A Series of "short introductions" to Mental Health.

 By Peter Thompson Dip.Couns. MNCPS (Acc.)



I have had the pleasure of working with numerous couples and most have chosen counselling because they were trying to rescue their relationship.

 The problem is whether we are in a relationship or living as an individual, things in life change us, often without us even noticing. And this causes us to change how we process our feelings and thoughts.


 The way we react to things, the ways we react to each other as well as those outside our “couple bubble”. Our tolerances. Our sense of humour even our emotional connection to each other. Be it by one or both.


Either party can become disinterested in previously enjoyable pastimes but still take part because “it’s what we do” or they “don’t want to let the other down”.

 These changes to a person can come about for various reasons. Some can be quite open and obvious like as a reaction to a serious life changing surgery or event. Or an overzealous fascination with a new hobby. One or both might become involved in a committee or society and take on some time-consuming volunteer work. Which leads to them not spending as much time together.


 Unfortunately, some couples lose that spark of connection that may have once been present and one or both can lose their Libido and find it difficult to approach the subject for intimate conversation. It all becomes to much trouble.


 One of the couple, may seem to have become less interested in playing their part and seemingly become lazy and closed off.


 One of the amazing things I find is that these changes are often allowed to come about. They are given space to exist, without any real conversation between the couple concerning what’s happening.



What is it? Cos I really don’t know how people that once thought the world of each other and however many years later, somewhere they stopped talking about the important stuff.

And I don’t just mean the bills and the kids. Or the car Service and the garden.

NO! I mean important things that connect each other and make life real.

The bloke at the shop that annoyed me.

The whole that’s appeared in my shoe.

That new film that’s come out.

Ooh I listened to Classic FM today for a change.

Why do we have the TV on when neither of us are watching it.

Their relationship.





If a relationship becomes “stale” the participants have become used to the DANCE of the relationship.

They follow paths of least resistance to not rock the boat. But why?

 So, we follow patterns of behaviour that we play out time and time again not because we enjoy it but because it means we don’t have to think.


Because both parties know how it plays out and what the outcome will be. Win, lose or draw. But they won’t attempt to bring about change because what has always existed is what they know and is therefore paradoxically safe. So however uncomfortable the outcome they feel in some form of comfort zone.


EXAMPLE i) – Participant A begins the annual discussion that is the same every year at this time and is one of the rare times something is made open for discussion.. “Where shall we go this year?”

But it is felt by Participant B that there is no point responding in any positive manner because A enjoys going where you always end up going and so B is “making them happy”. Although throughout the whole holiday A is stifling tears because B has clammed up and is making it miserable. AGAIN. The same dance steps are repeated in the build-up and during the holiday. Where very little joy is experienced and the relaxing comfort to be gained from the vacation is lost to anger, bitterness, and sadness. But neither can communicate these feelings, so on a few occasions’ arguments flare up between them making things even worse.

Then on returning from such a doomed holiday the resentment remains and festers in the relationship and communication becomes even worse.


EXAMPLE ii) – Participant A says, “Do you want to come shopping?” Participant B would sooner remain with the book they’re reading or the fence they’re painting but for fear of challenging the norm of them always shopping together B gets changed and accompanies A to the shops. Although outwardly remaining pleasant and unperturbed B really does not want to be in town and can’t stand the bustle of it all. Which in turn creates a negative change to their mood.  All the time in B’s mind is the report that he must provide his boss with on Monday morning that they are so very anxious about. And anxiety has been eating away at their behaviour for years but as far as they’re concerned A is totally unaware of it.

Meanwhile A always asks B to join them on a trip out because they have picked up on the mood swings and quietness of B for years now and tries to alleviate the unspoken pressure by getting them out together.






It never fails to amaze me just how little some couples actually know each other.


There’s been times where I’ve reintroduced couples to the art of conversation and quite literally it's made all the difference. Because years have gone by with them only communicating on a superficial level and not daring to re-establish their lost connection.


On occasion they may find that there was never any deep connection just a desire to keep others happy by doing what was expected of them.


