Article Archive




1. Stress and Burnout.

2. What is Transactional Analysis?

3. What is a Psychotherapist.

4. A client’s reflection on Personal Growth and Transactional Analysis.

5. What’s the difference between Counselling and Psychotherapy?

6. Six Beliefs about Addiction.

7. Equality, Diversity and Transactional Analysis.

8. Transactional Analysis Models.

9. How to get positives into parenting our children.

10. Ethics, Contracts and TA principles.

11. Ego-State Theory.

12. Solution-Focused Brief Therapy.

13. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

14. Mindfulness and Grounding.


1. Stress and Burnout

Stress is part of most people’s lives, and it can have multiple effects on our body, mood and mental state.

It usually results from our lifestyle being too full and our mental and physical capabilities being put under a strain which we feel we cannot cope with.  The symptoms of stress can manifest in many different ways.

Are you suffering from stress? Below are 50 common signs and symptoms.

01.       Frequent headaches, jaw clenching or pain    02.       Insomnia, nightmares, disturbing dreams   03.       Gritting, grinding teeth   04.       Difficulty concentrating, racing thoughts   05.       Stuttering or stammering   06.       Trouble learning new information   07.       Tremors, trembling of lips or hands   08.       Forgetfulness, disorganisation, confusion   09.       Neck-ache, back pain, muscle spasms   10.       Difficulty in making decisions.   11.       Light headedness, faintness, dizziness   12.       Feeling overloaded or overwhelmed.   13.       Ringing, buzzing or ‘popping sounds’   14.       Frequent crying spells or suicidal thoughts     15.       Frequent blushing, sweating     16.       Feelings of loneliness or worthlessness     17.       Cold or sweaty hands/feet   18.       Little interest in appearance or punctuality   19.       Dry mouth or problems swallowing   20.       Nervous habits, fidgeting, feet tapping   21.       Frequent colds, infections, herpes sores   22.       Increased frustration, irritability, feeling edgy   23.       Rashes, itching, hives, ‘goose bumps’   24.       Over-reaction to petty annoyances   25.       Unexplained or frequent ‘allergy’ attacks   26.       Increased number of minor accidents   27.       Heartburn, stomach pain, nausea   28.       Obsessive or compulsive behavior   29.       Excessive belching, flatulence   30.       Reduced work efficiency or productivity   31.       Constipation or diarrhea   32.       Lies or excuses to cover up poor work   33.       Difficulty breathing or sighing   34.       Rapid or mumbled speech   35.       Sudden attacks of panic   36.       Excessive defensiveness or suspicion   37.       Chest pain, palpitations   38.       Problems in communication, sharing   39.       Frequent urination   40.       Social withdrawal and isolation   41.       Poor sexual desire or performance   42.       Constant tiredness, weakness, fatigue   43.       Excess anxiety, worry, guilt, nervousness   44.       Frequent use of over-the-counter drugs   45.       Increased anger, frustration, hostility   46.       Weight gain or loss without diet   47.       Depression, frequent or wild mood swings   48.       Increased smoking, alcohol or drug use   49.       Increased or decreased appetite   50.       Excessive gambling or impulse buying

Burnout is a condition linked to stress.  It can creep up over a number of years, and can often affect people who are highly driven and successful in their careers. In worst-case scenarios this can lead to a mental and physical collapse.

Psychotherapy and counselling can help you deal with stress, helping you to change your attitude towards stressful situations using various techniques.  It can also help to get the work-life balance right – and to avoid the ‘burnout syndrome’.

Christopher Anderson Dip. Counselling & Psychotherapy

T: 01229 825970 – M: 07788 416842 – E:

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2. What is Transactional Analysis?

Transactional Analysis (TA) is a type of counselling and psychotherapy that can be used in any area where there is a need for understanding individuals, relationships and communication. It is founded on essentially three philosophical views about people. These are that:

1 – People are OK.

2Everyone has the capacity to think, feel and be active.

3 – People determine their own life-course, and that that course can be changed.

Underpinned by the philosophy that people can change and that we all have a right to be in the world and be accepted, TA’s main theory outlines how we have developed and treat ourselves – and how we relate and communicate with others.

It also offers suggestions and interventions which will enable us to change and grow.

It has wide applications in clinical, therapeutic, organisational and personal development encompassing communications, management, personality, relationships and behaviour.

All counsellors in The Cumbria Counselling Group specialise in using Transactional Analysis as a therapy to facilitate personal growth and change.

Sean Turner MBACP (Accred), UKRCP

T: 01768 210965 – E:

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3. What is a Psychotherapist?

