Episode 24 Step up your Self-Care with My Little Therapy Box, with Natasha Page

Aug 18, 2021

How do you connect to your emotions as a therapist? Are there therapeutic aids that you can use in-session to increase the depth of therapy for your client? Can you use similar therapeutic aids for your self-care?

MEET NATASHA PAGE

Natasha is a B.A.C.P Accredited counselor and Psychotherapist based in Nottingham England.

Visit her website. Connect on Instagram and Facebook.

Purchase My Little Therapy Box Mood Cards and visit the website.

IN THIS PODCAST:

  • Benefits of My Little Therapy Box
  • Limitations of My Little Therapy Box
  • My Little Therapy Box as self-care for therapists

BENEFITS OF MY LITTLE THERAPY BOX

The resource My Little Therapy Box is a tool that everyone, therapists and day-to-day people alike, can benefit from because it allows people to identify their emotions while simultaneously giving them constructive advice or feedback that may encourage them to make meaningful changes to their situation.

The difference is [that] there wasn’t a product out there that was helping people to just pinpoint like this what is actually going on in their life … a lot of the emotion cards focus just on the emotion which can be really helpful but actually for some people it can be really hard to explore that emotion. (Natasha Page)

My Little Therapy Box, while validating emotions, looks at more practical things that you can look at or do that can help you to process the emotion, and what in your life might be linking you to that felt emotion.

I know these are really hard-hitting subjects to bring up, but of course the difference between not asking that question as a therapist … if you don’t ask you might not ever know and that could just be so powerful in getting someone to open up and say: “I have felt like that”. (Natasha Page)

If you are in session and using the My Little Therapy Box and a client picks out a card that they may not be ready to speak about but are indicating to you, that helps you to know that those things are on their mind and perhaps in the future you can revisit that topic with them.

LIMITATIONS OF MY LITTLE THERAPY BOX

Even though there are powerful benefits, it is also necessary to be aware of the potential limitations.

The My Little Therapy Box is not a replacement for actual therapy. It is a tool that is meant to aid the therapeutic resource.

People need to know that if they are experiencing suicidal thoughts then on the cards it recommends to them that they should consider seeking out a therapist or medical professional who can assist them.

It is not recommended to use the cards with a child that is younger than 11 years old. This resource has the strongest positive outcomes with older children, teenagers, and adults.

MY LITTLE THERAPY BOX AS A SELF-CARE FOR THERAPISTS

Since therapists are the point of call for many people, they must make space and time to care for themselves when it is needed.

  • Have time to exercise,
  • Make space to have hobbies outside of work,
  • Consider using the My Little Therapy Box cards.

Of course, these cards can be used in just the same way [for you] as a client that you are supporting might use them … in the form of talking with someone, of course, maybe journaling, writing things down as well and just reflection and taking time to stop, pause and reflect on how you’ve been. (Natasha Page)

  • Always ensure that you are checking in on yourself because day-to-day therapy work can become a heavy burden on you if you are not caring for yourself or making space to find external support.
  • Keep an open mind to getting your therapy if you think it may help you, because you are a person too, and it can help you as much as it helps your clients to talk to someone who can listen.

Connect With Me

Resources Mentioned And Useful Links:

Transcript

[CHRIS McDONALD]

The Holistic Counseling Podcast is part of the Practice of the Practice network, a network of podcasts seeking to help you market and grow your business and yourself. To hear other podcasts like Behind the Bite, Full of Shift and Impact Driven Leader, go to www.practiceofthepractice.com/network.

Welcome to the Holistic Counseling Podcast, where you discover diverse wellness modalities, advice on growing your integrative practice, and grow confidence in being your unique self. I'm your host, Chris McDonald. I'm so glad you're here for the journey.

Welcome to today's episode of the Holistic Counseling Podcast. I'm your host, Chris McDonald. I hope your day is going well. I want to bring to you today's guest. She comes all the way from England, which is one of my favorite places to visit. Her name is Natasha Page. She's a B.A.C.P Accredited counselor and psychotherapist. She's an integrative therapist and believes the way she works with clients should be tailored to their individual needs and integrative therapy helps her achieve this. She's here today to share with you an amazing resource called My Little Therapy Box. I love the name. Welcome to the podcast, Natasha.

[NATASHA PAGE]

Lovely to be here. Thanks for inviting me.

