Negative Thinking is one factor in Depression

Aaron T. Beck an American Psychiatrist and founder of cognitive therapy, developed a cognitive model of depression. He found that one factor which was present in depressed people was a systematic negative bias in how they thought of themselves (worthless, inadequate), the world (overwhelming, full of insurmountable obstacles) and the future (hopeless). These negative thoughts are linked to beliefs. These beliefs act as a lens through which we interpret and perceive the world. Some examples of negative beliefs could be – I am not good enough, I must succeed, I must be loved by everyone, people can’t be trusted, I will end up alone.

What we think and believe about our situation effects how we feel and behave.

Put another way: Our thoughts and beliefs may lead us to behave in a way to avoid feeling bad.

Conversely: How we behave can directly influence how we feel, by enhancing or detracting from our mood.

If we think of ourselves as inadequate, and believe that we must be liked by everyone, the consequence may be trying to always please others or avoiding learning new things, poor self-esteem, anxiety and depression.

If we believe that we must always be the best or perfect at what we do, then a consequence may be procrastination, self-doubt, shame, anxiety and depression.

We all have negative thoughts and beliefs about ourselves. If you want the life you desire or to feel happier, then you can benefit enormously from being mindful around your thoughts and also digging into what beliefs may be lurking in the background, and then work to create more realistic beliefs and healthy thinking, as well as employing ways of being to support improved mood.

With the help of counselling, we can work together to identify what thoughts, beliefs, feelings and behaviours may not be supporting you in your life, and take healthy action. One aim of counselling will be to equip you with your own tools to be able to identify and take action yourself in the future.

If you would like to take a step towards feeling better, either call, text or email Bronwyn for an appointment in her counselling rooms in Greenlane, Auckland at Your Path Psychotherapy and Counselling.

Edelman, S. 2006. Change Your Thinking, 2nd ed, Harper Collins Publishers, Australia.

The Stepping Stones of Grief Counselling. Helping you understand your experience.

An effective bereavement counsellor walks alongside you in your grief and in your process of mourning. As each person’s experience is an individual and complex one, so too will be the counselling journey.

In his book, Grief Counselling and Grief Therapy,  J. William Worden PhD  outlines what he considers to be the principles of grief counselling. These principles are facilitated by the counsellor. I have listed some of the principles here:

Principle One: Help Actualise the loss – Often when someone dies there is a sense that it is not real. Although you may understand at some level that your loved one is dead and will not return, to become completely aware takes time. A counsellor facilitates this process by listening to you talk about your loss, including how it happened, the funeral, and talking about specific memories you have of the deceased both past and present.

Principle Two: Identify and experience the many and painful feelings of grief – Although you may come to counselling to alleviate your pain more quickly, what counselling does is help you through the pain and gain acceptance as to how you feel. A counsellor will help you through this process in a measured and balanced way, as meeting the pain head on can be overwhelming.

Principle Three: Help you accommodate to life without the deceased – How you adjust will depend on the many roles the deceased played in your life and how well you can fulfil these roles in other ways. A counsellor can help you come to your own decisions about the way forward and reduce the emotional overload which is often experienced. A word of caution: major decisions will often be discouraged, as grief and long term decisions are often not good house buddies.

Principle Four: Facilitate finding meaning in the death – Why is a question that is often asked after a death, and can be processed within counselling.

Principle Five: Find a New Emotional home for the Deceased

Principle Six: Time to grieve is facilitated in counselling. The loss of a loved one has many losses and ramifications which are not always immediately apparent. Through counselling each can be identified, seen, heard and accommodated.

Principle Seven: What is normal? An effective counsellor can help you sift through your experience to help you understand and interpret what you are going through and let you know what is a normal grief reaction.

If you would like to make an appointment for bereavement counselling, please call or email Bronwyn at Your Path Psychotherapy and Counselling.

Worden, J. William. 2003. Grief Counselling and Grief Therapy, 3rd Ed, Routledge, London and New York.

Taking Positive Steps in Your Relationship

The communication and actions taken by each person in a relationship intertwine to either create either closeness or disharmony and distance. Each person reacts to the other in habitual ways. They each continue to do more of the same in reaction to a situation, creating a communication spiral which is either generative or degenerative.

