About Me - Anna Dalzell

Anna Dalzell


I hold a Bachelor of Social Services (Counselling) (distinction) and am a Registered Member of The New Zealand Association of Counsellors. I have also studied under the internationally accredited NLP master trainer, Dr Richard Bolstad gaining qualifications as an NLP Master Practitioner, NLP Coach, Ericksonian Hypnotherapist and Time Line Therapist™. I also hold a Diploma of Teaching, Diploma in Child and Adolescent Psychology and Certificates in Human Nutrition, Motivational Interviewing, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Cognitive Enrichment Counselling. I was a volunteer on the St John Ambulance with Pre-Hospital Emergency Care qualifications for nearly eight years. I live on a Sheep & Beef farm west of Christchurch and have 3 wonderful adult children.

I worked for over 4 years for Anxiety Support Canterbury (later Mental Health Advocacy and Peer Support), developing and running a Recovery Programme for people with moderate anxiety. This was funded by the Canterbury District Health Board and was frequently described by participants as life changing. Pre and post questionnaires indicated participants moved from having moderate/high anxiety to mild/moderate with their sense of wellness increasing markedly. Following this role, I facilitated health change at a public health and systems level for the Canterbury Clinical Network, finding this a rewarding and challenging experience. Currently I hold a rewarding position working with the youth of Ellesmere College as Head of Guidance and Counselling. Having worked there for 3 years now I find the relationships and continuity of care for our rangitahi a privilege that I endeavour to uphold every day. My interest in health and wellness has been a consistent driver in my personal and professional development. I pride myself on integrity, professionalism and respect and undertake regular professional development and supervision.

Due to my workload at the Univerdsity, I can only make Wednesdays available for private clients. Please use the red button on the bottom right of the page to book, or email me if you would like to discuss any aspect of my service. If you are interested in having me take a workshop for your workplace please email me to discuss.



Want to know where I stand on stuff? Here are some articles I've written......

How Is Your Self-Esteem?

When I was a beginning teacher, (many years ago), building children’s self-esteem with stars and praise and certificates for effort was all the rage. Now I work with people who are often a product of this misguided although well-meaning attempt to raise confident adults. Placing our self-worth in the hands of others’ praise and attention, and having it rely on external achievements as a measure of success or failure, leaves us vulnerable. People who rely on ‘achieving something’ in order to ‘measure up’ often feel they lack confidence, and that they won’t ‘have confidence’ unless they ‘succeed’ at something.

It’s great to feel pleasure when you achieve something. But what’s really important to you? How do you ‘measure’ a person? Is it some external thing that they managed to do that made you think well of them? I would guess that it is the manner in which they did that, the qualities that they displayed, that caused you to think well of them. Did they show perseverance, tenacity, patience, tolerance, intelligence, skill, kindness, generosity….? What are the qualities that you admire in everyday people? How can you display and encourage these qualities in yourself? You will generally find that you do a lot of them already and that they don’t require you to pass some ‘achievement measure’. It is important though for you to realise that you value these qualities and appreciate them in yourself as well as others.

Think of someone you know who you believe to be confident. How do you know? What are the specific things that they do that cause you to think that? People who are confident are not so because of their achievements, or because they are an extrovert (people can be quietly confident). They are confident because they are in a state of mind that feels aligned with their values. They understand what is important to them and they behave in ways that support and enhance the qualities they appreciate in themselves. They validate their own behaviour, not relying on others to tell them they are doing well. What two things could you do today that would support what you value? It may be as simple as smiling at a neighbour, or taking 5 minutes to play with your child – whatever it is, you can be confident it will be growing your own sense of self-worth.

Communication for Harmony

Have you noticed the frustration that goes with trying to communicate with someone who is not responding in the way you would like or imagined. Have the wires crossed somewhere in the process? Were they being unresponsive or argumentative? Did they misunderstand or disagree in a way that was destructive to your relationship? Every time we communicate with someone else we put our relationship on the line. How do we maintain our relationships and still get what we want?

Often we feel that we are good at getting our point across – articulate, precise, genuine, caring. We may be all these things but still not be getting the results we expect. It may be that we are unwittingly placing roadblocks in the way of the other person. The most effective form of change comes from within the other person – you were just the catalyst to bounce their own ideas off. Making sure you check with them that you understood their point of view correctly will help them to feel heard and valued. It doesn’t necessarily mean you agree with them.

