The Integrated Coaching Academy  

  Where coaching and counselling connect


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Our mental health system is broken

Posted on 24 July, 2018 at 8:05 Comments comments (0)

How dare they call it 'Improved Access to Psychological Therapies' when desperate and suicidal people are being told the waiting list is 6-12 months?

Our mental health service is broken. Throwing more money at a broken system will not fix it. Change must happen. We need a new system not a patched up old one!

Problem: Those who are stressed and distressed are too often labelled and medicated without the underlying causes being addressed. They are sold a lie that their 'brain chemistry is out of balance' and the happy pills will fix it

Solution: Those uncomfortable emotions are actually trying to prompt people to make changes in their life to get their innate human needs met. Rather than numb down the feelings, shouldn't we all (mental health practitioners included) try to listen to what they are saying?

When are we going to teach this stuff in schools? Why are today's students becoming tomorrow's mental health patients?

While we all wait for those in power to sort out the mess, a Fusion Therapeutic Coach can help those in distress uncover the real problem, focus on solutions and take appropriate action to regulate emotions and get back in control of their life

See 'This is what 24 hours in a Suicide Crisis Centre looks like'

Our mental health system is broken

Posted on 24 July, 2018 at 8:05 Comments comments (0)


How dare they call it 'Improved Access to Psychological Therapies' when desperate and suicidal people are being told the waiting list is 6-12 months?


Our mental health service is broken. Throwing more money at a broken system will not fix it. Change must happen. We need a new system not a patched up old one!


Problem: Those who are stressed and distressed are too often labelled and medicated without the underlying causes being addressed. They are sold a lie that their 'brain chemistry is out of balance' and the happy pills will fix it


Solution: Those uncomfortable emotions are actually trying to prompt people to make changes in their life to get their innate human needs met. Rather than numb down the feelings, shouldn't we all (mental health practitioners included) try to listen to what they are saying?


When are we going to teach this stuff in schools? Why are today's students becoming tomorrow's mental health patients?


While we all wait for those in power to sort out the mess, a Fusion Therapeutic Coach can help those in distress uncover the real problem, focus on solutions and take appropriate action to regulate emotions and get back in control of their life

See 'This is what 24 hours in a Suicide Crisis Centre looks like'


The secret is out !

Posted on 12 February, 2018 at 15:05 Comments comments (0)

Coach-counsellor integration is no longer a guilty secret, thank goodness.

But, until the integrationists ‘came out’, there were many counsellors who felt judged by their supervisors or peers if they admitted to working in a goal-focused or solution-focused way. Just like the early CBT therapists, this was just a sticking plaster we were warned. Only ‘depth psychotherapy’ would have a lasting effect.

A few years later and things have moved on, as more and more understanding about the human brain and mind emerges from the new brain sciences. Modern, proactive mental health interventions are outcome informed and evidence based. We will not return to the dark ages of nodding therapy now. The genie cannot be put back in the bottle.

Anyway, who would want to crush innovation and the evolution of more effective mental health care? BACP are at the vanguard. They are moving forward fast with the promotion of coaching skills for counsellors.

The world of coaching is also on the move, responding to the change which is quite clearly in the air. Now the term ‘holistic coach’ or ‘wellbeing coach’ is becoming more common. 

There is a two way stream of traffic across the bridge of integration, it seems.

Fortunately, whether you are a counsellor looking to integrate coaching tools or a coach looking to deepen counselling skills; if you are a teacher, mentor, doctor, nurse, prison officer, social worker or anyone who works in the helping professions, Fusion training will definitely help you be more effective in your role.

That’s because the Fusion Model is based on the understanding that human beings have certain needs and that it is the role of our emotions to push us towards getting those needs met.

So, if you are working with human beings, no matter what their age, colour, creed, gender or status, they will have the same human needs. This also makes Fusion the ultimate multi cultural model for mental health and wellbeing.

Perhaps someone could tell Theresa May and we could start saving the NHS billions of pounds lost in the out of date and inefficient mental health system currently in place.

