Achieve Your New Year’s Resolution

The New Year, a new you? At this time of year it is traditional to focus on what changes you want to make. The aim is often on personal fulfilment. Over the Christmas break, we have time to consider the past twelve months and plan what we want to do differently in the coming twelve. We make our ideas for self-improvement into a resolution.

Popular Resolutions

As we spend so much of our lives working, it is no surprise that many people’s resolution ties into their career. January is a time to update CVs and start job hunting. The prospect of changing career offers hope of greater fulfilment, of new opportunities or a bigger pay packet.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Amersham
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Amersham

Quitting a bad habit is another popular option. Smoking cessation and gambling support groups receive a lot more calls at the start of a new year. Breaking habits is tough and often requires other lifestyle changes in order to remove temptation and prevent instinctive actions.

The most common resolution is about getting fitter and thinner. There is a surge in gym and diet club memberships in January as people have good intentions about swapping calories for cardio workouts.  An improved fitness regime will certainly help us to tone up, build strength and stamina and fit into our clothes a little easier, but the truth is that we need to engage our mind, as well as our body.

Mind Over Matter

Have you heard the phrase mind over matter? It means that the way we think can impact on our behaviour. We have learnt to think in certain ways due to our upbringing, our experiences and our perspective. This can lead us to confuse opinion with fact.

No matter what you want to achieve this year, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has been proven to be effective in realising your goals. From gaining a positive mind-set for job interviews, or building a new relationship with food that will ensure that your efforts to lose weight aren’t wasted, to conquering a fear or breaking a bad habit, CBT can help.

CBT will help you to express your thoughts, question them and where necessary replace them with fresh thinking. With a new perspective, we can achieve things that we hadn’t previously thought possible. We can change our behaviours, see solutions and achieve our goals.

If you’ve been a yoyo dieter for years, are desperate to stop smoking, would love to address your fear of flying, or need the confidence to deliver a winning presentation, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can make all the difference.

CBT can also empower you to take action on an issue that plagues everyday life. Talking to a professional counsellor could provide the opportunity to get to the root of the problem. From there, you can start to explore options to change the situation. Anxiety, depression, even physical pain can be reduced to more manageable levels.

If you would benefit from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Amersham based Cognisant PDC can assist. See our Therapies page and allow us to help you to make this year’s resolutions stick.

Far From Happy Christmas

Christmas is eagerly anticipated by many, yet many others dread the festive season. If your life is a far cry from the jolly family gatherings that are shown in television ads, Christmas can highlight what’s missing.

Dreading the Celebrations

Maybe this is your first Christmas without someone special. Bereavement can certainly sap all the joy out of the celebrations. The thought of being around others and putting on an act might feel worse than sitting it out alone. Either way there is a huge void which can’t be filled, even with a house full of people.

On the other hand, you may have to spend considerable time with someone who makes everything difficult. Are you forced to share your Christmas break with a grumpy aunt, a mother-in-law with exacting standards, hyperactive nieces and nephews, or an abusive partner? This situation can put you on edge, fire up the stress levels to breaking point and be a far cry from those loving, caring family at Christmas images.

There are also an increasing number of families that are just about managing to get by each month. Finances are extremely tight, but with careful budgeting, they are making ends meet. Then Christmas comes and the children hand over their letter to Santa, the extended family want to come over for a traditional roast with all the trimmings and work colleagues invite you out to the office do. If you’re worried about money, it’s hard to enjoy any of it.

Dealing with these and many other issues can put you on edge from November, when Christmas decorations and gifts appear in the shops, town centre lights are switched on and festive tunes start playing on the radio.

Reducing the Stress

If this sounds all too familiar, it is time to take action. Firstly, you need to consider what you need to get through the coming weeks. Where can you find the time and space to do things for yourself? Schedule in time to take a weekly walk in the woods or relax in the bath, the chance to read a book, listen to a favourite album or meet up with a good friend. A regular slot of ‘me time’ can really help.

