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.

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,


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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