How mindfulness will help you stay strong

Posted on 12 February, 2018 at 15:00 Comments comments (0)

Are you able to deal with the stresses and strains of life?

Ups and downs are a normal and natural part being human. Life does not travel in a straight line; is not a plateau but a series of valleys and hills. But it can be tough, especially if you feel you’ve been stuck in the valley for too long. Sometimes we just have to stay strong and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

A little while ago, I wrote a guided meditation for Sally, a young woman who had lost touch with her inner strength and lost faith in her own ability to cope. Her mother and brother had both died in a car accident. Her marriage was in trouble too. Sally was beginning to crumble under the weight of her grief.

She made good progress as we worked together over 5 weeks and started to feel more positive but, just at the point of returning to work, she had a wobble. We started to practice meditation together. It helped her to stop fearing the future and accept there were things she could not control no matter how much she worried about them.


Mindfulness meditation is about surrender rather than demand. It is not about forcing things to go our way. It is relaxing into the way things are. It’s letting go.

It’s a time when we can rest in the presence of our breath, our body and our emotions with a detached, kind and gentle curiosity and in doing so; we befriend our breath, our body and our emotions.

We befriend ourselves.

This is one of the meditations I wrote for Sally. It’s designed to be spoken or read slowly and with periods of silence for introspection and insight.

The therapeutic suggestions are in bold as are the embedded seven pillars of mindfulness as outlined by MBSR creator Jon Kabat Zin.

I wrote a haiku for Sally too and that is at the end:

Guided mountain meditation

Either close the eyes, or half close the eyes, soft focusing on an area of floor about two feet in front of you:

Begin to notice the breath, saying silently ‘I am breathing in, I am breathing out.’

As you follow the breath you might notice the warmth or coolness of the breath as it passes over the upper lip

After a little while, the out breath may naturally extend as you begin to relax

Observe the breath as it moves down the diaphragm and then gently back up again.

Set aside the focus on the breath and simply begin to notice the rise and fall of the abdomen allowing the attention to ride and rest where it will

In your mind’s eye, bring up an image of a mountain

And, as you begin to pay attention to the mountain, you might notice its shape

It may be a small, wide mountain or a tall, narrow mountain. It doesn’t matter for, as you look more closely at the mountain, you may have a sense of it being the most beautiful, graceful and elegant mountain you have ever seen

And this mountain has a secret; it has been here since time began and the mountain has been a witness to many things

As you observe the mountain, you might notice how the sun passes over it, creating pools of light and shadow and, as the sun sets, how it is gently illuminated by the soft glow of the moon

Each day passes in this way

The mountain does not judge the day or the night, does not prefer one to the other, does not cling to the heat of the sun or the coolness of the moon, does not pull or push

The mountain appreciates both sun and moon, day and night, with a simple yet immovable presence

And so it is with the seasons: as you observe the mountain, you might notice how the green leaves on the trees, rooted in its crags and crevices, bathed in the full sun of summer, begin to redden and wither and fall to the ground. In time, autumn transitions to winter. Now snow caps the top of the mountain and cloud descends

And the mountain is silent and still with a wise strength that knows there is no need to fight the wind or repel the rain and in this way remains free from pain and free from suffering, trusting in the rhythm of the seasons and waiting to emerge from those passing clouds as the frozen earth is caressed by the first rays of early spring

The mountain is patient and present to each moment. It knows there is no reason to hurry. The buds on the trees will unfold in their own time

And isn’t it amazing how you can be an observer of the mountain in all its detail, moving in close to see the crags and crevices, the buds on the trees as they emerge, the little spring flowers bursting through the warming ground

And, if you wish, you can travel in your imagination, around to the other side of the mountain and see it for the very first time as though seeing with new eyes, perhaps noticing how different it seems from a new perspective

And you can, if you wish, in your imagination, drift into the mountain, become the mountain and have a sense of the mountain, with its solid base, like your seated base of hips and legs that extend firmly to the floor

Your spine and neck and head can extend tall like the lofty peaks of the mountain

We can all be like the mountain with its patience, trust and acceptance

We can be a witness to our experience and see with new eyes

We can choose to let go of attachment and striving

We can set judgement aside and understand there are things we cannot control.