One of the first things that I warn clients is that they must remain aware of the changes that they are making to themselves whilst also being aware of how others may perceive them. This is especially true when working with a couple.

The changes that they each will bring to themselves for their own good may no longer be what the other person wants from them. Again, another reason for sticking to the dance steps for fear of a forced change.

 But when you enter a counselling relationship be it as a couple or an individual you undertake to enter with a constructive view towards improving your personal wellbeing. And thus, changing the steps you take in the dance the question being asked by each is “Shall we learn a new dance that is more enjoyable together?”


It takes courage to be first to change the steps and combined trust to learn a new dance in a relationship. Just as it takes courage to recognise if it’s a dance that isn’t for you. But if a relationship has become tired yet there is still a desire from both, then talking to each other about your relationship is the first step of the new dance, and then together you can develop all the future moves.

Unfortunately, if only one wants to make the change then questions need to be asked of each other and honesty must prevail for the wellbeing of each individual.

I always commence Couples work by asking them why they have decided to attend. When both tell me it’s because they want to save the relationship I point out what a positive we are beginning on and that we obviously have a good foundation for all our future work however difficult it may be at times.


I confess that every time I finish working with a couple I shut the door and say to myself “never again”.

But then without fail I will accept another without hesitation. It doesn’t always work out how Mills & Boon would write it but the feeling when the relationship you have been honoured to become a temporary part of finds a new lease of life is a most rewarding experience.


Never be afraid to learn a new dance with someone who has been special to you.


Pete Thompson

1) Not my journey YOURS.

In what I hope to be a series of short articles for a Shropshire based magazine I hope to briefly explore and illuminate numerous areas in the battle against Mental ILL Health stigma. Please enter the discussion by leaving your comments.
My articles will pull very few punches and are written in order to nurture a healthier understanding of mental ill health in our society.  My heartfelt desire is to normalise conversation on the matter. I willingly talk about my own battles in an effort to break down other people's fears of open discussion.   
So who am I?  I've run my own counselling practice since 2012 and as well as being honoured to have helped many clients I too have experienced my own demons. But the first rule of counselling is that everyone experiences issues in their own way.
This is known as Phenomenology and greater awareness of it's existence would drastically reduce the amount of  judgement and ill feeling throughout the world. 

So first let's look at the aforementioned PHENOMENOLOGY and take in what it means to the individual. 
Yes I've met clients who have presented with issues similar to events in my own life. But therefore if I've put them to rest then surely I just tell them how to correct their situation based upon my journey. NO….
Everyone experiences life's ups and downs from a unique position. How someone deals with problems is based upon the values and reactions they have learnt and developed in their world and not anyone else's. Like a sense of taste can differ so do triggers to anger, happiness, sadness and other emotions…  
So before we judge someone ask.. Do we really know their story. The answer is ALWAYS NO!  

A new client emptying the Jigsaw box of their life and learning to put it together piece by piece is a truly rewarding experience for most if not all counsellors. 

Pete Thompson 
Dip.Couns. MNCPS (Acc)

2) Loneliness….. The Danger Zone.

This month I've chosen to address the often hidden threat of loneliness and its effects.
It can strike whether you live alone or not.
But someone experiencing loneliness and living in a remote rural environment can feel its encroachment more than most.

Loneliness is an integral part of depression if it's not challenged. 

An obvious trigger is losing a wife, husband, partner or significant other. But it can also arrive as an uninvited state of mind.

Our desire to share with others wanes as we decide no-one wants to hear us. We don't want to trouble them with our "stuff".

This reduces our opportunities for connection with others. 

So we go about life feeling that we are insignificant and almost invisible which in turn triggers feelings of ineptitude and harsh self judgement. We can spiral into a self destruct mode.
Our boundaries reduce making our world smaller with less opportunity for communication. 

It's the same punishing spiral that anxiety follows before introducing us to depression. 

