Bringing coaching expertise to Flow Clinical Psychology

By Dr Charlotte Russell, Clinical Psychologist & Flow Associate

What happens when we have the opportunity to reflect on our own unique strengths and how these can help us to move towards what we personally want in our lives?

This was the question that sparked my interest in coaching. Through 18 months of working at Flow I’ve met many clients experiencing work and life related challenges. The most fruitful approach in supporting clients with these issues is to work out what their ideal outcome would be, and how to find the right approach for them.

Three particular characteristics that I often work with are introversion, emotional intelligence and creativity. These strengths aren’t always recognised, valued or given enough credit in our productivity focused culture. However the truth is that these characteristics are significant strengths if we can understand and harness them effectively.

This autumn I completed an 8-day course in coaching, to explore how this approach could enhance my existing skills in working with these kinds of challenges. Through a lot of practise coaching and being coached myself, I learned how coaching questions can be simple and powerful when used at the right time and in the right way.

Coaching can help us to clarify our goals and work out how to work towards them. An important step in this process is connecting emotionally to our goals, rather than our default of talking or thinking about them logically or rationally. This helps us to better tap into the motivational and reward systems in our body and brain.

Though my training I have also began to think about how positive psychology, the science of what helps us to thrive, can enhance my coaching skills. We know from several decades of empirical research in psychology that having meaning in our lives, finding flow in our activities, using creativity and building relationships with others can be hugely beneficial for our well-being (Carr, 2022). Given this, positive psychology has a lot to offer to inform and enhance coaching practice.

I’m looking forward to putting these skills to good use in my work at Flow.  


Biswas-Diener, R. (2010). Practicing positive psychology coaching: Assessment, activities and strategies for success. John Wiley & Sons.

Cain, S., Mone, G., & Moroz, E. (2016). Quiet power: the secret strengths of introverts. Penguin.

Carr, A. (2022). Positive psychology: The science of wellbeing and human strengths (3rd Ed). Routledge.


Exciting Updates from Flow CP

Flow Clinical Psychology has been really busy, continuing to work with our clients, complete further training, and develop our services. We also made time to get together in person and celebrate a successful and productive year of working in collaboration!

A few important updates to share.

  1. We have finally joined Instagram!! Please follow us @FLOWCLINICALPSYCH to hear about our services http://www.instagram.com/flowclinicalpsych/
  2. I have added more meditations and breath practices to Insight Timer. Please follow ‘Dr Joanne Ablett Flow Clinical Psychology’ on Insight Timer and I’d love to read your feedback if you fancy leaving a review for me.

The latest of these is focused on accessing the ‘rest and digest’ parasympathetic nervous system state via vagal nerve activation, with a focus around the eyes and scalp, utilising the link between relaxing the ocular muscles and the move out of ‘Fight/flight’ sympathetic activation, which is accompanied by a reduction in heart rate along with other physiological changes. If you have a smart watch, check it out when you next meditate or practice breath work such as diaphragmatic breathing. I recorded this meditation because I’d received a lot of positive feedback from clients in session when I guided this, and requests for repeating this particular one. Now, you can repeat it whenever you like.

Eye & Face Reset Meditation

3. Our very own Dr Charlotte Russell has been busy with her other projects as The Travel Psychologist. I would highly recommend checking out her and her collaborators articles for everything related to travel and psychology. Some really interesting and thought-provoking reads.

www.thetravelpsychologist.co.uk or @the_travel_psychologist

4. If you would like to learn more about the relationship between the body and trauma, anxiety or depression, including polyvagal theory, accessing the vagus nerve and how we hold tension patterns, particularly in the psoas muscle, look out for the forthcoming combined psychology and yoga workshops soon to be offered. I will keep you posted!


@FLOWCLINICALPSYCH https://www.instagram.com/flowclinicalpsych/



A Warm Welcome to Dr Charlotte Russell who has joined Flow CP

It is with much excitement that I welcome Dr Charlotte Russell as an Associate of Flow Clinical Psychology.

Charlotte and I first worked together 2 years ago when I was Head of Psychology at an NHS Trust. We formed a strong professional bond over our shared values and the importance of our own integrity to maintain and protect these.

I found Charlotte to be a huge support to my role, demonstrating a range of skills and initiative beyond her position at that time. We worked well together due to complimentary skills, and I relied heavily on Charlotte for some of the non-clinical tasks that are not my strongest areas!

I find Charlotte to be a highly skilled, motivated and organised clinician with an infectious sense of enthusiasm. I welcome her with excitement to our small team at Flow CP and look forward to clinically supervising her again, and perhaps being constructively challenged to take on new ideas! I am confident that she will add value to Flow CP and provide great benefit to our clients.

