I guess at this time of year many of us will be writing labels for Christmas cards or presents to send…but we also apply labels to ourselves…In The Psychologist this month it talks about how labels for neurodiversity, such as ASD, are sometimes a mixed blessing; and it is the same with mental health: On the the one hand a diagnostic label can open doors to services sometimes, but on the other hand it can lead to stigma or a burden that we then feel we have to carry for the rest of our lives e.g. “I’m an anxious person”.

As a therapist I know that it is important to make a formulation about what is the matter with my clients, and therefore how best to work with them, but I don’t always use diagnostic labels, as there is so much more to a person than that. It is also the same with personality traits; we may be an extrovert or an introvert, but actually these traits are on a continuum and we can move a little up or down the scale, so we don’t have to feel we are stuck in a box that defines us.

So don’t wear the label of Scrooge or Grinch this Christmas season, just because that is what someone has said about you before…Instead get in touch with that inner child and see if you can find some joy in maybe just one thing – even if it is something small like a Winter frost on a leaf.

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