Christmas & NY Break 2021 (20/12/2021 – 5/1/2022)

I will be on leave from Monday, 20th December 2021 until Wednesday, the 5th of January. I will be back at work on Thursday the 6th of January. Please be aware that I will not respond to emails during my break.

 

 

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Workshops cancelled to the end of 2021

I am sorry, but due to poor uptake, I have had to cancel all the workshops I had planned for this year. I’ll try again next year. If you are interested, please send me an email and if enough people ask I can always schedule something. 

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Leave 14/4/2021 – 25/4/2021

I am currently on a short break between Wednesday 14th of April until the 25th of April. I will be back at work on Monday the 26th of April.

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A new workshop offered throughout 2021 

A new workshop offered throughout 2021 

Therapy Without A Therapist:

The neuroscience of fulfilling your Potential

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New Book — Therapy Without A Therapist

My new book, Therapy Without A Therapist: A DIY Guide to Good Mental Health & Growth is now out. It is available on Amazon Kindle and in paperback. All my clients will receive a free copy as a reference for the work that we are doing.

This book is a write up of everything I do in therapy with my clients. I think it can benefit many people who can work with it without needing to see a therapist.

The links provided here are to the Amazon UK site but the book is available on Amazon worldwide. I hope you enjoy the  book and find it useful and as always, I welcome your feedback!

*(Therapy Without A Therapist is about 120 pages long so quite a small book. This 3-D picture makes the book looks a lot thicker than it actually is…)

Feel free to download the book’s Introduction

 

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Christmas Break 2020 (and a bit more)

I will be on a Christmas/New Year’s break from Monday 21st December until Sunday 17th January.

I will start seeing clients again from Monday the 18th of January 2021 and am already taking bookings for next year. As you know I am quite heavily booked on a regular basis. This means that there is often a wait to see me. It can be anywhere between 2 to 4 weeks, sometimes a wee bit more.


If you are considering contacting me for an appointment, be aware of this possible wait. If you need to see someone urgently, try to find someone who will see you sooner rather than later. Don’t wait for me.

Please be aware that if you are interested in seeing me, I will have to know if you have ever had a psychiatric diagnosis. If you have, I need to know what it is/was as there are conditions I am not able to work with. All the information people provide from the first contact is confidential.

I see people face-to-face at my office in Cawdor. Appointments by VC (Video Conferencing) are only available to existing clients, who for whatever reason cannot come to an appointment on the day they are booked (due to weather, unexpected childcare issues, last minute transport issues etc.).

Please read around this website and in particular, please have a look at the top item in the ‘Resources‘ section. Next to my bookmark artwork I have added some information to explain a little about what therapy is and how it is supposed to work.

I am opposed to therapy and psychology being such a mystery to the general public and believe there is no justification for it any longer given what we now know about the human brain. I am in the process of finalising a manuscript that explains everything I do and that is meant as a reference for my existing clients and for the general public.

I hope you have a grand festive season/Christmas and New Year. 

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Holiday Notice (19/10 – 25/10)

I will be on holiday from Tuesday 19/10/2020 until Sunday 25/10/2020. You are welcome to send emails but I will not be able to respond until I return to work on Monday the 26th.

Best wishes,

Avigail

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Inverness clinic is no longer available

As of this week I will be seeing clients exclusively at my office in Cawdor. As I now have broadband installed in Cawdor, sessions can be in person or by remote. However, please be aware that remote sessions (e.g., by Zoom or Skype) are only available to existing clients.

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The Current Situation & Adjusting to Change

The brains of all mammals must keep an up-to-date ‘image’ of the reality in which they exist. This ‘image’ is wired into the appropriate neural circuitry in the brain.

Our limbic/mammal brain tries to help us survive and stay alive for as long as possible. An up-to-date image of our reality is absolutely vital for our safety. All mammals need to know what is around them, how to navigate their environment, where to find food and shelter and stay safe from predators and other dangers.

