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The Integrated Coaching Academy

Where Coaching and Counselling Connect

Prince harry, grief and how to really help

Prince Harry has gone very public about his mental health struggles resulting from the death of his mother, Princess Diana. In Apple TV’s ‘The Me You Can’t See’ he says he ‘boxed up his emotions’ for 20 years.

It’s true; people often attempt to deal with life’s losses and traumas by disconnecting and switching off their feelings.

The ‘box-it-up’ method can work for a while, as it did for Harry, but what tends to happen over time is that the lid of the box begins to lift all on its own and the anger and despair begin to tumble out in an uncontrolled way. For Harry, the lid of the box seems to have really started to open after his marriage to Meghan and the build up to the birth of his first child created a psychological pattern match to the trauma of his mother’s death.

Harry was filmed in an EMDR session with his therapist. It seems to have really helped. I wish he could also experience the Rewind Technique which was originated by Dr David Muss in the 1970s. It can be even more effective. I did some training with David. As a newly qualified psychotherapist many years ago, I was so amazed by the successes I was having for my PTSD clients that I wrote a book about it. It works in a similar way to EMDR by grounding the client and setting a cognitive task that anchors the brain into the neo cortex. It’s less well known simply because it hasn’t attracted the research and funding of the EMDR programme originated by Francine Shapiro.

Here, an EMDR therapist gives a succinct explanation about the underlying mechanism. She says:

‘The therapy works by the therapist creating a safe and trusting space. We identify the experiences … and bring them into the room in a gentle way to reprocess those memories so the past can be in the past and our past life experiences do not continue to create stress, anxiety and triggers in our current life’

The subconscious mind

What stays in the subconscious mind has the ability to control us. Allowing suppressed emotions to safely surface can actually process long term grief in just one session... if that is what the client wants.

Sometimes, however, the bereaved just want to speak, to be allowed to explore and express their emotions in their own time and in their own way. Fortunately, a Fusion Therapeutic Coach will have the empathic attunement to understand what the client needs from their practitioner.

Yes, if they want resolution, the Rewind Technique can achieve that quickly and efficiently but if they need to talk, a Fusion Coach knows how to offer the time and space for that to happen. It’s about making the model fit the client rather than the client fit the preferred therapy style of the practitioner.

My article this week looks at suppressed grief and how the reaction to unprocessed emotions can take us by surprise many years later.

I hope it helps…

Grief and how to really help

As James sat in front of me, memory after memory of his father’s death surfaced, released, and ran softly down his face.

‘He died when I was 10’, said James. ‘It was an unexpected heart attack. He went to work one morning and didn't come home. Mum thought I was too young to go to the funeral so I went to school on that day just, like any other day.’

James's mum wasn’t being cruel. She had hoped to protect her young son from the pain of seeing her so desperately upset at the grave side. She wanted him to escape somehow the turbulent and intense range of emotions that are a part of the journey through the grieving process. So she made life as normal as possible for him. She compensated by taking him on lavish holidays, buying him the latest gadgets and putting on her ‘I'm fine’ face in the daytime.

Crying alone

She had removed all the pictures of James's father in the house and he was now rarely referred to.

The mother-who-meant-well stayed strong and kept going. She was doing a good job she told herself. After a year, James seemed fine, was doing well at school and never mentioned his father at all.

But the grief hadn’t gone away and it was only after she put James to bed at night that she allowed herself to cry. What she didn't realise was that, in bed at night, James could hear his mother crying and would often cry himself to sleep too.

Both mother and son were going through an intense range of emotions they did not want to communicate to each other, for fear of causing more upset. They had both become isolated in a shared grief for the most well-intentioned of reasons and they were making a mistake that many of us make.

I must keep going

There are plenty of laudable reasons for not dealing with grief. People have to go to work to keep their job. They have to get the kids off to school. They have to mow the lawn, do the shopping, cook and pay the bills. They think if they give way to grief, it will be like a dam has burst. They won’t be able to cope with the deluge and will drown in a flood of their own tears.

But deferring grief is like living with an undetonated bomb. We fool ourselves that if we tiptoe around it, perhaps it won’t go off.

An open wound

However the loss and grief remain as a concealed, but still-open, wound. Although we may have put a plaster over it, it will not begin to heal until we acknowledge its presence and let some light and air onto the injury.

As Prince Harry has observed, death has become a sanitised business.

We try to ignore it. We clean it up with phrases like ‘passed over’, or ‘slipped away’ rather than saying someone has died. Or we wrap it up and leave it on a shelf in a darkened room that we try not to visit.