[CHRIS]

Absolutely. Like we were talking before we hit record, it's so exciting to connect with people around the world.

[NATASHA]

Yes, yes, definitely.

[CHRIS]

Yes, definitely. So before we get started, can you share more with my listeners more about yourself and your work?

[NATASHA]

Yes. So, well, so you've obviously just given my name, Natasha Page and I am a counselor and psychotherapist. I work in private practice and I support people of all different ages from young people, right into obviously adulthood. So I've got a really sort of broad range of clients that I work with and support them with all different issues that obviously may enter the counseling room. So anything from divorce, separation problems, we have low self esteem or anger trauma, and, as I'm sure you will appreciate Chris, I'll be saying lots of different issues that people might struggle with and need some support with.

[CHRIS]

Absolutely. So what made you interested in becoming a psychotherapist?

[NATASHA]

Okay. So my first, I guess, interest in becoming a psychotherapist started when I was in my early twenties and I myself went through a period of just feeling barely loving mood, feeling a little bit lost in life. I was working in quite a low paid job. It was a demanding job as a receptionist in a school. Although I did really enjoy the job, I just felt like the demands were starting to become too much, like just constantly busy. I guess I'm a person who likes to try and do a good job and please Pete and Paul and being there quite young at the time, I just think it was the pressures of life and tough to get to me. So one day I woke up and I was just fed up and I guess now when I look back actually depressed.

I didn't want to get out of bed to go to work and that is not like me and anyone that knows me knows that is not my normal character. So I knew something wasn't right. I actually, luckily did feel able to be chatting, talked to my dad and he suggested that maybe I should try some counseling sessions. I'd never heard of counseling or therapy. I thought, well, what have I got to lose? I guess I can just could give it a go. And yes, it was from there. I just really enjoyed going to my counseling sessions, although they were challenging and I would have to leave the room, having had a good cry. It was just like the feeling of having a weight lifted and having someone just actually listen to me and not judge me not tell me what to do and just feel really understood and competent by that therapeutic relationship. So going through that myself, we just thought it'd be amazing to give up to someone else to be able to provide that space for someone else. So it was from there.

[CHRIS]

Wow. So that really benefited you then?

[NATASHA]

Yes. Literally, sort of say it did change my life really. I mean, I didn't become a therapist straight away. It starts as a little seed, doesn't it? But then as I progressed in my career, I had my first daughter and I decided to go to university. I actually studied social work for my first degree, but I knew deep down that I really wanted to be a counselor.

[CHRIS]

Okay. So I know you mentioned you're an integrative counselor. So how do you use that to help, I guess meet, you said meet individual needs of clients?

[NATASHA]

Yes. So being an integrative counselor, trained in three main approaches. So those three approaches are persons centered and CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy and psychodynamic theories. So they're the three core theories that underpinned my training. So the way that I believe that sort of helps me and my work really is that like you crush your work holistically with people, and I know it's very different in terms of maybe the holistic approaches you use in terms of my therapy with clients. It is about just to taking the themes issues that they're bringing in and then obviously I can integrate and use the approaches that I think best meet our client's needs.

[CHRIS]

Yes. That's interesting. So I've never heard of those three together.

[NATASHA]

Okay. That is interesting, obviously being in different parts of the world.

[CHRIS]

Yes. Because usually I hear like, see a lot of people do CBT or more person centered, but to combine that with psychodynamic, that's an interesting combination.

[NATASHA]

Yes. Because I studied at the University of Derby and it wasn't a BACP, the BACP, I don't know if you know it?

[CHRIS]

What is that?

It is the British Association for Counseling and Psychotherapy. So it's like our governing body.

[CHRIS]

Like we have licensing boards here.

[NATASHA]

Yes, exactly. It is our equivalent to a licensing board. So that's where I took the training.

[CHRIS]

Okay, excellent. So I know that we are here to talk about the Little Therapy Box. So what led you to create this?

[NATASHA]

Yes, so My Little Therapy Box, so obviously with it being a podcast, I can't sort of show and demonstrate, but I'm sure you will probably ---

[CHRIS]

Yes, we'll have it in the show notes.

