I’ve not written for a while.

Okay, I’m telling a fib, I have except it has been writing of the academic kind.   Combining a Psychology Degree with the COSCA Counselling Skills course has been a challenging and intense and I have loved every single moment of it. 

I’ve always had a curiosity about people, their beginnings, nature versus nurture, motivations, dreams, behaviour and actions and while I embrace my spirituality, I also embrace a science that illuminates your perception of self and change. 

The first two modules of COSCA are intense and come with a plethora of emotions, because when you seek answers to why we behave the way we do, you naturally glance inward and take a peek at yourself.  You have to, because if you are going to sit across from a client and form a positive therapeutic relationship you have to be willing to face yourself first. 

Modalities within counselling have a varying approaches and are as individual as each therapist and while I am a student of all, I find Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) intriguing as it focuses on how your beliefs, thoughts and attitudes affect your feelings and consequential behaviour.  

And within this psychology, The Laundry Room can be found.  

We all have this room in our brain, the locked door that holds the icky stuff.  You throw in the memory and the experiences and bolt the door.  Then you open it up again and have a look inside before you shut it again and numb with a distraction.  Then a trauma occurs and you can’t close the door anymore because you have to clean your laundry.  It’s not easy or comfortable. 

It is courageous and empowering. 

Because when you know who you are; what your value system is, your attitudes and respect yourself enough to appreciate they will evolve as you do, you will practice true and authentic self-care.  You will value yourself and your life experience more than you have ever done in your life. 

So, if I could leave with one parting wish, I would like it be this; with the appropriate support, open the door and clean your laundry.  There is nothing to fear from what we have inside.  Trauma can be healed and the space within reveals a cavern of possibilities, ideas, hopes, dreams and life ready to be filled with a new dream. 

The link below may be helpful. 

BACP Find a Therapist


Willie Pugh likes to build.

Born in Clydebank in 1957, Willie came from a family of stonemasons and bricklayers, becoming a real-life journeyman at 21 years old when he moved to Fife to work on the ongoing construction of Glenrothes.  A new town born from the Rothes Colliery predicated to last 100 years before closing in 1962, paving the way for a self-styled Silicon Glen. A business boom that needed premises and houses leaving many an opportunity for a young man who wished to ply his craft.

For Willie, Fife became his adopted home, where he has spent the last 28 years, 16 of them as self-employed in the business trade.  He was, in his own words, “a passionate builder,” recalling with genuine excitement his favourite time of year as the close of winter, when he worked on tall buildings in the sharp, icy cold, wearing, shorts and t-shirts accessorised by steel cap boots minus the harness and the hard hat. 

Ironically, it was the introduction of health and safety legislation that insisted on the harness and the hardhat that caused his passion for building to wane.  And, for the first time in 28 years and at the age of 40, he asked himself a question; what else can I do?  Wanting to work with people, Willie initially went to Fife College and signed up for an HNC in Social Care, where he initially toyed with the idea of becoming a Social Worker.  An notion and an inspiration, before he “understood what it really meant.”

During this metamorphosis, Willie worked for a number of organisations including Fife Council, the Scottish Society for Autism and Drugs, Alcohol and Psychotherapists Limited (DAPL).  Willie describes his initial career as a Care Worker as “Groundhog Day” and felt frustrated that he was unable to enact a real difference to the people “everyone from three years old to older people,” he worked with.  However, from this chrysalis came a realisation, it was the transitions within people’s lives that interested him the most.

And it from these experiences that lead him to begin his career in counselling, starting a lifelong love affair with learning when he began a Diploma in Counselling in 2002.  When I asked Willie for his thoughts on counselling, his eyes lit up and he spoke enthusiastically and movingly of the privilege of helping others, describing his clients as “amongst the bravest people he has met and having the opportunity see a client flourish is amazing.” 

In 2003, to gain more experience, he answered an advert for a Counsellor for Fife Alcohol Support Service, on Tolbooth Street in Kirkcaldy gaining his accreditation with their support and helping clients to improve their quality of life for 11 years as a volunteer. 

