2021 has brought a new course: Solution Focused Groupwork with Chris Iveson and Biba Rebolj

Dear reader,

Happy New Year, may it be called a Year of Hope and may it sprout all the seeds you have been planting over 2020!

If I have learned one new thing since the pandemic started, it has been running virtual groups, virtual teams, facilitating virtual meetings and delivering trainings online. And to be honest, I have been enjoying it massively! All the discoveries and possibilities that online environment offers very early on outweighed the doubts and frustrations for not being able to meet face to face. Below is an example of one such event, where Chris and I together delivered a hugely successful post-conference workshop in India. Literally, sky’s become no limit when it comes to running virtual groups. But as they say, it ain’t easy!

Solution Focused approach can be used in a wide variety of fields and settings, ranging from therapy to management, and working with individuals or with groups. Solution Focused Groupwork, whether as therapy, training, support, coaching, or facilitation, and in classes, meetings and other settings, on-line and face-to-face, offers huge potential and can be a very cost-effective, practical and enjoyable way of working with several people at the same time, whether a few or several dozen. It also requires a somewhat different application of Solution Focused skills to those used in individual work. And here’s what Chris and I have prepared for you for 2021: a two day course in Solution Focused Groupwork, that will be delivered online!

In this course, you will explore with Chris and myself how to apply the Solution Focused approach in a variety of settings, both virtual and ‘real’. Chris and I have worked with groups of children, young people, parents, trauma survivors, women in violent relationships, teams and leadership groups. With this experience, together with your experience and skills, you can expect two days of lively, creative, inspiring and highly practical applications of the principles of Solution Focused Groupwork. You will then want to use the what you have learned with your groups immediately, whether you have been working in group settings for a long time, or are thinking of starting to do so. And even if you are already experienced in using the SF approach in your practice, you will gain lots of new skills and ideas from this course.

During our two days together, we will explore the following topics:

  • Off to a good start: group warm up & group contracting
  • Group spirit & formation: building collaboration, safety, curiosity and respect
  • Using the group as a resource to make change simple: preferred future
  • Group discovery of histories of preferred futures: what is already working
  • Using scales in Groupwork
  • Solution Focused negotiating in/with the group
  • Solution Focused debriefing and reflection in groups
  • Group endings: backpack of ideas for after the group stops meeting
  • Various group formats, size, settings and duration: adapting SF
  • How to plan Groupwork & stay SF in it (when things go left instead of right)

This workshop will prove invaluable in providing a core set of basic principles for conducting any type of group I which you want to maximise the constructive contribution of all group members.

Chris Iveson and BRIEF, the leading training provider of Solution Focused Practice, have been my first teachers of SF when I accidentally bumped into it in 2014. And since, have remained my nr. 1. Over the past years, Chris and I grew closer as colleagues, friends and especially since 2019, co-trainers. Having workshops delivered for larger groups as well as boutique teams (in 2020 we visited Pakistan, India and Iran) we discovered that our training styles and diverse experience uniquely complement each other, so we decided to run this course for you.

Chris Iveson founded BRIEF with his colleagues, Evan George and Harvey Ratner in 1989 and with them has been developing the most minimal and simplified version of this world-wide phenomenon, Solution Focused Practice. He is author and co-author of many books about the approach, including the much-translated Solution Focused Brief Therapy: 100 Key Points and Techniques and Brief Coaching: A Solution Focused Approach. A former teacher, social worker and family therapist and manager Chris brings a wealth of experience to both his practice and teaching. He is also a well-respected presenter around the world.

I’ve been working with groups since 2008. My work varies from running groups in formal settings: university tutors, students with disabilities, academic staff, EU commission, Slovenian government as well as non formal education on international level under Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps. I’m experienced in running groups as well as teams of various sizes and durations, some of the topics of which include tolerance, youth entrepreneurship, human rights, peace education, inclusion, conflict resolution, stress management, mental health, solidarity and non-formal education.

This course will be epic. Details to register can be accessed here. Chris and I are looking forward to welcome you on board!

With love and from life,

Biba

Biba and Chris

What if Cinderella were the villain?

