In a world full of demands on our time it is important to give time to self-care. One way of doing this is self-soothing through music.  This can be through listening, humming, chanting or singing.  Music takes us in to the right side of our brain where our creativity lies and helps to create balance.  Responsibility and growing demands on our time often leave us depleted.  Music is healing and we can do it for ourselves.  Join me.

We begin with breathing.  Do you notice that when you are stressed your hold your breath?  This exercise will help you to cope with stress and better address your anxieties.  Breathe out and pull your navel in towards your spine.    Let go.  Your lungs will naturally fill up when you let go. You may breathe this way already.  Throughout the day when you get a chance, breathe out.  When you get used to it, you can pull your navel in more and make sure you get all of the air out of your lungs.  The more air you are able to blow out, the more will go in to your lungs.  One of the best ways practice this is by lying flat.  We tend to breathe this way naturally when we are lying down.

Now make a sound when you breathe out.  You can make any sound you like, it can be purring, chanting, gurgling our singing.   You can make baby sounds. You don’t have to be a professional singer to do this.  I believe that if you speak you can sing (except where you may have a medical condition).  If you don’t do this naturally I find that it can be like learning how to drive, so many things to remember.  Take it easy.  One piece at a time.  Practice a little at a time, gently.  You need to be careful if this is new to you.  Take it easy.

The rewards are wonderful.  When you do this exercise it can take you away from the everyday stresses and bring you in to yourself.  The deep breathing contributes to further grounding and relaxation.  This way of breathing and singing works for everybody.  If you are a singer already it will benefit your singing.

Music can be exhilarating and great fun.  Maybe revisit nursery rhymes.  Have fun.  Also, we all have songs which touch us, bring us to places of wonderment.  We can treat ourselves with these experiences.  When you make a sound the vibration massages all of the cells in your body. The effort of making the sound and using your breath in this way is good for your lungs and your organs.  You can pick out a play list for yourself to use as you go about your day. Sing along with your favourite songs and sing in the shower and the car.   Beginning the day with uplifting music will enhance your wellbeing.

There are times when breathing like this and making sounds can bring you to a sad place. Sometimes we are afraid to explore those feelings which we have tried to suppress.  Other feelings could be of anger or frustration or loss of direction.

If music brings you to a place where you need support and understanding Psychotherapy can help in working with feelings in order to get to a better place.  The Psychotherapist can hold the fears and anxieties with us as we figure it out for ourselves.  The work is non-judgemental and empathic.  The quality of the relationship with the Psychotherapist and the feeling of safety in the room enables the client to move through the obstacles which prevent us from having a better life.


Regulation of the profession of Psychotherapy

Safeguarding your emotional health and well-being!

By Jean Manahan

In an ideal world, where people are endowed with not only the skills and capacities to be great at their chosen profession but also with the moral compass to make right choices at all times, there would be no need for external regulation of any kind. Unfortunately this is not the world we live in.

As a result, we need professional associations which monitor the activities of their members through clear guidelines around training standards, on-going skills development, accreditation and a robust code of practice or ethics along with complaints’ guidelines.

Electricians have their association, the motor industry theirs, health workers, G.P.’s, dentists and so on, practice in accordance with their approved professional bodies’ guidelines. The difficulty arises when a voluntary code of practice is not sufficient to side-line those who are not approved for practice and who set themselves up as practitioners leaving an unsuspecting public at the mercy of either shoddy workmanship or practice.

This is where the State can intervene to provide an official register which reassures the public that those on the register are appropriately trained and have reached the minimum accreditation standard required in their profession. CORU is the State agency which oversees the registration of social and healthcare professionals such as Occupational Therapists, Social workers, Physiotherapists and so on.

In the case of the Psychotherapy profession, it is crucial that the public understand that, at present, therapists are regulated on a voluntary basis by their professional associations. Anyone looking for a psychotherapist should check that they are members of a recognised professional body. There can be an impression that the profession is unregulated. However, this impression is entirely incorrect.

