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  • What Is Interpersonal Psychotherapy? A Clinical Psychology Podcast Episode.

    Besides from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, the other form of psychotherapy that I have heard tons about is interpersonal psychotherapy. Personally, from what I have actually learnt about the therapy during my lectures, I prefer CBT to Interpersonal, but now I want to learn more. Therefore, in this clinical psychology podcast episode, you’ll learn what is interpersonal psychotherapy, how does it work amongst other fascinating topics. If you enjoy learning about psychotherapy, clinical psychology and mental health then this is a great episode for you. Today’s psychology podcast episode has been sponsored by Psychology Of Relationships: The Social Psychology Of Friendships, Romantic Relationships And More. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it. Also available as an AI-narrated audiobook from selected audiobook platforms and library systems. For example, Kobo, Spotify, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, Overdrive, Baker and Taylor and Bibliotheca. What Is Interpersonal Psychotherapy? Interpersonal Psychotherapy is a focused, time-limited and evidence-based form of psychological therapy that is specifically designed to treat mood disorders. For example, depression and bipolar disorder. Since the main goal of this therapy is to improve the quality of a client’s social functioning as well as their interpersonal relationships because this helps to reduce their psychological distress. In addition, Interpersonal Psychotherapy uses four main strategies to help a client resolve their mental health difficulties. Firstly, Interpersonal Psychotherapy helps a client to manage any unresolved grief they have. Secondly, Interpersonal Psychotherapy addresses any interpersonal deficit a client has, like their involvement in unfulfilling social relationships and social isolation. Thirdly, this therapy can be useful for helping a client deal with a tough life transition like a major move, divorce or retirement. Finally, Interpersonal Psychotherapy is generally recommended for clients dealing with interpersonal disputes that come from conflicting expectations. For example, the expectations from family members, partners, close friends as well as coworkers. How Does Interpersonal Psychotherapy Work? The therapy was developed over 20 years ago as a treatment option for Major Depression and in recent years, the therapy has gained popularity. Since therapists that use Interpersonal Psychotherapy believe that a change in a client’s social environment is a key factor in the onset of depression as well as a maintaining factor. Furthermore, whilst the therapy was originally designed for adults, it has been modified so it can be effectively used for elderly and adolescent clients too. Also, the therapy first appeared in the literature as part of a study looking at the effectiveness of anti-depressants and it was found to be just as effective as medication. Personally, I really like that Interpersonal Psychotherapy acknowledges the “triggering event” in all but name when it comes to depression. Since I know and fully acknowledge that the Diathesis-Stress model is not perfect at all, but I like the model because it’s useful for explaining how a stressful life event can trigger depression. Interpersonal Psychotherapy takes that explanation to a practical level. In addition, Interpersonal Psychotherapy doesn’t really focus on past relationships or the past in general, compared to other psychodynamic approaches. Instead Interpersonal Psychotherapy draws on internal conflicts without making them the focus of the therapy. So there are some similarities between Interpersonal Psychotherapy and psychodynamic approaches but it is more of an off-shoot of that old approach rather than a sibling therapy. Equally, Interpersonal Psychotherapy is different from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and similar approaches because whilst Interpersonal Psychotherapy does focus and deal with maladaptive behaviours and thoughts, it only does this if the maladaptive behaviours and thoughts apply to interpersonal relationships. As a result of Interpersonal Psychotherapy is trying to change the client’s relationship patterns instead of the associated depressive symptoms and it targets the relationship difficulties that end up making these depressive symptoms more severe and common. Overall, Interpersonal Psychotherapy is less directive than cognitive behavioural therapy because whilst the therapy focuses on the client’s specific problem areas without focusing on their personality traits. Personally, something I do like about Interpersonal Psychotherapy is that it takes the “best” pieces from two completely different approaches to mental health and it combines them rather seamlessly. Therefore, clients can benefit from the insights gained from the internal conflicts idea from psychodynamic approaches and the targeting of maladaptive behaviours and thoughts from cognitive behavioural approaches without having to pull along and deal with the other facets of the two approaches. I like how this therapy knows it has to deal with interpersonal relationships and that is all it does. I almost admire that sort of focus. What Can A Client Expect From Interpersonal Psychotherapy? Similar to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Interpersonal Psychotherapy can be done as part of individual or group therapy sessions over 12 to 16 weeks. As well as this therapy makes use of homework, interviews and continuous assessment by the therapist being done over a number of phases. Before I talk about the different phases, group and individual sessions of Interpersonal Psychotherapy work in similar ways. Since group sessions are semi-structured, time-limited and they focus on interpersonal dynamics. Whereas unlike the individual sessions, group therapy sessions offer clients more opportunities to practice their interpersonal skills in a safe and supportive environment. As well as group sessions typically include pre-, mid- and post-treatment meetings individually with the therapist to review the client’s progress, goals and strategies. I have to admit that I don’t typically think too much about group session therapies, because I know they are useful but I haven’t really seen them as extremely useful compared to individual sessions. Yet I think group sessions are brilliant for Interpersonal Psychotherapy because the entire point of this therapy is to improve social skills, and you really can’t practice social skills to a large extent if it is only the client and the therapist. So it’s really good that group therapy sessions are used a lot in Interpersonal Psychotherapy if a client wants it. Moreover, the first phase of Interpersonal Psychotherapy typically involves one to three sessions where the therapist assesses the client’s depressive symptoms, close relationships, social history as well as any changes in relationship expectations or patterns. Afterwards, the therapist works with the client to implement a treatment plan specific to any “problem” areas that they’ve identified with the client. Then over time as the treatment continues and progresses, the targeted problem area will hopefully change. Furthermore, it’s good to be aware here that like most other psychotherapies, Interpersonal Psychotherapy changes as a client goes through it. Since a therapist’s recommended strategies might change as the client’s problem area improves. When Is Interpersonal Psychotherapy Used? As I mentioned earlier, Interpersonal Psychotherapy was originally developed as a treatment for depression but in the past few decades, it is being effectively used to treat a wide range of other mental health conditions. For example, drug and alcohol addiction, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, dysthymia, perinatal depression as well as other mood disorders. Clinical Psychology Conclusion At the end of this slightly shorter podcast episode, I have to admit that I am really glad that we’ve learnt about Interpersonal Psychotherapy because it is a very useful and interesting therapy targeting interpersonal skills and social functioning. And if a client has a mental health condition that is being maintained or caused by a lack of “good” interpersonal skills then this could be a great option for them. And I am still really pleased that it draws on different approaches to mental health, because I fully believe that no one approach holds all the answers and it is only by combining the best pieces of different approaches that we’ll be able to help our clients to the best of our abilities amongst the other attributes that makes an effective therapist but you get my point. Never think you need to be boxed into only using a single approach or therapy, because part the fun of psychotherapy is there are always more interesting, exciting, fascinating concepts and techniques to learn. I really hope you enjoyed today’s clinical psychology podcast episode. If you want to learn more, please check out: FREE 8 PSYCHOLOGY BOOK BOXSET Psychology Of Relationships: The Social Psychology Of Friendships, Romantic Relationships And More. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it. Also available as an AI-narrated audiobook from selected audiobook platforms and library systems. For example, Kobo, Spotify, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, Overdrive, Baker and Taylor and Bibliotheca. Patreon for exclusive access and rewards Have a great day. Clinical Psychology References and Recommended Reading Cuijpers, P., Donker, T., Weissman, M. M., Ravitz, P., & Cristea, I. A. (2016). Interpersonal psychotherapy for mental health problems: a comprehensive meta-analysis. American Journal of Psychiatry, 173(7), 680-687. Heisel, M. J., Talbot, N. L., King, D. A., Tu, X. M., & Duberstein, P. R. (2015). Adapting interpersonal psychotherapy for older adults at risk for suicide. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 23(1), 87-98. Huibers, M. J., Cohen, Z. D., Lemmens, L. H., Arntz, A., Peeters, F. P., Cuijpers, P., & DeRubeis, R. J. (2015). Predicting optimal outcomes in cognitive therapy or interpersonal psychotherapy for depressed individuals using the personalized advantage index approach. PloS one, 10(11), e0140771. Klerman, G. L., & Weissman, M. M. (1994). Interpersonal psychotherapy of depression: A brief, focused, specific strategy. Jason Aronson, Incorporated. Lemmens, L. H. J. M., Arntz, A., Peeters, F. P. M. L., Hollon, S. D., Roefs, A., & Huibers, M. J. H. (2015). Clinical effectiveness of cognitive therapy v. interpersonal psychotherapy for depression: results of a randomized controlled trial. Psychological Medicine, 45(10), 2095-2110. Lemmens, L. H., Galindo-Garre, F., Arntz, A., Peeters, F., Hollon, S. D., DeRubeis, R. J., & Huibers, M. J. (2017). Exploring mechanisms of change in cognitive therapy and interpersonal psychotherapy for adult depression. Behaviour research and therapy, 94, 81-92. Markowitz, J. C., Petkova, E., Neria, Y., Van Meter, P. E., Zhao, Y., Hembree, E., ... & Marshall, R. D. (2015). Is exposure necessary? A randomized clinical trial of interpersonal psychotherapy for PTSD. American Journal of Psychiatry, 172(5), 430-440. Sockol, L. E. (2018). A systematic review and meta-analysis of interpersonal psychotherapy for perinatal women. Journal of affective disorders, 232, 316-328. Weissman, M. M., Markowitz, J. C., & Klerman, G. L. (2017). The guide to interpersonal psychotherapy: updated and expanded edition. Oxford University Press. Wilfley, Denise E., & Shore, Allison L. (2015). Interpersonal Psychotherapy. In International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences (pp. 631-636). Wurm, C, Robertson, M, & Rushton, P. (2008). Interpersonal psychotherapy: An overview. Psychotherapy in Australia, 14(3), 46-54. I truly hope that you’ve enjoyed this blog post and if you feel like supporting the blog on an ongoing basis and get lots of rewards, then please head to my Patreon page. However, if want to show one-time support and appreciation, the place to do that is PayPal. If you do that, please include your email address in the notes section, so I can say thank you. Which I am going to say right now. Thank you! Click  https://www.buymeacoffee.com/connorwhiteley for a one-time bit of support.