Some examples of degenerative spirals may be:

If a wife feels her partner is withdrawing from her emotionally, she may criticize her husband to attempt to bring him closer, but finds he withdraws even further, she reacts by criticising him more.

If a child is not doing well at school, a parent may talk to the child every night to put pressure on them to do better, only to find the child’s grades continue to fall, the parent criticises the child more.

A boss may be dissatisfied with an employee’s work but does not address the issues with them, the employee who feels the boss withdrawing may complain to other employees, the boss continues not to address the employee directly, the employee creates more dissatisfaction in the workplace.

Without action to change the degenerative spirals, they pick up momentum. Marriages may end, children rebel, workplaces become unhappy.

You have the power to change the degenerative spirals you may find yourself in, and change the direction, affirm the relationship and creates closeness.

You can do this by changing your usual actions and patterns in a situation. Try something different.  Ask yourself what would create a generative spiral in this situation. For example in the above examples the wife could express gratitude for what the husband does do for her and over time this could draw the husband closer, the parent could stop criticising the child’s grades and spent time with the child doing things they enjoy together, the boss could address the workplace issues directly with the employee, the employee is then motivated by better work conditions.

This is not a quick fix as persistence in relationships is the key. They need to be tended to maintain them. Change may also require the perspective of a supportive third party such as a friend or counsellor to open up new possibilities for action.

If you would like to take a step towards creating generative spirals in your relationships, call, text or email Bronwyn for couples counselling at Your Path Psychotherapy and Counselling in Greenlane, Auckland.

Wilmot, W. W. 1995. Relational Communication, 4th Ed, McGraw Hill Inc. USA.

Couples Counselling : Would You Rather Be Right or Loved? How to Communicate in your relationship

Communication Miracles for Couples is a wonderful book written by Jonathan Robinson. In this book he shares tools which can create communication miracles in your relationship.

Robinson believes that we all want the same thing:

Acknowledgment, Appreciation and Acceptance

These three ingredients convey love between two people. If you provide acknowledgement, appreciation and acceptance to your partner, they will feel more loved. In turn they will also feel more loving towards you.

When couples are having relationship troubles the blame game is usually played. One blames the other, resulting in blame being redirected back out of self-defence. This creates a no win cycle. A cycle where neither partner listens to each other.

If your partner has come to you with a grievance, then Robinson suggests the first step is to acknowledge your partner’s experience of you. (This is not the same as agreeing with them). This validation of their experience, without blame kicking in, allows your partner to feel listened to, and understood.  It is only from there that open communication, increased intimacy and a decrease in conflict can result.

If you are having issues in your relationship, or would like to create greater emotional intimacy, make an appointment for couples counselling with Bronwyn at Your Path Psychotherapy and Counselling, in her rooms in Greenlane, Auckland.

Robinson, J. 2008. Communication Miracles for Couples, Conari Press, San Francisco, USA.

Grief Counselling : Grief and Anniversaries

Often after the death of a loved one, the question is asked, how long will the pain last? How long can I expect to feel this way?

There is no one universal truth or answer.

One perspective given by Therese Rando, in The Treatment of Complicated Mourning (1993) is that acute grief will normally subside, but mourning may continue for years or even forever. Grief and mourning is a fluctuating process. Some evidence for this can be found in the upsurges of grief around anniversaries, holidays or significant events.

Grief reactions are common after life has had to resume. You are back at work and outside support is starting to be withdrawn. Then, you are hit by a birthday, a wedding anniversary, Christmas, or an event that you would have shared with the deceased. Besides the loss of the loved one you may also have a new loss in the event itself. You are now “confronted with the loss in striking and unexpected ways that poignantly bring home its full measure” (Rando, 1993, p.63). You may experience intense emotions, illness, sleeplessness, disturbing thoughts or a whole range of individual reactions.

It is important to understand the fluctuating nature of mourning, as unexpected grief reactions can be frightening , have you feeling like they are going mad, regressing or judging yourself for not coping as you would want or how others expect you should.

I have listed below some practical suggestions that may help you plan around anniversaries:

Awareness around anniversary dates means that you can pre-empt  them and use them as another opportunity to be with your feelings and recognise the impact of the loss.

Find a way to give healthy expression to your feelings – drawing, journaling, a letter to your loved one or action oriented activities such as sport, running, and walking.

