Thursday, 25 August 2011

Stresses associated with dyslexia

Many people associate dyslexia and similar problems like dis calculi and dyspraxia as entirely learning orientated. In other words they assume that the only effects people will suffer will be in terms of finding it harder to read, write, and in the latter two conditions, count and perform physically.

However there are a number of other effects, often completely disregarded by people generally, and even teachers and lecturers.

Most people with dyslexia and similar conditions go a fairly long period of time without having been assessed and identified as having the condition. Therefore there is usually a period of struggle prior to then having to face the "label" of the condition.

The period of struggle often involves been considered "slow", "clumsy", "stupid", "lazy", "not applying yourself", "could do better", "bad attitude", "disruptive" etc etc.

As a person is faced with these opinions, through no fault of their own, resentment grows and a negative attitude towards authority is commonplace. This results in a number of problems:
- Being disruptive, since you are being punished anyway
- Being resentful, since the system and people are being unfair
- Being depressed, since you are being criticised unfairly
- Having anger management problems, as a result of the unfairness
- Having very poor self-image, as a result of the negative comments
- Trying too hard and potentially being obsessed with success or acceptance
- Obsession with proving everyone wrong

Then there is the adjustment that occurs at the point of identification -  or "labelling". Although this can be the beginning of a positive outcome with increased support and resources, in the short term it is common for this to be another source of depression or anger. It tends to be a point at which people analyse and remember all that was said and done before, raking up old insults and conversations. It also challenges the self identity of the person, who may have worked hard to prove themselves intelligent, only now to receive what seems like a new form of critical label.

There is then also the problem of a "glass ceiling" that tends to exist. With support and positive strategies many people with learning issues create new and imaginative ways of moving forward and coping. Sometimes this even leads to new leaps of creative imagination and new useful learning strategies for other people. There is usually however a limit or ceiling beyond which the person can not easily travel in terms of achievement. This can be painful, frustrating and very bad for self image.

The problem with such a learning issue is therefore two-fold. Firstly there is the actual cognitive impairment, which is not something that can be cured, and thus has to me managed. Then there is the range of emotional and psychological issues and problems that can arise from it's presence. The two interact with one of the key issues being how badly such learning problems react to stress, anxiety or depression. Thus the dyslexic who is stressed performs far worse than the calm, collected dyslexic who is able to calmly consider their learnt strategies for learning or examinations.

Additional effects of note include the ability of dyslexic people to often see patterns within information, almost a savant effect, to use visual representations far easier than dense text, to be creative, and to think outside the box. Often these abilities are directly related to having to find new ways to cope with their own problems. Another area that is often a struggle and requires additional strategy and support is the common effect of poor short term memory. Memory tricks, careful use of diary systems and managing stress and anxiety levels are helpful in reducing the effects of any impaired short term memory. Another helpful method is frequent rehearsal prior to examinations over a longer than normal revision period, thus enabling the information to enter long term memory, where it may remain intact ready for the exam.

A number of strategies are notably useful for people with dyslexia. Meditation or mindfulness based exercises before study or work can help to cultivate the optimum state of mind ready for learning, and reduce the frequent emotional disruption suffered.

Calibration exercises are a relatively new idea, but involve learning and balance related exercises prior to starting work. This might involve listening to the TV news to begin processing information, especially on the strap line, or reading a newspaper. It might physically involve balancing and centring with Tai Chi or Swiss ball exercises. It should however be a controlled exercise so that it does not become a type of procrastination to avoid the main work at hand. It should remain a preparatory routine followed by the planned work.

Counselling and psychotherapy can be a useful combination for looking at the developmental issues and emotional issues. Self hypnosis or hypnotherapy can be used to assist memory. NLP can be used to adjust emotional states, exercise can be used to wear off anger and frustration.

Overall a kind and understanding approach is needed, not just from a therapist, but from the client towards themselves. This is crucial since the client may have internalised all the critical comments over the years, and may be used to emotionally beating themselves up!

I (Stuart) am particularly interested in the field of managing dyslexia and it's effects since both myself and my wife are dyslexic, and I work with a number of clients with the  issue. I combine the study of psychology (MSc level) with psychotherapy, counselling, hypnotherapy, NLP, CBT, coaching and meditation based exercises including Chi Gung or Mindfulness where appropriate.