[NATASHA]

At the end of the show. I guess there's different reasons why I created this. So one of the first reasons is because in my work as a therapist, quite often, when people come to a first session of therapy, maybe they've never been before, or maybe they're sort of nervous about coming to therapy or they don't actually know what issues are at the heart of how they're feeling, because we don't always know. I know that from my own experiences, like we talked about back in my twenties, I couldn't quite pinpoint at that point what was wrong. I just felt that something wasn't right and I didn't feel happy, but I couldn't actually verbalize what that was. And that's what the process of counseling helped me to do, to actually delve a bit deeper.

So I've basically created this resource to help people either prior to coming to therapy so they might want to explore their emotions on their own or to use it in therapy. So it might be that the client uses it in the beginning stages of therapy to help them identify what areas they're actually struggling with in their life. So quite often are the mood cards that are out there on the market, just name an emotion. And they can be really helpful. And I use them myself, but what I felt was missing was sometimes there might be an emotion that actually was the issue behind that emotion. So what things are actually contributing in that person's life to how they're feeling. So within the resource, I hope I've answered that question.

[CHRIS]

Yes, you did. So yes, tell me what it currently looks like and how does that work?

[NATASHA]

Yes. So within the resource, there's 40 different themed cards and they've got all different issues on, things that I've worked with all of these themes in counseling sessions with myself. So I've made themes that I know people struggle with that I'm sure even me and you struggle at different points in our life and just made it easy for a person to sort of have a look through the cards. I'm doing it as we speak. And if you choose up to five cards, no more than that, it could be quite overwhelming to try and sort through more issues with that, that five themes that are overriding maybe in terms of what you're struggling with. So I just beat some of the cards out in that particular order. So relationship problems, sibling rivalry, bereavement, physical health, worries about money and alcohol intake. So I won't go through all of them, of course.

[CHRIS]

You have a lot of categories.

[NATASHA]

Yes, because there's 40 altogether, so I won't go through all of them. But then on the back of each card, I basically put some questions there to help the person explore that. So helping them to think of what's causing them to feel unhappy, getting them to think about next steps that they may be able to take. Then each card also has, I guess it's like a supportive note at the end to help them to think about next steps that they might want to take. So it is a resource that people obviously can use to explore these things further in a therapy session with a trained therapist, but also it is a resource that you can use on your own as well or you may want to use it with a loved one who you're concerned about. So example I recently had someone who was worried about a young person they know in their family and so they'd recently brought the resource to help them have to communicate about their feelings. And I guess the aim of it really is to try and normalize mental health then actually, by having the themes set out in front of you, just make it easier to talk about that issue.

[CHRIS]

And you read some of the questions for one of the problems?

[NATASHA]

Yes. So I'll have a look at the relationship problems card, so what is causing you to be unhappy or distressed in this area of your life right now? So obviously that will get a person to really reflect on what is it that's making them feel unhappy? What's contributing to them not feeling fulfillment in that area of their life and in that relationship? So of course that could barely open up just starting conversation or someone could sit and journal and write down. So obviously talking and also writing, help us to clarify our feelings, to become clearer about how something is impacting on us.

Another question off the same card, getting them to explore is this long longstanding issue or is it something new in the relationship? So you get them to reflect on, is there something that's changed recently or actually, is it something that's been contributing to them feeling unhappy for a long time? And then the last question on this card is can you visualize yourself in this relationship in five years time and why? So it's just getting them to reflect on is this a relationship that is going to stand the test of longevity and time? Is it an important relationship that you're going to remain? And then some further questions, another section, just getting them to think about what would they want things to be like if they could be different and then what three steps could they make towards that change? And then the note on this particular card is just pointing out that relationships may require change from both parties. It's not necessarily a one-sided thing. Of course, if the relationship involves two people that just sort of bias fairly that trained relationship therapists may also be helpful as well if it's a problem that is hard to overcome.

[CHRIS]

Okay. Well, thanks for sharing that because it just sounds like really clarifying some of those issues or feelings they might be having.

[NATASHA]

Yes, exactly. Some of these themes aren't rocket science. They're not revolutionary new themes, but the difference is there wasn't a product out there that was helping people to just pinpoint what is actually going on in their life. Like I said, a lot of emotion cards focus on just the emotion, which can be really helpful, but actually for some people it can be very hard to explore that emotion. So looking at the more practical things that might be contributed again, and then perhaps linking them to those emotions, I think is really helpful.