When I asked Willie about specialising in the area of addictions, he confessed this came from his previous career in the building trade.  An industry, in his time, that was plagued by addiction.  He described a day in the pub as a Sabbath, where his company would descend on the pub on a Friday to release the tensions of a hardworking week.  He recounted the days when work was called off due to bad weather and the choice was to go home or go to the pub and on most days, the pub won.  And ironically, it was on Friday, that his first back shift with the Society for Autism fell upon and walking to work, Willie had to walk past the pub full of friends enjoying their Friday ritual.  An event he described “as really hard.”  The next day, he took the car and it got easier.  An experience, he has used over the years, to demonstrate how the past and present collide to enable people to make a conscious decision to change their lives.

Willie did not only change his vocation he also became a lifelong student.  Since 2000, Willie has studied every year, taking only a gap year in 2011.  He tells me of the surprise of his father, also known as Willie and a bricklayer himself, describing him as the only one of his children who “never did any homework until he left school,” preferring to take the belt from the teacher – if he had too.  Willie has specialised in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), a counselling model, he believes, allows him to challenge and work more collaboratively with clients.

For the last 18 years, Willie has studied, culminating in a Master’s Degree (MBA) in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) from Queen Margaret University in 2016.  This year, in what he aims to be his last course, he is doing an Honours Degree in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT).  Saying jokingly, as a dedicated Celtic fan, he was in the Champion’s League and now he’s gone back, quite happily, to the Premier League.  However, I suspect, Willie will never truly stop learning.   

As a student, Willie says it took him many years to feel equal to other students and gain the knowledge he needed to feel confident as a learner and it was this personal transition for him, that led to another bowstring as a Teacher.  Starting off with teaching construction at Telford College from 1982 to 1985 and going on to complete COSCA and Supervisors Training Courses in 2009.  He also ran, for a period of time, Alcohol Awareness courses with Fife Alcohol Support Service and enjoying the process of taking reluctant participants, attending for punitive reasons and encouraging them to engage with the training.

As we finished chatting, Willie said he still drives past sites and admires the labour put into the building work and I wonder if he realises the impact he has on people’s lives.  Bricklayer to Psychotherapist, building and helping others to re-build their lives.  Willie agrees with the statement, making a respectful and self-effacing comment in response, “you learn to have courage in your abilities and also the courage to fail.” Today, he’s building again, spending today showing his grandchildren his burgeoning interest in woodwork. 

Willie Pugh; engaging, empathic, humble and most of all inspirational.  A living example of changing your life – if you want to.  

Laying the foundations, one brick at a time.


Willie Pugh, MBA, currently works with Addiction Support and Counselling (ASC) in Falkirk and Signpost Recovery in Alloa and is a member of COSCA (Counselling and Psychotherapy in Scotland).


This studying lark, I have to say, I’m really enjoying it.

I’ve always been a proud bookworm, finding more pleasure from words than daytime television.  However, in moving from fiction to academia, I anticipated the change in reading style would be a challenge.  

I’m used to researching and preparing for talks, workshops and most recently mistress of ceremony duties, but I appreciate the approach to creativity and sciences have polarities I am only beginning to appreciate.  However, it is one I have enjoyed and my mind, keen to sponge up new knowledge, has teased me to explore other books on psychology beyond the Open University texts. 

So, sitting last weekend at Kirkcaldy Galleries, I was feeling pretty pleased with myself.  Surrounded by textbooks as I grappled with the study of Authoritarian Personality, finding I was able to engage with the research and link modern day events to give it context.  If I have learned anything about psychology it is that this science raises more questions than it does answers.

Then, out of my word stupor, I heard a faint voice say, “excuse me?”  Turning, I saw a woman looking at me nervously before she said;

“Your tag is hanging out of the back of your jumper.”

Pulling the tag off my newly purchased jumper, I burst out laughing.  As the woman backed away, clearly relieved with my reaction and wandered off with the words. 

“Your jumper is lovely by the way.”

Giggling, I looked down at my textbooks sprawled out over the table, half illuminated by the sun through the slats of the long wooden blinds and I came up with one theory I did not anticipate. 

You’re never as clever as you think you are and every day is a school day. 

As my darling Dad often says; “we’re all Jock Tamson’s bairns,” and never has there been a truer word been said.  Psychology student, keen learner.  Daft as a brush.  However, I still think it is a funny story, so perhaps there is hope for me yet. 

So, if I could leave you with one parting wish, I would like it to be this; enjoy your learning, have fun along the way and remove the tags.  You don’t need them anymore.