Mi Amigo : 75 Years Remembered

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Thiphotograph of crew of mi amigo planes coming Friday the US Airforce and Royal Airforce will fly over Endcliffe Park to remember the incredible sacrifice of the crew of the Mi Amigo aircraft 75 years ago. The now famous crew chose to crash into the trees to the back of Endcliffe Park to avoid harming the children playing in the park. What has touched so many people is the dedication of  Tony Foulds who has tended the site for the past 75 years. Until recently, nobody noticed him but he still nurtured the Memorial with amazing dedication.

Hidden In Plain Sight

I came across the scene of the crash quite soon after I moved into the premises at Rustlings Road just a few years ago. I was walking my dog in Endcliffe Park and stumbled upon the Memorial that is in the middle of some trees in the park. At that time, there were no signs to let you know it was there. Yet even then I was struck by how well kept this memorial, that was so hidden away, seemed to be. I searched Google to find out about the story behind it.

I’ve lost count of the number of times that I have looked out from the windows of 8:16. It directly overlooks the site – the large open space, the trees and the memorial sat amongst the trees. It would be so easy to miss the life-changing secrets hidden within what seems like an everyday scene.

Endcliffe Park on a summer day

The view of Endcliffe Park and the scene of the Mi Amigo crash from 8:16

Lessons For Today

There are so many things that we could take from this incredible story of heroism and sacrifice. I believe that Tony Foulds is a hero of our times. The dedication he has shown in caring for the Memorial has meant that the crew of Mi Amigo have not been forgotten. It reminds me too that so often, in the everyday scenes that we walk past, there are life-altering incidents all around us. Often we miss them because they may not appear dramatic. They might be in plain sight but we miss them. But they are still there.

The name of the plane involved in the fatal crash in 1944 seems so apt. The crew of the plane lived up to the plane’s name. Tony Foulds has been a friend to those who sacrificed their lives to save him and his friends. I hope all who remember the sacrifice will continue in the spirit of Mi Amigo beyond Friday.

Finally, I hope that we become more aware of what is right infront of us. The most influential and life-altering things are often hidden in plain sight. I hope we become more aware of these things and each other.



a pot filled with coins and a plant growing out of it

Why Is Private Counselling So Expensive?

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Recently, the BBC made their on-air presenters’ salaries public. This week, I find myself once again thinking about the thorny issue of private counselling and why is it so expensive? I usually feel uncomfortable when telling people how much I charge per hour – especially when that hour is only 50 minutes long! Having paid for plenty of counselling for myself, I can remember thinking how expensive it seemed. So, this blog is my unashamed attempt at self justification. Hopefully I will explain why I (and most other therapists who work privately) charge what we do and why therapy is so expensive.

Just a few weeks ago, I worked out just how much I actually take home after my expenses. In other words, what is my wage? When I look at my diary, I am pretty busy – so why aren’t I a millionaire? I added up my costs and took them away from my income. I then divided those costs by the number of sessions I held. When I broke it down, I take home around 33% of my session fee – before tax. Feel free to work out what that is from my session fee!

Why Aren’t Counsellors Millionaires?

So, what are the main weekly costs of being a counsellor? Firstly, I have to pay for room hire.  This amount varies but can easily be a quarter of the session fee. Secondly, as a counsellor,  I have to have at least an hour and a half’s supervision per month. This is to make sure that those I work with are being helped the very most possible. I choose to have two sets of supervision a month – both of which cost money. I pay for my membership of the BACP and Public Indemnity Insurance. Fourthly, I’m required to have regular training. This is so that I am always developing as a counsellor. Training can also be pretty expensive. Fifthly, I pay to advertise on online directories and search engines. That’s so people like you can find me. Lastly, I buy most of the creative materials I use in my work – the paints, toys, games that help children and young people express their feelings.

The Cost Of Training

Of course, this list doesn’t take into account how much it costs just to get to the point of being able to practice as a qualified Children’s and Young People’s Counsellor. That amount is eye-watering and easily goes into the tens of thousand. I, like most counsellors had to work for free for several years as part of qualifying. Due to the lack of Children and Youth Counselling courses near me, I also had to travel each week to London and Leeds to complete my training and Placement hours.