[CHRIS]

I wonder the relationship issues, if that could be used, if somebody could use that with their partner that they're having issues with open things up.

[NATASHA]

Yes, I think so. Again, like any relationship it's two sided and it depends on how the other person responds. You have to be prepared to guess for not always getting the response, the desired response that you might want. So of course that would be helpful to have those conversations, but that in itself could be included into if someone to engage in a conversation.

[CHRIS]

Because I know you mentioned that people can use that to journal at home, or just recently, I would think that the journaling piece would really be good therapeutic homework for clients as well.

[NATASHA]

Yes, definitely. And when I've used them in my sessions, I don't get this out every session, I do use it when I feel someone is sort of stuck or if it's early on in the session and they're just finding it really hard to put their emotions into words, how they're actually feeling, I just find it gives a real good focus and helps some clients to start to yes, to be able to open up. It's a bit of a focal point in the therapy session.

[CHRIS]

And I'm sorry, my memory is short, but I know you mentioned some of the other issues. So was there just ones that are like emotion, like let's say somebody was feeling anxiety?

[NATASHA]

There's one for anxiety in there. There's one, shyness, I read for people who can't control anger, family rift, traumatic event, self-harm, have not shied away from ---

[CHRIS]

The difficult issues

[NATASHA]

Yes. It's a really difficult, and I've never come across any emotion cards that actually have that in, self-harm or there is a suicidal thought on as well. Now I know these are very hard hitting sort of subjects to bring up, but of course the difference between not asking that question as a therapist or asking that question, if you don't ask, you might not ever know, it can just be so powerful in getting someone to open up and say, "I have felt like that." And even if they don't want to talk about it further, even if that's too hard for them to do, for them to be able to pick that out in a deck of cards and just indicate that is something they're struggling with, at least you, then you're aware, aren't you, and you can potentially then support them further with that. I've also noted the limitations to using these cards. They're not a replacement for therapy. They're something to A a therapeutic resource. So using them should feel therapeutic, but it's not to replace therapy. And I also ensure that people know that. For example, if you're having suicidal thoughts and you need to seek medical advice from a GP or a mental health professional.

[CHRIS]

Yes. Well, that's good and you put that on there as well, because I would think that, because I know I have adult clients sometimes that have trouble expressing themselves as well as teenagers when I did work with them. So I would think that this could be great in the beginning of therapy too.

[NATASHA]

Yes. And that's exactly what I designed them for. They're aimed at, I wouldn't use it with a child younger than 11, but I think sort of as we would call it over here, secondary school, I don't know what school what you would call it ---

[CHRIS]

Middle school or high school.

[NATASHA]

Yes. So middle school, high school into adulthood. That's who they're sort of aimed up because some of the themes are difficult. So it's not the younger children. It is for the adolescents upwards, but definitely adults do struggle. I've had a client this week have just started therapy where then they've expressed that they find it really hard to express emotion that they know they're aware that they've been suppressing quite a lot of emotion. So I asked them if the potentially would like to use this resource in our next session.

[CHRIS]

Okay. I know you mentioned too that it could be a good resource for self-care for therapists. So can you share more about that?

[NATASHA]

Being a therapist we're not immune to our own ups and downs in life away? Actually, maybe sometimes they're actually even more, we're more at risk because we are exposed to some very difficult subjects that people explore with us in therapy. We take up a lot on. So I think it's so important that we do look after our own wellbeing. You know, something that I do to look after my wellbeing is exercise and I've recently not ever been what you'd call a runner, a jogger. I recently this year started to incorporate that into my routine and do that once a week now. And it makes me feel really good. So my point being is self-care. So yes having time to just think about actually, how are you feeling as a therapist? And of course these cards can be used in just the same way as a client that you're supporting might use them or talking with someone, but of course, maybe journaling and writing things down as well. And just reflection, having time to stop, pause and reflect on how you've been.

[CHRIS]

Yes. So it is really that tuning in for us as well. It's a big part of self-care. Because I think sometimes too, I found that some clients and their whatever reason, I don't know what it is, but some people, their issues kind of stick with you and you might feel like I haven't made it. This week I had this one new client and I'm like, what is wrong with me? So after I just felt like, and I could barely identify the feeling. So I wonder too, if that would help to be like, is this anxiety or should I look at some of these cards to help identify and really pursue that is what came up? Because sometimes our own issues do come up obviously. Did that trigger something for me?

