How to stop your mind from attacking you – Compassionate Mind Training in a Nutshell

Did you know that self-compassion could be the alternative to treating yourself as a bag of dicks? We, together with the research teams around the world has found it to be a fundamental, and extremely effective, component of leading a life where you’re no longer a jerk to yourself.

Written by: Emely Ostberg, MSc (Counsl. Psych), Accredited Psychotherapist at the Bell Yard Psychology Clinic, London, UK. 

I would like to invite you to imagine yourself making a mistake. Say you’re driving back home from the store. In the store where your kid’s been nagging you for sweets for the past 30 minutes. You’ve kept your calm pretty well. But another part of you felt self-conscious, feeling almost as if people judging the way you dealt with the situation. You leave the store with not much energy and strap your kid into the backseat, of course with the usual protests. On your way home you hit a traffic light and the same minute you do your kid starts asking again for a lollipop, when you say ‘no, there won’t be any sweets today’ she starts screaming. You try to explain calmly for the 100th time. And begins the familiar kicking in the back of your seat. You notice your face getting red and flustered, you feel your upper body tense up, clenching the wheel and that familiar feeling inside your chest starts bubbling. It is almost as if you’re vibrating from the inside.  …and you yell ‘SHUT. THE. FUCK. UP.’

Kid starts crying. You notice their facial expression go from wanting a lolly to being afraid of you and the tears starts coming.

Shame hits you. You hear that inner critic of yours at full blast. ‘You’re a bad mommy’; ‘you’re not cut out for this’; ‘you’re a failure’; ‘you should be able to handle this’.

Soon the tears start rolling down your face and you begin counting the hours till bedtime.


Does this sound familiar? If it does, please know that this is a common human experience, especially for mothers in our day an age where parenting tend to fall on just two people, and sometimes just on one, leaving little to none space for you to re-charge and the perfect recipe for getting stuck in a loop of shame and anger and sadness, and sometimes even despair.


I now invite you to imagine what it would be like if you had someone next to you at that the store. Someone kind. Someone who encouraged you rather than told you that you didn’t do well enough. Someone who instead of saying ‘people are looking at you and think you’re handling this situation terribly’, said ‘wow this is a hard moment isn’t it. It’s hard to not react when your alarm system is going off, well done for staying neutral. I believe in you, you can do this.’ In a warm, calm, soothing voice. How do you think it would make you feel? Any different? Now imagine if you actually believed in the calming voice. Worlds apart right?

At the Bell Yard Psychology Clinic we’re here to help you to cultivate this other side.

  • Cultivate self-compassion
  • Find ways of regulating anger and rage
  • Learn about the three flows of compassion
  • Find new ways of acting with courage
  • Use compassion as a motivator to change

With compassionate mind training we will work towards getting you in the driver seat of your life, and that internal critic of yours out. The next compassionate mind training is a womens only group and starts in February 2020.

Get in touch today to claim early bird discount rate.

Speaking of The Unspoken: 4 Things You Need to Know About Post-partum Rage

What psychologists want you to know about postpartum anger.

ASK EMELY: Do you offer psychological therapy in Swedish at your clinic in Central London?

Yes we do indeed offer therapy in Swedish! At the Bell Yard Clinic in Central London we are proud to be able to say that every single one of our staff members speaks Swedish;  Swedish admins, Swedish therapists, Swedish psychologists and Swedish psychiatrists alike.

When life given you a bit of a rotten lemon and you can’t locate even the slightest interest, joy or energy to make lemonade, then it is nice to know that you are understood in every language.

Because it allows you to tell your story in whatever language you prefer to use. Not only are all our staff members’ mother-tongue Swedish, they are also fluent in Swenglish. A language only an ex-pat Swede would know of, and appreciate.