Any significant change to our reality therefore requires that our neural circuitry that contains it is updated *as soon as possible* after a change happens in order to make sure we are safe. Any mammal that does not have an accurate image of their reality wired into their brain is potentially at risk and is vulnerable to danger.

(When I decided to go and type this on my laptop I went to the wrong room. Last weekend I painted and redecorated my old counselling room at home and turned it into my new study. Because my circuitry isn’t yet updated, my brain made me go and open the door of my old study, only to be surprised for a brief moment that it is now an empty room.
It’ll take me using my new study a few times in the next few days and possibly opening the wrong door a few more times before the old wiring is updated and the image of my new reality is properly established. This is a simple and not an emotionally-loaded example of how this works.

I am sure everyone can find examples of this from their own lives like when you automatically reached out to the cutlery drawer for example, only to realise it is no longer where it used to be because the kitchen was renovated or it is a different house you’ve just moved into…)

We interact with our reality *from within* our neural circuitry, not the other way around. In other words, we see the world not as it really is, but as it is wired into our brain! If the internal circuitry and the reality out there are not reasonably well-matching it can feel a bit crazy, confusing and strange not to mention unsafe when the two clash like when I went to the wrong room even though it’s no longer my study.

Because the change we are going through now keeps happening and we don’t know when it’ll end or what things will look like when it does, our brain doesn’t know exactly what it is adjusting to. The goal posts keep shifting so to speak and we have no control over it. This can make the current situation more challenging to the adjustment process and therefore more uncomfortable than change that is clear and final.

A natural process 
Adjusting to change is a natural process, not an illness or a mental health ‘condition’. It ends when our circuitry is fully adjusted to the new reality after the change. Since the situation we’re in just now isn’t clear and since it is ongoing, our brain doesn’t exactly know what to adjust to. It’s doing its best under the circumstances but it’s not easy.
How much your reality has been interrupted because of the current situation we’re in will determine how demanding your adjustment process is going to feel. The less change the less discomfort. The more change the more discomfort you will feel.

Grief & Adjustment to Change
Grief can be a part of adjustment to change if there are losses involved and there are losses in almost every change we go through. Some losses are bigger and more significant than others and what losses each of us experiences are unique to us. I don’t particular feel a loss about changing rooms but you might feel a loss if you are unable to see or spend time with people that are dear to you because of the lockdown.

What we experience through the adjustment
While our brain is busy adjusting, we can feel insecure, disoriented, confused, out-of-sorts, angry, irritable, forgetful, scatty and restless. We can feel quite lost, which is accurate because what is wired into our heads, temporarily does not match our actual external reality. We can feel fearful and have a tendency to anticipate danger, expect the worst, focus on negatives and all the things that can go wrong.

This is a normal function of our mammal/limbic brain, which is just trying to keep us alive. Our species survived so well because on a dangerous planet full of predators and other dangers it paid off to expect the worst. It might not be useful so much now, but this is still with us and will be triggered whenever our mammal brain believes we are in danger.

This natural ability can also make us feel quite low. It’s not nice when we can only see bleak stuff ahead and our reality feels crappy. There is no energy or interest in playing or having fun when our brain thinks we are in danger. The limbic brain’s priority is short-term survival and all long-term things take a back seat temporarily. That’s totally normal. While negativity and predicting the worst might not accurately reflect reality as it is or as it will actually be, it’s normal to feel this way.

Unreliable access to our executive brain
When we adjust to change our mammal brain will tend to take over and we will have unreliable access to our executive brain. We can lose reliable access to executive functions such as clear thinking and our ability to plan ahead and make decisions. We can lose our empathy on and off and feel like we don’t care about others as much as we normally do. We can lose our sense of purpose and direction.

