Intimacy Tasks

Increasing communication and intimacy:
To really focus on each other, 'soul gazing' is a technique that can help eliminate distractions and increase intimacy. To engage in soul gazing you can either sit and face each other on a bed or couch or alternatively lying on the bed facing each other. Hold eye contact for 3-5 minutes. (you are allowed to blink!) however do try not to talk. It can be awkward however with practice and time it will become easier. Try it for 5 minutes! It's all about taking time for each other, helping to build trust and ultimately gain a new level of intimacy

Miscarriages and IVF

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This week @michelleobama spoke about her miscarriages and IVF stating that she felt "lost and alone". For millions of people, the disclosure that she and Barack Obama used IVF treatment to conceive is an act of generosity. IVF is 40 years old now but is still met with stigma. Alongside this 1 in 4 pregnancies end in a miscarriage. 
It seems at times that the reality of conceiving and challenges for many are muted. As Mrs Obama says in her book: "We sit in our own pain, thinking that somehow we're broken."

International Mens Day

Suicide is the single biggest killer of men aged under 45 in the UK. Men remain three times as likely to take their own lives than women. 4,382 men committed suicide last year in the UK. There is a preconceived notion that those who commit suicide are unwell or have had huge life obstacles. Actually, 75% of people who take their own lives have never been diagnosed with a mental health problem, and only 5% of people who do suffer from depression go on to take their own lives.The reasons behind every individual suicide are unique and complex and not simply explained. 
Calm is the number one charity that is focused on suicide in men. Debunking myths and stigma, Calmzone is doing all it can to reduce these suicide rates (which has happened over the last 3 years).
Calm tackles this by giving men a safe place to talk. Its helpline is ru by eight staff members who work seven nights a week fielding over 5,000 calls and web-chats a month.
CALMZONE:0800 58 58 58
SAMARITANS:Call 116 123 any day, any time.

Ways to be a Trans Ally

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Today is #transdayofremembrance . 368 Trans People were killed this year. 48% of Trans individuals have attempted suicide at least once. Being an ally means consistency of action, love and support, until the violence and discrimination ends and a day of remembrance is not needed. 
As a Trans ally there is an incredible amount of work to be done. 
Here are some tips on how to be a Trans ally that I learnt from @pink_news and from some of my own Trans friends.
1. Check in. 
Drop a line or give them a call and ask them how they are.
Ask how their day went; many Trans individuals experience difficult days due to being misgendered, transphobia in the papers or in the streets. 
2. Challenge everyday Transphobia.
If you hear something that doesn't resignate well with you. Voice it.
3. Use the right pronouns. 
If you make a mistake apologise and move on. You can also always ask what people feel most comfortable with.
4. Be actively supportive.
Attend marches, donate, use your social media. 
5. Educate yourself. 
Lean about the obstacles that Trans individuals face. In the workplace, in healthcare and criminal justice system.
6. Listen.
Read, watch and hear Trans voices. Be it your friend, colleague or in a documentary

What is Ethical Porn?

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Ethical porn also goes by the name “fair trade porn,” or “independent porn.” You can still watch what you would normally but feel like you're making a difference.
So what does ethical porn offer?: Diversity; body, sexuality, gender, ethnicity. Ultimately changing the stereotypes that mainstream porn possesses. 
Nobody is coerced or tricked into doing anything they don't want to. There are high working standards, rights, respect and fair treatment.

Producers tend to support beginners, making sure they understand that the consequences of acting in a porn film.

Most actors are over 21 as producers want them to have explored their sexuality. So scenes and actors are natural and comfortable. 
Fair and respectful pay ensuring there is no exploitation. 
Directors let desires and pleasure run freely and the actors are able to say ‘no’ without worry.

Think about it this way, if you are conscientious about animal treatment you may buy fair trade brands. 
So if you want to continue your masturbation habits but want to be sure the performers you watch are treated fairly, consider ethical porn.

Self-love. Learn how to Show it.

