Anxiety Disorder

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An anxiety disorder is a condition characterised by high levels of fear or worry that get in the way of your average day.
Common anxiety disorders include problems , difficulties in social situations, excessive worry that is difficult to control, stress over issues such as relationship problems and fears of specific events or objects (phobias).
Common symptoms range from tummy aches or headaches, irritability or easily upset, feelings of panic, sleeping problems, frequent reassurance seeking, muscle tension and concentration problems. If you are suffering with anxiety the first step is to talk about it. Sharing with a partner, friend or family member can ease the burden and possibly gain some insight and perspective. Therapy can greatly assist, especially Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. 

Low Desire in Women

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Loss of desire, also known as low libido. Can affect women at certain times of life.
There are many obvious times such as during pregnancy, after having a baby, during menopause. However some women experience most of the time. 
Low libido can have a range of physical or psychological causes, including:
*Stress
*Depression
*Excessive drug use or alcohol.
*Medication side effects
*Hormone issues (drop in testosterone)
*Relationship issues
And many more reasons. If you are struggling with low libido it is worth visiting your GP in the first instance. They can assess for any physiological aspects. If ruled out sex therapy can help assist you in reconnecting with your sexuality and help with any relational issues. 

Sex and Communication 1

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New research finds that comfort with sexual communication is directly linked to sexual satisfaction. Alongside this: People who are more comfortable talking about sex are also more likely to do so while having sex, the researchers found. Expressing yourself sexually tends to be easier during sexual activity as guards and barriers tend to be lowered. After all, people who are uncomfortable asking their partners to wear a condom may be at higher risk of having unprotected sex and exposing themselves to sexually transmitted infections. Which would reduce the fear of pregnancy or STI's and increase an individual feeling relaxed....not to mention the all important intimacy! So try to communicate and express yourself honestly. This will lead to a happier sex life 💗.

Rapid Ejaculation

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Sexual dysfunction is any physical or psychological problem that prevents you or your partner from getting sexual satisfaction. Male sexual dysfunction is a common health problem affecting men of all ages, but is more common with increasing age. It's estimated 1 in 10 men has a problem related to having sex, such as Rapid (premature) Ejaculation or erectile dysfunction. 
There are many treatment methods including medical, surgical and therapeutic. However it should be understood that this is about treating the individual and what is right for them. If you are concerned attend your GP clinic in the first instance. They should be able to guide you in the right direction.

Mindful Masturbation

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Masturbation is a great form of #selfcare that is fun, healthy and cheap!
In keeping with the theme of mental health it is also important to point out that masturbation can cause issues for some people. I often ask clients three questions which allow me to gain an understanding as to whether support is needed: 
Can you cut down on your masturbation? Is it having a negative effect on your life and relationships? Do you feel shame/guilt following masturbating? 
If none of these apply to you then happy masturbating! Otherwise there are many specialists out there that can support you. 

Uma Thurman

Reading the piece in the @nytimes with Uma Thurman today I was really struck by one of the final paragraphs.

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When you tell your child that they were harmed because another person likes them, you’re connecting pain with love. That not only normalizes being abused, but also abusing others.

This then perpetuates further into adult relationships and normalises cruelty and unkindness from partners. If love is patient, kind, understanding, and compassionate, then surely love is not cruel, mean and violent?


Sex and Communication 2

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Sex and communication: If you feeling awkward or exposed talking during sex, a good way to commence communicating is to try it before being in the act. You could start the conversation about something you've my have had a dream about, day dreaming about or a fantasy you've been thinking about trying. You could start by leaving a note or even a text. Putting yourself gently out there is a good way to start. It's dipping your toes rather than diving straight in! 

Therapy Challenges

This was one of the first things I learnt about therapy, from my own personal therapist.

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When something feels uncomfortable to explore, you should focus on it. Talking about painful material in therapy is beneficial because this brings the material into the present where it can be looked at and understood.  This is the time to feel uncomfortable so that your therapist can perform the psychological surgery that needs to happen for you to feel better later. Draining an infection is never pleasant, but it is necessary.

Avoiding a negative emotion buys you short term gain at the price of long term pain.


Sex and Communication

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Sex and communication: If your partner struggles with communicating with you during sex, some positive reinforcement might help. Telling your partner how amazing they are, good they look and how much you enjoy being with them. Comment on certain aspects that you do get genuine pleasure from. This also can be said after sex when your partner may even be caught off guard. Knowing that you think of them can really help boost confidence levels.