Exhaustion
An incredibly common symptom of adjustment to change is exhaustion and I mean the kind of exhaustion that is not necessarily relieved by sleep, no matter how much sleep you get. When the brain adjusts its circuitry it is a physiological process and it take a great deal of energy that’s why it’s feels so exhausting. The brain takes 25% of our energy just to maintain itself in normal times so don’t under estimate this. We feel the same kind of exhaustion when we engage in learning something new. The bigger the task the more tired we will feel at least in the early stages.
Compromised immune system – When our survival instincts are triggered our immune function can be compromised. Maintaining a strong immune system takes a lot of energy which under threat is naturally diverted to short-term survival.

Feeling like you’re going crazy 
When our neural circuitry doesn’t yet match our actual reality, we can feel crazy… It just means we feel like we are not exactly ‘in’ our reality. But we’re not actually crazy or going crazy. We’re just adjusting and it is temporary.

What to do and what not to do
o It is important to allow the adjustment to take its course. It is a normal, if incredibly uncomfortable and disorienting process.

o It’s important to reassure yourself that what you are feeling is normal that you are not sick or crazy and that it will pass. Tell yourself that although it can feel like you are in danger you’re not. You’ll need to breathe more deeply to be able to do this.
o Avoid hyping up fear by reading, watching or listening to anything that seems intended to make you feel scared.

o If you can hold on to some of your usual practices, rituals and routines that can be very helpful. If there is a change to adjust to, it helps if some things don’t change and remain familiar.

o Don’t drink or do drugs and try to not avoid how you feel but instead validate everything you feel. Drinking alcohol even in small amounts compromises the very executive functions we actually need in order to support and encourage the process the adjustment. Any escapist behaviour only makes things worse in the longer term because it interferes with the adjustment process.

o Support children and young people in your life by validating everything they feel. Be honest with them and do not pretend (they can feel what you feel no matter what you think you put on your face). Help them understand what their brain (everyone’s brain) is doing right now in response to change. Even very young children can understand this. (You will feel rewarded when you see their reaction!)

o Eat well (even if your appetite isn’t great) and take supplements that you know strengthen your immune system. Avoid toxins and foods that take too much energy to digest and that can be mood altering. You want to feel your feelings and validate them so you can adjust faster, not avoid them and interfere with your natural adjustment.
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***If you are not safe where you are, if you are in a bad relationship where you are abused or mistreated in some way, seek help. If you know someone else who is in that position, do not keep silent. Make sure they get help.
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Coercive Control & Child Abuse At A Time of Forced Isolation

Coercive Control  & Child Abuse
Our government has enacted the current UK-wide lockdown and  extreme isolation measures, which trap people at home indefinitely without considering that families are not always safe for women or children or vulnerable people. Although it is well known that the bulk of abuse of women and of children is perpetrated by someone they know, fear of the virus has been prioritised over other forms of safety.

Therefore at this time when we are in enforced isolation it is particularly important to protect yourself and others from coercive control and to protect children from sexual and other forms of abuse within their families. Do not hold back, do not put up with it and report if you know or suspect something or if you are able to if you are the victim.

Victims, especially children and young people, depend on others noticing and reporting because they often do not have the strength and are too confused and scared to reach out and tell what is happening to them. They are often threatened that if they do, the perpetrator would harm them more or would harm someone else they care about. They might also feel loyalty to the perpetrator if it is a close member of the family or a parent and they are made to feel that they are bad if they ‘tell on them’.

Domestic abuse and child abuse in all their forms thrive on isolation and secrecy. We can make it difficult for perpetrators by not allowing them to isolate their victims, by listening to the victims and taking them seriously and taking them to safety. Even with the current lockdown we must pay attention and support those trapped in an abusive system.

There is no excuse for abuse. Perpetrators might try to justify what they are doing by saying they are ‘stressed’ now even more so than at other times. But perpetrators would always find something to be stressed about to justify their triggers and their out-of-control behaviour that harms others. Taking stuff out on others, especially if the perpetrator is someone close that you should expect to trust, can cause life-long harm and trauma.