We can accept times of darkness and winter chill

We can stay strong and steady

We can trust and wait for the sun to shine again

The mountain knows a secret

The air does not breathe

Water has no mind to swim

Snow is simply snow



The art of naked conversation

Posted on 5 February, 2018 at 14:55 Comments comments (0)



How often do we say exactly what we’re thinking?

‘How are you?’ is the only question to which no one really wants the answer, so how do we finally drop the mask and give ourselves permission to be more real? Let’s face it, there’s often much more power in what is not said than what is. No one particularly wants to hear about problems, but continually dodging the elephant in the room doesn’t mean the elephant isn’t there.

My 17 year old client, Paul, and his father had been dodging elephants for a while and the stress was now building. Paul had secured himself a string of A*s at GCSE and been strongly advised by his father to go for STEM subjects at A level to give him greater career opportunities.

But within weeks of starting sixth form, Paul knew he had made a bad mistake. He actually loved art, music and creative writing. Doing sciences made him feel like he was ‘thinking in circles but having to express himself in squares. I feel so boxed in’ he told me but he felt unable to talk to his father about it.

Emotionally absent

Actually, Paul’s father was one of the main problems. He was a highly qualified scientist specialising in Artificial Intelligence. Worryingly, Paul described him as ‘physically present but emotionally absent.’ He often worked from home but hardly ever emerged from behind the doors of his office.

As Paul painted more of a picture of his work, personality and behaviour, I began to feel his father might have a systemising brain, a term used by Dr Simon Barron Cohen to describe those on the autistic spectrum. If my hunch was right, then he would not have an instinct that Paul was distressed at all. He would not understand that his advice to follow STEM subjects might be at odds with Paul’s natural inclination or preference. He would not have a sense of context and would probably not be able to empathise with Paul’s current dilemma.

But it went deeper than that. It turned out that Paul’s father had never told him he loved him and had never even given him a hug. Real communication had all but broken down over the years. Paul respected his father deeply and wanted a relationship with him and, after I had explained the implications of systemising brain wiring, he began to realise his father was not actually being uncaring, it was simply that probably did not have the innate skills to relate to his teenage son.

A naked conversation

Direct action would be needed. Paul had to find a way to have ‘a naked conversation’ with his father; one where he told him exactly how he felt and what his needs were. I introduced Paul to the ‘communicating difficult feelings’ template and we set to work, collating Paul’s thoughts into the essence of what he felt he needed to say. It’s a formula I’ve used many times and in many different contexts and it always has an impact. One client, Barbara, came to see me on the brink of leaving her husband.

‘He has no instinct about what is going on for me’, she said despairingly. ‘Most of the time he seems indifferent to how I’m feeling. If I want him to do something, I have to write it on a list or it doesn’t happen. I have to make all the social arrangements and even tell him what to wear or he’ll turn up in odd socks!’

The template came in very useful for Barbara, as did the systemising brain explanation. She became much more forgiving of her husband when she realised he was not being bloody-minded after all. One real up side of systemisers is that they are very loyal and have a keen sense of fair play. They are often highly intelligent too. I asked Barbara what her husband did for a living. ‘He’s a rocket scientist’ she said with a wry smile. All was becoming clear.

Even if your partner is not on the spectrum, according to relationship counsellor John Gray, author of ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’ women will discuss feelings easily yet most men would rather mow the lawn ten times or lock themselves in the shed rather than have ‘that’ conversation.

Pauls’ letter

The letter starts with a positive statement to open communication. There is a tendency to switch off if something looks like it will be critical.

The template can be used to structure thoughts for a spoken conversation, but putting it in writing works well when trying to communicate with a systemiser as they often miss non verbal signals, and crucially, the letter ends with a call to action.

