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The Touch of the Master’s Hand.

February 17, 2017

I came across this very old poem a few years ago, courtesy of ‘Bristol Fashion’ – a newsletter for recovering alcoholics. Though there is a strong religious emphasis (which I appreciate is not everyone’s ‘cup of tea’), I wanted to share it anyway.It speaks volumes to me, mostly in terms of gratitude for the life I now have. I hope it strikes a chord with you too:

The Touch of the Master’s Hand

T’was battered and scarred, and the auctioneer
thought it scarcely worth his while to waste much time on the old violin,
but held it up with a smile; “What am I bidden, good folks,” he cried,
“Who’ll start the bidding for me?” “A dollar, a dollar”; then two!” “Only
two? Two dollars, and who’ll make it three? Three dollars, once; three
dollars twice; going for three.” But no, from the room, far back, a
grey-haired man came forward and picked up the bow; Then, wiping the dust
from the old violin, and tightening the loose strings, he played a melody
pure and sweet as carolling angel sings.

The music ceased, and the auctioneer, with a voice that was quiet and low,
said; “What am I bid for the old violin?” And he held it up with the bow.
A thousand dollars, and who’ll make it two? Two thousand! And who’ll make
it three? Three thousand, once, three thousand, twice, and going and
gone,” said he. The people cheered, but some of them cried, “We do not
quite understand what changed its worth.” Swift came the reply: “The touch
of a master’s hand.”

And many a man with life out of tune, and battered and scarred with sin,
Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd, much like the old violin, A
“mess of pottage,” a glass of wine; a game – and he travels on. “He is
going” once, and “going twice, He’s going and almost gone.” But the Master
comes, and the foolish crowd never can quite understand the worth of a soul
and the change that’s wrought by the touch of the Master’s hand.

Myra ‘Brooks’ Welch


Basic Rights in Relationships

February 17, 2017

I can’t remember where I found this checklist, but it’s worth sharing anyway:

If you have been involved in emotionally abusive relationships, you may not have a clear idea of what a healthy relationship is like. Evans (1992) suggests the following as basic rights in a relationship for you and your partner:

• The right to good will from the other.
• The right to emotional support.
• The right to be heard by the other and to be responded to with courtesy.
• The right to have your own view, even if your partner has a different view.
• The right to have your feelings and experience acknowledged as real.
• The right to receive a sincere apology for any jokes you may find offensive.
• The right to clear and informative answers to questions that concern what is legitimately your business.
• The right to live free from accusation and blame.
• The right to live free from criticism and judgment.
• The right to have your work and your interests spoken of with respect.
• The right to encouragement.
• The right to live free from emotional and physical threat.
• The right to live free from angry outbursts and rage.
• The right to be called by no name that devalues you.
• The right to be respectfully asked rather than ordered.

How does your relationship measure-up?

“You Are Accepted”

February 14, 2017


I came across the following passage some years ago. It summed-up pretty accurately what I had been struggling with all my life. When I’m doubting myself, my abilities and my motivation, when I start to compare myself unfavorably to others, this passage helps me restore balance and remain focused on what really matters.


Paul Tillich

“We cannot transform our lives, unless we allow them to be transformed by that stroke of grace. It happens; or it does not happen. And certainly it does not happen if we try to force it upon ourselves, just as it shall not happen so long as we think, in our self-complacency, that we have no need of it.

• Grace strikes us when we are in great pain and restlessness.
• It strikes us when we walk through the dark valley of a meaningless and empty life.
• It strikes us when we feel that our separation is deeper than usual, because we have violated another life, a life which we loved, or from which we were estranged.
• It strikes us when our weakness, our hostility, and our lack of direction and composure have become intolerable to us.
• It strikes us when, year after year, the longed-for perfection of life does not appear, when the old compulsions reign within us as they have for decades, when despair destroys all joy and courage.

Sometimes at that moment a wave of light breaks into our darkness, and it is as though a voice were saying:

“You are accepted. You are accepted, accepted by that which is greater than you, and the name of which you do not know”.

Do not ask for the name now; perhaps you will find it later. Do not try to do anything now; perhaps later you will do much. Do not seek for anything; do not perform anything; do not intend anything. Simply accept the fact that you are accepted!” If that happens to us, we experience grace. After such an experience we may not be better than before and we may not believe more than before. But everything is transformed. In that moment, grace conquers sin, and reconciliation bridges the gulf of estrangement. And nothing is demanded of this experience, no religious or moral or intellectual presupposition, nothing but acceptance”.

