The ultimate cure to the current potential global pandemic – and it’s not COVID-19


As the number of cases of Wuhan Novel Coronavirus, COVID-19,increase it is natural for you to fear the virus, but this is not the pandemic you need to be most worried about. The bigger problem right now is the contagion of anxiety spreading through communities through speculation and rumours, especially via social media.

Anxiety can be a crippling emotional challenge. As a psychologist and counsellor I work with clients dealing with their anxiety and I want to share some information about this condition and its management.


What spreads the contagion of anxiety?

  • Anxiety is made worse when it is fed. Searching for more information about what was making you anxious will usually increase your anxiety.
  • Rumour and mistruths exacerbate our experience of anxiety.
  • Sharing rumours on social media is the equivalent of sneezing in a crowded restaurant.  It spreads worry.


What cures anxiety in general and the Wuhan Novel Coronavirus?

  • Challenge all sources of information. Media often include panic inciting headlines and bury calming information.
  • Acknowledge your anxiety – give it a voice, but not a megaphone. Talk to your anxiety as you would a worried child. Accept that it exists, how it might perceive the situation, and offer alternative ways of looking at the issue. Be kind to yourself.
  • Perspective is important. There are some benefits in this situation:. I live in Hong Kong so even for us, there are some potential upside. For example:
    • With schools closed, parents get to spend more time with their children (if they choose),
    • We are exploring business continuity plans and conducting probably the world’s largest “work from home experiment”. This experiment may lead to greater work flexibility in HK in the future.
    • You may finally have time to sort out that spare room or messy cupboard.
    • When HK experienced SARS it was very stressful. Out of that stressful time came drastically improved public hygiene practices and tools as well as massive benefits for those who bought apartments during that time.
    • When we asked what is positive fans often expressed that they were enjoying aspects of life that are now less hectic –sleeping in, spending time with kids, husbands coming home earlier, commutes taking less time, nice walks with their pets.
  • Be careful when you share information. Search for facts, not rumours. Do not spread the contagion of panic.
  •  Panic buying possibly adds to your experience of panic. Sure if you need toilet paper buy a pack. Don’t buy 10 packs “just in case”.
  • Don’t judge those who leave, or those who stay in your area as the number of cases grows. People make the choices that they think are best for their family. In reality they, and you, probably will not contract the virus, and if they do they will survive.
  • Do what you need to do to physically protect yourself –
  • Face down myths whenever you get the opportunity (
  • Practice being grateful. Gratitude allows you to stay positive
  • Challenge your thinking. We often employ cognitive filters when we interpret information and this can increase our anxiety. For example, if you tend to catastrophise situations it will possibly lead to exacerbated anxiety. Take a look at the following article which might help. (


Working actively on your anxiety can help to reduce it. Sometimes talking to a professional might help. If you’d like to tackle your anxiety with Angela, or one of our other therapists, in Hong Kong, contact us at or SMS to 852-93785428.


Activating the Second Wave – Intervention for teens with SEN.

If you are a parent of a child with special educational needs (SEN), I hope that I do not need to convince you about the importance of early intervention with your child. Usually between the age of 2-4 years old you may have noticed that your child does not respond or develop in sync with their same aged peers. Intervention activities aimed to aid physical, cognitive, communicative, self-help, and behavioural development. Early intervention activities start at diagnosis and usually curb off when they child begins regular school, with some training continuing throughout childhood.

You may think that was it. I am here to encourage you to think of the period between 12-17 years old as the, possible,  Second Wave of intervention. At this time your child, typical or atypical, will go through a lot of change, and similarly to early childhood there is significant developments during these years. As parents and professionals working with teens SEN, the second wave provides a new chance to explore the opportunity for change and positive development. Its important that we honour the struggle that all teens face, and support them accordingly. The Second Wave of intervention needs to meet these children at the stage of development that they have now achieved, not as a simple add on to early intervention plans.

Changes during the teen years.

The teen years are a significant developmental period of internal change for an individual. Together with the growth of body and hormones there is significant development in the learning capacity of teens. This is extremely well detailed in Frances Jensen and Amy Ellis Nut’s fantastic book, “The Teenage brain”

From a neurological perspective, the teen brain is seen as only 80 percent mature. The finer connections in the brain are yet to be firmly established, and the brain is a time when it is more open to learning and being excited. The neurons in the brain are well connected at the back of the brain, the centre of sex and excitability, but not well developed for the frontal lobes, the centre for rational thought, self-awareness, generating insight, assessment of risk and danger, abstract thought and planning. Jensen likens the teen brain to a sports car that is all revved up, with nowhere to go.

During this time teens are also expanding their knowledge base. It is a period of great flexibility, with windows for great development of learning. However, the open brain is more open to dopamine, the neurotransmitter that makes us feel good and drives us into a, “gotta have it” type of state. If you have your teen responding to situations in a FOMO style of anxiety, you know what I’m writing about. Put this all together and you have a teenager – highly excited, easy to learn, find it difficult to explain themselves, difficult to stop an activity, irrational under pressure, and not able to see another person’s view very well. And this is for typical teens!

Adolescents is a period where behavioural and psychiatric issues develop. The general theory is that the onset of such issues may be created with the changes in body chemistry. Therefore, we see issues such as anxiety, depression, self-identify and body image develop during the teen years. Dysregulation of emotion can become common. The atypical teen is as, if not more, susceptible to these mental challenges. Additionally, for some atypical teens conditions, such a epilepsy can suddenly begin in the teen years.

And then there is puberty itself and all that new hormones introduce into and onto the teen: genitals, periods, a desire for physical stimulation (aka masturbation), voice changes, breasts, hair – everywhere – and the new hygiene requirements attached to much of this. You may still think of your teen as a child, but they certainly don’t look like one anymore.

On top of significant internal changes, the atypical teen faces significant changes in their external life. They may be at high school and surrounded by many typical teens, and viewing many behaviours – romantic, personal, oppositional, defiant, illegal – you may have wanted them to avoid. but this is not possible

All of this requires a new intervention plan – one based on their age and the launching pad that the teen years represent. For many children with special educational challenges, they grow into their challenge rather that grow out of it. Rather than trying to change them to fit the world, we have to help them be who they are going to be, but still be able to have a place in the world.


Elements to be considered in the SECOND WAVE of intervention.

The second wave of intervention is different from Early Intervention (ie the first wave) in many ways. Firstly, this wave coincides with the teen years and all the opportunity for growth, and challenge, that those years represent. Secondly, the focus moves away from a deficit model of the child to a strengths model. This is described in detail in another blog from our team , (htps://

Basically we start to focus away from areas that the child can not keep up with their same age peers, unless those skills are considered essential life skills, and spend a greater proportion of time turning splinter skills into academic success, and hopefully career options.

seond wave graphicLastly, we add specially teen focused training towards new essential behaviours and to revisit some behaviour management issues from the past. These include new and updated behavioural expectations, social and emotional support, relationship advice, academic support, learning about learning, independence and understanding of the self.

Areas of training: There will be some behaviours that were cute when your teen was a child may be perceived extremely negatively now that they look like an adult. For example a young boy’s fascination with girls with blonde hair may seem cute, or even charming, when they are a toddler. When they are 6ft tall, very few people will find amorous fascination acceptable, or cute. We need to help these teens navigate the teen and adult rules of engagement around expected behaviour, conversation topics, expressing themselves, etiquette, personal reputation and dressing appropriately, personal space, and personal hygiene. Many of these topics benefit from some peer-to-peer work, discussion and explicit instruction.