A psychotherapist is a mental health professional who is trained to listen empathically to someone’s problems in order to find out what is causing their difficulties, and to help find a solution.

As well as listening and discussing important issues with you, a psychotherapist can suggest strategies for resolving problems and, if necessary, help change attitudes and behaviour.

Some therapists teach specific skills to help people tolerate painful emotions, manage relationships more effectively or, to improve behaviour. They encourage people to develop their own solutions, and in group therapy all participants therefore support each other with advice and encouragement.

Which conditions can Psychotherapy treat?

Some of the conditions that psychotherapy and other talking therapies can be used to treat:


Anxiety disorders

Border-line personality disorder (BPD)

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

• Long-term illness

Eating disorders (anorexia nervosabulimia and binge-eating, etc)

Substance misuse and Gambling addiction

Sean Turner MBACP (Accred), UKRCP

T: 01768 210965 – E:

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4. A Client’s view on Personal growth and Transactional Analysis

”Self-development is important to me so I participate in four hours of group therapy each month

As well as helping me solve my own problems and deal with the stresses in everyday life, it has also been hugely beneficial in helping me have good relationships with people. I have also found that the group therapy has helped me as a parent and informed me positively about humanity and the human condition

What’s more, I have worked to relinquish psychological blockages and distorted beliefs about myself and others – and I now have a calm view of the world.

Through this process of self-development I have come to appreciate that one of my on-going challenges is to be ‘in the moment’. This is what Eric Berne, the founder of Transactional Analysis, called ‘autonomy’ (eventually leading to ‘intimacy’ and ‘spontaneity’), and it involves me responding to stimulus in the environment with the immediacy that reflects bodily sensation, energy and emotion.”

Richard Mottram BSc (Arch), AADip, Dip (Couns), MBACP (Accred)

T: 01946 823915 – E:

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5. What’s the difference between Counselling and Psychotherapy?


Differentiating between Counselling and Psychotherapy is particularly useful when understanding which therapy will be best suited to you.

It will be helpful to think of Counselling and Psychotherapy as being at either ends of a scale.  At one end is Brief Counselling which deals with a specific problem, and at the other end is the intense Psychotherapy which deals with deep-rooted problems.

Although Counselling and Psychotherapy both involve talking to someone who is trained to listen, Counselling is primarily a talking therapy which allows individuals to deal with specific present day life issues, whereas Psychotherapy deals with ‘deeper’ issues, and most commonly with past experiences that may still be causing distress

However, a major factor that usually determines a therapy’s success will not be determined by technique alone, but with the relationship with a counsellor or psychotherapist. How people connect with people is just as likely to determine the real success of treatment.

Sean Turner MBACP (Accred), UKRCP

T: 01768 210965 – E:

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6. Addiction: 6 Beliefs

1: In Reality, every addictive act is preceded by a feeling of helplessness or powerlessness

2: In Fantasy, addictive behaviour will repair this underlying fear of helplessness

3: Involved in every addictive act is a fantasy belief of the Child (ego state)

4: Following Berne, we believe that addiction can be tied to the game formula inter-personally (and by extension intra-psychically)

5: We create an object’s addictive properties

6: The cure for addiction involves new values

Richard Mottram and Christopher Anderson The Cumbria Counselling Group

24 Hour Message Service: 01946 820230

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7. Equality, diversity and Transactional Analysis (TA)

One important aspect of TA theory is that of the decisional nature of the model.

For example, one belief of TA is that every one of us decides our own behaviour, thoughts, and feelings, and that we all ultimately define our own life course. Therefore, while we are free to make our own decisions in life (and from this flows the important concept of equality), we are also equal, free, and at the same time responsible for our own actions.

A client’s experiences are different to those of the therapist and as a part of open communication, it is important to acknowledge those differences.

Here is an example:

Kieran came to therapy about a drinking problem. He was very keen to know if his therapist (a male) also consumed alcohol because it was important for him to know whether they had a common experience. The therapist told him that he did. Kieran then divulged that as a teenager he had been sexually assaulted by a female relative. The therapist told him that this was not something he had previously experienced. That was the difference between them.

The therapist was then able to talk about the experience with Kieran and empathise with his guilt and confusion. It was only then that Kieran visibly relaxed. His shoulders became less hunched, his facial expression looked less tense, and the acknowledged difference of experience allowed effective work to begin.

Richard Mottram BSc (Arch), AADip, Dip (Couns), MBACP (Accred)

T: 01946 823915 – E:
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8. Transactional Analysis Models

In our work we use aspects of the Transactional Analysis model and its body of scholarship, some of which incorporate approaches commonly called Gestalt or Rogerian.

