Right Versus Wrong & Creativity

In our modern world we desire life to be less hassle, preferring the quick solution. We do not like complications, we have come to like app’s, medication, one-day delivery, instant streaming, convenient easy solutions. We are developing what can often be thought of as magic thinking, silver bullet thinking, one solution fits all. These trends that have been with us over the years that have promised us this easy fix. The list of quick the fix is long and continues to grow promising a convenient solution to mental health issues. What also has become more prevalent is the ever valued diagnosis, the label to live by, I’m a….bulimic, alcoholic, introvert, addict, type b, achiever, controller etc.

As Adlerian psychotherapists the world of individual psychology began with the walking out of the psychoanalytic society. A movement away from fixed meanings, typology and separation & division of the individual. Adlerian’s move into a realm where typologies are only seen as descriptors to clarify the movement of individuals towards their chosen hidden goals.

However due to contemporary therapy, psychology and very much psychiatric diagnosis our culture has become more fixed in its approach when working with people, and typology is more attractive in the search to find solutions that work for the entire population as what happened in modern medicine. We speak of type A, extrovert, inferior, pleasers, sociopaths, controllers, avoiders, superiors, bulimic, survivors, abusers, psychotic etc. With this idea we have begun to label individuals and move away from looking at goals. Within this way of working there is a further trap, the prison of dichotic thinking. Health & sickness, right & wrong, good & bad, CBT & counselling, praise & encouragement, inferiority & superiority. If we are to look at what is the purpose of a behaviour, we need to return to the five basic Adlerian principles:

  • Unity of the unique Individual
  • We are Goal Orientated
  • We are Self-Determining and Unique
  • We are whole and indivisible
  • We desire belonging , a feeling of Community (Gemeinshaftgefuhl) (Adler 2005)

The purpose of behaviour is to attempt to achieve an ideal; to be happy, to be liked, to feel good, to have confidence, to feel loved by using behaviours such as pleasing, controlling, seeking power, finding adventure, owning things, or avoiding etc. to achieve our goal. This realisation of the difference between types and goals allows us to view the person as investing in the skills they possess to achieve their chosen private goals.

This is the reason why Adlerian therapy is so powerful, it allows practitioners to help people to change their goals, adapt and improve their skills rather than investing in one particular set of characteristics, supplying the illusion of a type.

In Adlerian basic principles there is at its core the individual meaning to live by, the scheme of apperception, with a shared common sense, a sense we all have in common/gemeinshaftgefuhl (Adler 2005). This concept of individualism and community allows for flexibility and not fundamentalism. Within fundamentalism there is only one way and it’s perceived incorrect opposite and in the psychopathology of life this is the essence of poor mental health as there is only one choice between two opposites. In a functioning mental health there is multiple, almost infinite choice, uncertainty and cognitive dissonance (pluralistic reality). This means that while everyone has a differing perspective we have a shared community feeling of flexibility to allow for others perspectives and their beliefs and values. It is only when we lose that sense of acceptance of others and begin to think in one fixed way or another we truly enter into the life of unbearable living where others are to blame for the way we feel. In this sense we have truly lost courage as we have lost the sense of how to belong and we feel isolated. We have lost choice and now our reality is certain, now is the world of false dichotomies a certainty; right/wrong, sad/happy, love/hate, you/me, good/bad, pride/loss, success/failure perfection/imperfection inferiority/superiority etc. and what has become lost is the sense of belongingness, cooperation, community and togetherness.

As Adlerian practitioners we are aware that each individual has created their own lifestyle, just as an artist creates a painting. To continue this metaphor of painting, we can typify a painting and put it into a category but to do so would demean and devalue the creation, if we begin to tell the artist what their painting is about, we give it our meaning and not theirs. The intelligent way is to understand is to engage the artist themselves, the artist truly is the only person who truly understands the painting, but often they may not be able to see their own work as they lack a reflective process such a therapy. What we can do as helpers is reflect their painting back to the artist and help develop clarity of their creation which they then have the ability to change if they choose. This idea of the unique creativity of each individual moves away from the simple dichotomies and into infinite choices. After all there are seven billion people on this planet and no two have had the same experiences growing up…..how could any two possibly have the same perspective or conclusions?

In the words of Maslow ‘if all you have is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail’ (Maslow 1966) as therapists and helpers we need to be able to be flexible and use every tool at our disposal to be with people on their journey to see their creation and to live with an awareness of it and develop choices. To take part in this life as Adlerian practitioners is to use all the tools at our disposal: encouragement, power, feelings, empathy, emotions, thoughts, dreams, memories, community feeling, self-care, family constellation, gemeinshaftgefuhl, spirituality, creativity, talking, listening, being present……whatever is beneficial and unprejudiced.

