Wednesday, 31 August 2011
Monday, 29 August 2011
This slim volume is an account of David Rennie’s approach to person centred counselling. The book started as a set of training materials, its ideas tested in the training room, but the book is also informed by Rennie’s own practitioner-research and by the suggestions of peers such as Mearns and Thorne. We are left with a short, lucid and well written account of Rennie’s ideas for developing the person centred approach and one that will undoubtedly improve the therapeutic skills of every reader.
At the heart of Rennie’s understanding is the client as reflexive agent. In other words the client’s job in therapy is to reflect on their experience and from that reflection arrive at a deeper understanding of the issues that confront them and the choices they can make. Rennie believes that greater understanding can lead to greater agency.
The therapists job is to keep the client on track with their reflections and to use empathic and process orientated interventions to deepen the client’s exploration. Empathic communication includes paraphrasing and reflecting, the interventions one would expect from a person centred therapist. But Rennie also advocates presenting the client with visual imagery and metaphors, symbolic representations that can emerge out of the clients experience as reported to the counsellor, or from the counsellor’s unconscious, in tune with the client’s experience.
There is an excellent chapter on transparency with sound advice on when counsellor’s ought to express congruency; but Rennie’s greatest contributions to person centred therapy are in his chapters on process identification, process direction and meta-communication. Rennie argues that therapists are able to deepen the clients exploration of their experience and the felt-sense associated with it by encouraging reflexivity, and this can be promoted if the therapist appropriately comments on the client’s process issues. At its simplest this involves pointing out what the client is doing: “As you said that you raised your eyebrows”. This brings into the client’s awareness thoughts and behaviours that were out of awareness and as a result the client becomes more self-aware. Rennie’s discussion of metacommunication invites therapists to deepen their relationships with clients by commenting on the meaning behind their own or their client’s communication.
There are some things I disagree with in Rennie’s book. I do not think, as Rennie does, for example, that it’s OK for the contracting process to become a “five minute routine”. I see the contract as part of the therapy and an opportunity to explore with the client their anxieties about therapy and issues such as confidentiality. But this small book has a great deal to offer therapists looking to deepen their contact with clients and I will be urging my students to read it.
Rennie, D.L. (1998). Person-Centred Counselling: an Experiential Approach, London: Sage
Friday, 26 August 2011
Thursday, 25 August 2011
Enables you to organise notes, projects and cuttings from the Web. It syncs with your laptop and PC and saves all your work onto the cloud. I keep a daily journal, take notes on the books I'm reading and work on my writing projects, all accessible from any device. I can even take a photo or make voice memos. My favourite app.
Fantastic envelope budgeting software to manage a household budget. You can create up to 10 envelopes with cash in. Record what you spend and it deducts the amount from your envelopes and tells you if your budget is on track or if you have over spent.
The best to-do list app for Android- and I've tried lots of them. It lets me create and name multiple task lists, enables me to set the priority and due date. I have it as a widget on my HTC Sensation. It also syncs with Google Tasks but I haven't been successful as yet.
A great music player if you can't get used to playlists. Keep your mp3s in folders as God intended. Drag them from your PC into your phone's music folder and Folder Play will play the contents of each folder or any individual tracks therein. Simplicity!
The notebook app for me. Easy to use: type up notes, lists and memos then share them with other apps including Evernote. Think I paid a couple of quid, but I appreciate it's uncluttered and simple to use interface.
Superb program that enables you to share large files across several devices. If you are working on a report put the document in Dropbox and you have it available on your laptop, phone and PC. Work on the report, put it back in Dropbox and it updates the document on all your other devices automatically, so you are always working on the latest version. I can also put a document in Dropbox and then send my students a web link so they can go and download it to their desktops
Allows you take pictures of a document or book page by page, it then assembles all your pages in order and creates a PDF out of them just like a mini photocopier. Great to have on your phone when in the library
COLLINS DICTIONARY AND THESAURUS
This dictionary costs a few quid but is an excellent tool. Download the database so you can look up words and synonyms without a connection to the Web. I access it all the time and its detailed definitions are a great help.
Sets off an alarm at a time and date of your choosing so you don't forget important stuff.
Free to install and has a wider choice of books than the pre-installed reader on my HTC phone.
DAYS LEFT WIDGET PRO
Allows me to count down the days until the next assignment deadline.
Wednesday, 24 August 2011
First of all - like fish and chips - self-esteem and confidence are related but quite different concepts. Self-esteem involves some kind of measurement, from the Latin aestimare meaning ‘estimate’. It involves a self-assessment - the measurement of our own self-worth.
Tuesday, 23 August 2011
Thornton is claiming that just at the time Freud developed his most contentious theories, such as the Oedipus Complex, he was misusing and suffering the symptoms of cocaine addiction. How else, she argues can we explain Freud's belief in the sexual origins of the neuroses. My understanding is that Freud had come to the seduction theory because that is what his patients had been telling him and that Freud's reading and research in the late 1880s at La Salpetriere, which pointed to high levels of sexual abuse in French society, had made more believable the disclosures made by his patients.
Thornton's analysis of the Anna O case is an excellent read. She argues that Anna O was not hysterical but suffering from meningitis contracted whilst nursing her father who had died of tuberculosis. She charts the changes in Anna O's presentation and makes the case for an organic cause, principally brain lesions, where Breuer had ascribed a psychological cause. She makes use of research by Ellenberger (1972) who had discovered what happened to Anna O after her treatment ended. It turned out to be an orderly handover to other physicians rather than the story put about by Freud in which Anna O developed a hysterical pregnancy that caused Breuer and his wife to flee the country. Ellenberger discovered that Anna O had not been cured by Breuer and that the account of her treatment in Studies of Hysteria differed from the contemporaneous case notes made by Breuer and found with Anna O's medical file in the asylum at Bellevue. Thornton also suggests that another case of Freud’s, "Frau Emmy", was not suffering from hysteria but almost certainty a variant of Tourette's disease. She suggests that Freud was mistaken when he took mild tonic seizures to be evidence of the effectiveness of the cathartic method. Thornton also writes about Freud’s “pathological” treatment of 'Dora', another of his cases with epilepsy rather than hysteria. Freud analysed Dora and her dreams, and with an imaginative use of symbolism discovered a sexual cause to 'Dora's' neuroses but after three months 'Dora' discontinued her therapy.
Sunday, 21 August 2011
Here is a snippet of a Class Divided. My good friend Ian sent me a link to the 55 minute Google video here. It is an amazing documentary about Jane Elliot’s action research. Children are taught about discrimination by being assigned “top dog” and “under dog” roles according to the colour of their eyes. It's a piece of experiential learning that radically changes the attitudes of the children involved. Not sure it would be passed by the ethics committee these days!
The children developed their prejudices quickly, causing a great deal of distress for their peers in the process. It transpired that the status of the children had a great impact on their academic performance. By the end of the experiment the children had increased empathy for people experiencing discrimination and had bonded as a group. In this documentary Elliot takes her message to a prison and the prison staff are shown attending a workshop none of them will ever forget!
In this video Brene Brown gives a TED talk on what I think is an eternal verity: as humans we need connection to give our lives meaning. What gets in the way of connection is shame, the belief that if people really knew who we were then they would reject us. Those who enjoy connection in their lives have the courage to be vulnerable, to be authentic and to be truly their selves. When that happens connections are established and we find meaning and nourishment. This is the challenge for me and for counsellors and psychotherapists: to live a wholehearted life, to risk feeling vulnerable and to have the courage and the compassion to really connect.