If money is tight, consider other gifts that you could give. A babysitting voucher would be welcomed by most parents. You may be able to offer other services, such as ironing or fixing a bike puncture. When it comes to children, how about a voucher for a day out? You might promise a trip to the zoo or the seaside later in the year, so you can spread the costs. A city trip to see the Christmas lights and a (free) museum can provide happy memories, which last longer than a costly toy.

If Christmas has highlighted issues in your life, the best present you could invest in is counselling. Counselling offers the chance to talk in confidence, to be heard and to make steps towards change. Techniques including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can help you to see things from a different perspective, to address what you need and to support you in implementing change.

If you would like to know more about Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Amersham based Cognisant PDC is happy to explain. We have supported hundreds of individuals to find a more positive future and we can help you too.

The Alternative Methods to Quitting Smoking

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Amersham
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Amersham

Since 5000 BC humans have been smoking for numerous reasons. Traditionally smoking was used within Indian and Chinese civilisations as part of religious rituals. At the time these civilisations would burn an array of different herbs. It was only centuries after these civilisations formed that the smoking of tobacco became common place as a way to hallucinate or connect with the spirit world.

Today, however, smoking is rarely used for these purposes. Instead, for many it is an addiction which was formed at a young age in an effort to socialise or gain a form of respect amongst their peers. This addiction costs millions their lives annually, with the American Cancer Society predicting that six million people die every year as a result of tobacco. Further research also showed that about 600,000 non-smokers would die annually due to their intake of second-hand smoke.

At Cognisant PDC we work hand-in-hand with smokers who are looking to kick the addition. Rather than simply providing alternative additions, such as nicotine patches, we utilise an array of different methods. It is these methods that I’ll be exploring within this article as I reveal two other ways to stop smoking.


It is the thoughts of a smoker that continues their addiction. These thoughts include the negative habits and thinking patterns which they go through on a daily basis as they purchase their cigarettes, smoke them and ultimately desire them again. It is these thoughts that hypnotherapy aims to control and stop.

In order to carry out hypnotherapy you will be placed into a deep and relaxed state. During this state your mind is more open to suggestions and clearer of the stress it may be going through at that time. This provides the hypnotherapist with an opportunity to make suggestions to the mind that will ultimately change your thought patterns. These suggestions could include ‘I dislike the smell of a cigarette’ or simply ‘I do not want a cigarette’.

Neuro Linguistic Programming

At Amersham based Cognisant PDC we’ve been performing Neuro Linguistic Programming for a number of years. It has been used since the 1970’s to treat issues such as phobias, disorders and addictions.

In the case of quitting smoking, Neuro Linguistic Programming allows a therapist to speak to the unconscious mind and alter the way it views the world. This essentially allows them to understand when you smoke and what triggers the desire to smoke in your mind, such as work, family or friends.

It is only once we’ve answered these questions that we can begin to understand how to fight the addition. You can then be provided with self-help techniques to accelerate the progress if needed.

Ready to Quit?

Whilst self-motivation and will power is required, hypnotherapy and Neuro Linguistic Programming provide alternative and proven routes to quitting smoking. Therefore, if you’ve tried before and have been unsuccessful, please contact Amersham based Cognisant PDC for your initial consultation. Within this we’ll be able to explain the process of these methods further and make suggestions on the tailored sessions we would recommend for you.

A Sleepless Nights

We all need sleep in order for our bodies and minds to recharge and renew. With a regular sleeping pattern and a good chunk of undisturbed slumber, we can perform better, cope with challenges more effectively, maintain a positive mood and even look younger.

After a few sleepless nights, we can start to notice the difference in our ability to concentrate. We might become more irritable and less create and adaptable. We look and feel tired, energy levels dip and we become more prone to ill health.

For new parents, a run of sleepless nights is simply part of the process. It might seem like forever before their baby settles into a routine, but the reason why you are missing out on a full night’s kip is obvious and usually short term.

