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Rob Oglesby

Isolation: Are You On Your Own?

Healing,Life Experience,Relationships

Date : April 3, 2016Comments : 0

The English poet John Donne famously coined the phrase “no man is an island” in a work entitled Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, published in 1624.  Referring to the idea that as humans we are social beings, relying on interconnection with others to flourish, it is an often quoted saying when speaking about the subject of being on our own.

The Natural World

On television recently I caught a programme following a team of wildlife experts who happened to be engaged in the rescuing of two swans.  They had flown into a building site which had two large pools of water, and unfortunately had each ended up on their own (one in each pool).  They could hear each other but could not see each other, as the pools were separated by high sides.  Swans will usually mate for life, forming a long-lasting bond, and it was thought that this pair’s separation was distressing for them both.  Eventually the wildlife team managed to catch the pair and they were reunited in a safer environment.  The welcome outcome re-established the connection between the couple, and so the intervention was deemed a success.

Social Isolation

The Office for National Statistics published a report in 2015 stating that 59% of all people aged 85 and over in the U.K. live alone.  With this being the case, it is perhaps unsurprising that the charity Age UK reports that for over half of older people, television is their main source of “company”.  If we were to agree that no man is an island – or that no man should be an island – then the problem posed by social isolation becomes clear.  If a swan ‘misses’ a partner when the two are separated, how much more would separation from a partner, family or friends affect a person?

Social Inclusion

Some of the clients I see in my professional practice are experiencing low mood in part because of a lack of interaction with others.  This is exacerbated by the fact that mental wellbeing issues can sometimes make it difficult to mix socially, especially if the client finds that they are not accepted as they would like to be, perhaps through stigma or others’ ignorance.  Working on strategies to promote social inclusion, be the client young or old, can often bear fruit over time.  It strikes me that isolation from others can be experienced by anyone.  An accepting, respectful relationship with a trusted other can be a sound base from which to work on cultivating the healthy social bonds necessary for successful interaction.

If you find yourself in a place where isolation is not currently a problem for you, how would you feel about reaching out to a neighbour in your street or the flat next-door?  Can you think of somebody you know in your life for whom a short conversation or even a text message today might mean the difference between them connecting with someone else, or not?


~ 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]

Author Name : Rob Oglesby

Rob Oglesby MBACP is a fully qualified and insured therapeutic counsellor who is a registered member of the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy (BACP). He is a member of the executive committee for the Association for Counselling and Therapy Online (ACTO), and is involved in the development and furthering of online counselling provision here in the U.K. Rob has extensive experience working alongside clients facing mental wellbeing issues such as depression and anxiety, and is experienced in supporting those facing bereavement, particularly after the death of a child or young person. Ashwood Therapy is Rob's private counselling practice in which he offers exclusively online therapy via secure video call, encrypted email and live instant messaging. He has a keen interest in technology and how this impacts on the therapeutic relationship, and aims to improve access to counselling for those who may be unable to attend a consulting room in person due to other commitments or disability. Rob writes weekly of his reflections on the world of therapy, and invites contact from people interested in wellbeing issues though his Twitter and Facebook accounts.

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