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Bereavement Counselling

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Bereavement counselling aims to help clients who are suffering to cope with the confusing and chaotic event of losing a loved one. Clients may suffer from anger, guilt, overwhelming sadness shock, forgetfulness and an inability to concentrate. Overall, experts believe that there are four stages of bereavement. Initially a person must accept that their loss is real and then experience the pain of grief. The sufferer must then adjust to life without their loved one and start putting their energy into something new so that they can move on. Bereavement counsellors aim to help their clients move through these stages smoothly as a supportive and objective aid.

A client’s own family and friends may also be suffering from the same bereavement so it is useful to talk to an objective therapist as well. It is time to seek help when the person cannot function in daily life, sees no point to getting out of bed or neglects themselves or their loved ones for example. Bereavement can be a long lasting period either side of 18 months. Therefore, clients may also wish to see a counsellor a long time after the death of their loved one if they feel they haven’t emotionally progressed.

In some cases a client may seek pre-bereavement counselling if their loved one is suffering from a long-term incurable illness. In this case, therapists can help a client or their family to cope with their overwhelming emotions at this stressful time. Therapy for children facing this event may also be beneficial.

Anger Management Therapy

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Anger can affect people in many different ways, but for some this anger can become out of control and take over a person’s daily behaviour and affect how they function. This can be seen as a problem when it starts to damage a person’s relationships with other people. Anger management therapy aims to help the client identify where their anger stems from and teach the client about how they can reassess situations and express their thoughts in a calmer matter. Clients may voluntarily visit a therapist to address their anger or they may be sent by court-order or their doctor.

An anger management therapist will address specific anger related issues of the client which could include anger surrounding issues such as work, adolescence and relationships. Anger management sessions can be held one-on-one or in a group and are tailored towards the client’s specific needs, using methods such as cognitive behavioural therapy.

Most importantly, anger management sessions aim to teach the client/s how to identify the triggers of their anger and transform their destructive anger into a more positive, constructive and just anger. The therapist also teaches the client techniques which will help them to diffuse conflict. Sessions tend to last from a month to six weeks and are combined with at home journal writing for the client to record their progress. If the client suffers from any other mental health issues such as depression or addiction this will need to be addressed before anger management can commence successfully.


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Physiotherapy aims to help the patient to heal from their injuries, pain or disability through the movement of their muscles and regular prescribed exercise. Physiotherapists mainly work with musculoskeletal problems but can also treat other issues such as:

  • men’s and women’s health (including incontinence)
  • recovery after major surgery
  • orthopaedics and trauma
  • sports
  • workplace health
  • paediatrics (children)
  • care of the elderly
  • education and health promotion
  • intensive care
  • mental health
  • neurology (including stroke)
  • long-term conditions
  • breathing problems

What does Physiotherapy involve?

A Physiotherapist may use a combination of the following methods:

  • Recommending regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight. Suggesting to a client what they can do on a daily basis to relieve pain.
  • Using both movement and exercise in a treatment plan for the patient to repeat at home. This may include swimming or walking for example.
  • Use manual techniques such as using their hands to massage the client’s joints and muscles in order to improve blood circulation, relieve pain and improve movement in that area. This is particularly successful for lower back pain but is also used alongside cancer treatment to relieve the patient of the side effects of the intensive treatment.

Physiotherapists may also advise that other methods are used alongside their treatment of the patient such as acupuncture or ultrasound which is used to treat deep tissue injuries.

Complementary and Alternative Therapy

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Complementary and Alternative medicines (CAMs) are treatments which stand outside of orthodox medicine and mainstream treatment. Most of these therapies are founded on basic principles and are not backed by sufficient scientific evidence and are therefore not acknowledged by a majority of independent scientists. CAM can include therapies such as colonic irrigation, herbalism, chiropractic, physiotherapy and acupuncture.

