Social Support

Helping and Stress Management

Stress is any pressure, demand, or threat placed on an organism (say, a human being) that causes a need to re-establish balance or “equilibrium”. The Oxford Dictionary online adds that stress is “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.” In this article, we look at stress management from the perspective of a helper: that is, anyone who is ... »

Caring for others: Ethical considerations

In two previous articles we discussed the process of providing emotional and psychological (or social) support to others – including the reasons why we help; the traps we can fall into as we attempt to help others; and the typical needs and motivations behind supporting others. In this article, we delve into key ethical considerations when providing social support, including the adoption of a code... »

Caring for Others: Avoiding Common Traps

In the first article in this series we highlighted needs and motivations behind providing emotional and psychological support to others, touching on the “shadow” side of helping: trying to meet personal needs through the helping relationship. Both professional and non-professional helpers can unwittingly do this, even when they are meticulous, highly ethical helpers, so it is crucial to gain an un... »

Caring for others: Why do we do it?

When a friend is going through a hard time, we often think about how we can lend a hand and provide emotional support. But are we always aware of the reasons why we want to help? Is it because we feel obliged? Or perhaps because we just want to help – to be there for someone who has been around for us when we needed? We’d like to say, “It doesn’t matter what unresolved issues are hiding in your... »

Psychoeducation: Definition, Goals and Methods

Psychoeducation has been termed the combining of “the empowerment of the affected” with “scientifically-founded treatment expertise” in as efficient a manner as possible (Bauml, Frobose, Kraemer, Rentrop, & Pitschel-Walz, 2006/2014). A common understanding is that psychoeducation “refers to the education offered to people with a mental health condition” (Wikipedia, 2014). More broadly, it is also ... »

Challenges of Families with a Parent Working Away from Home Base

For modern Australian families there is another dimension of challenge that sits just outside the framework of what used to be considered “normal”. Much has been said about the mining boom and the advantages that it has brought to this country’s economy in what are generally troubled economic times globally. Similarly, few Australians would argue about the necessity for Defence Force personnel to ... »

Family Issues When There is Disability, Illness, or Serious Injury

Have you ever experienced anyone in your family becoming seriously ill or disabled? Chances are that it was a difficult time for you. When a family member is stricken with a physical injury, illness or disability, the ramifications of that change go far beyond the physical, often causing deep-level re-alignment of membership roles, responsibilities, and expectations as the family deals with the pr... »

Challenges of Families Who Experience Domestic Violence

There is no way around it; all four functions of a family are put at risk in the sad situation of family violence, and to a large degree the risk factors are interrelated. Focusing first on Function One, family formation and membership, we can comprehend how the pervasiveness of family violence in Australia (which is a microcosm of the global picture) hugely distorts the capacity of the family to ... »

Challenges of Blended and Step “Remarried” Families

The “blending” of a re-marriage means that the old norms, rules, and ways of gaining acceptance are now null and void. Blended and step family members generally do not realise this at the outset, wanting to re-create the biological family of origin (the children’s desire), or the first marriage (the spouses’ unconscious wish). They cannot. In remarriages, there are at least three types of “emotion... »

Challenges of Single-parent Families Due to Death or Separation

In this article we will explore challenges faced by single-parent families due to death or separation. But before we dive into this subject, we encourage you to explore a little background information that will set the tone for the series. First, we recommend you read the article Trends and Statistics of the Contemporary Family to understand some of the emergent trends and statistical truths about... »

Fostering Resilience: In-session boosters to help clients bounce back

Suppose someone asks you, a mental health practitioner, “What is the most important thing you do as a counsellor (psychotherapist/psychologist/social worker) for your clients?” Your response might go along the lines of “helping them sort out their problems”, “educating them and inspiring them to make their lives work,” or possibly “providing support and a safe container while they explore new [pre... »

What is Psychological First Aid?

Imagine for a moment that you are a survivor of a powerful cyclone. Let’s say that you and all your loved ones managed to get out safely, but you arrived at the community shelter with only a backpack each of essential medicines, basic documents (such as your birth certificate and passport), and a few precious photos. There was not time to grab more. After the winds receded and you were allowed to ... »

What Does Resilience Look Like?

As a counsellor or other mental health professional, of course you help your clients deal with difficult life events when they come to your therapy rooms. But how do you boost their capacity to prevail over adversity when they are not with you? Most of the time when mental health professionals talk about resilience, they are referring to psychological hardiness, primarily, and physical toughnes... »

Social Support Development Skills

The saying that “no man is an island” seems not truer anywhere than in the realm of resilience. Happiness author and business coach Alvah Parker lists ten traits of resilient, happy people. In the very first one she notes that resilient people “are strong people who realize the importance of having a good social support system and are able to surround themselves with supportive friends and family”... »

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