Some key steps of good communication are:

- Connection. Paying careful attention to the other person, using open ended questions, and paraphrasing their points will open the door.

- Buy in. Finding any point of shared value will go a long way towards them getting on board and considering what you have to say. What do you both agree on or believe in?

- Problem ownership. Most people sort for who’s right and who’s wrong instead of who’s happy and who’s not happy. Being clear about who owns the problem and what the needs of each person are, allows for opportunities to come up with ways for both of you to get what you need.

- Resolution. Notice that compromise is not the same as a win/win. If one person feels they had to compromise more than the other they can be left with feelings of resentment. How can you both get your most basic need met?

Remember that there is no chance of resolving any conflict when anyone’s pulse is over 95 beats per minute. Taking time out to calm yourself is your best chance of getting through with your relationship intact. Choose your moment and your words carefully – it is a lot easier to move forward if you don’t have to clean up the collateral damage first.

Motivation - Where do I find it?

This week, I am in Taupo, supporting my son at the national under 19 rugby tournament. It’s not hard to see where his motivation comes from – there are NZ rugby selectors on the side-lines. The hours of training and sacrifice are paying off. He gets to play the game he loves, with mates alongside and enjoy the accolades that come with representative honors.

But how do we find motivation when the results aren’t so obvious? How do we make the choice to go out and exercise when the couch looks so enticing? The choices we make come from our values. Those things that are important to us. Getting clear about our values can be enormously productive. We often think we know what is important to us, but 9 times out of 10 when I do this exercise with clients, the order in which we rank our values comes as a surprise, and this leads to some genuine life-changing moments.

Listing our values around a certain area of life such as relationships, work or wellbeing, ranking them, and then comparing each one against its immediate next value can be very insightful. For instance, we often feel like we want to lose weight to look good, but are frustrated when we don’t stick to our goals. By sorting our values we may find that family ranks much higher than looking good. When we make the connection between our weight (being healthy), and being around for our children and grandchildren (actively and engaged), it makes it easier to choose the sports shoes and salad.

We can stall when we overwhelm ourselves with the big picture as well. If the boys thought about what they would need to do to become an All Black – the task would be daunting and they may not attempt it. Just doing what they need to right now, taking their first small step allows them to set a path which will give them other, unexpected rewards along the way. What smallest step could you make that would lead you on to what you really want?

Stress – What is it doing to me?

‘I feel on edge all the time’, ‘I’m not sleeping well’, ‘I have trouble thinking clearly’, ‘I get angry (or anxious) easily’, ‘I feel constantly overwhelmed’. These are common complaints of people who seek my help, and are just the more obvious signs of a body running a high stress response. Subtle signs include lowered immunity to colds and illness, hormone imbalance, heart arrhythmias, skin conditions, IBS, exhaustion …

We all know about stress; we often don’t acknowledge the effect it is having on us. Once again it is tied up with our sense of control over an event and is aligned with our values. If something is important to us and is under threat our body will kick in with a ‘stress response’ – a surge of adrenaline and cortisol, readying us to fight or flee the situation. If it is important to us to perform well, have a tidy home, be a good parent, then anything that places us in a situation where we will be judged (by others or ourselves), will prove stressful. If part or all of the situation is out of our control, (such as co-workers input, other people’s responses or the kids behaviour), we can feel vulnerable and threatened.

Our nervous system is made up of two parts: the sympathetic nervous system primes us for action, kicks our system into gear and ‘revs’ us up. If we allow this system to dominate, we are setting ourselves up for overload. We cannot function in a heightened state for long periods. The parasympathetic nervous system is the one that allows our body to relax, digest, restore and repair. Both systems must function in harmony in order for the whole system to survive.

It is up to us then, to choose to support our restore and relax system, with exercise, hobbies, reading, watching T.V., meditating, mindfulness, whatever works that allows nervous system balance. Keep your mind and body functioning at an optimal level, ready to face life’s challenges in the resourceful way you would like to, and you will feel more at ease with yourself and the world.

'Self Talk' or 'Self Sabotage'?