So, if you look at my or another therapists’ fees and think we are all millionaires – please do think again! Being a therapist is not a profession people go into to make money. Many people I know do well just to get by. Please remember that there are many unseen expenses to working in this field and that is why therapy can seem so expensive.

Want To Find A Private Counsellor?

If you want to find a private counsellor / therapist then Counselling Directory has hundreds of qualified therapists that you can search by post code / type of difficulty etc.

A sad child hugging his dog

A Father’s Day Plea

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I always twinge at the mention of Father’s or Mother’s Day. Not because I begrudge people a chance to celebrate and thank those they love. It’s more because my thoughts immediately go to those for whom days like this are a painful reminder of what they haven’t got.

Whether it’s those whom this Sunday, Father’s Day is a hige reminder that their dad is no longer with them. Or it may be someone who cannot say that they had or have a loving or caring Father. These days can be a painful and seemingly cruel reminder of what someone hasn’t got or have never experienced. When the whole day is the focus of so much attention on adverts and Facebook it only reinforces this.

There are no magic answers to make days like Father’s or Mother’s Day ok for those whom it is painful. I certainy don’t think people should stop celebrating the day.

My Plea

My only plea is this : if today you are celebrating, please do remember that not everyone is. If you are writing messages all over Facebook to say what a great dad you have, why not add a message saying you are thinking of those for whom the day is a tough one? If you are going out celebrating – I hope you have a fantastic time. When you get back, why not send a text to someone you know is struggling? Say hi and let them know you are thinking of them? These are not big things to ask or do. I guess it’s just about looking out for others whilst you still have a good time.

Celebrate well and please remember those who aren’t.

Why Do People Self Harm?

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13239832 - beautiful, young woman showing a question mark on a white piece of paper in front of her head, on blue background

Self-Harm can be hard to understand

Why self-harm? Most people know that we are all made with an in-built survival mechanism. In the light of this, self-harm can seem like a senseless behaviour.

I recently ran a training session about self-harm for a school in Sheffield. As I was preparing for this, I came across some research into self-harm and the brain. What I discovered shed some light on just why people turn to self-harm.


When I ask someone why they self-harm, they can provide me with a range of answers. The most common answer that I hear is, “Because it makes me feel better. I don’t know why, but it does.” Neuroscience research has found that the parts of the brain that deal with physical and emotional pain “criss-cross.” This means that when one part of the brain is activated, the other is deactivated for a short time. So, if someone is very upset and self-harm, the part of the brain which copes with physical pain is activated. This means that the part of the brain that registers emotional pain stops working for a while. The person feels less upset. So self-harm can and does bring a short relief to emotional distress.

Neuroscience hints at why self-harming can also be an addictive behaviour. Studies have found that when the part of the brain that deals with physical pain is activated, it releases Opioids into our bodies. Opioids are from the same group of chemicals as Opiates, These are, of course,  addictive. So people who self-harm often speak of both an emotional release and a kind of “high.”

Of course our brains are also highly adaptable. Studies of people who self-injure have shown that the brain “learns” that the physical pain it is experiencing is self-induced. It then increases a person’s pain thresholds. So, someone who self-harms needs to do so more and more to activate the physical pain part of the brain This is why self-harmers often escalate their injuries over time.

So, neuroscience provides some reasons why so many young people turn to self-harm. Hard that it can be to accept, it really can help.


However, self-harm is only a short term answer. So many responses to self-harm are focussed on stopping someone hurting themselves. However, whenever I see a someone who is self-harming, my focus is not on primarily on stopping them hurting themselves. Rather I look at and work on what is causing them to feel so upset in the first place. It’s my experience that when you deal with the causes of someone’s upset the amount of self-harming reduces.

So, neuroscience is teaching us that self-harming can bring about some kind of relief from emotional pain. However, at 8:16 I focus firstly on dealing with the root of the problems rather than focussing on stopping the outward symptoms.

Scientific American : How Pain Can Make You Feel Better
The Smithsonian : The Neuroscience of Self Harm

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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