Counselling/Emotional sensitivity: It is extremely important that atypical teens are given the opportunity to learn about and express their emotions. After all their experience in the world is very different from ours, or that of other teens. They are more likely to be ostracized, bullied, or overwhelmed. Yet at the same time like many teens they appraise values such as “independence” and “having friends” as important. So we need to help counsel and guide teens to navigate the world of belonging, the importance of a growth mindset, self-acceptance, mindfulness, self-advocacy, resilience, emotional understanding and regulation.

Relationship navigation:  Friendship is a major need of all teens, although the intensity of relationships may differ. Our kids need to learn the basics of making, and being a good friend to another teen. They also need to be able to distinguish a good influence on them, from a poor. Some atypical teens are being bullied by the very people they consider “friends”. During teen years romantic interest will also be piqued. One needs to learn the expectations and restrictions around interpersonal romantic relationships. This is particularly true for those teens who are poor at reading social cues so may come on a little strong, and risk complete rejection. 

Explicitly learning what doesn’t come naturally: Many teens with special educational needs have difficulty is executive function (learning how to learn, how to think) and theory of mind (understanding how other people see the world differently from you) are sometimes easier to train in the teen years, rather than to children, because of the expectations of all teens are explicit around these topics. Teens passionately learn to express their opinions confidently, and listen to those of others. Performing on tests, and comparison of marks, can be a mixed blessing. Knowing that you didn’t do as well as a classmate on a test can open the door to discussion on your learning practices. Whilst we may have explicitly taught  our kids that, “it’s okay to ask for help”, we may need to update this to include the comment, “but try to do it on your own first”.

Cognitive development: remains important: Some atypical teens may have subjects that they are extremely good at (splinter skills), as well as areas that they perform less well in. As teens age, specialisation allows them to drop some topics that hold no interest or remain too difficult and focus on those skills that may help them form success stories, future studies, or even a career. Some topics – specifically basic math, and English, remain essential skills that require continuous learning within age appropriate contexts. It insults the teen to perform reading comprehension around topics or stories aimed at young children. I encourage children with SEN to take on learning communication training – persuasive text, expression, vocabulary banks, as a lifelong education plan.

Independence: Independence is the reward of the teenage years. All of the teens I have worked with over the years see Independence as a positive trait, even if they are not, yet, capable of many aspects of independence. As the parent of a child with special educational needs I have occasionally found offering independence very challenging – what if she gets lost, what if something bad happens. My own daughter has navigated getting home from school when she lost all her money, dealing with flirtations by weird men, and having to ready herself for an exam which we had recorded on another date. In every challenge she was stressed, but responded. In the exam, she actually passed! Independence can, and must be trained.

I am Me: The last special area that is to be considered within the Second Wave is appreciation of the self. This is not just part of the emotional growth that needs to be undertaken during the teen years, this is understanding your unique position in the world., what you contribute, what you want to contribute and how you are different from others. When our children with disabilities are young children we may focus on trying to fit in. In the teenage years this can change. Their strengths become a pathway to the future. Their quirks may become how they are to be defined. To quote a phrase from the fantastic book about being different, Wonder, “Why try to blend in, when you were born to stand out”?

I hope you found this detail of the Second Wave helpful. If you have any questions about the Second Wave, and your child, feel free to contact us via

#specialeducationalneeds #earlyintervention #teens #autism #relationshiptraining #socialskills #reddoor #theoryofmind #executivefunction #splinterskills #secondwave  


Useful books

Frances Jensen and Amy Ellis Nut – The Teenage Brain

John Donvan and Caren Zucker – In a different key

Tony Attwood and Temple Gradin (and others) – Aspergers and Girls

Delia Samuel – Against the odds

Barry Prizant – Uniquely Human: a different way of seeing autism

Tony Attwood – The complete guide to Asperger’s Syndrome.

Blythe Grossberg – Autism and your teen

Liam Dawson – Teens therapy: The mental emotional and physical challenges with teenagers.



Don’t cry for me Margarita: Breaking up from your relationship with alcohol

margarita.jpgHave you ever questioned your relationship with alcohol? Have you ever made rules for yourself in regard to your drinking behaviours (eg, I’ll only drink wine, nothing stronger; I’ll only have 3 drinks max before I go home – no more)? Has anyone close to you asked you about your drinking? Do you ever wonder if your drinking is getting out of your control? Many of us do. You are not alone.

At the beginning of the year it is common to reflect and take stock, and when people do, many choose to take a break from alcohol for a while. Taking a break has numerous benefits including experiencing improved sleep, increased productivity, better mental healths (alleviation of experience of depression and anxiety), better complexion, and potential weight loss. So, it makes sense to take a break.

Perhaps you don’t feel confident to break up, or perhaps you think you really need alcohol in order to be you (ie a co-dependent style relationship). Perhaps you wonder if your relationship with alcohol is unhealthy. Catherine Gray, in the book, the unexpected joy of being sober, suggests that that one third of regular drinkers are worried that they drink too much, but only half of those who worry actually do something about their drinking behaviour.

It isn’t your fault if you are confused or even ashamed about your relationship to alcohol. You have been tricked, entangled, and trapped, in that relationship. Advertising, and society, treat alcohol as a social lubricant when it is more of a social charlatan, hiding the reality of alcohol as silent poisonous killer. The harmful use of alcohol is a global problem as alcohol is a major risk factor in health and social issues such as violence, accidents, child neglect, absenteeism and mental health issues.

If you want to take a break there are a number of options for you to consider – from books, to online resources, to face to face support. There are a number of resources that can help you give up for a week, a month, a year, or forever.


There are a number of books that support breaks from alcohol, of any period. In my opinion the books sharing the experience of the author seem more compelling, and less judgemental than some of the more academic books. I have included both styles of books in the following list. Many of these books are recommended by online support groups. These books can easily be found from online book retailers.

The Naked Mind – Annie Grace 

It is easy to understand why this book is a best-seller. This books is a motivational behaviour change book based on links between the unconscious and conscious mind. These techniques are common in the Allen Carr style of sessions – helping you reframe your relationship to alcohol, so that giving up seems more like  you have regained freedom rather than missing out. I would recommend this as a first book to read if you are considering any kind ofbooks on drinking break.

The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober – Catherine Gray

Another popular best-seller, the unexpected joy is a well written memoir with extremely practical advice and insights. Gray provides information to help you staying sober for 30 days, and abstinence beyond . There is a great Facebook page attached to this label online.

Alcohol Lied to Me – Craig Beck 

Craig Beck was a highly functional, “2 bottles of wine a night” drinker. From the outside he looked like he had his drinking under control, but that wasn’t his reality. Craig Beck has written a treasure trove of quit drinking books and has programmes attached to his model. The process starts with exploring misconceptions that we hold about alcohol.

Nothing Good Can Come from This – Kirsti Coulter 

This memoir of one woman’s journey to sober, provides a sometimes funny, and worrying, commentary on women and their problematic love relationship to alcohol

Girl Walks Out of a Bar – Lisa Smith

Another memoir, this book explores cases of individuals who have been successful career wise, but struggled in their relationships with alcohol. Lisa Smith provides a real, emotive take on her experience of recovery

Almost Alcoholic – Robert Doyle & Joseph Nowinski 

A fairly academic book written by clinical psychologists. This book outlines the problematic drinking behaviour which does not reach the level of diagnostic classification, outlining the cost of their drinking and providing practical cessation and limitation guidelines.


