Simon Halford Counselling and Psychosexual Therapy
Portsmouth & Southampton / Central London

February 2017

Online Therapy - Skype & FaceTime

I find that I am treating more and more clients on line. Some of my clients have moved overseas or are travelling extensively. Other of my clients would find it difficult to get to my clinics due to the pressures of work and children. Skype or FaceTime provide really good tools for face to face contact with individuals and couples. I prefer if possible to meet clients face to face for initial assessment as face to face does enable one to get a ‘real feel’ for the nature of an individuals or couples difficulties and the way therapy can best meet their needs. However, I am working with some clients that I have never meet in person and feedback is that online therapy still works well from a client’s perspective.

I have couples who have recently had a child, and being able to have therapy in their own home without disrupting the baby’s routine has been very welcome, and avoided unnecessary stress. Online therapy has also proved a useful resource for those with mobility difficulties or other impediments to travelling to a clinic.

I have to say whilst initially reluctant to work online based on my commitment to a personal relationship with my clients, I was persuaded to try it by a few clients. Suddenly, I find myself doing 20% of my work on line, and I find it every bit as rewarding as face to face work, with the added benefit of knowing I have improved access to my services.

January 2017

Empty Nest Syndrome

Empty nest Syndrome does not refer to a clinical condition but it does refer to a commonly experienced set of issues that individuals and couple have to grapple with as their children leave home.

The range of issues and their severity can vary enormously and therefore recognising the situation and treating it is complex and subtle. This is compounded by the fact that it often occurs alongside other complex life changes such as the menopause, health issues, or changing work circumstances.

The moving away of children can cause a real sense of loss. This loss can be of day to day issues but it often results in a loss or confusion of our identity. This may be most true for women but it is also true for many men. In addition to these adjustments it often results in a couple having to face complex issues about their relationship. Many couples have spent the last 20 years on a shared project that has taken much of the time and resources that they they have left after work and sleep. This often results in them neglecting to nurture their relationship. They may have a sex life that has deteriorated or disappeared. They may no longer share interests or a common understanding of what their marriage is about.

Many couples seek therapy to try and resolve these issues as they fear that their marriage may be at serious risk. I am often struck by how quickly and simply the situation can be addressed and improved. Getting the couple to identify bad relational habits and start to replace them with healthy well resourced time together can create a platform to reinvent the marriage and identify common ground. It often involves developing individual personal development as well.

When it works it is really rewarding therapeutic work. It often involves repairing physical intimacy, and identifying early cracks in the relationship alongside supporting a couple in getting to know each other as they now are. It is also common for it to have other benefits for example I have often seen the parents change the nature of their relationship with their children. Updating and developing an adult relationship with your adult children can be one of life's great journeys.

Should you feel you would like to explore these issues please do not hesitate to contact me.

News Archive December 2016

Loss of Libido

One of the most common sexual problems that men and women come to clinic reporting is the loss of libido (sex Drive) frequently due to too much work or depleted resources.

The causes are manyfold but one of the main contributory factors is doing to much. For women in particular the combination of work, children and running a home leaves them with very little energy for anything else. It is also true to say that many men have exhausting jobs and very long hours of work not to mention the increasing demands of family life with busier partners.

Recognising the causes of loss of libido and attempting to rectify them will not necessarily enable libido to naturally recover. It is sometimes helpful to see the libido as like a garden. It needs many conditions to recover from years of neglect. One needs to get rid of the weeds aerate and feed the soil ensure sufficient water and sunlight. at this point you can plant seeds and over a period of time small shoots will occur. If you tend to the shoots and look after them over a period of time they will will grow into healthy robust plants that can withstand the vagaries of even the english weather.

Reclaiming libido is often complex and paradoxical. If you try to ‘be more sexual’, libido will often diminish.If you soldier on libido will often decline. If you put the problems right libido will often continue to flatline. Sex is a habit as is feeling sexual. If you anticipate regular and fulfilling sex then libido will tend to operate at healthy levels. However, if libido has declined to very low levels it is important to notice little green shoots, then tend them carefully, and do not try to grasp at it like it was a vigorous young plant.

Libido is a complex and precious part of our wellbeing and when it has been neglected it is important to take care to rectify the situation in a patient and attentive manner.

News Archive September 2016

The impact of online pornography on young men

For many teenage boy and young men the first exposure the get to sex will be by online pornography.

This is a very worrying development in modern society. It can give young men several unhelpful messages about sex women and men. Firstly, the message is that sex is not about relationships and is almost entirely about males getting their ‘physical pleasure’ without regard for the emotional and relational aspects of sex and intimacy being given any regard. Secondly women are largely portrayed as objects for mens pleasure and issues of the emotional or relational needs of women being almost entirely disregarded. Moreover, Young men are being exposed to many practices that are not necessarily enjoyed or practiced by most couples in loving committed relationships as though they are normal common and to be expected in sexual relationships. It is even more worrying that internet porn is highly addictive and users can spend large amounts of time view porn to the neglect of forming relationships and developing intimacy skill. Many young women are reporting going further sooner with sex due to boy friend pressure which is another worrying dimension of this growing problem.

I find in my clinic more and more men coming to deal with their addiction and get help forming relationships or support in repairing the damage that the habit has done to existing relationships.

It is really important that parents engage in education their sons and daughters about the true nature of sex and intimacy and the negative impact that porn can have. I am pleased to note that more parents are discussing these issues in therapy and exploring ways of managing these issues with their teenage children.

News Archive August 2016

Relationship and sexual care for cancer patients

I have been delighted to be welcomed with open arms by several different groups of professionals caring for cancer patients. There is definitely an increasing awareness of the need to support cancer patients after initial treatment in other areas of their lives that the illness and its treatment have effected.

Oncology Teams including Macmillan nurses and charities such as cancer-wise are offering all sorts of help support and therapy for cancer patients and their families to deal with the impact of the disease. Regular health and wellbeing events are offered by west sussex NHS across the county. I have been invited to speak about the effects of the disease and its treatment on Relationships and sex. My message on how much relational and sexual improvement can be achieved with a little expert therapy was received with real enthusiasm by many at these events.

I hope to be working closely with these teams to support cancer patients over the coming years.

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