Killer Clowns Newcastle

Killer Clowns Newcastle

Is the ‘clown scaring craze’ harmless pranks or could this trend be provoking phobias?

The ‘clown scaring craze’ that is sweeping the globe has reached the North East of England. Throughout America and the UK there have been reports of menacing masked characters and people dressed as clowns leaping out of bushes, chasing people and even schoolchildren have been targeted. Is this scaring trend harmless fun or something more menacing?


For those that have a fear of clowns this is no joke. Coulrophobia (the fear of clowns) is a well-established psychological condition and like any other irrational phobia it is no laughing matter. Phobias often develop during the a child’s early years of development. A child’s experience of the visual world is very different to that of adults. Unlike adults, children retain information from their senses separately and, therefore, they perceive the visual world differently. This can greatly affect how a child perceives an unfamiliar face. If we try and see a clowns face through the eyes of a young child; a child is unable to dissociate between the clowns’ excessive makeup and the person behind the mask; therefore, the child can perceived the clown as real. From this point of view what children fear may not be so irrational after all.

Phobias that develop during childhood and adolescence are often the result of a frightening event or stressful situation. For example, if an adult has a fear of spiders (arachnophobia) a child may also develop the same fear. Or a young person may develop claustrophobia later on in life if he or she was trapped in an enclosed space. Other factors, such as having parents who suffer from anxiety, may also affect the way a young person deals with stress later on in life.

Phobia Counselling Newcastle

When experiencing a phobia the physiological symptoms can be severe and can cause a state of panic. Difficulties in breathing, tightness in the chest, rapid heartbeat, perspiring, nausea and panic attacks are all common symptoms and is often a result of a felt sense reaction to a past learnt early childhood experience. In severe cases the adoption of reassurance and safety seeking behaviour can greatly affect functioning which in turn can lead to anxiety and depression. In many cases avoiding the object of fear is enough to control the problem; however, this may not always be possible with certain phobias; for example, a fear of flying or a social phobia. In this instance, professional help maybe needed. Behavioural Therapy and Mindfulness are effective approaches that enable awareness of the interaction between the mind and body; therefore, enabling clarity and the emotional resilience to respond to fear in ways that are non-reactive.

Because the nature of the creepy clown scaring trend is to provoke shock and fear and because this interaction is so far outside of our social norm, this trend could potentially cause deep psychological trauma, particularly for young children and people that suffer from coulrophobia. Halloween will soon be upon us, maybe there is a time and place for scary costumes and pranks. I would be really interested in your thoughts, please comment below.

If you have enquiry about Glister’s counselling service or if you would like to make an appointment, please do not hesitate to get in touch. For details on how to make contact please click HERE.

The Johari Window

The Johari Window

I often use the model of the Johari Window to explain to my clients how counselling can help them to make sense of the unknown areas of themselves.  The Johari Window is a simple tool that highlights the relevance of self-awareness and the benefits of transparency with others.  This model was developed by Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham in the 1950’s.

Quadrant 1. The known quadrant is an area that is known by you and is also known by others. When we interact in this area with others we are at our most comfortable and good connections with others often occur.

Quadrant 2. The blind quadrant is an area that is unknown by you yet is clear as day to others. Have you ever had someone point out to you a mannerism or a word that you use on repeat that you were totally unaware of? When something unknown about you is pointed out it can be quite a jolt when it becomes conscious.

Quadrant 3. The hidden quadrant is an area that is known by you and what you consciously keep hidden from others. There is often a good reason why individuals choose to hide personal feelings and facts about themselves. This is a sensitive area and the extent to when, and to whom, an individual discloses their feelings and any personal information needs to be the choice of the individual.

Quadrant 4. The unknown quadrant is an area that is unknown to you and unknown by others. This area involves behaviours and feelings that become patterns that you do not feel in control of. An example of this would be an individual continuously becoming involved in destructive relationships. Or an individual may emotionally react to certain situations in ways that they feel unable to change.  This area could also involve repressed or subconscious feelings rooted in past traumatic events. Counselling is an ideal environment to make sense of this area.