Online support groups

Online groups and platforms provide support and discussion possibilities. Some are free whilst others are paid for. The most popular groups can be found on Facebook and online. The benefit of these groups is that you can maintain some degree of anonymity but still get some support.

One Year No Beer – 
One Year No Beer is a cessation programme that provides paid for support alcohol-free challenge options for one month, 3 month and 1 year programmes. Boasting over 55,000 members and plenty of tales from successful challenge completers, you can sample OYNB content on their Facebook page first to see if this is a good match for you. Many of the OYNB members take on positive health challenges aligned to their break from drinking, with added potential health benefits.

The alcohol experiment –

Attached to the Naked Mind platform, this 30 day free program (beyond that there is some cost) provides groups, mentors and advice how to move away from alcohol. Currently there are 35,000 users, and many success stories.


In real life 

If you have a more serious issue with alcohol a face-to-face option may be your best choice. You can also discuss these options with your general practitioner. Some defining questions follow this section to help you frame if it is time for you to consider change.

Support Group – Alcoholics Anonymous

With more than 35 meetings a week in Hong Kong, this is the most famous alcohol recovery programme on the planet. This 12 step program includes all the great milestones of change management including support groups, mentoring, personal exploration and no judgement. Some people have reservations about elements of AA, but there is no denying the good that AA tries to do to support people recovering from problems with alcohol.

Recovery/ Rehab – the Cabin HK (and Thailand) .

In Thailand, the Cabin runs a private rehabilitation facility aimed at the treatment of alcohol and drug abuse issues (in addition to co-morbid conditions). In Hong Kong the Cabin provides an outpatient treatment programme including counselling.

Face-to-face therapy: Counselling – various 

You may start your exploration of your relationship with alcohol in a relationship with a counsellor. Therapeutic alliance, ie how much you fit with your counsellor, is a major factor in the success of your therapy, so shop around to find the right fit for you. If you’d like some more questions about the RED DOOR offering feel free to contact


Is your drinking problematic? 

Is it time for you to consider a break-up? The following is NOT a diagnostic test, but includes some of the types of questions that would be used for a formal diagnosis of substance abuse issues. Please answer Yes or No to the following 10 questions.

  1. In the past year have there been times when you have consumed more alcohol, or drank for a longer period, than you had originally intended?
  2.  In the past year, has your drinking interfered with your relationship with friends, family or work colleagues.
  3. In the past year, have you missed work, or key appointments on a few occasions because of alcohol consumption the night before? 
  4. In the past year, have you wanted to cut down your drinking amount or frequency and found yourself unable to do so?
  5. In the past year, have you blacked-out as a consequence from drinking alcohol?
  6. In the past year, have you lost personal items such as your keys, or wallet, whilst you were inebriated?
  7. In the past year, have you missed work, or key appointments on a few occasions because of alcohol consumption the night before?
  8. In the past year, have you noticed that your tolerance to alcohol has increased, and you now need to consume more alcohol in order to feel it’s effects?
  9.  In the past year, have you found yourself in situations where you may have compromised your personal safety, or the safety of others, as a consequence of consuming alcohol
  10. In the past year, have you started to experience some of the symptoms frequently labelled as  alcohol withdrawal, when you are not drinking including shaking, experiencing a racing heart, sweating more than usual, nausea, or trouble sleeping.


How many questions did you answer with a “YES” response? If you answered three or more with a YES, then I recommend you consider to break-up with the booze, if only for a short period, but possibly for more. Certainly take a look at the resources listed in this article. You deserve to feel good, and it might be time to start that journey.

#reddoor #alcohol #alcoholdependence #alcoholrecovery #alcholicsanonymous #thecabin #oneyearnobeer #alcoholexperiment #thenakedmind #theunexpectedjoyofbeingsober #alcoholliedtome #girlwalksoutofabar #almostalcoholic #nothinggoodcancomefromthis.












New You in the New Year: 5 questions to help you create positive change in the New Year.

new year new you

If you are receptive to the idea of setting New Year’s Resolutions but are undecided which resolutions will contribute real positive change to your life we have outlined 5 questions that we believe frame change that will introduce the most meaningful adaptions into your life in the New Year – creating a New You in the New Year.

startSTART. What one behaviour or habit could you start today that you will be thankful for in two to three years time? Perhaps you might considering undertaking a new area of study. Perhaps start a savings plan for that special vacation that you have been dreaming about. How about trying to eat properly, or commit to an exercise plan. Write down your options and consider which you would be most happy about in a few years time.

stopSTOP. I’m sure there is a at least one behaviour that you would benefit from LESS of in the New Year. Think about it, write about it. Consider something that you might consider to eliminate this year. Some ideas you might consider are to quit drinking, smoking, explore your propensity to explode in anger, feelings of jealousy, comparing yourself to others, procrastinations, over-eating, your addiction to technology, controlling others, or overworking.

Do you believe you CAN stop? If you believe, then what is holding you back? Have you tried to measure the impact your ‘STOP’ behaviour on your life, both in terms of financial implications, but also the repercussion on your personal life, your reputation, or your long-term health.

If you doubt if you can stop, then perhaps it might help to consider help. Sometimes a doctor, a counsellor, or even a good friend can help you brainstorm a way out. Try to visualise what your life might be like, if you can just STOP.

mendMEND. Are you holding onto old hurts or disappointments from the past that disrupt your ability to move forward? Is there a rift in an important relationship in your life that you are grieving?  Ask yourself could you mend some of these rifts or mend some of those hurts? One technique to think your way through these situation is to journal. ( Specific journal prompts might help you.

  •  Who or what event do you find it hard to mend in your mind? What wrong was done to you? Can you see this situation differently from a distance?
  •  Would there be a benefit to recover old friendships or relationships? Do you feel safe with that person? Can you better protect yourself in that relationship in the future?
  •  Are you still angry about events that have happened in the past. Write about that anger and other feelings. Why do those events continue to hurt you after all the time that has elapsed.

Some perspective and review may help you feel better. Always be kind to yourself in these evaluations. Also acknowledge some hurts are harder to heal. If you have experienced abuse, the mending to be done may not be of that abusive relationship but rather your relationship to yourself. If you need help, consider a counsellor.

accelerateACCELERATE. What positive practices do you engage in that you could accelerate, to your benefit, this year. If you want to be an artist, what commitment could you make this year that could make your dream become closer to reality. Perhaps you could commit to completing one piece of work a week. If you recently started your own business what key resources will you need to commit to getting this business off the ground. Are you working on this as many hours as it needs? Contemplate what activities bring you new clients – either directly or indirectly – and how can you pump up the volume on those tasks? Ideally, you are probably doing so many positive undertakings on a weekly basis, what could you DO MORE with real benefit to your goals?

leave behind.jpgLEAVE BEHIND. In the tradition of closing one door, so that another can open, consider leaving something, even someone, behind as the old year ends and a new one begins. Are you involved in relationships that are toxic to you or sabotage your achievement of your goals? Review the people and practices in which you engage, do they hinder or help you? What person or practice could you let go of, in order to let yourself really grow?

