Wednesday, 27 July 2011

National Occupational Standards NOS updates

As part of our ongoing commitment to standards that are meaningful, we are currently adapting to the latest revisions of the NOS (National Occupational Standards) for the Complementary health field. National Occupational Standards are guidelines of good practice, and although there is no legal requirement to follow them, if you don't and something goes wrong then you have real explaining to do in court, or regarding an insurance claim / malpractice claim. Therefore it is common sense to follow them, because then you have the knowledge that you are doing things "by the book".

One of the more annoying features of NOS is the tendency for updates to pop up every 6 months or so, often with little fanfare, so you often need to to be checking the quango sites to find out if there is any change.

The latest massive revision of NOS is actually a very positive move. The standards have been simplified so that there are simplified standards for "explore and establish the client's needs" and "develop and agree plans". These two main standards: CNH1 and CNH2 are common for all complementary therapies, rather than having different bits and pieces for each therapy. Further standards then apply for each therapy method, and the Healing NOS are often used for any therapy that has not yet got standards written for them.

Having reviewed CNH1 and CNH2 today for a training course I am running this coming weekend, I am fully confident that we adhere to these for all therapies provided. Since all the standards have been simplified, and since we adhered to all the older complex standards, I am also confident we adhere to all the appropriate sub standards for individual therapies. I will be reviewing and checking this over the coming weeks, Nutrition and Healing NOS having already been checked for all the integrative work that we do. We have also recently checked the psychological therapies NOS and found we match them well. Just Reiki, Herbalism, Kinesiology and Hypnotherapy revisions to check :)

Overall it is a massive improvement to see such well simplified standards!

Incidentally if any students / therapists are reading this blog - to access the Skillsforhealth NOS you now need to sign up (free) at their website and get a login. You can then access the competence search tool. Without that it is tricky to access each competence, unless you know the exact document url.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Open Day August 21st Sunday 2011, free meditation and therapy testers in Edinburgh

There will be another Open Day at the Healthy Life Centre in Edinburgh on Sunday the 21st August 2011.

There will no doubt be quite a range of Shiatsu and other therapies during the course of the day, and I will be running two workshops in the afternoon, at 2pm and 2-45pm.

My workshops will be mindfulness and meditation based, and would be a useful introduction for anyone thinking of attending the meditation classes in September.

Self Help using online resources

Clearly any serious emotional issue needs professional assistance, therefore there is no online substitute for proper psychotherapy, coaching or counselling services. However to assist with low levels of stress, or to take a role in your personal management package, it is well worth looking at some online resources. allows you to access some short streamed meditation music you can use alongside meditation, Chi Gung or other relaxation methods.

Google Apps market have a number of free downloadable apps for meditation and relaxation.

Lightening bug is an app that is on android and I think Iphone that assists sleep patterns and has a free trial version.

YouTube have quite a range of instructional videos for autogenics, basic yoga such as sun salutation, and a few other things too. Of course with YouTube take a look first and screen out any flaky videos before choosing one that is credible!

Sometimes using a free app, or free online service can breathe new life into some of the little positive habits and routines that are really good for us, stopping them going stale, and being discontinued!

Of course use common sense with any such programme -  "buyer beware".... but with just a little common sense you should be able to spot the decent ones!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Self help sleep remedies

Some things you try try to aid sleep. Always follow the instructions on the product you buy. This blog is not medical advice.

1. Melatonin tablets- these provide the natural substance that the body produces for deep sleep. Best not to use every night, since it seems to build up a little and leaves you sleepy in the day. Different dosages available from Biovea online. NOT available in UK shops.

2. Mix a base oil (enough for one application) with 8 drops camomile, 8 lavender and 8 black pepper aromatherapy oil. mix, and gently rub in to the back of your neck, back of your upper legs and from the knee down all around on each leg. Allow to soak in.

3. Remember no caffiene after around 4 pm latest!! That includes cola!

4. Gentle exercise early evening, or a short walk last thing before bed often helps.

5. Avoid alcohol. It is a sedative, but it produces poor quality sleep. Often detox for a few days with none is a good idea and aids the sleep cycle.

6. Try to get up the same time each day. If you need to catch up sleep go to bed early, or have one massive lie in, returning to the normal get up time the next day.

7. Some foods keep people awake. We are all different with what we digest well, so learn which foods to avoid late at night. Some people find the "blood type diet" useful for this.

8. Unless you are lactose intolerent is is worth trying warm milk with a little cinamon in it before bed. Hot milk contains a natural substance that aids sleep.

9. Try to have some physical activity each day. Sleep problems can be caused or worsened by an imbalance between physical and mental activity levels.

10. Finally have a medical check up. Sleep problems can be caused by a range of other conditions, and your body may be trying to tell you something!