Charlotte will be offering Thursday appointments with a range of times. See ‘About’ for more information on her specific experience.

If you would like to discuss or book therapy with Dr Russell, please do get in touch with FlowCP.


Welcome to Dr Lucy Shattock who has joined Flow CP

It is with much excitement that I welcome Dr Lucy Shattock as an Associate of Flow Clinical Psychology.

Lucy and I first worked together about 7 years ago at Salford Royal Hospital when I supervised her on a Trainee placement in Gastro-Intestinal Psychology. I was then really pleased to work with her again briefly during my time at Whiston Hospital more recently. Even in those early days, it was clear that Lucy’s approach and manner were aligned with my values, which is crucial to me for Flow CP and any consideration of Associates joining.

Lucy has varied experience in both physical health and mental health settings, with an integrative therapeutic approach. See ‘About.’

I am excited to welcome Lucy into the team and to be providing her with clinical supervision again which is an absolute pleasure. I am confident in her ability to add value to Flow CP and to provide varied skills and expertise for our clients.

If you would like to discuss or book therapy with Dr Lucy Shattock, please do contact us at Flow CP. Lucy is offering evening appointments which could fit in with your working schedule.


Adjusting and Up-Skilling for Virtual Therapy

As a therapist I felt a strong responsibility to ensure I diversified my skills in order to offer clients the absolute best therapy possible over virtual means. This included attending various training webinars on adapting the main therapies I use in my practice; EMDR, Somatic Psychology, Parts Work, Brainspotting and yoga therapy online. This included training from leading experts in their fields, such as Mark Grixti, Arielle Schwartz, The EMDR Association and The Minded Institute. Alongside therapeutic adaptations, as part of my work for health and social care staff, and for clients who have experienced Covid-19 directly, there were various forms of training and development available on ICU matters, Psychological First Aid and Trauma work. I have been fortunate to access some of this as free training and am grateful for how much has been made available.

As part of this up skilling for online therapy, I have found using EMDR virtually to be extremely effective and have changed my way of delivering this, which I will likely continue for face-to-face sessions later. I am completely confident that I can offer as effective therapy online now as in person and this opens up many more opportunities, enabling greater choice for clients, rather than relying on those therapists available in their geographical location.

Factors to consider

There are different factors that therapists need to take into account for clients accessing virtual therapy in their own homes and these should be considered too. Clients usually have a journey to a different environment for therapy, perhaps a short wait in a waiting area where they can ‘arrive’ to their therapy session and a journey home afterwards to process before they enter their front door.  I have made efforts to check in with clients that their space is confidential and they feel ‘safe’ enough to benefit from virtual therapy, checking on their comfort, letting them have a few minutes to get their devices set up correctly and those kinds of more practical elements. In addition, it is more important to ground clients at the start of therapy, and I use short exercises for this, based around interoception and exteroception and some somatics. I also tend to ensure there is a transition out of therapy at the end of the session before they return to the realities of their lives.

Clients and I will discuss barriers or blocks which might be related to the environment openly just as we would discuss any other types of blocks in sessions, for example, if they have children in the house and feel distracted even if they are in a private space.

I have heard therapists concerns about ‘bringing clients trauma into their homes.’ Whilst I acknowledge this point around boundaries, I believe most clients already have their trauma intruding into their homes and the rest of their lives, through distressing memories, nightmares and in some cases flashbacks which is why they are seeking therapy in the first instance. I think to help people through this, be open and transparent, and use our skills responsibly and sensitively to help manage these boundaries with clients is much more valuable than to use it as a reason against online therapy. I believe clinically that therapy with masks is likely to be more triggering, activating the parasympathetic nervous systems threat response, especially in relation to some of the particular traumas clients may have experienced. Seeing others in a mask and feeling the constriction of wearing a mask could trigger very frightening memories of experiences in some.

Client Experiences during the Covid-19 Pandemic

During Covid-19, I have seen an increase in difficulties with alcohol, exacerbation of previous anxiety and control related conditions, including eating disorders, increased family and relationship stress, financial stresses, and new anxiety or depressive disorders triggered by the changes to lifestyle and health fears. In health and social care professionals and clients who have experienced trauma, in a minority of cases, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I have also seen people using this opportunity of lockdown as a time to access therapy for things in their lives that have been problematic for a while. This is such a brave and beneficial choice to make and I commend them. For many, this has been a time of reflection and that includes looking at aspects of our lives which we want to change and if needed, reaching out for help to do this. I am privileged to often be in a position to support people with making these changes to their lives, and will continue to do so to the best of my ability, whether that be virtually or in person!

This was originally published on welldoing.org https://bit.ly/32moRWC