It is important to me to engage with the world beyond the counselling room. Here are some of the ways in which I do this.
September is usually a month where we say goodbye to our summer breaks and adjust to returning to work. Children sharpen their new pencils as they start a new school year or begin university life away from home for the first time.
This past September week however has been like no other week in my lifetime. No sooner had we witnessed the appointment of a new prime minister to hear 48 hours later of the sad death of The Queen and the proclamation of Charles III as our new King.
Although the coming months don’t give much respite from the gloom of the previous pandemic years, perhaps it's an opportunity for us all to reflect and be more active in how we hope to navigate our lives during these difficult times.
I too will be sharpening my pencils and thinking ahead to the new challenges that will present in my therapy room. It’s making me reflect on how to best help clients who now have extra layers of difficulties to work with in the current social and financial climate.
Many couples are not going to have the time or the money to start therapy. Many will be unable to continue with regular structured sessions. That doesn’t mean couples therapy needs to stop but I feel I want to be alongside my clients during these uncertain times and this may mean thinking outside the box about the way I work. This may mean focusing on one issue, deciding on how many sessions a client wants, perhaps even working with a single session. Whatever it is we will navigate a way to work together during these challenging times. I feel energised by the challenge and the good work that can happen. I very much look forward to working with you.
The following is an extract from a recent Guardian article written by Andrew Anthony who interviewed Dawn as part of an article on couples separating in later life.
'If the announcement last week that Bill and Melinda Gates are getting divorced took observers by surprise, it nonetheless conforms to a growing trend of later-life separation. Bill Gates is 65, and his soon to be ex-wife is 56. In the UK the over-65s buck the trend of falling divorce rates. They’ve even earned their own demographic designation: silver splitters.
A grey social revolution is under way with people in their late 50s and 60s increasingly leaving marriages just when they’re expected to be most settled. A number of factors are at play but two in particular stand out. One is children going off to college or leaving home. While the empty-nest syndrome may prompt melancholy, it can also end the obligation to “stay together for the children”. It’s probably no coincidence that the Gateses’ youngest child is 18.
The other divorce-driver is the prospect of a long retirement. With life expectancy continuing to extend deep into the 80s, that’s an awful lot of potential time to be spent with a partner about whom one has nagging reservations. The Gateses’ statement explaining their decision – they no longer “believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives” – suggests the reservations won out.
It used to be thought that by the Gates’ age most of our growing was done. But just as we’re told that 60 is the new 50, which is in turn the new 40, this increasing sense of ageing youthfulness comes with an appetite for change. It’s a cultural shift that Dawn Kaffel has also witnessed up close in her position as a relationship counsellor in London. She estimates that she’s seeing two or three times the number of over-60s compared with 20 years ago.
“I think it’s something about getting towards another stage in life and people thinking it’s their last chance to find happiness,” she says.
If anything, she says, the various lockdowns of the past 14 months have only added to the desire to seize hold of life. “People are going to want to get re-energised and move on,” she predicts. Kaffel anticipates a major surge of divorce among older couples in the forthcoming months and years. I think the statistics are going to be shocking,” she says, which may be good news for divorce lawyers.'
To read the full article please click here
The following is an extract from an article written by Louise Chunn on behalf of the Welldoing organisation. She interviewed Dawn on this topic.
"I have been talking to a lot of therapists in the last week as I have been asked to write a magazine feature about what therapists and counsellors are seeing in the Covid period. Their answers are varied, but in brief: anxiety, anger, depression, ennui, fear is what they're hearing about. Clients may not be talking about the coronavirus – but as one therapist said to me "it's in the room anyway" – but the pandemic has turned life on its axis, making everything uncertain, particularly for people who are at times of life change: teenagers, students, young parents, retirees, those who are ill.
North London couples counsellor Dawn Kaffel too has seen couples enter into counselling during the past eight months because they can see it as an opportunity to "spend time together in a way they never had before. They can reflect a lot on what’s missing ... it’s a unique one-off time, they will always remember this."
Dawn was interviewed by Jessica Powell for a recent article in the British Medical Journal:
'The perils of pillow talk with the other doctor in your life'.
It’s tempting, isn’t it? If you’re a couple of doctors, it’s hard to resist getting home from a shift and
talking non-stop shop: “Do you think I got that diagnosis right? What do you think of the latest from Hancock?” And as social distancing has dragged on (more or less, depending on where you live) and you’ve seen fewer friends and family who don’t know their NICU from their NSAID to dilute or distract, you might have found medic chat has dominated more than ever. Please click here to read the full article.
From the beginning of the pandemic I was part of the Administration Team of Key Link Counselling, a service that was set up to reach out to help those on the front line and other key workers who were facing the most extraordinary daily challenges throughout the pandemic.
During its short existence, Key Link had the amazing support of over 60 experienced and skilled therapists who offered up to 6 free counselling sessions to over 300 teachers, nurses, carers and other staff continuing to work through the crisis. It was a privilege to be a part of that marvellous team and to feel proud of our efforts to give back a little something to these incredible front liners.