  • What Is Acceptance And Commitment Therapy? A Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy Podcast Episode.

    Within clinical psychology, there are a few types of psychological therapy that you hear about time and time again. These include cognitive behavioural therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy amongst others. As well as I often hear about Acceptance and Commitment Therapy but because this therapy isn’t really available on the National Health Service in the UK, we don’t really learn about it in any great depth. Therefore, in this psychology podcast episode, you’ll learn what is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, how it works, when it used and more. If you enjoy learning about psychotherapy, clinical psychology and mental health then you’ll love today’s episode. Note: as always absolutely nothing on this podcast is ever any sort of professional, medical or official advice. Today’s podcast episode has been sponsored by Cognitive Psychology: A Guide To Neuroscience, Neuropsychology and Cognitive Psychology. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it. Also available as an AI-narrated audiobook from selected audiobook platforms and library systems. For example, Kobo, Spotify, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, Overdrive, Baker and Taylor and Bibliotheca. What Is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy? Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is a therapy stemming from the more traditional behavioural and cognitive behavioural therapies. Since Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is an action-oriented approach to therapy because it gets the client to stop denying, struggling and avoiding their inner emotions. Instead, the therapy gets the client to accept their deeper feelings as appropriate responses in a given situation that they shouldn’t prevent themselves from experiencing, because trying to stop these responses stops the client from moving forward in their lives. As a result, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy gives the client an understanding that they need to begin accepting their mental health difficulties and commit to making the needed changes in their behaviour regardless of what’s going on in their lives and how they feel about it. Personally, I really like the sound of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy because I think all therapies need a touch of this to be successful. Since if we take Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for example, we need a client to accept that their depression, anxiety, whatever can’t actually be cured. But if they commit to the therapy and have a capacity for change then they can develop adaptive coping mechanisms that will decrease their psychological distress and improve their lives. So I could argue that the idea of acceptance and commitment is an undertone in all psychotherapies, but this therapy just focuses on it a lot more. In addition, in the 1980s psychologist Steven C. Hayes from the University of Nevada developed Acceptance and Commitment Therapy based on his own experiences. Since the professor had a history of panic attacks and in the end, he promised himself he would no longer run from himself. Instead he would accept himself and his experiences. How Does Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Work? From a theoretical perspective, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy works because it is counterproductive for a client to try and control their painful emotions and their psychological experiences. As well as it is the suppression of these feelings that leads the client to experience even more distress. As a result, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy proposes that a client needs to develop the belief system that there are valid alternatives trying to change the way they think. Including mindful behaviour, commitment to action and attention to personal values. This leads to taking steps to change their behaviour to decrease their psychological distress, but the client is still learning to accept their psychological experiences at the same level. This eventually leads to a client changing their emotional states and attitudes. What Should A Client Expect From Acceptance and Commitment Therapy? Building upon this further, when a client works with a therapist for this type of psychotherapy, the client will learn to listen to their own self-talk and this includes how they talk about problematic relationships, traumatic events, physical limitations and other challenges. Then it is up to the client to decide if a problem requires any immediate action or a change, or if the problem can be accepted for what it is whilst the client learns to make the behavioural changes to modify the situation. To do this a client might have to look at their past to see what has or hasn’t worked for them, and the therapist can help the client stop repeating the same thought patterns and behaviours as the past so they don’t cause more problems in the future. Additionally, after a client has faced and accepted their current challenges, the client can make a commitment to stop fighting the past and their emotions. Instead, the client can start practicing more optimistic as well as confident behaviour based on their personal values and goals. Ultimately, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy aims to develop a person’s psychological flexibility. A concept that encompasses emotional openness and the ability to adapt their behaviours and thoughts to better align with the client’s own values and goals. Personally, I really like the idea of psychological flexibility and a lot of what Acceptance and Commitment Therapy aims to do. Since being flexible in the way we think and feel in a given situation is critical to our mental health. We can’t be strict and inflexible so we only feel a certain way in a given situation because this will make us feel awful and experience a lot of distress. Yet if start to explore other ways that make us feel slightly better then that will definitely improve our mental health over time if we accept and commit to changing our thoughts and behaviour. A little personal example here is actually rather funny in a way, because I have a friend that I really want to date and everything, I asked them out and they said no. Fair enough, and we’re both really open about the fact that I like them. Yet whenever they talked about them dating or seeing someone, I used to feel like utter rubbish and I had some very bad thoughts towards myself but that wasn’t healthy. So over time I taught myself to think in other ways, accept how bad I felt and I have committed to take steps to change certain aspects of my life. Like, trying to meet other people. I know this isn’t like professional Acceptance and Commitment Therapy at all, but what I’m trying to say is that the concepts are useful even outside of therapy. Moreover, there are six core processes used in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to promote psychological flexibility: ·       Acceptance This core process involves the client acknowledging as well as embracing the full range of their emotions and thoughts rather than trying to deny, change or avoid them. ·       Being Present This core process comes from mindfulness in the sense that a client should try to be mindful in the present moment, so the client can observe their feelings and thoughts without judging them or trying to change them. instead, the client should experience events clearly and this can directly help them to promote behavioural change. ·       Cognitive Defusion Thirdly, cognitive defusion involves a client distancing themselves from their distressing thoughts and feelings as well as changing the way they react to them. This decreases their harmful effects. Also, some ways how this defusion is done include singing the thought, labelling the automatic response the client has to them and observing a thought without judgment. ·       Values Fourthly, values are important for developing psychological flexibility because this encompasses a client choosing personal values in different domains of their life, and trying as hard as they can to live according to these principles. Now this is interesting because this is in direct contrast to when a client’s actions are being driven by their desire to avoid distress or to adhere to other people’s expectations. ·       Self As Context Penultimately, self as context is the idea that expands the notion of self and identity because it proposes that people are more than their feelings, experiences and thoughts. Something I completely agree with, because it is true. All of us are way more than our past, our thoughts and how we feel in a given moment. ·       Committed Action Finally, committed action involves a client taking concrete steps to incorporate changes into their lives that will align with their values and lead to positive changes. For example, the client could do some goal setting, skill development or expose themselves to difficult thoughts and experiences. When Is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Used? Lastly, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is a useful therapy for a wide range of mental as well as physical conditions. For instance, depression, anxiety disorders, psychosis, eating disorders, workplace stress, chronic pain, substance use disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Clinical Psychology Conclusion I have to admit that I have rather liked this podcast episode because I have heard a lot about Acceptance and Commitment Therapy over the years through my lectures, but it is only now that I have learnt about the therapy in any great depth. And I know I say this in a lot of these therapy-based podcast episodes, but I think a lot of these concepts can be transplanted into other therapies too. For instance, the idea of getting your client to accept that their experiences aren’t something to be avoided, cured or ashamed of. That is nothing new and I know that is a large part of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which is where this therapy stems from in the first place. Equally, getting a client to commit to taking actionable and concrete steps to improve their lives. Again, I don’t exactly think that is anything new because surely that is the same as a client having a capacity to change. Therefore, if you like the idea of acceptance and commitment but you don’t practice Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, then maybe think about incorporating those concepts into your own practice in the future. It’s just an idea but I know it’s something interesting to think about. What do you think? I really hope you enjoyed today’s clinical psychology podcast episode. If you want to learn more, please check out: FREE 8 PSYCHOLOGY BOOK BOXSET Cognitive Psychology: A Guide To Neuroscience, Neuropsychology and Cognitive Psychology. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it. Also available as an AI-narrated audiobook from selected audiobook platforms and library systems. For example, Kobo, Spotify, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, Overdrive, Baker and Taylor and Bibliotheca. Patreon for exclusive access and rewards Have a great day. Clinical Psychology References Blackledge, J. T., & Hayes, S. C. (2001). Emotion regulation in acceptance and commitment therapy. Journal of clinical psychology, 57(2), 243-255. Brown, M., Glendenning, A., Hoon, A. E., & John, A. (2016). Effectiveness of web-delivered acceptance and commitment therapy in relation to mental health and well-being: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of medical Internet research, 18(8), e221. Forman, E. M., Herbert, J. D., Moitra, E., Yeomans, P. D., & Geller, P. A. (2007). A randomized controlled effectiveness trial of acceptance and commitment therapy and cognitive therapy for anxiety and depression. Behavior modification, 31(6), 772-799. Harris, R. (2006). Embracing your demons: An overview of acceptance and commitment therapy. Psychotherapy in Australia, 12(4), 70-6. Hayes, S. C., Luoma, J. B., Bond, F. W., Masuda, A., & Lillis, J. (2006). Acceptance and commitment therapy: Model, processes and outcomes. Behaviour research and therapy, 44(1), 1-25. Hayes, S. C., Strosahl, K. D., & Wilson, K. G. (2011). Acceptance and commitment therapy: The process and practice of mindful change. Guilford press. Hernández-López, M., Luciano, M. C., Bricker, J. B., Roales-Nieto, J. G., & Montesinos, F. (2009). Acceptance and commitment therapy for smoking cessation: a preliminary study of its effectiveness in comparison with cognitive behavioral therapy. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 23(4), 723. Karlin, B. E., Walser, R. D., Yesavage, J., Zhang, A., Trockel, M., & Taylor, C. B. (2013). Effectiveness of acceptance and commitment therapy for depression: Comparison among older and younger veterans. Aging & mental health, 17(5), 555-563. Livheim, F., Hayes, L., Ghaderi, A., Magnusdottir, T., Högfeldt, A., Rowse, J., ... & Tengström, A. (2015). The effectiveness of acceptance and commitment therapy for adolescent mental health: Swedish and Australian pilot outcomes. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 24, 1016-1030. Pears, S., & Sutton, S. (2021). Effectiveness of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) interventions for promoting physical activity: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Health psychology review, 15(1), 159-184. Powers, M. B., Zum Vörde Sive Vörding, M. B., & Emmelkamp, P. M. (2009). Acceptance and commitment therapy: A meta-analytic review. Psychotherapy and psychosomatics, 78(2), 73-80. Strosahl, K. D., Hayes, S. C., Bergan, J., & Romano, P. (1998). Assessing the field effectiveness of acceptance and commitment therapy: An example of the manipulated training research method. Behavior Therapy, 29(1), 35-63. Twohig, M. P., & Levin, M. E. (2017). Acceptance and commitment therapy as a treatment for anxiety and depression: a review. Psychiatric clinics, 40(4), 751-770. Wilson, K. G., & Murrell, A. R. (2004). Values work in acceptance and commitment therapy. Mindfulness and acceptance: Expanding the cognitive-behavioral tradition, 120-151. I truly hope that you’ve enjoyed this blog post and if you feel like supporting the blog on an ongoing basis and get lots of rewards, then please head to my Patreon page. However, if want to show one-time support and appreciation, the place to do that is PayPal. If you do that, please include your email address in the notes section, so I can say thank you. Which I am going to say right now. Thank you! Click  https://www.buymeacoffee.com/connorwhiteley for a one-time bit of support.

