The latest articles to help you maintain mental, physical and spiritual wellness.

How Poor Sleep Can Cause Depression… and What to do About It!

Throughout my career in mental health I’ve felt compelled to share knowledge; whether through the writing of books like ‘PTSD Resolution’ about the extraordinary Rewind Technique, training programmes for practitioners or replicating my own working methods in the Fusion five session manual.

Through Lockdown, that compulsion has become even stronger. I think the need for psychological support is going to be far greater than the UK government anticipate. I am already hearing reports of suicides. Some have lost friends, colleagues and loved ones. Some have lost jobs and businesses … and some have lost hope.

I do find therapists appreciate practical tools and ideas they can use straight away to help others. Following my last newsletter  I was contacted by psychotherapist, Jo Ham

‘’I … enjoyed your blackboard sleep relaxation, thank you. I adapted the blackboard idea for an online client with autism yesterday to help erase unwanted images, so it was doubly useful….there are lots of lovely possibilities with this idea. 

I actually invited her to reduce the scary image to a very simple chalk outline on a fairly small blackboard, which in itself I hope was helpful, and then to rub out not just the image, but the blackboard itself! Leaving a lovely sunny sky on the beautiful beach where she had chosen to relax.’’

Really creative Jo; it’s rewarding to know how sharing this technique has helped you to help your client and sounds to me like it would work in a similar way to the reclaiming cognitive control over emotional memories.

Ideas and apples

Many years ago I came across a quotation which, in a few words, summarised a key principle that would underpin my entire professional career. It was George Bernard Shaw who said:

“If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple but if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.”

Sharing knowledge changes lives. It empowers. In mental health in particular, offering psycho-education is critical. Clear explanations of the physical mechanisms that fuel emotional distress can dispel fear, restore hope and return a sense of control. Rather than a diagnosis, most clients actually want to understand what is going on and have a practical treatment plan that will improve things quickly so they can just get on with their lives.

My article this week describes how disordered sleep can lead to depression. It’s information I share with clients and supervisees alike. I owe much of this understanding to the great Joe Griffin, co founder of Human Givens and author of the book ‘Dreaming Reality: How dreams keep us sane or can drive us mad.’

There was a time when, encouraged by the misinformation put out by pharmaceutical companies, I bought into the lie that depression is all about imbalanced brain chemistry. The more helpful (and more accurate) explanation is that, in the absence of actual brain damage, depression is caused by a lifestyle that doesn’t get your needs met, by disordered sleep, or by a combination of the two.

It’s about Ali, who felt deeply depressed and just didn’t know why.

I hope it helps…

How poor sleep can cause depression… and what to do about it!

As I opened the door to Ali, her face was a picture of misery, ‘Sorry I’m late’ she said ‘I’m not a morning person these days.’

A few minutes later, seated in my office, she explained what was going on.

‘I’ve just got no motivation to do anything’ she said. I’m so low. ‘If I could, I would lie in bed all day…and still probably feel tired!’

‘When did this start?’ I asked her.

‘I had some trouble at work last year’, she said. ‘My boss was a bully. He micro managed everything I did; gave me deadlines I couldn’t meet and was super critical of all my projects. The upshot was I was worried all the time. I didn’t want to go into work in the end and contracted HR about the whole thing.

‘Turned out he was bullying other people too. He’s been moved on now so the problem’s gone but I still feel down. It’s weird. I sleep all night but wake up so tired in the morning I can hardly get out of bed. I’m hoping you can help me sort this out. Soon I won’t have a job to go to. My time keeping’s got worse and worse and I’m having trouble concentrating too. I missed a couple of deadlines and people are starting to notice something’s wrong.’

It looked to me as though Ali had got into a worry cycle. It had started with her boss. Her sleep was affected and now, even though the original problem had gone, she was still like a washing machine on permanent full spin, worrying now about her low mood, her ability to do her job and about what her future might be.

Problem steps

Problems compound if they are not dealt with early on: There are three distinct steps that can lead to depression:

Step #1 Find something to worry about and, rather than set aside time every day when you calmly sort through those worries and problem-solve, churn the same issues over and over in your head 24/7 without any plan of action for resolution.