Reasons Behind a Lack of Sleep

There may be other reasons why we’re not sleeping and these can be more difficult to identify.

Unfortunately, it is only when the root cause is diagnosed the effective action to encourage sleep can be taken. People can be driven to take sleeping tablets or even drink until they pass out in order to avoid another wakeful night, but these a temporary means of masking the problem, rather than a life transforming solution.

A lack of sleep is a common symptom of anxiety, stress, ill health, hormonal changes or a guilty conscious. Equally it can result from excessive use of technology, a lack of exercise, an uncomfortable bed or external factors such as noisy neighbours or a partner who snores.

There is a wealth of techniques that can help people to sleep; these include lifestyle changes, establishing a relaxing and technology free pre-bed routine, adopting controlled breathing techniques and even changes to the bedding you use. If you’ve been trying these and still find yourself lying awake as the minutes tick by, you may benefit from counselling.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a type of counselling that focuses on the relationship between what we think and what we do. By exploring and challenging our thought processes, it has been effective in changing negative behaviours. Such negative behaviours might include fears and habits.

Fears and habits are often things that we consider to be part of our personality; we might say ‘I’ve always been afraid of heights’ or ‘I’ve never been a good sleeper’. We see them as something we’ve always had and therefore can’t change, but this is a misconception. In reality we have learnt this way of thinking; we have accepted it as part of ‘who we are’ but we can change the script.

So if you can’t face another sleepless night, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can help to identify the underlying problem. It can help you to explore the right course of action for dealing with that issue and support you through that process. At the same time, it can alter the thought process that has led you to expect not to sleep. Together this is a comprehensive measure that could transform your nights without a reliance on medication.

If you would like to learn more about Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Amersham based Cognisant PDC is happy to explain what’s involved and whether is suitable for your requirements. You can find out more about Cognisant PDC here.

Glass Half Empty

Maybe you are someone who sees things from a pessimistic perspective. Do you assume the worst, so that you can be pleasantly surprised when things turn out well? Are you cautious about taking risks in order to protect yourself from the worst case scenario? When things go wrong, does it serve to reaffirm your expectations?

A pessimistic approach to life isn’t all bad, but it can prevent you from making the most out of the opportunities that come your way. There are times when we are wise to be cautious, to minimise risks and to not get overly confident in our abilities, but if you’ve had enough of seeing the glass as half empty, you can alter your thinking in order to see things from a fresh perspective.

It’s Not All About You

Naturally pessimistic people typically blame themselves when things don’t work out. They might think ‘she was rude because she didn’t like me’, ‘I didn’t get the job because I didn’t get a degree, I’ll never get a job’, ‘I can’t find my keys because I lose everything’ or ‘my partner stayed out late because he hates being around me’.

In contrast, an optimistic person will look at a range of possibilities. They realise that they don’t have the power to determine the outcome of every situation. In the same scenarios, they might think, ‘she was rude, maybe the last customer was a nightmare or it’s time for her lunchbreak, ‘I didn’t get the job this time, maybe they had an internal candidate, better luck next time’, ‘I wonder if anyone has moved my keys’ or ‘my partner stayed out late, it has been a whilst since he caught up with those friends’.

Open Mind

If you are trying to develop a more optimistic outlook, a good starting point is to work on identifying a range of possible reasons why an event might have occurred. Other than you, what could have happened to cause that negative outcome? When you start blaming yourself, challenge these thoughts, consider other external factors that you have no control over.

Challenging yourself is far from easy. Whilst challenging someone else’s perspective can seem like a natural response, we all find it hard to question our own thoughts. This is why it can be valuable to attend counselling, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. The counsellor will listen, but when you state something that doesn’t add up, they will challenge. When you get used to this approach, it can become easier to adopt it yourself.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy will also help you to decide on a course of action and identify manageable steps that you can take to get there. As you take each small step, you will gain a sense of achievement and this can support a growing confidence in your ability to make positive changes.