Recognising and being with the little losses can also help us be prepared for what works for us in the bigger losses (Neimeyer 2000, p.59).

Organise to do something enjoyable with friends or family. Start a ritual that is significant for you and that can be repeated each year on the anniversary. Plant a tree, make a donation, have a get together.

Create situations where you can talk about your loved one with a supportive others. Often friends decide not to bring them up because they think it will create more pain. Ask friends to be more open about discussing them.  Reminisce.

Visit your loved ones grave with family members on the day.

Spend time making a photo collage or a memory book which can be shared and discussed with family and friends.

If your grief means that your ability to function is impaired significantly, then it may be time for specific help to be sought. Share your experience of grief with a counsellor who specialises in grief and bereavement work, make an appointment for grief counselling with Bronwyn at Your Path Psychotherapy and Counselling, in her rooms in Greenlane, Auckland.

Neimeyer, R.A.  (2000) Lessons of Loss, A Guide to Coping. Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement, Australia.
Rando, T.A. (1993) Treatment of Complicated Mourning. Research Press, USA.

Grief after loss – There is no one right way to grieve

I see clients in my counselling practice who are feeling judged for how they are grieving. They are not just judged by others, they judge themselves harshly as well. Perhaps they are very emotional and seeking support, or maybe they are coping with their grief by being active.

The issue of understanding how you grieve is particularly important when couples, or family members are grieving in different ways and are not feeling supported by each other.

Doka and Martin (2010) have proposed a model of grieving styles that may help individuals understand themselves and aid more understanding of others. The model also informs me as a counsellor to design interventions suitable to your grieving style.

The model suggests grieving styles (including how we express and experience grief, and how we adapt to loss) are on a continuum from intuitive to instrumental. Styles can also be blended.

By Intuitive Griever they mean:

  •          Express: More emotion is shown
  •          Experience: Grief is experienced mostly as painful feelings
  •          Adapt to Loss: There is a need to share feelings with others

By Instrumental Griever they mean:

  •          Express: More thinking and cognitive work is done
  •          Experience: Grief is experienced intellectually
  •          Adapt to Loss: There is a need to convert energy to activity or problem solving.

Grief and grieving can be interrupted if you are one style, but are compelled to express or adapt to loss in ways which don’t match your inner experience.

For example a man or a woman may be an intuitive griever, but because of family or societal pressure, may feel the need to ‘man up’ and supress their feelings.

Counselling can help individuals, couples and family members understand each other’s grieving styles, and normalise and validate your own experience of grief. Counselling interventions can also be tailored to your grieving style.

If how you are experiencing grief in a way that you find yourself judging how you are, then consider making an appointment with a counsellor who specialises in grief and bereavement work. Make an appointment with Bronwyn at Your Path Psychotherapy and Counselling, in her rooms in Greenlane, Auckland.

Doka, K.J. PhD and Martin, T. L. PhD (2010) Grieving Styles: Gender and Grief. Grief Matters, Winter 2011. Vol.14:2, pp42-45.

Anger – What is your anger trying to tell you?

Was anger an emotion allowed expression in your family, and if not, do you have access to that part of you that may feel angry at times?

Or was anger so present that it was being acted out in everyday life in destructive ways?

Maybe you are acting out of anger all the time.

We collectively need to find a new perspective on anger and recognise its importance in accessing the breadth of your emotional wellbeing, but also to allow its expression in healthy respectful ways.   

“Anger is a signal, and one worth listening to” Harriet Goldhor Lerner, Ph.D.

The first step in gaining a new perspective is to recognise when you are angry. When you feel the fire of anger rising within you, take pause, do not act out of your anger, but try to clarify the anger.

 Ask yourself: why am I angry? Become clearer. What is your anger trying to tell you?

Are you being hurt?
Are your rights being violated?
Is there something you are not attending to in your life?
Are you doing something which is compromising your value and beliefs?
Are you giving too much?
Are others doing too much for you?
Are you agreeing to situations which are unjust?
Are you feeling like you have no choice and have no power in relationships?
Do you deny your needs in favour of your partners?

Are you really angry at yourself?
I will ask that one again, are you really angry at yourself for allowing the situation you now find
yourself in.