Five benefits of having therapy in your mother-tongue


  1. Your story isn’t restricted by language. This may sound slightly odd given that you are probably fluent in both English and Swedish and have no problem communicating in either on a daily basis. However,  what we see again and again in clinical practice is that when you begin talking about memories that are connected to the Swedish language many find it an uphill struggle to communicate them effectively to someone who doesn’t speak the language.
  2. You will be able to pick and chose which word you want to use and you’ll be understood regardless. If you find that ‘Kalle’s’ are easier to use as an explanation than “pink-hue-coloured-cod-roe-paste-very-common-to-eat-in-sweden-kind-of-like-caviar-but-not-at-all”… well then please do,  because we get you.
  3. Speaking you second language may affect the felt experience of therapy. When we become bi-lingual later in life (meaning that we weren’t taught it from birth but rather when we started school) our language actually get’s stored in a different area of the brain. We will therefore find it more difficult to emotionally connect with the words in our second language and will by default be slightly less attuned.
  4. Cultural awareness gives space to work on what you want. You may think that there’s nothing to be aware of, or out of the ordinary with Sweden and it’s culture. But even to the kindest, nicest and least judgmental foreigner it can sound slightly strange that you dance around a fellas shaped pole during midsummer’s eve, and more importantly – explaining it, and similar cultural customs, will take up valuable minutes of your therapy hour.

    svensk terapeut psykolog central london


  5. We know what its like to move. We’ve been there. Adjusting to life in a different country. With a different culture, different language, different expectations, different food, different systems. We know what it is like having to re-build a social circle. We know what the loneliness is like before having rebuilt it. We know what it is like being away from our family of origin. And even if we chose not to share about our personal stuff we still get it. Because we’ve been there.


Posted by

Emely Ostberg, MSc (Counsl. Psych.)
Consultant Psychotherapist in Private Practice.

I am an accredited Psychological Therapist working out of my office in the City of London, in Bell Yard, just off Fleet Street. I specialise in anxiety disorders, adjustment issues and high shame prone individuals.

Phone: +44 77 2219 4506

CALLING ALL EX-PATs: Thinking about Moving Back “Home”?

By: Emely Ostberg, MSc (Counsl. Psych).
Consultant Psychotherapist at the Bell Yard Psychology Clinic

Repatriation is defined as moving back, voluntary or forcibly, to one’s own country. To those that have not experienced it, this may look like a tedious exercise in logistics but the psychological and emotional effects of being uprooted, by free will or otherwise, can be very unpleasant. Below is a list of the top 5 reasons why it can be psychologically difficult to move back ‘home’. I say ‘home’ lightly because to many it may not feel that way yet. This list is not meant to be exhaustive, but rather a compilation of some of the most common experiences.

The list is inspired by my post-graduate research on the psychological processes that occur during transitioning experiences (Ostberg, 2017).    

1. The issue with bilingualism

Most people talk about the advantages of being bilingual. Yet few mention the experience of speaking a language which has hardly been used following a long period abroad. For example, imagine the person who moved in their late teens and has since mostly been surrounded by their second language. Their first language is being used with other friends who speak the same language and perhaps family. At work and in the community the second language is used. Hence, the person’s professional language has only been developed in the second language. Once back in your home country this issue can cause a feeling of inferiority. Perhaps they notice that their compatriots, those who never moved out of the country, are effortlessly using words and expressions that didn’t exist or were used when they themselves were in their teens. Expressions and words that they may know of but that don’t come with the same automatic ease as it seems to do for their compatriots. Depending on how they deal with the sense of inferiority, the gap between their compatriots and themselves may either widen or lessen.


2. The issue with being seen as someone you’re not

An individual who has been away for a long time will notice that even though you now have a degree, a high-flying job, children of your own etc people who you haven’t seen for a long time may not interact with you in a way that is any different to how they did when you were an 18-year-old rebellious goth. Now, of course not everyone has been a rebellious goth – but you get where I’m coming from! It doesn’t matter if you now have a PhD in astrophysics and work for NASA. To them, until you’ve shown otherwise, you will always be that 18-year-old goth. This can be difficult to handle, especially if you already find yourself struggling with a sense of inferiority (see the point made above).


 3. Others have changed. 

…and so have you. If you have been away for a long time it is most likely going to be a journey to reconnect. You will have to get to know the new ‘yous’ and you may not love the changes in each other, but maybe you will. You will be in a state which psychologists call ‘negotiating relational space’.



