What's Your Story?

What’s Your Story?

Some time ago I was fortunate to be able to attend a professional development workshop run by Professor Jeffrey Kottler, an academic visiting the U.K. from California State University on the west coast of the U.S.  Professor Kottler, an experienced therapist and educator of the next generation of counsellors in the States had a take on the therapeutic process that immediately rang true with me even though I had not up to that point devoted much thought to it.  Our lives, Kottler stated, are our stories.  The job of the psychotherapist is to make sense of our clients’ stories with them, and to assist in the positioning of the client so that he or she can effectively author – within their limitations – the next part of the saga.

This struck me as quite a straight-forward statement at the time, yet having reflected on it since I have come to appreciate the power of the image Kottler was conveying.  I have realised through my time spent with clients that we are all, in our own way, engaged in activities that will hopefully make the present situation better for ourselves and those we care about, while at the same time trying to make sense of what happened then or why we reacted the way we did on that day.

Difficult Chapters

Some people that I counsel have lived through difficult chapters – some through harrowing ones.  Some people are haunted by shame, others by grief.  Some have been deeply unsettled by the pages written by others when they were too young to even write their own name unaided.  I have learned that a lot of people do not show what is written inside the book of their life story too readily.  There are perhaps some things within that we fear we may be judged for.  Or maybe some paragraphs are present that may cause us to be thought badly about.  Some dreams may be ridiculed if we share them with others, and some truths are kept close because they would hurt others deeply if they were ever shown the light of day.

Not Finished There

Kottler felt that through a relationship with a professional therapist, people whose stories are not sitting well with them could be assisted to find new meaning in challenging times.  Perhaps not to completely re-write the story, but to look at the past from a different angle that would allow the future to be authored in a different tone.  I would agree with him, and this has certainly been my experience in counselling clients at a hospice for children and young people.  In engaging in a working alliance with a mother or father of a child who is no longer loved in their presence, but rather in their absence, the search for how to go on writing when all seems lost has at times been heart-breaking.  The story, however, has not finished there.  I have witnessed on many occasions the rising up of a resolve to finish the book well in honour of a loved one.  It seems that resolve can empower those who are left behind to pen some truly inspiring words.

Coming To Terms

Whether you look back at some parts of your story so far with disappointment, embarrassment or indifference, I guess the fact is that we can all slowly choose to look positively at what comes next, if we truly want to.  We might not have an eraser with which to delete undesirable passages, yet perhaps coming to terms over time with what happened in the pages that have gone could be the next best thing.

~ 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 http://www.ashwoodtherapy.com/]


Healing,Life Experience,Negative Thoughts,Psychology,Suicidal

Date : September 4, 2016Comments : 0


During my clinical practice this past week, one subject has come up several times with several different clients; that of the stigma of being labelled with a mental health condition and the  unconscious fear of being seen in a different light by others because of such a pronouncement.  Dr. Carl Rogers, the founder of the person-centred approach to psychotherapy, wasn’t an advocate of the use of labels.  Some people can find labels try to put them in a box they don’t want to be in, which only tells half a story.  I don’t find labels all that useful either – after all, each client is an individual, with differing reactions to what is happening in their lives now and to what has happened in their past.

Power To The Client

Some people can be reluctant to tell others that they have sought out counselling, and in my experience this is often because many don’t know what happens behind the closed door of the therapy room, whether that be in a physical location or in cyberspace.  What I hear a lot in my job as a therapist is that “counselling isn’t at all what I thought it would be!  I don’t know what I expected, but if I’d have known what’s involved I would have come years ago“.  The confidentiality side of counselling is important, as it gives the power to the client over who they tell of their attendance in the therapy room.  It also means that the client can disclose things that may be hurtful to or misunderstood by others in their life, without the fear of upsetting those they interact with on a daily basis or those they share a home with.

A Common Problem

With the diversity and equality training that takes place in many of the large multinational companies operating all over the world, it is clear that there is a need to remind people that although we may all be different in some way, we are all equal.  According to research by the Office for National Statistics in the report Measuring National Well-being – Health, 2013, approximately 20% of adults here in the U.K. suffered with symptoms of problem anxiety and depression in 2011.  With common mental health problems being so widespread, it is a wonder that they are not more universally accepted as a part of the varied tapestry of everyday life.

Scary Picture

I sometimes think that the stigma present in some quarters is a throwback to the scary picture of ‘madness’ or ‘insanity’ associated with the harsh and inhumane treatment of people with mental health issues at certain stages in history.  To be ‘crazy’ is a serious matter when it involves the taking away of your rights and your voice.  Thankfully, services in many countries have advanced now to a point where a lot of societies are at least aiming for mental and physical health to be given equal priority and consideration.  There is a long way to go, perhaps, but arguably the change is happening.

Accepting Themselves

Individuals – and especially those who have been the recipient of a label – can be powerful advocates of just what mental ill health entails, and what it doesn’t.  To challenge the stigma and incorrect perceptions that can surround mental wellbeing issues is important for the many who are suffering in silence, so that they may feel able to seek help with their troubles.  A non-judgemental, private relationship with a professional counsellor can leave people feeling accepted for who they are.  For some this is the first step towards accepting themselves, just as they are.  If a friend told you they were struggling with mental health issues, what would be your reaction?