Anger in and of itself is an important emotion, its intent is a positive and protective one. Denying anger is to deny yourself.

“Our anger can motivate us to say “no” to the ways in which we are defined by others and ”yes” to the dictates of our inner self”  Harriet Goldhor Lerner, Ph.D.

What do we do with our anger?

Expressing anger to another can be non-productive and even hurtful, especially if the aim is to change another person. The likely result is defensiveness, and more anger.

If on the other hand you put all your energy into pre-empting how another person may react should you express your anger, you therefore withhold from what you want or need in favour of harmony. Anger grows inside you until you explode, or get sick. You move further away from yourself every time you allow yourself to move away from what you want under pressure from another.

Or if you just let others have a piece of your anger in a destructive way, then guilt usually quickly follows.    

So is there an alternative?

Instead focus your energy on being able to make a clear and succinct statement declaring how you think and feel.

Your only job in this process is to know what you think and feel and then to behave congruently.

It is not your job to get another to think and feel the same way as you.

It takes courage to voice this to another, and even more courage to make choices as a result. But in the long run you are being true to yourself, and respecting both yourself and others in the process.

If you are feeling angry all the time and need clarity about why, or find yourself in angry confrontations where nothing is resolved because each of the parties to the argument blame the other and are defensive, or you can’t seem to tolerate your anger and let it have its voice before you understand its purpose, then then consider making an appointment with a counsellor who can help facilitate clearer understanding. Make an appointment for counselling with Bronwyn at Your Path Psychotherapy and Counselling by phoning 021 127 7738 or send an email to [email protected]. My counselling rooms are in Greenlane, Auckland, skype appointments are also available if necessary. For further details you can also log onto

Lerner, H.G. PhD (1985) The Dance of Anger. Harper amp; Row Publishers, New York.

Caring for carers : Caring for the Dying or the Bereaved

There is a toll to pay for those who care for the dying and the bereaved.

Or can carers decide whether to pay the toll?

Kenneth Doka PhD in his article Caring for the Carer: The Lessons of Research (2006, pp 4-7) suggests that unless you identify the risks, then caring for the dying or the bereaved can impact your own physical, psychological, social and spiritual wellbeing.

Carer’s as they listen, and travel the journey of grief with the dying or the bereaved, risk vicarious grief reactions or traumatisation (McCann and Pearlman (1990), cited in Doka, 2006, p.4).

Empathy and identification are the pathways to which, when a carer sits with a client, they experience anothers grief, but awaken grief within themselves. Although all people are different, we also have “common human developmental pathways, vulnerabilities and strivings” McWilliams 2004, p.34). Identification with another, leads to deeper empathetic understanding, and a whole body felt understanding .

This risk may be increased due to the length of the carer’s relationship with a client and their family, especially with the care for the dying client. This risk is multiplied when you care for a number of clients.

Doka refers to the work of Danai Papadatou PhD (2000, cited in Doka 2006, p.5.), who has proposed a model of health professionals grieving process. This model suggests a clear distinction in the process between carer grief and other grief – that is “carers have to simultaneously oscillate between containing their grief and experiencing that grief” (Doka, 2000, p.5). If carers don’t, they cannot maintain their work or their own health.

Counselling for carers is one way to increase awareness and validation of carer’s process, allow the experience of their grief and share that grief with a supportive other, and to highlight coping strategies which can be brought into being to mitigate the risks.

If you are a carer, and would like to share your grief experience with a counsellor who specialises in grief and bereavement work, make an appointment for counselling with Bronwyn at Your Path Psychotherapy and Counselling, in her rooms in Greenlane, Auckland.

Doka, K.J. PhD. (2006) Caring for the Carer: The Lessons of Research. Grief Matters, Autumn 2006. Vol. 9:1, 4-7.
McWilliams, N. (2004) Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, A Practitioner’s Guide. The Guildford Press, New York.

Death of a Parent – Supporting Children in their Journey of Grief

Parents and caregivers worry about what to tell the children after a parent dies.

Whether children are asking direct questions or not, they are asking questions of themselves and trying to understand. Without the aid of adults, it is common for misunderstandings and imagining circumstances worse than reality.

