News Blog

Reduce bullying by raising a capable child

Children are great learners and what they learn has a profound effect upon their trajectory in later life.  Doing jobs around the house helps make children both capable in their own personal activities of daily living, while also teaching them the importance of cooperation and contributing to the overall running of the household. For example, by standing on a chair, children can learn how to wash dishes, make their own breakfast, cook simple meals and wash their own laundry and do their own ironing.  Without the chair, they can feed pets, navigate digital devices, mop floors, clean cars, mow lawns,…

Flat-lining Emotions

Frequently when people have come from traumatic backgrounds, they have quite sensibly trained their brains to be hyper-alert to threat. The problem is that when these people become adults, the threats that they faced in childhood are no longer present, and yet their over-sensitised brains are still ‘reading’ threat everywhere.  This results in lots of unnecessary stress, hyped-up emotion and exhaustion. I’ve noticed in my over 25 years of clinical work at the Smart Therapy Centre that people in this situation simply think it is ‘normal’ to be so labile in their emotional responses.  And it is true that this…

It’s not you, it’s the sugar!

So often people come to the Smart Therapy Centre saying they cannot stop ‘comfort’ eating and they need to see a psychologist to help them work out why they overeat.  They often think there is something mentally wrong with them compared with other people. But, in my more than 30 years of clinical experience, I would say that it is usually just that they are having too much sugar! Therefore, the first question I ask these people is what quantities they eat of sugar and other complex carbohydrates like white rice, bread or pasta (that get broken down quickly into…

Raise a smart child not a boy or girl

So often in my 25 years of work at the Smart Therapy Centre I have heard parents tell me slightly different versions of the same story about their children.  It goes like this: our girl and boy children were different from the start – she liked dressing up, drawing and reading whereas he just wanted to be outside playing rough and tumble with a ball – yet we raised them ‘exactly the same’. Despite what people ‘believe’ they do, we know from decades of research that people do not raise their girls and boys the same.  Far from it.  Here…

The Importance of Raising Strong Girls

In my clinical psychology work at the Smart Therapy Centre over the past 25 years I have found that girls fare much better in so many ways if they continue to play vigorous sport and are discouraged from quitting (typically) at puberty. Sport allows girls to feel capable, coordinated and strong in their bodies and teaches them the importance of motivation and perseverance.  It teaches them to push through tough times and to get up and keep going even if it hurts. I’m not just talking here about the gains in physical attributes but also the psychological attributes like mental…

Unhappiness is a learning opportunity

Most people who seek therapy are unhappy in one way or another. As they say to me, ‘I just want to be happy’. In turn, many therapists adopt the view that everyone is entitled to be happy and take steps to remove unhappy feelings. Doctors do this through the prescription of drugs, which flatten affect. Psychologists prop up clients’ self-esteem, reassuring them that they are okay. I don’t agree with this approach. I see unhappiness as a fantastic learning opportunity. In propping up the self-esteem of their clients, therapists can inadvertently rob them of an opportunity to reflect upon their…

From Trauma to Triumph

If we experience trauma as children, our brains quite sensibly build themselves ‘fit for purpose’.  This means our limbic system (which sounds the alarm and keeps us hyper-vigilant) becomes the ‘go to’ part of the brain in everyday life.  Later on, this causes an over-response to mundane everyday events and extreme agitation or panic ‘freezing’ in slightly more challenging events.  Once we establish this brain pattern, it keeps us over-reacting and paying undue attention to our emotional state. When young brains are not exposed to trauma they increasingly ‘go to’ their frontal brain focussing on planning, rationality, reasoning and abstraction. …

Do it while you can

A common problem that I have seen over and over in my clinical work for the past 25 years is people missing vital windows of opportunity. Basically, people over-estimate how much time they have to do things and then suddenly rush for the deadline only to find it is too late and then they are full of regret. This happens across all aspects of life but particularly with relationships, career, addiction and having children.  For example, a drug addict can still look cute at 25 or even into their early 30s but by 50 they just look sad. Typically, people…

You can lead a horse to water …

The famous saying you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink is very apt when trying to help other people (and especially life-partners) change problematic behaviour. From my decades of work at the Smart Therapy Centre, I am very aware that change requires a willingness to take action on our own behalf.  It requires internal motivation and it cannot be imposed.  If you try to force others you will meet massive resistance and stubbornness. On the other hand, assertive coaxing, kindness and persuasion work wonders.  That is, if they are done correctly. Coaxing like ‘you…

Getting Strong Inside

   Often psychologists tell people who are low on self-esteem to simply ‘love’ themselves in order to build resilience and a stronger internal sense of self.  However, after more than 25 years of clinical work at the Smart Therapy Centre, I find this is simply not enough information to guide people in that endeavour. Being told to ‘love’ yourself assumes that we build our sense of self from the inside-out and all we need do is change our internal dialogue about ourselves. The reality is different.  Humans are highly social and socialised, and we build our self-esteem largely from the…