  • What Are The Key Elements Of A Clinical Formulation Report In Psychotherapy? A Clinical Psychology Podcast Episode.

    Out of all the topics within clinical psychology, formulation remains my favourite topic of all time. Since this is where mental health should be going as it individualises psychological treatment for mental health conditions. As well as with formulation becoming more important in clinical psychology and formulation content is always popular, I want to use this podcast episode to explore what are the key elements of a clinical formulation report. By the end of this podcast episode, you’ll be familiar with the key elements so hopefully you’ll feel a little more confident if you ever need to write one up. Which if you work in clinical psychology, chances are you probably will need to in the future. If you enjoy learning about mental health, psychotherapy and working in clinical psychology then you’re in for a treat with this episode. Today’s psychology podcast episode has been sponsored by Formulation In Psychotherapy. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it. Also available as an AI-narrated audiobook from selected audiobook platforms and library systems. For example, Kobo, Spotify, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, Overdrive, Baker and Taylor and Bibliotheca. What Are The Key Elements Of A Clinical Formulation Report In Psychotherapy? What is Clinical Formulation? Below is an extract from my Formulation In Psychotherapy book that sums up the answer to this question really well. “In essence, formulation can be understood as a hypothesis to be tested because Butler (1998) states that formulation is ‘the tool used by clinicians to relate theory to practice’ Nonetheless, that isn’t the only definition of formulation due to other notable figures in Clinical Psychology have made their own definitions as well. ·       “A psychotherapy case formulation is essentially a hypothesis about the causes, precipitants and maintaining influences of a persons psychological, interpersonal and behavioural problems” (Eells, 1997, p.4). ·       “A process of ongoing collaborative sense-making” (Harper and Moss, 2003, p. 8). I must mention that in the topic of Formulation there is one very important figure called: Lucy Johnstone and she is a massive figure and a great author on the topic of formulation. Therefore, her definition needs to be highlighted: “Formulation can be defined as the process of co-constructing a hypothesis or ‘best guess’ about the origins of a person’s difficulties in the context of their relationships, social circumstances, life events, and the sense that they have made of them. It provides a structure for thinking together with the client or service user about how to understand their experiences and how to move forward. Formulation draws on two equally important sources of evidence: the clinician brings knowledge derived from theory, research, and clinical experience, while the service user brings expertise about their own life and the meaning and impact of their relationships and circumstances”. (Johnstone, 2018)” Personally, I flat out love formulation because I’m really excited that there is another option away from diagnosis that allows us to tailor a course of psychological therapy to a specific client and their needs. Since it really is all well and good us just giving someone Cognitive Behavioural Therapy because they have depression. Yet unless we tailor the CBT and we make sure it addresses what the client actually needs, then it’s effectiveness will be limited. And I also want to take a moment to address the so-called “criticisms” of formulation. Since the major criticism (that I have little time for to be honest) is the idea that the hypothesising that formulation relies on isn’t empirical in nature or something along those lines. My issue with this rather silly criticism is if we follow that logic then absolutely no experiment in any science is empirical, because all studies and all experiments start off with a hypothesis, then an experiment is tested out and the results are assessed then next steps are determined. That is exactly what formulation seems to do because a therapist working alongside a client comes up with a hypothesis based on sound psychological theory. Then they both test it out in therapy, see what the results are and then they tweak the formulation/ plan and they go again. This is no different from any other type of empirical hypothesis testing. That is what formulation is. And I would talk about how formulation is different from diagnosis but I have spoken about that in other places and on other podcast episodes. Formulation Questions In addition, there are three main questions that a therapist seeks to answer when they write up their formulation about a client: ·       What is causing the mental health difficulties? ·       What factors are maintaining these difficulties? ·       What might facilitate therapeutic change? What Should A Formulation Report Cover In Clinical Psychology? A formulation report should cover four areas of a client. Firstly, a therapist should summarise the client’s mental health difficulties so that they provide an overview of the difficulties the client is currently facing and identify which difficulties should be targeted in the therapy. Secondly, a formulation report should provide an evidence-based rationale for the proposed therapeutic approach. For instance, if a therapist wanted to offer a client Internal Family Therapy then the therapist would need to outline the theoretical basis for this therapy explaining why it would be suitable for the client and the difficulties that they’re experiencing. Thirdly, a formulation report should discuss a recommended treatment plan for the client including their treatment measurements and goals. Finally, the report should highlight issues that might come up in treatment. Since the report should explore the challenges that might pop up for the client in therapy. For example, any concerns about a client might deal with some painful memories or feelings or even the structure of the therapy itself. This is important to think about now because it allows the therapist to come up with potential solutions ahead of time before the issues pop up. Overall, this helps to improve the therapy experience for the client. Therapy Measurements And Goals For Success As you can probably guess, an effective treatment plan for a client should include meaningful goals and measurements. Now I know in clinical psychology, we use a lot of psychometric tests and measures, but as I talk about in Clinical Psychology Reflections Volume 4, this isn’t useful to our clients. It doesn’t exactly give them much motivation or goalposts because it is just a weird number to them. Instead, working with a client to create meaningful goals helps them to make progress and actually see that progress for themselves. Hence, why it’s important to regularly review these goals with our clients. In addition, any goals should be SMART goals, so they need to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Bound. Larger goals can and should be broken down into smaller steps or goals so the client is less overwhelmed. For example, your client might have a goal to build their emotional regulation and coping skills. Then the measurement for this might be identifying the negative thoughts and feelings when they pop up and then rate their strength. Afterwards, the client can review this goal by keeping a thought diary and the therapist can review this diary with them each week in the session. As well as a rating scale of 1= still not able to identify the negative feeling to 5= confident in recognising negative feelings, can be used to help the client see that they’re progressing. Clinical Psychology Conclusion Personally, I still flat out love formulation because I hope I’ve shown you that a comprehensive formulation can be a very powerful and a great tool for providing a therapist and client with a solid basis for any psychological intervention. One that is based on psychological theory, evidence and the client’s expertise in their lived experiences. Due to by grounding any therapeutic recommendations in evidence-based theory and considering the client’s unique experience, we can build a flexible framework for therapy that is tailored to the client’s needs. So their goals and therapy outcomes can reflect their specific needs and their hopes for the future. I really hope you enjoyed today’s clinical psychology podcast episode. If you want to learn more, please check out: FREE 8 PSYCHOLOGY BOOK BOXSET Formulation In Psychotherapy. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it. Also available as an AI-narrated audiobook from selected audiobook platforms and library systems. For example, Kobo, Spotify, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, Overdrive, Baker and Taylor and Bibliotheca. Patreon for exclusive access and rewards Have a great day. Clinical Psychology References BPS ‘Understanding formulation’ guide [Online] Available at https://www.bps.org.uk/sites/www.bps.org.uk/files/Member%20Networks/Divisions/DCP/Forumlation%20WEB%20ID3412.pdf Goldfried, M. (2013), ‘What should we expect from psychotherapy?’ in Clinical Psychology Review 33 (2013) p. 862–869 Johnstone, L. (2018). Psychological Formulation as an Alternative to Psychiatric Diagnosis. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 58(1), 30–46 Johnstone, L., & Dallos, R. (2013). Introduction to formulation. In Formulation in psychology and psychotherapy (pp. 1-17). Routledge. Whiteley, C. (2020) Formulation In Psychotherapy. CGD Publishing. England. Whiteley, C. (2024) Clinical Psychology Second Edition. CGD Publishing. England. I truly hope that you’ve enjoyed this blog post and if you feel like supporting the blog on an ongoing basis and get lots of rewards, then please head to my Patreon page. However, if want to show one-time support and appreciation, the place to do that is PayPal. If you do that, please include your email address in the notes section, so I can say thank you. Which I am going to say right now. Thank you! Click  https://www.buymeacoffee.com/connorwhiteley for a one-time bit of support.

  • Why Is Each Psychology Subfield An Echo Chamber? A Clinical Psychology Podcast Episode.