If you are looking for a counsellor who offers Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Amersham based Cognisant PDC has the experience and professionalism to help you alter your thinking. With our support, you can take the steps towards the positive change that you are looking for. You can find out more about our confidential one-to-one sessions here. Could we help you to see the glass as half full?

Adjusting to Change

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Amersham
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Amersham

Very few people enjoy constant change. On the whole, we get comfortable with familiar surroundings, known expectations and the people that we are used to having around us. We find ourselves completing the same routines and habits, because they are what we’ve got used to.

Life Changes

As we progress through life, we have to adapt and change. We meet new people that impact on our lives, we take on new responsibilities and we age.

Life events such as having a child result in huge changes to your financial situation, career, independence and future plans. We may have always wanted children and feel delighted to have a new member of our family, yet struggle with returning to work after maternity leave or with the loss of a social life.

Thousands of others are dealing with the same scenario, but at times of change you can feel isolated, guilty for your true feelings and unsure about where to go for support.

A Desire to Change

Sometimes we seek out change. We recognise that it is time to stir things up a bit because we’re bored with undertaking the same things day in day out. We may decide that it is time to apply for a new job, to move house, to take time out to study or travel, to end an unhappy relationship. We see the grass is greener elsewhere and we want to move to pastures new.

Even when we have actively made a decision to change, we can experience moments of doubt. We can spend time questioning whether we’ve made the right decision and our fears can be compounded by the opinions of others. At times we need a positive influence who can help us dispel our inner voice, so that we can have the self-belief to follow our chosen path.

It certainly takes bravery and courage to follow through with our plans, yet after initial wobbles, we are often rewarded with the sense of achievement and opportunities to develop and grow.

Enforced Change

If it is a challenge to adapt to change when we have made the decision for ourselves, it is no surprise that enforced change can be viewed in a very negative light. An accident that has left us unable to do what we were previously capable of, the death of a loved one, the need to move in order to find work are all examples of change that can be incredibly difficult to accept.

If we are fearful of where change will lead us, if we resent the disruption and feel a sense of loss about what we are leaving behind, the process of change can be incredibly stressful. It can be difficult to look at the positives when you are unsure what will be expected of you and whether you can cope.

Managing Change

Adapting to change is a necessary life skill and whether it is part of our natural development, a desire to change or something imposed on us, we can make the transition if we have the right support.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is an effective form of counselling that helps people to come to terms with change. It encourages people to challenge and question their thoughts, to see things from different perspectives, to recognise their ability to cope and to improve their self-belief.

If you are struggling with change and feel that you could benefit from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Amersham based Cognisant PDC is here to help.

What’s Holding You Back in Life?

Each and every one of us has the potential to achieve great things, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the moment. We have an inner strength that drives us forward in the toughest of conditions and can enable us to achieve things we never thought possible.

We often feel that decisions are out of our control, that due to external factors we have no option but to stick with what we’ve got, even if it makes us unhappy. Other people can strive for something better because they aren’t dealing with everything you have on your plate, but you have no other option.

It is true that no one else shares your experience exactly, however there are endless examples of people who have overcome adversity in the most difficult of conditions in order to make a better life for themselves and those who depend on them. These individuals have developed resilience to the blows that life has dealt and have chipped away until the weight on their shoulders has been lifted.

In reality we are often holding ourselves back. A fear of change and the unknown, a risk that seems too great to be worth it, or the embarrassment of admitting that things aren’t as they appear can keep us locked in unhappy places or destructive patterns.

Steps of Change

If you are waiting for a magic wand to solve your problems and put everything right, then you’ll be disappointed. The steps of change take commitment, hard work and dedication. If you have reached that point when you are no longer willing to accept the status quo then you are ready to take action.

The need for change can affect any of us, no matter what our age, income, health, profession or status. We can all find ourselves in a place that we no longer want to be, but with no clear way out. Needing help isn’t a sign of weakness, it is a sign that you will no longer accept your current situation as a given. This in itself takes considerable courage.