Complementary and alternative is mainly used as a single category but can be split into two separate methods. Firstly, complementary medicine is used alongside medical treatment in order to relieve the patient of symptoms of their problem. It can also be used solely for the pleasure it provides in itself which can improve the patient’s quality of life. On the other hand, alternative therapies are used instead of mainstream medicine in order to treat a health issue. However some treatments can be used in both ways, for example aromatherapy can be used as a complementary or alternative therapy.

CAM should be considered upon the evidence for its success and the insistence on seeing qualified practitioners. Only chiropractic and osteopathy are managed by professional statutory regulation. Chiropractors and Osteopaths must be registered with their corresponding council. Therefore anyone can practise other types of complementary and alternative treatments with limited experience. It is up to the patient themselves to find a practitioner who they are comfortable and satisfied with to carry out the therapy.

When searching for a therapist, take a look at their qualifications and professional accreditations before contacting them.



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Chiropractic therapy is a type of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Chiropractors use their hands to relieve their client of disorders of the bones, joints and muscles. Chiropractic should not be used as a substitute for visiting a GP.

Chiropractic treatments are often used for musculoskeletal conditions which include:

  • lower back pain
  • neck pain
  • shoulder pain and problems
  • slipped discs
  • leg pain and sciatica
  • pain or problems with hip, knee, ankle and foot joints
  • pain or problems with elbow, wrist and hand joints
  • fibromyalgia

However, some chiropractors have insisted that they can also treat issues such as asthma, period pains, high blood pressure, headaches and migraines. Chiropractic sessions are used most successfully on persistent lower back pain.

Chiropractic sessions are based upon manipulation of the spine although they can include general advice given to the client on their lifestyle including their diet and regular exercise to improve the client’s wellbeing. Treatment usually lasts from 15-30 minutes and can involve several sessions. Initially a chiropractor will assess their client’s pain and may even arrange for x-rays of the spine to be taken and a treatment plan made.

During a chiropractic session, the client will be asked to remove their upper body clothing so that the spine can be manipulated. Chiropractors may apply short sharp thrusts to the spine, move the client’s joints through different positions or stretch muscles in specific directions. This should be relatively painless unless the injury has made that part of the body inflamed.

The Bowen Technique

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The Bowen technique is used by practitioners to compliment other types of therapy and is believed to aid the body’s natural ability to heal and restore balance without intensive treatment. Bowen practitioners often work alongside allopathic health professionals to support their client in treatment. On average, clients are treated three to four times but may need to be treated over a longer period depending on their specific complaint.

During Bowen therapy sessions, the therapist uses their hands to gently target precise points on the body, applying pressure and using Bowen roll techniques. This action stimulates the muscles and soft tissue. This is relaxing for the client and is not supposed to cause pain or manipulate any of the client’s hard tissue. The Bowen technique allows the body to rebalance its energy and repair itself, having a long-lasting effect upon pain relief and the client’s general wellbeing.

When is the Bowen technique used?

One of the most common complaints treated by Bowen practitioners is back pain. However clients who suffer from respiratory conditions, neck pain and recurring headaches are also frequently treated. Furthermore, Bowen therapy is building its reputation with rugby clubs and premiership football teams as it used widely for sports injuries. Sports players who are regularly treated have reported fewer injuries and even improved performance.

Gestalt Therapy

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Gestalt therapy teaches clients that their interpretations of certain events is not always what is true in reality. The therapist will then help the client to identify the obstacles, patterns and thoughts in their mind which determine the way in which they respond to different situations in order for the client to better understand how to act in the future. The key concepts of gestalt therapy are:

  • Person-centred awareness which focuses on the future.
  • Treating the client whoever they may be with great respect
  • Focusing on the client’s experiences.
  • Experimental This is used by therapists to test their client’s experience in a creative and flexible way.
  • Encouraging individuals to adopt an egalitarian approach to social life.
  • Considering individuals to have good mental health when they have a good relationship with themselves and others around them.