    I absolutely have to admit that it was really difficult to pick just one reflection to share from my brand-new book Clinical Psychology Reflections Volume 4. Since there are a lot of really interesting, thought-provoking and fascinating reflections on clinical psychology and psychology as a whole. Therefore, in this podcast episode, you’re going to be learn about how different areas of psychology can be echo chambers at times, why this is a bad thing and how this could change. If you enjoy reflective practice, clinical psychology and psychology as a discipline, then you’ll enjoy today’s episode for sure. This psychology podcast episode has been sponsored by Clinical Psychology Reflections Volume 4: Thoughts On Clinical Psychology, Mental Health and Psychotherapy. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it. Also available as an AI-narrated audiobook from selected audiobook platforms and libraries systems. For example, Kobo, Spotify, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, Overdrive, Baker and Taylor and Bibliotheca. Extract From Clinical Psychology Reflections Volume 4 (COPYRIGHT 2024 Connor Whiteley) I should probably say up front that the applied psychology subfields, like forensic psychology, clinical psychology and developmental psychology, are probably the exceptions to this rule, but I want to explore my point first of all. And I want to mention the limits and drawbacks of this question about clinical psychology at the end. I’ll start off by explaining this generally before I explain the flat out weird inspiration that kicked off the idea behind this reflection. If we take a step outside clinical psychology for a moment and look at the three “main” approaches to behaviour. We have biological, cognitive and social psychology and all of these are fairly divorced from the others and this is great, but bad at the same time. For example, it is brilliant that biological psychology only looks at our biology and how these processes impact our behaviour. It gives biological psychology researchers the freedom to explore our biology without getting mixed up with cognitive and social psychology. The same goes for cognitive psychology. It’s great that cognitive researchers can investigate our mental health and occasionally tap into biological or neuropsychology without worrying about social psychology variables. Equally, it is so freeing that social psychologists can focus on how social situations and factors impact our own individual and group behaviour without having messy biological or cognitive factors interfering with the social behaviour. And yes I know there is some overlap between these three disciplines as seen in social cognition, brain wave activity and how that impacts learning (what I did my dissertation on) and there are a handful of other crossovers too. Yet my point is still hopefully clear. Each subfield of psychology is fairly or basically exclusively divorced from each other, which has its benefits and drawbacks. In addition, the entire reason why this reflection is being written in the first place is because of a weird comment a friend of mine said. Now as psychology students we’re all used to weird comments, but this comment I found really weird and mind-bending. “That’s cognitive psychology. I don’t know if you clinical people are into that,” Now I completely forget what we were talking about but I remember we were standing in the computer rooms where we were all testing our participants that day and when she said that I was shocked for a few easy reasons I will show you below (just bear in bear that psychological, cognitive and mental processes are the exact same thing) ·       Psychotherapy ·       Clinical psychologist ·       Psychological therapy ·       Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Those four aspects are absolutely core features of clinical psychology and without those four, our profession could not function but this friend of mine actually believed clinical psychology was NOT interested in mental processes. Personally, because this friend is great and I really like her, I’m going to be a little kinder than I normally would because this opinion makes no sense to me. Yes, my friend is a cognitive person by trade and she is obsessed with cognitive psychology but again, she wants to work in clinical psychology. As well as this builds on perfectly from the last reflection, I really want people who want to work in clinical psychology settings to actually understand clinical psychology early on. Since if she did take any clinical psychology modules or did any sort of clinical research then she would know without a shadow of a doubt that clinical psychology is all about the biological, psychological (cognitive) and social factors that interact together to develop and maintain a mental health condition. Therefore, the fact that she thought clinical psychology couldn’t give a rat’s behind about cognitive processes, really hammered home to me just how isolated the theoretical and applied disciplines are. And this I think is a massive shame because one of the biggest problems in the clinical psychology literature is that it is written by research academics in a way that either isn’t understandable or usable by clinical practitioners. Basically making the research next to useless. This is a problem that might start to be fixed in the future because I know there are clinical psychologists conducting research and lecturing at universities more than ever (apparently), but it is still a problem that needs to be overcome. Also, if this problem starts with academics and people in the biological, cognitive and social psychology approaches themselves. Then in an ideal world, they would at least be given clinical psychology teaching or something by a real clinical psychologist so they could understand the practical sides of everything. Since so much of clinical psychology is about practicalities and, at least in the UK, knowing what you can and cannot do in the NHS. This isn’t a dig at anyone, it is just my opinions on the whole mess we find ourselves in. Furthermore, what I really think this is about is communication and cooperation between the disciplines. I am not saying that the theoretical approach shouldn’t do applied research or research that might be able to be adapted into something useful and practical because that is stupid. As well as everyone in academia should have the freedom to research whatever they want if it is legal, useful and ethical. However, what I am saying is that if we ever want researchers and students and academia as a whole to truly understand the applied disciplines and what clinical psychology actually cares about. There has to be more communication and cooperation across the disciplines and then that would have other benefits as well. Especially since a clinical psychologist would bring the real-world experience and clinical expertise to a project, and an academic would bring the hard science methodology that clinical psychologists might not have done for years. There is plenty of room for both if academia allows it to. The age of echo chambers needs to end and the age of academia afterwards needs to be more useful to applied disciplines, cooperative and have a lot more communication for sure because clinical psychology cares about everything that would help them to decrease the psychological distress of their clients and improve lives. That is all we care about at the end of the day. I really hope you enjoyed today’s clinical psychology podcast episode. If you want to learn more, please check out: FREE 8 PSYCHOLOGY BOOK BOXSET Clinical Psychology Reflections Volume 4: Thoughts On Clinical Psychology, Mental Health and Psychotherapy. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it. Also available as an AI-narrated audiobook from selected audiobook platforms and libraries systems. For example, Kobo, Spotify, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, Overdrive, Baker and Taylor and Bibliotheca. Patreon for exclusive access and rewards Have a great day. Clinical Psychology Reference Whiteley, C. (2024) Clinical Psychology Reflections Volume 4: Thoughts On Clinical Psychology, Mental Health and Psychotherapy. CGD Publishing. England I truly hope that you’ve enjoyed this blog post and if you feel like supporting the blog on an ongoing basis and get lots of rewards, then please head to my Patreon page. However, if want to show one-time support and appreciation, the place to do that is PayPal. If you do that, please include your email address in the notes section, so I can say thank you. Which I am going to say right now. Thank you! Click  https://www.buymeacoffee.com/connorwhiteley for a one-time bit of support.

  • What Should Therapists Tell Clients About Their First Therapy Session? A Clinical Psychology Podcast Episode.

