Counsellors and Psychotherapists: Alarming lack of knowledge about the menopause

85% of counsellors registered with the BACP (British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists) are of menopausal age.

A questionnaire prepared by a psychotherapy student from Nottingham University as part of her dissertation on the menopause revealed that most therapists believe that ‘training in and support with the menopause within the professional is “essential.”’

Yet there is no official training, guidance, or information for therapists on preparing for this profound and daunting life change. This fact was born out during the workshop I recently ran on Sex, Meaning and the Menopause for a well established Wiltshire counselling service.

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Another Day Talking About Sex, Meaning and the Menopause

This time the workshop took place in Sailsbury with a group of 16 therapists and counsellors. Five (including the only man – thanks again, for being there) were in their fifties and (apart from the male therapist) well into the menopause. Ten were in their forties, and one – a pregnant counsellor who worked with people with learning difficulties – was in her thirties.

Of course, many similar themes emerged to those I wrote about in my previous blog, so I won’t go over old ground.  However, I will outline different issues that this particular group raised.

Again, this was very much a day of exploration.  The day was split  into two sections.  During the morning, we looked at the personal experience of the menopause. In the afternoon, we discussed different ways to improve working with older female clients, couples, and younger women with early onset menopause.

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A day of talking about sex, aging and the menopause, not forgetting ‘hot tongue’.

Following my article  in Therapy Today on Menopause: How Women Suffer in Silence,  I have started to run a series of workshops on Sex, Meaning and the Menopause  aimed at counsellors and therapists to develop better awareness of working with older women, how the menopause affects relationships, and the impact of early onset menopause on younger women.

Last week I worked with a group 12 participants, including two men. Two therapists were in their mid forties, most well into their fifties, and a couple in their early sixties.

The following is a summary of the discussions that took place.  There are no absolutes here. This was very much a day of personal and professional exploration and discovery. But I do hope that these points may resonate with anyone reading this blog, and even help you on your own journey of understanding the menopause. Continue reading “A day of talking about sex, aging and the menopause, not forgetting ‘hot tongue’.”

Fight the Change – yet again

I feel another soapbox rant coming on.  On the train to London I read a left-behind Daily Mail.  ‘Fight the Change’ cried the headline of Life and Style section. For those suffering from dry skin caused by the menopause, new products promise to turn back the clocks.

‘Fortunately,’ said the article, ‘skinscare companies realise there’s a market for high-tech products targeted specifically at postmenopausal skin.

And how!

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Stress can bring on early menopause

By chance this morning, I ended up having a long telephone conversation with Sheila, a friend I haven’t spoken to for a while.  I say by chance, because I had arranged to talk to her husband about a work matter. Much to Sheila’s embarrassment, he had forgotten our appointment and was having the time of his life racing cars in Wales.

His forgiveable forgetfulness gave us the time to catch up together.  Two years ago Sheila’s husband had been diagnosed with a life threatening illness and their lives changed radically because of it.  Sheila faced this with immense courage and willingly took care of him when he came out hospital.  At the same time, she was supporting their two children, running the home, and trying to continue with her successful design business.

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Marriage, menopause, and the importance of good communication

Following the article, Will YOUR marriage survive the menopause? (adapted from Sex, Meaning and the Menopause) in last week’s Femail section of the Daily Mail, I received an  email from a distraught reader. He was very concerned about the state of his own marriage.  According to her GP, his wife had gone through the menopause a few months ago, but he recognised many of the symptoms discussed in the article, particularly anger outbursts and ‘behaving like a crazed lunatic’.

‘I love my wife,’ he said, ‘and would do anything to save our marriage and help her.’  He went on to ask how to broach the subject of  couples counselling with her.

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The Royal Wedding and the death of bin Laden. What’s next?

I loved the royal wedding last Friday. A truly magical occasion, and – rare these days, sadly – I felt proud to be British.

Egged on by my friend Meg, resplendent in a mother-of-the-groom frock she wore to her own son’s nuptials  a few years back, I was very happy to enter into the spirit of the day, and donned the white feathered fascinator I wore  to my wedding eight years ago, before Posh Spice ever heard of them.

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Lord Layard’s Action for Happiness, and the wisdom of Carl Jung

Last week was a bit of an emotional roller coaster for me.  So, while I applaud Lord Richard Layard’s enthusiasm for launching his Action for Happiness movement this week (inspired by Gretchin Rubin’s Happiness Project), I do wonder whether those in the government pursuing this agenda understand just how complex, contradictory and sometimes dark the pursuit of happiness can be.

In fact, I doubt that many of us are capable of maintaining a constant state of happiness (I hope that’s not what Lord Layard is intending).   For example, today’s BBC news – Two British men shot dead in Florida; Girls behaviour in schools deterioating;  Deadly attack on Afghan ministry; Japanese facing nuclear crisis from crippled Fukushima plant. I haven’t even got to what’s happening in Libya –  shows that human nature is simply not constructed that way. The dark side will out.

Continue reading “Lord Layard’s Action for Happiness, and the wisdom of Carl Jung”

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