Dear reader,

as the society and humans develop, new minorities, inequalities, injustices and vulnerable groups emerge who at some point when being oppressed for too long, dare to speak up. And the society responds first ignoring them, then trying to shut them down before they are willing to listen.

Gradually, with lots of confusion at first, I got quite close to a group, not in the most pleasant way, that has been existing probably for a tale as old as time and still continues to be, silent all these years. Step mothers. Until not long ago I used to be one. For 11 years. 

This group is traditionally marked as “vicious” or “wicked” or “evil”. Like in the lovely story of Cinderella. And I have felt it on my own skin what it’s like to be labelled as the one who:

  • Took away the daddy/husband
  • Is a gold digger 
  • Has ruined the family
  • Is the reason everything went wrong 
  • Has impacted or even disabled the healthy development of the children by being toxicIs crazy
  • And so on. 

For 11 years I tried to cope, understand and be supportive, cooperative and tried to change things, but got dismissive and rude behaviour in return over and over. Until I realised that it was never me who was the core problem of family issues, but even so served more than a handy culprit who came at the right time to take blame and guilt for everything that ever went and continues to be, wrong.

Being a stepmother or the other woman in a relationship also comes with huge responsibility where she is expected to understand and put others’ needs first, especially children (of course, they get hurt the most) and yet will still get in the way, but no-one will ever pay any interest in her needs or wellbeing no matter what she does or doesn’t do. And if she gets tired or leaves, she will be blamed again for doing so. In my example, I came in the middle of family secrets that had nothing to do with me, but yet was the main suspect for the scandal. I got blamed for being successful and creating a life where I blossomed, I was even looked down upon when my husband got ill as if I had a magic wand to make it better or as if I should get ill myself in order to show love and dedication, but on the other hand, it was still too difficult to get any sign of appreciation, but not even show basic respect and manners for any of my efforts. 

Having lived through this experience, I learned that the less hard I tried to understand the other perspective, the more opportunities arose in my life until I started focusing only on what mattered to me and areas of life where I could thrive. Don’t take this wrong – it was an awful journey with lots of societal pressure on what I should do/say/feel and nearly all of it came from people who have never experienced anything similar or had done anything to help. And at some point I discovered that there was whole world of women out there who were going through exactly the same. Fellow “gold diggers”, “family breakers”, “twinkies” and the like, maybe it’s time that we reconsider the story of poor Cinderella and vicious step mother and create the story of all those step moms who got in the middle of a muddle that wasn’t even theirs, but even so tried their best to lend themselves to humiliation, non recognition and non representation. Step moms are not villains. Nor are others, to be fair here, but the lack of recognition and reputation of wickedness, craziness and evil is not doing step moms justice. It just isn’t fair, so before you label another step mom, at least try and ask her about her experience and efforts. You might be surprised to discover that you actually might have a lot in common. 

I came because of love. And got blamed for breaking the family apart, a family that was already broken.

I stayed for a long time. And got blamed for breaking the family apart, a family that was broken.

I walked away. And again got blamed for breaking the family apart that is broken still.

Dear step moms of the world – you are not alone in this and it is likely that you did nothing wrong. I’ve done lots of research and spoke with many step moms of all ages, with or without their own kids and I heard the same stories over and over – stories of not wanting to speak up for they were the ones that were vicious, evil and guilty. I also spoke with those step moms, who travelled the journey of liberating themselves from those invisible chains, many of which were probably put on by themselves, willingly, hoping that love will make things right. Those were stories of journeys that were hidden and no-one was willing neither to tell nor listen to, but I have and here we are – you are not alone and you are probably a completely normal lovable loving person who is doing her best. I hope you never forget this and don’t let be persuaded otherwise by anyone. Those that try to do so have their own issues and battles to fight and remember, their issues are theirs, not yours. Do get in touch if you could use a listening ear or even support. We have been running occasional support groups so – you are definitely not alone. 

And dear ones who are wanting to ignore, shush or judge – I wish that you or your children will never have to experience anything similar. There is great love out there for all of us. So look after each other, closely or from a distance, but don’t turn against yourselves. I’ve a life to live now and so do you. There is so much love there for all of us. Love that will come in a shape of being able to fully hold you, without ever denying you or making you a culprit for someone else’s laundry. I stayed for love for a long time. And am now letting go for love that I was in the way of to flow, while I’ll be letting the new love in. 