    When a client comes to a therapist and books a first session, the client will be anxious, concerned and they will have a lot of questions. This is perfectly normal but therapists might want to take the time to tell clients a few pieces of information to help them understand what’s going to happen amongst other things. These answers will help the client to relax and not be as stressed about their first therapy session. Something that will hopefully change their lives for the better. Therefore, in this clinical psychology podcast episode, we’re going to explore the questions clients have for therapists about their first session and how therapists might want to answer these questions. If you enjoy learning about clinical psychology, psychotherapy and mental health, then you’ll like today’s episode for sure. This psychology podcast episode has been sponsored by Social Media Psychology. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it. Also available as an AI-narrated audiobook from selected audiobook platforms and library systems. For example, Kobo, Spotify, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, Overdrive, Baker and Taylor and Bibliotheca. Note: as always nothing on this podcast is ever any sort of medical, legal or official advice. What Therapists Should Tell Clients About Their First Therapy Session? Also, I want to note here that whilst this podcast episode is more aimed at private therapists and mental health professionals because I presume it is easier for these therapists to contact their clients. I think this is still a useful podcast episode for public sector workers because you can learn and understand our clients more. As well as you might want to adopt answering some of these questions into your own service, just a thought. Do Therapists Offer Free Introduction Sessions? A lot of clients who have never been to therapy before and aren’t 100% sure about its value can be concerned about the cost, so a lot of clients like the idea of having a free session before they commit to spending money. A lot of therapists do offer free sessions in one form or another. For example, most therapists offer free phone consultations or shorter free sessions, like my therapist offers a free 20-minute in-person session. These free sessions are useful for seeing if a therapist is the right fit for you, because there is a chance that finding a therapist that is right for you is a process of trial and error. However, I want to stress that different therapists often debate the ethics and the finances of offering free sessions, because they have to pay the bills, earn a living and they went to university or did a Level 4 course to get their qualifications. Don’t they have the right to be paid for their time, skill and work? Therefore, whenever a therapist talks with a potential future client, it is useful to talk about any free sessions they offer. For example, I know my therapist is willing to talk to people about an alternative payment plan if they’re on a lower income. Will Therapists Ask About Family History? I think because I study clinical psychology, this isn’t a question that pops up for too much because I always knew the answer was yes. But some clients will not know this and they will be a little concerned about sharing aspects of their family to someone who is effectively a stranger to them. As a result, it’s useful to share with potential clients that family history will be spoken about (the vast majority of therapists do ask about it) at some point in the course of therapy. Since it’s important to learn about any family history of depression, anxiety, addiction or any other mental health problems. Although, it is worth noting not every therapist likes getting this information in the first session and this largely depends on their personal preference or theoretical orientation. Which I understand because some people might want to wait a session or two before getting this deeply personal and potentially very sensitive and triggering information from a client. Is It Okay For Clients To Cry In Therapy? I was actually rather some people didn’t think it was okay to cry during therapy, because to me, therapy is a deeply emotional process that will bring up emotions, traumatic experiences and more. I think I’ve even come close to crying two or three times in my therapy sessions, so it’s strange that people don’t think crying is okay in therapy. Granted, I know at least in the UK, there is a lot of societal and gender social norms at play here. Like, the absolute rubbish idea that men shouldn’t cry amongst other myths, so it is just annoying that these rubbish ideas continue into the therapy room. Somewhere that is meant to be a safe space. Overall, it is perfectly okay to cry in therapy because the therapist will respond in an empathetic and non-judgemental way. And if crying embarrasses your client or a client wants to cry but they can’t because of an emotional block, then this might be something to explore with them in therapy. Is It Normal To Be Nervous Starting Therapy? Personally, I would find it really strange if someone wasn’t nervous about starting therapy, because I’ve studied psychology for half a decade now at university level (that is thought) and I know a lot about therapy. Yet I was still really nervous because as I always say, when it comes to therapy, we are asking clients to reveal their deepest, perhaps darkest secrets, thoughts and behaviours. Something that our clients might be ashamed of, and we are asking them to tell us all of these things to us even though we are effectively strangers. That takes an immense amount of courage but it is extremely scary too. Thankfully, we might want to tell our clients that as they get to know us, this nervousness starts to decrease and if a client still feels anxious about the therapy after a few sessions, then the client should probably talk about this with us. I remember from my first and second lot of therapy. I was really nervous about my first lot of therapy because I had never done it before, I didn’t know what was going to happen and I wasn’t sure if this was the right thing to do. Then I was a little nervous about my second lot of therapy with a different one at the university, but both went fine and I really liked them both. Should A Client Prepare For Their First Therapy Session? In my experience, this really depends on the individual client because some people are happy to just go into therapy without a plan or doing any pre-work at all. Whereas I know other clients like to think about topics they want to discuss and more. As well as clients like to think about the information they really, really want the therapist to know in their first session. Equally, therapists don’t really care if a client does prep work beforehand or not, so it might be an idea to tell a client that prep work isn’t needed. Unless the client finds it helpful themselves. Personally, I remember when I went for my first lot of private therapy, I wrote down the following to help me prepare for my first session. “Tell Her About ·       General family structure ·       My self-harm and suicide stuff ·       Beating threats, invalidation ·       Coming out- X for 2 weeks and invalidation and the “conditions” (I had to live under) ·       Last week ·       Guilt I feel now What Do I Want Out of This? ·       Healthier, more adaptive coping mechanisms for dealing with negative emotions ·       Self-acceptance ·       Less guilt ·       Dealing with the lies Protective factors ·       Podcast audience and readers ·       My close friends ·       Wanting to come to therapy ·       Me wanting an ASC diagnosis and going to continue support at university.” Therefore, as you can see, to help me feel prepared and ready for my first therapy session I did a little bit of prep work and I thought about what I wanted to tell her. I also did a similar thing for my bunch of therapy at the university, so I wrote down the following: “Areas Of Concern Who am I?- feel lost now Don’t care about degree, just doing it and unsure about future now I’ll live Fragility and lack of resilience nowadays Also, I want to do some work on friends and perceptions. Am I expecting too much of friendships?” Now I have to admit it was fascinating looking at these notes because they are really good snapshots of what I was thinking and feeling in certain parts of my life. Even though they were only a few months ago to be honest, so it’s interesting and it’s great to see how far I’ve come. Overall, I hope these short little examples have shown you and helped you to understand how some clients might want to prepare for their first session. Even though I never actually used these notes in my first sessions, but I found them useful to do at the time. What Does A Therapist Ask In A First Session? I was no different from any other client when I went for my first session. I had no idea what to expect, no idea what was going to be asked and it was difficult. This is why this podcast episode is rather useful for psychology students because this helps us to understand what actually happens in a first therapy session as well. Therefore, it might be useful for clients to know that first therapy sessions are typically board brushstrokes about what has brought them to therapy, their general autobiography and then towards the end of the session, the therapist and client talk about what the rest of the sessions should cover. In addition, therapists should tell clients, they will probably ask about the specific mental health difficulty that has made them want to come to therapy, what the client wants to achieve from therapy, any therapeutic experiences the client has had in the past and a brief life story. Also, in the first session at the beginning, you’ll do some basic paperwork with the client for obvious reasons. For instance, my therapist got me to complete and sign a counselling contract, some medical information and she explained to me her therapeutic orientation, which I learnt a lot from and I have discussed on previous podcast episodes. Clinical Psychology Conclusion When it comes to psychotherapy, I will always advocate for empirically-supported therapies because they can be brilliant, useful and they can change someone’s life for the better. I am proof of that and my life is a million times better than it was before therapy. However, this improvement doesn’t mean my first therapy session was easy. I was still nervous, concerned and I had no idea what to expect, so with this podcast focusing on psychology students and psychology professionals, I hope you now have a better understanding of how our clients might feel before they start therapy. You might want to use this information to help reassure them before their first session or not, that’s okay but you have the understanding and the knowledge and that can be a powerful thing. Especially, when it comes to improving someone’s life by decreasing their psychological distress, giving them hope and helping them change their life for the better. I really hope you enjoyed today’s clinical psychology podcast episode. If you want to learn more, please check out: FREE 8 PSYCHOLOGY BOOK BOXSET Social Media Psychology. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it. Also available as an AI-narrated audiobook from selected audiobook platforms and libraries systems. For example, Kobo, Spotify, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, Overdrive, Baker and Taylor and Bibliotheca. Patreon for exclusive access and rewards Have a great day. Clinical Psychology Reference https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/basics/therapy/your-first-therapy-session I truly hope that you’ve enjoyed this blog post and if you feel like supporting the blog on an ongoing basis and get lots of rewards, then please head to my Patreon page. However, if want to show one-time support and appreciation, the place to do that is PayPal. If you do that, please include your email address in the notes section, so I can say thank you. Which I am going to say right now. Thank you! Click  https://www.buymeacoffee.com/connorwhiteley for a one-time bit of support.

  • How Does Categorising Our Relationships Impact Moral Judgements? A Social Psychology Podcast Episode.