What is Coercive Control?
Domestic abuse isn’t always physical. Coercive control is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim. This controlling behaviour is designed to make a person dependent by isolating them from support, exploiting them, depriving them of independence and regulating their everyday behaviour. Children are severely harmed if they are raised in an atmosphere of coercive control even if they are not targeted directly.

If you are under immediate threat the best thing to do is to contact the police or get someone to contact them for  you. Do not allow yourself to become isolated regardless of the social isolation we are under at the moment.


Please refer to the ‘For Emergencies’ page on this site for a list of suggestions of services you can contact. If it is urgent (all abuse is urgent), do not delay and call the police. Even one incident of child sexual abuse an harm a person for life and any threat can cause trauma.

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New session arrangements

Dear Clients and prospective clients,

Given the new rules that have come into effect yesterday evening, I believe the best course of action for now is to run all therapy sessions at the time they are booked but by VC (Video Conferencing by Skype or Zoom. See below). This is until we are clear to start having contact with people again.

For new clients, normally I prefer to meet people in person before I can do sessions by remote methods but under the circumstances I am happy to accept new clients and start working by VC straight away. I have experimented with this already and it has worked well so I am encouraged that it is OK to do.

I have considerable experience working by VC and so far feedback from existing clients who have been seeing me by VC has been positive.

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I am reminding all of us to validate all of our emotions.

Our limbic/mammal brain/system is tuned to fear. The fear-mongering that is going on just now is fertile ground for our limbic brain to be seriously triggered and get frightened of all kinds of things.

Because it is an ancient brain that does not understand what’s going on and exactly what it is supposed to be afraid of, it will start projecting fears and anxieties on all kinds of things. Don’t be fooled by this. It is a normal function but it can be unhelpful to start panicking about things that are not worth panicking about. Remember the limbic brain is very uncomfortable with the unknown and with uncertainty. It also does not like not having control over our reality and is deeply uncomfortable when we have to surrender our control to others we might or might not trust, like our governments and other authorities.
It’s up to our executive brain to evaluate each situation we’re in, to decide if we are in fact in real danger and then make the best decision/s possible, which might include doing more research to find out more about something, consulting with or getting advice from appropriate people.

To be able to access the executive we must breathe and validate all our feelings.
Our limbic brain is a very old brain that isn’t made for sophisticated modern information and it is very easy for it to worry about things it does not understand and thus become very very frightened.

It’s what many children would be feeling just now just picking up the atmosphere around them with their mirror neurone system. I have heard really unhelpful advice to parents to put a ‘face on’ for their children and hide how they feel. But you need to know this doesn’t work. Your children will feel everything you feel, no matter what you put on your face. So the best way is to be aware of your feelings and validate them and be (age-appropriate) honest with your children. They understand and feel more than you realise.

Do not let the general panicky atmosphere out there sweep you along with it. It’s not necessary and it is actually very unhelpful if we want to make sensible decisions.
It is important to use this time of forced solitude and reduced activity to continue to integrate. Instead of just *enduring* a crisis time and the discomfort and uncertainty it brings with it and ‘keeping our head above water’ as our limbic brain would have us do, we can actually continue to grow right through this.

Remember that growth means actual, tangible changes to brain architecture and they are achieved by facilitation of a skilled and ongoing dialogue between the executive and limbic brains.

If you are not sure whether you are in your limbic or executive brain, pay attention to your feelings. Feelings can hide behind thoughts and statements that come out of our mouths. Notice them. If there is a feeling there, it means your limbic brain is ’talking’… Take care of it as you would a frightened or worried child or young person.
Our executive brain is naturally calm and unafraid. It is rational, capable of long term decision-making and planning and it is naturally compassionate, non-judgemental and empathetic.

If you find it hard work to experience empathy or clear thinking, if you feel confused, powerless or lost, it means the limbic brain is trying to take over. It’s only doing what it has evolved to do. So breathe, validate your feelings and try to stay in your executive while looking after your old mammal brain.

