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Social Media: False Friend?

You may be familiar with the phrase ‘Dunbar’s Number’, named after the anthropologist Robin Dunbar and coined in the 1990s.  Dunbar’s number refers to the probable limit to the number of social relationships a person can maintain effectively at one time, and is an interesting concept in the Internet age where many people’s  online ‘friends lists’ can number in the high hundreds.  What would you think Dunbar’s studies into human brain size and social grouping revealed to be the approximate maximum number of sustainable social connections?  300?  500?  Maybe 900?

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Shipwreck - Positive Thinking

Positive Thinking

Some years ago I heard a story which gave me pause for thought, and which has stuck with me ever since.  A British ship was out in a foreign sea in rough weather, being battered from left to right all night by the wind, rain and waves.  Eventually, the storm became too much and the ship capsized, drowning all but two sailors who awoke the next morning to find themselves washed up on the sandy beach of a tiny island.  They found fresh water in the form of a stream, and several boxes of supplies washed up on the sand.

Dry Biscuits

Upon opening the boxes, the two men found that they all contained nothing but the dry, unappetising ship’s biscuits.  Their experience had been remarkably similar up until this point, yet now the men’s view of the situation was vastly different.  Each mealtime, the two men would sit down with the biscuits and plain water in front of them and would eat until they were full.  The first man, known by many for his pessimism, constantly complained about the poor meal and bland flavour, bemoaning the fact that all the appealing food had gone down with the ship.  He sat and ate his dry biscuits with little enthusiasm.

Roast Beef

The second survivor, however, had a reputation for being an upbeat man, and approached each mealtime with relish.  He would describe out loud, both to himself and his shipmate, how the biscuits he was eating were not biscuits at all, but thick slices of roast beef with rich gravy, accompanied by tasty potatoes and fresh vegetables.  Each mouthful would be a pleasure for this second sailor, and at each meal he would ‘eat’ something different.  The first sailor, sick of his ship’s biscuits, thought his companion to be foolish to go on in such a ridiculous way every time he had his food.


This went on for some time until finally, many weeks after the shipwreck and near to the end of the meagre rations, the two men were rescued by a passing vessel.  When the medical officer of this ship examined both men, he found the first to be in very poor physical condition owing to an inadequate diet, yet was amazed that the second man seemed much stronger and was showing fewer signs of difficulty.

Power Over The Outcome

When I see clients in therapy, sometimes the circumstances of their situation are fixed and unchangeable.  The power of positive thought, and the ability to be flexible in approach and expectation have proved many times to be the staffs upon which many clients have learnt to lean on to weather their own personal storms.  It has been my experience that they often discover they have more power over the outcome of their situation than they first thought.

~ Rob Oglesby MBACP B.A. (Hons) BSc | Ashwood Therapy


[Ashwood Therapy provides a discreet, confidential and professional online counselling service by encrypted video call, live instant messaging and secure email.  More details, including tips on wellbeing and information on current counselling session pricing, can be found at]



Date : June 27, 2016Comments : 0

Soothe a racing mind with calming sounds and music

Sometimes, our mind can get over run by thoughts so much so that it brings on incredible migraines, feelings of being lethargic or having no escape from the pain that having depression and anxiety can bring. At times like this it is important to relax the mind and rest. In this blog post I discuss one strategy for bringing some peace of mind.

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Online Therapy


Date : June 25, 2016Comments : 0

The Power of Online Therapy

With more and more of our lives being conducted online, the Internet is becoming the medium of choice for people seeking support for their mental wellbeing through therapeutic counselling.  Is online therapy the same as face to face therapy?


The research literature in the field of online counselling points to one particular feature of e-therapy that helps many open up about their issues: the online disinhibition effect.  Put simply, when in an online relationship clients seem to share what is going on in their lives more readily than they would in person.  As a counselling therapist, I am aware that people in general find it easier to open up to a counsellor than they do a friend of family member.  The professional boundaries and assurance of confidentiality create an atmosphere conducive to disclosure and trust.  When working online, this trust is enhanced, perhaps by the physical distance between client and therapist, and the process of disclosure is often speeded up.

Reviewing The Work Done

Working with a client on things that trouble them, or that they would like to overcome, is therefore moved along more quickly online, and relational depth is achieved more readily.  To me, this is the real power of online therapy.  Another helpful aspect of working either by secure email or instant messaging (text), is that the client has the option of keeping a record of what was discussed during the session to refer back to later.  Coping strategies and new perspectives can therefore be reviewed and consolidated, both between sessions and once therapy has been drawn to a close.

The Online Age

Having worked as both a face to face therapist and an online counsellor, I feel that the work of a psychological practitioner fits very well with the benefits brought by the Online Age.  Communication, the foundation of all human relationships, is a fundamental part of the connected world and makes therapy and the Internet ideal bedfellows.  If the real agent of lasting change is the therapeutic relationship, I believe that the opportunities for distance working with clients regardless of physical location is truly the start of a revolution in the way we approach the looking after of our wellbeing.

~ Rob Oglesby MBACP B.A. (Hons) BSc | Ashwood Therapy


[Ashwood Therapy provides a discreet, confidential and professional online counselling service by encrypted video call, live instant messaging and secure email.  More details, including tips on wellbeing and information on current counselling session pricing, can be found at]

Counselling The Well

Counselling The Well

When it comes to going to the dentist, many people book six monthly or annual appointments to give their teeth a ‘check up’, even when they are not in pain or needing any major treatment.  This touching base, to catch any problems in the early stages, is widely accepted to be a good idea and is indeed recommended by dentists here in the U.K.  Similarly your car, if you have one, will need to have a regular inspection and be fine tuned to make sure that it is running safely and efficiently.  Most people would not question the logic behind such checks, which are  designed to identify problem areas before they are in need of serious attention.

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