    Recently, I’ve been focusing a lot more on the psychology behind morality and what makes humans do “right” and “wrong” behaviours. A part of our morality is how we divide people up into different categories based on our relationship to them. This is a fascinating area of social psychology that I highly recommend you listen to today because you’ll definitely learn a lot and you’ll be thinking for sure. Therefore, in this social psychology podcast episode, you’ll see the four types of different relationships people have, what these relationships involve and most importantly, how do these relationships impact moral dilemmas. If you enjoy learning about social relationships, decision-making and morality then you’ll love today’s episode. This episode has been sponsored by Psychology of Relationships: The Social Psychology of Friendships, Romantic Relationships and More. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it. Also available as an AI-narrated audiobook from selected audiobook platforms and library systems. For example, Kobo, Spotify, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, Overdrive, Baker and Taylor and Bibliotheca. How Could Relationships Impact Morality? Now, I’ll fully admit when I came across this research I wasn’t entirely convinced that different types of relationships might impact different moral behaviours. Then I started thinking about it and I realised just how common this is. For example, two easy examples are, when I go out with a university friend of mine for dinner and it’s the two of us, we both pay for our own dinners. That’s what happens whenever I go out with friends to be honest. Yet I am willing to pay for the dinner of my closest friends because I’m closer to them and they’re great. Whereas, if I’m having lunch with my friend that is also my supervisor (or will be in the future) at my University’s Parkinson’s centre, I have absolutely no ethical problems with letting him pay for my lunch. He has the job and I help him out a lot so it is sort of only fair. In that example, you can see three different examples of relationships and how I approach the very common idea of paying for a meal differently. Are these really moral behaviours? If you had asked me before this podcast episode, I would have said these basic examples have nothing to do with morality, but some researchers disagree. Especially because morality is all about what behaviours are right and wrong in a given situation. I’m sure some of you would say I shouldn’t want my supervisor to always pay (granted we don’t go out for lunch that often and I do not abuse that kind offer), but some of you would agree. Then when we start thinking about additional factors, this gets more complex. For example, what if my friend is poor and struggles with money? Should I automatically pay for their dinners to help them out? Or what if I was struggling with money for a time? Is it morally right for me to ask my friend to pay me dinner so I could eat that night? Some of you would say yes, others would say that was an immoral favour to ask. That’s why this is a great topic to look at. What Are The Four Types of Relationships And How Do These Impact Morality? Looking at the work of anthropologist Alan Fiske (1991), he categorises human relationships into four different types. Firstly, you have communal sharing relationships where our ingroups are basically the same as us in relevant ways. Some examples of this would include teams at work, military units as well as our family. Secondly, you have equality matching. These are relationships where we view others as our equals. Like, people who we take turns with at home or work, or people we take care to maintain our impartiality with. I know this one is a little complicated, but don’t worry, I’ll explain these categories in more detail in a moment. Thirdly, you have authority ranking where we rank ourselves and others in a hierarchy or to a position. For instance, caste, work titles or seniority. Finally, you have market pricing where we view others as a trade partner. These are people we view through a contractual lens. For example, people who we interact with because they help us because we help them and vice versa. As a result of these categories, Rai and Fiske (2011) argue humans are motivated to behave differently toward each of these categories. And one example of this is we’re happy to share resources with our family members but we get annoyed when a friend keeps asking us for stuff without a thank you, them spending time to cultivate our friendship and without reciprocating the favour. Now, let’s explore these in more depth. Communal Sharing and Morality When it comes to communal sharing relationships, these focus on an attitude of unity towards the ingroup. Since as we all know, maintaining any ingroup is not easy at times and there will be problems. Therefore, there is high motivation to maintain the ingroup because the people in the ingroup want to benefit the group over and beyond people outside the ingroup. Due to ingroup members believe they have a common fate, which they want to be positive. Therefore, maintaining communal relationships relies on tribalism and in a sense keeping the tribe “pure”. Resulting in ingroup members being morally motivated to eliminate these threats, even if they come at a very high moral price. Interestingly, an international example of this communal sharing that Rai and Fiske (2011) mention is the Hutu Ten Commandments that mention how the unity as well as the fate of the Hutu people are perceived to be threatened by the Tutsi. Resulting in this fuelling propaganda that led to the Rwandan genocide. A more personal example would be family attitudes towards kicking out LGBT+ members of the family. I know from personal experience and stories with friends how family units want to remain united and pure so there is minimal conflict that leads to family breakdown. So sometimes the easiest option is just to kick out the queer member of the family, making them homeless and completely cut off from the family. Notice how I never said the easy option is the moral option? It’s disgusting but some families are just immoral. Equality Matching and Morality Our next type of relationship is focused on striking equal balances, which leads to a lot of positive ideas about morality. For example, human rights are thankfully all about treating other people as equals, governments should always treat people with dignity and respect, as well as we should treat others how we want to be treated. In addition, striking an equal balance helps humans to cooperate in situations where we can’t distribute resources equally or when it comes to taking turns. Originally, we evolved these rules to limit free-riders because no one likes them at all. So this led to humanity developing some very elegant cooperation norms, like tit-for-tat so we can all generally trust each other in our economic and social interactions. These norms generally work because people are motivated to maintain these rules and equality, because acting immorally or against these rules, results in punishment. I always like reading anthropology research from time to time because you get to learn about random tribes. Hence, the Hammurabi’s code reflects the extreme lengths people can go to protect this balance, as does the ancient Babylonia ideal of an eye for an eye. Even today, there are many countries that continue to institutionalise balance-keeping by the process of capital punishment. A life for a life. We could have an entire moral debate about the concept of “a life for a life” but I’ve already had that debate with some 15-year-old children this week, so I’m good and we generally understand how capital punishment and balance-keeping informs morality. Authority Ranking And Moral Judgements Whereas in these social relationships, people are motivated to maintain a hierarchy regardless of its type. This involves people respecting and deferring to an authority figure and this authority figure should provide protection and take responsibility to some extent for the subordinates’ actions. The easiest example of this is the military as well as military command structure and units. Normally, this hierarchy and social relationship is beneficial for everyone involved. Since if we take a parental example, then a parent can demand respect from their young and vulnerable children. In exchange, the parent not only protects their children from harm but the parent comes to the child’s defence too. As you can see, it’s useful for encouraging moral behaviour. Unfortunately, this social relationship can cause immoral behaviour as well. For instance, people in leadership positions are often thought to be more entitled to the group’s resources than other people. Like, CEOs having bigger offices, extra benefits and larger paychecks. I won’t even get into that argument about whether this is moral or not. I think it depends. Anyway, leaders can become corrupt and authoritarian too. Then if we remember Milgram’s experiments, we realise subordinates are willing to follow extreme orders from authority figures even if it harms other people. That is definitely not moral behaviour. Market Pricing Impacting Moral Judgements Our final type of social relationship comes from Market Pricing and these relationships are maintained by an in-between system of value to compare different goods. I get that was a weird explanation but what it means is this relationship is essentially an economic market where the people in these relationships are motivated to maintain proportionality. In other words, make sure each other is providing equal value. These economic principles can extend to the social world too, because when good and evil behaviours are weighed against each other, this is what people use to determine the best course of action. If we look at the criminal justice system, juries have to decide how much time a criminal should spend in prison in relation to the seriousness of the crime, we expect a system of meritocracy at work where the promotion or pay rise goes to the most deserving employee, and commanders are meant to determine how many lost lives are worth an action for the greater good. How Do These Categories Mix and Conclusion It’s hard to think of any social relationships that are only one of these four types of relationships because there is a lot of overlap. For instance, if we think about dividing up a bill after a nice dinner, this is hard because going out with friends could be Equality Matching (because we want equal friendships) and it could be Communal Sharing to be honest. Or if you’re out for dinner with a supervisor/ friend, it could be Authority Ranking, Equality Matching and Marketing Pricing. On the whole, the entire point of today’s episode is to show you that moral outrage as well as feelings get hurt because of these different types of relationships. Especially when they don’t match your expectations. For example, I know a lot of great trans people and a part of medical transitioning are different surgeries if they want them. Therefore, if a friend of mine had a surgery with a six-week recovery time and I helped them out for the majority of that time. And I would feel really good because I helped out my friend and I did the right moral thing in this situation. Then I would be working on the assumption, this was a communal Sharing relationship because they’re part of my ingroup and the common fate of the friendship group is tied together. Then let’s say if I later received an email and a bank transfer from my friend repaying me for my time and the email contained a list of the amount they were paying me for each thing I did for them. This would be deeply hurtful because this friend would be categorising our friendship as a Market Pricing relationship instead of what I believed it to be. Of course, this example has and will never happen, but similar hurt feelings have happened before to me. And this example is a good one showing how we categorise relationships impact our moral judgements. Because I’ll tell you now I would never go above and beyond for a Market Pricing relationship in comparison to Communal Sharing relationship. And this is a great little thinking exercise because we all have examples of these four relationships in our lives, so ask yourself this simple question: How far would your moral behaviour go for the people in each type of relationship? Because there’s a big difference between paying for a cheap dinner and being close enough to someone to want to spend six weeks with them after an operation. What do you think? If you want to learn more, please check out: FREE 8 PSYCHOLOGY BOOK BOXSET Psychology of Relationships: The Social Psychology of Friendships, Romantic Relationships and More. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it. Also available as an AI-narrated audiobook from selected audiobook platforms and library systems. For example, Kobo, Spotify, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, Overdrive, Baker and Taylor and Bibliotheca. Patreon for exclusive access and rewards Have a great day. Clinical Psychology References Fiske, A. P. (1991). Structures of social life: The four elementary forms of human relations: Communal sharing, authority ranking, equality matching, market pricing. Free Press. Fiske, A. P., Kitayama, S., Markus, H. R., & Nisbett, R. E. (1998). The cultural matrix of social psychology. In D. T. Gilbert, S. T. Fiske, & G. Lindzey (Eds.), The handbook of social psychology (4th ed., pp. 915–981). McGraw-Hill. Rai, T. S., & Fiske, A. P. (2011). Moral psychology is relationship regulation: moral motives for unity, hierarchy, equality, and proportionality. Psychological review, 118(1), 57. Whiteley, C. (2022) Psychology of Relationships: The Social Psychology of Friendships, Romantic Relationships and More. CGD Publishing. England. I truly hope that you’ve enjoyed this blog post and if you feel like supporting the blog on an ongoing basis and get lots of rewards, then please head to my Patreon page. However, if want to show one-time support and appreciation, the place to do that is PayPal. If you do that, please include your email address in the notes section, so I can say thank you. Which I am going to say right now. Thank you! Click  https://www.buymeacoffee.com/connorwhiteley for a one-time bit of support.

  • How To Be A Trauma-Informed Partner? A Clinical Psychology Podcast Episode.

