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Counselling, Filming and Mike Leigh

By Karen Deeming MA Counselling & Psychotherapy UKCP Reg
It is only five days until I attend the "Another Year" Film Premiere and once again meet the delightful Mike Leigh!!!
Nominated for the Palme d'Or award at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, a brilliant ensemble and resonant script make Another Year one of Mike Leigh's best films.

The film unfolds over four seasons, an accumulation of encounters and largely minor events that emphasize Leigh’s ingenuity in taking the essence of daily life and transforming it into something resonant and meaningful. Not too dissimilar, to the skills used by psychotherapists, like myself, to interpret their clients’ experiences and narratives in the consultation room. In September 2009, following my own "accumulation of encounters" I was rather excitedly "chauffeur driven" to the "Another Year" film set to advise Mike and his cast on the authenticity of this remarkable film involving counselling.  Key highlights of my day included catching up on the latest celebrity gossip with Mike’s driver who had previously worked as a driver for Penelope Cruz, informing Mike about the significance of chair positioning in the consultation room, speaking with the camera crew and sampling the most delicious gourmet food in a mobile restaurant bus!!!  At the end of my set, I bid farewell to Mike in my typically upfront Yorkshire style, stating “you know where I am if you need my consultation services again” and he smiled encouragingly.

The lead character of the film a medical counsellor and her husband a geologist are a happily married, 
good-hearted couple in their late fifties. Contrarily, their two friends, whose problems they listen to sympathetically, are pessimistic. Key themes of: age, happiness, loneliness and the passing of time filter movingly throughout. Beneath this are more subtle underlying concerns: the legacy of the 1968, university-educated generation; the role of alcohol in our social lives; our self-awareness relating to our age and that of others; and what parents pass on, emotionally, to their kids. Issues close to most our hearts.

So what prevents people from entering this hugely beneficial, fulfilling journey of self exploration to tackle these issues and not forgetting of course coping with seasonal affective disorders?

The British have a prickly relationship with psychotherapy unlike other Europeans, Australians and Americans, who have welcomed the usefulness of this extraordinary profession. This is often the result of the internalisation of negative parental scripts and groundless myths such as:
  • Counselling is only for people who are crazy and unsuccessful
  • Counselling takes forever
  • Counselling is expensive
  • Counsellors just sit there and say nothing
I undertook my first course of therapy in my mid-thirties to help me deal with a mid-life career crisis and it transformed my life. Having witnessed the benefits first hand, I have since worked as a counsellor seeing clients since 2003, establishing my own state of the art psychotherapy clinics in Harley Street and Hyde Park.

So what are the Benefits of Counselling?

  • It can offer a supportive and caring relationship in which you can explore any issues at your own pace
  • You are accepted for who you are
  • It can help you see difficulties more objectively
  • It can build your self esteem
  • It can be a growing process whereby unwanted feelings can be changed
  • Give you a greater sense of well being
  • Develop your capacity to make better choices

This content remains the copyright of the author and may not be reproduced without their prior permission in writing.

Other Articles by Karen Deeming:

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Lack of libido due to exhaustion and working excessive hours Lack of work life balance Feeling ashamed of your body image because of over indulgence in diversionary activities such as excessive food and alcohol intake to cope with work-related stress...

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