To bring closure to this short article…. to live a life of mental health is to live in a life of multiple ‘truths’, a willingness to be inconvenienced, develop courage, infinite choice, acceptance, and a sense of belonging.
Michael Fitzgerald Psychotherapist, Supervisor, Counselling Trainer, Coaching Psychologist & Yoga Instructor
BSc (Hons) Psychology, Dip in Adlerian Counselling, Dip in Supervision, Dip in Eating Disorder Therapy, Dip in Life & Business Coaching, Dip in Yoga Instruction, Dip in Youth & Community Development.
MIACP (accred), MBPsS, MASIIP (organisational) RYT (200)

Maslow, A. 1966. The Psychology of Science, New York, Harper & Row
Adler, A. 2005. The Collected Clinical Works of Alfred Adler, Volume 1: The Neurotic Character, Fundamentals of Individual Psychology & Psychotherapy. Alfred Adler Institute.

Has Rihanna Finally Gone Too Far With Her Latest Revenge Fantasy?

From an Irish Independent article:

Dungarvan-based psychotherapist Michael Fitzgerald, who specialises in teen counselling and parent coaching at CounsellingWaterford.com, thinks so. “I watched Rihanna’s new video and found it very disturbing,” he says. “Moreover, it is freely available to her young teenage fans online.

“Rihanna herself was a victim of abuse, but promoting a personal power fantasy over other human beings is hardly a healthy way of dealing with the world.

“Encouraging your audience to engage in self-centred revenge scenarios with drug and alcohol-fuelled sessions of abusing other human beings is hardly what a role model who says she wants to show female empowerment should do,” he adds. “Surely empowerment would come from encouraging people to make the right choices.”

Teach Your Teens to be Independent and Safe

From an Irish Independent article: With almost 20 years’ experience as a family and relationships counsellor, Dungarvan-based Michael Fitzgerald says the early years of a child’s life are crucial to building independence in the teens and on into adulthood.

“I recently spoke to a woman who couldn’t understand why all her attempts at instilling a sense of responsibility into her 16-year-old daughter failed, even down to the simple task of emptying the dishwasher,” he says.

“I guessed the girl probably wanted this responsibility when she was four, but, afraid of broken plates, she was told to go out and play.

“We take responsibility away from children when they’re young. They may develop a lack of faith in their own abilities and then we wonder why all they want to do is play through their teens.

“We wrap children up in cotton wool right the way up to sixth year and it doesn’t serve them well. Bullying, depression, suicide, date rape… These are real challenges facing teenagers today and the best way to empower them is to lead by example, giving them boundaries but allowing them to engage in positive risk-taking to build their self-esteem to the point where they have the courage to say no to dangers and yes to positive choices.”

Counselling and Parenting from Tots To Teens

The moment children are born they need care and love or they will not survive, but as they grow they learn by trial and error how to manage things by themselves. They become independent and begin to discover what they can do and what they can’t do. However living in the world of what you can do and can’t do can be difficult because they see the world as focused on them, due to all the care and attention they received. But they need to learn that there are others in the world who also have rights and needs.

On TV and the world of reality TV, where nannies or psychologists set out to ‘fix’ these broken children, but all they want is the results to satisfy the audience at home. While often their approach can be new and often well thought out I have a few of difficulties with the approach they take. You may say ‘well they get results’, but does the end justify the means? Or indeed what happens when the credits roll, do these now perfect children remain perfect once the celebrity and cameras are gone?

I don’t believe that the end justifies the means, and once the cameras are gone it is hard to believe after one week no trace of misbehaviours remain.

In a world where children understand that childline is just a call away, TV and internet letting children know that they have rights (and I believe firmly they should have more), punishment should be a thing of the past. So, what is the alternative to punishment?

I have learned from fourteen years in private practice, working with children and teens for almost twenty years and from being a parent, there is not a quick fix solution. Parents and all caregivers must be creative and democratic in the approach in dealing with ‘new’ generation of children as they will not stand for anything less.

I have found that growing children need three essential ingredients:

  1. Encouragement and Praise
  2. Equality
  3. Boundaries

Children need all these to feel ‘good enough’ to belong in a positive way. They need the first encouragement and praise to feel they complete a task, equality to feel the right to have a voice and be included, and boundaries to know that someone cares about them.

I think Johnson and Johnson are on to something with their ‘no more tears formula’ I believe there can be no more tears boundaries, no more tears limit setting, no more tears discipline.

How Do Children Develop? Is It Nature Or Nurture?
I have helped a few students who were studying for their FETAC Childcare Award and one of their assignments is how do children develop? Is it nature or nurture? Could one be more responsible than the other for a child’s development?

Well lets look at that nature, your genetic make up, what you are given, the bones and skin and body that you ended up with. Would you have picked it, probably not, would you change it if you were given a chance of lucky draw, probably not, you could end up with something worse. Nurture: the family and socio economic situation you were born into, what could you have done as a child to have changed it, moved out and gotten a job? Even if you could have changed you family, would life be different? I believe both nurture and nature play an enormous role in the development of children, nurture gives you a blank canvas on which to paint your life’s picture and nature gives a frame to hold the canvas, but we are missing one vital part… the creativity of every child.