If you have detailed a behaviour in response to each of these 5 provocative questions, then you have the beginning of a game plan for a New You in the New Year.  Well done for spending this time reflecting about what will be of benefit to you. All the best for working on these behaviours in the next year. You should be proud of you.

#reddoor #newyear #Newyearresolutions #behaviorchange





The Power of New Year Resolutions.

blank page .jpgThe tradition of setting resolutions at the beginning of the New Year is as old as the New Year itself. In the time of Caesar’s Rome, the Senate decided that the new year would begin on the 1st January in reverence to that month’s name sake – the God Janus – the two-faced God who looks backward to the past and forward to the future at the same time.

And so the Senate, having confirmed when the year would begin also set the new intention for being kinder and more cooperative with each other when the new year began, and thus the tradition of resolutions was created.

In modern times there are some resistance to setting resolutions. If this describes your stance, I would like you to reconsider this perspective.

Setting resolutions may seem unrealistic. In 2017 the team at RED DOOR, together with CSG (Consumer Search Group), a leading regional marketing research firm, researched resolution set by 900 Chinese adults in Hong Kong and China. Over 50 percent of people set the same resolutions year after year. This might imply that they ‘failed’ last year to achieve their goal. So perhaps they should quit whilst they are ahead. We disagree.

proudofeachstep.jpgRather than seeing repeat resolution as a failure I feel it expresses determination to keep trying. As is often quoted (and attributed to several authors), it does not matter how many times you fall down, but rather how many times you get back up.

The only thing in life that is constant is change. It would be unrealistic to expect things to always stay the same. Resolutions allow you to invite change into your life on your terms. If you are going to experience change, why not accept that and invite the change that may create the biggest new opportunity, heal old hurts and invite the momentum that you have been searching for.

What happens if you fail in your resolution? You start well, but then your commitment tapers off. Don’t worry. Start again. If you slip up once or twice, or even twenty times. IF you stay committed to what you want to accomplish, you’ll be proud of yourself in the end.

If you don’t’ know what resolutions to set, our next blog, New Year – New You, might help you frame some interesting changes to invite into your life. Additionally, I have included some of the results of the CSG/RED DOOR research in order for you to understand what goals other people set.

Happy New Year.


Summary of some of the research by CSG and Red Door in 2017.

We conducted a survey with 400 Hong Kong affluent individuals and 500 Chinese affluent regarding the resolutions they have intend for 2017, and their commitment to achieving these resolutions. From the survey, 61% (Hong Kong) and 59% (Chinese) affluent adults has made resolutions for 2017.

  1.  65% of women in Hong Kong made a resolution relative to only 57% men
  2. The top 2 resolutions that women in Hong Kong made are:  Health & Fitness (68%) + Money (63%)
  3. 80% of women in HK have concrete goals + timeframes
  4. Only 44% of these HK women made a new resolution
  5. To achieve their resolution, they plan to do the following:
    1. Chart their success (43%)
    2. Make a change in their career (36%)
    3. Change a regular habit (35%)
    4. Change their look (32%)
  6. They are making the resolution for themselves because 72% believed that they would be most impressed with the achievement of their resolution
  7. 62% of the women in HK have made resolutions that involved a financial commitment
  8. They are willing to spend an average of HKD5,210 in the first month

Data suggest that HK women are making more resolution than men and are committed to achieving their resolution with financial investment.

  • There are some really good data for Chinese women that shows up a nice contrast to HK women.
  • We have also provided data for different age groups which have interest trends for female who are 35 – 44 years old

#reddoor #CSG #Newyearresolutions #positivechange #Newyear

Fighting Fair

fighting fairDisagreements are to be expected in any relationship. No two people see situations the same, or have completely the same goals. Resolving conflicts in a positive manner will make your relationship stronger, whilst unresolved battled and long-term contempt can erode your relationships’ chance of survival.

Are you fighting fair when you disagree? We outline the best recommendations given in therapy and highlight the work that we do with couples to help them move from belligerent brawling to fighting fair.


Agree on rules of engagement.

A set of rules will help keep an argument on track and less confrontational. Common recommendations might include:

  • Set a time to argue – don’t just ambush an argument onto your partner
  • Argue by mutual consent, and delay your discussion if you are tired or sick – a fair fight requires two able bodied members
  • Set a time limit to discuss a topic. If you don’t reach consensus in your time frame either agree to disagree, or take a break to allow each party to consider all of the points.
  • Physical violence is a no-no.
  • Remember words are weapons – stop hurting the people you love


Know and own your feelings.

When you are upset try to avoid to blame others for your feelings and experiences. You would be better to say “When you do …”, “I feel …” rather than label the behaviour. For example, “You are always late; you are so selfish” Rather say. “When you are late, I start to feel nervous”

Your feelings are yours. It is common to hear “You made me mad”. This phrasing attempts to deflect responsibility for your reaction off yourself, but your feelings are yours. That isn’t to say this supports legitimacy of your partners behaviour. People don’t make you mad, you get angry. It is your anger. I would challenge you to consider if you get angry in other situations, outside of your personal relationship. Use feeling words – I feel angry, sad rather than “you are so selfish”, “no wonder I’m angry”. Use I statements – “I feel angry …” rather than “You make me…”


Kitchen Sinking.

Keep any argument to the topic you have outlined to discuss. Kitchen sinking occurs when you pull old hurts and disagreements into the current topic under debate. If a number of issues have been accumulating, tackle them one at a time.


Point scoring is for bullies.

Your objective isn’t to WIN a fight. If one person wins, the other, even more importantly, the relationship loses. Allow your partner to save face. The purpose of fighting fair is to improve your experience within the relationship. Fighting fair, and resolving disagreements amicably and respectfully strengthens your relationship in the long term.


It takes two

Keep your fights between the two of you. Leave family and friends out of your argument. Poor relationship boundaries around your personal issues will have a negative impact on the quality of your long relationship. There is nothing more annoying than having others opinions included in a discussion. Imagine the scene where a partner says to another “Your mother agrees, we should have never gotten married” In particular DO NOT involve children in your arguments, that is deeply unfair to them. Obviously if physical aggression is involved privacy and boundaries are no longer sacred


Kindness is king.

Being kind and respectful is extremely helpful in a disagreement. Name calling, bringing up critical confidences in order to hurt another, swearing, making threats are distructive to your relationship. If you owe your partner an apology, then provide it. Some goodwill can go a long way. Issues which involve personal perception and opinion may be impossible to resolve. Agree to disagree if you can and respect this. I’ve seen many couples continue to fight after they’ve agreed to disagree, and that situation, rarely ends well.



Even if you have a bad fight you can start again without completely resolving the conflict. Sometimes if you start your day taking shots at each other, one of you can ask, “can we start this again”. You don’t need to continue a fight just because you started it. Respect the possibility to start again, but also commit to have the discussion again at another time. Control-Alt-Delete can’t simply be used to stonewall discussions.



If you are in the wrong, apologise. Even if you weren’t in the wrong, but behaved in a hurtful manner apologise. Also, if you are given an apology, accept it. Sometimes in counselling we see couples who do accept their partners apology because it covers only 8/10 things that they believed their partner did wrong. Accept an apology, even if it is incomplete. Once peace has been restored, discussion on areas of dispute will be more likely to be successful.


“Fighting fair” cannot involve abuse.

