Why Stories

May 2020


This quiz will give you some indication of MI5 values and culture and how well they match with you.

Click to begin"

One evening in October 2013 I was in my bedroom with a dim light on, completing a last-minute case study in my Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) module for a programme of study accredited by the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) at Birkbeck College, University of London. I could see on the left corner of my laptop screen an invite to take part in a quiz for finding diagnostic screening measures. As it happened, (acknowledging without bragging) I have won that quiz; in less than the time provided, I performed well beyond the requested tasks and managed to present all information on all screening corresponding measures required. As a reply, I was then sent various email messages signed by two course leaders indicating that my award for winning the quiz was going to be announced shortly. I was very grateful for the opportunity to participate in that quiz (and that programme) and much of that learning continues to today. What is unknown about that exact time is that, that same evening I was incredibly bored with reflecting on my case studies – feeling rather tired by the type of information I had to supply/report on each individual case that I was working on and with; studies from my placement not only as a honorary counsellor within the NHS but also from across all my client work services, many at that time. When all were put to rest with that quiz that evening, I made a good regroup on my mind and I ventured out from psychology forums and forms to some other quizzes coming up on my screen. One such prospective inquiry came from MI5 security services ( I took the investigative challenge first and scored 4 out of 8. Then, within a few seconds, I reattempted the same challenge and got 8/8 score—100% pass.

It must be said that I had no intention of furthering my analytical skills or investigative skills at that time, but some form of information or advert must have popped up on my screen for that to become a next action on my part. Needless to say that by completing several quizzes within my domain of psychological studies, a certain understanding of how such screen tasks are open to interpretation can then be furthered by completing other, similar quizzes, especially when they are so readily available and prompted by a need to switch tasks. I do not gamble, I do not have a gambling mind and I only complete Sudoku on my commute to work to pass the time, and until that evening there was a clear understanding that at the very core of me there is no desire to challenge my mind unnecessarily; it is enough with what I do on a day-to-day basis. But after getting that result of 100% in such a complex scenario almost screaming out from the screen, I did feel a tad frightened—not excited but frightened. That feeling was born from an understanding that there is a large, significant part of me that is able to compartmentalize and re/evaluate types of involvement in different relationships on a dynamic between personal and professional levels. The investigative challenge had many aspects to consider, one such aspect was a clear reference between type of relationships developed at both personal and professional level and frameworks of understanding. I did not like that about me, that capacity to be quite so clear and distinct about personal life and professional life, perhaps because at that exact time, much of my responsibilities were shifting towards re/training and life-work balance was center point. I took that investigative challenge several times afterwards, at different intervals of time, and independently of the time, my mind found similar answers; I passed that quiz with high scores. 

So, readers might wonder how, why and what  this story has anything to do with ‘relationships and what are they' question from the title of the blog: that is in fact what is aimed to be pursued here as an argument. My answer is that all such events from that evening are quite significant.  A diagnostic screening measures quiz won towards my new career combined with an investigative challenge, allowed me to rediscover a sense of self or self awareness about various aspects of planned behaviour - and such awareness had guided me in all my work decisions since that evening: it was and still is of significance to my understanding of how I apply myself to both my personal and professional aspects and the skills I use in doing exactly that—distinguishing between the personal and the professional.  Such understanding has been of much help to me when working for the NHS and being impartial to both the NHS as an organisation (client 1) and to the NHS staff ( client 2)  - working in such a dynamic it is not easy but it is extremely rewarding and I would not change such experience for anything in the world. At the same time, I also acknowledge that aspects of professional and personal are complex in such a dynamic - as ultimately I am but one person and having to re/negotiate understandings between various structures it is absolutely not an easy task. I am convinced that that evening in October helped.

Relationships are hard, negotiating between wants and haves and dreams of one with dreams of two, etc; relationships are also hard because an individual understanding and self-growth must always check in with values of self and standards of where one is positioning herself/himself within larger structures of society.

Culture is of great weight in such a quest of inquiry. Much of my time during this lockdown had been assigned to de-cluttering my inbox email accounts, reassigning promotional emails and social emails and separating all that is so called  “primary”. Good job then, that in less than thirty minutes more than 27,230 emails were safely deleted from my accounts, making space on my drive for more incoming. One such email was inspected late yesterday evening as it had an interesting subject line: attachment! When I opened and read it, I found it was an outline of a book read in 2012, named “The Science of Persuasion” by Robert Cialdini. A great text, extremely informative on the negotiation of not the private and the public self, but the personal and more personal; what, if anything, can be seen as an incentive to be attentive in our professional life towards our colleagues. I do abide and adhere to the BACP ethics and professional framework, so things are quite clear on my mind around that, but the findings from Cialdini’s case studies on cultural differences were, once again, a great read/reminder. In simple form, it stated that:

"the author discusses the psychological tendencies that come into play in persuasion. The scientific study of the process of social influence has been under way for well over half a century, beginning in earnest with the propaganda, public information and persuasion programs of World War II. Since that time, numerous social scientists have investigated the ways in which one individual can influence another's attitudes and actions. Six basic tendencies of human behaviour come into play in generating a positive response: reciprocation, consistency, social validation, liking, authority and scarcity. As these six tendencies help to govern our business dealings, our societal involvements and our personal relationships, knowledge of the rules of persuasion can truly be thought of as empowerment. Reciprocity includes more than gifts and favors; it also applies to concessions that people make to one another. [P]ublic commitments, even seemingly minor ones, direct future action. One fundamental way that we decide what to do in a situation is to look to what others are doing or have done there. If many individuals have decided in favor of a particular idea, we are more likely to follow, because we perceive the idea to be more correct, more valid. People prefer to say yes to those they like. Of course, most commercial transactions take place beyond the homes of friends. Under these much more typical circumstances, those who wish to commission the power of liking employ tactics clustered around certain factors that research has shown to work. Physical attractiveness can be such a tool. INSET: Influence across Cultures."


In short, the above story is about relationships and circumstances and understandings. It is imperative that understanding who you are is a start in any exploration of understanding how you relate—first to yourself, and then to the world. I hope the above story helps the reader.


M.A I. Day (2020), New Beginnings Therapy, Blog: ARE YOU MI5 READY?: relationships and what are they?, retrieved at;

Scientific American Special Edition; Jan 2004 Special Edition, Vol. 14 Issue 1, p70-77, 8p, 6 Color Photographs, 1 Black and White Photograph