Just because the atmosphere around us is limbic and survival/fear-focused does not mean that the value of long-term growth, development, recovery from trauma or good mental health are any less than they have ever been and there is no reason to sacrifice one for the other.

In fact, it might be even more important now that we don’t let our ancient limbic system run away with us and leave us at the mercy of our fears and other emotions and for all of us to continue to grow and develop.

Feel free to get in touch any time and let me know if you would like to change your appointment or keep it or if you would like to make one. The best way to contact me is always by email. Although I do my best to respond to texts and phone calls, when I am with clients and it’s very busy in the next few weeks, my phone is silent it’s really hard to respond to texts.

I am very well and healthy and I hope you and your loved ones are as well.

Look after yourself and my warmest wishes,

Avigail


About sessions by VC:

1) My Skype name is: aabarbanel

2) For people who do not have Skype, don’t worry. I can communicate with you by another web-based system called Zoom. You need to let me know if you don’t have Skype and I will then connect with you by Zoom. You will receive an email invitation from me to join a Zoom meeting when we’re due to meet and all you’ll have to do is click on the link in the message and we will be connected.

3) Those of you who don’t like to have a visual medium, we can also do audio only by either method. Some people don’t like to look at an image on a screen or don’t like to see their own face on the screen and that’s OK. I am very visual so it’s easy for me to work when I can see people. However, I am more than happy to use audio only and turn off the video option if that’s what people prefer.

4) Phone sessions — I prefer not to do phone sessions. It’s really uncomfortable to hold a phone to the head for a long time, plus it is really expensive. So option 3 is my preference, VC but without the V — audio only if that works better for you.

5) I can accept payment by card online at the end of the session or you can do a bank transfer if you wish. The details will be at the bottom of my invoice.

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Seeing clients by Skype if required

To all my current clients and prospective clients:

I do not anticipate any problems continuing to see clients at my new office in Cawdor and in Inverness. I myself am in good health and have no symptoms of anything.

BT are scheduled to install broadband in the new office in Cawdor on the 24th of March. If you are unable to attend a session because you or someone else in your household needs to self-isolate and prefer to see me by Skype (or other VC* method) instead at the same time slot you are booked into, this should be possible from the 24th onwards.

In Inverness I’m afraid I have no broadband and no control over installing it, so that is trickier. If you normally see me in Inverness and would like an appointment by Skype, it will have to be rescheduled.

In principle, I only work by remote methods with clients that I have met in person. However, under the circumstances I might have to make exceptions for new clients and will evaluate every new enquiry as I go.

Currently in the Highlands and Moray we are not that worried about the virus but the situation could change and some people might need to self-isolate. Skype is a good option if you are not ill and can sit in front of the computer or tablet.

I hope everyone stays healthy and safe and that we will ride this crisis and come out the other end of it wiser, gentler and more compassionate. <3


*VC stands for Video Conferencing – which is basically a way of talking to someone live and seeing them at the same time. If Skype doesn’t work for you or has problems, I use another system called Zoom that works really well. If you need to use any of that, don’t worry too much about the technical side. It’s not that bad and I am pretty good at it… 🙂

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New Premises — starting Monday 9th March 2020

From Monday, 9th of March I will start seeing clients at my new premises at the Old School in Cawdor. This new location will replace my home counselling room near Croy.

Cawdor Days/Times 

  • Monday, Tuesday, Friday — 10am, 12pm, 2pm & 4pm
  • Every second Thursday (starting the 12th of March in Cawdor and alternating with Inverness) — 10am, 12pm, 2pm & 4pm

    *I am usually heavily booked so please be aware that there can be a three to four week wait to make a first appointment. If you need to see someone urgently, please do not wait for me.


New Address:

Unit 8, Old School
Cawdor, Nairn
IV12 5BL

(If your SatNav is having trouble with the above address, try the postcode: IV12 5XP)

 

 


  • There is ample parking available on the building grounds. It’s obvious where it is when you arrive at the location.
  • Unit 8 (the counselling room) is to the left as you enter the foyer. Turn right at the end and the room is at the end of that corridor. It will be clearly marked with a sign on the door.
  • The toilets are conveniently located on the left hand side of the corridor leading to the counselling room.

