Interview with ‘’

Hello. Here is a link to the transcript of an interview I was recently asked to take part in with ‘relationshipsarecomplicated’ magazine which was recently published. I hope that you find it interesting – please comment if you wish to do so.

Interview with Psychotherapist Ann Hogan


When your friend dumps you……………….

It may take you a while to realise that you’ve been ‘dumped’ by one or more of your friends….you might at first think that they’re really busy and haven’t had time to reply to your texts. Then it slowly begins to dawn on you that it’s something more than that – you see them on FB or Instagram having fun with other friends and realise that you haven’t been asked along.

That’s when the hurt starts kicking in and you begin to ask yourself “what have I done?”. You rack your brains to think of the last time you spoke – did they take offence at some silly joke that you made? Maybe it’s because you couldn’t go out last time they asked you – there was a good reason but perhaps they didn’t see it like that.

A Finnish study a couple of years ago found that both men and women usually (not always) make a lot of friends up until they’re 25 years old and then the numbers drop after that. People still make friends but not in the numbers that they did in their twenties. Also, later friendships are often based on shared experiences (parenthood, travelling, interests) rather than just getting on with someone.

However, whenever you became friends, once you realise that you’ve been dumped, you may feel hurt and probably angry; you may rage and cry, but the question is, what do you do next?

You can’t make the person be friends with you if they don’t want to be but you can ask them what’s wrong. However, be prepared for an answer that you may not like such as “you’ve become really boring lately” or “I find you hard work – you’re always so negative”. That gives you a chance to see it from their perspective and if you feel they’ve got a point, you can say that you’ll try to change. It may be that this isn’t what they want though and then you have to face that.

Here are some ways to get through that hurt and pain:

  • Try to take control of the situation – you could text them and say ‘this is my last text – I just want to say that I’d still like us to be friends if you feel that you can do that’
  • Be honest and ask yourself why you were friends with that person in the first place. What were you actually getting out of it and what do you think they were getting out of it?
  • Think about it and recognise that it may have nothing to do with you personally, but is about the other person going through unknown stuff in their life which may have influenced them.
  • Make this a time of acceptance and look at how you can fill that gap, perhaps with other friends or by taking up a new interest.

I’m not saying that it will be easy and there will be sadness, especially when you think back to the happy times that you spent together.  Painful though it might be, you will get through it and eventually remember the good things about your friend, without getting so upset about the ending.

Talking can help, especially to someone who doesn’t know either of you, so if you’d like to look into counselling, please phone me on 07956986693 or e.mail me at



“If only I could feel happy again…….”

“Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder”.  This was a popular verse inside some greeting cards but a number of psychologists now think that you chase that elusive butterfly but choosing to be happy.

So if that’s the case, how can you choose and actually pursue happiness? Here are some strategies to try to do this if you feel that you spend too much time worrying or feeling negative:

  • First of all, you have to have the intention to be happy – that’s an active desire and commitment to choose happiness by choosing attitudes and behaviours that lead to feeling happy.
  • Stop trying to control everything – you might think that you don’t do this but if you check it out now and again you might see that it’s actually the case. Let go of some of the things that you can’t realistically influence in any way.
  • Foster forgiveness. Nursing grievances can affect us physically as well as mentally. If you can foster forgiveness, it reduces the power of bad things that have happened to you.
  • Practice gratitude – you can do this by regularly making a list of things that you feel grateful for, however small.
  • Be a glass half-full rather instead of a glass half-empty sort of person. Research proves that optimists enjoy life more than pessimists.
  • Do something that you love to do – when we’re feeling low, we often forget about spending time on activities that bring us joy.
  • This leads on to getting moving – stretching, cycling, walking swimming; all of these exercises release ‘happiness hormones’ so get moving and notice how your mood improves.
  • Practice dispelling negative thoughts – it can be done! You could try yoga, meditation or pilates to promote serenity. It is possible to recognise and challenge the thoughts you have about being inadequate and helpless.
  • It’s true that money can’t buy happiness (although, cynically, you could be miserable in comfort!). Still, we keep assuming that having ‘things’ will make us happy – however, research shows that once people climb above the poverty level, more money brings very little happiness. The secret is to be happy with what you’ve got, as long as you’re not living in abject poverty.
  • One of the best antidotes to unhappiness is friendship, so try to foster and encourage the friendships that you have as knowing that you’re cared for by others is a great boost.
  • Put something back into life by helping others, doing some voluntary work or being part of something bigger – it gives you a purpose and that helps most people to feel happier.
  • Finally, be glad to be alive! You’re great – tell yourself so.