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Some Therapy Thoughts on self-love.
1. Watch your self-talk. You'd say kind and loving words to a partner, words that are truthful and heartfelt. Do the same for yourself. 
2. Listen to your needs. Being aware of them facilitates a better self understanding. 
3. Protect yourself.
Remove or combat toxic people from your life so that you may flourish.
4. Forgive yourself. We all mistakes, allow yourself to and let them go.
5. Hold yourself to account. Self love is about being your own cheerleader. Self motivation and drive can only some from within so push yourself and celebrate those wins.

Social Media and Self-care

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Easier said than done and of course we all do it. But it's important to remember that Instagram is not real life. Most of the time it highlights best parts of people's lives while ignoring the undesirable. Social media comparisons can have a detrimental effect on mental health. The endless comparisons steal the confidence and self-worth from under your nose. So try to remind yourself that it's not real life, you're looking through a lense that someone has set up for you to view. If you feel that you can't stop comparing; unfollow. Your self-care needs to be prioritised.

It's a marathon...

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Many clients ask me when they first start; how long therapy will take. Unfortunately there is no clear answer to that. 
I like the idea of Milton Erickson that “therapy is often a matter of tipping the first domino.” Sometimes an individual does not really know what their main challenge is and often the "presenting problem" is not the deeper problem that they have. So unpicking may take time. Therapy can last anywhere from one session to several months or even years. It all depends on what you want and need. The most important thing is that you get the support you need and you start to feel better in yourself (or/and the relationship)

There is More than One Way to be Aroused!

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Many of you may not know this but there is more one way of being aroused! These different types are like building blocks. You may possess more than one and have a primary and secondary. Read through to see if any resonate with you. 
The Sensual Type: is a person who is aroused by the senses. Their desire is sparked by the feel of skin on skin, by smells or taste. It is driven by the body and craves the senses to feel arousal. 
The Cognitive Type: this is someone who is fuelled by desire by using their mind and thoughts. Fantasies and images increase their arousal.
The Intimacy Type: is aroused by the feeling of being able to connect with their partner. They feel desire when there is intimacy, trust and sharing. 
The Attractor Type: feels aroused by being ‘seen’. They get turned on from arousing their partner or alternatively when they are seen as attractive or ‘sexy’ by their partner. 
As I mentioned you may not have just one way by with you get aroused. However, knowing what turns you on can greatly help you to have a confident sex life. It facilitates tapping into your arousal when you most want it. So think about the last 3 times you were filled with desire....what was happening around you? What were your thoughts? What started it?

Supporting Someone with Mental Illness

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1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health issue this year. 
If you are worried about someone it can be difficult to know what to do. When you are aware there is an issue, it is important not to wait. Waiting and hoping they will come to you for help might lose valuable time in getting them support. I have spoken to people previously who have been too afraid to address mental health with the person they are worried about. Well I say stick on the kettle and use some of these tips:
1. Set time aside with no distractions
It is important to provide an open and non-judgemental space where the person feel safe and secure.
2. Let them share as much or as little as they want to
Let them lead the discussion at their own pace. Don’t put pressure on them to tell you anything they aren’t ready to talk about. Sometimes it's just giving people time. 
3. Don't try to diagnose or second guess their feelings
You probably aren’t a medical expert and, while you may be happy to talk and offer support, you aren’t a trained therapist. Try not to make assumptions about what is wrong or jump in too quickly with your own diagnosis or solutions
4. Listen. Really listen.
Listening is actually quite a difficult skill to master. Most people listen to respond. Try to stop your mind wandering and focus on what they are trying to tell you. 
5. Offer them support with services.
It maybe important that they see a GP in the first instance. Encourage them to do so with the support of yourself so they don't feel alone.

Young Trans People Survey

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Following a great talk hosted by #CliniQ
I'm taking stock before my long evening with @spectra_london 'Young Trans Peoples Survey' from 2016. Three stats that stand out to me are: 💜 Loneliness and isolation being key concerns. With 47% of respondents feeling lonely 'often/always'.
💜Mental health and emotional well-being was also prominent. 57% of respondents said they experienced difficulties with their MH and well-being 'most of the time.
💜 Bullying in school and at work. A whole 68% of people have been the subject of bullying just this year.
So much more needs to be done by all of us to support these young people.

