Counselling Theory & Practice

Trauma, ASD and PTSD

What is “trauma”? The word seems to be used inconsistently in the mental health field, sometimes referring to an adverse event and sometimes describing the psychological injury sustained from experiencing such an event. “Trauma” comes from the Greek word for “wound, hurt, or defeat”; before 1700 it was used to mean a physical injury, the sense in which many medical practitioners today use the word... »

Loss and Grief: Why We All Grieve Differently

Grief is the universal, instinctual and adaptive reaction to loss, and particularly, the loss of a loved one (Dialogues in clinical neuroscience, 2012). It is a natural response, and can be anything from missing out on a scholarship to loss of limbs through accident to loss of a car or other possessions through theft. Surely the most painful loss is that of someone we love through death. Loss is a... »

Social Media: Breeding Ground for Multiple Relationships

It starts out innocently. You email the client a scanned copy of an article relevant to something that came up in session. She emails you back to say thank you, and then asks a question related to her therapy, which you feel duty-bound to answer, so you do; before you know it, there is regular email exchange taking place. A few weeks later, she rings on your cell phone to clarify something you sai... »

Counselling and Social Media: Opportunities and Risks

When Marshall McLuhan stated that “the medium is the message” (1964), he probably didn’t realise how prophetic his words would become a half-century later. Yet the exponential growth in online technology shapes ever more firmly how individuals learn, interact, and entertain themselves. Mental health professionals have offered treatment via communication technologies since the 1990s (Smith & Reynol... »

Traps for the Unwary: Ways Practitioners Build Resistance in Clients

Most practitioners would be shocked to hear it, but without realising it, many build resistance in clients – lowering their capacity to engage – through protocols and habits which communicate something very different to the client than what the practitioner is asking or intends to convey (Rosengren, 2009). In this article, we explore five ways in which practitioners may inadvertently build resista... »

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 ... »

Motivational Interviewing and Anxiety

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults age 18 and older (18 percent of the U.S. population) (ADAA, 2014). The percentage is similar in Australia, with 14.4 percent of Australians being affected by an anxiety disorder in any 12 month period (Mindframe, 2012). Even though only one-third of those in both countries seek treatment for the ... »

Chronic Pain: Definition, Statistics and Causes

Chronic pain affects 29 percent of Australians, which means that at any given time nearly three out of ten people are suffering in some way (Stollznow Research for Pfizer Australia, 2010). When we add the emotional, physical, and financial challenges of those who care for them, the percentage of lives touched by chronic pain is much higher. In this article, we’ll define chronic pain, and look at s... »

The Efficacy of CBT Treatment for Depression

The plethora of studies evaluating the efficacy and effectiveness of CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) over the last few decades has shown generally solid results for CBT as a treatment for depression (and many other disorders) with different groups, in different modes of delivery, and in manifold settings. There is no controversy on one fundamental finding: there is a vast amount of evidence show... »

User-friendly Therapeutic Strategies for Intellectual Disability

What can a therapist do in session to make any therapy more intellectually attainable, or user-friendly, to someone who has at least cognitive limitations, but who also may be struggling with communicative deficits, sensory impairment, and/or psychological conditions? Morasky (2007) proposes a series of dimensions along which strategies can be evolved to adapt counselling and therapy (and he says,... »

Principles and Techniques of Motivational Interviewing

If you have even a small track record of helping people change, you are familiar with the dynamics regarding change: client presents with problem (often precipitated by a crisis), becomes aware of compelling reasons to adopt a healthier lifestyle or cease harmful behaviours, and then hems and haws, straddling the fence with incomprehensible ambivalence. Persuading the client with logic, browbea... »

Interpersonal Therapy: History and Theoretical Background

Interpersonal psychotherapy has been defined as a time-limited, dynamically-informed psychotherapy which aims to alleviate clients’ suffering while improving their interpersonal functioning. It is concerned with the interpersonal context: the relational factors that predispose, precipitate, and perpetuate the client’s distress. It is widely, but not exclusively, used to treat mood disorders. Rathe... »

Hard-wired to connect: Mirror neurons and empathy

Many people have suspected for a long time that we human beings are designed to be able to experience things happening for another person: in good times or in bad. So we see a stranger clumsily bump their head on a low-hanging branch at the park, and we flinch, too. We hear that a friend has gotten some good news about a medical diagnosis, and we are genuinely happier. Yet although we have suspect... »

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... »

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