Children are great observers but poor interpreters. One of my own memories is making up a reason why there was day and night. Even though my observation was accurate my reason was far form reality. Children observe situations but because of a lack of experience and knowledge draw erroneous conclusions.

For example if you were to imagine a baby in their pampers sitting on the floor of the sitting room and they can see their favourite toy at the other side of the room, but in the room between the child and the ball are mam and dad and visitors an uncle and an aunt. The child now has a problem! (and all problems are social) How will I get the ball?

Children learn by trial and error and there are choices, one choice is to go straight for what you want but someone may want a cuddle on the way, auntie may pick up the baby. What now? Baby’s plans have been upset I can’t get my ball but now something will happen. The baby might cry and somebody will get something to placate her, or better again feed her. Now we have something the baby can work with, find a moral of the story, ‘if I can’t get what I want I’ll cry (and be noticed) and get something… .it may not be what I want but I’ll get something and I’ll feel better’.

This is only one possible outcome, there are millions of others just as there are millions of individuals each with their own way of living their own modus oparandi.

But in order to communicate we must have some common ground as not everyone is so different in the world that we cannot share some common sense. That is why with children there are four attitudes that children often share in getting what they want:

  1. Attention seeking (“look at me, pick me, love me, talk to me, play with me”)
  2. Power seeking (“you are not the boss of me”)
  3. Restitution (“I’ll get you back for that”)
  4. Avoidance (“I don’t care what you do”)

These attitudes in life are very obvious in children but often as adults, parents, care givers we are at a complete loss of what to do with them even when we can identify them. This is where we must be creative and look at the purpose to these behaviours. All behaviours have a purpose, that is why I say the attitudes of children and not ‘types’ of children but rather children use these behaviours to achieve their goals. For example a child might use attention seeking behaviour when they feel left out and want to feel they are loved (there is no such thing as negative or positive attention from a child’s point of view there is just attention).

There are four attitudes that children show in terms of misbehaviour.

  1. Attention seeking (“look at me, pick me, love me, talk to me, play with me”
  2. Power seeking (“you are not the boss of me”)
  3. Restitution (“I’ll get you back for that”)
  4. Avoidance (“I don’t care what you do”)

Some people have told me over the years ‘that just the way he/she is’ and I often say that ‘no that is the way they have found that works best’.

The first step on the road of helping a child with their behaviour is to find the purpose to their behaviour. This is done by checking your own feelings. This can be hard for some as feelings are not always so clear but generally speaking:

Your feelings – Childs attitude/Goal
A feeling of annoyance/irritation – Attention seeking
A feeling of anger or argument – Power seeking
A feeling of being hurt – Restitution
A feeling or helplessness – Avoidance
Once you can identify the purpose to the child’s we must go back to the three key ingredients to helping a child interact and become a better communicator.

  1. Encouragement and praise
  2. Equality/co operation
  3. Boundaries

In order to show what I am speaking about I will give you an example, but I must say that these are not real people but just a fictional example and it does not mean that if you know a child who is like this that they have the same goal.

Jenny, three, is painting with her mother (Sally) on the floor. They are having a great morning. Jenny has a morning nap at twelve and Sally does the weekly shopping on line then makes lunch. Sally cleans up the painting equipment and she reads Jenny a story and they go upstairs to put Jenny to bed. After twenty minutes Jenny is still awake singing in bed and the on line shopping is only half done, mother has to abandon the shopping to go and get Jenny. Not wanting to have TV as the solution to all problems Sally sets up Jenny with a book and some toys. However two minutes later Jenny is beside mother pushing keys on the laptop, mother brings Jenny back to the toys and tries again. Sally is getting a little annoyed, two minutes later Jenny is back by her mothers side asking to go painting, mother says no that she must do the shopping and returns Jenny to the books and toys. Within ten minutes Jenny is again back by her mother’s side pressing buttons and asking for painting. In complete exasperation sally turns off the laptop and goes in ton play with her daughter knowing that she will need to stay up late to get the shopping done on line.

Reading this story it is clear what happened, Jenny is seeking attention, and Sally will ask why? Jenny seems a little uncertain of herself, she wants her mother to be her servant. Sally is exasperated but will find many reasons to explain away this behaviour, Jenny was tired, jealous of time alone, she needs her mother etc.

The more important question is not why but what can be done? There are several tasks in the story, the cleaning up after the painting, the shopping. These tasks should be discussed all the time while mother and daughter are playing together as nap time will eventually disappear. Sally could talk about how they will both clean up after painting, that Sally will be on the computer shopping and Jenny can help with the shopping or play with toys or books. This will give Jenny a feeling of encouragement that she can complete tasks and that Sally has faith in her work and in also faith in Jenny. Getting Jenny to help in these tasks and others around the house will give Jenny a sense of inclusion, equality, and co operation. Finally giving Jenny praise for the jobs she has done (remember to praise the work and not Jenny directly i.e. ‘good job’ rather than ‘good girl’), gives her the boundaries to know what she can do and what she needs help with.