4. You will able to spot a social construction miles away.

It is like you put on a pair of glasses with special frames that allows you to observe patterns and behaviours others can’t see. Sometimes not even if you point it out. Depending on your mood you will either get annoyed or laugh as a response. If you’re Swedish you might notice people queuing up and taking a ticket to a line that doesn’t exist, just because of the unwritten rules that queuing entails. You may notice that peoples’ personal space when they talk to each other is at a different distance than what you’re used to. You may learn that people aren’t as helpful/more helpful than they were where you moved from. Perhaps you’ve become accustomed to being offered help with carrying heavy suitcases up the stairs, but in the country you’re moving back to, the same offer may be thought of as intrusive or rude to offer. This new ability is what psychologists call ‘repatriotic gaze’.


5. The rose-tinted glasses are no longer tinted. 

All those days when you imagined yourself and how different it would be to live in x, y, z country will undoubtedly have been slightly romanticised. Unfortunately romanticising comes with an inevitable low once you realise that ‘yes, it is possible to grow tired of x, y z food’ or that your initial enthusiasm over free nurseries/scheduled coffee breaks/long summer holidays does wear off after a while.



Posted by

Emely Ostberg, MSc (Counsl. Psych.)
Consultant Psychotherapist
in Private Practice.

I am an accredited Psychological Therapist working out of my office in the City of London, in Bell Yard, just off Fleet Street. I specialise in anxiety disorders, adjustment issues and high shame-prone individuals.

phone. +44 77 2219 4506



Rumination, Its Effects and What To Do About It

Rumination is a little bit like looking at a Newtons Cradle. It gives you something to do but it isn’t getting you anywhere.

Are you someone who often gets stuck in a thought cycle where you repetitively think about the same thing over and over again? Do you tend to dwell on past mistakes? And even if you wanted to, you wouldn’t know how to stop doing so?

In psychology we often talk about getting stuck in a thought loop, and these loops can really be about everything and anything, as long as they are significant to you.

Typical Themes of Ruminations 

What is commonly reported as the most usual rumination themes are:

  • Adverse life events in the past such as abuse or bullying
  • Income
  • Family history
  • Education
  • Relationship status

It can also be about things in our present life and are then often linked to social inclusion. Typical scenarios can be situations at work where we worry we may have come across in a worse light than intended. It can be about our inevitable death. It can be about the ill health of an elderly relative. Or the state of the earth. It can revolve around our children and how our parenting affects them in the long-run. Or the relationship to our partner. Or the state of your sex life.

Rumination can be anything that our mind opts to focus on, that is of high importance to us and outside of our control,  creating a sense of uncertainty.

The Negative Effects of Rumination

Rumination is severely debilitating, extremely distressing and unfortunately a fairly common symptom of both anxiety and depression. It is the most common predictor of mental health problems (Watkins, 2018) and not only does rumination predict its onset, but it also maintains it.

Why our Minds Keep Ruminating 

How come our minds work this way then? If it isn’t doing any good to us – then why does our mind keep doing it? My fellow colleagues in the research field have found that there are mainly three causes for rumination

  • You hold the belief that rumination will help you to reach a solution.
  • You are faced with stressors of which you cannot control.
  • You experienced emotional or physical trauma.
“If only I think about this situation a little bit more, I may reach a solution, because if I don’t, I am responsible and then definitely to blame” – said the typical ruminator

How to Stop Ruminating

One of the most effective treatment methods of rumination is psychotherapy, and seemingly Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapy (CBT). The particular type of therapeutic method depends slightly on what caused this thinking style to begin with.

When the Rumination is Caused by Traumatic Life Events

If the rumination is caused by a traumatic memory then the treatment should focus on processing the trauma. This is particularly important as your mind will be stuck in a near constant state of threat. This is how humans react to abnormally frightening situations. In the land of psychology, we often say


“PTSD is a normal reaction to an abnormal event”

Now, it is very common to be very opposed treatment as it typically involves talking about the trauma. However, to not talk about it would be a little bit like going to the Dr with a broken arm. Then when getting there hiding your broken arm and not allowing her to examine and mend it. Please be reassured that there is very robust research literature that shows that CBT is extremely successful in treating PTSD and nearly everyone experiences symptom reduction from a set of sessions.