There is a difference between having disagreements and being in an abusive relationship. Abuse can be physical, financial or psychological. Physical abuse includes not only scratching, kicking, hitting and biting but also coerce your partner to have sex, putting your partner into a headlock or holding them against their will. Financial abuse and emotional abuse are less difficult to identify and confirm.

Its worth talking about what emotional abuse is not. It is not emotionally abusive to break up with a partner, or argue with your partner. It is not emotionally abusive when someone reacts to what you have done by stating that they are hurt. It is also not emotional abuse to speak one’s mind with honesty, perhaps more tact could be used, but it isn’t necessarily abuse. Partner’s fight, and often even yell. This doesn’t constitute abuse, unless it is done for the purpose of controlling another person.

Researchers Jacobson and Gottman have a questionnaire that can help you determine if you are being emotionally

While less commonly understood than other forms of abuse, financial abuse is one of the most powerful methods of keeping a person tied to an uneven or even abusive relationship. Financial abuse involves controlling a victim’s ability to produce or manage financial resources. Rarely do they have complete access to money and other resources. When they do have money, they often have to account for every penny they spend. If one partner is shopping for groceries and suddenly finds all cards have been cut off in response to a recent argument, this may be an indication of financial abuse.


If you get stuck, get help

If you find yourselves going around in circles on a topic you could consider couples counselling. Couples counselling will help you understand if the issue is the one you are arguing about or is actually a proxy for other unresolved issues, then help the couple work on those challenges.


Disagreements are to be expected in any relationship. Resolving conflicts in a positive manner is an indication of maturity and commitment. The next time you fight with your partner, reach for this list and keep your fight fair.

#fighting #relationships #arguments #fightfair #couplescounselling #abuse #reddoor

Work Hard – Stress Harder: Understanding the experience of stress a mong senior lawyers in Hong Kong.

work hard stress harder

Work Hard – Stress Harder: Understanding the experience of stress among senior lawyers in Hong Kong.

The legal profession is seen as a robust and optimistic occupation where hard work pays off (5). One interesting question is what is the payoff? If one looks beyond the cash renumeration, there are other costs that have not been factored including costs to physical and mental health?

Being a lawyer is stressful (1). Protectivity research in 2019 suggests that 63% of lawyers report that they experience stress on a daily frequency. Academic research suggests that lawyers are exposed to high levels of occupational stress including role conflict, role overload, too much work, role ambiguity, or negative company politics, and feeling overly responsible for the work of others with heavy mental health consequences including alcohol misuse, depression and daily tension (2).

The team at RED DOOR wanted to explore the experience of lawyers in Hong Kong since this has been under explored. Working in Hong Kong is stressful for many occupations, and it would make sense that lawyers in HK experience stress, but this has not been assessed, nor has the impact of this stress, and the components of this stress been well explored. Understanding the experience of stress among lawyers in Hong Kong has significant impact on training for lawyers, senior management within law firms, and human resource manager of senior law personnel, and on the mental health protection of professionals in high stress occupations.

Details of the methodology is attached at the end. In essence we summarised the experience of 30 senior lawyers in Hong Kong. Over ¾ of these lawyers were partners at their firms. They represent 21 international law firms in Hong Kong.


Insane work hours.

Hong Kong can lay claim to the #1 workaholic city in the world (3) with an average of 50.1 hours a week when it was compared to another 70 other international cities. Comparing this to the average number of work hours a week within OECD (4) countries (of 33.5 hours a week), Hong Kongers work an additional 16 hours a week.

Against this backdrop of excessive work hours, we explored the average work hours of HK lawyers. Among our benchmark survey the average work hours per week was over 55 hours a week. One ¼ of our lawyers worked less than 50 hours a week, and ¾ worked an average of more than 50 hours a week. Only one person worked less than 40 hours a week, but this was still 38 hours a week, so still more than the OECD average. What’s more is that due to a minor methodological error, we may have minimised the average hours a week. Our team made a rookie mistake in this benchmark survey. We set the maximum hours at 65+ hours a week. Thirteen percent of our respondents ticked the maximum number of hours. This means that our calculation of average hours was possibly less than the real numbers worked.

This means that lawyers work more than 250 hours more than their workaholic HK colleagues.

Whilst there is a common perception that working more hours means achieving more work, but research challenges this association. There are significant research and articles suggesting that overworking, beyond 8-10 hours a day, is not associated with heightened productivity (5). In the legal profession these long hours may not make sense from a perspective of productivity, however since lawyer hours translate directly to client billing hours, there may be competing interests with lawyer’s mental health suffering as a consequence.

key findings 2

The experience of stress among HK lawyers.

In addition to working extremely long hours there are some other significant findings from the RED DOOR Benchmark research.

In addition to working extremely long hours there are some other significant findings regarding the experience of work-related stress from the RED DOOR Benchmark research.

  • 1/3 of HK lawyers report they are not confident to manage the stress that they are under.
  • 1/3 of HK lawyers report unsatisfactory or poor work-life balance.
  • 50% of lawyers in HK say that they find completing their workload challenging or very challenging.
  • Over 46% are stressed over the content and weight of their work.
  • 1/3 of HK lawyers express stress over politics in the workplace.
  • 23% of the lawyers surveyed say that they don’t have a supportive person to talk to when they feel overwhelmed or stressed.
  • 1/3 of HK lawyers express that they do no not have a positive career path
  • 23% are stressed over their role at work
  • 20% of our lawyers are stressed due to their boss
  • 1/3 do not use up their entire leave entitlement.

Therefore, we feel comfortable surmising that HK lawyers are under quite a considerable amount of stress.


What is contributing to HK lawyers’ experience of stress?

Long hours certainly contribute to stress. A positive correlation (0,55) indicates that as hours increase, experience of stress increases.

Confidence to deal with stress seems to be correlated (0.53) with positive expression of management of the experience of stress.  This echoes other research on the perception of stress. Yale psychologist Alia Crum (6) assessing banking employees found that those individuals who could see stress as a positive challenge that enhanced their lives and they could conquer helped people experience fewer negative impact from stress.

A positive work environment – which we said was comprised of having an open culture, access to CSR programmes, autonomy of employees, encouraging use of leave, flexibility of work hours when required, an open and inclusive atmosphere, fair and transparent financial remuneration and other non-financial rewards – was also associated with better experience of stress, and vice versa. More negatively rated workplaces were associated with higher experience of stress.

Limited sleep is associated with stronger experience of stress. Ten percent of our lawyers sleep less than 5 hours a night. An additional 43.3% sleep between 5 to 7 hours. Given the US National Institute of Health recommendation of 7-9 hours a night sleep for adults, more than half of our lawyers capture inadequate rest every night. Most people need adequate (7-9 hours) sleep in order to maintain performance and productivity (5) and consistently having less than this can be a risk to their mental health (7).

One particularly concerning suggestion is that those who have no person to speak with when they feel stressed or overwhelmed and its association to the expression of stress. Twenty-three percent, nearly ¼ of our lawyers, say they do not have this person. Of those lawyers, 83% experience higher levels of stress than other lawyers in our survey. This has a major impact in planning how we can best manage stress. Talking to someone helps. As a counsellor, I would also advise, talking to someone who is qualified to respond to your experience of stress and other co-morbid experiences (depression, anger, isolation) is heavily recommended.