[NATASHA]

Yes, definitely. And obviously like you're talking about, they're sort of the projection of their emotions onto you and you taking that on yourself. And of course that does happen. Like you said, you sort of, why am I feeling like this and that? And then maybe you've made that connection now with what that was about. So again, that'd be really interesting, wouldn't it, to do that as a therapist, having to look through these cards and just then identifying what themes you're working with at the moment in your practice.

[CHRIS]

And I think too is, I know you got therapy when you're younger, but for therapists too, I think it's so helpful to keep an open mind towards getting your own therapy when you need it.

[NATASHA]

A hundred percent. I really do agree with that. And although it's something, I'm not accessing therapy at the moment is something that have dipped in to when I've needed it. I think the last time was after having my second child, which is gosh, coming up four years now, but just interested to being a mom again, having two children, lack of sleep, balancing being a mom to a new baby. Yes, I needed some space for me and that's whereby I had my therapy sessions. And I think as a therapist, if you can't talk openly about having your own therapy, why not?

[CHRIS]

Why not?

[NATASHA]

Because I think in order to de-stigmatize having therapy, and I don't know what it's like over there in America, but I think generally worldwide, it's something that we need to still be talking about and getting more on the agenda, which I think it is, it's started ourselves. I think it's still something that we're not greater and that is part of it. Isn't it as a therapist saying yes, I access therapy when I need it.

[CHRIS]

Exactly. And telling clients too. I would try to be vulnerable with them so they understand that it's not just for other people. That we need to take care of our own business at times.

[NATASHA]

Yes. And that's why I do think it's an important part of my practice as a therapist, when you ask how I got into therapy. I think it's a really nice story to be able to share with clients that actually through my own experience of having cancer. And it's inspired me to want to give that. I do see it as a gift to other people.

[CHRIS]

Yes. And I share too, because I've gotten some brainspotting for myself and by sharing my experiences and how much it has helped me, because I feel like I couldn't be as good of a therapist if I didn't experience it. Like I'm, oh, I'm going to do brainspotting with you, but I've never done it.

[NATASHA]

To be on this case, I'd love to know more about brainspotting. I know you're interviewing me. It's not something I'm familiar with.

[CHRIS]

Ooh, okay. I always think everybody knows. It's a, you've probably heard about EMDR. It came from that originally. David Grant is the person that created it. So with EMDR, you're doing more of the eye movements back and forth. But with brainspotting, we try to use the, I feel to find a brain spot. We call it where they might have more activation in their body. Let's say, if you are anxious and you felt, you know, I feel it in my chest. And then if you move your eyes to the left and you notice that increases or other symptoms come up with, not symptoms, but activation symptoms could be like sweating or other things. And that increases and then we stay in that spot, wherever that I spot is. We use what's called a pointer to help guide clients with that and just allow that mindfulness in the moment.

So because that's basically going into the deeper parts of the brain and connecting with that, but it's basically focusing on their healing, allowing their brain to help them heal and process and accepting whatever comes up and being with it, whatever emotions, thoughts, feelings, images. And you never know what's going to come up and some of the healing that comes out of it. And as I explain to clients that I got out of it, and then what they get is just like, we never would have gotten this through regular talk therapy. This is amazing. It's very profound. That's the word I use.

[NATASHA]

Well, that sounds really interesting. And I am aware of the EMDR therapy. It's something on my radar to add to my training. So maybe I'm can brainspot in as far ---

[CHRIS]

Yes, I love it. Well, actually the funny part is the guy that created brainspotting, David Grant, he used to teach EMDR. So he was really skilled in that, but then he found brainspotting was just so impactful, even more just staying in those certain spots or using, we call it resource spots too. The other part is. If something's too activating, then we try to use a spot where they feel calmer, more relaxed.

[NATASHA]

It sounds really interesting.

[CHRIS]

Good self-care.

[NATASHA]

Yes. Is that a therapy that you do with people in the room with you? Obviously with the pandemic --

[CHRIS]

No. You can do it on telehealth.

[NATASHA]

Can you?

[CHRIS]

Oh yes. And the interesting part is you can teach clients how to use it themselves too. We call it self-spawning. So it's another tool.

[NATASHA]

Okay. This sounds really good.