Download information flyer below

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New Fees from 1st April 2020

Please note that from the 1st of April 2020 all my fees will go up by £5.

The new fees will be as follows:

  • Individual session: £70
  • Relationship session : £75
  • Family session: £80
  • Consultancy (corporate): £100 an hour
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Upcoming new locations!

I am currently in the process of securing professional premises at the Old School in Cawdor. It is a lovely, quiet, private and comfortable spot with plenty of parking and it’s easy to get to.

For people coming to see me from the Inverness area it is not much further from my current location at my home near Croy. For clients from Nairn or the Moray area it will be just a wee bit closer to get to the new location than to my home.

This means that in a few weeks I will stop working from my home altogether and will see clients in the new location at the Old School in  Cawdor. I will give people plenty of notice so keep an eye on this News page.

Changing locations means that I can offer more hours than I currently do. I will see clients on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. I will continue to see clients in Inverness every second Thursday alternating with Cawdor.

In addition to relocating to Cawdor, I will also start seeing clients in London every fourth Saturday pending on being able to secure premises in Mayfair. I expect this to start probably some time in March but stay tuned for updates.

Once everything is sorted, I will post more information on the Fully Human Facebook Page and update this site with all the information people need on the new place in Cawdor and on my work in London.

Feel free to email me if you have any questions.

Thanks and take good care.

Avigail

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Open to new clients

I am happy to be able to accept a small number of new clients. If you are thinking of seeing me please read through this site to get an idea of who I am and how I think about my work. It is particularly important that you read item 3 on the ‘Appointments’ page.

I can be difficult to get hold of me by phone, especially on days when I see clients. I therefore prefer it if people email me with their initial enquiry. Text aren’t great either because I do have questions I need to ask and information I need to get and text isn’t a good medium for that.

Take care and look after yourself.

Avigail

 

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Christmas & New Year 2019-2020

I will be on holiday from Monday the 23rd of December 2019 until Sunday 5th of January 2020.

Please be aware once again that I am unable to accept additional clients for the time being.

I wish you a safe, healthy and happy Holiday season and a great start to the New Year.

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I cannot accept additional clients for the time being

Due to very heavy demand, I’m unable to accept additional clients for the time being. If/when the situation changes I’ll post an update here. So please check out the News page from time to time.

I don’t advise people to wait for me, especially since I don’t know when I will be able to accept new clients. So if you need to see someone, try to find a therapist who can see you sooner rather than later.

I am sorry about this and I wish everyone a happy holiday and a great start to 2020!!

Avigail

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Holiday notice

I will be on holiday from 19/10/2019 to 25/10/2019 inclusive. I will not be able to respond to emails during this time but do leave a message and I will attend to it after I return.

This is just a reminder (see previous news item) that I am not able to accept new clients at the moment due to a heavy load. I will review this towards the end of the year. Please do not wait for me if you need to see someone urgently. It’s important that you find someone to see you sooner rather than later. 

Thank you and take care of yourself.

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Holiday (30/8 – 11/9)

 


I am in holiday from Friday the 30th of August until and including Wednesday the 11th of September.

Currently there is a 3-4 week wait to see me so please take this into account if you’re thinking of starting therapy with me. I always encourage people not to wait and find someone who can see them sooner.

Take care, Avigail

 

 

 

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Internet security & messaging me

Most of my therapy clients and I think people in general are not worried enough about online security and assume that messages they send to me are secure. But for many years now I have been worried about this — not losing sleep over it, just concerned and trying to educate myself about this.
 
In my profession we are required to do whatever we can to safeguard clients’ information and keep it in accordance with Data Protection Laws and the rules of our profession. I can protect the data on my computer and also in my physical filing system. But once we use services like WhatsApp, which are not so secure, everything is out of my hands.
 