Sometimes we'll turn to the internet telling ourselves that this is keeping us attached to the outside world. But it's cyber conversation with "clickbait" and often on chosen topics that can be even more destructive as our mood sinks lower and darker. 

However the internet can have a positive role to play. It can help us reach out at a time when we are closing down. Chat groups, wellbeing groups, information, news even humour and so much more can assist in lifting our mood and keeping us engaged with all around us.

But for reasons of age or lifestyle not everyone is comfortable using the internet. It's imperative that they recognise the signs of loneliness. And where it can take them. Like an addiction it can cause you to wallow in what you feel you've become.

So self awareness must be allowed to dictate at the very beginning that there is a need to reach out . To be active and to maintain positive links with other human beings.

Reach out by "making" yourself talk. To a doctor. A counsellor. A friend. Family. A group. Anyone. Be aware of the inherent need for a human to be in communication.

Just please never suffer alone. Loneliness is an illness.

Peter Thompson 

Dip.Couns. MNCS (Acc.)

 A Series of short introductions to Mental Health.

By Peter Thompson Dip. Couns. MNCS (Acc.)

10) The power of memory

How often have you caught a scent in the air or a taste on your tongue and a memory has come flooding back. Or even a lost memory where you find yourself digging deeply into the unfiled papers of the mind to recall where the mind wants to take you.


This happens regularly to many of us regardless of age (excepting of course the new born babe). But it is usually looked upon with a nostalgic smile and a brief conversation of what once was.


Personally, I have a memory triggered by a certain smell that immediately takes me back to my first day of school at the age of four.

Or a place where I am forever reminded of a holiday with my dad over fifty years ago. But there are other smells and events that bring things back to me.


In the apothecary side of the Old Ways or Witchcraft as it is often called, scent is often used via a plant, herb, resin, or oil to invoke a frame of mind for a particular outcome as part of a “spell” such is the power of scent alone.


And this occurs because the brain stores an event that is associated to the occurrence of today and automatically goes there without warning.


Now when greeted warmly this can be an enjoyable minute or two. However, if the memory isn’t a particularly enjoyable event in one’s life, then there may be issues to be dealt with to prevent further pain to the individual.


For instance, my memory of being four again brings back a (Controllable) sense of fear and abandonment as I watched my mother turn around and leave the building, she had brought me to just minutes earlier.

Whilst this is hardly seen as a life changing event, when coupled with events in later life it can attract emotions in the present day if left unchecked.


Now replace me with a Blue Light worker or someone in the armed forces who experienced horrific situations and the memories are of a fight or flight moment that played out in their past service. Part of their brain will forever store that memory of fear, doubt, noise, horror even death and it then becomes a life-long battle for the individual to keep the recall at bay using techniques learned in therapy.


Dependent upon how deep routed this becomes it can and often will develop into full blown PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome) which requires patient and often painful work. In my work I’ve learned that many clients do not realise that they can be suffering from PTSD because they always attribute it to people in an emergency service or military.

But if you have experienced any form of shock whereby your mental capacity to process it has been damaged you are vulnerable to PTSD. Be it a long-term abusive relationship. A road traffic accident. A sight that you experienced. Any of these can affect any person.


The smell of burning, the sound and scent of pyrotechnic events, a scene on television, a pattern on a piece of clothing. Anything can take us back somewhere that is good or bad for each of us.


Sometimes we are just unaware that the trigger even exists.

But often we don’t know what to do when it does.

Be it a smell, colour, feeling or place our brain will process something that is associated to it.


So please think twice when someone reacts in a different way to an event. It’s their life story not yours. 


Pete Thompson

Dip. Couns. MNCPS (Acc.)

POSTED 1.3.24


Myself and the "Team NIGHTWALK" are proud to announce that this year's charity has been chosen and planning is underway.

If you're on the round you'll be getting a letter from me soon. Please please once again we ask you amazing people to dig deep for another local charity. You really should be proud of your efforts over the last two years. I hope we can keep it going.

We are looking for corporate sponsorship from local businesses where possible. Watch this space for updates and donating information.

Thanks Pete Thompson


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