This is a very simple individualised plan that can help mother and daughter work together and because Jenny has been included in a way that is constructive she will get a feeling of co operation rather than attention.

Behaviour And Misbehaviour In Children And Teens
We previously looked at the goal of attention and the strategy was on looking at the positive ways of using the skills of a child to create a feeling of co operation rather than attention seeking.

The next attitude is a movement toward power. The goal of power is best described in children as ‘you are not the boss of me’. I will write an example but again this is a work of fiction, and if you see a child behaving this way it does not mean their goal is power as the action a child takes is only a symptom.

David is eight and his bedtime is nine o clock, he has a routine, he has a bath, changes into his pyjamas, watches TV until eight forty five, brushes his teeth and then says goodnight to everyone and Dad would go and bring him to bed where they would read a story together. This was the way it was, lately David has been getting later and later to the point it is now nine o clock before he is turning off the TV and that has only been with constant reminding! Yesterday David was still watching TV at nine when his Dad came to check on him, Dad felt angry when he saw David watching TV, the situation had finally gotten to him and he picked David up and brought him upstairs and put him into bed. A little while later Dad is sitting in the sitting room when he hears the TV in the play room, thinking he must have forgotten to turn it off he goes in to find David sitting in front of the TV. Really angry now he unplugs the TV, picks up David and very crossly brings him up stairs and locks the playroom door.

Again we could look at why but the more important question is what can be done, this is a tricky situation and we must be very clear about the goal here, if this were attention then we would need to look at it completely differently but because Dad was angry we could make the guess that this has escalated into a power struggle.

I need to one thing very clear; no one can win against a power hungry child. Even if the outcome is in the adults favour the child in their mind can justify the outcome in terms of power i.e. ‘if I was big I would win’, ‘he only won because this is his house, if I had a my own house I’d be the boss’, ‘we will see you wins next time’.

What is needed here is a democratic agreement between David and his parents with choice and equality for both the child and his parents but also included in the agreements are limits. This will give David a sense of his own personal power in a positive way over his own life. This power comes in the form of an agreement and also allows parents to set boundaries and let David know that he is cared about. For example David and his parents could sit down and let David come up with a consequence of what will happen if he stays up beyond a time that everyone agrees is reasonable. Of course this consequence needs to be negotiated and enforced with consistency. The next attitude in escalation is restitution, seeking a balance, for example, you did something to me so I should do something to you. In the words of this metaphor ‘its only fair’, an ‘eye for an eye’, but in the words of Ghandi this will only make the whole world blind. To read an article on restitution visit my website.

Previously I looked at the attitude of attention and power and creating a strategy to help deal with these.

The next attitude in escalation is restitution, seeking a balance, for example, you did something to me so I should do something to you. In the words of this metaphor ‘its only fair’, an ‘eye for an eye’, but in the words of Ghandi this will only make the whole world blind.

When a child seeks restitution it will be for some feeling they had where they were hurt, they will seek to ‘right’ the injustice that has been done to them. However often the biggest obstacle for parents or carers in this situation is we don’t see the injustice or understand how it could have been so hurtful to a child. On the spectrum of behaviours a child who is engaging in this behaviour is a fairly discouraged child.

I can use a fictional story to explain but again the behaviour is only a symptom of the goal and even if a child is engaging in the activity described in the story it does not mean they a seeking restitution.

Bob is seventeen and was always described as a sensitive boy. He has been working for first month of the summer in a hardware shop but lately he has been coming home from his job sullen, and down hearted. Gerrard his Dad has asked him why but has had no luck getting a response. Two weeks later they receive a phone call from the owner of the shop to say that Bob has been stealing money from the till. Both parents travel to the shop and are completely shocked and apologetic. The owner agrees not to bring the Gardai into the situation but wants the money paid back and Bob will be sacked from the job and barred from the shop the owner says he feels hurt by the whole situation as he trusted Bob. When his parents ask Gerrard why he had been stealing he can give them no answer, and he is telling the truth he does not know why either, and now his parents are at a loss but they know he cannot go unpunished. What has happened? Bob has never had a boss before and had never been given instructions before by a strong authority figure who demanded results. During his time working I the shop began to feel criticised by the boss, not good enough and he began to feel hurt. He did not have the courage to speak to his boss or his family and so created another option, he decided to seek some revenge fro his hurt feelings and to hurt a business man the way he felt he could by stealing his money.

If Bob’s parents were to punish him in the traditional way by denying him something or not allowing him to take part in some activity, they will now be acting as an authority inflicting a punishment on him and it will prove his position that everyone is against him and that the world is not fair and he is not good enough. Punishment generally has this effect.

