Wednesday, 30 December 2015

How to achieve your New Year's resolutions

New Year is often a time when we look to the past, take stock and think how we can improve and build for the future. It may be that we are hoping to improve at a skill, want to take up a new hobby or are looking to get fitter and more active - perhaps run a marathon. Whatever our goals, the best way to achieve them is to emulate the habits of tops sports people.

There's a good reason why only some people reach the top levels of sport. It takes a whole range of skills and behaviours, as well as an excellent ability at a sport, to join the sporting elite. 

The good news is that many of these behaviours aren't specific to sports.

Five habits of successful sports people that could help you achieve your goals

Here are five habits of successful sports people, that could help you achieve your goals in the coming year.

  1. Motivation: Keep motivated because if you really want it, you are more likely to achieve it. While this sounds simple, it can be hard to keep going when things get tough. Set yourself smaller goals on the way to achieving your larger goals and reward yourself when you achieve them, that way you will feel a sense of achievement and will see the rewards of your hard work along the way. 
  2. Consistency: Plan a routine to achieve your goals and make sure you follow it. Real success takes grit and determination. Getting up and doing what you have planned when you feel tired and have time to lie in takes real strength, but will help you keep up the momentum and stop you giving in. 
  3. Self belief: In order to succeed, you have to first believe you are capable of achieving it. Think about the goals you are trying to achieve and whether you truly believe you are capable. If not, think about why you believe this. Challenge how you think and learn to replace unhelpful thoughts, such as "I can't do this" with more helpful ones "I may find this hard, but there is nothing preventing me from achieving this". If there is something preventing you, e.g the date of the next marathon and your current level of fitness, it is important to acknowledge this and give yourself more time to achieve your desired outcome. Planning, building and being ambitious but realistic will help increase your self belief. 
  4. Resilience: Successful sports people have all failed at something in the past and they all have fears too. The difference is that they have learnt to manage their fears and anxieties and don't let them get in the way of their goals. Learn to manage your fears and you will be able to achieve much more in life.
  5. Self-nurturing: Keep yourself strong both mentally and physically to ensure you have the best chance of achieving your goals. Make sure you schedule in plenty of rest and relaxation as well as hard graft. 


Did you know that coaching can help maximise your chances of achieving your goals? Whether your goals are work-related or more personal in nature, First Psychology's coaching professionals will work with you in a supportive way to help you overcome obstacles, improve confidence and keep motivated. For more information on coaching with First Psychology, click here to visit our website >

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Are you in control of your drinking?

Black Friday (also know as 'Mad Friday') is nearly upon us! Yes, you heard right. There is another Black Friday. But this one has nothing to do with shopping.

It's been named Black Friday by the emergency services and it's the last friday before Christmas - the most popular day for the office Christmas party. Need we say more!

As we mentioned, this day is when ambulances and emergency services are most in demand and this is largely due to the amount of alcohol consumed and the mishaps, brawls and traffic accidents that result from this.

While many are out for a good night out and in full control of what they consume, government statistics suggest that one in every 13 adults is actually dependent on alcohol in the UK. This is a staggering figure and shows just how important it is to know the signs of alcohol dependency so you can recognise them in yourself and others.

It is not easy to recognise the signs of alcohol dependency, particularly in ourselves. We may convince ourselves we can stop and that we're just out enjoying ourselves like everyone else. However, there are some common signs to look out for in yourself and others.

  • Stealing 
  • Lying and secretive behaviour that is out of character
  • Extreme mood changes 
  • Changes in weight
  • Mixing with different groups, new/unusual friends 
  • Changes to sleep patterns, such as sleeping more / less and at different times 
  • Having lots of cash one minute and none the next 
  • Changes in energy levels

If you recognise these signs in yourself or someone you know and feel you need help, take a look at our information sheet for lots of advice on dealing with alcohol dependency

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Christmas and families

Christmas is often seen as a time for families. And whatever shape and size a family is there are often complex dynamics involved in interacting within the family unit.

Whether we come from a family we perceive as 'happy' or not, being a parent is not easy. We often come to parenting with preconceived ideas about how parenting and families should be. Many people struggle to shake off negative experiences from their own upbringing, which can come to the fore when we find ourselves parenting. Often parenting is as much about what we don't want for our children as it is about what we want. And our partner may have different views from us, to further complicate things.

Counselling Psychologist, Flora Maclay who works with many children and families at First Psychology's Edinburgh and Borders centres has been scouring some well known parenting books for some of her favourite parenting tips.

