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August 2016

Coping With Exam Results Day

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Exam Results

So, it’s the time of year when pupils across the country face exam results day. This is a day that some pupils will have been thinking about and mentally rehearsing for months. For others they will have been denying will ever arrive. At this time of year the media will be filled with images of young people happily comparing results and one or two young people who look slightly less happy. But how do you cope with your exam results – good or bad? Here are some tips that may help you through the next few days.

Seize The Day

If you got the results you wanted – take some time to enjoy that feeling. Celebrate in whatever way you enjoy. Think about what it took to get you these results. Take a mental note of all these feelings so the next time you face an exam, this moment can give you some motivation to keep on studying and working hard.

If you didn’t get the results you wanted then it’s ok to not be ok. Despite what people may tell you, it’s ok to feel down about it. If you don’t want to be around everyone who is celebrating, it’s ok to take yourself off and do something kind for yourself. Just like people who have got the results they wanted, it’s important for you to take an internal note of how you feel today because, although it may not feel like it, it will serve you well in the future.

Moving On

Whether you have been congratulating yourself for a job well done or hiding away from the universe, you can’t stay in this place for ever. Exam results day is the start of the next phase of your life. Whatever you got, now is the time for you to look forward in a practical way and choose what you do next. It could be that the path you thought you were going to go down isn’t going to happen. If that’s the case, it’s time to start thinking creatively about Plan B or even Plan C. So, now is the time for action – whether that is deciding what you need to buy for sixth form or uni or looking into alternative courses, apprenticeships or jobs. If you do nothing from this point then that is exactly what you will achieve – nothing.

Don’t Be Alone

It does sound cheesy, but don’t be an island. Use these last few weeks before September to spend time with people that you care about. Have you got friends who have done well? Then celebrate with them. Friends who haven’t got the results they wanted? Try to be there for them. If you are struggling then try to not cut yourself off from these people. There also some good websites that can help you at this time of year if you don’t feel able to speak to people in 3D, there are some great forms on online support that can help. I’ll put some links at the bottom of this blog.

It’s Just One Day

Although exam results day is a big day, it really is just one day. It’s hard to believe but one day you will look back on this day and it won’t feel as big as it did. No matter what your results are, you have loads of other days to live your life. Live today for today and then move on and make the very most of all your other days ahead. If you need to learn from your mistakes then do that – but don’t beat yourself up forever over it. Equally, you may need to learn from what you did right so you can do it again.

If you are looking for some online support, these places are a good place to start :

Support for young people who have received their exam results

Online 24/7 support for under 25’s

Lego Gandalf figure

Is CBT The Magic Answer?

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I am often contacted by parents who are looking for CBT for their child. I think this is primarily because CBT (or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) is put across by the media as being the magic answer to all emotional and mental health problems.

I do think that in some situations, applying the techniques of CBT can very helpful and even key to a person taking steps forward and in these circumstance I will happily use them in my work.

However, I believe there are some dangers in seeing CBT as the answer to everything and I, as a therapist would be short-changing my clients if I used it with everyone. If there is an underlying trauma or issue that needs dealing with, CBT at its’ best will paper over the cracks. It may provide temporary relief but the difficulties will re-emerge (often more severely) at a later stage. At worst, using CBT at the wrong time can lead so some children and young people feeling worse than when they first came to therapy.

So is CBT the “Magic Answer?” Well, research repeatedly shows that a clearer “Magic Answer” is the strength of the therapeutic relationship. If that is in place, CBT – amongst other approaches, can provide a positive way forward for some, but not all, children, young people and adults.

Good Will Hunting it Aint

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When I first decided I wanted to work as a children’s and young people’s counsellor I imagined day after day being filled with moments such as the one shown here (apologies for the bad language in the clip). It wasn’t long into my training that I realised that these kind of life-changing moments in therapy are few and far between.

I remember meeting with my University tutor after a particuarly hard going few months counselling and she asked me how it was going. I remember saying what I had learnt – “Good Will Hunting It Aint.” I was learning (the hard way) that the vast majority of therapeutic work is about creating the right conditions so that a person can gradually make changes.

Therapists call moments like this one a “Moment of Relational Depth” (Mearns & Cooper, 2005). It’s about a moment when a therapist and client just “click.” It’s about a lightbulb moment when the pieces come tumbling into place. It’s about a therapist and client connecting in a way that words cannot describe. It’s about a life being changed and it usually happens as a result of a lot of “creating the right conditions” beforehand.

I HAVE been there for some “Good Will” moments and it’s one of the most amazing and humbling experiences in the world. There are no words that can really describe it but it is a huge honour to be present when the pieces fall into place.

However, the majority of my work is about the long term work to help people to make change in their own lives. Good Will Hunting It Aint – but an honour and priveledge it certainly is.

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