The way to help Bob is let him come up with some ideas around what should happen and agree a consequence between Bob and his parents. This will mean negotiations as sometimes children and adolescents will choose inappropriate consequences for themselves. In Bob’s case he needs a consequence that will give him responsibility and the ability to recognise a good job without someone else telling him that it is a good job. From the parents/carers position this means taking off your caring hat and putting on a training hat to look at what are you training this person to be in the world. We should be asking questions like… How would we like him to be in the future? How can we train him to be that way? How can we put him in a position that will help him develop trust in himself?

The final goal of avoidance is a topic I will be dealing with in my workshops.

Children & Adolescents: A Dilemma

Over the last few years as a counsellor I have been meeting with children, adolescents, and parents. I have been running parent groups, running workshops and attending courses. Lately I have come to realise in the words of Bob Dylan ‘Times are a changing’ or more precisely they have changed.

In the past if a child misbehaved parents were sure of what to do, they ‘disciplined’ their children, they punished them, by whatever means they thought necessary. Parents could send them to their room, not allow them dinner, or even hit them. Today children know they have rights and that some things are not acceptable, and will threaten their parents with ‘I will ring Childline’, or the Gardai.

So the question is what do we do now? The opinion of one popular writer/ psychologist is that we should return to the world of hard discipline and run families in the traditional style of someone being a boss, a dictatorial style of leadership which can leave the children without a voice, and often those without a voice will find another way to communicate their unhappiness in the form of rebellion.

However if I agreed with this philosophy I would not have written this article. There are many new ways of living with and training children that are tried and trusted, but have never been widely broadcasted.

In today’s democratic world it follows that families must be run on a democratic basis that includes everyone. We live in country that is free where we all have our own ideals, where our opinion is valued, where we have chosen a leader and we have the right to disagree and criticise. However within this freedom we must live inside the rules and boundaries of our democracy and if we break those rules there are consequences that we have agreed with.

In family life it could be the same. Everyone, especially children, need boundaries, it shows that they are cared about. Without boundaries people will look for them to know where the lines are and if we cannot find the lines we constantly push to see how far we can go until someone shows us that they care about us and our actions. Then the next time we know exactly how far to go to get mam or dad to intervene to show they care.

The first thing is to lay down boundaries, by including everyone; maybe at a family meeting and decide what the rules should be. Now, there is an agreement about what the consequences should be if the rules are broken and already some of the competition between siblings has been removed from family life simply be agreeing what the boundaries are. Another problem has also been ‘nipped in the bud’ the difficulty of punishment. When anyone is punished, and I’m sure growing up that lots of people reading this article were punished just as I was, I remember very well how unfair it was and how hurt I felt that other people were punishing me.

If consequences are agreed prior to misbehaviour then everyone knows what is going to happen when they break the rules, now it is not just ‘parents who are punishing a victim’ creating an ‘us and them’ scenario, but a whole family as a group has taken on social responsibility.

Bullying Among Children

Recently I was giving a talk about bullying to a group of 50 second year students in a Co. Waterford school and I asked ‘Who here thinks bullying is a bad thing?’ Everyone put up their hand, but I was guessing that in a group of fifty the odds were that I would have at least one bully. Research from America shows almost 30% of people are estimated to be involved in bullying during their lives either as a bully, a target of bullying, or both. In a recent survey of students 13 percent reported bullying others, 11 percent reported being the target of bullies, and another 6 percent said they bullied others and were bullied themselves. Limited available data suggests that bullying is much more common among younger adolescents than older adolescents. As people grow older, they are less likely to bully others and to be the targets of bullies.

Bullying occurs more frequently among boys than among girls. Teenage boys are much more likely to bully others and to be the targets of bullies. While both boys and girls say others bully them by making fun of the way they look or talk, boys are more likely to report being hit, slapped, or pushed. Teenage girls are more often the targets of rumors and sexual comments. While teenage boys target both boys and girls, teenage girls most often bully other girls, using more subtle and indirect forms of aggression than boys. For example, instead of physically harming others, they are more likely to spread gossip or encourage others to reject or exclude another girl.

While many people believe bullies act tough in order to hide feelings of insecurity and self-loathing, in fact, bullies tend to be confident, with high self-esteem and are generally blind to their destructive lifestyle. Their self esteem is based in their over estimation of their personal power. They are generally physically aggressive, with pro-violent attitudes, and are typically hot-tempered, easily angered, and impulsive, with a low tolerance for frustration. Bullies have a strong need to dominate others and usually have little empathy for their targets. Male bullies are often physically bigger and stronger than their peers. Bullies tend to get in trouble more often, and to dislike and do more poorly in school than people who do not bully others. They are also more likely to fight, drink, and smoke than their peers.