The following techniques are all used in gestalt therapy:

  • Role-Play
  • The ‘Open Chair’ Technique: This involves two chairs and role-play in which the client imagines talking to their self
  • Dialogue which can evolve into laughing singing or dancing
  • Discussion of dreams
  • Attention to body language

Gestalt therapy is all about self-awareness and therefore is a suitable therapy for anyone who has trouble expressing their emotions or is going through a difficult period. It is used to treat a wide array of issues as it can be a short or long-term therapy. For example, gestalt therapy is used to treat issues such as post-traumatic stress, tension, anxiety, depression and addiction. Overall, gestalt therapy aims to make clients feel more confident and calm.

Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing Therapy

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It can be difficult for the human brain to recover from the thoughts and feelings produced from emotional trauma as they can constantly be triggered by small reminders.

Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing therapy (EMDR) aims to help clients overcome the troubling effects of trauma by using eye movements to help the client desensitise and reprocess traumatic experience. Desensitisation removes or reduces the intensity of these emotions and reprocessing allows the client to replace these feelings with more constructive ones. EMDR is used to treat issues such as trauma, phobias, anxiety and depression. EMDR is particularly helpful for those suffering from Post-traumatic stress disorder, who find it difficult to talk about their trauma as EMDR is a mainly non-verbal form of therapy.

How does EMDR work?

The movement of our eyes stimulates both the left and right hemispheres of the brain which correlate to our emotions and our rationality. This can help us to erase negative thoughts by forging new links and associations.

An EMDR therapist will work with their client to work out what triggers memories of their trauma and the client will be asked to follow hand movements with their eyes and may be tapped gently on their hands and knees. At the same time, the client will be asked to think about their distress in order to replace these thoughts with more positive ones. EMDR therapy will help a client to reduce their triggers and cope with the trauma that they have suffered.

Cognitive Analytic Therapy

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Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT) was developed in the 1980s in the UK and aims to help us analyse how we behave, think and feel. CAT also teaches the client how to cope with stressful issues and other problems such as borderline personality disorder, anxiety, and phobias, but also work related stress, learning life skills and relationship problems.

How does CAT work?

During CAT, a therapist will work with their client to understand their client’s feelings (cognitive), and look at how they behave (analytic) especially in their unconscious patterns. Behavioural patterns can be investigated by looking at past events and those in childhood to see if they have influenced the client’s current responses to situations. Furthermore CAT enables the client to have a deeper understanding of their behaviour and emotions.

Both the cognitive and analytic parts of therapy are required in order to aid the client to positively change how they respond to everyday situations. CAT usually involves weekly or fortnightly sessions in which a therapist will tailor the time around the client’s goals for therapy. Therapists will first identify the patterns of behaviour which limit the client’s daily functions and begin to address these issues over the following weeks. Both therapist and client will then work together to explore how the client can do things differently in their life to improve their emotional wellbeing.


Art Therapy

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Art therapy can release pent-up emotions and allow a client to demonstrate how they feel if they struggle to open up verbally, bridging the gap between therapist and client. Activities such as sculpting, making a collage or sketching can help a client to relax and relieve their stress, it can also be empowering for those who find expression difficult. With its roots in the mid-20th century, art therapy is now used to treat issues such as addiction, physical disabilities, pain or illness and the management of stress. Clients are suitable for art therapy with or without artistic skill.

Art therapists can work with a number of clients; with groups, individuals or couples and are academically trained. Art therapists have been trained in many fields which include psychology theory, human development, counselling and art. They have been taught how to use art therapy with their clients for healing but can also analyse the piece of art produced symbolically or metaphorically to help their client.

For example, anyone suffering from anorexia may be asked to draw or paint how they see their body image as part of discussion. Children who are allowed artistic freedom may draw sad or depressing images reflecting their inner mental health. Anxiety may be relieved by allowing the client to explore their creativity with clay sculpting.

More information can be found from the British Association of Art therapists (BAAT).