Some therapies can assist sleep as well -  counselling or psychotherapy can help to address emotional issues that may be causing stress and emotional distress. Hypnotherapy can be used to promote relaxation, and sleep recordings can be used that use hypnosis to invoke the natural in between state that is hypnotic trance, from which it is easier to fall asleep. Always consult a CNHC registered hyponotherapist -  the CNHC is the official voluntary regulator in the UK.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Linkin in page

Please do come and network on our Linked In system.

We welcome clients, students, colleagues and interested members of the public linking to us there, or joining us on facebook as friends.  Scotlandtherapy and SHTC contacts very welcome.

Facebook ID: Stuart Scotlandtherapy

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Learn to reduce stress, manage anger and modify perception

The new meditation classes starting in September in Edinburgh will provide a range of skills to student learners.

- Manage stress through regular relaxation: learn self hypnosis techniques and autogenics techniques as well as a range of meditation styles

- learn to modify reactions to stress or anger triggers. Morita psychology teaches us that we do not choose the emotions we feel, but we can choose our reactions to them. Learn perception and breathing methods to do this.

- mindfulness techniques to ground you, reduce tension, reduce obsessive thinking and encourage a calm state of mind perfect for wellbeing, creativity and simply feeling good.

- benefit from a range of Naikan and mindfulness exercises to practice between sessions, using them to greatly increase the effect of the weekly meeting.

- Join in a like minded group, and find mutual support to get positive new habits ingrained and automatic. It is much easier with a supportive group.

- Changing the automatic reactions we tend to have to triggers in the environment gives us back personal control, instead of being like pre-programmed automatons reacting without thinking. We are free to choose the outcomes and reactions that work best for us, instead of simply repeating what we have done before.

-Naikan exercises enable us to reanalyse the interactions we have with others and start to see the overall day and week in a more balanced way. We tend to remember the negatives far easier than the positives, and Naikan helps us to put the balance back. This enables a greater sense of wellbeing, as well as encouraging us to seek out new positive opportunities each day.

Sessions will start on September 15th (Thursday) 17.45- 18.45 and will run for 14 weeks. £7 per week or £90 for the full 14 weeks.

Handouts and learning aids will be emailed to save paper and natural resources to be sure to bring the email details along. The Venue is The Healthy Life Centre, Bread Street, Edinburgh EH3 9AL

Psychology membership promotion

Happy to announce that as of last Friday I have been recognised with full membership status in the Institute of Professional Psychologists, a leading international organisation for professionals working in the psychology industry. I long ago chose IPP as a home rather than the local BPS or HPC, since the local bodies are concerned entirely with western psychology, and are very biased towards cognitive psychology. In contrast the IPP is based in Sri Lanka and represents professional psychologists around the world, with a much greater diversity.

On the basis of my recent MSc Psychology completion (award date 31st July) I have been upgraded from associate to full member status.

Monday, 11 July 2011

New direction with ongoing professional training

July already, and half way through! And quite a lot has changed on the training front for me personally and professionally.

The MSc Psychology is complete and passed -  graduation officially on the 31st :)

The Edinburgh Uni certificate of education should hopefully also be done, need to wait a month or so for the final results, but I will be shocked if that is not passed too.

No funding was available for the MSc Research & PHd at the moment, due to all the cuts, so that goes on hold!

The TODO vocational course in Morita is complete, and was very useful and provided some new skills personally, and for client use.

Booked to do two courses now in October - both Open University so that I can complete them while still working full time. One philosophy and arts based as part of the degree I am doing in philosophy of the mind -  a different perspective to either psychology or psychotherapy. The other is politics based and looks at issues such as power in society, therefore examining the society in which clients must function.

Technically I am now registered for a BA (Hons) Open degree choosing psychology, politics and social science topics, and a BA (Hons) Philosophy and psychological studies degree with a fixed syllabus.  Should complete the first inside of 14 months, the other a year later :)

Also going to be doing additional research training with the NHS, and possibly with the OU Students Union regarding training and development.

No rest for the wicked :)

Friday, 8 July 2011

Meditation classes for stress, anger, anxiety and general relaxation

From Thursday 15th of September 17.45-18.45 I will be running regular meditation classes for 14 weeks at the Healthy Life Centre in Bread Street, Edinburgh.

I will be presenting a range of meditation methods, from the many I have personally studied since I first began meditating back in the mid 80's (which really dates me and indicated my age!).

I will be combining visualisation, meditation, mindfulness and other such techniques with exercises for the students to do during the course of the week, drawing on mindfulness, self hypnosis and Naikan techiques, possibly some Morita too.

Denise will also be taking part and will help with the crystal meditation method, and possibly some other Chakra and colour methods, time permitting.

The cost of the sessions will be £7 per weekly session if paid on the day, or £90 up front for the full 14 weeks.

The methods should help with general relaxation, but also are suitable for people with issues such as depression, anxiety, bipolar, anger issues or general stress.

