Helen is helping others to Live Life to the Full.

Helen McDonnell, from Derry, speaks about the benefits of the CBT based programme ‘Living Life to the Full’.

Helen, a sessional trainer with Aware Defeat Depression, has been working with Aware for over 20 years. Recently she has been delivering Living Life to the Full sessions as part of the Together For You project, funded by the Big Lottery Fund. These sessions are delivered in a range of settings from workplaces to community settings. Helen explains “as a Trainer I see a range of reasons why individuals are joining the group, from low mood to anxiety, low self-esteem, low motivation or high stress levels. Many people would say they just feel ‘stuck’, and can’t seem to find a way to move forward”

Living Life to the Full is a six week programme. Helen says “I see week one as crucial for the group, to get them engaged and most importantly relaxed within the group.  Many people are a little apprehensive, and in fact as a trainer I am also a little apprehensive too, getting to know people within the group. I would talk about this, and immediately feel people start to relax as we are all in the same boat”.

Helen continues “By week three, I can visibly see the difference in people already.  They seem more relaxed, and start to open up a bit more in discussions.  Week by week, people are coming into the group with stories of how they have used the techniques in their everyday lives, to help them cope better with situations”

“By the end of the 6 weeks, the transformation in people in the group is amazing. As a trainer it is so rewarding to see when they just ‘get it’, that light bulb moment.  Everyone is more connected, the energy in the room is at an all-time high as people are chatting and laughing. Very much a celebratory feel.  People’s self-awareness is also heightened, and you can see the empathy with others in the group grow.  It’s nice to see friendships develop too, and know that some of the members will continue to support each other long after the group itself is finished.”

Many who have taken part in this group have described the effects as ‘life changing’.  Although the group CBT approach is not for everyone, there are certainly added benefits of being in a group environment including the social interaction and the sharing of common feelings and experiences. Helen explains “It definitely helps people open up when they realise others in the group are in the same ‘boat’.  As a trainer, it is very empowering to watch people take back control of their lives by providing them with the tools and techniques that they can use in everyday life, for the rest of their lives”.

For up and coming Living Life to the Full courses, visit http://www.aware-ni.org/living-life-to-the-full.html or alternatively contact Andrea@aware-ni.org

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