Lawyers were also asked to express how frequently they felt some concerning other emotional experiences. Considerable lawyers experience other psychological feelings and behaviour, regardless of their experience of stress. Thirty percent say that they feel regularly or frequently depressed. Twenty percent withdraw from social situations or feel isolated. Twenty percent express troubles with anger. Ten percent say that they cry regularly or frequently. So, in addition to stress, many lawyers are experiencing emotions that cause them distress.

Engaging in negative behaviours. Our lawyers were provided with a range of positive and negative practices and asked to rate them in terms of the frequency in which they engaged in those behaviours. When these behaviours were divided into their clear negative or positive possible contributions or reactions to stress, and correlated to their experience of stress, we found that performing negative behaviours is correlated with negative reported experience of stress. This is stronger for our male lawyers than female (0.47 correlation). The most common negative behaviours that lawyers report that they engage in include: eating junk food (36.6%); drinking more than 2 drinks a day (30%); argue with your romantic partner (26.6); argue with their kids (20%); skip meals (20%); and have a cry (16.7).

Poor responses to stress. When asked how they respond we gave our lawyers a selection of ways to deal with stress. Many indicated some poor stress management responses as their most common behaviours: forty-three percent reported they would reach for a drink; twenty-three percent said they would reach for something to eat; ten percent said they would shout at the people around them; and ten percent said they would simply work more.

positive stress response.jpg

What do lawyers do well when responding to stress?

When asked how they respond we gave our lawyers a selection of ways to deal with stress. Many indicated positive stress management responses and to be celebrated: Sixty percent exercise regularly; forty-six percent spend time with their family; forty-three percent talk to a colleague; thirty-three percent talk to a friend; thirty percent seek time alone (which could be considered both a positive and negative response); and thirty percent decide it is time to leave the office.


What does this all mean?

What we have learnt from this benchmark survey is that HK lawyers are regularly experiencing stress. We need to be mindful of how we train lawyers to deal with stress and other psychological challenges that arise out of their work hours, work challenges and the behaviours they choose in response to stress. Specific stress management programmes would possibly help. It is important that these are relevant to HK and to the experience of lawyers here. For example, many stress management programmes include training on time management skills. Over 80 percent of our lawyers said that they were good at managing their own time, hence time management training is not required. This would mean that programmes that are not constructed with nuance for lawyers may be another tax on the time of lawyers, who are already working too many hours a week. Specific programmes within individual support requirements may be more effective.

Note: We will conduct a larger scale survey in 2020. If you are interested in participating in the survey or including your specific staff please contact Angela. If you would like to find out more about stress management practice options for yourself or others feel free to contact us at


About the Author: Angela Watkins is an experienced qualified counsellor and psychologist working out of the RED DOOR practice in Hong Kong. Angela specialises in the treatment of anxiety, depression, stress management, and career and lifestyle change.


#law #lawyers #stress #stressmanagement #occupationalstress #HongKong #performance #overwork #lackofsupport #worklifebalance #positiveworkenvironment #sleep #depression #anger #REDDOOR


Methodology: The Experience of stress among senior lawyers in Hong Kong – Benchmark Study. HK lawyers experience of stress. 30 lawyers (17 men, 13 women) from 21 international firms working in HK. Over 76% are partners in the firms they work in. Surveys were completed in June and July 2019. 300 lawyers in Hong Kong were selected and contacted to participate in this research and completed an online survey which assessed experience of stress, sleep, reactions to stress, work place practices, hours worked, and access to support. For further information contact RED DOOR at


Cited references:

  • Protectivity research 2019
  • Hasnain, Nas and Bano, Stress and Well Being of Lawyers 2010.
  • UBS report on Cost of Living 2018
  • The OECD Better Life Report 2017
  • Harvard Business Review article The Research Is Clear: Long Hours Backfire for People and for Companies, Sarah Green Carmichael, 2015
  • Alia Crum (with P Salovey and S Achor) Rethinking Stress: The role of mindsets in determining the stress response.
  • Zhai, Zhang and Zhang – sleep duration and depression among adults: a meta-analysis. 2015


#careergoals #careerchange #occupationalstress #resiliency #careergoals #futureofwork #stress

Other great articles about career change

Face career change with courage. You can do it


Future success is not an accident. Prepare yourself for the Future of Work


How to respond to career crisis


Work stress – manage stress for Lawyers.




Considering Divorce: Key Prep

Would you know what to do if your partner suddenly asked for a divorce? Have you been contemplating if being uncoupled would be better for you? We outline key preparation you might consider when divorce may be on the horizon.

manypeopleareinrelationshipsGetting divorced has been likened to undergoing open-heart surgery without anaesthetic. As a counsellor guiding several individuals through divorce, as well as working with couples on the brink of splitting, I can confirm it is an emotional and difficult process.  And because of this, considering divorce can also be very difficult. Why would you undertake open-heart surgery if you can avoid it. In reality whilst the process is painful, most people feel much better after divorce, especially after a few years.

If you are contemplating divorce there are various areas that you need to consider to be emotionally prepared,  practicalities which will help, legal guidance you can think about, and custodial considerations that you might like to mull on before you file a petition.


Emotional readiness

Imagine that you are going to participate in an endurance obstacle race. Preparation for divorce is a lot like this. The journey will be very challenging and you will need to be well prepared. A lot of the journey feels like you are just surviving, day-by-day, and that is sometimes good enough.

You get the divorce you get, not the one you want. Sometimes those contemplating divorce will come for an appointment and detail how they would like the divorce to go, what they would like their partner to decide. Divorce is not like an shopping trip on amazon, you don’t just click “save to basket”, and then head to the checkout. Rather much of the process is out of your control, and extremely testing of your patience, perseverance, sense of self, and your confidence. This doesn’t mean that you can’t do it, but if you like control, prepared to have this tested.

strength to move onI use to be indecisive, but now I’m not sure. It is common to consider divorce, change your mind, consider it again, and retreat from it again. This is normal. Indecision driven by fear needs to be explored, perhaps with friends, or in therapy. The decision to divorce not an easy one to make.

If you want to know who someone really is, divorce them. Many of my clients are horrified when they have to face how hardened their ex-partners can become during a divorce. Do not assume that your partner will be able to remain calm and constructive during the process. Whilst this would be wonderfully mature, it isn’t what usually happens.

Negotiation is compulsory, not optional. The process of divorce is a protracted negotiation between two sides. Do yourself and enormous favour and learn as much about negotiation tactics as you can. Treating a divorce less as the emotional rollercoaster that it is, and more of a deal that needs to be made, will help you get through the process in a much better way.

Build on your strengths, work on your weaknesses. If you experience depression, anxiety, or self-esteem deal with these before you start to divorce. Harking back to my analogy about the obstacle course, having emotional vulnerabilities would be like starting the race with an injury. Start counselling or join a support group. If you have a weakness that can be highlighted as part of the divorce process, such as occasionally drinking too much, I would also advise that you reign this in during the process. Even though it sounds ridiculous I see case after case where occasional drinking is highlighted as part of a collection of unreasonable behaviours.

Find sources of support and sunshine. You will need to have a great network of supportive individuals. In our benchmark assessment of women experiencing divorce the most useful sources of support were family, established friends and counsellors. You will need them. Do not, for a minute, contemplate going through a divorce in secret.


