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Single session therapy explained

Posted on: February 04 2021

Mark Howe.JPGMS-UK Counsellor Mark Howe introduces single session therapy – could it be right for you?

Last year MS-UK piloted single session therapy (SST) as a different way of working with clients who register for the counselling service.

As the name suggests, SST is a one-off session with a member of the MS-UK Counselling team, all of whom are registered with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). Our usual counselling service is a course of six sessions.

The single session lasts a maximum of 1.5 hours. Prior to the session, you specify an issue you would like to work on. Then, the counsellor and you work together as a team to explore the issue and identify a plan of action, which you can put into place immediately after the session comes to an end. This is designed to either resolve the issue, or support you in reducing its impact, thus making it easier to live with.

The concept

Although this a new service for us here at MS-UK, the concept itself is not new. One of the first therapists who practised SST was Sigmund Freud. It is reported that the pioneer of long-term psychoanalysis carried out two well-known single-session treatments in 1893. Renowned therapists such as Alfred Adler, Milton Erickson and Albert Ellis pioneered the use of single therapy sessions. It wasn’t until 1990, however that the field of SST became an established technique.

In its modern day form, SST is a cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), or a solution-focused concept. CBT was developed in the 1960s by Aaron Beck, with solution-focused therapy being developed in America during the 1980s by Steve De Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg. Modern day SST is a product of both of these approaches, with Windy Dryden being perhaps the best known promotor of SST.

To date, MS-UK have had a number of clients taking part in the SST pilot. Feedback from those of you who have engaged with the single session has been positive and encouraging. Clients are encouraged to be honest and open with the counsellor they are working with in order to get the most from the experience. Personally, as a member of the MS-UK Counselling team, I have been surprised by how much can be achieved in an hour and a half if the client is motivated to make change. I think it is fair to say SST is not for everyone, but for those clients who can connect and engage, the rewards are impressive.

Could you benefit?

To register, please go to our webpage If possible, we would ask that a suggested donation of £25, or an amount of your choosing, is made in advance for the session to enable us to continue this work and provide support where it is needed most.

Building self-esteem

Posted on: February 03 2021

Louise Willis (Headshot).jpgHave you ever thought about your self-esteem? Asks MS-UK counsellor Louise Willis

There are a wide spectrum of feelings, thoughts and beliefs that we can have about ourselves and how we fit in to the world around us. To find out more about where you might fit in, you can ask yourself the following questions.

  • Do I feel happy with who I am?
  • Do I feel worthy of love and respect?
  • Can I take criticism and not feel rejected or put down?

If you have answered ‘no’ to any of the above questions, you may have low self-esteem.

Low self-esteem often comes from events in life that have left us feeling bad about ourselves. The reactions we can have can be long lasting and often go unchallenged as they can feel like they are a part of us, when in fact they were a reaction to an issue that may have happened long ago.

The good news is that there are lots of self-help strategies which can help us to shift these negative and unhelpful beliefs and begin to build self-esteem.

  • Pay attention to your internal narrative. If you are constantly berating yourself it is going to be almost impossible to feel good about yourself
  • As well as using positive language, make sure to treat yourself with love and care. You deserve to get it from yourself just as much as anyone else
  • Avoid using the words ‘should’ and ‘must’. These words are often based on our perceived expectations of others and not often based in truth or our own values
  • Those with low self-esteem can have trouble in saying ‘no’, which can lead to all sorts of issues. Practise asserting yourself in a kind and loving way with others and keep those boundaries strong
  • Don’t compare yourself to others. Nothing positive will come out of it and, above all, we are all unique. You are perfect as you are.
  • Visualisation can be a powerful tool. Imagining in clear and vivid imagery what you would like your life to look like is a technique used by sports coaches to get the best out of their athletes.
  • Challenge any distortions of reality. If you find yourself saying things like ‘this always happens’ or ‘I can’t’ – challenge these assumptions. We usually find it ‘sometimes’ happens and we ‘can’, it is just difficult.
  • As English poet Alexander Pope so eloquently put it, ‘to err is human; to forgive, divine.’ This is something we can do to ourselves. We all make mistakes and carrying guilt for them can seriously affect our sense of self.
  • Holding our head up and projecting confidence – even if we don’t feel it, can do wonders for our self-esteem. ‘Faking it til you make it’ pushes us out of our comfort zone and gets us used to who we want to be.
  • Random acts of kindness – such as helping an elderly neighbour or collecting for a good cause – all of these things not only help others but can give us a sense of purpose and self-worth.
  • Setting small achievable goals and completing them can have a huge impact on how we feel about ourselves. Taking small chunks of a larger goal can make it so much easier to reach.