Children who come from homes where parents provide little emotional support for them, fail to monitor their activities, or have little involvement in their lives, are at greater risk of engaging in bullying behavior. Parents’ discipline styles are also related to bullying behavior: an extremely permissive or excessively harsh approach to discipline can increase the risk of teenage bullying. Bullies need to feel POWER all the time; they do not like to feel vulnerable. This feeling of vulnerability is so repugnant to them that if they see it in another person they will bully them. They may be seeing some trait in the other person that is they themselves also possess which they despise. This is something they are not aware of, it is unconscious.

Bully Groups (Gangs)
Surprisingly, bullies appear to have little difficulty in making friends. Their friends typically share their pro-violence attitudes and problem behaviors (such as drinking and smoking) and may be involved in bullying as well. These friends are often followers who do not initiate bullying, but participate in it. As mentioned above, some teenagers not only bully others but are also the targets of bullies themselves. Like other bullies, they tend to do poorly in school and engage in a number of problem behaviors. They also tend to be socially isolated, with few friends and poor relationships with their classmates.

One of the reasons to befriend a bully is that once someone belongs to a gang they are less likely to be bullied by the gang; however they may have to bully others to belong to the group. They may not take pleasure by bullying someone but they are grateful it is not them on the receiving end.

If You Are Being Bullied…

  1. Talk to your parents or an adult you can trust, such as a teacher, school counsellor, or principal.
    Many people who are targets of bullies do not talk to others because they feel embarrassed, ashamed, or fearful, and they believe they should be able to handle the problem on their own. Others believe that involving adults will only make the situation worse. While in some cases it is possible to end bullying without adult intervention, in other more extreme cases, it is necessary to involve school officials and even law enforcement. Talk to a trusted adult who can help you develop a plan to end the bullying and provide you with the support you need. If the first adult you approach is not receptive, find another adult who will support and help you.
  2. It is not useful to blame yourself for a bully’s actions.
    You can do a few things that may help if a bully begins to harass you. Do not retaliate against a bully or let the bully see how much he or she has upset you. If bullies know they are getting to you, they are likely to torment you more. If at all possible, stay calm and respond evenly and firmly or else say nothing and walk away. Sometimes you can make a joke, laugh at yourself, and use humour to defuse a situation.
  3. Act confident.
    Hold your head up, stand up straight, make eye contact, and walk confidently. A bully will be less likely to single you out if your project self-confidence.
  4. Try to make friends with other students.
    A bully is more likely to leave you alone if you are with your friends. This is especially true if you and your friends stick up for each other.
  5. Avoid situations where bullying can happen.
    If at all possible, avoid being alone with bullies. If bullying occurs on the way to or from school, you may want to take a different route, leave at a different time, or find others to walk to and from school with. If bullying occurs at school, avoid areas that are isolated or unsupervised by adults, and stick with friends as much as possible.
  6. If necessary, take steps to rebuild your self-confidence.
    Bullying can affect your self-confidence and belief in yourself. Finding activities you enjoy and are good at can help to restore your self-esteem. Take time to explore new interests and develop new talents and skills. Bullying can also leave you feeling rejected, isolated, and alone. It is important to try to make new friendships with people who share your interests. Consider participating in extra-curricular activities or joining a group outside of school, such as an after-school program, church youth group, or sports team.
  7. Do not resort to violence or carry a weapon.
    Carrying a weapon will not make you safer. Weapons often escalate conflicts and increase the chances you will be seriously harmed. You also run the risk that the weapon may be turned on you or an innocent person will be hurt. And you may do something in a moment of fear or anger you will regret for the rest of your life. Finally, it is illegal for a anyone to carry a weapon; it can lead to criminal charges and arrest.

In one study of students, over 88 percent said they had witnessed bullying in their schools. People who witness bullying can feel guilty or helpless for not standing up to a bully on behalf of a classmate or friend, or for not reporting the incident to someone who could help. They may experience even greater guilt if they are drawn into bullying by pressure from their peers. Some people deal with these feelings of guilt by blaming the victim and deciding that he or she deserved the abuse. Friends sometimes also feel compelled to end a friendship or avoid being seen with the bullied person to avoid losing status or being targeted themselves.

Bullying can lead people to feel tense, anxious, and afraid. It can affect their concentration in school or work, and can lead them to avoid school or work altogether. If bullying continues for some time, it can begin to affect a person’s self-esteem and feelings of self-worth. It also can increase their social isolation, leading them to become withdrawn and depressed, anxious and insecure. In extreme cases, bullying can be devastating, with long-term consequences. Some feel compelled to take drastic measures, such as carrying weapons for protection or seeking violent revenge. Others, in desperation, even consider suicide. Researchers have found that years later, long after the bullying has stopped, adults who were bullied when they were younger have higher levels of depression and poorer self-esteem than other adults.

If you are experiencing difficulties with bullies and would like to talk about the problem in a safe and non judgemental way please contact Michael Fitzgerald at the Dungarvan Counselling Centre.