If this blog has resonated with you and you would like to focus on feeling happier and more contented with life, please e.mail me at or phone/text me on 07956 986 693.





How can you avoid the same old arguments?

Whether you’re having the same disagreements with your mother, your partner or a friend the arguments can become pretty tedious, not to say tiring and repetitive.

So how can you avoid the ‘same old same old’?

Here are some things to focus on:

  • Listen carefully – when we’re in critical mode, we often don’t take time to reflect on what the other person says. What do you want out of the disagreement, other than the other person to give in completely? Why are you feeling angry? Try to take responsibility for what you’re feeling and then say it out loud in a non-confrontational way.
  • Try to focus on what is working rather than what isn’t going well. Create a list of the good things the other person does for you, whether it’s your mother looking after your child or your cat, your partner filling your car with petrol or your friend going out of her way to give you a lift home. Thank them for these small acts of kindness – they will appreciate it.
  • If you feel hurt because they are not there for you, acknowledge to yourself that there might be a reason for that and rather than saying “you’re always going out/doing things for other people”, say “I wish that you were here with me. I know that you can’t be, but that’s what I like and need sometimes”.
  • Stop making sweeping accusations – if you say “You always……” and “You never….” It feels heavy with criticism. Try saying “I’d love it if you could do ……………” because then the other person with know what would please you and has the opportunity to make changes.
  • Try not to shout – whatever the relationship, nothing can blossom when voices are raised. Even if the other person shouts, and there’s then a temptation for you to do the same, try to keep your voice calm and make a conscious effort to keep it low too.

See how you get on with the above and if you’re finding any of the relationships in your life difficult, you may find that counselling will help. You can phone me on 07956 986 693 (please leave a message if I can’t answer straight away – I’ll get back to you as soon as possible) or e.mail me at

“I feel so vulnerable…….”

For most of us, when we’re in a relationship we become more vulnerable because that’s when we allow another person into our hearts and minds – there is more chance of being hurt and let down for some people it’s a risk they don’t want to take.

However, to allow trust to develop between you there has to be a degree of vulnerability to pull down the walls you may usually surround yourself with and let the other person in. You need to show yourself to the other person and let them into your heart before a true depth of feeling can develop.

Some people spend a lot of time trying to protect themselves to keep others out but that can be very lonely. We can only hope that if we trust people and allow them in, they’ll respect us for being ourselves. However, our fear of ridicule, judgement or scaring the other person away can hold us back but giving a little at a time can help a lot.

We say that we can’t help who we fall in love with and this sort of vulnerability and need for another person sometimes scares us because if we need someone, we are necessarily dependent upon them. But if you love someone in such a way, you have to take some responsibility for it – ultimately, you’re vulnerable because you choose to be vulnerable (hard to believe, I know!) and only you can decide whether you can cope with that and all it entails.  If both people in the relationship do the same, it can be transforming.

The same is true in the therapeutic relationship – it’s the therapist’s responsibility to develop a relationship that helps the client to explore and resolve conflicts and dissatisfactions. Building trust the counselling sessions builds confidence and supports the changes that the client hopes to make.

The one who feels (or thinks they feel) the most vulnerable in the relationship is the one most likely to worry about getting hurt. However, it may be that they’re feeling the same – talking about this is the thing most likely to help.  If your partner is being cool or you feel they’re uncaring, it may not be anything to do with you or your relationship so again, talk to them about what’s going on.

There is always the risk of getting hurt but, unless we live alone without any real human contact, there is always some risk but the larger the risk, hopefully the greater the reward.

If you’ve always seen yourself as ‘strong’, maybe you’ve just discovered your own vulnerability and it seems strange and uncomfortable. However, it’s a good opportunity to learn about another side to yourself so try to step back from being strong for a moment and remember that even superheroes had some weaknesses. For instance, Superman could be rendered powerless when he was exposed to Kryptonite but he learnt to protect himself and find strength outside of that.

