Doing things fast or slowly

Recently I picked up a children’s story book published in 1948 and was reading some of the stories for children around the age of 9-10. I noticed how much longer and more detailed the stories were then and reflected on how nowadays books for children tend to be shorter and snappier with lots of illustrations along the way. Then things were taken at a slower pace and there was less of a need to get to the end or attain a finish than there is now. Our current world has many wonderful achievements, use of internet being one of them, which allows us quick and easy access to a hugely wide wealth of information. But there is an ever increasing trend to get what we want fast and with minimal effort; how many of us will read the headline or first paragraph of an online news item or Facebook posting before going on to the next thing?

This comes into the therapy room as well, people come in distressed and unhappy and reasonably want to feel better – who wouldn’t? It is hard to bear pain, sometimes incredibly intense painful experiences and the need for relief is real and understandable. However, at times there seems to be a pressure for solutions or ways to ‘manage’ feelings, to be able to feel positive out of a belief that this is – or should be – the norm. And the reality is different, at times life in naturally painful – how can there be gain if there is no loss? – and part of therapy is to stay in the process and to be in the ‘story’ without having to get to the happy ending so fast.

So in therapy  I find myself often in the delicate dance of looking at ways to relieve pain (and that may at times include strategies) and at the same time looking at ways to check in with ourselves, to notice ourselves and gain a richer sense of ourselves. It is these two equally important elements that ultimately seems to help people find their way in their lives.

Thoughts on time management

People often talk about how difficult it is to manage time. Time, in itself, is not a real thing – while we measure it in units that we have created – hours, minutes, months etc. – it is really how we interpret time that is important. Is time going fast or slow for us? How do we measure time as we become older?

Western time marks time as linear – we have a past, present and future – but there are other societies who see time as something more cyclical, that we can return to past events and that life and death are a continuing cycle. For instance in Madagascar people there think of the future as actually being behind them and the past is in front of them because one is not yet known and the other is observable – so the past can be looked at and learnt from rather than forgotten or disregarded as not useful as it has gone behind us.

So if we allow ourselves to treat time differently and to realise that we can soften our perception of it so we can enjoy the moment rather than measuring it then possibly our experience of our own time can be different.

(Taken from ‘Psychologies’ 12.2016)

Music therapy for young people

A study carried out by Queens University Belfast has demonstrated the power of music in treating young people with depression. This supports the anecdotal experience that music can have a strong effect on ones emotions. Almost everybody can point to at least one piece of music that can lift their mood. Singing alone or in a choir is something that can have a real benefit to a persons sense of well being. We are so used to thinking that talking and understanding is the key to feeling better but often something non verbal can be just as helpful and it is at our fingertips so it is useful to hold this in mind.

value of psychotherapy

Should any wonder the value of psychotherapy, a lovely book to read on this is one called ‘The Examined Life’ by Stephen Grodz, a psychoanalytical psychotherapist practicing primarily in London. He offers vignetts and insights into his clinical work and I quote here  from the book something a friend of his in analysis commented on when talking about how the psychotherapy had helped him. It is about discovering the ability to be able to choose how to live ones life rather than to be living on automat. Here is the extract from the book – ” ‘I’m more aware of what is going on behind the scenes,’ Tom told me. ‘And that gives me a degree of choice. When I find myself feeling hurt or depressed, i can try and decode the feeling – i can decide if it’s something i’m doing or something that is being done to me. this gives me a way out. When you have no choice you are doomed, you’re stuck in a web of reproach and self reproach….having a choice is a very, very big liberation.'”

That for me is a lovely summary of psychotherapy.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Russ Harris

If you are looking for a useful and easy to read explanation of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy then google Russ Harris – he is a GP and therapist who offers training around the world in ACT and has published numerous books and papers. One particular paper is called ‘Embracing Your Demons’ and can easily be found on the internet. It describes one of the philosophies of ACT of finding a way to live with your ‘demons’ rather than to try and get rid of or ignore them.

What is a Clinical Psychologist?

What is a clinical psychologist?  A clinical psychologist is a person who, after doing an undergraduate degree usually in psychology, then goes on to to a doctoral degree in clinical,psychology. The doctorate is both academic and practical and in the UK the doctoral clinical psychology student will have to undergo 5 placements in clinical settings where they are rigorously supervised and guided in order to ensure they have  developed the breadth and depth of training to make them competent practitioners. This is in addition to their studies and dissertation. As well as being expected to be competent clinical practitioners, clinical,psychologists are expected to be competent also in research, consultation and service development. They will usually be expected to learn a minimum of two models of therapy .  Upon completing training every clinical,psychologist is by law registered with the governing body Health and Professional Social Care (HCPC) in order to ensure a continuing high level of practice and also to ensure that the public know that they are being seen by someone who is properly trained.