When the Rumination is Caused by a Positive Belief – Thinking it is a Helpful Strategy to Solving Problems

To hold the belief that rumination is your friend is very common. It is also important that you begin examining the benefits and disadvantages of the habit. When you are ready to let go and found that the cons outweigh the pros it may be time to seek out a therapist specialising in anxiety. Numerous studies have shown CBT to be the most beneficial method of treatment.

A well trained CBT practitioner should be versed in how to use cognitive restructuring together with habituation and exposure to lead you into a more constructive, less painful way of living.


Posted by

Emely Ostberg, MSc (Counsl. Psych.) 
Consultant Psychotherapist in Private Practice.

I am an accredited Psychological Therapist working out of my office in the City of London, on Bell Yard, just off Fleet Street. I specialise in anxiety disorders, adjustment issues and high shame prone individuals.

Phone. +44 77 2219 4506

ASK EMELY: “Help! I Think I Suffer from Anger Issues”

You probably found your way here because you or someone you care about is having difficulty regulating their anger. Perhaps you’re a parent who wishes to change the way you react to your child. Or a company director who knows in your heart that the way you are communicating is deeply ineffective, possibly even counterproductive. Maybe you’ve found yourself angry most of the time – raging left, right and centre, knowing that this is not the way you wish to be or behave.

Difficulties Regulating Anger

Having issues regulating anger can wreak havoc in one’s life. I’ve seen it jeopardise blooming careers, create a wedge in marriages, destroy friendships and produce very deep feelings of shame, guilt and low mood. I have seen firsthand how individuals get trapped in vicious cycles of anger not knowing how to get out of them. It is often a very frustrating experience to not knowing how to manage anger, which of course adds to it. So why do some people find it so difficult to manage anger, whilst others seem to do it with ease? Well, if we haven’t learned how to effectively deal with anger then it will be extremely difficult to apply the techniques. Maybe your caregivers never taught you how to channel feelings. Perhaps there has been something traumatic happening in your life that needs to be processed. Maybe there are unresolved conflicts that need to be worked through. Regardless of what the triggering situation is learning effective methods of emotion regulation is key. It doesn’t have to be this way.

“It feels like it is Coming From Out of Nowhere”

For many these episodes of anger can feel as if they come out of nowhere. Suddenly it is just there, and it comes out in an explosion. Maybe you yell. Maybe you create a scene in the supermarket. Maybe you threaten people. Maybe you drive recklessly shouting through your window. Maybe you rage for days creating long imagined scenarios in your mind about how you will get your revenge on someone/something that has angered you. For these kinds of people there often is a backlash of intense shame. Please know that it doesn’t have to be this way and that there is another way, often these types of emotional difficulties can be resolved and worked through in a relatively short time of treatment. It is our experience that these type of issues rarely go away on their own so we do urge you to seek support. A first step may be talking to your GP who will be able to guide you to services specialising on anger management, or if you rather go private – The Bell Yard Psychology Clinic, in Central London who specializes in these types of issues.

Constantly Angry

As humans, we are wired with two systems. The sympathetic nervous system which helps us to deal with a threat, (real or imagined). It allows the body to react through a very well-rehearsed repertoire. It pumps out adrenaline, increases our heart rate, makes us sweat, dilates our pupils and keeps us extremely alert to a threat. It helps us to get ready for fight or flight. When you’ve been angry and had an outburst this system is more easily triggered.

A moment of calm is rare when the parasympathetic nervous system rarely gets a chance to come online. This is the system that allows us to calm down; it slows down our breathing, our heart rate and produces a range of hormones that make us feel calmer. It tells us to slow it all down as there is no longer any threat around. I often come across individuals who rarely experience the parasympathetic nervous system. The feeling of being soothed, calm and collected is a rare one. For them, therapy is about finding ways to experience this and to find ways to react constructively. It doesn’t have to be this way. But it is our experience that these type of things rarely go away on their own. At the Bell Yard Psychology Clinic in Central London, we treat people every day with emotion regulation difficulties and see individuals go from being chained to their anger – to free individuals.