(From “You Are Accepted,” in
The Shaking of the Foundations.
by Paul Tillich, 1948)

Is it OK to not be OK?

February 13, 2017

One of the hardest things many of us will ever have to do is ask for help. For some, the whole idea of asking for help is unthinkable – it feels like failure. Where this idea comes from is likely to differ widely from person to person, though its often something we learn early-on in life. Whilst it’s healthy to encourage our children to be resilient and bounce back from adversity, it’s a sad fact that sometimes we overdo it.
To not have all the answers is essentially to be human, yet too often we create the impression that to not have all the answers is to be somehow inadequate. Sadly, people suffer unnecessarily, sometimes for years because they are either too afraid to ask for help, don’t know how to ask for help or believe that asking for help is proof of their inadequacy.
What often happens is that instead of seeking help from another human being, we turn instead to self-soothing and self-medicating with food, alcohol, drugs, sex or gambling, or by throwing ourselves into overwork. Some become pre-occupied with sorting out other people’s problems and care-taking. Whilst this ‘compulsive helping’ is often welcome and commendable, it is also very often inappropriate and unwanted. All that happens in practice is that we enable others to avoid taking responsibility for themselves, whilst conveniently avoiding having to look too closely at our own problems.
Some sink into depression or suffer bouts of crippling anxiety as they struggle to cope alone. Relationships start to fragment and general health and wellbeing start to deteriorate.
A friend of mine recently wrote a powerful article about how it feels to struggle with loss, and how it’s sometimes OK to not be OK. He had recently lost three close friends in quick succession to Cystic Fibrosis (he is now the sole surviving member of a group who underwent treatment together). He admitted that he was tired of ‘soldiering-on’ in the face of adversity and simply needed to express how upset, helpless and hopeless it felt to be ‘The Last One’.
In his way, he was asking for help, not for answers.
Sometimes there are no answers, but to be heard and understood makes the carrying of the burden a little easier. My friend understood that, as painful as his loss was, it was something he was supposed to feel. The pain of loss reminds us, not only how much we loved those who are no longer with us, but also to remember those still with us and to cherish the times we have together.
As a new year gets underway there will be thousands of people across the county who are battling their (or someone else’s) ‘demons’ alone and feeling that they are losing. It’s important to remember that we human beings are social animals, designed to be interdependent and to co-operate and collaborate. That means offering and accepting help when needed.
It’s OK sometimes to not be OK, as long as we remember that it’s also OK to ask for help when we are struggling.
Jeff Cockfield

An Open Mind

July 11, 2013

The problem with a closed mind is that it shuts-out new ideas about how to solve life’s problems. Probably more damaging though, is the fact that a closed-mind also locks-in our old ways of doing things, guaranteeing that we will continue to stumble along, repeating the same old mistakes.

A willingness to give new ideas an airing is essential if we are to overcome our problems.

I’m borrowing the following from Appendix II of the book ‘Alcoholics Anonymous (4th edition)’ :

“There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance – that principle is contempt prior to investigation”

Herbert Spencer

Or  – “Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!”


Jeff C




July 11, 2013



it’s been a while since I posted anything here, so an update is well overdue. 

Vianova Recovery Projects is now established as a highly professional counselling practice serving East Kent. The majority of the counselling sessions take place at the superb new Golf Road Centre in North Deal. Some home visits also take place. My clients come from Deal, Canterbury, Herne Bay, Dover, Ramsgate, Whitstable and Ashford. 

I am working with anger problems, relationship difficulties, sexual problems, alcohol and drug problems, anxiety, depression and gambling. I also have clients with phobias and assertiveness problems. As an Integrative practitioner I am not bound to a single theoretical approach and can therefore draw on several different models to determine the most suitable for each client. If one approach doesn’t fit well, we try another. Very client-centred, very supportive and very empowering.  

I am planning to post a few testimonials from satisfied clients shortly. I may also share random thoughts as they occur to me. You are welcome to come and visit and comment if the mood takes you!


Kind Regards,

Jeff Cockfield



News from Vianova Recovery Projects

November 23, 2011

It has taken a long time and a lot of hard work to get to this point.

The website is up and running, marketing is proceeding and the first few clients of the new service have already had sessions and commenced working on their various issues. We have a nice office in a brand new centre in North Deal, and recommendations are being made that should bring in more clients to the service.

The longer-term objective remains the development of a community based experience sharing network. This will take some time to set-up, but it will be worth the time and effort.

Thanks to all for your continued encouragement and support.

Jeff C