The Johari Window suggests that through self -disclosure and the receiving of constructive feedback from others the known area can increase and at the same time there can be a reduction in the hidden, blind and unknown areas. This is a clear and simple model of how self-awareness and personal growth can be achieved, which in turn can enhance your emotional intelligence and your relationships with others.

I would be very interested if any aspects of your life fit within this model?

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.

If you have an enquiry about Glister’s counselling service or if you would like to make an appointment, please do not hesitate to get in touch. For details on how to make contact please click HERE.

The Therapeutic Sh*t Sandwich!

The Therapeutic Sh*t Sandwich!

  • Do you feel unable to express your thoughts and emotions assertively?
  • Do you feel like you are treading on eggshells around people because you are afraid of hurting their feelings?
  • Do you have anger management issues?

There are many reasons why communicating can sometimes feel like a minefield! Perhaps you tend to suppress what you need to say because you don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings. Or maybe expressing your thoughts always seems to result in an argument. There are techniques that you can use that will make a real difference to your interactions with others. Successful communication is a process that you can learn. I’m a big fan of the assertive communication tool ‘The Sh*t Sandwich’. Not a pleasant analogy, I know, and yet it is a perfect way to describe the three-layer process that can be used to present something you may find hard to deliver and may be difficult for another person to digest! The Sh*t Sandwich is a fantastic assertive communication tool that enables you to structure problematic conversations with others as gently as possible. The three layers consist of empathy, honesty, and saying what you want to happen next.

  • Empathy. Starting your Sandwich with a few empathic reflections will help the other person to feel heard and understood. As a result, they will be more likely to listen and try and understand what you need to say. Empathising is an ability to understand and feel another person’s world as they do. You may have heard the metaphors ‘standing in someone else’s shoes’ and ‘seeing through someone else’s eyes’. Striving to understand another person’s perspective is a vital skill. However, it is important to use empathy and not sympathy. Empathy is trying to see the other person’s view of a particular difficulty whereas sympathy is expressing sadness from your own understanding. When you are in conflict with another person, sympathising can be perceived as patronising.
  • Honesty. This part of the sandwich is the area that relates to the conflict or the part that is troubling you. The key to successful communication in this area is to speak from your own experience without any metaphorical ‘finger pointing’. When you point or wag your finger with ‘you did this’ or ‘you said that’, the other person is likely to react by defending themselves or retreating. You are more likely to be heard and understood if you talk from your own experience and feelings. Remember that your purpose is to discuss what is troubling you without it turning into an argument. So the golden rule is to eliminate ‘you’ as much as possible and use the ‘I’ word instead. When you cannot explain what you need to say without using the word ‘you’, try using the word ‘we’ – because in reality, in any given situation, the experience is always shared. It is also important to take full responsibility for your thoughts, emotions and actions. No one can make you think, feel or do anything. How you react to another person’s behaviour says a lot more about your own internal process and life experiences. When you assign blame to someone else, you are not taking responsibility for your actions, and you lose the ability to make an accurate or honest assessment of the situation. This will cause others to want to defend their experience.
  • What you want to happen next. This is an important part of this assertive tool. What you want to happen may seem obvious to you, and we can all be guilty of expecting people to read our minds. Yet to clarify what you want clearly helps the other person to fully understand you. It is also important that you consider the other person’s needs when you explain what you want.

Here is a relatively straightforward example of how you could structure a Sandwich. Let’s suppose that you want to address a friend’s timekeeping because they are habitually late.

Empathy – the first layer. Start your Sandwich by focusing on trying to see the situation through their eyes. You could say something like, ‘You look really flustered. You have so much on your plate, don’t you? It must be exhausting trying to keep on top of everything’. As I said earlier, when a person feels understood they will not feel the need to explain or make excuses, and they will be more likely to listen and try and understand your point of view.

Honesty – the second layer. Remember to speak from your own experience and take responsibility for your own thoughts and feelings. For example, you could say ‘I thought that we said we would meet at 12pm? I’m really not very good at waiting, and there are loads of things I want to do today. I’m feeling agitated’. An example of blaming andfinger pointing’ would be ‘You’re late again! You knew what time we had agreed. What’s your excuse this time?’