People should contact me in the first instance, either via fb (Stuart Scotlandtherapy) or via email

Monday, 4 July 2011

Emotions linked to the goals we set

It is easy to pretend that goal setting is a logical, dynamic and easy process with no emotional baggage. Of course when we do that we are fooling ourselves and entering into a state of deliberate denial. The truth is that we would not have to try so hard to set and achieve goals if it were not for the complex emotions that go along with them!

Often we have positive emotions that encourage us to "have a go" and move forward.

We then have negative emotions that encourage us to "leave it be" and not "rock the boat".

We have paralysing emotions that prevent forward movement.

Motivational interviewing encourages us to look at these issues like a see-saw, with two forces on each side:

Motivation for Change                                                         Motivation for Status Quo
Negatives and fears from Change                                        Negatives and fears from Status Quo

And right back in the middle -  gumming up the works is fear of change and desire to hide!

So an example: desire to go to the gym more:

I want to get fitter                                                                 I am happy watching TV
I am afraid I will fail or look stupid                                     I know my health is suffering being fat!

So the other way to look at things, is to consider all the emotions we have attached to the plan. Take the gym again:

Hope: Would like to be healthy
Fear: I am overweight and this is not good for me
Guilt: I should have done this years ago
Anger: I feel like I am doing this because I "should", not because I "want" to.

Once you recognise all those emotions you can start to process them, think about them and move on from them. Some you can recognise as misplaced, and therefore change, some you can accept but "do it anyway", others you may decide to process by giving yourself a boost or treat elsewhere to compensate. The main thing is that by being aware, you can challenge, and then move on from or practice acceptance for each emotion. While you are in denial that the emotions even exist, you are giving them power to subtle control and influence your behaviour behind the scenes!

Wanting change in our social group

A lot of psychotherapy and counselling theory talks at length about the individual, self actualisation, personal change, personal growth etc etc. Naturally all of these are vital to the person going through personal development. However it is easy to underestimate the importance of the social group.

As individuals we are fooling ourselves if we pretend we have any kind of noticeable identity in complete isolation. Although humanistic theory teaches us that we have a "core" identity, and of course psychoanalysis has alternative models, there is no real way to EXPERIENCE who we are unless we interact with some kind of environment and social group.

Eastern psychology has a different slant on this topic, in some Buddhist psychology models it is actually considered a western neurosis to believe you are an individual at all! This is an extension of the idea that in the 18th and 19th centuries western scientific thought moved further and further along the route of reductionism and positivism. What this meant in simple terms is that everything got broken down into sub parts. In science this meant the formation of psychology, philosophy, biology, theology etc as separate subjects. This is not the case in many eastern cultures where they still remain largely combined with massive overlap. It also meant that in terms of people, we were split from the macro level of society, right down to the most micro level, the individual.

In the west we love to look at the smallest possible unit, example or identifiable "thing" and this is seen a lot in our medicine where there is a bio-medical model looking at individual complaints, rather than the holistic patient as a whole. Sometimes this means that a headache will be treated with pain killers when it is actually caused by a food intolerance, trapped nerve in the back, bad posture, stress or some other deeper issue. Of course in eastern medicine there is often a consideration of the patient as a whole and balance between heat, coolness, dryness etc etc

Therefore coming back to the initial issue, the individual and their group, we see that the client or patient may well engage in personal individual change, but do so away from the reality of the group. Often this is seen where the client feels much better in the four walls of the clinical setting, but soon regresses to normal back in their real environment. Much of this is due to the lack of consideration of the need for interaction with people and environment. Clients are not separate from their social groups, families, friends, environments and cultures, in fact they are an integral part of them.

When we wish to elicit change therefore it is vital to consider how personal changes are going to impact on, and integrate with the people and environment around us. Indeed we may go further and decide that we actually want to have an impact on them i order to create social change! If a married client feels a lack of warmth and excitement in their relationship, we need to change the way the marriage works and inject some warmth back into BOTH people through dynamic change, otherwise the changes will be surface and temporary. If a person wants to be more confident at work, then we will need to modify their interactions and communications in the workplace, perhaps by making them more assertive and taking more responsibility. This of course then has an effect on the work colleagues around them.

Coming to the core "thought" then when desiring change around you. - - -  Change only happens when you put energy out there!! Meditating in a bliss like state away from everything may be good for you, but if you want to change things then you need to take action, and make changes out there in real life. Put that energy out there and make positive changes!

Friday, 1 July 2011

Horizontal benefits of change

When we start implementing change it is important to be aware not only of the changes that we intended to occur, but also the horizontal effects! This refers to the secondary positive effects that can occur as a result of moving forward in life. You might for example choose to eat more sensibly, perhaps to loose weight. As you implement this and enjoy some nice healthy but tasty food, you might also find that you feel motivated to go to the gym or walk further each day. This is a by product of the state of mind that comes with positive change. To use a rather overused expression -  you gain a "can do" attitude. Not just that but an attitude of enjoying doing!!

All the more reason to make small but meaningful changes in life, one at a time rather than trying to overload yourself with massive leaps. Make the small changes and see what small horizontal benefits come right along with them!