Change doesn’t make you less of a person, it can make you more of a person. By giving yourself over to the feeling, change can make you more human and as long as you can reach out to someone, you’re not helpless. It can help to accept your position of vulnerability and move past the negative possibilities that may haunt you. It’s a bit scary but can be exciting too!

The human mind is very powerful but it can be difficult to control and sometimes we can start to think dark thoughts…. it is this sort of thinking that can ruin relationships, so it’s worth trying to control any negativity whilst still allowing yourself to be vulnerable. Try to remain focused on what’s going on and as long as it’s positive, go with it.

If you’re feeling vulnerable, ask yourself “Why am I afraid?”, “What can I do to improve things?” and “Will feeling like this help me?”. By trying to focus on what you can do to improve things, including your own well-being, you will bring more positivity into your life and your relationship. You’ll still feel vulnerable at times but become aware of how to deal with that feeling.


Psychotherapists and counsellors are not just people who give you advice (in fact, that’s rarely the case!) but as the therapy progresses and trust is established, you can use the sessions to bring about real change. It is this relationship that is so important and the self-revealing part of it helps with the healing of who you are.


If you are finding that your own vulnerability, or that of a loved one, stops you enjoying your life to the full, please contact me for further details of how I can help you. My e.mail address is or you can text/phone me on 07956986693.


Being bullied in your personal life

In my last blog I wrote about bullying in the workplace which was hopefully of some help to people experiencing this behaviour at work.

This time, I’m writing about bullying at home which can sometimes be worse because it often involves someone that you love and who says they love you. This can be a parent, partner, sibling or other family member and it’s often difficult to detect as well as accept that this is happening. Don’t think that bullies can only be men – women are just as adept at bullying!

A bully in the family often encourages and manipulates other family members into acting in a dishonourable way whilst engendering a negative view of the target in the minds of them, neighbours and friends – it’s achieved by undermining, creating doubts and suspicions and sharing false concerns.

The bully may try to establish an exclusive relationship, often based on apparent trust and confidence, with one family member so that they, the bully, are seen as the only really reliable source of information. This can be done by very clever means, perhaps by portraying the target as unstable, uncaring, undependable and untrustworthy. The object of this is to manipulate the family member’s perceptions so that the bully is seen as an honourable person with others’ best interests at heart. If challenged, the bully pretends to be the victim and makes sure that they are seen as the entirely plausible one, turning the focus on themselves to be the centre of attention.

Sounds frightening? It is! The psychological damage done can be catastrophic but because there is no physical violence, there are no outward signs, at least at first. Most commonly, there is verbal and emotional abuse including nit-picking, constant fault-finding and criticism but usually when the bully and victim are alone. When other people are present, the bully is often ‘sweetness and light’, leaving others feeling that the bully is a lovely person.

Why does this happen? There are lots of theories including the bully suffering low self-esteem and using tactics to make themselves feel better, having control over other people – again to help them feel more positive about themselves and competitiveness within the family (always wanting to be thought of as better than a sibling).

A lot of people aren’t aware that they’re being bullied within their family, especially if the bullies are their parents and this has been going on since childhood so it seems normal. Sometimes a sibling can take over from one of the parents and start the scapegoating again. Some signs that you or someone close to you is being bullied are:

  • The bully puts you down, either when you’re alone or in front of others.
  • They criticise you under the guise of helping you.
  • They call you names like ‘useless’ or ‘stupid’.
  • They tell you how to spend your money.
  • They keep score of what they’ve done for you so that they can then say that they’ve done so much for you and either you’re not reciprocating or you’re a disappointment to them.
  • They ask you constant questions about yourself, your life and how you live it.
  • If you complain about their behaviour, they say that you’re “too sensitive” and “take things to heart too much”.

They can be silently angry with you and don’t try to talk out problems, using silence as a punishment (passive-aggressive). Another tactic is to say that they’re too busy to talk if you try to discuss a particular issue with them – even if they initiated the subject! Once it gets a bit difficult for them, they’ll try to terminate the conversation. Ring a bell?!!

If you’ve ever suffered this as a child, it can have an even bigger effect than it might have done and the bully probably realises this, which is why they use that tactic. The silence is a way to manipulate you so that you ask what the problem is and try to change something in your life to please them so that they will speak to you again.

