Counselling Theory & Practice

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... »

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... »

Counselling and the Brain: Five Major Processes

The research in neuroscience is highly supportive of counselling’s emphasis on deep listening, empathic understanding, strength building, and wellness (Ivey, Ivey, Zalaquett, & Quirk, 2011). Counselling is shown to change the organisation of the brain: a learning process as the brain responds to stimuli and creates neural pathways to accommodate new information (Ivey, 2009). “Information” includes... »

Treating Anxiety with CBT: The Evidence

Generally considered a short-term therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) often consists of about 8 to 12 sessions in which client and therapist work collaboratively to identify problem thoughts and behaviours (click here to learn more about CBT’s principles and practices). CBT is considered the gold standard in the psychotherapeutic treatment of anxiety disorders and several meta-analyses (i... »

What is CBT? Principles and Practices

If you are a mental health helper of almost any stripe: social worker, counsellor, psychologist, psychotherapist, or even psychiatrist, it would be surprising for you not to have heard of CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy), such is its fame in the mental health professions. We can broadly define it as a combination of cognitive and behavioural therapeutic approaches used to help clients modify limi... »

Motivational interviewing: Definitions, Spirit, and What It Is Not

The initial description of motivational interviewing (MI), provided by William Miller in 1983, has evolved through both clinical experience and empirical research into the evidence-based practice it is known as today. Differing from more “coercive” methods for motivating change, motivational interviewing does not impose change, but supports it in a way which is congruent with the person’s own valu... »

Counselling and the Neurobiology of Personal Experience

The research in neuroscience is highly supportive of counselling’s emphasis on deep listening, empathic understanding, strength building, and wellness (Ivey, Ivey, Zalaquett, & Quirk, 2011). Counselling is shown to change the organisation of the brain: a learning process as the brain responds to stimuli and creates neural pathways to accommodate new information (Ivey, 2009). “Information” includes... »

Creative Therapies and Intellectual Disability

There is wide agreement among writers on issues of intellectual disability that there isn’t much agreement on the effectiveness of counselling and psychotherapy with clients who have intellectual disability; the state of the art is “controversial” (Prout, Chard, Nowak-Drabik, & Johnson, 2000; Bhaumik, et al, 2011; WWILD, 2012). Prout et al cited historical reviews of Eysenck (1965) and Levitt ... »

Grief and the Four Tasks of Mourning

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 the loss of limbs through an accident to loss of a car or other possessions through theft. Surely the most painful loss is that of someone we love through death.... »

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 ... »

What is Motivational Interviewing?

The initial description of motivational interviewing (MI), provided by William Miller in 1983, has evolved through both clinical experience and empirical research into the evidence-based practice it is known as today. Differing from more “coercive” methods for motivating change, motivational interviewing does not impose change, but supports it in a way which is congruent with the person’s own valu... »

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