A child can’t often let you know what they need when they are grieving. Below is some information to consider when meeting the needs of children who are grieving:

    • Children grieve too. They need for those around them to acknowledge their loss directly with them.
    • To have support from adults. A child can learn a lot from the grief modelled by a parent or other adults. They learn its ok to be angry (expressed in safe ways), it’s ok to be sad and it’s ok to cry.
    • Children need to be included in the grieving process of those around them. To be included in the funeral. To be included in discussions.
    • An opportunity and help to understand. It is an adult’s job to start the conversation. The child will engage and ask questions over time. But adults need to provide repeated opportunities to build understanding. Use clear and concrete language, be open and honest. It’s also important to check their understanding, as words taken literally can create confusion.
    • Children need to know the death was not their fault. That the parent will always love them and miss them. That there is nothing that they could have done to prevent the death. That they are still wanted.
    • To openly talk about the parent who has died. A continuing bond is created by talking and recounting special memories. By not talking about them from fear that it will cause more pain is flawed thinking. Not talking openly sends the message that it’s not ok. The child will then want to protect other adults by not bringing the dead parent up when they need to.
    • Have the expectation that the child should and will be affected by the death of a Parent. Grief is often shown in behaviour such as acting out, being aggressive, attention seeking, being loud or hyperactive. Being shy, withdrawn, clingy or not joining in activities. This is normal. Have an expectation that children may act differently and hold this experience for them.
    • Routines can be comforting. Organised activities can also help to calm and distract children, and have time off from grieving.

Death is a normal part of the cycle of life. How a child is held through the experience of a death of a Parent will impact future losses.

If you would like to discuss your grieving process or that of a child, then consider making an appointment with a counsellor who specialises in grief and bereavement work. Make an appointment with Bronwyn at Your Path Psychotherapy and Counselling, in her rooms in Greenlane, Auckland.

Good Grief  Ltd (2008) Picking up the Pieces. A Guide to Supporting Children in Grief. Good Grief Australia.
Kubler-Ross, E and Kessler, D.  (2005) On Grief and Grieving. Simon and Schuster, London.
Tonkin, L. (2003) Now What? A Guide for People Living with the Death of Someone Close. John Rhind Funeral Directors, Christchurch NZ.

Counselling : What to Expect – Bronwyn Alleyne, Your Path Psychotherapy and Counselling Auckland

Is it most common to come to counselling when you are having troubles in your relationships or you are experiencing an emotional crisis or high levels of stress. Transitional changes in your life such as getting married, having a baby, loss of a loved one or reaching mid-life can provoke a kind of chaos that makes your life confusing.  The reasons for coming to counselling can be many and varied and will be specific to only you.

Is there a goal?

Usually you will want to feel better NOW.

The process of counselling not only seeks to diminish anxiety in the short term, it also seeks to create change, for without change you may return to the same levels of distress. Real change comes from understanding how you think, feel, and behave and understanding how you may be contributing to your distress.  Counselling allows the time and space to increase this understanding.

By entering a relationship with a counsellor, together you can broaden your perspectives and facilitate choices you can make and take action.

Counselling increases awareness, removes obstacles to growth and change, and generates freedom and responsibility. Benefits you may receive include being more resourceful, increased self-esteem and acceptance of all aspects of yourself, increased tolerance for the uncertainties in life, increased resilience, and having an expanded capacity for emotional intimacy.

The process fosters courage to meet your challenges.

You will move from confusion to clarity. Anxiety will diminish as you find new ways of being that are more satisfying to you.

Your First Session

Taking that first step along the path of change can sometimes be difficult. As a counsellor, it is my intention to create an atmosphere for you which is safe, mutually respectful, non-judgmental and supportive. In the first session I will explain the process more fully including how I work and confidentiality. We will also explore together what aspects of you or your life you work most like to focus, and also your expectations and goals.

Counselling is not about giving advice. It is about working together to access your own wisdom and find your own answers or solutions.

If you would like more information about counselling, please log onto my website at or consider making an appointment to see me in my counselling rooms in Auckland.

Grief and Sex

Grief and loss is a part of life, just as sex is.

How we grieve is different for all of us. Just as how we approach sex and what it means for us also differs.

Sex could be about comfort, physical pleasure, bodily contact, emotional intimacy or the need for connection, or a varying combination of all five.

When a partner dies, you grieve their death. But there are also secondary losses, often unacknowledged. One of which is the loss of your sex life.