So what can you do to deal with this?

  • The first thing is to try to talk to the person/people concerned – they may not realise that what they’re doing is actually bullying. Tell them how it makes you feel and then ask them to stop – if they insist that they’re not doing anything wrong and that you’re being ridiculous/neurotic/over-sensitive at least you will have tried to bring it out into the open and make changes even though the other person isn’t willing to change.
  • The next thing you can do is to set boundaries with the family member whether that is one of your parents, a sibling or a partner. When asked about attending a family party, if you don’t want to stay for most of the day tell everyone that you’re only going to stay for a couple of hours. If someone in the family wants you to do something for them and it’s not convenient, say so with something along the lines of “I wish that I could do that but it’s just not possible this time”. There will be some sort of backlash because you’re refusing to be controlled any longer, but try to remember that your needs and desires are as important as anyone else’s.
  • If someone criticises your parenting style, you can say “I’m bringing the children up according to my values. I’m sorry if you don’t like it but that’s what I’m going to do”. There is no need to get into an argument about it; just state the facts.
  • Remove yourself from the situation temporarily – you don’t have to stay around to be criticised. During the break, try to step away emotionally as well so that you can see more clearly what’s going on.
  • Keep calm and as unemotional as possible when dealing with a bully – that is your best resistance.
  • Find support elsewhere so that you’re not so dependent on that person or people – once you’re doing other things with friends, you won’t need the bully so much.

If you feel you’re suffering from being bullied within your family or relationship, please get in touch.  Counselling can really help you to overcome the unhappiness experienced when you’re being bullied.

You can e.mail me at or phone/text me on 07956 986 693. Talking to a counsellor in confidence can really help.



Feel as if you’re being bullied at work?

First of all, what is workplace bullying? I worked as a workplace counsellor for ten years and soon realised that it’s not always immediately clear what’s going on, even when you, the client, is the person being bullied. Although rudeness is usually apparent to most of us, the bullying can be more subtle and often includes overloading people with work, ignoring someone and excluding them from a group or conversations with other colleagues.

Although the terms bullying and harassment are often interchangeable, in general terms harassment affects the dignity of men and women in the workplace and may be related to sexual orientation, race, disability age or gender. Bullying is usually characterised by offensive, insulting or malicious behaviour intended to humiliate or hurt the recipient. Both may be made by an individual or an organisation.

Examples are spreading malicious rumours or insulting someone; copying critical memos about someone to others who don’t need to know. Also, overbearing supervision, misuse of position, sexual advances and making decisions on the basis of such advances being accepted or rejected.

Bullying can make someone’s working life really miserable – you can lose faith in yourself as well as feeling ill and depressed. Work becomes something you dread if the person who’s bullying you sits near you, sends e.mails that contain subtle criticism contained in sentences like ‘I think it would be more positive for our organisation if you……’ or phones you to give you messages in a passive-aggressive way.

Bullies are often clever and can usually rationalise their behaviour, making the other person look as if they’re making a fuss about nothing. If you’re finding that someone is insulting you on a regular basis, abusing any authority they may have or undermining you in any way, you’re probably being bullied.

Feelings of anger and frustration can then be triggered, you can become frightened and demotivated causing loss of confidence and self-esteem. This can result in illness, absence from work and at the very least, job performance is often affected.

Acas Publications have an advice leaflet regarding bullying at work – this is a guide for employees and worth downloading from their website.

Some employers have specially trained Harassment Advisers and it’s worth contacting one of these before you take any action. A list should be available in the staff-room where you work or you can look on the company website.

Meanwhile, here are a few steps you can take if you are affected by bullying in your workplace:

  • Try speaking to the bully if you can – they may not have realised that their comments or actions are upsetting you. Keep calm and polite and make a note of your conversation.
  • If nothing changes or the bully denies his/her actions, approach your Line Manager for help in dealing with the situation. If they are friendly with one another, it’s still part of the Line Manager’s remit to deal effectively and fairly with the situation. The law makes it clear that all employees have the right to work in a safe environment free from intimidation and harassment. Employees are protected by a combination of employers’ policies and legislation.
  • Keep a written record of all incidents, including ones that took place in the past; do this no matter how small they may appear.
  • If you are part of a Union, contact your Union rep. If you’re not in a Union, now is a good time to join – however, most Unions will not take on retrospective bullying claims. You can ask for their advice though – it will almost certainly be helpful.
  • If you have tried all of the above and still feel that you are being bullied, you will need to put in a formal grievance. The policy referring to this will be available from your Human Resources department at work.