This is what Paul wrote:

Dear Dad,

I love you because you have always stood by me. When mum left, you became my rock. You have worked so hard for us to be able to stay in this house and keep me at my school. I don’t think you know how much I admire you and the work you do.

Yet, it makes me angry when I try to talk with you about what’s worrying me and you seem pre occupied and don’t really listen.

And I feel so sad that we don’t spend time together or have fun like we used to before mum left and that communication has broken down between us.

I am frightened that I’m doing subjects at sixth form that I don’t enjoy and I’ve made a mistake I can’t undo because you won’t listen to what I’m saying.

I regret taking STEM subjects and want to do art, music and creative writing instead.

Dad, there’s something I need from you now…

I need us to talk about this and for you to come and speak to my form tutor and explain how I feel and find out if I can change subjects or what my options are

And there’s something else…

I need a hug and I need you to tell me you love me (you never have)

Love Paul


I wondered how Paul’s father would react.

He intended to leave the letter on his desk that evening. I needn’t have worried. When he returned the following week, Paul was like a different boy. After his father’s intervention, the school had been very sympathetic to Paul’s needs and helped him change subjects without delay. It was still early in the term. Paul was bright and would be able to catch up it was felt.

But there was another more immediate result from the letter.

‘After he read it’, Paul told me,’ he came straight out of his office, gave me the biggest bear hug and told me he loves me and is really proud of me.’

‘Result’ I said (I had to stop myself from punching the air) ‘Looks like that template might come in very handy in the future’.

Paul agreed. ‘Yes, and it might come in handy when I get married too’, he said.

Told you he was bright…












Posted on 5 February, 2018 at 14:50 Comments comments (0)


July 14th Bedfordshire £95 Book on [email protected]

10am start

The history of PTSD: DSM definition and diagnosis

Using impact and outcome measures

Sub threshold trauma

The neuroscience of trauma

EMDR, EFT, progressive counting and LSD therapy: how they work

The Rewind timeline

How Rewind can resolve PTSD symptoms in one session

NICE guidelines

Coffee and biscuits


Dr Muss’ fast Rewind protocols

Practise session

Ploughman’s lunch provided


The Human Givens protocol with formal induction

Practices sessions

Tea and cakes


Case studies and discussion

Post trauma growth

4pm finish


Hand outs, scripts and a copy of the book by Frances ‘PTSD Resolution: reclaiming life from trauma’ provided for all delegates


Fusion training can be a life changer

Posted on 31 January, 2018 at 13:55 Comments comments (0)

I had a Skype supervision session today with a Fusion Therapeutic Coach. I do quite a bit of supervision via Skype these days as diploma delegates come from all over the country and some from abroad too. For me, it’s a real privilege to observe careers evolve and confidence grow over many years.

I always start supervision sessions with the important question ‘how are you?’

As life coaches and mindfulness trainers, we need to be authentic and able to walk the talk. How can we encourage our clients to ‘live their best lives’ if we are not working towards that ourselves?

Encouragingly, my supervisee today described herself as ‘living the dream.’

But it wasn’t always so. Five years ago, she nearly didn’t attend the diploma at all. With outstanding health test results and confidence issues at work, she phoned just 24 hours before the course to voice her concerns that she would not be in the right frame of mind to come along.

Having listened to what was going on, I felt the diploma would present a great opportunity for her to step outside her life for a while and take some time and space for herself. She had already booked into a pretty canal-side B and B for the 5 days of the course. ‘Perhaps this is something you can be doing while you wait for those other difficulties to resolve’ I said, and the decision was made.

She describes that decision as ‘a life changer.’

How different things are now. These days she is self employed as a Fusion therapeutic coach-trainer with a work/life balance that is enviable. She stays close to the 5 session manual and finds it consistently works well, charging £125 for the first session of 1.5 hours and £95 for subsequent 1 hour sessions. Five to seven clients represents her perfect work load as she also leads monthly ‘happiness recipe’ workshops; quite an achievement for someone who used to get flustered if she had to speak at a meeting.

