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Sarah Douglas
Counselling and Yoga

About Sarah and Counselling

I am a person-centred counsellor and have been working one to one with adults and young people aged 16 and over for almost twenty years. During much of that time I have run counselling services, serving both adults and young people who were struggling with a wide variety of difficulties both within themselves and in their relationships with others. People usually come to counselling to seek relief from their distressing thoughts and feelings.

Time and again I noticed that the individuals I was working with were also experiencing significant disturbance in their bodies. I have seen people who alongside their psychological distress, endure sleep disruption, back ache or headache, digestive disorders, and the physical feelings of panic (to name but a few). With the lessening of psychological symptoms, these physical symptoms often ease, but counselling alone does not directly address distress in the body. My personal experience and direct observation is that you cannot separate the two. If you feel unhappy in your mind, your body won’t feel great either. If you have a problem in your body, it is likely you will also not feel great in your mind. This is why I now teach yoga classes as well as seeing individual people for counselling.


About Sarah and Supervision

As well as working with clients one-to-one I also supervise other counsellors. Supervision is a space where we explore the work the counsellor is undertaking with their clients. This is confidential and I do not know the identities of the people my supervisees are working with. Supervision helps the counsellor to differentiate between their own material and that of the client - helping to keep their own "stuff" out of the way. It also is a space to offload, and to learn.

the reason I love supervising, is the same reason I love counselling and teaching yoga. I watch people make sense of things for themselves; I watch them grow and develop and become more confident.


Qualifications


I am registered with and hold senior accreditation status with the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and work within their ethical framework. BACP accreditation is awarded only following completion of a recognised counselling training and the accumulation of considerable practical experience.


Why Yoga?

My logo symbolises what I find so helpful about yoga. It is an illustration of the sycamore in our garden with a person standing in tree posture (Vrksasana) inside it and was drawn for me by my talented colleague, Frayah.

To stand on one leg as in tree posture, I need to be balanced physically otherwise I fall over! More than this however, what I notice is that the balance needed is more that only physical. As well as being steady in my body, I need to be calm in my mind. On days when my mind is scattered and I am worrying about all the things I must do, I find it much more difficult to stand on one leg. Mind influences body. However, I have discovered through my yoga practice that body also influences mind. On scattered days, if I release any expectation that I can force myself into the posture, even if I manage a simplified version, amazingly I find I become calmer and the worry recedes. Once I am more settled, often I can then move more deeply into the posture. I then also feel better able to face and achieve my tasks for the day.

This posture has taught me that my balance both physical and psychological, fluctuates day to day. Nothing is fixed and when I accept this, life feels less tense. What excites me so much about yoga is that it teaches us that mind and body are inseparably linked and that they influence each other. Look after mind and body may benefit; look after body and mind will benefit. Look after both and the whole person benefits.


What I notice in my yoga students

I have seen something similar with folk in my yoga classes. People arrive stressed, feeling scattered, tense, distracted. By the end of class I observe and my students tell me how much calmer, more settled they feel. Their bodies have relaxed, their breathing has slowed, their faces have softened.

Yoga differs from other excise regimes in that as well as helping us to become physically stronger and more supple, it teaches us to observe and listen to our bodies and minds without criticism or judgement. This listening can help identify where we hold tension and helps us learn how to release that tension. Yoga also teaches us to pay attention to our breath. Run for the bus and you expect to breath more heavily. However, our breath is influenced not only by our activities, but also by the contents of our minds. you only have to recall that last difficult encounter with a family member to find that your heart and breathing rates have gone up. Your body tenses, and before you know it, your thoughts have spread from the encounter itself to other perceived slights and injustices. Learning to calm your breath can have a massive impact on physical and psychological tension.


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