Workshop: Pain-free CBT!

Our workshop on Saturday 17th March 2018 will focus on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. We will explore what it is and how it works, then apply it to some common issues. By the time you leave you will be able to use CBT in an adaptive, intuitive way. We believe that CBT is more than simply handing out worksheets.

You will learn:

  • the Cinnabar Training step by step approach to using CBT with a client
  • how to break down problems holistically using Lazarus’ multimodal approach
  • understanding presentations of anger, anxiety, insomnia and phobia
  • using narrative to change negative thoughts, reframe memories and redefine behaviours
  • using many different theoretical approaches to work towards your clients’ goals

Our workshop will include materials and activities (some personal work and some using case studies). There will be opportunities to network with other counsellors from a variety of placements and practices. We keep numbers small so everyone can get the most from the day.

The workshop will be at the Easton on the Hill Village Hall, New Road, Easton on the Hill, PE9 3NN

10am – 4.00pm (9.30am registration and coffee)

Cost: £70.00 includes refreshments and light lunch.

Click here for an application form

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It’s a Slow Road to Your Dream Practice

We came across this impassioned piece in The Guardian: “What I’m Really Thinking – a disappointed counsellor”.

Toni & Mo say: We think that counselling courses should make the transition to practice much easier. If you are in a similar position don’t despair. Your studies and personal development have given you skills and insight that no-one can ever take away from you. Find a part-time placement, a couple hours a week if necessary, and slowly increase. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and good counsellors take years to bake.

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Workshop: Going for Accreditation

Are you ready to go for accreditation but finding it hard to get motivated? Does the paperwork seem overwhelming? Have you tried to submit a portfolio but been told it’s not quite right?

Our workshop on Saturday 2nd December 2017 will help you understand what is required to become BACP accredited, and begin the process of pulling together your evidence. By the end of the day you will feel more confident about the process and be one huge step closer toward successful accreditation. Past students have found our help invaluable in getting them through the process and starting their written answers on:

  • Ethics and professional standards 
  • Diversity and difference in counselling
  • Theories to practice, which theory do you work with
  • Case Studies, what to take out of a case study for showing how you work.

We will show you which evidence you need and where to submit it in your application.

Bring with you:

  • Facts and figures from your own practice of a breakdown of where you plan to collect 450 hours of client hours.
  • The record of supervision hours
  • Courses you have attended and content. A breakdown of your study hours (skills and theory)
  • Supervisors details, addresses, qualifications, start and end dates
  • Copies of Certificates and other proof of your accomplishments

The workshop will be at the Easton on the Hill Village Hall, New Road, Easton on the Hill, PE9 3NN

9.30am – 2.00pm (9.15am registration and coffee)

Cost: £60.00 includes refreshments and light lunch.

Click here for an application form 

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Workshop: Using Creative Techniques in Therapy

Our next workshop on Saturday 21st October 2017 will be looking at how to use creative play in therapy for adults and young people. From pictures and pebbles, to dolls and drawings, creative techniques can be used with clients of all ages and with any issue.

This interactive workshop will be full of hands-on opportunities to try out different tools and props on each other and via case study work. Attendees will also receive a goody bag of toys and tools to keep.

During the day we will cover:

  • Toys as representations
  • When the client can’t talk about it
  • Expressing emotions
  • Exploring connections
  • Learning and communication styles

Our workshop will include activities, materials, and a chance to network with other counsellors in a variety of placements and practices. We keep numbers small so everyone can get the most from the day. 

The workshop will be at the Easton on the Hill Village Hall, New Road, Easton on the Hill, PE9 3NN

10am – 4.00pm (9.30am registration and coffee)

Cost: £80.00 includes refreshments and light lunch.

Contact us to get an application form. 

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Workshop: Methods for Unpacking Trauma

Our next workshop on Saturday 29th July 2017 will be looking at methods and tools for helping clients deal with trauma. This will include:

  • historical child abuse and its ripple effects in the family
  • adult experiences, including retraumatization and patterns of behaviour
  • the symptoms and causes of PTSD and how to help your client
  • legal implications for counsellors with clients who go to court

Our workshop will include activities, materials, and a chance to network with other counsellors in a variety of placements and practices. We keep numbers small so everyone can get the most from the day. 

The workshop will be at the Easton on the Hill Village Hall, New Road, Easton on the Hill, PE9 3NN

10am – 4.00pm (9.30am registration and coffee)

Cost: £70.00 includes refreshments and light lunch.

Contact us to get an application form. 

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Focusing on men in grief

A few weeks ago, BBC ONE aired a one-off 60 minute film, Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum And Dad. It focused on grief in men who had lost their partners. 

Rio Ferdinand is an English former professional footballer who lost his wife, Rebecca, to cancer in May 2015.

“I don’t think I’ve grieved properly. I’ve not given myself that time to sit down and really flush everything out and go through it.” – Rio Ferdinand.

This film introduced other men in a similar situation who shared their feelings on camera. They showed strength, compassion and humour. 