What you want – the third layer. What you may want is for the other person to be on time from now on, but taking into consideration their needs, this may be unrealistic. A more balanced request might be to ask if from now on they would call or message you to let you know they are going to be late.


Further tips.

Pressing the pause button. The presence of strong feelings can make it difficult to structure an assertive Sh*t Sandwich logically. You may also find that you are naturally better at expressing one layer of the Sandwich than you are at expressing the others. Whilst you are getting used to this way of communicating it can be useful to press the ‘pause button’ and take time out to think through the three layers of your Sandwich. Pressing the emotional pause button can be a really useful first step towards being able to untangle your thoughts and emotions. Consider delivering your Sandwich via email. Putting your Sandwich in writing gives the other person the opportunity to re-read what you have written and fully digest what you needed to say.

Taking timeout. I often encourage couples that I work with to agree on a key word or phrase that can be used as a red flag. Something obscure like ‘red banana’ can be used to mean that you need time out to process your thoughts and feelings. It’s not easy to take a step back from a difficult situation and think about the best way of responding. Yet when ‘timeout’ is respected by both parties, it can be a really effective way of regaining control, even when emotions are running high.

Focusing on your breath. Becoming aware of your breath is a highly effective tool that will enable you to connect to a place of calm in the midst of pressure. Try counting to three as you breathe in, then count to three as you breathe out. Notice how balancing this feels. Giving your full attention to your breath will enable you to actively listen to your internal processing with all your senses. Doing this will help you to communicate more clearly.

Clarifying. It is always a good idea to clarify your understanding of a situation. Here is a great example of how easy it is to jump to conclusions: A little girl asks her mother, ‘Mummy, where did I come from?’ The mother, believing the time has come to give ‘the talk’ about the ‘birds and the bees’ takes a deep breath, and explains. The little girl, now with big eyes, says in confusion, ‘But mummy… my friend said that he was from London!’. The moral of this story is to be careful and aware of the assumptions you make, and give others the opportunity to explain. Also take the time to investigate the facts. Let’s go back and take another look at the hypothetical issue of our habitually late friend. When the friend was asked, ‘I thought that we said we would meet at 12pm?’ they could have answered, ‘Oh, didn’t we say 12.30pm?’. Being clear of the facts can save you a lot of distress, so being able to clarify them is a really valuable tool.

Choose your words wisely. The very first word that you use when asking a question can set the whole tone for what you are about to say. This can, in turn, make a difference to how you are heard. For example, starting a question with the word ‘why’ can sound accusing. By contrast, the words ‘how’, ‘what,’ where’, and ‘when’ set a softer, more inquisitive tone. Feel the difference in tone between these two questions: ‘Why did you go out last night?’ and ‘Where did you go out last night?’. The words ‘how’, ‘what’, ‘where’, and ‘when’ will help to open up conversations and encourage a more natural flow.

Once you have mastered the assertive communication tool ‘The ‘Sh*t Sandwich’ you will be able to guard against drama-oriented behaviour and, as a result, greatly improve your quality of life with others. It is never too late to start building your emotional resilience. If you would like to explore further any communication difficulties that you may be experiencing, please don’t hesitate to contact me on +44 (0) 7802 692443 or email

Stress Awareness

Stress Awareness

Stress can impact on you in many ways and can have a significant effect on your emotional, mental and physical health. A certain amount of stress can be healthy and can aid your productivity; however, experiencing high levels of stress regularly can be detrimental to your personal life, your professional life, and your overall well-being. To assess the effects stress is having on your emotional health and functioning please click on the link and complete the self-assessment survey.

What causes stress?

If we take a look at Maslow’s five stage model which simplistically demonstrates what is needed for an individual to be able to fulfil their full potential; what is clear is if any of the five needs are affected a person’s ability to self-actualise is greatly obstructed and consequently could create distress.

