally secure. Some clients may need educating about internet security to help them understand the risks or lack of risk, offering an informed choice. 

For anyone with difficulties sharing personal and emotive feelings with a stranger, email methods can be more effective due to anonymity. The client can work with someone out of their living or working area with them not having to “risk” being seen going into a therapist office. This can all lead to a sense of greater security and thus help to build trust in the process. 

Trust in the therapist is another story. There can be a concern of not “meeting” the therapist. Some people report feeling more vulnerable, that the therapist could be “anyone”. This is quite interesting as there really is no greater risk than if you were face-to-face. One client reported “Until I took the plunge with Skype counselling, I felt that I could not rely on my intuition/sense that you were trustworthy, it was like feeling I might be blind” (anon). This client reported that this fear was soon over come once commencing online therapy. She could pick up on non verbal communications such as facial expressions and body language. 

Haberstroh et al.’s (2007) study of clients who partook in online counselling sessions suggests that trust was important from the sample interviewed. They found that participants varied in their trust of a communication forum which was devoid of visual and auditory feedback (email and chat rather than video conferencing). For some this seemed to alleviate interpersonal pressure and encourage self-reflection and a feeling of safety when disclosing personal issues, although for others, the missing interpersonal cues possibly had the affect of limiting their self-expression and level of trust. Young’s (2005) study on perceptions of clients who used online counselling also suggests trust is an important factor in online therapy. She highlights that the lack of perceived privacy and security during online chat sessions and the fear of being caught while conducting online sessions were significant concerns reported by e-clients. 

Nikki Catto on establishing trust with online therapy

Nikki Catto on establishing trust with online therapy

To summarise, establishing trust is a vital part of relationship building in any therapeutic context. Therapy comes in various formats from email, chat room, and video conferencing (such as skype), face-to-face and group therapy. Each one carries its own limitations when building trust. Each potential client needs to understand what is important to them, what they require from therapy and their own strengths and weakness. For some people, online therapy will be a positive and effective option and should not be dismissed through the lack of knowledge of how the on line process can work.

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Depression https://www.nikkicatto.com/depression/depression-movement/ Thu, 17 Mar 2016 08:50:34 +0000 http://www.nikkicatto.com/?p=278 Second step to leaving depression behind Movement! I could say exercise here but I am under no illusion that the thought of exercise when you are feeling depressed is enough to make you put that head under the duvet again. This is about simple movement which could include a little gardening, a walk to the […]

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The second step to leaving depression behind

Second step to leaving depression behind

Movement!

I could say exercise here but I am under no illusion that the thought of exercise when you are feeling depressed is enough to make you put that head under the duvet again. This is about simple movement which could include a little gardening, a walk to the end of the road, hoovering even. If you can go for a swim or a walk in nature that would be ideal, but it all depends on where you are on that low mood scale. So, be gentle on yourself, start small and work up. A big issue is making the effort, this will need will power but also try asking a friend or partner to encourage you. This is where a therapist can help to formulate goals and objectives and help you stay on track. Not only this but  your therapist can help you understand yourself and discover what is going on unconsciously when you cannot simply move the left big toe! We call this your inner saboteur

Why movement?

Well, we all know exercise can help regulate bad sleeping patterns and can combat lethargy by helping you feel  more vibrant. However, there is much more than this movement stuff than meets the eye. Exercise strengthens the brain like it strengthens muscles, it releases  steroids (BDNF) which builds resilience to problems and increases neurone growth in the frontal lobe of the brain.  Serotonin is all about motivation and will power and this will be increased which then encourages the further release of the brain steroids. Other chemicals  released through movement are Norepinephine  which helps with difficulties in concentration and deep thinking, Dopamine for pleasure and decision making, and Endorphines which just simply makes  you feel better.

Good luck on taking your second step.

Read about the first step to leaving depression behind.

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Managing Depression https://www.nikkicatto.com/depression/managing-depression/ Wed, 17 Feb 2016 11:01:47 +0000 http://www.nikkicatto.com/?p=232 Exercise will also help to improve your quality of sleep, aid with the sense of social isolation often linked with low mood and offer a general sense of accomplishment for those in the darkest of spaces. Managing Depression Step 1 We do not exactly know what depression is. We know the symptoms and brain regions […]

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downloadExercise will also help to improve your quality of sleep, aid with the sense of social isolation often linked with low mood and offer a general sense of accomplishment for those in the darkest of spaces.

Managing Depression Step 1

We do not exactly know what depression is. We know the symptoms and brain regions affected by depression plus many of the causes but we do not know what it is in the same detailed way as other brain disorders. (eg. alzheimer’s)

What we do know is that Serotonin levels are linked to symptoms of depression. It is linked with will power, motivation and mood. We also know that bright sunlight helps boost the release of serotonin.

So, going for a walk in the middle of the day (even if it is a dull day) can be effective to boost serotonin levels.  You might also like to try a light box which can also help stimulate serotonin release.

Now read about taking the second step to leaving depression behind.

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Meditation in Schools https://www.nikkicatto.com/meditation/meditation-in-schools/ Wed, 10 Feb 2016 16:26:32 +0000 http://www.nikkicatto.com/?p=225 People often see meditation as esoteric or bound up with spiritual connection. For me it is a journey of self-reflection, raising personal awareness and recognising our connection to the world and others and how we affect it. In other words, it is about raising emotional intelligence and fostering resilience. From my work with young people […]

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children meditating

Meditation has been shown to be effective for children in schools.

People often see meditation as esoteric or bound up with spiritual connection. For me it is a journey of self-reflection, raising personal awareness and recognising our connection to the world and others and how we affect it. In other words, it is about raising emotional intelligence and fostering resilience.

From my work with young people in schools and privately over the last years I can recognise certain common factors. In general, young people do not know how to manage themselves. From understanding how to prepare themselves to sleep , what it is like to feel calm and relaxed in the body, how to discern how to behave  rather than just react, and often do not know what it is  like to feel safe, listened to and supported.  I feel that as parents and teachers we are often unable to connect with the above ourselves due to our set of circumstances and therefore we struggle to pass this down to our youngsters. To break this ever increasing cycle, we need to intervene and do something different.

Anxiety, aggression and depression are on the up and our children need help before they leave school otherwise the statistic of one in four adults who have mental health issues will rise even higher, and I feel, very quickly. Learning how to feel at ease and happy,  having a space  to explore self-reflection, a chance to  gather tools to manage themselves and experience feeling safe , happy and grounded are vital for the future mental health of our population. Sessions which offer simple coping strategies and a space to explore new ways of behaving can help young people immensely not only for them to reach their full academic potential but later in life too as they become adults.

From my experience, simple meditation and mindfulness techniques coupled with a counselling professional who can offer a congruent, honest and empathetic space with firm and fair boundaries can lead to a very positive change in a matter of a few sessions.

We have to tackle the issue of behavioural problems, anxiety and depression in young people in a new way, an experiential way. To foster change, they need to experience what it is like to feel relaxed, safe, happy, and so much more. Once they begin to encounter this, their brain creates neuropathways, their body remembers and behaviours start to shift. When they enjoy meditation sessions and come out of the class and into mainstream classes and receive positive feedback such as finding themselves in less trouble and therefore having a smoother day, they then want more of it……and so change happens.

All the talking in the world will not make a difference. Young people need to experience, feel and make the choice from inside that they want to change because it is better for them and they recognise that.

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