~ Rob Oglesby MBACP B.A. (Hons) BSc

 [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 www.ashwoodtherapy.com]

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 http://www.ashwoodtherapy.com/]

Version 2.0

Out With The Old ~ In With The New?

As you may expect with me being an online counsellor, I have a keen interest in technology and enjoy keeping up with developments in the technological world.  Indeed, as well as regularly flicking through therapy journals I am an avid reader of the ‘tech-press’, and follow developments with new products and services closely.  Today I purchased a new tablet computer, and so will be getting more familiar with its capabilities and new features over the coming days.  It sometimes seems as if a new product or product line is launched every few weeks, with the latest version of ‘x’ promising more than the model it supersedes.  From flatter-screen televisions to ‘smart’ appliances, the pace of change in the world of technology only seems to be accelerating.

Version 2.0

You may be wondering, if I take such an interest in new devices and applications, is my counselling office full of the latest gadgets and gizmos?  The answer – which may come as a surprise to some reading this article – is ‘no’.  Although the technology I use is fully up-to-date with the most current security releases and the latest data encryption methods, some of the devices I use have been providing me with good service for several years now.  Why, you might ask, do I not upgrade and swap the old version for the latest model?  The answer is simple, and comes down to two things; reliability and refinement.  We can be easily tempted to rush out and buy the latest ‘version 2’ of a particular product, egged on as we are by a glossy advertising campaign and the promise of dazzling new features, yet what is sometimes forgotten is that version 1.9 of that product has received many updates to fix problems, iron out bugs and improve the user experience.  The problems that arrive with the second major revision of the device are initially undiscovered and un-addressed.  It will take time for slight adjustments to be made to the software and firmware, and it may be some weeks or even many months before version 2 is as stable as version 1.9.  When this happens – yes, you guessed it – it will be called ‘version 2.9’.

Unconscious Expert

I have often thought that the way we go about living our lives is like this, in that as we follow our daily routine we are constantly (and often unconsciously) refining the way we do things.  From adopting a smoother way of changing gear in our car, to finding the most efficient route around the supermarket, we often constantly adapt in order to find the optimum way of getting the job done.  We can, at times, lose sight of the fact that we are the experts on our own lives.

Evolutionary Changes

Sometimes a client will make contact with Ashwood Therapy seeking therapeutic support, yet may expect me as the counselling ‘expert’ to find the best way through their current difficulties for them.  The client may expect there to be a breakthrough answer to their issues which has so far proved elusive, that I may be able to shed light upon immediately.  Perhaps they are looking for a ‘self 2.0’ instead of the old ‘self v1’ that they are unhappy with.  More often than not, in working with a client to shore up their own sense of who they are, and to increase their confidence in knowing what feels right for them, they are surprised to find that they are the ones who can best provide the answers to the questions that they have been asking all this time.  Instead of the revolutionary changes that they may have attempted in order to ‘be someone different’, when a client accepts that smaller, evolutionary changes are more sustainable and manageable then resolving long-standing problems can seem more do-able.  Issues that were once number one priorities can sometimes be laid to rest with a shrug of the shoulders, if acceptance of how something really is proves to be a better solution than trying to change the unchangeable.

Out With The Old?

It may seem at times that nothing is working right or that everything needs fixing.  In my clinical experience I have found that when a client’s situation is examined within the safety of an accepting and supportive relationship, strengths can be rediscovered and progress and expertise recognised.  Do we really need to upgrade and throw out all of the old, when with a little attention and care we can appreciate that there may be a lot to like about what we currently have and do?


~ 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 http://www.ashwoodtherapy.com/]


Film about depression and the removal of ego – The Peaceful Warrior

Sometimes, trying to find inspirational movies that not only entertain us but motivate us and also educate us on how to overcome depression can be difficult to come by but fortunately, I stumbled across this one based on ‘true events’ and a book known as ‘The Peaceful Warrior‘.

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international happiness day

Depression,Negative Thoughts,Video

Date : January 31, 2016Comments : 0

Inner Happiness is achievable and this is how

Inner Happiness, something we all dream of. We usually see it as having enough to live on, enough to travel the world, a big house, a big car , a nice attractive partner, lots and lots and lots of material things! Wrong! This is not happiness, these are all self serving pleasures and have scientifically proven limited amount of happiness associated with any of those things. True happiness is different and in this video Dr Amit Sood briefly discusses the REAL things that will bring true happiness into your life and you won’t believe just how simple it is!

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Alt Therapy,Negative Thoughts

Date : January 17, 2016Comments : 0

The power of positive affirmations

Positive affirmation – a form of emotional support or encouragement.

When you are depressed it Is quite common that you can’t help but have a negative mind set. Everything is tinged with an element of grey and the colour drains from your surroundings; how things will ever be ‘normal’ again feels like an impossible dream.

This is where positive affirmations can really begin to change how you think or to use one when you need a boost. But what is a positive affirmation? In this blog post we discuss what they are, how they can benefit your mental health and some of the science behind it so you can choose to start to challenge your own negative thoughts.

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