Mo’s advice for counselling men in bereavement is this:

– It is important to normalise things when you become the sole care giver. Even though your client is falling apart inside, they have to show a bold upfront “I am coping” face. Children need to feel that it is safe to show their own grief, without feeling confused and concerned about their dad’s state of mind. 

– Help your client to acknowledge what he is angry about and where he is worried. Get them out of his mind and onto paper where they can be right-sized. (The CBT downward arrow or similar tool can help to anchor these thoughts).

– Identify the sources of support in his life. It can be easy to forget just how many people are still important for the children and who still care deeply for your client. It can be easy to sink into “I am utterly alone”. 

– Offer support, encouragement and a listening ear – regardless of how repetitious your sessions can become. Set yourself to achieving only a small amount of progress in each session – the client has to set the pace. 

– Encourage the client to set aside “me time” regularly. This might be time to go to the gym or walk or go to places that help them reflect. 

– I would also encourage the children to make memory boxes of their mum.

– Acknowledge the passing and make sure everyone in the family knows that it’s ok to feel. 

Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum And Dad is available to watch for 12 more days on iplayer

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Toolkit for Counsellors gets a great review

Our Cinnabar Toolkit for Counsellors has received a brilliant review in the current edition of Private Practice, BACP’s magazine title for subscribing members. For those of you who aren’t members or subscribers, here is the review in full by Trudi Dargan, a writer and counsellor in private practice in East Cornwall.

 “This is a constructive and diverse compilation of 20 paper-based worksheets (tools) for working with clients.

Although Smith and Close are related (mother and daughter), their combined skills and experience in counselling, teaching, research and publishing are complementary and afford credence to the work. 

The pictorial tools are designed to help clients identify, explore, understand and process their thoughts and feelings in the therapeutic setting.

Employing symbolism and metaphor throughout, the worksheets can be used to explore a broad spectrum of concerns, including relationship patterns and problems, childhood issues, stress, anxiety, unhelpful thinking patterns and grief.

Most of the paper-based tools are far from ground breaking, so won’t be new to many readers – timelines, mind maps, baggage, personal universe and anchors being ubiquitous – yet the authors shine in proposing a myriad of different ways of employing each individual tool with clients. 

While the tools are ‘simple’, the authors are not advocating simplicity. Far from being prescriptive, Smith and Close explain and emphasise the versatility and scope of each tool and resist offering a reductive one-size-fits-all approach, thereby demonstrating their knowledge, experience and creativity.

Each tool is accompanied by a short fictitious case study demonstrating one way in which it could be used. These concise, clear examples add enormous value. 

Similarly, the authors’ seven top tips for using the tools remind us of our responsibility. As they say, some tools, such as ‘Me and me: child parent, adult parent and relationship changes’, are designed to explore a specific issue in detail. Providing a clear structure enables the client to question or transform their viewpoint, and to reach a new understanding of their situation. 

I would have preferred the worksheet ‘Blame and Fault’ to have been titled ‘Who is Responsible?’, yet this is a personal qualm.

Despite a propensity within counselling to associate paper based tools with cognitive therapeutic approaches, the authors stress that they are suitable for many different modalities, including person-centred. 

The fact they advocate a non-directive, client-led approach when using the worksheets underpins this: ‘If you fill in a tool… with a client, use their words not yours. They should always have ownership of the work.’ 

As a huge fan of Drawing on Your Emotions and Drawing on Your Relationships, I wasn’t expecting to take much from this alternative toolkit, yet the thoroughness of Smith and Close’s workbook threw up new ways of working with old tools. 

In my own clinical experience, there is no doubt that many clients, across the age range, continue to benefit enormously from putting their thoughts, feelings, intentions and ideas onto paper in order to produce something concrete. “

Find the “Cinnabar Toolkit for Counsellors” on Amazon UK or order and pay direct from our website by CLICKING HERE. 

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The hidden wounds: who cares for our veterans?

An article appeared in the Mail on Sunday magazine a short while ago: The hidden wounds are hardest to heal: families struggling with PTSD 

Here are Mo’s thoughts upon reading it:

“How true that is – these are hidden wounds.

These soldiers saw atrocities that stay in their memory forever. It is logical that if you see something nasty it is going to affect you. It stays with you, within your memory.

Pain too is hard to empathise – we can only imagine what it is like for the injured.

Our feelings amount to frustration that we cannot help. Helplessness makes anyone feel like giving up.

In the article, Alex pushed his mother so far she gave him an alternative: “get up” or” get out”. This was a drastic measure for a mother who clearly loved her son so deeply. She just couldn’t take anymore.

Like Lynn. She came to the end of her tether when her husband’s PTSD exploded into a panic attack in the Building Society offices.

The boss’s answer was “go on leave”.

But how many people could understand that this wouldn’t help him? That Dean would just have more time to think about all he had seen and heard in his life in the army. All the bad stuff.