Living with Anxiety

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Anxiety is isolating and can feel like it is eating you up from the inside. The physical manifestations can be debilitating and exhausting. If you look closely at anxiety, you can begin to see that our thoughts, feelings, behaviours and physical symptoms all interact and combine to keep our anxiety going. Things like mindfulness, distraction techniques, CBT skills can assist with alleviating it. However it's important to get to the root cause. Talk to a friend, family manner or therapist to understand yourself better and what is triggering it. 
Suffering in silence with anxiety only exasperates it. 

Period Sex

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I get that having sex on your period isn’t for everyone and that's ok. But there is some serious stigma related to it, and really periods aren’t anything to be ashamed of. They’re natural. They happen every month. They’re just a part of bodies and life still happens! So here are some myth busting facts for you:
*Orgasms are pain relievers! This means climaxing while on your period can actually reduce cramps!
*There isn't as much blood as you think there will be- yes there maybe some but its not much different to any other bodily fluids that occur during sex.
*Period sex can actually be shortened due to the contracting of your uterus lining. *Some women become more aroused during their time of the month.
*Worried about getting blood on the sheets? Shower sex can change that! Please don't fall...
*Periods are natural, we still live in an a world where there is embarrassment and shame related to them-which is ridiculous. This needs to change, and to start that change we need to talk about it. Period.

Disclaimer: as much as I'm advocating for period sex (mainly destigmatization) PLEASE remember that you can still can contract STIs so do use protection.

Talking Porn with Young People

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This day last week the @thisisleika panel spoke about porn and sex education. 
We all were of the consensus that sex education needs to incorporate it. Including areas such as pleasure, consent, relationships and sexuality. Currently porn is easier to access than sex education and that's not going to change anytime soon. By the age of 9 many kids already have stumbled onto it. So start by having the conversation. There are really great resources out there to assist, such as #thepornconversation developed by the amazing @erikalust www.thepornconversation.org. @katemoyletherapy also did a piece this week for #ageid, the link is in her bio. 
We can't ban crappy porn but we can talk and teach our young people, so that they may feel empowered and comfortable. 

What is Consent?

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If you are unsure what defines consent here is an outline from the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Centre: "Consent is when someone agrees, gives permission, or says "yes" to sexual activity with other persons. Consent is always freely given and all people in a sexual situation must feel that they are able to say "yes" or "no" or stop the sexual activity at any point." 1.When you’re engaging in sexual activity, consent is about communication. And it should happen EVERY time. 
2. consent for one activity, one time, does not mean giving consent for increased or recurring sexual contact.
3. Sexual assault can happen in marriages not just one night stands.
4. Finally remember you can withdraw consent if you no longer feel comfortable.

Remember sex without consent isn't sex.

Break Ups

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"If you love someone and you break up.."
When a relationship ends, it can be immensely heartbreaking. Negative emotions are often demonised and we are made to feel as though feeling sad, angry and hurt is not good for us. That's not the case. You are perfectly entitled to experience and go through these emotions. Talk to people:friends, family members, your therapist.
Whatever happened, remember you are loved, you are important, you are beautiful, keep that heart on your sleeve.

The Function of Relationships

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If we use relationships to make us wiser, kinder and more compassionate, we can actually change how they function. We can have the relationships and lives we've always dreamed of. Look after each others soul and personal growth. Committing to helping, supporting and loving each other. It is only when you are living through love and kindness with each other that your relationship will truly flourish. 

Supporting your Spouse

Supportive actions often spell the difference between success and failure. One way to be an encouragement to your spouse is to be a supportive partner.
By being supportive, your actions and attitude will show that you believe in your partner and want the best for them

Support and motivation will allow you to grow individually but also flourish as a partnership. Why do we choose to commit to spending the rest of our life with partners? Not because it’s easy. One of the MANY reasons is that we have someone that supports us through our life journey. Someone who will always be there for us, to believe in us, appreciate, and support us in both the good and bad. Working on supporting each other will build on your foundation as a couple.

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Intimacy

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Intimacy is at the heart of a strong relationship. Intimacy is about being able to be free, to be your authentic self with them. It's a deep emotional bond that is normally reserved for just one person. Ideally, sex in a loving relationship should come from a place of love and connection. The two are interconnected intimacy builds sex and sex builds intimacy. When one is struggling, the other is also.
If you and your partner are having difficulties couple therapy can really assist.