Bullying Among Adults

This is a representation of bullying or abuse, but why are there three people? Surely bullying takes only two. Bullying often starts as a battle between two people but one person over time begins to lose. Let me give you an example, let us suppose there is woman called Mary she is married to Tom who abuses her, so Mary is the victim and Tom is the persecutor. Mary gets to a point where after many months she can take no more so she rings the Gardai who dutifully arrive and after listening to Mary’s story the Garda begin to ‘give out’ to Tom. What does Mary do? She says to the Garda ‘Don’t you talk to my husband like that!!’ The Garda are now the persecutor, Mary is now the rescuer and Tom the victim. This is the nature of bullying. It is a game where everyone plays their role and the object is power.

The answer is to stop ‘playing the game’ to stop being a victim. To do this you need to get help for yourself not help to defeat the bully. Find a way to improve your own self-confidence, join clubs make contact with others, hobbies outside your own family, sports, hill-walking, chess clubs, drama whatever works for you but get out and do it. Increase your own self-esteem so you can realise that you do not need or want approval from others for living your own life, you can be whatever way you want regardless of what others think.

What you can do for you.

  1. If necessary, take steps to rebuild your self-confidence.
    Bullying can affect your self-confidence and belief in yourself. Finding activities you enjoy and are good at can help to restore your self-esteem. Take time to explore new interests, or clubs and develop new talents and skills. Bullying can also leave you feeling rejected, isolated, and alone. It is important to try to make new friendships with people who share your interests. Consider participating in extra-curricular activities or joining a group outside of school, such as an after-school program, church youth group, or sports team.
  2. Refuse to join in if you see someone being bullied.
    It can be hard to resist if a bully tries to get you to taunt or torment someone, and you may fear the bully will turn on you if you do not participate, but try to stand firm.
  3. Attempt to defuse bullying situations when you see them starting up.
    For example, try to draw attention away from the targeted person, or take the bully aside and ask him/her to “cool it.” However do not place yourself at risk.
  4. If you can do so without risk to your own safety, get someone to come help immediately.
  5. Speak up and/or offer support to others when you witness bullying.
    For example, help them up if they have been ‘slagged’, tripped or knocked down. If you feel you cannot do this at the time, privately support those being hurt with words of kindness or condolence later.
  6. Encourage the bullied person to talk with someone they trust.
    Offer to go with the person if it would help. Tell someone yourself if the person is unwilling to report the bullying. If necessary for your safety, do this anonymously.

If you are experiencing difficulties with bullies and would like to talk about the problem in a safe and non judgemental way please contact Michael Fitzgerald at the Dungarvan Counselling Centre.

Stress, Stress And More Stress

More and more people are contacting me about stress. My name is Michael Fitzgerald I am a Counsellor and a Life & Business Coach based in Dungarvan, Co. Waterford. Ireland was once known for its laid back culture, in fact we were proud of it! Today people often have more than one job, we also live in a country where, for the first time, people can be what they want to be and move upwards in their career paths. Often the first question we now ask a stranger is “so what do you do?” as if this will explain who they are.

The success of the ‘Celtic Tiger’ has left us all wanting more. More money, more prestige in work, bigger houses, bigger cars and yet we also want to spend time with loved ones, holidays of enormous proportions, house extensions etc.etc. Even schoolchildren are under tremendous pressure to know exactly what they will do with the next fifty or so years of their working lives. The result: stress is fast becoming a way of life. As life gets faster, not only in Ireland but throughout the world, everyone is subject to stress, regardless of age, social status or intellectual ability. Stress knows no barriers. The worst thing is, we don’t even know we have succumbed to the pressure until we are unwell.

The medical profession has found there are more people suffering from stress than the common cold. Many diseases may be caused by stress, and even more may be aggravated by stress. One only has to consider skin diseases, heart problems, arthritic conditions, digestive problems, insomnia, migraine and allergies to see the medical conditions caused by stress. Equally, mental disorder such as depression, phobias and sexual problems, can arise from stress.

What can we do to survive stress? Why are some individuals affected and others not? Why do some people get road rage and others can drive calmly? Why do some people get completely frustrated, only then to return home to take stress out on loved ones?

The solution is, as all solutions are; easy to say and hard to do! Stress affects different people in different ways. Everyone is unique and has their own particular way of seeing the world and dealing with stress. In this individual perspective lies both the difficultly and the solution. We approach life with a way of thinking, a modus operandi a way of behaving that is uniquely ours.

If you are experiencing difficulties with stress and would like to talk about the problem in a safe and non judgemental way please contact Michael Fitzgerald at the Dungarvan Counselling Centre.

What’s the Difference Between Counselling and Life & Business Coaching?

A friend asked me recently ‘what is the difference between life coaching and counselling?’ That is a really tough question, so I decided to write about my own experience of being counselled and coached. In my opinion both are equally useful but they suit people who are in different situations faced with different choices. I am a Counsellor and a Life & Business Coach based in Dungarvan, Co. Waterford and I enjoy helping others to find their own paths. In brief someone who needs counselling may be suffering from anxiety, depression, stress, grief or want to end their own life. They need to deal with the present and work often just getting through the day. Coaching is about the inspiring a person about their own future, but instead of putting goals on the long finger it is about making the future NOW.