Potential enquiries should note no claim is made to "cure" dyslexia, which is a life long cognitive impairment.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Open Day, Healthy Life Centre, Edinburgh, Sunday 21st August, Free therapy taster sessions, Meditation, Shiatsu, Chi Gung, baby Yoga Craniosacral therapy, Breathing, hypnobirthing, acupuncture, belly dancing, thai massage

Open Day Sun 21st August 2011

Tasters – Classes & Therapies

Room 1 (ground floor)
Training Room (upstairs)
Meditation room (downstairs)
Room 2 (downstairs)

11.00 -11.30

Shiatsu Tasters

Chi Gung (Standing Like a Tree) – Peter Browne

**10am – 11.30**
Osho Dynamic Meditation – Lucasz Wilczynski
* 1 ½ hour class by donation *

Shiatsu Tasters

11.45- 12.15

Craniosacral Therapy – Alison Lillian

Baby Yoga – Julia Gerken

Shiatsu Talk – Tamsin Grainger
12.00 – 4.00

Thai Massage &
Sports Massage Tasters

Anna R. Aladern

12.30- 1.00

Craniosacral Therapy – Alison Lillian

Belly Dancing – Iraya Noble

Chi Gung (moving Zen) – Frank Sargent

1.15- 1.45

Hypnobirthing – Clare Cotton
Chi Gung (Standing Like a Tree) – Peter Browne

ABC of Correct Breathing – Dr. Kumar


Acupuncture, Oriental herbs & Cognitive Hypnotherapy – Tom Lawrence

Baby Yoga – Julia Gerken

Meditation – Stuart Morgan-Ayrs

2.45- 3.15

Laughter Session – Jo Bluett

Hypnotherapy – Stuart Morgan- Ayrs


Hypnobirthing – Clare Cotton

Belly Dancing – Iraya Noble

Intro to Kundalini Yoga –Dr. Kumar

4.15- 4.45

Shiatsu Tasters

Edinburgh Intuitive Creators Group – Janette Dumble

Shiatsu Tasters
Thai & Sport Massage appts avail.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Anger management counselling and coaching

Anger in itself is a naturally occuring state, and can be considered a natural emotion. It should be noted from the start that "feeling anger" and "acting angry" are two different things.

Sometimes we get the "feeling" of anger. This can be for good reason, or inappropriate. An example of a good reason might be when you are in danger of violence, you can not avoid it and the "fight and flight" response kicks in. This is a natural example of where feeling angry and aggressive might save your life!

The problem with "feeling" angry is it does not always kick in when we want it to. This is because of mis-association between events, people, things, or places and a feeling of unease or danger. Thus we inappropriately respond to something with the "feeling" of danger or anger. There are two main reasons for this:

1. We have learnt a lesson somewhere in life that causes us to associate something with an angry feeling. This might be because of abuse, trauma, unusual circumstances, bereavement, grief or unnatural events. We then associate elements of whatever happened with the feeling of anger. This is the perception process at work, and is thus a Cognitive area for therapy.

2. We are in a physical or mental state that causes inappropriate response. This might be a fever, a manic or depressed state, halucinations, PMT, Low blood sugar, or a high pain level. In this state our cognitive processes are compromised. Therefore there are times when the "feeling" is there when it should not be, and therefore needs cognitive work to resolve. This is an area that "off the shelf" anger management books, pack and self-help aids virtually ignore, and frankly only qualified therapy can help resolve. 

The second area is "acting" angry. This is where we have a "feeling" of anger or irritation, and this results in an "action" or "behaviour". This is the area of anger management most commonly talked about since it is the "behaviour" that is displayed to people around you. Most "off the shelf" books and courses deal just with this area.

When we have felt the"anger feeling", whether for good reason or not, we tend to respond with angry "behaviours" such as aggression or passive aggression. There are actually a variety of display types, from the most obvious violence, to sulking, shouting, being a angry manipulative person who seems like a "victim", and various other variations. These are all outcomes of the behaviour being "angry". 

Between the "feeling" and the "behaviour" are occurances that "trigger" that response. Theses are the people, things, smells, sounds, places, actions, words etc that "trigger" the person into feeling angry. What happens then is the "feeling" is felt, the person goes into a kind of "autopilot" and the "behaviours" result. 

The "autopilot" is a laymans term for learnt response or conditioned response. Over time we learn to respond to certain triggers with certain behaviours. As these become "natural" responses for us, they become unconcious rather than deliberate. Thus we automatically respond that way without thinking about it conciously. While the person continues to automatically respond with "angry behaviours", the problem persists. The most common advice for dealing with this is "to count to ten before responding". It is sensible advice, but most clients need help in making this possible!

Anger management coaching and therapy

So what can be done about it?