Please remember that you have the right to be treated with dignity from others at work; if you feel you’re struggling with any of the above issues, please e.mail me at or phone/text me on 07956 986 693. Talking to a counsellor in confidence can really help.


Country Idyll or rural nightmare?

Living out in the countryside sounds lovely – doesn’t it? A village location, fields, birds, maybe even a stream running through at the end of the garden. What could be better?

Well, it CAN be and is ideal for lots of people but it’s not for everybody. Although the Office for National Statistics showed that life expectancy at birth was improved for people living in rural areas, emotionally it can be hard for those not used to it or people who want to ‘spread their wings’.

If you’re undecided about whether to leave the town or city, try to think about the pitfalls as well as the advantages, before being swept up with the idyll of living in a small rural community. Lincolnshire still has great green spaces and these are very appealing to a lot of us. However, out on the fens these spaces are often flat and although the wolds are more picturesque, the landscape doesn’t appeal to everyone. Large flat swathes of land with ‘big skies’ are great in the summer months, but can be depressing in the winter unless you were born in those areas (and even then, they can make some people feel quite low and sad).

So, if you still want to ‘live the dream’ try to take into account some of the following:

  • For every glorious day in the summer there’s a stretch of winter when you might not see many people and the drive into a nearby town is a big effort.
  • If you have a young family and no relatives around, you will probably find childcare quite difficult. Make sure you work out what professional childcare is available before you move.
  • Try to join a local playgroup/toddler group where you’ll meet other young parents as well as local organisations and committees where you’ll hopefully meet like-minded people.
  • Be as pro-active as time allows you to be– if you put your heart and soul into events, you’ll get to know people quickly and they’ll love the fact that you’re putting something into their community. Despite this, make sure you don’t try to ‘take over’ by ‘improving’ the way things have been done so far – people will inevitably resent it.
  • If you’re moving to the country upon retirement, try to get involved in village fetes, swimming clubs and anything appealing where lots of different age-groups mingle.
  • Recognise that things change more slowly in the countryside and that there may not be a multi-cultural community yet. Usually (although not always), things tend to be more traditional than in towns and cities.
  • Realise that you’re going to be pretty dependent upon your car – in most rural areas, there are very few buses and certainly not on Sundays or during the evenings. Your car will almost certainly become more important to you than previously.
  • If you have any interest at all in gardening, try to learn more and take pride in your own garden. This tends to be more important in the countryside and people take a pride in their gardens.
  • Recognise that if you have any conflict with someone locally, especially in your village, almost inevitably people will know about it. You are far less anonymous in a country setting.
  • By the same token, you will find that what you think is charming and people showing an interest, can also have a downside where you might it difficult to have much privacy.
  • Try to make an effort to get into the nearest town or city on a regular basis if only to have a look around and do a bit of shopping – it can actually be refreshing to do this and it enables you to keep some interest in your previous lifestyle.

If you find you are struggling with loneliness and/isolation, please contact me on or phone 07956986693 (leave a message and I’ll get back to you) to discuss whether some counselling might help to come to terms with how you feel.


When illness hits your family

People have very different ways of responding to illness – for women particularly, there is a feeling, and sometimes an expectation, that they should be the main carers with society often reinforcing this.

However, whatever the expectations in your own family, when faced with a terminal or long-term diagnosis of a family member, whether that’s an adult or a child, people’s coping strategies often cause friction. In particular, the main carer can feel misunderstood by other family members or their partner and frustrated when others put an optimistic spin on the situation.

Keeping hopeful helps some people cope better, but for others it’s unrealistic and they prefer to be completely realistic and deal with the probable prognosis in their own way. Carers who are faced with a relative’s deteriorating health on a daily basis can feel frustrated when those who aren’t involved on a daily basis insist on putting a positive spin on the situation.