For example, if your basic needs were affected by illness or financial issues this then could present the threat of not being able to provide food and shelter which then could potentially affect your need for security. Also, if there were relationship issues this could affect your need for a sense of belonging, which in turn could greatly affect your self-esteem and confidence. Therefore, these five fundamental stages are necessary for you to achieve your potential and feel at your most content and happiest.

Trying to address and change the areas of your life that are affecting you can feel at times impossible. Often people are not aware of how unhappy they are in a particular area because the alternative may feel too overwhelming, yet there are still lots of practical things you can do to manage the amount of day-to-day pressure that you are under.

  • Time management is the foundation for there to be balance between your working hours, your personal life and for you to have time for rest and play.
  • Being able to assertively communicate how you are feeling with others and being able to say ‘no’ is the key to healthy relationships.
  • Identifying your triggers and mindfulness practice can help you to focus on the present and can also help you to not get drawn into mind chatter or drama related behaviour.
  • Looking after your physical health by exercising and healthy eating can help lessen the impact of stress on your overall mental health.

When you identify, address and make changes to the areas of your life that you are unhappy in. You will build upon your emotional resilience, which will give you the ability to adapt and bounce back when something difficult happens in your life.

If you have enquiry about Glister’s counselling service or if you would like to make an appointment, please do not hesitate to get in touch. For details on how to make contact please click HERE.

What does self-worth mean to you?

What does self-worth mean to you?

In a brief conversation, a man asked a woman he was pursuing the question: ‘What kind of man are you looking for?’ She sat quietly for a moment before looking him in the eye and asking, ‘Do you really want to know?’ Reluctantly, he said, ‘Yes.’ She began to expound, ‘As a woman in this day and age, I am in a position to ask a man what you can do for me that I can’t do for myself? I pay my own bills. I take care of my household without the help of any man… or woman for that matter.

I am in the position to ask, ‘What can you bring to the table?’ The man looked at her. Clearly he thought that she was referring to money. She quickly corrected his thought and stated, ‘I am not referring to money. I need something more. I need a man who is striving for excellence in every aspect of life.’ He sat back in his chair, folded his arms, and asked her to explain. She said, ‘I need someone who is striving for excellence mentally because I need conversation and mental stimulation. I don’t need a simple-minded man.

I need someone who is striving for excellence spiritually because I don’t need to be unequally yoked…believers mixed with unbelievers is a recipe for disaster. I need a man who is striving for excellence financially because I don’t need a financial burden. I need someone who is sensitive enough to understand what I go through as a woman, but strong enough to keep me grounded. I need someone who has integrity in dealing with relationships. Lies and game-playing are not my idea of a strong man.

I need a man who is a family-oriented. One who can be the leader, priest and provider to the lives entrusted to him by God. I need someone whom I can respect. In order to be submissive, I must respect him. I cannot be submissive to a man who isn’t taking care of his business. I have no problem being submissive…he just has to be worthy. And by the way, I am not looking for him…He will find me. He will recognise himself in me. He may not be able to explain the connection, but he will always be drawn to me.

God made woman to be a help-mate for man. I can’t help a man if he can’t help himself.’ When she finished her spill, she looked at him. He sat there with a puzzled look on his face. He said, ‘You are asking a lot.’ She replied, ‘I’m worth a lot.’ – Unknown


If you have enquiry about Glister’s counselling service or if you would like to make an appointment, please do not hesitate to get in touch. For details on how to make contact please click HERE.



Desiderata, which translates from Latin as “Desired things” is a famous poem written in 1927 by Max Ehrmann an American writer (1872–1945). This touching poem has a lot of meaning for me; I was introduced by a dear old friend. It  gives a very beautiful message that encourages wisdom and compassion. Each line inspires a new thought with great meaning. I like this line “whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul”. This line means to me, no matter what life throws my way I will strive to keep a connection to my sense of self.  I wonder which line stands out to you and what meaning does it have?



Go placidly amid the noise and haste and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann
If you have an enquiry about Glister’s counselling service or if you would like to make an appointment, please do not hesitate to get in touch. For details on how to make contact please click HERE.