Top parenting tips

"Once finished, forget it"

Children forget quickly but some parents just cannot let a matter rest. Parents who are slow to forgive their children write off days of their lives with ongoing psychological warfare, quickly draining their emotional reserves. Lack of forgiveness also ensures that tensions remain high and maximum home unhappiness is guaranteed. Solution: Holding grudges only produces parents with hyper-tension - not stable, loving children. This is a major trap that parents fall into, so after each incident, forgive your little one and start again with a clean slate. A misbehaving child should be disciplined then and there, and the episode followed immediately by forgiveness. (New Toddler Taming by Dr Christopher Green)

"Lighten up"

Enjoy your kids. Being with them out of guilt or obligation is second-rate - they sense you are not really there in spirit. Experiment to find those activities that you both enjoy. Take the "Pressure to achieve" off your kids. Remember to laugh and muck about. (Raising Boys by Steve Biddulph)

"Be responsive rather than reactive"

Counter-intuitive parenting: Sometimes "go away" means "find a way to stay"
Knee-jerk reactions kick back! Ask, listen, discuss, and decide together especially when you feel a knee-jerk reaction coming on. (Girls will be girls by JoAnn Deak)

"Survive and thrive"

We've got great news for you: the moments you are just trying to survive are actually opportunities to help your child thrive. At times you may feel that the loving, important moments (like having a meaningful conversation about compassion or character) are separate from the parenting challenges (like fighting another homework battle or dealing with another melt-down). But they are not separate at all. When your child is disrespectful and talks back to you, when you are asked to come in for a meeting with the principal, when you find crayon scribbles all over your wall: these are survive moments, no question about it. But at the same time, they are also opportunites - even gifts - because a survive moment is also a thrive moment, where the important, meaningful work of parenting takes place. (The whole brain child by Dan Siegel and Tina)

So which is Flora's most recommended read? "If you read one book about parenting I would recommend 'The Whole Brain Child' by Dan Siegel which pulls together practical suggestions with an understanding of the underlying biology of the brain," says Flora.

Seeking the help of an expert

If you feel it may be beneficial to seek the support and help of a trained professional, First Psychology Scotland has many practitioners who are experienced in working with children, young people and families.

For further information about our work with children and young people, please click here >

For further information about our work with families, please click here >

Friday, 4 December 2015

Psychological Therapy - A Brief Guide

We know from the questions we're asked that many people find the different types of psychological therapy confusing. So we thought we'd give a brief summary of each type of therapy.


Counselling is a popular therapy that involves talking to a trained practitioner about your problems and issues. It provides a safe place to talk about and think about your thoughts and feelings with someone outside of your social circle. Counselling is usually a short-term therapy and typically lasts from six to twelve sessions.
More about counselling >


Psychotherapy, like counselling, involves talking about problems and difficulties. However it is a more in-depth process which involves looking at your life as a whole rather than looking at specific problems. Psychotherapy provides a regular space for clients to talk about how they are and to work through patterns and issues they find difficult. One popular type of psychotherapy is IPT or interpersonal therapy, which focuses on relationships with others in relation to the issues and problems being experienced.
More about psychotherapy >


CBT (or cognitive behaviour therapy) also involves talking, but focuses specifically on our thought processes and behaviours and how these influence actions and mood. CBT is a popular approach which involves the client undertaking specific tasks outwith the therapy setting. CBT provides clients with a toolkit of techniques which can be used now and in the future. There are many other therapies which are rooted in CBT, but which may be more helpful in specific instances. Examples of these include: Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MCBT); Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) and Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT).
More about CBT >

Relationship Therapy

Relationship Therapy is similar to counselling, but with a focus on what is going wrong in a relationship.
More about Relationship Therapy >

Family Therapy

Family Therapy aims to help families or 'family-like groups' improve their situation in a constructive and supportive way. It aims to support and bring about change in families experiencing issues or behaviours that impact on the family as a whole.
More about Family Therapy >

Therapy for children / young people

Therapy for children and young people can involve a range of therapeutic approaches depending on the issues being experienced and the age of the child. Some approaches will be play based while others may involve behavioural therapies such as CBT.
More about Therapy For Children / Young People >


EMDR or Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing is a type of therapy that aims to replicate the rapid eye movement (REM) part of sleep that is thought to help process difficult or painful memories. It is mainly used for clients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However it is increasingly being used for other issues too.
More about EMDR >

Need help with an issue or problem?

If you have an issue or problem and think you may benefit from one of the above therapies, please do take a look at the links above for more about each therapy and watch our informative video below for more about what we do and the psychological services available at First Psychology's many centres across Scotland.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

The Gift of Giving

Following on from the spending driven days of Black Friday last week and Cyber Monday yesterday, today is increasingly becoming known as Giving Tuesday, a global day devoted to thinking of others and giving back to the community.

Giving Tuesday began in 2012 to encourage people to donate their money, time and services to their community. Some examples include giving blood, donating to a charity, volunteering to help a charity or organisation, the list of how we can give to others is endless.

The idea of giving is, of course, one we are all familiar with, particularly at this time of year. The holiday season is a time when we traditionally give to others. However, we often see giving as about gifts rather than our time or services.

With many feeling the pinch of the latest government cuts and job losses, it is important to remember that giving something as simple as a smile or a kind act can brighten people's lives in ways that tangible gifts cannot reach.

And it is not just the recipient that benefits from your giving. In fact giving has been shown to release a similar 'high' of endorphins (the body's feel good chemical) as receiving or spending.

Research has shown that giving to others can actually boost your health and wellbeing and reduce stress too! And people who give their time in the form of voluntary work can look forward to improved mental wellbeing and a feeling of greater connectedness socially too.

Giving really is the gift that just keeps on giving! What are you giving this Giving Tuesday?