What he needed was to understand what was going on in his head.

During her interview, Lynn comments that the armed forces are not good at managing mental health problems. Since World War One, life hasn’t really improved for damaged servicemen. Those who work in the domain are few and far between. The NHS has no time or money for mental health patients. These are words often spoken by families.

Where has the £7.4 million the Government gave the mental health services for veterans gone to? What was it spent on?

It seems to me sometimes that no one in the Department of Health believes that Counsellors can help. Instead, money is thrown at the NHS to train CBT workers. Counsellors can already work with this approach, so why not use them as a resource that is available right now? Why spend £30 million in setting up The Wellbeing Service (IAPT) to deliver CBT imperfectly when an army of Counsellors exists across the entire country who can do this work?

I have counselled ex-servicemen who had awful stories to tell. It took time and patience to listen and ultimately help them to help themselves. But it worked. Counselling made their lives better. It is some of the most rewarding work I have done.”



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Patience at The Tavistock Clinic

Mo read an article about The Tavistock Clinic that moved her a great deal. 

The story of Josh, a young boy born to vile and pointless parents. Why did they bother to have a child when all they wanted was to party? They had sex and thought nothing more of it – nothing of the responsibility of caring for the child they had made together. In this day and age, contraception is so easy and yet how many unwanted children are born into nightmares and treated worse than animals?

This wild little boy who tried to care for the other children around him showed a lot of courage we think. 

Thank goodness there are angels out there. Patient and calm and inspirational. In the Tavistock Clinic and among the ranks of the foster carers and adopters. They have so much love, they give it freely, and they don’t give up. 

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Tattoos and self-harm scars


We saw an article on the BBC website, part of a series on self-harm where a lady called Becci answers readers’ questions about living with self-harm 

This is a lovely article, full of insights from an actual person who has self harmed, rather than a medical or media perspective. Becci’s statement that self harm is “a habit to deal with a bad situation” particularly resonates as do her comments about dealing with reactions to the scars left behind.

For an inventive and transformational approach to dealing with self-harm scars, some consider getting a tattoo. Here are Toni’s tips based on her own experience:

  • Do not even consider getting a tattoo over your scars until you have gone one year without harming and your scars have settled – if they are red, raised and itchy then it’s too soon. Your tattooist will be able to tell you if your skin is ready yet.
  • Always take time to choose the right tattoo shop and tattoo artist, one who has some experience dealing with scar tissue.
  • Spend a lot of time researching the tattoo that you want – this is a permanent mark that will be on show to a greater or lesser extent for the rest of your life.
  • Other people will react to it – maybe not in the way that they reacted to your scars, but be prepared for some judgement in some cases.
  • Don’t pick something just because you like the look of it or it’s funny. Pick something that has meaning for you. Your scars have a deeper story, so should your tattoo. Don’t pick a design that makes a statement to other people – pick one that makes a statement to you.
  • A good tattooist should spend time chatting about what you want and look at designs with you. Don’t feel like you have to rush into starting the tattoo – on your first visit you might just work out what kind of style you want.
  • Listen to the tattooist’s advice. They know what works and what looks good on skin. Some designs or colours may not be great with your scar patterns or location.
  • Ask the tattooist to sketch design ideas onto your skin with a pen. Take photos while it’s fresh. Walk around with the marks for a day or so till they fade.
  • Look on the internet for pictures to guide the tattooist. If you want a tattoo of a mermaid and you are not an artist yourself, print out pictures you like. The tattooist isn’t a mind reader and might have a different mental image of mermaids than you do! You can find images to copy (especially useful for specific objects like mirror frames) or you might find pictures that convey the feeling that you want (colours, ideas, moods). Don’t just look for “tattoos” in your online search – inspiration can come from all kinds of places including digital images or paintings. Books have pictures in them too!
  • Live with the idea for a while. If you find that you still want the same broad design after a few months of thinking about it, then you are ready to commit. This shouldn’t be a quick process – but then, a tattoo is forever.
  • Tour the shop. A good tattooist won’t mind telling you about their hygiene practices. A good tattooist and shop should be clean and organised.
  • Don’t get your new design all at once. You can gradually add elements over more than one session. This can minimise the shock to your skin and means shorter sessions which can help pain-wise (yes, self harmers can be squeamish!). It also means you have time to make sure you are completely happy with each bit before moving on.
  • If you have doubts about something that’s been inked, go back to the tattooist and adjust the next stage of the design. There are many ways to deal with something that you regret in a tattoo from changing the colour to creating a cover-up. If you’ve done your research and been doing the work in manageable stages then there should be plenty of scope for some adjustments. A good tattooist will be approachable and kind, won’t mind if you need to make changes and won’t make you feel uncomfortable. If they react badly, go somewhere else.
  • Follow every instruction you are given – caring for a new tattoo is vitally important. Self harmers are not always good at wound care.

Toni’s personal recommendation in our area is the Grantham Tattoo Shop. Ask for Paddy.

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