The next step is to gather support. It is very difficult to take on the world single-handedly, you need allies. Consider who you can turn to for support. This might be friends or family, but it is often easier to talk with a professional from a support agency. Your Citizen Advice Bureau could be a good place to start, or you may want to talk in confidence to a professional counsellor.

Counselling can take a number of forms, but a commonly used method is called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. This technique is designed to encourage you to find your own answers, tackle the barriers that are holding you back and support you as you take the steps towards change. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is non-judgemental, confidential and designed to help you take the steps of change.

If you know that you would benefit from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Amersham based Cognisant PDC can help. Visit browse our website for further information or call us on: 01494 871638

No Way Out: Incapacitated by Depression or Anxiety

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Some of us are born with a personality that is more liable to realism or caution; it’s in our genes. Without understanding and support from others, the realism can lead to depression, whilst natural caution can spiral into anxiety. Others will have learnt thoughts and behaviours from parents (known as imprinting) when growing up. Some of us may have begun life with a light-hearted, positive personality, but life experiences have changed our character, our thoughts and our behaviours.

Depression and anxiety have many distinct symptoms, but there are also many similarities. For sufferers, either can make life unbearable. It can feel like your body has been taken over by another force. It completely suppresses every ounce of your personality. The power of this force is so strong that it seems impossible to fight back; it suffocates you until you feel that all sense of self is lost.

When you suffer with depression and anxiety, the negative feelings evolve into an inability to undertake everyday tasks. Making a decision can be overwhelming and the thought of doing something simple can leave you in a state of panic. You need the support of others, but this inner force encourages you to become increasingly isolated, lonely and unable to interact.

Where to Turn for Help

Another common factor is the lack of understanding that surrounds the two conditions. To an onlooker you appear to be fine and in an attempt to be helpful, they might say ‘don’t worry’ or ‘cheer up’. If only it was that simple. Friends and family might try to help, but your negativity is draining on them and unappealing to be around, so it is difficult for them to be there.

There is a distinct lack of understanding of mental health conditions in the medical profession, although things are improving. It used to be standard practice for GPs to prescribe anti-depressants for all patients with anxiety and depression, but fortunately there is growing awareness that counselling, specifically cognitive behavioural therapy, can help.

Anti-depressants can help break the downward spiral and they offer a stepping stone out of the darkest places. They have helped many sufferers on the road to recovery. The challenge is that anti-depressants mask, rather than solve, the problem. They also have side effects and many people face difficulties when they stop taking them. It is important that additional support is offered in addition to medication.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a form of counselling that has been effective in helping people to find a way out. It is certainly not easy to sit and talk with a counsellor if you have spent months or years isolating yourself from social situations. It can also be deeply uncomfortable to talk about your thoughts and feelings, your struggles and fears, however in finding the strength to attend counselling sessions, you can begin to tackle the issues and find a way forward.

Cognitive behavioural therapy will question your thoughts and challenge your ideas. It encourages you to view things from a different perspective. It can help you rediscover a purpose, a meaning and the things that you used to enjoy. It can help you find yourself again.

Don’t suffer in silence. Counselling services are offered throughout the UK, if you live in The Chilterns and are looking for cognitive behavioural therapy, Amersham based Cognisant PDC can help.

How We Communicate With Children

As parents, guardians, grandparents, carers, teachers or support workers, we can find ourselves relating to personalities that can be quite different to our own. In most cases we are trying our best to do the right thing for the child, so that they can achieve what we perceive to be the best possible outcome.

The challenge is that our values, our priorities, our way of doing things and our goals might not match those of the child. If we really want to help them to be the best person they can be we need to understand them, to communicate effectively with them and to accept that our way might not be the best way. Effective communication can have a considerable impact on their confidence and self-belief.

The tone of our voice, the words we use and our capacity to take time to actively listen to children can all contribute to their development. Simply by saying much the same thing in slightly different ways, we can alter the response, encourage independent thinking and help children to take on a degree of personal responsibility.