Although the five session format works well to resolve problems and refocus on the preferred future, she finds that many clients want to maintain an ongoing coach-client relationship, so she has just signed up for the next Mindfulness Based Mind Management training day.

I spent most of last year writing this latest Fusion product and, when I did so, imagined it in a group setting. Once written, however, it became clear it would work well on a one-to-one basis as it embeds the Fusion mind management tips, tools and techniques with core mindfulness exercises such as mindful eating, loving kindness and a ‘just a minute’ breathing space.


1 powerful way to raise self esteem

Posted on 19 January, 2018 at 4:35 Comments comments (1)

Quitters Friday followed by Blue Monday reflects the reality that January can be a challenge for many of us. Feeling low can make us negative about who we are, or rather who we think we are.

We beat ourselves up for not sticking to our New Year’s resolutions and our already fragile self esteem crashes through the floor. Low self esteem merely fuels the fires of low mood, and so the downward spiral continues.

Cutting into the loop

I was asked recently how to raise self esteem.

There are many ways, but the one I am about to describe is particularly effective as it engages the right brain hemisphere and bypasses the resistant ‘yes but’ defences of the left. The left brain has long since formed a belief system around the personality of the person and continues only to look for the evidence it is correct.

The resistance-busting technique is called ‘The overheard conversation’ and begins by relaxing the client very deeply and accessing an area of consciousness that sits between wake and sleep. The brains of people who are in this hypnogogic-hypnopompic state are noted to have alpha and theta waves present. Alpha waves are associated with deep relaxation and theta waves are associated with accelerated learning…or insight.

Those who have completed Fusion training will know recent research shows the moment of insight occurs in an area of the brain just above the right ear, known as the anterior superior temporal gyrus.

Much has been written about the mechanism of insight, but it’s true to say, a paradigm shift can occur in seconds and, when it does, the results can be dramatic. That is what happened for my client Joan, anyway.


Joan had been traumatised in childhood. We had to do some specific work around those incidents to bilaterally integrate the old memories. But, even though that work had been successful, Joan was left with very low self esteem. She had a perception of herself that allowed others to continue to bully her, especially at work.

Joan’s self image had been formed during her unhappy childhood. The messages she had received back then from the people around her had programmed a negativity that was resistant to logical challenge. Quite simply, she was running outdated software and it was time to upload something new!

Once relaxed, and with the defensive left hemisphere distracted and disengaged, I spoke directly to Joan’s right hemisphere in a guided visualisation. Guided visualisation is like walking someone through a dream and is a powerful mechanism for change. This is what I said to Joan with the embedded messages in bold:

A guided dream

‘‘Joan, I wonder if you could imagine turning up at a gathering. Lots of people you know are there and they are people whose opinion you value.

Notice what the room looks like, the sounds of voices chatting. As you take a glass of orange from a waitress, perhaps notice the coolness of the glass against your hand, the citrusy fragrance of the drink and the fruity taste of the orange as you take a sip.

And as you drift around the room, feeling relaxed, and wondering which group to join, you begin to pick up fragments of conversation from those around you.

‘Look, there’s Joan. I’m so pleased she came. She’s lovely to talk to. She’s one of those people who actually listens and is interested in what you have to say.’

‘Yes, she’s got a great sense of humour too. She’s fun to be around.’

‘It’s no secret Joan had a difficult child hood. Isn’t it amazing how she’s turned her life round? I was reading about that. It’s called post trauma growth. Some people emerge the other side of difficulties stronger in so many ways.’

‘I don’t think Joan quite realises how much she is respected around here. She’s bright and she’s a people person too. That’s a powerful combination.’

‘She’s certainly a tenacious lady. I think she’ll do well here.’

‘Do you think she’ll get promoted?’

‘She certainly deserves to climb the ladder. She understands at a very deep level. Look how much time she’s spent on learning and self development. We need more like Joan on the management team.’

‘Looking good too….’

‘Yes, always smartly dressed but it’s her bubbly personality that really lights her up.’

‘I know what you mean…’’


I saw Joan one week later. She’d noticed a shift.

