Jacqui Empson-High Counselling and Supervision in Norfolk

29th June 2018

Summer has parked itself on our doorsteps and become a tad too hot for me. When I was younger I loved nothing more than sitting out in the sun covered in coconut oil to get a deep tan. Now I avoid the sun and the heat and find the highest SPF I can as my mature skin burns more easily. Is this a loss - perhaps but it is safer too. The incidences of melanoma, the worse type of skin cancers, are on the rise with the sun a contributory factor. Other skin cancers have also been shown to have been caused by exposure to sunlight, basal cell and squamous cell cancers affect more people every year.

I didn't mean to start with that warning so now I will explore something that has touched me very recently and I am wondering what other people feel about it. I am talking here about 'interconnectivity'. How we humans as well as animals, insects and our environment, connect together. We are not separate systems but part of the same system. Research has found that we are made up of the same matter as the stars. To quote a TV series from the 1990s (Babylon 5), "we are star stuff. We are the universe made manifest, trying to figure itself out."

Further to this the latest edition of the magazine 'Breathe' has an article on this interconnectedness with very simple meditation for this. Here is the link to their site and you can subscribe to a print or digital edition. I particularly like the following quote this month.

"There was a startling recognition that the nature of the universe was not as I had been taught... I not only saw the connectedness, I felt it... I was overwhelmed with the sensation of physically and mentally extending out into the cosmos...[.]" Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14 astronaut (with thanks to Tracy Calder, Breathe, issue 13)

I will leave you with this thought. Sometimes we can reach out and touch the universal, feeling at once, like you are the universe as you are huge and at the same time, that you are so small you are nothing. We are all connected to each other, other creatures, our world and other worlds. Maybe it is time to look after them so they can look after us?

24th May 2018 - GDPR is launched tomorrow, 25th May

I have now completed my privacy policy in accordance with the new data protection regulations that come into force tomorrow, 25th May 2018, called General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and it replaces the Data Protection Action 1998. It is a European Directive that will remain in force when we leave the European Union.

It is, basically, about privacy & transparency and to give us all more control over our data. We can ask what data others hold about us, how long for, who has access to this data, what it is used for and we can request that what is held be deleted. It is, hopefully, going to improve our rights as individuals over multi-national companies and organisations. Even as an individual counsellor in private practice it has turned out to be a fair bit of work. There is now a copy on my website, the link for which is at the bottom of each page of the website.

As a counsellor confidentiality was already vitally important and a lot of what is in the policy I was already committed to but, to comply with the regulations I had to state this to be transparent. I do have a feeling that this will be a work in progress over time. It already is as the Information Commissioner's Office has updated it's website almost daily to help us. So while I have stated that the policy will be updated annually, it may well happen sooner if regulations are 'tweaked' by the IOC as time passes.

So check out my policy and any feedback would be welcomed as no one has really tested the ideas out fully. I just hope I've not made it too long, that equally, I have covered all that I need to and it can be understood by clients and supervisees and comply with the regulation.

If your email inbox is anything like mine you will have been bombarded with requests to give organisations permission to still contact you, links to policies that would put the hardiest to sleep in double quick time but equally, as I have, come to a realisation just how much a click of a mouse on a website reveals about you. That is the sobering thought that got me through the drafting and final writing of my policy. The worldwide web knows our deepest secrets and, I hope, this change will keep them secret still!

27th April 2018

Last week it felt like summer had arrived, I hope it wasn't all of summer, while today it feels like winter again being cold and wet. Perhaps that contributes to the feeling that the year is racing past, yet again.

I am realising I need to update my website with some new developments which I have been lax in completing but over this coming weekend I will revise and update my website so my apologies for any problems with pages as I work on them. There may well be more to note here in this blog over the next couple of months but I don't wish to preempt any discussion or decisions by others so I will try to contain myself. Or, in other words, I don't want to jump the gun and jinx things!

The other 'big thing' is the introduction of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) a European Regulation about how organisations and businesses hold and use personal data which comes into force on 25th May 2018. All Data Controllers and Data Processors need to comply with this regulation and as I collect and hold personal data I have to comply with GDPR.

I already keep all personal details sheets in a locked filing cabinet separate from any session notes - both are shredded after 5 years. I only use client addresses, postal or email, whilst we are working together and the email addresses are on a password protected computer and phone. I delete all email addresses and phone numbers from my computer/phone once work has finished with the client. I will not contact you after our work has ended unless you still have invoices outstanding but once paid those details will be deleted. If a client wishes to return at a later date I have respect for each client's autonomy and that they can contact me. This is my own belief, not because new rules specify it.

For me, the best part of this regulation is that the Data Subject is able to ask to 'be forgotten' and to have their details wiped or shredded. I think it will make social media safer, at least that is my hope.

5th March 2018

It feels like I am emerging from hibernation today! The sun is shining and the last of the snow is slowly disappearing and trickling down the paths and roads. I didn't get out of the house for the last week and it has been quite surreal to be able to spend some time catching up with the pile of reading I have built up over the last few months. Clients cancelled, unable to reach me or feel okay about driving in very difficult conditions.

I live on a gentle slope that looked and felt like a ski jump. To get on an off this estate there is only one road and that is a hill so anywhere you go you risk a slip or slide and it was impossible to get a car out, up and round the roads. That's not mentioning the snow drifts that affected the villages round the town.

It was a time of self-reflection and a time to write, trying out some new exercises from a recent book I'd purchased by Patricia McAdoo called "Writing for Wellbeing". It is a clear book and could be followed individually or used for group work. I have been trying out some of the exercises and have found them quite powerful.

Now the sun is shining it does feel more like spring and once the clocks go forward I will finally get more sun in my north-facing back garden and be able to sit and write in my conservatory more. I hope you are able to be in touch with this 'lift' and find a way forward out of nature and your own winter.

24th January 2018

Avoiding the 'glad tidings' of Christmas and New Year I decided, quite suddenly for me, to try and spend some time focusing on my own writing, my own poetry in fact. With this I have committed and paid for a 6 week afternoon course run by a poet and film buff Sue Burge. The course is entitled 'Inspired by Film' and uses film clips from different types of films each week to give us food for thought, inspiration and a place to share our different tastes in films.

My first afternoon was last Monday, 22nd January 2018 and I have to say it wasn't an easy session and the words certainly did not flow from my mind or my pen onto the rather bare paper in front of me. I have 'homework' to complete before next Monday, which I am not convinced I will achieve! We have to write a couple of poems to take in and Sue has offered to critique them. I am unsure of my own comfort having my work judged and suggestions made for improvement. That same discomfort has always filled me when I have born witness to others words. Perhaps that explains my love of writing for wellbeing where there is no judgement. It is what the words mean to the writer and how it makes them feel not looking to correct the words to make something better.

Sometimes in writing for wellbeing refashioning a poem can be part of the healing process or learning to be gained from it but that is always from the individual writers soul, not judgement from another. Still, I have committed to working on my own work so I guess I am opening up to that process of what others may think. Perhaps that may act as a type of censure, so that I do not put or open too much of my deeper self in a place I am unsure of or what the reaction might be. That feels an ok place to be and be careful with and be caring of myself.

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