For example:

Game Theory . . . relating to others in a bid for intimacy, this theory deals with the way in which we relate to others when we repetitively develop roles for ourselves which give us a payoff but not the contact we crave

Wares Doors . . . the observation that we all respond differently to thinking, feeling and doing

Racket feelings . . . the substitution of one feeling for another

Channels of Communication . . . responding to the client from, and appealing to the ego state most likely to be beneficial

Ego State theory . . .  the basic model that helps to explain how our present behaviour is informed by our past

Cultural Parent . . . the internalisation of culture or social norms into personality

Contracting . . . negotiated agreements.

A major part of the Transactional Analysis that underpins the way we work with clients is that of contracting, or making negotiated agreements, with clients about what they want and what the therapist can and is prepared to offer.

Most clients arrive focused on a specific problem and the past – but one of the prime reasons for making a contract is to shift the focus of attention into the future, and the goal of change.

Richard Mottram BSc (Arch), AADip, Dip (Couns), MBACP (Accred)

T: 01946 823915 – E:
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9. How to get positives into parenting our children

Extract from ‘Self-esteem a family affair’ by Jean Illsley Clarke; Harper and Row, New York, 1978

BIRTH to 6 MONTHS: affirmations for BEING

You have every right to be here

Your needs are ok with me

I’m glad you are a boy / girl

You don’t have to hurry (and grow up)

I like to hold you


You don’t have to do tricks (be smart, cute, stupid, sick, happy, tough, fragile, busy to get positive strokes)

It’s ok to do things (try things, initiate, be curious, be intuitive) and get support and protection at the same time

18 months to 3 years: THINKING

I’m glad you are growing up

I am not afraid of your anger

You can think about what you feel

You don’t have to take care of me by thinking for me

You can be sure about what you need and want and think

3 to 6 years: IDENTITY

You can be powerful and still have needs

You don’t have to act scary (or sick, angry or sad) to get taken care of

You can express your feelings straight

6 to 12 years: STRUCTURE

You can think before you make that rule your own

You can trust your feelings to help you know

You can do it your way

You don’t have to suffer to get what you need

It’s ok to disagree

13 to 19 years: SEXUALITY

You can be a sexual person and still have needs

It’s ok to know who you are

You’re welcome to come home again

I love you

Richard Mottram BSc (Arch), AADip, Dip (Couns), MBACP (Accred)

T: 01946 823915 – E:

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10. Thoughts on Ethics, Contracts and TA principles

Contracting or making agreements is crucial to the way in which The Cumbria Counselling Group work.

This is congruent with both the BACP Code of Ethics & Practice and the ITA Code of Ethics & Practice, and the ethical principles underlying them. ‘Ensuring that the client’s best interests are achieved requires systematic monitoring of practice and outcomes by the best available means’.

This means your therapist will have a discussion with you and make an agreement, not only about making appointments and payments, but also about your overall goals, and what your part and the therapist’s part is in reaching them. You will be given a business contract and a therapy contract setting out this information.

To make sense of our life and our environment we need the structure and understanding of an order. Contracts with another can provide part of that order.  As a result contracting is a continuous process of interaction between you and your therapist throughout the therapy.

Part of the importance of this open and explicit relationship is that you are then able to experience for yourself the potency that comes from clear discussion, agreements and understandings.

Richard Mottram BSc (Arch), AADip, Dip (Couns), MBACP (Accred)

T: 01946 823915 – E:

Click for the BACP Code of Ethics & Practice.   –   Click for the ITA Code of Ethics & Practice.

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11. Ego-State Theory

In order to understand a person’s behaviour we need to be aware of what is happening inter-personally (i. e. between people) and intra-psychically (i.e. within the mind). To accomplish this understanding the school of Transactional Analysis utilises Eric Berne’s model of personality analysis. This model consists of separating out all of the different ways that each of us behave, thinks and feels into three ego states: the Parent ego state, Adult ego state, and the Child ego state.

The Parent ego-state consists of a collection of ‘tapes’ – a record of attitudes, thoughts, behaviours and feelings absorbed from parents or parent figures or significant others who had some kind of power relationship with the person as an infant. For example, information on how to do things is recorded from grandparents, teachers, carers, older siblings, peers. Cultural and ethnic messages are also stored here.

The Adult ego state is the real self- expression of the here and now. Here we organise information, estimate probabilities and make logical statements, in response to present-day wants and impulses in relationship with others, the world and ourselves

The healthy adult ego state represents a fully developed intellectual capacity, emotional responsivity and a considered set of ethical values all of which moderate a person’s needs in response to our environment.

