Hi, everyone.

Not gone away. Like everyone else, I shall be glad to see the back of 2020.

These past three months I’ve been busier than ever. I always tell others to pace themselves, and that’s what I’ve had to work on since September.

Laurie has herself been extra busy – helping people make their vote count in the U.S. presidental elections, and supporting through her own country’s struggles with the pandemic.

We both hope to finish the interview when we can.

‘Till then, I’m sure she won’t mind me wishing you a much happier New Year on her behalf as well as my own.

Take good care. Tier 4, as most of us in the U.K. now are, means managing the same restrictions as our first lockdown. So stay safe. Write a reminder to yourselves that the vaccine is on its way, and we can all put our hope in 2021.

Best wishes,


Laurie Rippon (Part One)

A change from the usual kind of post this month, folks. An interview with Laurie Rippon. Laurie got in touch last month after reading Baring Things in Mind (Part Three) . She is herself a brain injury survivor and Peer Counselor.

In the post I make two observations: Firstly, of “similarities and cross pollinations of psychotherapy approaches”; secondly,  “counselling rarely dealing with the inter-relatedness of brain injury and personality”.

These struck a chord with Laurie. She interpreted me as meaning a more holistic approach (for brain injury survivors).

Her own course through rehabilitation was with the Rusk Brain Injury Day Treatment Program, created by Yehuda Ben-Yishay, PhD. And it is this she wants to draw attention to.

Laurie is no less qualified, in my opinion. In 2011 she earned a Master’s degree in Transition Special Education – despite the double-whammy of two brain injuries. So first I wanted to begin with her.

The Interview

(N = Neurolations; L = Laurie)

N :    I note you’ve had two brain injuries.

L :    Yes. Both injuries, a year apart, were sustained as a pedestrian while crossing the street. In 2005 I was struck by a car and 14 months later by a motorcycle. The first was undiagnosed, but my deficits from that accident — e.g, problems with attention, vision and information processing — likely contributed to the second.

N :    What powered you on from that double-whammy?

L :     The second TBI left me totally confused, unable to recognize myself. It felt like I’d lost everything, including what I was always most proud of: my brain. I was fifty years old and I’d had a long successful career. But I realized I couldn’t go back, so I had to give back, to find a purpose and I did. Living with brain injury made me acutely aware that something was missing from our lives — support and recognition. My choice was clear: to contribute by building community and raising awareness through outreach and education.

N :    What role do you play in the outside world?

L :     I’ve become a resource for the brain injury community, a sounding board. That is, in the end, how I give back. As someone with an insatiable appetite for learning, I’ve built a ridiculous library of information about brain injury and advocacy. The result is enough knowledge to solve problems and the personal understanding to help my peers.

Copyright Laurie Rippon 2020

N :    What advice do you give someone no longer trusting themselves because of their brain injury?

L :    Ask for and accept help — the single most important lesson I’ve learned. You may have lost the life you had before, but you still have who you are, and that is a lot. Honestly. I know only too well the struggle to find your “self,” much less feel it’s enough. In truth, that “self” offers more possibilities than you can imagine. The first step is to trust—in yourself and in others. Soon you’ll see that asking for help from those you do trust is how we all learn and grow.

N :   What advice would you give to a non-injured therapist who’s beginning work with a B.I. patient?

L :   Communication is the key. Brain injury makes it hard to fully understand what’s being said and to express oneself calmly and clearly.  Talk with your patient, not at them, and go slow—one thought at a time. Be sure you understand what they’re trying to say and make sure it’s clear to them that you’re listening and really hear them. You’re not the only expert in the room; your patient’s living it and knows things you cannot see. Learn from them and be flexible.

Most of all, be honest. Your patient is confronting a devastating reality, so your job is two-fold. Be a clear, empathic messenger of that truth but at the same time, offer hope. Give them the tools they need to forge through. In every session model those strategies, have your patient practice them, and offer feedback. Those are your tools to ensure they process, remember, and start to believe in themselves.

Ending Part One

My thanks to Laurie.

If you’d like to catch up with her, Laurie also has a blog. Click here for more.

In Part Two, we’ll look more into the Rusk Brain Injury Day Treatment Program.

Take care for now.

Compassion Focused Therapy

Greetings, everyone.

I’ve been wanting to introduce you to Compassion Focused Therapy (C.F.T.) for some time now – especially in light of the contribution it has made to aiding lives.  I’m sure you’ve all been champing at the bit to learn what it is and how helpful it can be to you personally. Let’s crack on.


Compassion Focussed Therapy was originated by Prof. Paul Gilbert OBE. His initial interest was in the evolution of human psychology. (Something Neurolations explored a good many moons ago. Click here for a recap.)

Developing CFT from there, he researched shame – the causes and treatment of what arises from it. In addition to neuroscience, other ingredience includes inspirations from CBT, psychodynamic and the Person-Centred approaches. For example, Socratic questioning and Motivational Interviewing are used in CFT. In 2006 Prof. Gilbert set up the Compassionate Mind Foundation.

The best person to introduce CFT is the man himself of course. So here’s a link to an interview (approx. 11 min’s) in which he expands on the problems with self criticism.

5 Key Elements
  1. Learning that our human brain has evolved new bits on top of old bits. Getting the bits that react and the bits that think to match each other is tricky. We did not design the way our minds work, so how are we to blame for that? We aren’t to blame.
  2. The way we form. Ever heard the saying: “You can’t put an old head on young shoulders”? The fears we have to cope with growing up and the defencesCFTABI

    we create to counter them is all done to the best of our ability at the time. Our behaviour is shaped by them, so how much are we truly to blame for their consequences? We aren’t to blame.