[CHRIS]

Yes. So good self-care for therapists. So is there anything else Natasha, you wanted to share today that I might've missed?

[NATASHA]

I don't think so. I think we've obviously talked about the resource, which is the main purpose for me being here. It's been nice to share a bit about what I do in my practice and to learn a little bit more about you as well, Chris.

[CHRIS]

Yes. Well, did you have any other thoughts on self-care for therapists? Anything else that you want to recommend?

[NATASHA]

Yes. I guess the main thing is to always ensure that you are checking in with yourself and that's why the resource My Little Therapy Box that we've talked about today is a way of doing that. You know, it can become, if you don't look after yourself properly, it can become overwhelming. And the work that we do as therapists, day-to-day we're dealing with people's trauma and distress, emotions. And that's not an easy job. I absolutely love what I do. I do feel like I was put on this earth to work with other people and to support them because sometimes even I need to recognize when I need to have a break. So I think it's about checking in. Now, it's starting to become more familiar, like you would probably advise clients to do, getting more aware of and becoming more aware of it when you might be starting to need some support or when you might need to slow the pace down a bit.

And of course the resources, one way to help you to focus on different areas of your life that you may be struggling with. But I think that's one of the biggest things is just make sure you're conscious of checking in on yourself. So what I mean by that is if you notice that maybe you are feeling irritable or you are feeling more anxious, like you were saying, after working with that client that was bringing something for you that you were feeling, then just having some time to reflect on what that might be. Is it due to being overworked? Do you need more time to rest? Do you need to put more boundaries in place in terms of like work hours, breaks, things like that? One thing I do is I'm very boundaried in terms of the days that I work. I work for myself. So I'll choose to work with clients three days a week because that ensures for me, it gives me enough downtime that when I am working with clients, I can be the best version of me.

[CHRIS]

Yes. That makes sense too, to really look at your schedule and make sure that you're not burning yourself out as well. Because I used to do five days a week with clients and that was hard. I don't feel like I was as effective either because you can't be. You're giving so much of yourself.

[NATASHA]

I'm really enjoying the way I'm working now. I used to work for a children and adolescent service for a local authority, is what we call them over here. I don't know if you would call that, like when you have different councils, does that make sense?

[CHRIS]

Not sure.

[NATASHA]

So like social services.

[CHRIS]

Oh, okay, like child protective services.

[NATASHA]

Yes. So I worked in children's mental health and used to do that over five days, which was fine. But now I work in private practice and I've got the choice. I don't need to work hard days. I know I could earn more money. I could squeeze those kinds of things all day, Thursday and Friday, but what would I be left with?

[CHRIS]

But I think it goes back to we're more vulnerable, aren't we, as counselors and therapists, because of all that we have to give it's different than someone who works in a field that's not helping people.

[NATASHA]

Yes. And I just think when you have got the choice, if you are in private practice and you have got the choice to make your work around your life and to make sure your happiness is a priority, and how is that going to translate into the work you do with your clients? And you can become also a role model for that parallel process of demonstrating and practicing what you preach.

[CHRIS]

So true. So what's the best way for listeners to find you and learn more about you?

[NATASHA]

The best way to find the product is www.mylittletherapyboxltd.com. That's where you can,

[CHRIS]

Um, we'll have it in the show notes

[NATASHA]

And you can have a little look at the box if you want to learn more about me and my counseling practice. That's w www.thisismecounseling.com.

[CHRIS]

Thanks for coming on the podcast today.

[NATASHA]

It's okay. It's been a pleasure and lovely to

[CHRIS]

Absolutely. And thank you to my listeners for checking out this episode. Please remember to help support the podcast and share this on your social media and send it to a colleague. This is Chris McDonald sending each one of you much light and love. Until next time, take care.

If you're loving the show, will you rate review and subscribe on your favorite podcast platform? We just started this and that helps other people find this show. Also, if you're feeling uncertain about your modalities and you want to build your confidence to be your unique self, why don't you to join my free email course, Becoming a Holistic Counselor over holisticcounselingpodcast.com. In my Becoming a Holistic Counselor course, you'll get tips for adding integrative care into your practice, what training you need and don't, and the know-how to attract your ideal holistic clients. If this sounds like the direction you are headed, sign up at holisticcounselingpodcast.com.

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