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From a Safe Haven to a Secure Base: Thoughts for Mental Health Awareness Month

By Professor Arlene Vetere (VID Specialized University, Oslo, Norway) and Professor Rudi Dallos (University of Plymouth), editors of Palgrave Texts in Counselling and Psychotherapy

As the world emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic, we see clearly how our social connections are both the cradle and web of our mental well-being. Our brains are wired for connection and the experience of enforced social isolation from our friends, family and work mates has taken its toll. Isolation can impact negatively on our sense of community belonging and that can lead to feelings of depression. When we are overwhelmed with feelings of stress, our social support network provides the most powerful protection against the development of trauma symptoms.

Recent research suggests that feeling safe with other people is the most important aspect of our mental well-being and the development of a sense of self – it helps us adapt to difficult circumstances and to remain flexible and reflective in our approach to problem solving. This sense of safety is rooted in interpersonal trust and mutual validation – in relationships where we listen to others and they listen to us, and we feel both seen and heard. We learn that we matter to others and they care about our well-being.

We are co-editors of the book series Palgrave Texts in Counselling and Psychotherapy (Palgrave Macmillan). The series offers a range of contemporary publications relating to therapeutic and counselling approaches aimed at promoting aspects of mental health and emotional well-being. We emphasise that we all exist in the web of relationships that shape how we feel and act and that promoting growth and positive change involves working with families, friendships, communities and other groups. Our books are aimed at promoting the spread of contemporary theory and techniques relating to therapy and counselling that are designed to help counsellors and therapists. However, they are also of wider interest and relevance for example in describing contemporary theories, research and clinical practice relating to trauma, loss, health and conflict in relationships. We invite people to access our series and hopefully draw knowledge and inspiration from the books in it.

Arlene Vetere is Professor of Family Therapy and Systemic Practice at VID Specialized University, Oslo, Norway. 
Rudi Dallos is
Emeritus Professor, Department of Clinical Psychology, University of Plymouth, UK.