Step #2 Worrying so much in the day will affect the quality of your sleep at night.

All mammals dream for around two hours a night. It’s what the brain does in Rapid Eye Movement sleep (REM) to clear the circuits. REM processes the emotional arousals of the previous day.

More emotional arousals in the day (as in worry) will require more REM at night to process them but if you dream for more than two hours, you start to eat into the deeper, slow wave, restful sleep that repairs the body, leaving you tired.

REM sleep is also tiring. The brain is firing off the orientation response behind closed eyelids almost as though it is awake. The orientation response specifically uses motivational energy which is your ‘get-up-and-go’. Sadly that can mean your get-up-and-go has got-up-and-gone by the time you wake up in the morning!

Now you’ve got more problems; the original set of worries and the new worries about your low mood and lack of energy.

Step #3 Tiredness and lack of motivation can mean you start withdrawing from social activities, lose concentration at work, make mistakes and begin to panic about the future on top of everything else.

The whole cycle now repeats itself day after day and night after night as you slowly get more tired and head down the road to emotional burn out.

Solution steps

Fortunately there are also three steps that will help you quickly reverse back up that road:

Step #1 Put a fence around the worry by using a system like ‘The 4D Technique’ which encourages you to spend no more than 30 minutes a day worrying, problem solving and putting your worries into categories like ‘Do, Delay, Delegate and Ditch’.

This will mean your brain knows you are on top of the issues and have a plan of action (even if that plan of action is to delay worrying or delegate the worry to someone else).

Less worry by day equals less dreaming sleep at night and leads to deeper, more restful sleep that restores both body and mind leaving you feeling more refreshed in the morning.

Step #2 Use something like ‘The Blackboard Technique’ to get to sleep quicker and get back to sleep speedily if you wake in the night. The technique drowns out niggling thoughts with a repetitive mental task that essentially bores the brain into slumber! Listening to The Blackboard Technique audio can also help.

You can listen to The Blackboard Technique here

Better rested, the brain is now more able to deal with daily activities, and stresses and strains. You start to function better at work and have energy to get back in touch with friends and family and to do the things you stopped doing before. The depression cycle is reversed and you can start to refocus on creating the future life you want to live.

Step #3  This is a good time to find yourself a Therapeutic Life Coach who can help you step back and take a holistic look at what’s been working or not working in your life and help you look at your choices to create a picture of a future you want to step in to.


For Ali, having a clear explanation of what had gone on for her was enough to stop the spin cycle of worry that had been interrupting her sleep. Soon she was back to her old sunny self and how she had been before all those problems with her boss.

She also now had a few more mind management tools in her self-help toolbox and felt more prepared for whatever the future had in store for her.

‘I just feel like I’ve got more resilience now’ said Ali.

‘Indeed. It’s what I call bounce-back-ability’  I said, with a smile.

You can still access your free ‘Time for a Change’ workbook here. I hope it is helpful for you and for your clients.

Stay safe and well.

Frances Masters  MBACP accred GHGI

The Fusion Therapeutic Coaching Distance Learner Skills Certificate*

Bringing together for the first time, advanced counselling, cognitive behavioural and human givens skills in a solution focused coaching framework. This is the first and only independently accredited distance learning therapeutic coaching course in the UK.

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Do you have an interest in mental health and wellbeing? Do you want to take your career to the next level? Perhaps you’re a counsellor looking to add advanced coaching tools to your therapeutic toolbox or you may be a coach, who wants to deepen and broaden your therapeutic skills? Perhaps you are a hypnotherapist using powerful psychological techniques and would like a safe and solid theoretical frame for your work? You may be working in schools, human resources, the police or the NHS or in another helping profession and just want to be more effective for your clients.

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On completion, Distance Learner graduates will receive a certificate from NCFE, an awarding organisation recognised by the qualification regulators for England and Wales. NCFE’s regulators are the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) in England, Qualification Wales and CCEA regulations. The general Conditions of Recognition can be found at

Order your workbook here

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The Fusion Model

The innovative Fusion Mental Health First Aid model draws on Person Centred Counselling, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Human Givens Psychotherapy and Holistic Life Coaching to bring together a unique toolbox of skills to help you provide the very best support for your clients. This is not just any coaching course or the GROW model in another format. Fusion has an innovative and unique approach to emotional health and wellbeing which has been tried and tested over ten years with thousands of client successes.