A bow to you all, keeping head high up, wishing you nothing but the best and stay in good health and spirit.

Biba

How to recognise love?

Dear reader,

we often hear that rhetoric question “what is life without love”? And that notion of love being the ultimate driving force that keeps everything moving and sorts things out. You will also come across poetic writings in literature about love being a verb, which is very interesting, for language does determine how we think about things and life. In today’s blog I’ll explore the concept of romantic love between two partners. Other types of love we might do some other time.

Everybody talks about love and yet we don’t often know what it truly is and have difficulty describing it. We do slightly better by feeling (or not feeling) it. In the sense of when you love someone, you put up with things you never would with another person, you will go 29386 extra miles for them and they may be giving you million reasons to leave, but you are deciding to stay for only one reason, over and over again – because you love them. When your phone pings and you see their message your heart jumps. When you see your loved person, your body reacts to them. When you hear their voice, your own melts. When they don’t give you affection, you feel hurt like hell. And when you catch their eye, if it’s mutual, you both know how the other one is, you have common language, you feel each other and you work things out. Without wanting to change the other person. Am I being overly romantic? Today I had a chat with someone, who said my standards were too high, I should have been more realistic and such love doesn’t exist in real life. I said I won’t apologise for making them uncomfortable because their standards were lower than mine. And I didn’t.

Romantic relationship scene in London is quite unique, I must say. I hear it from my clients and I see it with my friends as well as myself. In such a multicultural city, where people do their lives differently as well as process and express their emotions in different ways, it’s not easy to find true love. Many times the word might be used prematurely and too easily, saying “I love you” way too casually, like misusing the word “happiness”. Both then get a bad name, people get bitter and disappointed and, well, unloved, blaming love for it. But love’s nothing to do with it, or does it?

So how do you recognise if you really love someone when you are not sure? And how do you know they really love you back? If love is a verb, it means it’s something we do. If love is a noun, it’s something we have. If it’s an adjective, it’s something we are. Whichever resonates with you better, take it. In life they probably go hand in hand, interchangeably. Let’s first explore how you know if you truly love someone. Do you love them because of something the other person has or does? Would your love stop if they did something to upset you? Does your love change based on what the other person does or does not do?

Now let’s go for the other side, how do you know you are loved – do you feel like you can wave your fist in front of the other person over and over and they will still be there with you? What would happen if the two of you terminated the relationship – would the other person still care for you? Or would they punish you? Manipulate you?

If you are not sure, try breaking up and see what happens. I don’t want to suggest this as something you should do (how would I know anyway), rather I’m offering this as food for thought. Would you be happy for the other person if you saw them being happy with someone else? Would they be happy for you? Would you wish the best or the worst for them? Would they pick up the phone if you rang them?

If you find yourself still having gentle, loving feelings towards the other person even when they are not with you, then you probably love them. If you are happy to be seeing them happy, even when this picture does not include you, you probably love them. If your affection for them is constant (which does not mean you wouldn’t get upset or cross with them), you probably love them. And if you are wanting to have them back in your life, but not forcing them to, you also probably love them.

Similar could go from the other perspective, so let’s build further from here. If you no longer had a relationship, what would the other person do – would they erase you from their life? Would they be insulted? Would they be playing games with you by using your friends in order to get to you? Would they disappear? Take revenge? Do you harm? I’m sure you could find your explanations on what those behaviours are so I won’t offer mine here, but one thing is certain – it’s not love.

In the end, love is going to kill us all. Or save us all? Have you ever been truly loved? Or truly loved someone? Have you experienced both? At the same time? Is this something that is common or rare? Let’s see what you think. Hope this is useful.

Biba

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Love is like an engine that drives things forward.

10 ideas about unlocking people’s potential

Dear reader,

everyday we have a chance to discover and define ourselves brand new – who we are and who we want to be. I like the saying that goes we are an average of 5 people we spend most time with (so choose wisely!)

