I have been practising as a person-centred therapist for the past twenty years and focusing for twelve.
My experience is in working with people struggling to cope with loss and bereavement, stress, difficulties with relationships, abuse, low self-esteem, anxiety and depression.
Over the years I have become increasingly interested in problems faced by women struggling to come to terms with miscarriage, infertility, menopause and ageing - hidden grief which is often hard to share.
I have a particular interest in difference of all kinds and the individual search for creative living. My background in the arts, having trained as a textile artist, has given me a strong belief in the power of the creative process in enabling each and every one of us to achieve our potential.
"The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am then I can change" Carl Rogers
Loss happens to all of us all of the time and is one of the ways we share experience with one another. Everybody's response to loss, however, is individual and so is the way in which we grieve. Grief may be a response to the loss of a loved person or treasured pet but other common causes are loss of a marriage, job, house, neighbourhood or community. Today we may also be grieving for our planet, having to watch the suffering of people in many countries as well as the loss of habitat for the diverse species of our world. All of these experiences cause us distress and sorrow and these feelings need to be brought into the light and given attention.
Aside from these very obvious losses, women in particular often experience grief as they transition through their lives and discover change has happened and everything feels unfamiliar. Getting married, giving birth, children leaving home, divorce, becoming a grandmother, retirement, growing older or becoming a carer are all common examples of this.
Over the years I have become very aware of the 'hidden grief' experienced by women struggling to come to terms with losses seldom mentioned. These include the following:
Miscarriages are more common than people imagine because they are not talked about. In fact, one in four pregnancies are estimated to end this way. Some women experience multiple miscarriages and often this comes with a sense of failure alongside the grief. I discovered what a lonely business losing a baby can be in my own life and just how heartbreaking is the loss.
Of all the many transitions women pass through in their lives, the menopause has to be the cinderella. Its old name of the change was in many ways apt as many women feel that they become a different person physically and mentally. It is often hard to share these feelings with partners and friends, resulting in isolation and loss of self esteem. This may lead to a shying away from going out and socialising and depression may set in.
Infertility creates great unhappiness and stress and can lead to depression, loss of self esteem and relationship difficulties. Pressure can come from family and friends and lead to avoidance of social gatherings where babies will be present. This can lead to a sense of shame and cause isolation and despair. Sometimes this leads to the grief of childlessness.
Often these feelings are hard to share even with our partners which is why talking to a counsellor who understands and has personal experience of these issues can really help.
"Every change involves a loss and a gain. The old environment must be given up, the new accepted." Colin Murray Parkes