When it is directed at the Self

Maybe you’re an imploder rather than an exploder. Maybe you silently rage in your mind most or even all of the time. Maybe this anger is turned inwards because you’ve been taught that anger is dangerous or been made to feel bad when you express any negative emotion. So you walk through life, never letting anyone know when you feel anger. Instead, you resent silently and pretend and act as if nothing is wrong. Sometimes even to the point where you believe it yourself. Only when you are extremely sure that everyone else would have reacted in a similar way you allow yourself to set boundaries. But even then you walk around in a fog of shame for days afterwards. The treatment for these individuals would look at how to express healthy anger and learning ways to have constructive conflict. Dependent on your unique symptoms the treatment may also include components of compassion-based therapy and the practice of self-forgiveness. You don’t have to suffer, there are other ways to manage the feeling, and we’d love to help you to do so.

Treatment for Anger & Anger Management in Central London

In general, we can’t ‘treat’ feelings/emotions. Anger is a feeling, just like any other feeling, it is neither good nor bad. It just is. Just like happiness, sadness, anxiety, shame and guilt. It is the behaviour that is created out of the feeling that we will work with during a course of treatment. Because we can’t remove emotions, they are there, and they have once been very adaptive for us. When on the savanna being chased by a very hungry lion it was not adaptable to contemplate and discuss internally how to persuade the lion not to eat us. What saved us was our ability to fight back. Or to run. Therefore, we will work on the following;

  • We will investigate your personal situation with anger
  • We will explore your triggers
  • We will look at your personal relationship to the emotion and how your past may have affected the way you feel today
  • We will look at healthy anger and ways to express it safely
  • We will distinguish between aggression, rage, anger and a whole lot of other emotions
  • We will learn how to sit with anger – without acting on it
  • We will learn how to sit with anger – and act wisely and responsibly on it
  • We will investigate how distorted thinking may affect how you deal with the emotion of anger

If you wish to learn strategies as to how to manage your anger or if this text has left you with further questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Posted by

Emely Ostberg, MSc (Counsl. Psych.) Consultant Psychotherapist in Private Practice.

I am an accredited Psychological Therapist working out of my office in the City of London, in Bell Yard, just off Fleet Street. I specialise in anxiety disorders, adjustment issues and high shame prone individuals.

Phone: +44 77 2219 4506

7 Things to Consider when Choosing a Therapist

Finding the right therapist can be a bit of a journey. How do one pick the good from a bad? Doing so can be tricky, but not impossible! We have listed 7 of the most important factors for the making of a good therapist.

To pick a therapist can feel like an overwhelming task. What does one look for? What if you don’t have a personal recommendation? Should you pick a generalist or someone who has specialised?

We’ve listed what we believe makes a great therapist and we hope that this can help you in your journey to find yours. Because finding the right one can be life changing.

Here are 7 ways of minimizing risks of pitfalls when deciding on a therapist

  1. Make sure the therapist adheres to an ethical framework. In the UK the BABCP and the BPS are highly regarded and the professionals who are registered have been through extremely thorough schooling and very rigid standards of keeping their members up-to-date with the research field.
  2. Is the therapist knowledgeable in more than one area of therapy? The more the therapist knows the better the tailoring will be made to your needs, rather than limited to the bounds of the area of therapy.
  3. What level has the therapist educated themselves to? Does he/she have post-graduate level qualifications or was it an evening course at the local college?
  4. Does the professional have any length of experience? Do they appear to be well regarded by their peers? Have they published any articles or books that may be relevant to your therapy?
  5. Has the therapist been practicing in more than one country? This will inevitably allow the practicing therapist to be able to spot social constructions in society which can contribute to a more opened mind.
  6. Has the professional got any experience of other areas of psychological therapy than just the general public? Has he/she specialised or are they still working as a generalist?
  7. It may be worth going for an initial assessment. Going to such will help you decide upon whether you feel its a good match. Meeting in person often makes the decision a lot easier.

Posted by

Emely Ostberg, MSc (Counsl. Psych.)
Consultant Psychotherapist
in Private Practice.

I am an accredited Psychological Therapist working out of my office in the City of London, in Bell Yard, just off Fleet Street. I specialise in anxiety disorders, adjustment issues and high shame prone individuals.

Phone. +44 77 2219 4506