Counselling is about providing a therapeutic non-judgemental space where someone can face their difficulties in a deep emotional way and move out of crisis and get on with their lives. It may mean looking at present difficulties and facing them. The difficulties might stem from a childhood incident, anxiety, depression, their position in the family, a trauma from the past that was not dealt with, a tragic loss or bereavement, living in a desperate or violent situation.

  • It can be the ‘straw that just broke the camel’s back’, that last thing on a long list of things.
  • It is about needing to change.
  • To begin healing.
  • It is often about forgiveness or coming to terms.
  • It is about living anew and finding a new path because the old one was no longer an option.
  • Looking at life from a new perspective.
  • A deeply affecting change.
  • It is about finding hope and light where there was only hopelessness and darkness.
  • Finding that beauty within.

Life & Business Coaching
People come to coaching because of a feeling of dissatisfaction in their lives. Something is not quite right, something is missing. Coaching is turning ideas into decisions, then into action, and finally learning from that action. Fear can often keep us from changing. It is our own fears that keep us prisoner AND we are the jailers. Fortunately this means we have the key. Coaching is about experiencing change and embracing it.

So let me ask you a coaching question; What would you do if you were not afraid? This question is very powerful and can often cause a conflict. Initially there will be an honest flash of a desire, something like ‘help others’, ‘find love’, ‘change career’, ‘go to college’, ‘volunteer in the community’, ‘travel’, or ‘write a book’. Then there will be the voice of fear (the internal saboteur). This voice that might say ‘don’t be silly I’m not afraid’, ‘that’s a stupid question’, ‘I’m too busy’, or ‘what does he know?’ Really though ‘what is stopping you?’ Change is the only consistent thing in the universe, and is a good thing (although at the time we may not think so!) and although we do not have control over all the changes in our lives we do have control of our own attitude.

When change happens to us, we can feel betrayed, powerless and helpless. Often we can get stuck. We can fool ourselves into thinking that where we are now is the most secure place to be. We might ask ‘why me?’, ‘who has done this to me?’ The only way out is to move with the change. Moving can be daunting and even then we may not achieve what exactly it is we want immediately. However oddly enough from my own personal and professional experience as soon as I make the decision and take action and begin to move, I feel better.

The reason is simple in life coaching it is the journey that is important, the destination is secondary.

If you need counselling or life & business coaching contact Michael Fitzgerald (Adlerian Counsellor and Life & Family Coach MBACP, MBPS, MANI) at the Dungarvan Counselling Centre.

Depression and Feelings of Unhappiness

Suffering from clinical depression, depression and feelings of unhappiness. Are they the same, or not? My understanding is that a person who suffers from depression is one who has been clinically diagnosed by a professional, a psychologist or psychiatrist. Depression and feelings of unhappiness can happen to anyone, but usually last for a period of time, a temporary state brought on by the loss of a loved one, a broken relationship or any personal tragedy. Sometimes in the Winter/Autumn months individuals can suffer from – the SAD syndrome. Clinical depression is a feeling of melancholia that is a part of someone’s life and it manifest itself in many different behaviours.

Clinical depression is generally best treated by the use of anti-depressants, and can mean spending some time in hospital in order to find the correct dosage or type of drug. Once medication is prescribed counselling and psychotherapy can be of great help to clinical sufferers.

Other forms of temporary depression are best treated by counselling and psychotherapy. These are generally due to some immediate internal or external crisis. The treatment will consist of meeting in regular confidential sessions lasting about an hour to examine the immediate crisis and will also involve expressing bottled up feelings such as anger, resentment, grief or guilt. Being able to examine these feelings is a way to help dissolve the pain and depressions caused by them and move forward with your life.

Sometimes it may mean changing your lifestyle to accommodate the time when you feel most down. If you make an appointment a few months ahead with a counsellor during a time when you feel well, it will help you make a commitment to your own well being when you most need it during the dark months. Also if you plan to have a holiday to somewhere sunny during those autumn/winter months it will also strengthen your own piece of mind and feelings of self value.

If you need counselling or life & business coaching contact Michael Fitzgerald (Adlerian Counsellor and Life & Family Coach MBACP, MBPS, MANI) at the Dungarvan Counselling Centre.

About Michael Fitzgerald

As a member of the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, The Adlerian Society (UK), the Eating Disorder Resource Centre of Ireland, and as a registered psychologist with the British Psychological Society Michael Fitzgerald adheres to their ethics, principles and guidelines.

Contact Information

Dungarvan Counselling Centre,
Michael Fitzgerald,
Dungarvan, Co. Waterford,

Phone: (058)24579

Mobile: (087)6387424

Email: dungarvancounselling@gmail.com

Social Media

Website by: Déise Design