May, 2014

Glass half full ……

I am prompted to blog this morning because of the efficient and understanding service I have just received from my bank.  I made and error over the weekend which they have quickly and kindly corrected for me this morning.  I couldn’t have asked for better customer service.

In fact, I am often surprised at just how lucky I and my family are in our interactions with people and institutions.  I have always received good and timely treatment through the NHS, as has my husband.  Even his non life threatening but painful and incapacitating knee problem was quickly and effectively sorted.

And yet every where I go I hear complaints, grumbles, horror stories.  Am I just lucky or is it simply the case that only bad news is news?  It would be good to hear and see reported the positive experiences I am sure many people must have.  Maybe you’d like to share your stories with me.

Victims of abuse

I recently listened to the Moral Maze on Radio 4. in the wake of the suicide of Frances Andrade. The closing remarks struck a chord. Do victims of abuse have a moral obligation to “out” the abuser or testify? My answer would be a definitive “NO”.

A number of my clients have been abused, some of them horrifically, by both parents or other family members – or indeed strangers – over many years. Some have taken a decision to move on with their lives, put it behind them (and in some cases the abuse has been cruel and systematic) but the danger is past and why would they want to relive it all when, whilst it has shaped them, it is firmly in their past.

For others the ramifications to their family, their children’s families and their wider environment would bring their whole world crashing down. They take the decision to take precautions to protect vulnerable family members where necessary but not to “out” the abuser and I have to respect that decision.

So, some victims are more vulnerable than others. We need to protect the innocent but we also have to respect the individual’s decision to testify or not to testify without apportioning blame.

The Rewind Technique

I may have talked before about the Rewind Technique which is such a very useful tool in treating phobias and also PTSD. It seems a bit awkward and cumbersome to administer but it is almost magic in its effectiveness.

I am enthusing about it now as I have just used it very successfully with a client who was raped many years ago. She thought that she had put the incident behind her and recovered from it but a chance comment about her weight by a colleague suddenly brought the trauma back vividly. She tried to cope with these intrusive thoughts by behaving quite out of character in a way that would jeopardise her lovely family relationship and also compromise her work life.

We used the visual/kinaesthetic dissociation technique (VKD) or Fast Phobia Cure accompanied by a deep relaxation. The technique enables the brain to reprocess the trauma and place it safely away in the memory in the “back of the mind” where it can no longer send damaging and intrusive thoughts into the client’s day to day life. Such a very rewarding process.

Coping with clients who bring others to therapy!

I have seen a number of clients recently who have come to counselling because of the difficult behaviours of partners or children.  This is always a difficult one, as clearly we cannot change the other person but we need to be there for our client and help them to feel heard and understood.  There are a few things we can do:

Help the client present to respond differently to the other person’s behaviour.

Help them to be aware of when their buttons are being pushed and either choose not to respond or elect to respond differently. This will prevent the argument, discussion or issue escalating and give our client back control of the situation.

We can help the client understand why the ‘other’ is be behaving in the way that they do.  This understanding can also elicit a different response, more empathic maybe, so that the other party feels heard and understood rather than irritated or taken for granted.

Sometimes it is useful for the client to get help from another family member.  If the problem is a child or teenager, maybe more interaction with the other parent could be useful to diffuse repeated arguments, so that the client is not always the one saying ‘no’.