Recently, I took on a new challenge. I’ll be working as a coach with a feminist organisation in London, supporting young women in reaching economic justice, independence and fulfilling their potential. Working with young people 1-2-1 or as group work has always been at my heart and seeing young people unlocking their potential is  one of the most exciting parts of professional life. But what is our role in helping them unlock it? Is our call to make a difference? Help people?

I’m not sure I believe in the concept of “helping” people. Such a statement somehow resonates in taking away the credits they deserve in the process and in helping professions we often paradoxically divert the verb “helping” away from its core by calling ourselves helpers, leaders, difference makers, uplifters, etc.

We are not gods in a sense to have something that others don’t, be it superpowers, super tools, a vision or other “supreme” qualities. Therefore, we must be very careful what verb we choose to describe what we do with people and in this world. Otherwise we might end up “getting people to do something”. And we shouldn’t. Not our place to get, move or make people do anything as if without us they would not be able to do it. There is an equal amount of divine energy in all of us when we let it show itself, so how can we allow that to happen and be in this world that might benefit others while they are unlocking their own potential? Here are a few ideas that emerged when thinking about my presence and doing my job better. I would like things working out for you so that you leave with:

  1. Having confidence about you that is going to guide and support you, as you are figuring out where you want and can go in your life.
  2. Having more clarity and energy as well as feeling like riding on a cloud rather than mere coping.
  3. Having a full sense of who you are by embracing this world in all its fullness that it is and learning to appreciate all of the components of it that have led to where you are now.
  4. Being a person that anyone who comes in contact with you will benefit as a result of being near you.
  5. Not feeling bad when the above doesn’t happen.
  6. Being kind, acceptant and friendly of yourself and anyone around you even when they do their lives differently. We are not perfect, we are never going to get our shit done and as such, we can’t get it wrong for life is happening for us, not to us, differently for everybody.
  7. Having way more fun on the way.
  8. Sleeping good and eating well however that looks for you.
  9. Tuning into the frequency of who you really are and spreading the joy of it.
  10. Wanting others to have that too.

These 10 ideas have been immensely helpful in thinking how I want to do my job as well as how I want to be in this world as a professional. Without having to step on a stage and shout how cool these ideas are. They may sound completely rubbish. Or totally useful. Both ways can lead to you discovering your own.

Guitar time now.

Biba

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I feel most myself when waking up with the sense of having a potential that inspires people to feel good about themselves. What about you?

Ever done a job interview that changed someone’s life?

Dear reader,

hope you’re hanging in there, during or post lockdown and are being kind to yourself. Here in London, we are witnessing all sorts of emerging practices of how people are keeping themselves busy, hopeful and entertained. Certainly an interesting time to be alive.

Recently I went through a recruiting process and a job interview for a position of a remote coach for young women. Not a full time job, but the recruiting process as well as competition was quite complex and demanding. I still don’t know about whether I’m going to get an offer or not, but this whole process so far has been a really enjoyable experience.

The interviewing team really made efforts so I could show my best sides.

And this is a very important sentence. It was not so much me being at my best (or not), it was about them creating deliberate conditions where my performance could surface. In interviewing processes this isn’t a common practice, I think. Not that I’ve been through many interviews but I know from many HR workers, career counsellors and candidates themselves this isn’t so.

Job interviewers haven’t got an easy task. Out of many candidates, sometimes similarly  qualified, they have to choose the right candidate for the company. So during the interviewing process, they have to find ways of getting to know the candidate and discovering their strengths, ways of working, nature, flexibility, manner etc. in order to contribute to company’s development as well as wellbeing.

Having this in mind, together with my friend and colleague dr. Leah Davcheva, we have designed an online workshop, where we would together with job interviewers like to share and experiment ways and tools of asking questions in job interviews that would provide the HR and management with information that would make the recruitment decision pleasant and easier. So if you work in HR, company or you even own one and need to recruit new candidates every now and then, and could benefit from offering a satisfying experience pre, during and post recruitment process for you and your job candidates, this might be of interest to you.

The workshop will be a one-time event on June 1st. Details can be found here.

And about my own job interview – I will find out by the end of this week. And if I get selected, that would by no means stop my work as a trainer, however it would enable me to work with young women, a group I’ve always been very fond of, but always unhappy to charge. This way I might have both. Wait and see!