1. Deal with underlying causes, the reasons why the person has high stress or aggression levels.

2. Deal with the perceptions that cause a person to tend to be angry by "seeing things" a certain way. These are the learnt perceptions, or way you have learnt to see / understand things.

3. Change responses to triggers. This means unplugging the autopilot! The behaviour can thus be addressed, and freedom of choice returned to the client! Part of this is the client choosing new responses that work for them.

4. Environmental factors. Addressing any factors, relationships or other things that may have causes the client to get stuck in this mind set initially, or kept them there since. This helps to prevent slippage back into the old patterns.

CBT is highly effective in dealing with anger management, especially when combined with hypnotherapy, personal development counselling skills, psychological therapy and other methods. Primarily these should be combined as necessary in a fairly seemless way.

Cognitive therapy helps to resolve perceptual issues. Counselling skills or psychological therapy methods help to look at deeper issues. Hypnotherapy and behavioural therapies help to change responses to triggers and give back freedom of choice. Life coaching helps to resolve environmental factors.

The most important part of anger management is to ensure that the problem is addressed on all levels, thus preventing reoccurance.
We are complementary health practitioners, not alternative health practitioners. This means that we work WITH the medical profession. If you have an illness or injury, or if you are going to embark on a new diet, fitness plan or if you have any uninvestigated symptoms, you must consult your medical doctor. 

Counselling for the stress and anxiety effects of dyslexia

Dyslexia is a condition that effects far more than simply the ability to read and spell. If often exists alongside dyscalculus or dyspraxia. The condition is essentially an information processing problem, which effects a range of comprehension and processing.

We can provide support and coaching to assist clients with adult dyslexia in Glasgow and Edinburgh. Please note we are an ADULT service provider and do not assist in child or adolescent cases. Also such assistance can not "cure" dyslexia which is a life long cognitive condition. Since the condition interacts with social and emotional issues however, often wellbeing can be greatly improved.

What is dyslexia

In basic terms dyslexia effects the way in which the sufferer processes information. A specific area of the brain is normally effected, and this results in problems with processing information from a range of inputs. It is not just reading and writing that are commonly effected. Often delays in information processing effect sufferers in verbal conversation as well. Classically pauses while "processing", difficulty with spelling, difficulty with comprehension while reading, problems with "proof" reading, and difficulties with essay writing are all commonplace.

It should be noted that there are different types of dyslexia, some complex, some severe and some which effect mathematics, memory or speech more than other types. Not all dyslexia cases are the same. Some models of dyslexia split types into lexical and non-lexial cognitive problems, this means in basic terms that some people suffer more with non-words (or unusual words), others with known and logical words. However there are competing explanations for dyslexia.

What other effects does dyslexia have?

There are a range of knock on effects that are often seen in cases of adult dyslexia. As a result of problems during childhood and adolescence there will often be issues with:
  • Fear of failure
  • Negative self image because of difficulties in study and learning
  • History of bullying because of "pauses" in speech or listening
  • Internalised negative things that have been said, classically "stupid", "slow", "lazy"
  • Higher levels of stress. This is caused by the added strain of processing information generally, and the fears of looking "stupid".
  • Anger management. Repeated negative comments, difficult challenges and fear of failure result in defensive or offensive strategies of behaviour.
  • Some sufferers are unable to measure the passage of time and are often very late or early. Even the thought of managing time can be stressful.
  • Some adult sufferers are over keen to revisit academic areas in a desperate attempt to gain success, often without the resources they need.
  • Numbers and mathematics are often effected, as is short term memory. Thus a sufferer may be unable to remember facts, dates, numbers or read material. It can be hard to commit facts to memory during study.
  • Post traumatic Stress effect. Often sufferers are more likely to have symptoms of traumatic stress, abuse, relationship difficulties, study issues or work issues. Sufferers often have involvement with legal or social difficulties as a knock on effect of the condition.

What can assist adult difficulties with dyslexia?

There are two main reasons for seeking assistance of a counselling or life coaching type.

1. Dealing with all the negative things from the past. These can involve unpiclking learned negative behaviours, fears of failure, hurt from negative comments, abuse or bullying.

2. Creating new strategies for the present and future. These can involve learning anger and stress management techniques, study methods, goal setting, calm time management, memory skills and other personal strategies.

If you have a diagnosis already

You may already have had an educational psychology assessment and be aware that you have dyslexia. If you have not, then it is highly recommended that you seek a referral for such an assessment as soon as possible. We can assist with non-specific learning difficulties, but it is a major step forward to have a clear diagnosis not only of dyslexia, but of the type and nature of your condition. This helps you to design new strategies for learning and study much easier.