On the programme you will learn:

  • The SAFE SPACE ‘recipe’ for emotional wellbeing
  • How to dramatically accelerate client outcomes
  • How to conduct a ‘life audit’
  • What us the ‘essence of the problem/essence of the solution’
  • The important first session: How to pace, turn and lead your client
  • When and how to use the Fusion Wheel of Life
  • Present, future and super-future focusing
  • How to use guided imagery to effect change fast
  • integration of therapeutic story and metaphor
  • How to successfully treat anxiety and depression, fears and phobias
  • How to deal with panic attacks and anger attacks
  • What to do to resolve PTSD fast
  • The utilisation of powerful brain filters
  • The mindfulness based STOP System
  • Effective goal setting
  • And much, much more…

Frequently asked questions

Who can take Fusion’s Therapeutic Coaching Distance Learning programme?

You may wish to use the programme for continuing professional development, personal development or to gain an understanding of the integrated principles and practice of the Fusion Therapeutic Coaching Model.

You are likely to have good communication skills, experience of working in a caring role and have a deep desire to help others.

How does distance learning work?

Distance learning means you can study at home, at your own pace and in your own time. Learners receive a working course manual and study guide, together with a series of written assignments, reflective tasks and questions.

You will also have access to a professional tutor to provide you with support via email, post or telephone. They will be happy to answer any questions you may have and give you advice on successful completion of the course. Ongoing support will last for one year from the date you receive the course.

How long do I have to complete the programme?

12 months. If the course is updated, the information will either be posted on our supporting website or sent to you free of charge. Completion of the course will take in the region of 80 study hours which can be spread over the 12 month period and claimed as CPD hours.

Is there an end of course examination?

No, the programme is completed by an end of course Q and A which you send by e-mail or post for assessment. The Integrated Coaching Academy runs the only accredited Distance Learning Therapeutic Coaching course in the UK.

Do I get a certificate?

A completion certificate will be provided by the Integrated Coaching Academy. If you wish to have Level III NCFE endorsed completion, your work will be assessed by your tutor then internally and externally verified. If successful, a certificate will be issued by NCFE.

Assessment of your work

The assessment of your coursework will be carried out by your tutor. A sample of assessments will be referred to an internal verifier.
These are available to be seen by an external verifier from the accrediting body, NCFE.

Is there tutor support?

The course is supported by a friendly and accessible tutor who appreciates the needs of distance learning students. If you experience any difficulties with the course, or need clarification on some points, then please get in touch. We are here to help.

Order your workbook here

What is covered in the programme?

The 70,000 word, 426 page work book covers a broad range of theory and skills.

Module 1

The Therapeutic Coaching Timeline
Professional evolution
The Therapeutic Coach: A new paradigm
The big experiment
What is therapeutic coaching?  Is it different from counselling?
About the NCFE accredited Therapeutic Coaching Diploma
Effective Therapy: Affordable training

Module 2

Work Book
Zen philosophy; an auspicious beginning
Setting SMART Goals
Self Reflection
Learning something new
Recognising emotions

Module 3

Communication Micros Skills
Mirroring and reflection
Open questions
Carl Roger’s core conditions
About Carl Rogers
Look back, but don’t stare

Module 4

Human needs
Create a SAFE SPACE to get your emotional needs met:
The work life balance
Attunement and the therapeutic alliance
Accelerated rapport
Information Gathering: Using Clinical Measures and feedback
Taking an emotional needs ‘audit’
Actualising tendency versus learned helplessness
How to restoring hope

Module 5

A first session with a client
Confidentiality in therapeutic work
Positive expectation
SUDS scaling

Module 6

Dealing with anxiety and panic attacks
Fight or flight
Pattern matching
Thinking errors or cognitive distortions
Resilience and Base Stress
Diaphragmatic Breathing
The Observing Self and Meta awareness
Misuse of the Imagination
What else do I need to know?