    In recent years, there has been an increase in awareness within clinical psychology about the importance of a trauma-informed approach to mental health care. As well as considering trauma is relatively common, there is a chance we will meet and maybe form romantic relationships with people who have experienced trauma. Therefore, in this clinical psychology podcast episode, I wanted to combine clinical and relationship psychology to expand upon a list of tips and ways to be a trauma-informed partner. Since this will allow us all to become more trauma-informed and this might be an extremely useful guide if you learn your partner has trauma. This could be the difference between a relationship working or not. If you enjoy learning about relationships, mental health and trauma then you’ll love today’s episode. This podcast episode has been sponsored by Working With Children And Young People: A Guide To Clinical Psychology, Mental Health and Psychotherapy. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it. Also available as an AI-narrated audiobook from selected audiobook platforms and library systems. For example, Kobo, Spotify, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, Overdrive, Baker and Taylor and Bibliotheca. Note: as always absolutely nothing on this podcast is any sort of official medical, relationship, career or any form of official advice. Why Do We Need To Learn About Trauma-Informed Approaches? Personally, I think there are three main reasons why it is critical to understand trauma-informed approaches. Firstly, this is a psychology podcast that aims at providing psychology students, professionals and other people with psychological knowledge and we mainly focus on clinical psychology. Since this is my main interest. Therefore, trauma-informed approaches are becoming more and more recognised and valued within clinical psychology so you need to learn about them. In fact, if you’re in the UK, then you will probably be asked about trauma-informed approaches when you go for your interview to get onto the DClinPsych. You don’t want to risk not knowing about an important area that might pop up. Secondly, humans, like you and me, are social creatures, we all like social relationships, and these include romantic ones. Therefore, there is a good chance that at one point in our lives, we will date and maybe even fall in love with a person has experienced trauma. These relationships will have unique challenges at no fault of either party, but how these challenges are dealt with might become problems in their own right. Therefore, in this podcast episode, I want to give you the knowledge so you know how you might want to navigate these challenges and make your partner feel safe. Finally, I just think this is a great topic and personally, I am fascinated by the concept of trauma-informed approaches because of my own abuse and trauma. I seriously want to understand this better and maybe I’ll find some extra healing or relaxation in this knowledge. I don’t know but that’s why I’m here learning and having fun along the way. Also, I should note the main points for this episode came from the University of Kent’s Student Support Service’s Instagram page from a post they did on the 16th of February 2024. Understand What Your Partner Needs At first, this might seem like a very simple and almost silly point to make. Due to I can imagine a lot of people just dismissing this idea because surely we all know what our partner needs. They only need a bit of love, support and some fun and then they’ll be happy. Surely, it’s as simple as that? Maybe in other relationships that don’t involve trauma but even then I highly doubt it. Since when it comes to trauma and life in general, we need to remember that everyone has had different experiences with intimacy, sex and sexual relationships. Some people would have had brilliant relationships and they have no relationship issues or baggage. Yet other people might have been abused, assaulted or hit in past relationships so this can bring complications into relationships. As a result, it is critical that you try to understand your partner’s experiences to find out what they were, how positive or negative they were and if they were negative then you need to approach this relationship with a trauma-informed manner or mindset. Personally, drawing on my own experience here, whilst I have never been in a relationship, more than enough mental health and trauma stuff pops up in close friendships for me to understand (even roughly) how I would react in romantic relationships. And it’s good that everything I do and all my reactions, I can trace back to a particular event so now it’s just about overcoming them. Yet in a relationship I would need a partner who was willing to be patient, support and listen to my experiences. Communication Is Key In Relationships Of course, this is a brilliant rule for life because honest conversations are extremely powerful, but not everyone is ready to share in relationships. One example I can think of, is how it took me two months to tell my closest friend about my past, how traumatised I was and everything that can happen to me at times because I was so scared of losing them because of it. That had happened before and then it took another two months for me to kill that fear outright, and now I am a lot more open with them. That’s just an example of how people aren’t always willing to open up about trauma, how it affects them and how all types of relationships can be difficult. Therefore, when it comes to relationships, it’s important that you try to create and encourage a safe emotional and physical space where your partner and yourself are both comfortable enough to share things openly. Understand Trauma Given how I sometimes feel that laypeople use trauma as a buzzword with absolutely no understanding of what trauma actually is, I can understand why some people in relationships might not understand the role of trauma and how it affects people. Yet if you truly care or even love your partner then you need to understand what trauma is. Since trauma affects a person physically, emotionally and psychologically. No part of a person’s life escapes trauma completely. When it comes to their physical body, your partner’s nervous system will be affected by the trauma. For example, my heart rate can make me have extreme reactions in certain situations because of my trauma and what people have done to me before. Like two Sundays ago at the time of writing, my friend started texting me in a strange way because it turned out they wanted to ask me something massive. But considering I had made an innocent mistake a few days before (that turned out to be nothing) my heart rate was pounding because my trauma made me believe my really, really close friend was going to end the friendship with me. It still took me another five minutes to get my heart rate back to normal, because it had “only” been caused by my friend texting me. As a result, I wanted to highlight how trauma can make partners react in ways that aren’t always in their control and most of it is just automatic. These responses aren’t done on purpose and the partner isn’t trying to hurt you, this is just how the trauma has affected them. Then over time hopefully, as you both work on helping each other and your partner tries to improve their life and deal with the past, these responses will decrease or maybe stop entirely. Be Observant In Relationships There are a lot of different ways this point can be applied to relationships, but let’s take the most innocent and probably most common one. You and your partner have just had a great night out, you had a lot of fun and you laughed a lot. Then you start acting flirty and you press them a little to come back to your place for a “nightcap”. Even if you seriously mean it as a nightcap and no adult fun. Watch your partner’s body language. It might change to show they’re uncomfortable but they’re too nervous or unsure how you’ll react if they try to say anything. If their body language changes then just step back, relax and act if their feelings escalate. Since not everyone communicates verbally all the time. For example, when a friend of mine stayed over a few months ago, I could tell they were uncomfortable and slightly bored whilst we were talking with my parents. And then later on they told me, they were anxious and nervous and they only did that for my benefit. I know this was a friendship example but the same could apply in a relationship. If this was a relationship then I should have asked my friend what was wrong and if they were okay. They would have been better than noticing it and not recognising it for whatever it might have been. In this case it was anxiety. Which for this particular friend does go back to trauma. Just Be Open As we slowly take some steps towards dealing with adult activities in relationships, it’s important to know you need to have open conversations. Since people who have experienced trauma can have very difficult relationships with sex and similar things. That’s why it’s important to talk to your partner about both of your likes, dislikes and just talk about sex beforehand. You need to make them feel comfortable and what they need from you if they get overwhelmed. Personally, I am flat out terrified of sex. I will happily admit that and I have no doubt it will cause massive issues in the future. Part of my fear comes from the touch difficulties in autism, but 90% of it is trauma-related because without saying too much, I am scared to let people close enough to me to touch me where they could hurt me. Logically, it is a silly fear but from a trauma perspective it is very practical. Which is why there are only really four people that I’ve met in my 22 years of living that I wouldn’t mind twice about having sex with. Simply because I know these four people would never hurt me, none of those things happened though. Anyway, it just comes to show you how trauma can seriously affect sexual relationships and why it’s important to be honest and open in conversations. Due to I know when I eventually find someone, I won’t be comfortable with the idea of sex until a deep conversation about it. As that is another test to see if they care about me very much. If they don’t want the talk then they clearly aren’t that bothered by me. Check In With Your Partner During Sex I’ll fully admit that I have never spoken about or said the word “sex” so many times in my life than this episode, and you realise how uncomfortable you are with the idea when you struggle saying and writing it a lot. I suppose that’s why I write sweet romance instead of steamy romances. Anyway, building upon the last section, when you and your partner finally decide to have sex and it is perfectly okay if this doesn’t happen for a while. Be it weeks, months or even years. It’s important to check in with them during sex to see if they’re still okay. You can do this by occasionally asking your partner if what you’re doing is okay and if they’re still enjoying it. Also, you can remind that them you can stop at any time and they can withdraw their consent whatever they want. As well as you can agree on safe words or another way to communicate that means this needs to stop immediately. This is just flat out critical I think to making anyone who’s been through trauma feel safe, secure and cared for. Learn Grounding Techniques Finally, if your partner starts reacting or panicking or having some sort of negative reaction during sex then help them. One of the forms of help could be encouraging them to use grounding techniques so they become grounded in the present moment and not their traumatic past. These grounding techniques can include reassuring them that they’re safe, referencing the present location, date, time and other immediate sensations. Like anything you hear or whatever you see. This is all about helping to ground them in the present moment and making it harder for them to focus on the past and traumatic event they’re re-experiencing. Clinical Psychology and Relationship Psychology Conclusion At the end of the day, when it comes to being a trauma-informed partner, it’s about realising none of us can remove all the harm that the trauma has caused our partner. It simply cannot be done. Yet what can be done is you can understand and support your partner by being patient and supportive and then you can do your best to minimise the harm caused by their trauma. This isn’t going to be easy and I have had friends that have found dealing with my trauma difficult to say the least. So I have no idea how a future boyfriend or partner would find it. Yet I know if they care about me or even love me, then they will be patient, understanding and supportive. That’s what you need to do to if you want to be a trauma-informed partner. Therefore, just as a reminder here are the ways you can be an informed partner: ·       Know what your partner needs ·       Communicate with them ·       Understand trauma ·       Be observant ·       Talk openly about adult activities ·       Check in with your partner during sex ·       Use grounding techniques Just because a partner has trauma in their past, it doesn’t mean they can never be loved. A relationship with a traumatised person can still be as magical, wonderful and loving as a relationship with anyone else. But only if you both put the work in and you become a trauma-informed partner that loves, supports and understands your partner. If you want to learn more, please check out: FREE 8 PSYCHOLOGY BOOK BOXSET Working With Children And Young People: A Guide To Clinical Psychology, Mental Health and Psychotherapy. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it. Also available as an AI-narrated audiobook from selected audiobook platforms and library systems. For example, Kobo, Spotify, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, Overdrive, Baker and Taylor and Bibliotheca. Patreon for exclusive access and rewards Have a great day. Clinical Psychology References Whiteley, C. (2022) Psychology of Relationships: The Social Psychology of Friendships, Romantic Relationships and More. CGD Publishing. England. Whiteley, C. (2024) CBT For Depression: A Clinical Psychology Introduction To Cognitive Behavioural Therapy For Depression. CGD Publishing. England. Whiteley, C. (2024) CBT For Anxiety: A Clinical Psychology Introduction To Cognitive Behavioural Therapy For Anxiety Disorders. CGD Publishing. England. University of Kent Student Service Instagram Post on 16th February 2024 I truly hope that you’ve enjoyed this blog post and if you feel like supporting the blog on an ongoing basis and get lots of rewards, then please head to my Patreon page. However, if want to show one-time support and appreciation, the place to do that is PayPal. If you do that, please include your email address in the notes section, so I can say thank you. Which I am going to say right now. Thank you! Click  https://www.buymeacoffee.com/connorwhiteley for a one-time bit of support.

  • How Are Behavioural Experiments Used In CBT? A Clinical Psychology Podcast Episode.

