Where You Belong, Who You Are, Who Supports You, Who Share Your Values

Defined as a group of people living in the same place, sharing certain beliefs, values, attitudes and interests, a community is surely something that we all belong to, or is it?

I have recently thought about my own sense of belonging. As a white British/Irish middle class post-graduate psychologist, living in central London, you might think that I might belong to lots of ‘groups’: ethnic, class, education… But do these make up my community?

I personally feel that certain ‘groups’ of people in London have lost or not been able to build a sense of community within the area they live. Perhaps it is the belief that one must not intrude on another’s business, or perhaps it is that many people in London have moved here to escape, or only stay for short periods of time in one place. But in all honesty within the ‘groups’ I belong I believe there is a sense of lost community; how many people who live in London know more than one of their neighbours?

It saddens me to think that by not being part of a community people can become lost, isolated and alone in a city full of so many people. A community can support each other in times of need and in times of great joy.

Whether you belong to any of the diverse communities in central London; Turkish, Black Caribbean, Orthodox Jewish or many many more, a community offers support to you in a way that extends beyond your family and friends.

Listening to people who live in London and who have a sense of belonging to a community has highlighted to me that it is something I currently do not have. But please don’t misunderstand me; I have an incredible family and wonderful friends, yet if I could not contact them or if I was not so fortunate to have these people in my life, would anyone remember me or notice if I hadn’t left the house in a week?

I believe that it is down to us to build a sense of community within London. Be that by just getting to know your neighbours, talking to people who live on your street or going to the local pub quiz on a Tuesday night. So maybe even if you aren’t feeling like throwing an extravagant street party, then just say hello to your neighbours and ask them their name… because we have to start somewhere.




Dear Dyslexia



Dear Dyslexia

We have been through a lot, you and I. From the age of seven we have learnt to get used to each other. Faced challenge after challenge together, but now as I look back I think of everything you have taught me, and now I want to share those lessons with parents, teachers and the children who have still got a long journey to go on.

You are a part of who I am and who I have become, sometimes I have hated you and sometimes I have loved you. In exams you challenged the speed I thought at, the pace I wrote at, how I could remember details and spell every individual word. Whilst at other points in time, the way you have made me think has helped me see the world in a different way to others. We have become more creative and developed not just our academic skills like other children, but we learnt so much more.

Yes, we may have always been the bottom of the class, had extra ‘special’ lessons, have been teased for being slow and dumb. But, we did not let that bother us, we took our time and learnt ways that help us learn. The normal education system may not have been for us; no we could not learn lists, write quickly, spell ‘because’ and remember our timetables. But, we persisted and we had so many people that have helped us on our way; the teachers who realised that we could remember better if we wrote in colour; the SENCO who spent hours with us each week to help us learn through stories instead of just presenting us with facts; those friends that saw that we did not need to be conventionally ‘clever’ to be their best friend; the support and knowledge that our parents would be there for us even if we got an ‘E’ in a class test.

We made it through education, and we have excelled beyond our thoughts, and surpassed what our primary school teachers thought possible. But as I think back on our journey, I know that we are not alone, it is estimated that up to 1 in every 10 to 20 people in the UK have some degree of dyslexia.

They should know that every single person learns differently. It took us twenty-three years to learn how we can revise, read and learn. They should not give up, just because the requirements of the education system enforce us to pass specific exams. It does not mean that they are ‘stupid’ or ‘thick’ if they cannot pass first time or if they need extra time, a laptop, or other support put in place to help them pass.

As neuroscience develops we learn more about how humans tend to learn. We also gain more understanding of how individualized humans are, how they function in different ways at a neurological level. So to all those parents, teachers and children that have begun the journey of dyslexia, you can do it! Everyone learns in different ways and you will make it to where you want to be, just keep trying new ways of learning and learn about what you love and aspire to do.

Here are some useful websites:






inside out


Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust and Fear…some of the most important emotions that lead us to make decisions.

Inside Out follows the internal journey of Riley, we follow her from the moment she opens her eyes. In the depths of her mind we meet the emotions that make Riley, Riley. Joy, the positive energy that fuels Riley’s happiness; Fear, who keeps Riley safe; Disgust, who stops Riley from being embarrassed and poisoned; and Sadness, who helps Riley cope with change.

As we follow Riley’s journey through life she grows and develops her own personality. Her experiences and memories shape her personality. The genius design of this film links to neuropsychological theory in how our experiences define us and shape our cognition. Riley’s memories are stored in the long term memory bank, which has thousands and thousands of memories, from the president’s of the united states, to the names of all the my little pony characters. But her most important memories are her core memories, which are stored in the central headquarter of her mind.  These memories create her personality islands; Family Island, Goofball Island, Friendship Island, Hockey Island and Honesty Island.

Riley’s life is suddenly turned upside down as her family moves to San Francisco when she is 11. We begin to see the effect that a life event can have on Riley’s emotions; Fear, Disgust, Anger and Sadness are in disarray as Riley has to face this drastic change. But, Joy is there to help, she tries to smile and carry on. Riley tries to be as joyful and happy as possible. But within all the confusion Sadness begins to override the emotional headquarters in Riley’s mind.

Following a dramatic course of events with Riley’s personality islands beginning to be lost and deteriorate, we learn that every emotion is needed for Riley to be able to be truly happy again. She must embrace every emotion including Sadness. Joy accepts that Sadness plays an important role in every child’s life. To cope with changes and life events one must explore and befriend all of their feelings. This important message is threaded throughout this movie and invites every child  who watches it to be mindful and embrace all their emotions.




Getting It Down On Paper



To think, to wonder, to learn, to make a change, we need to have something to grab hold of. An idea or a thought can become so much more once it is written down on paper.

Within clinical practice, psychologists often use drawings, timelines and genograms (family trees) to help their clients see their context and difficulties in a visual way. But why is this technique so helpful?

Gerald Oster’s recently published book- Using Drawings in Clinical Practice, emphasises some of key reasons why drawing is useful when working with children, families and adults.

He stresses that often drawings are an easy way to engage clients, especially those who are nervous or find it difficult to share some of their deeper concerns.

Oster’s book speaks about the benefits of using drawing in an initial session or assessment session with a client. As drawings and pictures can reveal so much about the intricacies of a person’s view on the world and their relationships with those around them.

By simply asking a client to draw their family, any difficulties or strained relationships soon become apparent. They might have drawn themselves very distant from their family, or made their partner look like the devil- whatever is put down on the page is valuable.

Having drawn a picture, clients will be able to see themselves that they have created a solid image in their mind. By having their own views on the world and their relationships with others, down on paper it can help a person become more reflective.

Their ideas, beliefs, emotions and thoughts become concrete when they are on the page. This means that they can be explored and looked at from lots of different ways. Fleeting thoughts can be held and looked at, stressful and scary images can be explored and altered. By seeing something in black and white (and colour if the NHS can afford pencils), you no longer have to be puzzled or pestered by intrusive thoughts.

Children find drawing and writing down thoughts particularly helpful. Oster writes about the importance of being able to help a child make connections between their drawings, and their emotions and thoughts.

Drawings, timelines, family trees, poems, stories, comic books, sculptures, paintings… all represent something about their creator. By seeing our own perspective on the world and relationships in front of us in a concrete and tangible way, we can begin to connect how our view of impacts our thoughts, emotions and behaviours.