In this issue

Where are we now?
Margaret Chapman explores where we are with mindfulness in organisations and how we might create a more mindful workplace

Practical resilience
How can we respond to overload at work? Dr Chris Johnstone offers us valuable insight into how we cope with a phenomenon of the modern age

Are happy employees healthier employees?
Kate Nowlan reports from the Employee Assistance European Forum conference on the role of EAPs in enhancing happiness in the workplace

The way I work
Sheila Neville opens our eyes to her world of virtual team-working with EAPs, and provides hints for best practice for
affiliate counsellors

Where coaching meets counselling
Exploring the intersection between coaching and counselling, Sue Houghton introduces a new concept – ‘couching’

Cyberculture in the workplace: a beginner’s guide
Why do we behave the way we do online? Dr Kate Anthony explores the disinhibition effect

Inside the organisation
Anne Scoging of the London Fire Brigade talks about working with a stoic profession exposed to frequent trauma

From the chair

Cover of Counselling at Work, Autumn 2013

Articles from this issue are not yet available online. Divisional members and subscribers can download the pdf from the Counselling at Work archive.

First words

As the nights draw in, spare a thought for the team based at the Halley VI base station in Antarctica. Base Commander Agnieszka Fryckowska leads her team of 13, who live and work on an ice shelf, monitoring and collecting scientific data. For months on end they see no one else and live in brutal conditions. Her top tip for surviving: ‘You need to keep a regular routine for the mind, body and soul.’ 

Closer to home, working environments may be less brutal but maintaining wellbeing at work remains essential. New research into stress and mental health in the workplace released by Mind found that 45 per cent of workers polled by the charity said that staff are expected to cope without mentioning stress at work, and a third (31 per cent) said that they would not be able to talk openly to their line manger if they felt stressed1. In a culture where people who hold on to their jobs are considered ‘lucky’, talk of wellbeing at work might to some seem indulgent, whilst others still remain unclear about what it actually means. What is usually clear in the counselling room is a client’s level of wellbeing – or lack of it. Increasingly the multiple pressures and demands of managing work, home and caring responsibilities can mean that tending to one’s own wellbeing is often the first thing to be dispensed with in the long list of seemingly more pressing priorities. Drawing our clients’ attention to this is often central to our work as practitioners.

Responding to Mind’s recent survey, Chief Executive, Paul Farmer, reminds us that: ‘Employers depend on their staff and there are lots of small, inexpensive measures they can put in place to improve wellbeing and make a huge difference to all staff.’ This issue focuses on some of the interventions that aim to do just that.

A warm welcome to Margaret Chapman, whose knowledge about the field of mindfulness is immense. She provides her observations on the transition that mindfulness is making into the workplace and shares experiences of how to integrate it successfully. I can’t think of anywhere I’ve ever worked that would not have benefited from some of this. If you’re interested in looking for a way to create a more mindful work environment, this article is essential reading.

Thank you to Kate Nowlan, President of the Employee Assistance European Forum (EAEF), who reports from their conference held earlier this year in Dublin. She highlights the contribution that EAPs make to the happiness at work debate and examines some of the key findings from the conference.

Sheila Neville is an affiliate counsellor with EAPs. Providing short-term interventions to support organisations, for example with mediation or trauma debriefing, she outlines the toolkit of skills that workplace counsellors can offer to the business world. Also considering the way she works is Sue Houghton. Having made the transition from counsellor to coach, Sue has been exploring the much discussed issue of counselling and coaching, and where they meet and merge. She’s come up with a new approach, ‘couching’.

Welcome back to our two regular writers, Chris Johnstone and Kate Anthony. In the penultimate part of his series on practical resilience, Chris tackles the prevalent issue of overload anxiety, a phenomenon of the modern age, and suggests how we might face it and develop resilience. Kate Anthony continues with her column on cyberculture in the workplace. As the horrors of people abusing one other in the virtual world are regularly reported in the press, Kate explores why we behave the way we do online – the disinhibition effect.

And finally, my thanks to Anne Scoging for talking to Counselling at Work. Anne heads up the counselling service at the London Fire Brigade and so tending to the wellbeing of personnel is all in a day’s work for her. Explaining the scale of the service’s challenge, she told me: ‘There is an organisational need for all operational firefighters to develop enough psychological resilience to carry them through what can be up to 30 years of firefighting.’

I don’t know if they access counselling, coaching or practise mindfulness at the Halley VI Base Station, but I can see why they might. Counselling at Work covers the work that you do as workplace specialists, shares current research, best practice and the interventions that impact on the quality of life within the workplace. If there’s something you’d like to read about in a future issue please do get in touch.

Nicola Banning


1 BACP Political Monitoring Briefing. Stress and Mental Health in the Workplace. 4.10.2013.