The Lessons Alfie Taught Me

The photograph below is of my three legged dog Alfie.
A very friendly animal, once you get to know him, Alfie is also one of the most difficult dogs I have ever re-homed.
While he loves women, and makes instant friends with the majority of them, Alfie can be very aggressive towards strange men. Especially those who are big and burly and wearing some kind of uniform.
Although he shares a home with three other rescue dogs, and gets on well with them. when he sees a strange dog Alfie becomes hard to handle, barking, snarling and pulling at his leash to get at them.
A woman I met, while walking Alfie told me I should have put down without delay.
Perhaps if you met him, especially if you are man, you would feel the same.
But let me tell you a little about Alfie.
Born in the Middle East he lived, for the first couple of years of his life, in a small village.
One morning soldiers came to the village hunting terrorists. Believing a field they had to cross might have been minded, they hit upon the scheme of rounding up half a dozen village dogs and driving them across the field to see how many would be blown up. Alfie was one of the six.
The field was indeed mined.
Two of the dogs were killed outright and three escaped uninjured.
Alfie had his right front leg blown off.
The soldiers would have shot him on the spot but a British vet, working for a local charity, persuaded them to let her save the dog’s life by amputating his badly mutilated limb.
Alfie survived but spent the next few years of his life in a rescue centre, fighting for every scrap of food, and what little affection there was, with scores of able bodied dogs.
Over the years many of the other dogs found new homes. But no one wanted to take on a disabled animal.
Then a charitable expat English lady paid for him to be sent to England in the hope he would find a home here.
On arrival, his pet passport was found to be a few days out of date.
Alfie spent the next six months in quarantine, Alfie was sent to another rescue centre where, a year later, I found him and gave him a permanent home.
That was five years ago and his behaviour has improved since then although he is never to be trusted with unfamiliar dogs. Animals he most likely regards as challengers to his food and security.
His fear of burly men in uniform is perhaps because they are associated in his mind with the soldiers who were so brutal towards him.
My point in telling you his story is that, in my work as a therapist, I have come  across quite a few two-legged Alfie’s.
Men and women it was hard to like at first, and often at second or third meeting! I always tried to appreciate that many of the adults, and sadly not a few children, we meet have been through bad experiences. Traumatic events that helped shape their personality and the way in which they relate to with others.
It’s worth bearing the story of Alfie in mind the next time you feel like making an instant judgement on someone you have just met.

Practical Tips to Help You Sleep

An inability to fall asleep easily or to stay asleep all night is the increasing problem in our fast paced, high pressure, society.   Here are some practical ideas to help you enjoy a sound night’s rest.

Sleep Difficulties in Young Children

Each week I answer a question sent into me by visitors to This week I answer queries sent in by several of my visitors regarding sleeping problems in young children.

If you have an enquiry about a psychological difficulty, feel free to contact me in confidence via the site.

Rapid Relaxation By Hand Warming

In this video, I describe a quick, easy, effective yet completely unobtrusive way of relaxing.  It involves learning to warm your dominant hand, that is your right hand if you’re right-handed,  largely by an effort of will. As  your hand becomes warmer you will grow more relaxed. Try it and see for yourself.

For more information about relaxation and ways to combat stress check out this website.

The pictures below were taken with a heat sensitive camera to show how, as one focuses on warming the hand, blood flow increases along with feelings of relaxation. The first  shows the hand  of an anxious person, the second of one who has become deeply relaxed.


Mindfulness using Sensualisation

In my  last post, I showed a video demonstrating how inattentive we are to changes going on around us.

I have developed a technique called Sensualisation  which enables you to  powerfully focus not only on what you see, but also on what you hear, taste, touch and smell.

If you find this two minute preview helpful,  why not download the full length  version from this site and  unlock the hidden power of your inner eye,


Are You Fearful of Flying?

After watching the video, answer the following questions. If you felt unable to watch because you knew it would make you too anxious go directly to Question 5

1] While watching the video I:

(a) Had to stop before the end due to rising anxiety.

(b) Experienced great anxiety but watched the entire video.

(c) Felt slightly anxious throughout.

(d) Remained completely calm and relaxed.

2] While watching, I felt my anxiety rising:

(a) Within the first minute.

(b) After 1 or 2 minutes.

(c) Towards the end.

(d) At no time.

3] I experience some or all of the following – heart beating faster, mouth going dry, palms starting to sweat:

(a) From the start.

(b) As the aircraft taxied.

(c) When the plane took off.

(d) At no time.

4] Watching the video brought to mind:

(a) News stories about aircraft crashing.

(b) A scary flight I once had.

(c) Happy memories of holidays in the sun.

(d) No memories relating to previous flights.

5) When I think about having to take a flight I feel?

(a) Sick with dread.

(b) Mindful of the possible dangers.

(c) Mildly apprehensive at the prospect.

(d) A sense of pleasurable anticipation.


How to Score

Bear in mind that a flight in the imagination, even when assisted by the sights and sounds of a flight,  will never generate the same levels of anxiety as an actual flight.

Nevertheless, clinical experience suggests that a high level of anxiety when experiencing any potentially anxiety-arousing activity in the imagination suggests a similar response will arise in real life.

If you were unable to watch the video, add 12 points to your score from Q5.

There are 3 points for each (a); 2 for each (b); 1 for each (c) and 0 for each (d) response.

 What Your Score Reveals.

0 – 3: You are unlikely to experience any great anxiety over flying.

4 – 7: You are mildly apprehensive about making a flight.

8 – 11: Fear is likely to spoil your enjoyment of any flight.

12 +: You have a fear of flying so intense it may stop you from ever doing so.

Any score above 8 suggests you might derive great benefit from my Fly Without Fear self-help programme.

There are practical, non-scary, steps that will help remain calm while flying whether on business or pleasure. In my audio training programme I take you through every stage of a flight from arriving at the airport to the moment you land.

In Fly Without Fear I take you, in your imagination, through every stage of a flight from arriving at the airport, the take off and encountering turbulence, to the moment you land at your destination. Actors and sound effects help make your flight as realistic as possible.

In the safety and comfort of your own home, you will learn to experience sensations not of distress or anxiety while flying but of relaxed enjoyment.

“This is a journey in your imagination, with real life sounds from the airport and plane, and the reassuring voice of Dr Lewis as your companion…he explains why visualisation and mental and physical relaxation significantly reduce anxiety during a flight, especially through the control that this restores to your mind. The bonus section on rapid relaxation and visualisation would certainly be worth taking with you.” Tom Spence.

For more information go to the Mind Healing – Flying Without Fear page at