The Big Purple Dog Walk... lets go walkies for MS

Posted on: February 03 2021

RGB-The-Big-Purple-Dog-Walk-Logo.pngFundraising manager Jill Purcell introduces our new challenge!

Calling all canine companions! This March, MS-UK are inviting you to join #TeamPaws and take part in our pawsome Big Purple Dog Walk. Wherever you are in the country now is the pawfect time for you and your best four-legged friend to stay active and make every walk matter to help people affected by multiple sclerosis (MS).

During MS-UK’s loneliness and isolation research, we noticed that our furry friends play a big part in the MS Community, whether that be keeping their owner's company, being the reason someone may go outside each day, or simply by just being there! That is why MS-UK has launched an exclusive virtual event... just you and your dogs!

So whether your pooch is a pampered Poodle, a delicate Dachshund or a loving Labrador all hounds are welcome to put their paws to the test and help to raise pawsome funds for MS-UK. Everyone that takes part will receive an exclusive MS-UK dog bandana to wear with pride during the challenge. When you raise your target of £100, your dog will receive their very own rosette and certificate for their achievements.

Donatello.pngTo join #TeamPaws all you need to do is

  • Set a challenge for you and your dog to complete in your community during the month of March
  • Pledge to raise £100 for MS-UK by asking your friends, family and fellow dog walkers to sponsor you
  • Grab your lead and go!

We have some examples for you below, but feel free to get creative, and remember it must be completed by the end of March!

  • A mile every day for the whole month
  • Complete a full marathon distance in one month
  • Alfie.pngA lap of the garden every day with your dog
  • Going on your dog’s favourite walk
  • Taking your dog out for the very first time

Whatever you decide to do, there are huge benefits to you and your beloved pets by getting outside for some fresh air.

Don’t have a dog but would love to take part?

Jasper.pngDoes your neighbour have a dog that could join you for The Big Purple Dog Walk? Or does a local family member have a dog that you could team up with?

What are you waiting for? Get your collars on and grab your leads… let’s go walkies for MS!

Click the button below or call 01206 226500 for more information.

Sign up!

Our new peer support services are here for you – come and get involved!

Posted on: February 02 2021

Vicky.jpgMS-UK’s Peer Support Coordinator Vicky welcomes you to our new services which will connect you with others for support and more 

Hi, my name is Vicky, and for the past six years I worked as the centre assistant at MS-UK’s wellness centre.

One of the most positive elements of the centre was that it gave people living with multiple sclerosis (MS) an opportunity to meet others, to share experiences and offer each other support and encouragement.

When the first lockdown began in March 2020, we knew that our main priorities had to be to ensure people not only continued to stay physically active, but also to remain connected with their peers.

Beating isolation

This meant that we had to get creative and use technology to help. Our approach proved to be successful, and the feedback we received showed that these interactions went a long way in helping our people feel less isolated – particularly during such a challenging and uncertain time.

We have learned a great deal this past year, and our experience using digital platforms has shown us just how much we can offer, and how much further our reach can be, to help support those living with MS.

As we step into 2021, we are really excited about the new services we will be offering online. There is one that I am particularly thrilled to be a part of, because it has provided me with a new role at MS-UK!

Join our Peer Pods!

We will be offering everyone that engages with us through our online activities the opportunity to join a Peer Pod. These will be groups that will be formed to allow attendees to get together online. We will look to recruit a volunteer from within each group whose role it will be to arrange and facilitate regular sessions, with the aim of creating a positive and supportive space in which you can come together, whether that be to motivate and inspire each other, or just to socialise in general.

It is our hope that in doing so, you will gain the many benefits that we have seen peer support can bring – such as connection, understanding, encouragement and (importantly) laughter.

With that all being said, this is MS-UK’s new ‘Peer Support Coordinator’, saying goodbye for now, and hoping to see you in the very near future!

Best wishes,


Learn more about Peer Pods and how you can join

Find out about online information sessions and workshops

MS-UK's online exercise classes