Module 7

Setting therapeutic goals
The Magic Question
The Reticular Activating System (RAS)
RAS and focused attention
What are your Hobbies and Interests?
Developing metaphor therapeutically

Module 8

Psycho Education
Triune theory
Pattern matching and neural pathways
Patterns of response

Module 9

Supervision and the helping professions
Diversity: Celebrating Difference, Celebrating ‘Sameness’
Challenging the labels

Module 10

STOP: GO Bridging the gap between counselling and coaching
Holistic Life Coaching
Ploughing new furrows: Counselling in a coaching context
Where are you on the wellbeing continuum?
React or respond?
Thought stopping
Neuroplasticity and the changing brain

Module 11

The STOP System
STOP and diaphragmatic breathing: How to test your own breathing
STOP and ‘Taking a Step Back’
STOP and the Observing Self
STOP and Emotional intelligence
STOP and interrupting old or habitual patterns

Module 12

The Wheel of Life
Case study: Geoff #1
Using the coaching wheel of life
Assessing and scaling life as it is
The life wheel protocol

Module 13

Case study: Geoff #2
Wheel of life doc 1
A holistic view of the client
The preferred future
Story: What a bird should look like
Write it down-make it happen

Module 14

Case study: Geoff #3
Wheel of life doc 2
SMART goals
Case study: Geoff #4
SMART goals doc

Module 15

Describing guided imagery
Visualisation: a history
Meditation and mindfulness
Metaphor in guided imagery

Module 16

Case study: Geoff #5
Therapeutic time travel
From problem focused to solution focused
A progressive relaxation and bespoke visualisation for Geoff


Intelligence plus intuition equals ‘whole brain’ learning
The Ebbinghaus Curve of Forgetting
A privilege


TASK documents
Therapeutic stories


Therapeutic Coaching in practice
First session questionnaire
SAFE SPACE audit sheet
CORE 10 questions
Case study: Shelly
Case Study: David; coaching a client with M.E.
BACP ethical guidelines
Association for Coaching: coaching competencies
Articles Is the Therapeutic Coach a ‘brain mechanic?’
What do you do if you don’t like your client?
Smile and the world smiles back.
The Top Five Regrets of the Dying
Swim towards the light.
A Nice Result
Better to do something imperfectly than nothing flawlessly
No need for my services?
The Super Organising Idea
All boxed up?
Working at the cutting edge
Mapping the connectome
The gut microbiome
Polyvagal theory
The seven pillars of mindfulness
Mental health first aid

Order your workbook



Founding Chair of BACP Coaching Linda Aspey

 In the field of coach-counsellor integration, Frances is a trailblazer’

Health journalist and BACP Coaching Executive Specialist for Communication Sally Melissa-Brown

 ‘Fusion teaches you a fast, effective way to diffuse stress and take control of your emotions. It’s deceptively simple and includes lots of fun techniques and exercises which will appeal to children of all ages.’

Make Menopause Matter founder Diane Danzebrink:

 ‘I discovered Fusion therapeutic coaching when I needed it most. When personal circumstances left me with mental and emotional issues I was lucky enough to find Frances Masters. Fusion has quite literally changed my life!  

Having studied traditional counselling some years ago I was left feeling disappointed that I had not been taught how to help my clients move forward with their lives. I was so disillusioned I abandoned my dream of becoming a counsellor and followed an alternative career path.  

My personal Fusion experience provided a real ‘light bulb’ moment for me, this was what my counselling training had been missing and I went on to complete the diploma in Fusion therapeutic coaching. I am passionate about my work, having experienced the mental and emotional trauma of depression when I was least expecting it made me determined to use my experience to help others’

Principal Teaching Fellow, University of Southampton John Perry, MA, MA, MA, MSc, FHEA,

 ‘Frances is an inspirational and engaging trainer. A highly-skilled facilitator, Frances is responsive to learners’ needs, flexible, good humoured and positive in her approach.

I whole-heartedly recommend both Frances and her approach to all who are committed to helping others to move in the direction of accomplishing their full creative and constructive potential.’


Frances Masters

Frances Masters is a BACP accredited psychotherapist with over 30,000 client hours of experience. Follow her @fusioncoachuk, or visit The Integrated Coaching Academy for details about up coming training.