With appreciation and wishing you best of luck in the job industry, process and practices!

Biba

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My old career is dead

Dear reader,

I am one of the thousands of people who are self employed and who have lost their businesses. I am also one of those, who used to live out of a suitcase and used to travel the world for work and now this career has been postponed, if not completely ruined. My future work is uncertain – there is no employer on my back, I may have no income for months and yet this won’t count towards trying to argue who will pay for my expenses like rent and food. This could have been more than enough to take onboard and be frustrated, stressed or really sad about. Not to mention worrying for the future and mere existence. But call me crazy if you wish, I don’t see it like that at all. I see it as an invitation to let new things in. So if you are one of people whose current careers have died, welcome, you are not alone. This blog might be useful for you.

Change happens all the time and life offers us different experience – variety of which count towards the overall experience of living. I’ve had a fantastic life so far and have probably experienced enough of it not to have regrets now that it is gone. So holding onto it and wishing for “the old to be back” may be a way to go, but it might also waste time. Waiting for things to “go back to normal” might be similar – there won’t be the “old normal”, there will be a “new normal”. So here it is – a new blank chapter of life to decide how to live and which life experience might be joyful to allow for yourself NOW.

I really like how our worlds have changed. How we have come back to basics in so many ways. Putting away all the fancy clothes, shoes and jewellery makes it so liberating. Wearing comfy clothes and shoes is much better for the body. No makeup as well – for the skin as well the Earth. Making the living and working space nicer, which is the space we spend most time in for weeks, is fun to do – cushions, pillows, candles, I even started growing plants and am thinking of painting something on my ceiling. Spending quality time with people, not ringing them only while queuing for boarding or waiting for another train to arrive, but deliberately set time aside for them, makes a difference. Video calls are a fantastic invention.

Cooking at home, simplifying meals and shopping is also fun and liberating. If offers chances to decide what kind of nutrition you would like your body to feed from. You also know exactly what you put in your meals if you are conscious about that. And our London house started having all those little rituals of cooking together and burning food together (which is rather a thing to do for fun, because none of us is particularly talented in cooking). Cleaning the house has also become massively enjoyable. I used to hate cleaning. But now it’s like exercising, with a visible outcome. And it never goes out of fashion.

My work has transformed and is transforming. I used to love to travel and work with groups, really enjoyed doing so. And I have had enough of that in my life, so now it’s time for something new: exploring ways how to train online and continue developing and working with groups remotely. It’s early stages, but I can already see the benefits of human relationships with the help of IT and digital facilitation. Lots of my current thoughts are dedicated to online training and with my team, we have designed and launched our first courses, which we have been working towards being succinct, high quality learning and satisfying experience, adjusted to online learning, which is very different to face to face. If interested, you can check and join our courses here. So here is an appeal for all of you, who would like to make a difference – if you support causes and corporations, why not supporting people you know who are doing work that you approve? Helping each other could be our “new normal”. I’d certainly much rather support my friend who is building webpages, rather than hire a company which has been making millions of profits.

All of the above does not mean being patient and just swallowing all the limitations of the new, current life we are living. It’s not about accepting. It’s about allowing for new experience to come to us. And explore ways how this experience can bring us joy, raise our collective consciousness and contribute to a better world. So I don’t really mind if the world is “never back to normal”. However am really curious about what’s emerging, how our daily work and rituals are changing and how all of us are growing with it.

What about you – what have you been noticing about your new lives that brings you joy?

With so much love,

Biba

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Here I am. And there you are. And there is so much life has to offer to us.

Solution Focused Possibilities Online Training in Solution Focused Practice

Dear reader,

after my moving to the UK in 2018 it wasn’t long before three likeminded people met and decided to continue our professional path together. Ben, Greg and myself formed an organisation we named Solution Focused Possibilities. We believe and have experienced in our clinical practice, that with the help of Solution Focused approach, people can find their ways forward to a better future and discover new possibilities they never dared to dream of in a period of time that doesn’t take large proportions of their lives with long lasting effects.