There are several practical actions that will help you decide to divorce or stay together. Practical preparations will help you process the decision to divorce with less regret.

grass is greenerAll relationships go through hell, some even survive it. Is the relationship over? Could it be recovered? Have you tried to reconnect with each other? You might owe it to yourselves to seek out a couple’s counsellor who can help you decide if a split would be in your favour. I hold sessions focused on the Exit vs Phoenix (the mythical animal, not the State). Can a relationship be pulled from the ashes of the marriage? Its not easy and the work to save the marriage may be challenging, but at least you can see how wide the divide between the two partners have become and what would be required in order to put the relationship back on track. Assumptions about a split can also be addressed. Perhaps the grass may look greener on the other side of the fence, but perhaps reality is different from those assumptions.

Gain control over your money, or this lack of control will end up controlling you. You need to understand two things about your money. Firstly, you need to know all about your joint finances – the assets, the debts, the retirement savings. I find that only during divorce do some clients start to look at their financial statements. If you split, you will need to know the total financial landscape. Some partners try to hide money, and sometimes they are successful, and many times they are not. Courts are not usually forgiving towards those who have misrepresented their financial status. Secondly, you need to know how much you need. Without being practically informed on what you spend, what you need, and how much you will need (considering your goals) you can not feel comfortable about any financial split. It is common to catastrophise, and worry, “I will end up living on the streets”, this is not the reality of many of my clients. It does require that you know what you need. This also helps one decide if they should negotiate for a clean break or continuation of funding scenario in the split.

shebelievedshecouldDo something today that your future self will thank you for. Do not wait to split to consider retraining in another career, if you plan to return to education do this whilst you are married. Practically this means the cost of your retraining comes out of the marital assets rather than out of your share. Whilst sometimes this might mean that you seemingly may have a future income and potentially this may be raised as a reason to lessen any share of assets in your future, stay reminded all things, including a new career, take a while to take off.

It can take years to build a reputation, and minutes to ruin it. Reputation management will matter during the divorce process. Consider who needs to know what about you. Do you think it will reflect well on your if you post ugly tales about your ex on social media? It is upsetting when you hear that people have heard different reasons for your split than you agree with. A couple write the story of their marriage together, and the  story of the divorce individually. Regardless that there will be various alternative facts put into circulation, act in a manner that your future self will be proud of.


Legal guidance

I am a counsellor, not a lawyer, so my advice here is about dealing with the legal aspects, not providing a legal point of view.

Forewarned is forearmed. It is helpful to understand your legal position and worth having a discussion with a lawyer so that they can give you a legal perspective on what types of challenges you may face during the divorce process and how courts may look on you in terms of financial split and custody issues.

whatifwhatis.jpgMake the match that will make it work. There are several family lawyers in Hong Kong who can support you through a divorce. If you are searching for a lawyer you may seek a recommendation from friends, or join a divorce support group, as a divorce consultant, so as to hear the point of views of others further along the divorce process than you. You want to ensure that your lawyer is a good fit with your personality and style. That said, remember that your lawyer is not your counsellor. Utilise your lawyer appropriately, for legal advice. Additionally, be cautious of those people whose words don’t match their actions. If they quote you one price for a piece of work, then charge you double, challenge the bill. The service industry is only as strong as our promise to our clients.

Mediation is a must – within reason. In Hong Kong it is expected that you will try to consider mediation as part of the divorce process. From my observations, and in my individual opinion, you can reach an agreement via mediation it will be, usually, much cheaper, than the legal option. However, mediation requires agreement and if you are very far apart over the financial split and child custody, having more areas of disagreement rather then agreement, mediation can be a costly and unproductive exercise. In particular if one of the partner refuses to negotiate, stonewalls discussions, and ignores requests, mediation will be extremely painful and possibly fruitless.

Understand the process for yourself – spend some time talking to others who have been through divorce and reading legal websites about the process of divorce in Hong Kong. Some are in links at the end of this article. This way your time with your lawyer will be spent on your negotiation rather than educating you on the process.


Custodial considerations

It is not the question if your child will be affected by divorce, but rather how much will they be affected. There are a number of factors that you might like to consider.

Let’s stay together for the kids. This happens regularly, especially when the parents have children going through sensitive periods such a important exams. This may seem practical, but only in the short term. In the long term invest in the marriage, try to get it back on track, rather than just hang it in there for the kids.

Tied together – even when you split. Those individuals with children will forever be tied together because they share children. The younger the children are,  the more active and longer this connection may be. You may not want to have communications with the person who was once your partner, but you are going to have to. There are various tools to help when all communication breaks down (see Family Wizard).

First, do no harm. Even before couple’s divorce they may be causing harm to their children because of the conflict in their relationships particularly if they are being used as a messenger or a spy, are exposed to one partner badmouthing another, or they are used to score points against the other parent. If you are going to split, talk to a counsellor or psychologist about the requirements for collaborative co-parenting. Start any split with the child’s wellbeing in mind, and your intention to be the best version of a parent that you can be.

Enlist experts when required. If you are worried about your child offer counselling, or take them to a psychologist. Give your child another adult, besides their parent, to talk to. This legitimises their emotional experience, rather than telling them how you would like them to feel.


I hope this article has helped you in your pre-divorce considerations. Below are links about divorce in Hong Kong and other articles you may find useful. If you do decide to divorce, I recommend that you join our RED DOOR Surviving Divorce therapeutic support group. Recent research indicates that 100% of women who joined a support group found it a helpful support to get them through the divorce process.









Useful links to the legal situation in HK

Articles that you might find useful

When you might consider couples’ counselling

the best break-up books

Rules of modern marriages

the impact of divorce on women

Why you should join a divorce support group

Get in the GROUP: The benefits of therapeutic support groups.

group therapy

There are numerous benefits from attending group therapy or therapeutic support groups regarding challenges you may experience with your mental health.

Group therapy, or therapeutic support groups, offer a type of psychological therapy that is run with a group of people rather than between an individual and a mental health professional. Usually members of the group are facing similar issues such as anxiety, addiction, divorce, or bereavement.

Recovery or Reduced experience of psychological stress:  Psychological research supports that many mental health challenges can be treated within an group context.

The end of Isolation:  Hearing about other peoples’ experience of anxiety, depression, addiction, or even bereavement, will help you feel less isolated by your experience of those psychological stressors.

Learn more about yourself: The process of therapy helps an individual explore not just the root and treatments of psychological challenges, but also how to identify and celebrate your strengths and future proof your mental wellbeing.

Help others: Helping other people in the group with their problems may help you with yours. It also feels great to help other people who may be struggling with issues similar to your own.

One last benefit worth mentioning is that you receive the benefit of the therapists advice. Qualified therapists specialise in changing behaviours and mindsets around particular psychological challenges. Group therapy is an economic alternative to individual therapy, and can, even be used as an alternative or in collaboration to one-to-one therapy.


RED DOOR runs therapeutic divorce groups for the following individuals;

Divorce Survivors – our English speaking Divorce Survivors group has been running successfully for more than 2 years. If you are a woman going through divorce in Hong Kong join our group of women going through the process. I promise support and laughter, even when you have been crying. Run Monday evenings.

Anxiety Busters – our new group focused towards alleviating anxiety. You don’t need to suffer alone. Many people suffer from anxiety and therapy groups are often helpful to cope and recover from anxiety


If you would like to join one of our therapeutic groups, or provide information on groups that may be of benefit to you, please feel free to contact our reception for more details.