I will stop using WhatsApp on my phone in the near future and will disconnect my account in the next couple of weeks. I have installed an app called Signal and will be using it instead. It’s open source and free to use, does exactly what WhatsApp does but it is heavily encrypted, so if you send me a message no one can read it except me.
 
Please download Signal from your app store and see how you go. I think you’ll find it’s working perfectly fine…
(You might think I am paranoid but I think it’s about privacy and confidentiality and my responsibility to my clients).

https://signal.org
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Visions & Dreams… not yet plans

Fully Human Centre for Psychotherapy Practice, Education & Research.

For some time now I have had a growing dream and a vision of developing a Centre for psychotherapy practice, education and research in the Scottish Highlands, where I live and work.

The Centre

I was extremely fortunate to study psychotherapy under Dr David Jansen and Margaret Newman at the Jansen Newman Institute (JNI) in St. Leonards, Sydney back in 1997-1998. After I graduated I was offered the opportunity to continue to do a bit of work for JNI and to co-present the Really Relating couples workshop alongside Tim, my former classmate.

JNI was a wonderful school and I felt at home for the two years I was a student there. I was exposed to some of the best people and teachers I have ever encountered in my life and everything I was taught is all still with me and still serves me well. JNI was a visionary school that taught psychotherapy to a very high standard. It was different to any other psychotherapy school in Australia at the time. JNI introduced me to so many topics, philosophies and ideas that I know are still largely not taught in psychotherapy courses today.

(If my Centre ever becomes a reality and Margaret Newman is still with us, I would  love to invite her to cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony.)

Psychotherapy Education

Professional education

I would like to build on JNI’s vision and develop an accredited psychotherapy programme that includes the best of the foundational knowledge I was taught.

I would like to bring this knowledge to our time with the addition of neuroscience, especially as it comes to psychotherapy from Dan Siegel’s brilliant and revolutionary Interpersonal Neurobiology (IPNB) framework. IPNB informs my work heavily. It takes psychotherapy from the realm of mystery to something that everyone can understand and implement. Thanks to IPNB, psychotherapists can finally understand and explain clearly what it is that we are doing in our work and how exactly we help our clients.

I can see a well-equipped school with a library and all the facilities to make the learning experience comfortable and nourishing for students. I see a café serving good quality, healthy food and places inside and outside to study, process  and be quiet alone or with others.

Public education

I would like to develop an ongoing programme of public talks and workshops on a variety of useful topics, building on the talks I have started to offer to the public in the past few months.

Not everyone needs to come to therapy and  none of what we do in therapy needs to be a big mystery. Many people can get a great deal out of attending talks and workshops. I am especially interested in inviting young people to attend talks and workshops. So much suffering  can  be prevented later in life with just a little bit of useful knowledge. I would like to do myself out of a job and in the long-term render the profession of psychotherapy unnecessary.  I believe it is possible. Our mental health problems are largely preventable. With better knowledge for parents on how to interact with their children’s emotions, with a safer world for children and for everyone we can help develop human ‘mark II’ who will have a better integrated brain than my generation and those before it left home with. I don’t think it’s too much to ask or hope for…

Psychotherapy Practice

The centre I imagine will have well-equipped and comfortable therapy rooms for psychotherapists to work in with clients. There will be full-fee services for individuals, relationships and groups run by highly qualified professionals. I can also see a low-cost clinic where students can get placement and where members of the public who are unable to pay a full fee for therapy can get good quality affordable service.

Psychotherapy Research

No significant change can happen in people’s feelings, thoughts, behaviours and general personality without significant changes in the brain. The way I work in therapy clearly leads to serious changes in clients’ brains. I have two  decades of clinical evidence of  this.