The question of when to enter another sexual relationship or how to be with growing desires when they do return for you, can often provoke feelings of guilt, betrayal and selfishness. Or the drive for another sexual partner may be driven by a need to connect so you don’t feel so alone or abandoned. Or maybe you just want to feel alive again.

Whatever the reason, how you view your returning needs will impact your grief journey and how you reintegrate back into your life. It can be a time of increased anxiety and confusion.

If you would like to feel clearer about your sexual life or relationships going forward then consider making an appointment with a counsellor who specialises in grief and bereavement work. Make an appointment with Bronwyn at Your Path Psychotherapy and Counselling, in her rooms in Greenlane, Auckland.       
Kubler-Ross, E and Kessler, D.  (2005) On Grief and Grieving. Simon and Schuster, London.
Rando, T.A. (1993) Treatment of Complicated Mourning. Research Press, USA.
Worden, J. William. 2003. Grief Counselling and Grief Therapy, 3rd Ed, Routledge, London and New York.

Grief and Choosing Your Future

Grief counselling is often only pursued when the process of grief becomes so overwhelming that your ability to function is impaired significantly.

Or maybe you choose not to pursue counselling as your own resilience and life experience, and the love and support of family and friends, can facilitate the grief process so you can resume living in the now very much changed world without your loved one.

But what if grief counselling can facilitate a grieving process that means you can actively choose the life you want to live going forward, which respects and is inclusive of the loved one who has died but also respects you as an individual and your life journey. What if grief counselling can meet you in the following ways:

  • Facilitate and a witness your grief journey. The counsellor walks alongside you.
    Is sensitive to your physical, emotional, spiritual and social needs.
  • Provides constructive and supportive guidance, and focuses your attention and priorities.
  • Facilitates self-reflective and deliberate choices, after evaluation of alternatives.
  • Helps you build a sense of trust in yourself so you can give new direction to your life.
  • Helps you builds a stable of coping strategies that recognise your vulnerabilities and limits and has your self-care at heart, but also stimulates a new way of being.
  • Moves you from a sense of helplessness to a growing sense of self-esteem and confidence. 

Grief counselling can help you recognise that grieving is an active process, not just a something to get through. It can be a growth process.

If you would like to be with your grief in a different way then consider making an appointment with a counsellor who specialises in grief and bereavement work. Make an appointment with Bronwyn at Your Path Psychotherapy and Counselling, in her rooms in Greenlane, Auckland.       

Attig, T.  (2011) How We Grieve. Relearning the World.  Oxford University Press Inc, New York.

Counselling at its Optimum

Carl Rogers, the father of person centred therapy, revolutionised counselling and psychotherapy. Roger’s articulated a philosophy of being. His main hypothesis was that “Individuals have within themselves vast resources for self-understanding and for altering their self-concepts, basic attitudes, and self-directed behaviour; these resources can be tapped if a definable climate of facilitative psychological attitudes can be provided” (Rogers 1980, p.115) by a therapist, in a client-therapist relationship.

The relationship creates a safe therapeutic space so the client then has the freedom to choose who they really are. This allows a client go behind their roles and masks, examine how they are living, how they think they ought to, to go into the frightening realm of the unknown, discover the full breadth of experience of feelings, and experience all the parts of themselves which have been hidden. The result is a unique person, who is more open to his own experience, who is less defensive, whose reality is less distorted by previous experience, who can trust himself and his experience, and as a result, can choose behaviour suitable, even in the face of contradictory feelings.

The process engages a person’s creativity, it moves the locus of evaluation, from an external one, where the client relies or looks to others for approval or choices, to an internal one. A person can then create a life which is rich and is truly satisfying. It is an ongoing process of becoming. (Rogers, 1961).  The process leads to empowerment, a sense of personal responsibility and an ability to make conscious aware choices.

The core conditions of congruence, unconditional positive regard, and empathetic understanding exist over time. As a client is listened to with acceptance, clients then “gradually learn how to listen more acceptingly to themselves” (Corey 2009, p.173). As they are cared for and valued by the therapist, then clients will give that to themselves. Client’s learn to value themselves as they experience congruence and realness from the therapist. This self-actualising journey is shared by the client and therapist, as the therapist is on the same journey (Corey 2009). The counselling journey is both intensive and extensive.