Modern Marriage Rules

marraige rules

Every marriage is unique but no marriage is without some troubles. Building a strong relationship helps you both weather the storm of stressful life events such as job loss, change in health, having (or not having) children, death of parents, with grace and support.

Here are our modern marriage rules in order to build the best long-term relationship that is possible in the age of the internet, business travel, and the future of work.


The TO DO list.

Laugh together

It is said that laughter is the best medicine, it is also the best glue to keep you and your partner connected. Even stressful horrible circumstances can be made more bearable when you laugh together about that problem. In therapy, when I ask couples when they were last happy together, it will almost always involve an episode where they were laughing about something.


Fight Fair

Quarrels do occur in all marriages, unless couples are actively avoiding conflict. It is important that you fight fair when you disagree. Do not include these derogatory weapons when you fight: name calling, stonewalling, gaslighting, or use of threats in order to win. The way to feel better with each other does not involve trying to make someone feel worse first. When you argue, focus on the topic at hand, try to share air time, spend as much time listening as you do speak, and if you can’t agree, take a break and then come back to the issue.


Stay intimate

This doesn’t just mean sex. When men talk about intimacy, they often seem to mean sex. For women, intimacy is broader including cuddling, hugging, small signs of affection, holding hands, as well as sex. When intimacy becomes only about sex, perhaps only one partner feels intimate.


Invest time and effort into your relationship

Your marriage partnership is probably the most important elective relationship that you enter in your lifetime. Regardless, many couples do not make time to be together, and drift apart over years and years. Dedicate time to your relationship (family time does not count). If you travel excessively put some dedicated time aside to talk to your partner, rather than squeeze in a call when you really can not talk or concentrate. Your partner needs to feel like a priority.

Having children can change the dynamic of your personal love relationship. Whilst it is important that you love your children, do not forget that your personal relationship is essential to the stability of your family.


Make a modern-day commitment

Commitment, and exclusivity, is important to remain close to each other. Even couples who have ‘open’ marriages have rules of what is considered an infraction of a commitment. Often what is expected from a commitment is not explicitly stated, and it may be of benefit to do so. Contacting old boyfriends, or having internet (Facebook) relationships, receiving special massages when you travel, all of these are possible infractions of commitment. Ask yourself, would your partner be happy if they knew all the details of what you are doing? If not, perhaps put yourself in check. Commitment also requires that you each feel like your partner is on your side with outside challenges. You may privately disagree, but if possible support your partner when they deal with conflicts at work, or even in their family of origin.


Learn from each other

Both of you can help each other become the best that you can be individually as well as a unit, and celebrate this. People’s career and personal goals change as they mature. . Remember the world of work is changing and you may need to prepare for multiple careers instead of one. Are you willing, able and flexible enough to support your partner in the new future of work? Working together as a business partners in your business of WE is just as important of your private business of ME



If you want a long life together, make sure that both of you take good care of your physical and mental health which will influence your ability to live a long life. If your partner is overweight, encourage them to lose weight by exercising with them. If your partner is experiencing job stress, encourage them to engage in therapy.


Express love everyday

Do not save expression of love for special occasions. Kindness, compliments and actions that make your partner feel special, even a text helps to maintain a positive atmosphere. Tell your partner why they make you proud, what you like about them most, what you admire about them. We often consider spreading kindness to others, but forget to focus on our partner first.


Understand your love language

The best way to convey your love for your partner is to express your love in the language of love that they prefer. The 5 languages of love include words of affirmation, gifts, physical touch, time sharing and acts of service (you can conduct an assessment of your style on the website of author Gary Chapman ( . We want to receive love in the matter that we most appreciate. Understanding each other’s preferences is the ultimate form of respect.



Learn to communicate in a purposeful manner. Monitor your communication style. Are you nagging your partner rather than talking? Do you use silence as a weapon?  Do you

avoid important conversations? These tactics help propagate misunderstanding and feelings of resentment or disappointment in your partner.

Learning to communicate can help you better deal with crisis.   If you have trouble talking without arguing practice active listening. Active listening involves taking turns to speak respectfully, without interruption. Before your partner can respond to your views, they must first summarize what they heard you say. Then they get to speak, you have to listen, without interruption. This process slows communication down and take the heat out of an argument by insuring that both parties have the chance to speak, be heard, and acknowledged for such.



Marriage is not only about your happiness; it is about sharing the experience of living together. If one party in a marriage constantly gets their way, at the expense of the other, the relationship loses. Take turns picking vacation spots, taking a child to rugby, picking up dinner.




Just DON’T

Expect things to stay that same.

The world will change, and your lives will change, and your partner will change. Take note of the ways that you change and see if this can be aligned, or at least respected. Standing back and claiming that your partner changed and you didn’t, isn’t realistic or helpful.


Hate what you use to love

Often, we are drawn to people who are very different from ourselves. Sometimes after marriage we find those exact differences repel us instead of attract us. Appreciating that you are different people, and where you have come from, as we well as you are going, can help you respect each other’s’ differences again. Try to list 3-4 things you like about that difference rather than focusing on the things that you don’t like about it


Request perfection

Realising that your partner is not perfect, or as perfect as you once perceived them to be, can lead to criticism and unfair judgement. If your partner was once fit, and now isn’t, encourage them to be fit again, rather than tell them they are unattractive. We are all unique, and imperfect, as we should be.

If your best friend’s partner earns more, weighs less, is taller, stronger etc than your own partner, do not compare. No body every really knows what goes on in their friend’s marriages.


Resurrect and replay the past

The past is the past. Bringing up mistakes of the past is demoralising and detrimental. If you find yourself stuck repeatedly exploring old hurts you might like to consider counselling. You can learn from the past, but being stuck in the past, prevents you from building a positive future together.


Toxic negotiations.

When you argue with your partner using disrespectful descriptions of them will not help achieve your goals. Negotiation is not about complaining, blaming or bullying. If you want to negotiate appropriately, respect is an integral component if you want your relationship to benefit.


Rightly righteous.

Ask yourself, is it more important for you to win a fight, to be right, or to maintain a harmonious relationship. Being married involves some compromise rather than criticism. Delicate feedback is to be appreciated. Dial down the criticism. Admit and apologise when you are wrong.


Disparate division of labour.

Who does what, and when, is often the source of conflict in relationships? Not just cleaning, but also child care, organisation, bill payments, working outside of the home, all contribute to the labour that a family requires to keep running smoothly. When division of labour is uneven, or perceived to be unfair, resentment grows. Regular discussion and review of division of labour within the home is to be encouraged.


Me not We

Firstly, if one partner gets their way all of the time, or sets all of the family rules, this leads to an imbalance. A situation where what ME (I) wants becomes what WE do, leads to imbalance and resentment.

Secondly, it is said that marriage is the combination of two people who are whole in themselves, rather than the addition two people who are half of what they can be, making 1 unit. Whilst you must continue with your own self-development, you also need to understand that your relationship requires development as well. You need to make sure to develop as an individual, and spend time together developing a life together.


Substitutive intimacy

Seeking intimacy through pornography robs men of a real relationship and maligns masculinity within marriage. Marriage is for brave, real, and secure people. Accept no substitutes for real intimacy.


Your marriage is important, nurture it and it will flourish. Deprive it of attention, poison with criticism, delay sharing and caring, and it can not grow.


#marriagerules #romance #love #respect #intimacy #reddoor #rmentalhealthessentials