‘I think I’m being more assertive’ she told me ‘but in a good way.’

It’s strange really but the better I feel about myself, the better other people seem to treat me. Strange, isn’t it?’

‘I think you understand at a very deep level’ I responded.

I had a feeling our work was almost done.


New Association for Coaching accreditation for 2018

Posted on 9 January, 2018 at 8:20 Comments comments (1)

The start of a new professional year is always exciting for me. I like new projects, new ideas and new opportunities and it looks like there will be plenty of those in 2018.

There are 2 new venues for the Diploma and Trainer programmes. They will both be super-fast track over two weekends. Responding to previous feedback, many people tell me they like the idea of immersing themselves in a learning experience and , when you stay away, it also feels like a bit of a holiday, especially when the surroundings are so beautiful.

And, now that mindfulness is such an integral part of the Trainer programme, many participants will be able to use the space for some work on personal as well as professional development. Several Fusion graduates have called the course ‘life changing.’ I know that is true as I’m still in touch with most of them.

The biggest change this year will be the Association for Coaching Accreditation for the training. It’s currently going through the process and was a lot of work to put in place. But I’m pleased I have done all the paperwork as Fusion graduates will find it very straight forward to achieve professional or executive AC coach status post training if that is the road they wish to take.

Polyvagal theory and the empathy bypass

Posted on 28 August, 2017 at 8:10 Comments comments (0)

One of the joys of running the Diploma is meeting a group of like-minded people, getting to know each other and observing how relationships form.

Relationships are important. We are social beings. The human brain is a social organ. Empathy is central to relationships. Theory of mind means we can put ourselves in the shoes of the other, feel their feelings and see through their eyes.

On the Diploma, we watch an old recording of Carl Rogers counselling and man on anger. It's a rare film and not one you can access on you Tube.

One thing that shines through as you observe Rogers is how central empathy is to his work. Empathy is one of the person-centred core conditions for a therapeutic alliance. It's something we totally accept now but it wasn't always so.

Rogers was an innovator of what he termed ‘here and now therapy’. He was greatly inspired in this by the work of Otto Rank. Rank was once a central figure in Freud's analytical circle but became disillusioned with his oedipal obsession and the focus of psychoanalysis on the past.

Here and now therapy would focus instead on being fully present, and offering congruence, non-judgement and empathy to build a relationship and create a holding space where the client felt safe enough to explore their thoughts and feelings.

Polyvagal theory now offers an additional explanation for the effectiveness of the therapeutic alliance and how one human brain can connect with another.

The ventral vagal nerve is connected to the facial areas associated with communication, such as the eyes, mouth and ears. It is the most recently evolved branch of the autonomic nervous system and developed as human beings began to group together to form tribes and family units. Communication, both verbal and non-verbal now became essential for bond-forming and for working together.

Brain imaging confirms that information from our environment enters the right emotional brain hemisphere first. The brain checks out whether it is safe or whether it needs to engage fight or flight.

If it does feel safe, the incoming information travels across the corpus callosum, the bridge between the two hemispheres. It now engages the neo-cortex or rational left hemisphere where thought and reason process the data.

This milli-second of internal triage generally occurs outside of our consciousness.

If the environment feels safe, the ventral vagal system is in the driver’s seat and the brain tells the heart to remain calm. But if we sense a threat, whether real or imaginary, the older fight or flight system becomes switched on. Intense threat can even result in a brainstem response; freeze, shut down or death.

There are many ways to override our innate human empathy.

The social psychopath feels little if no empathy, for another human being. It's a brain wiring issue. The narcissist is so focused on ‘The self’ and their own needs that they see little point in engaging their empathic circuitry.

Polyvagal theory now informs us that, when we feel unsafe in our environment or in the presence of another, the older autonomic nervous system will produce more instinctive reaction that comes from the older part of the brain that perceives the world in a polarised, black or white, fight or flight mode.

In that mode, it's easy to see how empathy would be switched off, another explanation for how the hand that feeds can also be the hand that kills.