Listening Skills

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Listening is a skill. As a therapist you are taught to do it. Listening well means not just understanding the words or the information being communicated, but also understanding the emotions the speaker is trying to communicate.
Truely listening means trying to understand what the individual is trying to say in many forms, not just the content but what they say but how they say it; their tone, rate of speech and body language. Not to mention why they chose the specific words. Then the next level is how is this making them feel. Can you understand their emotional components?
Then finally what does this evoke for you? This maybe something that the individual is experiencing (if it is not and belongs to you, that's a whole new ball game!). Remember listening is a skill. So you can learn it! 

Sex and Communication

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Sex and communication: The ability to talk honestly and openly is vital in order to have a fulfilling sex life. The skills to do so can be learned which will greatly improve your sexual satisfaction and your relationship. Its not an easy thing to do, some people fear being embarrassed or embarrassing their partners. Not to mention the fear of being rejected or the possibility of ruining their relationships. Finally that many people are nervous about starting the conversation in the first instance so they just keep to themselves. Let's be honest; talking about sex is a very sensitive and uncomfortable topic for most people. All of these worries are completely understandable. Continuing on this week I'll be giving you ways that you can ease these fears and start having a better sex life. 

Suicide Prevention

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The losses of two well know figures; Anthony Bourdain & Kate Spade this week is a stark reminder that mental illness does not discriminate. There is a preconceived notion that it only strikes on those suffering. It doesn't. Nobody is safe.  Maybe today you can start a conversation on mental health, check in on someone, or seek help you have always needed.

We must continue to de-stigmatize mental illness. It’s OK to seek help. In fact it’s incredibly wise and brave.  I urge you today to pay attention to what people are telling you, not just with their words. Use this time to be empathetic, sensitive and compassionate. Check on your “strong” friends. If you are struggling with how to talk to people, I have done a piece below on how to listen. That is the starting point. Listening, REALLY listening. Mental illness kills, just like physical illnesses and needs to be treated with the same seriousness.

Look after one another. Love. Be kind. Be gentle. 
To you struggling, I see you. I hear you. Please reach out. You’re winning the battle with every breath and moment you choose life.  There is support and help out there. 
You are not alone. 

Male Suicide Rates

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Every week in the UK 84 men take their life by suicide, one man every two hours. Suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 45.
Support @calmzone new campaign #project84 they partnered with the internationally renowned artist, Mark Jenkins, and his collaborator Sandra Fernandez, to create 84 individual sculptures. Friends and family members of the deceased helped in the creation process of the figures. Each one, a poignant reminder of a real life lost and a call to society to come together and ultimately take a stand against male suicide.Visit the sculptures on London's Southbank Promenade from 26th March or alternatively head to their website to read some of the stories of these men as told by family and friends.

Vaginismus

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I am constantly asked what Vaginismus is. It is a condition involving a muscle spasm in the pelvic floor muscles. It can make it painful, difficult, or impossible to have sexual intercourse, to undergo a gynecological exam, and to insert a tampon. Here are some basic facts surrounding Vaginismus:

There are different forms of vaginismus and symptoms vary between individuals.

Pain can range from mild to severe, and it can cause different sensations.

Vaginismus can result from emotional factors, medical factors, or both.

Treatment, which involves physical and emotional exercises, is usually effective



Vulva Loving

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Ladies get to know yours. Explore it and educate yourself. Take a hand mirror and have a look. It may seem scary, it may seem uncomfortable but getting to know it will go a long way.

Some facts you say!?:

The vagina produces its own protective substances to get rid of unwanted fluids and bacteria. Avoid those feminine washes, they can unbalance your PH.

The G-spot wasn't 'officially' discovered till 1940. It's an area around 2 cm inside the top section of the vagina. Not every woman has it though.. so don't worry too much!

The average vagina is only around three inches in size and stretching to four when aroused. But is flexible to accommodate any size! Also they do shrink back to their natural size after birth.


How Long Should Therapy be?

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Clients often ask me how long therapy should be for them. I always tell them I can't answer that. The therapeutic path is not a simple one and is often painful and challenging. Yet it is incredibly rewarding when everything starts to fall into place. When I meet with people for the first time, I usually ask them what they are hoping to get out of therapy and how they feel their lives would be different. Then, as time progresses, I check in with them to see how they feel the work is going and to what extent they feel their goals are being met. Gradually and patiently the answer will come to the surface; that in fact time isn't important, it's the context of that therapeutic duration.

World Aids Day

Yesterday was #worldaidsday. I have been wearing my ribbon since last year and I have had many people ask me what it represents.

It's always been an honour for me to be able to explain what it symbolises and what more is needed to be done to remove stigma.

Here are some facts done by PHE in 2016 on #hiv

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42% of all people diagnosed with HIV were diagnosed late.

Late diagnosis is most common in certain groups, heterosexuals in particular

76% of people newly diagnosed have started antiviral treatment within 90 days.

So if you haven't go get yourself educated and tested. Alongside a ribbon so you can help inform others!