NLP Courses

NLP is a technique that has been widely used to help to develop effective relationships. Many teachers, coaches, counsellors and trainers who are working directly with people have found it a valuable tool to help get the most from the people they are working with.

On NLP courses, people gain an understanding of communication. They consider the impact of language, tone, body language, active listening and other aspects of communication. They learn how simple changes to communication can alter the response.

Feelings and Actions

We all know that we can feel elated and motivated after talking with certain individuals, whilst others leave us feeling deflated or frustrated. The two conversations may be about much the same thing, but are response will be different. Our feelings typically translate into actions, either a desire to do something positive or negative.

If we spend a lot of time with the people that listen, recognise our achievements, engage in two way conversations, ask questions, seek our opinion and value our skills, we can find ourselves living life to the full. We gain confidence, learn how best to utilise our skills, make good use of our time and are driven to do more.

Conversely, if we spend more time with the people that ignore us, fail to notice our contribution, pick up on our faults, always expect us to do more and speak at us, rather than with us, we soon start to feel bad. We might stop making an effort, or we might become angry and channel our energy into more destructive activities.

The Challenge of Getting It Right

Few parents or carers want to be the ‘bad’ guy, but it is easy to be distracted by the demands of home and work life. In trying to give children new opportunities, we may be pushing them to always do more and be better. In trying to protect them, we may stifle their ideas, their independence and their ability to cope. In guiding them along our path, they might miss their true calling; the opportunity to really showcase their talents and realise their potential.

If you are a parent, a carer or a professional working with children, NLP could prove to be a valuable tool in building positive relationships. To find out more about NLP courses, click here. 

Positive Parenting

Having children and becoming a family unit is one life ambition that many people have in common. There are certainly many joys involved in bringing up children, but equally many challenges. With full responsibility for their care and development, yet no definitive ‘how to’ guide, most parents are simply giving it their best shot.

For parents there can be considerable pressure to ‘do the right thing’, but as few people have managed to be the perfect parent and each child is different, what is the right thing? We often get through by seeking the advice of family and friends, following the words of professionals, trusting our own instinct and being influenced by peer pressure.

There are many different approaches to parenthood, but at the end of the day, the majority of people are hoping to bring up well rounded individuals. No matter which way we go about it, we generally want our children to have the confidence, skills, knowledge and self-motivation to thrive as adults.

This goal may sound relatively straight forward, yet there can be many factors which make it far from a walk in the park.

Relationship Challenges

Even for the strongest family units, there will be times when we face challenges. Our efforts as parents can seem fruitless and we may feel ill-equipped to deal with what we are facing. As the people who are meant to be responsible, protective, supportive and guiding, it can feel like failure when you don’t have the answers.

Challenges might be in the form of conflicting parenting styles that cause tension between the adults in the family. They could be the result of differing responses to a major life event, such as moving to a new area or the death of a family member. It can be a personality clash with our children that makes everyday interactions explosive.

When we are failing to have a constructive relationship with our children or we can’t seem to find the right way to help them through a tough situation, it can seem that there is nowhere to turn. As an emotionally bound unit, it is difficult to take a step back and see things from an objective perspective. Our efforts to make improvements can simply escalate the problem.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Whilst any family will face challenges, there can come a time when an on-going issue is pushing everyone to the limit. In order to turn things around, the input of a professional counsellor can really help. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a widely used counselling technique that is used to help everyone involved to understand the situation and action change.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy offers everyone an opportunity to present things from their perspective and to hear the view point of others in a confidential and supportive environment. It helps everyone to recognise their role in the relationship and the impact their actions have on others. It provides the chance for everyone to consider how they could contribute to changing the situation around. It has helped many families to get back on the right track.

Whether you are an individual, couple or family group that need support in changing things for the better, a professional counsellor can help. If you want more information on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Amersham based Cognisant PDC are happy to answer your questions.