All of us have been trained at BRIEF in London, which is the “golden standard” Solution Focused training institution in the world and we have been lucky to have enjoyed vast support and guidance from BRIEF over the years. Having been close, we’ve grown to love the simplicity of the Solution Focused approach and have set up a mission for ourselves, to keep our practice and teaching succinct, minimalistic and straightforward. To stay true to the principle of “less is more” and not trying to do with more what can be done with fewer means” (Occam’s razor, a principle BRIEF has been following for over 30 years and a principle we are carrying on following too). A year ago, in March 2019 we started working on our common project – putting these principles in action by creating an online training in Solution Focused Practice.

This week we are releasing our work and are very happy to announce that our first online courses are out. You are welcomed to have a look at them here. Our team has expanded and we are now four partners – joined by our Jamie who has been transforming our ideas and principles into high quality, succinct, straightforward and engaging videos.

And this is merely a start. We have several courses lined up and it seems that now is the right time – while most of us are confined and self isolated, engaging yourself in a course that could change your life (and life of those around you), might be an idea worth going with. If you’d like, we can notify you about our courses and send you blogs, videos and thoughts that could be of use to you through and during these curious times we have all found ourselves in. If so, send us your email at info@sfpossibilities.org.

Succinct. Minimalistic. Straightforward.

Biba from SFP and Ribalon

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A photo from our last face to face masterclass training in the UK. But the story goes on!

Social distancing is not the same as social absence

Dear reader,

I received an article today on longitudinal empirical evidence of COVID-19 spread in numbers and figures. The article took 26 mins to read, but I’m a slow reader and need time to process and analyse the meta level of author’s context, undertone and aim of the whole narrative, so I read it in about an hour.

Most of the world as of today is going into quarantine, self-isolation or compulsory prohibition or free movement. In other words, for many people that feels like a prison. As someone who used to work in a prison, allow me to make this comparison, as black and white as it may appear. This post is in no way trying to diminish or minimise the article’s point and I think it is very useful that we are aware and acquainted with the facts that are surrounding us. But I advocate that facts need to come with a bit of balance of interpreting as well as a balance of the effects we are wanting to spread among people when trying to do the best thing – help them. So here is my view, which I hope would add and build on hope.

The implications of the pandemics are not only economical. They will affect people’s mental health and wellbeing, not just because of the fear of getting ill, but because of restricted freedom and dictated ways of being. History shows us that taking away one’s freedom and isolation are one of the most commonly used means of torture. As much as our current state is for now nowhere near imprisonment, it is likely to leave similar effects. Have a look at numbers of divorce in China and you’ll quickly see what I mean.

The article highly recommended social distancing. And avoid leaving home if one’s been experiencing symptoms. This is backed up by evidence that social distancing works in trying to keep the spread low and gradual. But there is one discourse misunderstanding I see people make when trying to obey the recommendation (or order in some countries/cases). And here is the thought that I would really like to communicate across

Social distancing should not be interpreted as social absence – completely removing yourself from social life.

Having no (or little) physical contact with others is by no means implying that one should not have emotional and social contact with others. Social life has not disappeared. It is changing. Re-defining. You do not have to avoid your neighbour across the street if you see them appearing on the door to take the rubbish out. The virus does not spread by looking at each other and making a remote friendly gesture.

I do hope that as much as we need to stay vigilant in these tough times, we do not become socially isolated. We have not disappeared from each other, we are still here and in this – together. I will soon prepare a webinar on that. The one that will help us stay vigilant and hopeful. If you are interested, send me your email at biba@ribalon.org. And take care of yourselves and each other in the way that makes your lives worth living.

Biba

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How many do we really need?

My Birthday, Our Future

Dear reader,

another year turned around and if you are here, you are lucky. Many people are dying these days – more than normally. Death is part of life, but life as is happening now, is something most of us are not used to. Not in a good way.

I walk the streets of London and they change day by day. Massively. Less and less people, trains and Tube feeling like Phantoms, shops either empty or overly crowded while people aspire not to be too close to one another. Schools closing. Shops and restaurants closing. The Covid-19 has touched all of our lives and it feels like we are fighting an enemy we don’t know, don’t see and don’t notice when it’s present, but we are aware that it is there, among us every second we dare to live.