The hypothesis I have worked with increasingly over the past 20 years is that good quality psychotherapy leads to better connectivity between our prefrontal functions and our limbic brain. We don’t get good connections from birth or from nature because of how our  brain has evolved and how it is put together. But most of us have the potential to improve those connections. Improving these connections is the real work of psychothearpy.

It’s the lack of good connectivity that causes us to feel like we have ‘two sides’ to ourselves. We can be petty, scared, small, lost, judgemental, depressed, paralysed, overwhelmed and confused at the same time as we can be mature, accepting, non-judgemental, focused, clear and purposeful. But our limbic brain takes over when we are triggered so we lose those higher abilities. One version or another of this is usually what brings people to therapy.

I would like to team up with a neuroscientist at the Centre. It will be a person who will bring the knowledge and ability to carry out research based on hard science. I imagine scanning clients’ brains before, during and after therapy to see the differences in structure. Clients hopefully will be able to see the changes in their own brains and I envision research papers coming out of the Centre.

Why the Scottish Highlands?
The Scottish Highlands are an incredible location to live and work. The region here in the north of Scotland is mostly rural and provides clean air and clean water. It is not densely populated and has some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.

I am fortunate to be living here and believe this is a perfect place for the Centre I have in mind. This place is relaxing and it allows plenty of quiet spaces for walking and contemplating without the noise, pollution and hustle & bustle of big cities.

Will it remain a pipe dream?

I already know that if this vision never becomes a reality, I would still be OK and continue to live a good and productive life for as long as I have. However, something tells me that this Centre is something I am supposed to create and it would be wonderful if I could.

I come from a humble working class background and do not have the financial means to create what I have in mind. I am worried that if I borrowed money or relied on small grants and constant fundraising, I would spend my time worried about how to repay loans or raise more funding. This isn’t what I want to focus my energy on. Ideally, I would like to be financially independent in setting up the Centre I imagine. I have no idea how to raise the kind of money I need to do this without worrying about anything, and without compromising my vision and my standards.

I hope the means will come somehow from somewhere. If anyone knows someone or someones who can make significant donations in order to make this dream come true, please do pass this on or get them in touch with me. Some of my ideas about therapy and psychological wellbeing are outlined in the booklets I published so far.

I have always believed that if something is really needed it will find a way of happening. I am just sending all of this out there…

 

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New Public Talk – Saturday, 9th March Inverness

Please visit the Events page for information about my public talk on The Neuroscience of Relationships on Saturday 9th of March in Inverness.

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Change to fees from 1st March

From the 1st of March Avigail’s fees will be as follows:

Individual Session: £65

Relationship Session: £70

Family session: £80

(All psychotherapy sessions are 90 minutes)

Corporate Consultancy Fees: £95 an hour

 

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The Neuroscience of Relationships – A public talk in March 2019

My first public talk in the new year will be on the Neuroscience of Relationships.

Date/Time: Saturday, 9th March 2019 (10:00 – 14:30)

Venue:         Ness Suite, Glen Mhor Hotel & Apartments (Formerly the Waterside Hotel)

                      8-16 Ness Bank, Inverness IV2 4SG

Cost:             £25 (Concession: £20) Please note that there are 10 concession tickets available. They are intended for people on lower incomes, so please use with consideration. The cost includes coffee/tea and handouts but lunch is not included. You are welcome to bring your own.

Bookings: via Eventbrite 

Current and former clients are welcome to attend but you probably do not need to. There is a good chance you are already familiar with most, if not all of the material I will cover in this talk. But if you know anyone else who might be interested, please feel free to pass on this information and the flyer. If you have any questions about this talk just drop me an email.

 

I wish you and your loved-ones a very happy, safe & healthy Christmas and a great start to the New Year!

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Data Protection & the new GDPR

Please see updated information about data protection and the new GDPR in the Ethics page.

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Avigail now accepts cards

As of today I am able to accept cards. Anyone wishing to pay by card instead of cash, cheque, or BACS is now welcome to do it. All major cards are accepted including AMEX, and also Apple and Android Pay. 🙂

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