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Staff Counselling Centre


A series of four workshops designed to help participants build sustainable practices to support their wellbeing and resilience in the face of life's inevitable stresses.

Each session in the series is designed as a stand-alone workshop, so participants can book on to all four workshops or just one on its own.

Kathrin Hicks is a clinical psychologist who has worked with many different patient groups in the NHS. Her most recent focus has been staff working on the Covid front line.

Workshop 1: How mind and body interact in long-term health conditions

Tuesday 2 March, 1.00 - 2.00pm

Book your place here

Kathrin will present a framework for understanding how physical and mental factors interact in the experience of long term health conditions, drawing on ideas from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Mindfulness. This framework will provide the rationale for the interventions presented across the sessions – understanding how and why a technique works will increase the motivation to try it out. In a nutshell, the experience of long term physical health problems can set in motion a vicious cycle of thought processes, emotions and behaviours that makes it even harder to live with the symptoms of the condition. This is not our fault but a consequence of the way the human brain is wired to respond to stressful situations. If we can understand and manage this response better, we can work towards a way of living well with our health problems, rather than feeling like we are in a constant battle.

Concepts to be covered include:

  • The CBT model of the relationship between thoughts, feelings, physical symptoms and behaviours

  • The idea of the “second arrow of suffering” – how we can make a situation worse by thinking about it in a certain way

  • The mechanism of the fight/flight stress response and how this operates in chronic physical health problems

  • The first practical exercise: The 3-minute breathing space


Workshop 2: Physiological responses and relaxation

Tuesday 9 March, 1.00 - 2.00pm

Book your place here

The most straightforward way of interrupting the vicious cycle of negative thoughts and feelings associated with long term health conditions is to start with the physical processes involved in the fight/flight stress response, particularly breathing and muscle tension. If we can slow down our breathing and reduce muscle tension, this sends the message to the brain that we are safe, which has a calming influence on our thoughts and feelings.

Concepts to be covered include:

  • Brief description of the brain processes involved in the fight/flight response, and how these are affected by breathing and muscle tension

  • Description, demonstration and in-session practice of different techniques for slowing down breathing and reducing muscle tension

  • Troubleshooting how to practise these techniques


Workshop 3: Thinking

Tuesday 16 March, 1.00 - 2.00pm

Book your place here

The way we think about a situation has an enormous influence on our subjective emotional experience and on our behaviour. This process is more complicated than examining supposed thinking errors or trying to “think positive.” In this session we consider different types of worry and how to respond to them and focus in particular on changing our relationship with our thoughts, rather than the content of the thoughts themselves. Being able to take a step back and observe our thinking processes rather than becoming tangled up in our thoughts can make an enormous difference to how we respond emotionally and behaviourally.

Concepts to be covered include:

  • Differentiating practical and non-practical worry

  • The concept of thinking “errors” and the degree to which this is helpful

  • Thought “fusion” and “defusion” – becoming tangled up versus untangling ourselves from our thoughts

  • Practical exercises, including in-session demonstration and practice, for managing different types of worry


Workshop 4: Behaviour

Tuesday 23 March, 1.00 - 2.00pm

Book your place here

The most common behavioural consequences of long term health conditions are avoidance and doing too much. These often go together in a “boom or bust” cycle. We will look at what this means in the context of living a life in line with our values and how we can work towards achieving a balance of rest and activity, and of different types of activity.

Concepts to be covered include:

  • How the boom/bust cycle operates and its long term consequences

  • The idea of behavioural activation: the positive impact of gradually increasing activity on mood

  • The idea of activity scheduling, with a particular emphasis on balancing activities we “have” to get done and activities that bring us pleasure, meaning and social connection

  • The concept of our core values and how we can use this to influence the way we plan our activities

There will also be time to pull the ideas from all 4 sessions together, considering them within the original conceptual framework.


Tuesday, 2 March, 2021 - 13:00 to Tuesday, 23 March, 2021 - 13:00
Event location: 
Zoom Video Conferencing

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