We are taught, in the face of adversity to stand strong. We must stay in control. We have to keep a very British ‘stiff upper lip’.

But grief is not an illness. It’s a fact of life. We will all lose someone we love and we will all feel the pain. Being able to ride the intense waves of emotion that come with bereavement is an example of mind management and asking for help or talking to someone about how we really feel is a sign of emotional intelligence, not weakness.

As a therapeutic coach, I have a range of skills in my professional toolbox. But for James, as with most of my clients who are grieving, I used the simplest, yet most powerful of them all.

I listened.

Frances Masters MBACP accred GHGI

Frances Masters is a BACP accredited psychotherapist, coach, training consultant and author of the book PTSD Resolution: Reclaiming life from trauma.

In 2009, Frances founded the charity Reclaim Life; training its volunteers to work in the new, integrated coach-counselling model, Fusion.

As founding Principal of the Integrated Coaching Academy Frances gained accreditation for her training from NCFE as Customised Awards; 'The Fusion Therapeutic Coaching, Counselling and Training Diploma in Therapeutic Coaching and the distance learning programme Certificate in Therapeutic Coaching Skills'

Training programmes also include

The Integrated Coaching Academy certified Fusion Mindfulness Based Mind Management Skills Certificate

and new online training Breathe Stress Away

Fusion® Therapeutic Coaching is an approved NCFE training centre, an organisational member of he British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy and the Association for Coaching


It's launched! Fusion Mindfulness Based Mind Management is here

Posted on August 11, 2017 at 10:20 AM

I recently returned from lovely Lancashire where I delivered the first ever Master Trainer day of the Fusion 8 week Mindfulness Based Mind Management programme.

It’s fair to say it was well received. The overwhelming reaction was ‘wow!’

I’m pleased with it. It’s been hard work and the guided visualisation scripts for the trainers are still in production. But it seems to me, the process has brought together all of the loose ends, taking the Fusion Model to the next level and offering, what I believe to be, the best mental health practitioner training currently available in the UK.

It’s fast-track and affordable too. Perhaps someone could tell the NHS? They seem to be worried that, even with £1.3 billion allocated funds, they will not be able to train sufficient practitioners in 4 years!

After 8 days’ training the Fusion Therapeutic Coaches and Trainers are highly skilled and fully armed to work with clients where ever they present on the ‘continuum of wellbeing’. And with the 8 week MBSR now part of the Fusion programme, there are even more ways to help people build emotional resilience rather than for society to have to ‘fire-fight’ each personal crisis as it occurs.

Mindfulness Based Mind Management

Mindfulness is all about focus.

It’s the brain training that strengthens the mental muscle of the pre frontal cortex, the seat of our executive control.

It’s certainly a powerful mind management tool. The Fusion programme makes new and critical links with cutting edge neuroscience such as epigenetics, mapping the connectome and polyvagal theory. When people understand just why it works, why wouldn’t they spend 5, 10 or 15 minutes a day simply sitting in the presence of their own thoughts? ‘Show me the evidence base’ is the modern mantra.

And why not?

Knowledge is power after all. Most people do not want a mental health diagnosis. They simply want an explanation for how they feel and a practical strategy for feeling better as soon as possible, restoring hope.

On week 1 of the MBMM programme, delegates are encouraged to go for a mindful walk and ‘see with new eyes’. It’s known as ‘beginner’s mind’. On the course, I make the connection with the powerful brain filter, the Reticular Activating System (RAS).

Counsellor Liz Blackburn made the connection too. She contacted me yesterday:

‘I would just like to say how much I enjoyed the course and the Train the Trainer and MBMM.

Here is a story…… When a returned home after the final day, I went for a mindful walk.

So often I do this walk quickly, just to get the exercise. I live in a beautiful place (even though it might be a bit wet) but so often I don’t appreciate it. Within 100meters from my house I spotted a buzzard soaring in the sky. Then I went on to notice a young hare playing in the lane. Further on I stood for a short while to watch the swallows and swifts, trying to identify the differences between the two.

The curlews are still here, not returning to their coastal homes for the winter yet. Further along I spotted an owl as it took off from a nearby gate post. At this point I thought to myself “all I need now is to see a deer. I will do before I get home”, I thought with confidence.

Almost immediately, I had hardly turned the corner when there in front of me was a young red deer, just grazing in the field. This really proves the power of RAS!! That was for me; the perfect walk… I continued on my way home, only to notice some sloe berries growing on bushes that I had passes many times before but never noticed them. (It looks like I may be making Sloe Gin this autumn.)

What enjoyment to have a “Mindful” walk.’

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