The Irish Council for Psychotherapy (ICP) – a representative body representing the vast majority of psychotherapists in Ireland – supports the introduction of statutory registration in addition to the current voluntary regulation for the profession, mainly as a way of ensuring that only those who are appropriately trained and accredited are entitled to practice as Psychotherapists and to use the title ‘Psychotherapist’. In this way, the current, rather loose usage of the title will cease and the public will have more clarity as to who is actually entitled to call themselves a Psychotherapist.

Until this happens ICP would encourage the public to check out the credentials of anyone calling themselves a Psychotherapist. They should have a minimum of seven years preparation which includes a Master’s Degree along with four years clinical training. It would be surprising as well as highly unethical if untrained people could call themselves G.P.’s, for example. The same applies to the practice of psychotherapy.

The ICP website has an index of approved accredited practitioners and also a list of the major associations that regulate their members. The minimum standards of training for psychotherapists on the ICP register are in accordance with the standards of the European Association of Psychotherapy. They are accepted across Europe as the minimum entry point for practice. The public can find out more by going to

Anxiety by Trish Murphy

Anxiety is one of the biggest issues in our world and children as young as 7 or 8 are reporting stress in relation to their bodies, their popularity at school and their level of cleverness. Students in college are reporting huge levels of anxiety and the work place is now the location of stress, burn-out and related illnesses.  If we are to stop the tide of anxiety we all need to do our own bit in managing our fears and then we will be in a position to help others.

Dealing with anxiety will require a many-pronged approach and my guess is that it will take some time to reach a stage where the anxious person will wake up feeling good. Many people are almost paralysed with the fear of the approaching day and it may be that they might benefit from a trip to their GP to see if there is some help they could get while they initiate the many things which may help them get control of their lives.

We were not born full of fear; in fact all of us were born full of confidence and motivation but slowly we picked up comments and experiences which led us to believe that we need to protect ourselves from others comments and from many aspects of life.  Gradually, we think that this version of ourselves is the real thing and we try to mask this self to the outside world by pretending that we are OK and functioning.  This is exhausting and as we become more burnt-out we can only mange short exposure to the world before retreating to our safe place, often home or our bedrooms.  Becoming better at this is akin to torture and you sound as though you have finally had enough and now want to become free of these fears.

This anxiety needs to be tackled in the mental, emotional and social spheres of our life.  Our fears are supported by beliefs and self-commentary that are negative, persistent and untrue.  CBT cognitive behaviour therapy) has a proven track record in tackling these damaging thoughts and we might benefit from some sessions with a psychotherapist or look up the many supportive CBT sites on-line.  Emotionally, fear creates a reaction in us that is primitive.  We all know of the flight, fight or freeze response and in your situation this flight response has become chronic and is a reaction way beyond the need of the situation.  We need to learn to calm ourselves in threatening situations – how to bring our physiological response to a calm place when it is over-reacting.  Mindfulness, meditation and yoga are all practices that have developed quieting techniques that have 5,000 years of development.  The concepts behind these traditions are simple, yet the practices are difficult so participating and learning with a group is strongly advised and the effects are slow-burning so give yourself a year of practice before evaluating your success.

Anxiety and fear make us back away from social situations due to the fear of exposure but the loss of support and comfort from others is not one we can afford to dismiss.  Everyone knows what it is like to be trapped in fear and the sharing of our experiences with people we trust will garner us both sympathy and the push we need to engage with life again.  Being honest and taking the risk of trusting others begins to tackle the blocks to our confidence and it has a high possibility of creating closeness and connection that will benefit everyone.  Anxiety in our world needs to be addressed.  When we emerge from our cocoons we will find that there is experience, knowledge and support available to us from all quarters of our lives.  To quote Marianne Williamson from her poem ‘Light’ :

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.

There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of
God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

Marianne Williamson

(Often said to have been quoted in a speech by Nelson Mandela. The source is Return to Love by Marianne Williamson, Harper Collins, 1992.)