Last week I went to listen to Michael Corballis discussing his book, “The Wandering Mind”. Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Auckland University, his book praises the benefits of letting our mind drift. He is deliberately trying to balance an American study, which found evidence to suggest that we are inattentive to the task at hand 46% of the time, and that during this inattentive phase we are less happy than when our mind is on what we are doing. His book covers the benefits to memory, the ability to ‘travel’ into past and future as well as into the minds of others, the development of stories, and the creativity aspect of letting our thoughts ramble from one idea to the next - all beneficial and important parts of being human. He touched on useful as opposed to destructive mind wandering and I pressed him on this point during question time.

Our inner voice is one of the more demanding aspects of our mental health. It has the power of destruction and the gift of redemption. It also becomes habitual. Our challenge is to cultivate the habits that work well for us. We often place an enormous amount of credibility to thoughts that really don’t deserve that much credit. What percentage of your thoughts do you truly believe are worthwhile?

Listen now to your internal voice. Try out a few different scenarios. Do you find that you sometimes tell yourself off or put yourself down? Designed to give us a mental kick into action, a way of motivating us to try harder next time, it often leaves us feeling miserable, anxious or defeated, and can sabotage our efforts at trying new things.

You wouldn’t talk to a dear friend in that way, so why do it to yourself – the one person you want to succeed most? Next time you are about to let your thoughts run away with you, decide which thoughts have merit, and phrase them in a way that feels good and encourages you in your endeavours. I’m sure Mike Corballis did, when he was writing his book.

Positive Psychology - Rose Tinted Glasses?

The term ‘Positive Psychology’ can be a misleading one. People may sometimes assume that it means ‘being positive in your thinking, (even in difficult times)’. I have heard people describing it as ‘wearing rose tinted glasses’ and ‘kidding yourself that everything is fine’. This is not really what it’s about. Yes, it is useful to think of things constructively instead of destructively; it is also well documented that people with an optimistic outlook will generally fare better in life overall. These areas are only a small part of the science that is Positive Psychology.

Traditionally scientists and doctors studied what was ‘wrong’ with a person and what needed to be ‘fixed’. Freud had some very interesting views on what was ‘wrong’ with, particularly, the female of our species, and what they needed in order to recover! Positive psychology has instead looked at what is working when someone is living well. They have broken down and identified the thoughts, emotions and behaviours that lead to constructive and useful outcomes. By knowing what works we can then teach others to do the same.

The founders of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) studied those therapists that were most successful in their field and worked out what they were specifically doing that worked so well. They noticed patterns of language and thinking that brought about positive change, and then constructed techniques and processes that facilitated that change.

We now know that our brains will develop and grow new connections through until we die (known as neuro-plasticity). Although a large percentage of our emotional stability is hereditary, encouraging growth and development of positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning and purpose, and accomplishments can all have a profound effect on our sense of happiness and contentment.

For me it comes back to the old adage that ‘if you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always got’. Learning new ways of thinking, doing, and being in the world can allow you to take back some control and have a constructive influence on your own future.

Anxiety and Worry - Why do I do It?

What a fantastic feat of engineering our body is. The way in which it can respond to its environment and maximise survival is astounding. We are geared towards this; our reflexes and rapid responses are designed to keep us safe from the moment we are born. This can be very useful when faced with a sabre-tooth tiger, or indeed when it helps us to avoid dimly lit alleys in the dead of night. It is not so useful when we are tricked by our thoughts into responding to every small cue that presents itself.

Go ahead and thank your brain for trying so hard to keep you safe. Now decide on a better way to do that. It is more useful to save those stress responses for when you really need them. What do you want instead? Would it be more useful to respond to something you are faced with by utilising your intelligence, clarity, insight, calm, resourcefulness, and a sense of your own ability to deal with situations as they arise?

People who do this well don’t arm themselves with ‘what if’s’ and worst case scenarios; feeling as if they are preparing for the worst (and hoping for the best). Instead they imagine themselves responding resourcefully and making the best decisions they can with whatever presents itself.

Imagine a disaster movie. When we reach the climax of the disaster a good director will have our hearts racing, adrenaline pumping and nerves on edge. Treating our life like this, imagining how dreadfully things could turn out, will leave us in the same state. At the resolution of the film, by noticing how the actors respond to, and resolve the crisis, we feel calm, well-resourced and confident of the human capacity to endure and conquer. Our brains don’t care whether something is real or imagined, it signals our body to respond in the same way. Be your own movie director – make sure you reach satisfying resolutions to your life’s movies.