If you would like to explore how to be more trusting of your own self, then then consider making an appointment with Bronwyn, an experienced counsellor at Your Path Psychotherapy and Counselling, in her rooms in Greenlane, Auckland.       

Corey, G. (2009). Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy, Eighth ed, Thomson Brooks/Cole, CA.
Rogers, C R. (1980)  A Way of Being, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston.
Rogers, C.R. (1961) On Becoming a Person.  Houghton Mifflin Company, New York.

Self-Care for Health Practitioners – Are you a Shining Light for your Clients?

Is there a risk to practitioners who care for others due to continual exposure to the stress, emotions and ailments of their clients? The answer is a resounding YES!

Practitioner’s as they listen with empathetic understanding to their clients, will often access the same emotions and awaken a range of experience in themselves. Our client’s emotions are contagious.

Although we are different from our clients, we as humans have common vulnerabilities and life experiences. We all at some level have the same fears of being alone, of not being enough, of not being understood or appreciated. When we identify with a client’s predicament, we can be plunged into a bodily felt empathetic understanding, leading to a constant quest for finding answers and a continual questioning our own belief systems. This can be draining emotionally and physically.

It’s quite simply uncanny how often we attract clients to our businesses that are going through the same life issues that we are. We are changed both by our own experiences and as a result of our clients.

If this sounds familiar then it may be important to have a deeper understanding about your triggers, an increased ability to experience and contain a range of emotions, a stable of coping strategies that are both protective and nourishing, and to have a self-care regime that recognises and validates you.

Your own wellbeing is of paramount importance.

I am not just advocating a regime to ward off burnout, I am advocating a way of being which allows you to regularly take stock of your own wellbeing, and allows you to turn up the degree of vibrancy and aliveness in you, that will be a shining light to your clients.   

The risk is if you don’t, then any emotions that you continually push down may later pop up with vengeance and manifest as disease or come out sideways in unhealthy coping strategies. Both will result in you being a less effective health practitioner.

Regular counselling is one path to a more vibrant and lived life. Counselling in this light can be seen as growth promoting and the ultimate in self-care.  An investment in your own wellbeing.

If you would like to make this investment, make an appointment with Bronwyn, in her counselling rooms in Greenlane, Auckland, by calling 021 127 7738 or emailing [email protected] 

Procrastination – Finding the Answers as to why you do it!

We all procrastinate and put off doing certain tasks that need to be done. Your procrastination may be specific to one area of your life, such as starting that diet, exercise, making a call, meeting a deadline or making a decision. Or it may be in all areas of your life. Either way, procrastination may be holding you back from living a free flowing vibrant life.

So why do we procrastinate?

Why do we choose not to do what we need to do, in favour of doing something less important, all the while knowing that there will be negative consequences to our in-action.… and we still choose to delay.

Awareness of your own procrastination processes will bring the answer.

First it is helpful to understand what you say to yourself when you put off that important task, because there-in lie’s a belief which may need to be challenged, and replaced with a more useful belief.

                Some common excuses:

  • I’m tired.
  • I will do it tomorrow.
  • I am in the wrong mood.
  • I can only start if I know I can do it well.
  • I will do it when I want to, not because someone is telling me to.
  • It won’t be fun or it will be hard, so I will put off the pain.
  • If I try I might fail.


If that inner voice inside your head at this point is also saying ‘it’s because you’re lazy’, then we can dispute that belief too! How we behave is always looking for a good result. It may be that the payoff for procrastination is avoidance of feeling uncomfortable, and seen in this light it is understandable. If we try to avoid the anxiety and discomfort involved with the task, then we benefit from the avoidance, and means we are more and more likely to procrastinate.

If you feel you could benefit from finding the meaning of your procrastination and would like some practical help to STOP procrastination, then make an appointment for counselling with Bronwyn at Your Path Psychotherapy and Counselling by phoning 021 127 7738 or send an email to [email protected].

Together we can:

Find the meaning of your procrastination.
Develop strategies to end procrastination and tolerate discomfort.
Build confidence in your capabilities and meet your challenges with courage and confidence.
Help you step into a more vibrant life. 

My counselling rooms are in Greenlane, Auckland, skype appointments are also available if necessary. For further information you can also log onto

Ditch the Diet, It’s making you fat!