This is the time where it is very easy to collapse, fear and lose hope. I watch people and they are petrified. Closed down. Or pretending nothing’s happening.

This is also the time where care escalates. Where public and private sectors continue to work and make trials and errors to get us all through this. Our street has received community notices on the door to educate us how to protect ourselves and our loved ones. And in the shop today, as people were queueing to enter the store, they still found some kindness and consideration to let a mother with a buggy enter first. The neighbours still say hello to each other, even though from the distance. And families who have locked themselves in their houses, are spending quality time together. It seems as if winter is coming even though the nature is sprouting but undoubtedly, there will be scent of cinnamon and freshly baked biscuits breezing through the windows. There will be small acts of kindness everywhere, among increased crime and impatience. As much as we cannot know or predict how long this uncertain period will last or when its peak will be, we do have a choice to direct our focus: either on how our systems are collapsing, or on how our systems are coping. You will find evidence of both. And imagine what difference it might make to your wellbeing (and possibly health, definitely mental health), if you choose to focus on what (still) works.

I hope that in a year time I will write another blog for my birthday. But if I don’t that’s fine too. It has been some ride, this life journey and I am glad we are all still here. As a mental health professional, I am also minding that the general pandemics will cause people to experience mental health difficulties they haven’t experienced before. I do hope that if it happens to you, you will get in touch with someone who can be with you through those times and help you sustain your wellbeing. You can also write to me.

Wishing you all sharp focus of your choice and wash your hands in the way that is right for you and others around you,

Biba

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Posting on Social Media as a Therapist

Dear reader,

admit it or not, we are living as many lives as we are having social media profiles and platforms. Information technology and artificial intelligence have changed our lives so profoundly in so many ways, that it will probably take at least another decade to catch up understanding how profoundly. Parents, teachers and other adults are hence increasingly (and justifiably) concerned about our younger generation as it has become bombarded with risk of internet addiction, selfie culture, influencers obsession and, not to say the least, frauds and traffickers.

Social media had brought another interesting phenomena. Have you ever heard a story of a young girl having 10K followers and glittery online life on one hand and is privately in massive crisis on the other, but because of her public exposure and reputation, she cannot admit it and if she did ask for help, she would have “failed” her second life and personality? This is more common than you might think and this person might even be your daughter or son, but you will have no clue about it until it might be too late.

I quite like the social media. It is a tool which can help us spread the word and share our message, keep up with people who matter, but we do not see every day and so much more. Like a knife, it is quite a useful tool (and a lethal weapon) if you use it as such. But there is one sincere promise in the content I decided to produce from the very beginning I started writing this blog in 2014. To never try to hide behind filters, make up or fake news. Undoubtedly I fail every once in a while and catch myself checking out influencers I like to follow as a form of my own escapism, but fortunately, this is rarely. This is far from easy. As someone working with people and often helping them find a way forward, I am under huge professional and public pressure. To be “normal”. The whole therapy (and similar) industry mainstream dictates that people who are in helping professions should appear as always strong, always knowing what to do, always cool and always with clever advice. Like role models, moral authorities, writing blogs and articles about what to do when X, how to react when Y or explain various mental health conditions which negatively affect people’s wellbeing, pretending they are above it and not at risk. As much as I support personal and professional mental hygiene, self care and supervision, I believe this pressure creates unnecessary barrier between us and our clients. I’d much rather say something like: “Hey, life’s seriously f***** me up a couple of times, but I’m still here and we are in this together”. And if each person would shout to another person a message of “We are humans and we are here for each other”, our communal mental health and connectedness would be different, not just measured in number of likes but also in people, who are proud to share themselves with the world as they are, not as they hope their followers want them to be.

So here is to the digital era of our multiple lives – may all of our lives and its shades shine in all of our imperfections and may our life lessons be recognised and cherished as a gift we are offering to the world, especially to young people who might be wondering what kind of people they would like to become and to show them it is possible to live a life they would enjoy even or especially when not camera ready.

Biba

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It feels so good to let the wind and rain randomly mess up the hair not worrying about messing up your public reputation. I wish more people gave themselves permission to share themselves in their every day beauty even when they can’t see any.