  3. Learning it’s okay to relax and recharge; being kind to ourselves is necessary, not just being selfish or letting down our guard.
  4. Remoulding a sense of self around a kinder way of thinking helps the “trickiness”.
  5. Emotion first; thinking second. When we can be compassionate to ourselves (and others) problems like anxiety, self criticism and shame can be worked on.
Empowering Direction

Emotions evolved to protect us from threats. They drive us to gain protection, safety, rest. They alert us and we act to manage our lives.

But sometimes our emotions alert us to what is not a real threat. We only imagine it is. Our emotions run wild and get the better of us. We can end up harming ourselves and others because of our conditioning and our condition.

CFT Diagram
Compassion changes brain chemisty in helpful ways.


No one asks for a brain injury, it happens – even if by being attacked. Something caused that attacker to behave that way. And yes, that can be extremely hard to accept!

As you can see, the red, amber and green lightening bolts indicate the direction of energy from and to the red, amber and green circles. The Five Steps are to help keep track of which circle our mind’s energy is in and why. All three circles are necessary from time to time. It depends on the situation we’re in.

As soon as something makes us unsafe, or for some reason disconnected with others, or no longer content, we feel threatened by loss. The compassionate energy we take with us to deal with that real threat can help us use our amber ambitions. Ambitions achieved, we’re back in the green pastures of Elysium, so to speak.

A couple of links before I go:-


Added fun

That’s it for now. More next month. Keep taking care.


Insight into a Wingless Flight

It is sometimes hard to stay within Neurolation’s boundaries. The world creeps in.

This month’s post was to be on Compassion Focussed Therapy & Acquired Brain Injury, but my concentration is going. However, the positive thing is that the stuff that’s got me all worked up is blending and growing together with what Neurolations is all about: bringing academics, practitioners and those affected by brain injury closer to what can help.


The day after the UK lockdown was announced, how many of you out there experienced what I fondly refer to as a “brain fart”? One moment your daily routine was broken only by holidays and sick days; even the rush hour congestion at a certain point on your way home from work was woven into it. Then within seconds all worldly predictability was gone.

Here’s how news of the lockdown affected me: There I was at the team briefing with my colleagues, listenning to the general plan of how we would work remotely. As regards the more nuanced practicalities, a lot depended on the way the Covid-19 situation continued to pan out over the coming weeks and months, perhaps even, the rest of the year.

What were the priorities and decisions that could be and had to be made before we began our final day of working from base?

In terms of fight, flight oEmur freeze, my immediate experience was an inability to listen; I heard, but no meaning anchored itself. Even that, as they say, “last day at the office” I spent mostly in automatic pilot. Conversation and the doings of my hands were dreamlike.

I’m a technophobe at the best of times. My world at one moment was a panicked: “Okay, What’sApp. What’s that? I mean I’ve heard of it, but never felt the urge to use it. Well if I must, I must.”

Thankfully, my knowing team rescued my situation. All around me was frenetic, my colleagues able to co-ordinate quicker than I. All I could do was wait for my brain to catch up.

I needed and wanted to take flight, but my wings didn’t know what to do.

It’s a bit pointless wondering how much of this was down to brain injury and how much to personality; we are all flummoxed at times.

Being Flummoxed

This is a pretty good reminder of what life is for many clients and patients all of the time.

Recall how it was for you that day after the Prime Minister’s statement. Relive it, amplify it. Then put it to the back of your mind and find rapport with the person you’re working with.

Spoon Theory

Click here for this neat little metaphor for the daily ebb and flow of oomph. I recommend everyone learns this. The brainchild of Christine Miserandino, “spoons” are units of energy we wake up with each morning.



That’s it for now. We may not have covered C.F.T. this month but I hope I’ve demonstrated this: If you have a brain injury, it’s no bad thing to sit still and wait for something new to take shape of its own accord. What comes can be just as purposeful.

Stay safe.

Schizophrenia Awareness Day

Schiz01Hello everyone.

First off, “thank you” to the person whose response on finding Neurolations was: “It’s very green, isn’t it?” That put a grin on my face.

A bit of an early post this month. 9th May is Schizophrenia Awareness Day.


To have a “schizo” (split) “phrenia” (the mind). N.B: A split personality it is NOT!

Historically, the mind also includes the heart – as the home of the emotions. And as we all know, it is the emotions (and sometimes the lack of them) that drive thought. No, I’m not saying schizophrenics don’t have a heart! I’m saying, their ways of thinking are disjointed because of how their emotional systems function.

Let’s Shred Some Myths
  • It is a collection of various symptoms; not a single condition.
  • Symptoms described as “postive” & “negative” are neither good nor bad; it’s “positive” & “negative” in the sense of plus and minus. A psychological delusion is an example of an additional symptom because it is not an every day experience. A negative example might be that the syndrome has taken away a passion a person once had for say, architecture.
  • Schizophrenic symptoms are normal human experiences. It’s just that sufferers experience of them are extreme and intense. For example, and this is just a general example of being human, every one of us has an average body temperature (37 ºc). But we also experience a hot sweat after exercising. And we shiver to raise our temperature back to normal after a cold swim.
  • People living with schizophrenia do not need to be institutionalised. With the right balance of the right medication and counselling, they can live reasonably normal lives.


Click here to learn more of what it can be really like living with schizophrenia. Courtesy of the charity, Mind, it’s a group having a chat over a cuppa. (6½ min’s approx.)

Why 9th May?

On 9 May 1970, “The Times” published an article by retired university professor, John Pringle. His son had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. The article asked for action to be taken to improve support for those living with schizophrenia themselves, and the advice available to those caring for them.

More than 400 readers answered the call, and in 1972, the National Schizophrenia Fellowship was born. Today though the Fellowship has evolved into four charities across the UK. In alphabetical order, they are:-

Please take a look.

That’s it for another month. Take care.