How many diets have you started and lost some weight quickly and then put it back on, or the diet is so restrictive that you blow it soon after starting.

Diets that fail to deliver have you end up blaming yourself for failing and becoming more preoccupied with food. Food becomes either good or bad with guilt attached. You eat to tend and feed emotions. You say no to invitations because of your size and how you see yourself, your sense of self-worth plummets.  

You give yourself permission to eat because you are sad, or tired. You have a belief that having left overs is somehow a sin. You often say to yourself that you have blown the diet anyway so I might as well eat the lot.

Stop! Diets are not working for you.

There is a new approach emerging around the world to how we can better approach the issue of weight and health. The approach embraces the idea that it is more important to have healthy behaviours than it is to be a specific weight or BMI (body mass index).

Most importantly it recognises that diets don’t work in the long run. Our body has an innate wisdom ensures that they don’t work.

Studies are now showing that the old adage that as long as you limit what you eat and exercise more, then you will lose weight is too simplistic. Your body will only allow weight loss in the short term. As your body does not know the difference between a diet and famine, it will, in its own wisdom, compensate to regulate itself to regain fat, to ensure survival. Your body will work to undermine your best efforts to lose weight.

“When science tells us our body’s basic instinct to store fat is stronger than our sexual instinct, you appreciate that dieting is a much more complex process that it might seem”. Louise Foxcroft, Sunday Star Times 26 February 2012

You didn’t fail, the diet did.

Counselling can help you refocus your attention away from the diets that don’t work and concentrate on:

·         Creating healthy behaviours which will support nourishing your body, heart and soul

·         Understanding why you want to lose weight and working towards achieving those aims (which are never really achieved by just being thin)

·         Living and eating intuitively

·         Trusting your body and its wisdom by tuning into the signals your body sends you about how much, what and when to eat. Your body has within it systems to keep you healthy and at a healthy weight – you just need to listen

·         Building self-acceptance and compassion for yourself

·         Learning how to recognise your emotions, mediate them and take action, instead of using food to calm them (thus loosing access to addressing what you are really experiencing). By giving all your energy to food and losing weight you are not dealing with the underlying issues   

·         Move towards eating being a pleasurable nourishing experience again

·         Finding ways to get you off the couch, to move your body towards fitness with fun activities rather than exercise for weight loss (which is never fun)

If you are saying to yourself, but I am fat and I need to lose weight and coming to counselling under this approach meaning forgetting about how much I weight, you are only partly correct. The approach is not about being an idealised weight, a weight which is often set in your mind “if only I was 60 kilos then I would be truly happy”. The approach is about being healthy, and more specifically being the healthy weight for your body. That may indeed be a weight less than you currently are.

If you would like to ditch the idea of diets forever and step into your own wisdom, make an appointment to see me, Bronwyn Alleyne by phoning 021 127 7738 or send me an email to [email protected]. My counselling rooms are in Greenlane, Auckland, skype appointments are also available if necessary. For further details you can also log onto

I have also listed below some books which you might like to read which expand on the science and this approach.   

Bacon, L PhD, 2008. Health at every Size. The Surprising Truth About Your Weight. Benbella Books Inc. Dallas Texas.
Kausman, Dr R, 1998. If not dieting, then what? Allen and Unwin, Sydney Australia.

Death of a Loved One

You are never quite prepared for the death of a loved one. Even if you know others who have experienced the resultant grief and pain, it can never be compared to your own. Grief is an individual experience. You will have your own reactions, feelings and a range of strong emotions.

To grieve you may need to express these emotions with supportive others such as family members, friends and colleagues. In the days and weeks after the death this support may be abundant, but as time goes on, it may be withdrawn as each person returns to their busy lives. It is common at this time to find yourself judging how you are feeling. Maybe you are feeling confused, your despair is increasing rather than lessening, or perhaps you think that others expect you to be coping better.

If this is the case, it may be time to seek professional support. Without access to being able to express what you are experiencing openly and be understood, then you may find yourself experiencing more intense emotions, depression or physical illness.

If you or someone you know is grieving the loss of a loved one and needs further support, acknowledgement and help creating a new relationship with their loved one after death, then please call Bronwyn and make an appointment for grief counselling.