The Child ego state represents the entire early history of a person. It is a collection of the multitude of the child’s responses (behaviours, thoughts and feelings) to all the parents/caretakers behaviours, thoughts and feelings. We may replay these PAST, psychological units today

Parent and Child ego states are archaic and Adult is in the here and now. All the ‘messages’ we receive as we are developing are stored within the different ego states. They can be triggered at any time and experienced as a current reality with the same vividness that attended the original experience. Such a reliving of the past can be to the detriment or enhancement of accurate Adult here and now reality-testing.

Amanda O’Brien BSc (Hons) Soc, Dip. Counselling & Psychotherapy

T: 01229 588757 – E:

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12. Solution-Focused Brief Therapy

This is a therapy model that we sometimes find useful when a client wants to deal with a specific problem or issue over the short term. This kind of work would usually take place over a block of 6 to 12 sessions, and the method is outlined below:

1. Non-Problem Talk – what the client enjoys in his/her life at the moment

2. Best Hopes – for the outcome of the session

3. Preferred Future – making his/her ultimate destination clear

4. Scaling – determining on a scale of 1 to 10 (where 10 would be the preferred future and 0 the opposite):

  • Where the client is now
  • Where on the scale would be good enough

5. What helps the client to achieve their score?

6. What would ‘one point up’ on the score look like? i.e. first step towards preferred future

7. Summary

8. Invitation to Notice – for the client to be aware of what they have learnt

This method can be used on its own or as part of longer term work to help the client reach their goals.

Sean Turner MBACP (Accred), UKRCP

T: 01768 210965 – E:
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13. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

In the 1960s, a US psychiatrist and psychotherapist called Aaron T. Beck coined the term ‘automatic thoughts’ to describe the ‘internal dialogue’ going on in our minds, almost as if we were talking to ourselves. Becoming aware of these thoughts was thought to be the key to understanding ourselves and overcoming our difficulties.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is an amalgamation of Beck’s cognitive therapy model with other behavioural models and is primarily concerned with what’s happening now and what we experience, believe and feel in the present time. A central aspect of CBT is to look at how our thoughts may be affecting the way we feel and behave.

CBT can be useful in alleviating the symptoms of a current problem. We in The Cumbria Counselling Group also aim to achieve this goal; however during the course of your therapy with us, you will also have the opportunity to address the underlying causes of your current problems. This may help to ensure your problem does not reoccur.

Amanda O’Brien BSc (Hons) Soc, Dip. Counselling & Psychotherapy

T: 01229 588757 – E:

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14. Mindfulness and Grounding

If you are locked in a cycle of worry and stress, you may find regular mindfulness practice helpful.

Mindfulness is not a new concept.

Its origins are in Buddhism, yogic practice and meditation. Research over the years has suggested that regular practice of mindfulness meditation can lead to structural brain changes which in turn lead to better learning, more self-awareness compassion and introspection. The regular practice of Mindfulness can be beneficial to anyone interested in exploring and cultivating present-moment awareness,.

When you are aware of the present moment, you are more able to connect with what’s happening on a physical and emotional level in your body rather than ruminating in your head on worries or negative thoughts. You will become more aware of when your mind is wandering and learn to bring it back to the present.

As a result of this you’re more likely to notice when you are ‘mind-less‘ – for example, gulping down meals, continuing to work when you are tired, raging in traffic, panicking about deadlines – and start responding to the reality of the world around you. Living mindfully doesn’t remove life’s problems or stresses but it enables you to make them a lot more manageable.

Here are 2 mindfulness exercises you can use. These are useful for breaking a cycle of ruminating on negative thoughts and bring you back to present moment awareness.

1. Check your watch and note the time. For the next 60 seconds your task is to focus all your attention on your breathing. Leave your eyes open and breathe normally. When you notice your mind wandering off (because it will) simply return your attention to your breath.

2. This can be a 30 second or 30 minute exercise. Be aware of all your senses – feel both your feet on the ground, your arms against your body, your clothes against your skin. Listen to noises outside of the room, inside the room and inside your own head (adjust for outdoors). Notice any smells and fragrances. Notice any tastes lingering in your mouth. Be aware of your tongue inside your mouth. If your eyes are closed, notice any colours or shapes on the back of your eyelids. If your eyes are open, pick out 3 objects in the same colour.. Open your eyes and check if you have noticed anything you need to act on such as relaxing tense muscles, responding appropriately to hunger, thirst or tiredness.

Amanda O’Brien BSc (Hons) Soc, Dip. Counselling & Psychotherapy

T: 01229 588757 – E:

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