In the case of a very sick child, it’s not at all unusual for the worry to cause problems between the parents as they are less available to one another and probably less patient that they might usually be under different circumstances. In addition, one parent might be trying to deal with life on a day-to-day basis and attend to medical appointments, give medication and cook special meals whilst the other one might use their energies to research case-studies, alternative treatments and possible cures. If one, or both of them, are very tired, which is likely, understanding and patience aren’t going to be in abundance.

Most people who have had a child with a serious illness know the worry and anxiety associated with this. If they have any expectations, they will often be that at least their family will understand. Sadly, this isn’t always the case and people often find that those that they thought would be the most supportive, show little or no regard for the situation, still having expectations of the parent(s), even though everything has been turned upside down and they can no longer be as ‘available’ as they were previously. This is a particular sadness and a cause of long-term resentment – it’s also hard to work through those feelings when the people you thought you could rely on show a hardness of spirit that’s often devastating.

If a child is born with or develops a long-term condition, parents can feel that the demands upon them have no end and find it extremely difficult to cope. The questions they might want to ask are:

  • “Is it worth getting another medical opinion?”
  • “Is there a better medical regime for my child?”
  • “Could I be doing more?”

The same questions also apply if you are caring for an elderly parent, a sibling or other family member – most people want to do their best for the sick person but almost inevitably, it brings concerns and sadness, exacerbated by the tiredness involved in caring.

However, some families can and do thrive during difficult times, whether this is about caring for a child or an elderly parent with a chronic illness. It can actually bring people closer together as they find that they have to communicate more openly and this can provide them with a feeling of mission, pride and cohesiveness.

One important part of all this is that you alone cannot solve all the family problems associated with your child’s/family member’s illness and it’s crucial that you don’t isolate yourself. However caring you are, you will need time to yourself to relax, wind down and socialise.

There are social workers, family therapists and support groups who will hopefully be able to provide advice and, despite funding cuts, possibly put in some professional care at certain times. Social networks are forums are invaluable too as you can message people in the same situation. Although this can help you feel less alone, beware of not going down the road of getting into miracle ‘cures’ or negativity about the prognosis as neither of these is likely to help you in the long-term.

Try to access support from your extended family and friends (but remember, as I wrote above, they won’t always have the insight to understand)– don’t carry on and tell them that you’re “fine” as you’re not probably not; if you don’t tell them this, they often won’t know, even if you think it’s obvious. Being open and clear is the most honest way to progress here – most people will help you if they know that you need support at times. Friends are also invaluable at such a time and you can ‘let rip’ about the situation when it becomes too much at times.

This is when counselling can also be helpful, especially if you’ve found that your partner and family don’t really understand. To find out more about this, you can e.mail me at or phone me on 07956 986 693.


Managing anxiety and stress

When you’re feeling anxious or stressed, these strategies will help you cope but before you look at them, try to remember that this feeling will pass. ACCEPT what’s happening and take ten seconds to recognise that. After that, try to do some of the following (they’re not all possible if you’re at work but some of them are. Others you can try at home)

  • Do your best. Instead of aiming for perfection, which isn’t possible, be proud of however close you get.
  • Accept that you cannot control everything. Put your stress in perspective: Is it really as bad as you think?
  • Take a time-out. Practice yoga, listen to music, meditate, get a massage, or learn relaxation techniques. Stepping back from the problem helps clear your head.
  • Eat well-balanced meals. Do not skip any meals. Do keep healthful, energy-boosting snacks on hand.
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine, which can aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks.
  • Get enough sleep. When stressed, your body needs additional sleep and rest.
  • Exercise daily to help you feel good and maintain your health. Check out the fitness tips below.
  • Take deep breaths. Inhale and exhale slowly.
  • Count to 10 slowly. Repeat, and count to 20 if necessary.
  • Welcome humour. A good laugh goes a long way.
  • Maintain a positive attitude. Make an effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
  • Get involved. Volunteer or find another way to be active in your community, which creates a support network and gives you a break from everyday stress.
  • Learn what triggers your anxiety. Is it work, family, school, or something else you can identify? Write in a journal when you’re feeling stressed or anxious, and look for a pattern.
  • Talk to someone. Tell friends and family you’re feeling overwhelmed, and let them know how they can help you.

If you are finding that anxiety and stress are taking over large chunks of your life, counselling may well help in managing this. To find out more you can e.mail me at or phone me on 97956 986 693