    After a hectic week and the release of a brand-new clinical psychology book, we’re going to be talking about one of my favourite aspects of psychological therapies. We are going to be talking about the amazing, the impressive and seriously interesting topic known as Behavioural experiments. This is a brilliant cognitive intervention you can do with clients and I flat out love learning about this topic. Therefore, in this clinical psychology podcast episode, you’ll learn about what are behavioural experiments, how they’re used in the real-world and why they’re effective psychological interventions. If you enjoy learning about clinical psychology, psychotherapy and cognitive techniques for mental health conditions, then you will love today’s episode. This podcast episode has been sponsored by CBT For Depression: A Clinical Psychology Introduction To Cognitive Behavioural Therapy For Depression. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it. Also available as an AI-narrated audiobook from selected audiobook platforms and library systems. For example, Kobo, Spotify, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, Overdrive, Baker and Taylor and Bibliotheca. What Are Behavioural Experiments In Cognitive Behavioural Therapy? (Extract from CBT For Depression. Copyright Connor Whiteley 2024). This chapter covers another type of cognitive intervention that I absolutely love because Behavioural Experiments are so cool, amazing and just flat out brilliant. I love learning about them and if you ever find a good video of these being done properly or you get to use them or see them in real life, you’ll realise how amazing they are too. However, for the sake of clarity, a behavioural experiment are: “Planned experiential activities, based on experimentation or observation, which are undertaken by clients in or between sessions” (Bennett-Levy, J., Butler, G. Fennell, M., Hackmann, A., Mueller, M. & Westbrook, D., 2004). As well as these are very powerful to combating safety behaviours and their design is directly generated from cognitive formulations of presenting problems. In other words, behavioural experiments are done to counteract the client’s presenting problems as seen in a hot-cross-bun formulation, for example. Why Use Behavioural Experiments? Personally, I would say why wouldn’t you use them, but as great as thought records are because they allow the client to become more aware of their thinking and patterns of behaviour, and even come up with their own alternatives to these thoughts and behaviours. The person can still not be fully convinced that the alternatives are true. As a result, behavioural experiments can: ·                 Test a client’s unhelpful existing beliefs. ·                 Test out their new and more helpful beliefs ·                 Collect information to help develop the formulation further ·                 They enable experiential learning. Basically learning by doing. ·                 Allow clients to test out theory A versus Theory B One of the ways and something that is very common in CBT is that a client will argue forever that they know what you’re saying and the alternatives are true at a logical and fact level and they “feel it in my heart” and they “know it in their head” but they still refuse to believe it. That’s why behavioural experiments are very powerful ways to get them to see what happens when they drop their safety behaviours. Of course, I’m not saying that behavioural experiments are easy for both the therapist and the client. Since the therapist needs to design behavioural experiments so, so carefully because if one of these experiments goes wrong then you have basically just confirmed outright a person’s biased cognitive errors and beliefs. That isn’t what you want. Additionally, these can be difficult for the client because your therapist is basically making you confront something you absolutely hate. However, I know this doesn’t directly apply to depression but if you ever see get a chance to see these experiments in practice as a student then definitely watch them. Since the one I watched was with an anxious woman who believed she would have sweat pouring off her, she would be violently shaking like an earthquake and she would be tomato red when she had to talk to a stranger so the therapist filmed an interaction and it turned out the woman was completely wrong. She wasn’t bright tomato red, she wasn’t shaking (you really couldn’t tell she was shaking at all) and no visual sweat was coming off her. This made the woman very surprised and happy and the therapist got the woman to do the experiment twice, once with safety behaviours and one without. And you know what happened? The woman admitted she looked so much more personable, likeable and human when she did the experiment without her safety behaviours. It was a very powerful and fascinating thing to watch and enjoy. On the whole, the purpose of behavioural experiments is to get new information so the client can test the validity of their existing beliefs and cognitions. This includes them testing the content of these beliefs and cognitions and seeing the effect of their maladaptive processes. As well as behavioural experiments allow clients to create and test new, more adaptive beliefs and cognitions. Finally, if we apply this information to depression (the entire purpose of the book) then these experiments allow people to get new information to test the validity of alternative explanations of depression through behavioural activation and associated symptoms. If you want to learn more, please check out: FREE 8 PSYCHOLOGY BOOK BOXSET CBT For Depression: A Clinical Psychology Introduction To Cognitive Behavioural Therapy For Depression. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it. Also available as an AI-narrated audiobook from selected audiobook platforms and library systems. For example, Kobo, Spotify, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, Overdrive, Baker and Taylor and Bibliotheca. Patreon for exclusive access and rewards Have a great day. Clinical Psychology References Whiteley, C. (2024) CBT For Depression: A Clinical Psychology Introduction To Cognitive Behavioural Therapy For Depression. CGD Publishing. England. Whiteley, C. (2024) CBT For Anxiety: A Clinical Psychology Introduction To Cognitive Behavioural Therapy For Anxiety Disorders. CGD Publishing. England. I truly hope that you’ve enjoyed this blog post and if you feel like supporting the blog on an ongoing basis and get lots of rewards, then please head to my Patreon page. However, if want to show one-time support and appreciation, the place to do that is PayPal. If you do that, please include your email address in the notes section, so I can say thank you. Which I am going to say right now. Thank you! Click  https://www.buymeacoffee.com/connorwhiteley for a one-time bit of support.

  • What is Animal-Assisted Therapy? A Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy Podcast Episode.

    All of us have heard of dog therapy, therapy animals and a wide range of different examples of psychotherapy that involve animals. As a clinical psychology graduate, I have to admit I am very unsure of these therapies, how these therapies work and their effectiveness. Yet until now, I have never learnt about these therapies in any great depth. Therefore, in this clinical psychology episode, you’ll learn about what is animal-assisted therapy, how does it work and what can be it used for. If you enjoy learning about therapy, clinical psychology and mental health then you’ll enjoy today’s episode for sure. This podcast episode has been sponsored by Working With Children And Young People: A Guide To Clinical Psychology, Mental Health and Psychotherapy. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it. Also available as an AI-narrated audiobook from selected audiobook platforms and library systems. For example, Kobo, Spotify, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, Overdrive, Baker and Taylor and Bibliotheca. What Is Animal-Assisted Therapy? Animal-assisted therapy is a type of psychological therapy that involves different animals. For example, dogs, cats, birds and horses and incorporates these animals into a client’s treatment plan. Then the therapist, client and animal work together to complete therapeutic activities outlined in the treatment plan, with these activities having defined goals to help the client reach the therapeutic outcomes they desire. Interestingly, animal-assisted therapy can take many forms depending on the client, the therapy’s goals and the animal. As well as this therapy isn’t actually used as an alternative to traditional therapy, because at times this can enhance or complement traditional therapies. Personally, I cannot get my head around using animals in therapy but this is why the next section of the episode is important for our understanding. How Does Animal-Assisted Therapy Work? Interestingly enough, the idea behind animal-assisted therapy is that there is a bond between people and animals. This is something I can fully support because I have seen this from dog and cat lovers and owners, and other pet owners love their pets like they would another human. People seriously love their animals, so this is a logical idea. This works because animals can provide people with a sense of safety or comfort or calm as well as they can divert attention away from a stressful situation. In addition, animals are useful for combating loneliness and they can boost social support too. On the day of writing this blog post, I was working at my university as a Student Ambassador on an applicant day, and this mother had brought her daughter and her dog. And the mother was one of the most popular people at the applicant day, because lots of people wanted to interact with her. Therefore, animals are a source of social support and interaction because the client interacts with the animal itself, and other people interact with the client because of the animal. Also, animals can make people get more physical activity than they would normally and we know the mental health benefits of physical activity. For example, a dog owner having to go on walks with their dog in fresh air could have a positive impact on their mental health. As a result, supporters of animal-assisted therapy say that animal-assisted therapy works because it gets a client to develop a bond with an animal. Then this helps clients to develop an increased sense of trust, self-worth and stabilised emotions. As well as it improves their social skills, self-regulation and communication skills. Personally, I have some thoughts on this explanation of how it works. Firstly, I can fully understand how this could work because I can understand how an animal liking a client and wanting to be with a client, could increase those feelings of trust and self-worth. As well as the increased physical activity and improved communication and social skills that the client gets to practice by people wanting to stroke the dog or something. That would be useful. However, if you’ve been listening to this podcast for a long time then you know I am a fan of cognitive behavioural approaches because they aren’t perfect but they are really good, really well-researched and really effective. Therefore, if we look at animal-assisted therapy alone then how does this therapy help to change the client’s faulty thinking patterns? How does animal therapy and a bond with an animal help the client to realise any cognitive biases they have? And leaning towards humanistic approaches here, how does a bond with an animal help a client to realise they have all the answers they need to their mental health difficulties? Moreover, how does an animal help with cognitive restructuring? As well as to a lesser extent, how could a bond with an animal help behavioural activation as much as traditional therapy? Of course, they are massively generalised questions that are not right for every single client. But I used them they highlight several key points about animal-assisted therapy and the issues of how it is meant to work. When Is Animal-Assisted Therapy Used? Building upon its flaws in how it is meant to work, there are a few more issues in when this therapy is used but we will talk more about that in a moment. As a result, animal-assisted therapy can be used for groups or individuals with a wide range of mental health difficulties or conditions. For example, animal-assisted therapy can be useful for people with autism, ADHD, stress, anxiety, depression, addiction, emotional and behavioural problems in children, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease and some medical conditions. In addition, I can see how this therapy could be useful for these conditions and difficulties. For example, autism results in people having difficulties with human interactions and animals are a lot easier than humans to deal with (believe me, I know) so I suppose helping an autistic person bond with an animal could be a useful way to teach them skills to use with humans. However, anxiety and depression are still two conditions I don’t understand with animal-assisted therapy. Especially, when we take the therapeutic orientation that cognitive-behavioural approaches employ and here’s a useful extract of what an anxiety disorder is made up of from CBT For Anxiety: “There’s a cognitive component relating to a person’s unrealistic thoughts about their fear of loss of control and how they exaggerate the danger. Then there is an emotional component too that focuses on how the disorder causes a person’s terror, irritability and panic. Furthermore, an anxiety disorder has a physical component that is responsible for a person’s activation of their hormonal system and sympathetic nervous system resulting in their flight-or-fight response to be activated. This is also the same component causing heart palliations and sweating. As well as there’s the behavioural factor of the disorder that causes an anxious person to change their behaviour like developing maladaptive coping mechanisms, like avoiding the source of their anxiety.” I bring this up because CBT has to deal with these four areas of anxiety as part of the treatment. I do not understand how animal-assisted therapy deals with the cognitive component because if the therapy uses animals as a source of comfort. Then I argue with a safety behaviour, a behaviour that we believe is helpful but it isn’t in the long-term because we think the only reason why horrible things did not happen is because of the safety behaviour. I argue that making a client believe a dog or other animal is the reason why they aren’t anxious in the presence of a stimulus is a safety behaviour. Since if you take the dog away then the client might believe horrible things will happen because the animal isn’t there to support them. That’s just one area of anxiety that I do not believe animal-assisted therapy explains very well. I would explain more but I am aware of the length of this podcast episode if I did that. Effectiveness Of Animal-Assisted Therapy Another two issues with this type of psychotherapy is that the therapy isn’t good for people who are scared, don’t like or allergic to animals. As well as there is research showing animal-assisted therapy can help a lot of people, but its effectiveness is sort of questionable. The reason for this is because the existing clinical trials are methodologically flawed according to research. Check the references at the button of the page to learn more. Therefore, better research studies are needed to truly assess how effective this therapy is for clients. What Should Someone Expect In Animal-Assisted Therapy? When it comes to animal-assisted therapy, a client can expect to work with some kind of animal. It might be a cat, dog or another pet and this pet can be kept at home or it can be with you throughout the day for emotional support. Or a client’s therapy might involve learning to care and ride for a therapy horse. It all depends on the type of animal therapy a client goes for. Afterwards, a client and their therapist could talk about the animal whilst the client is working with them, or the two might set aside time to talk about the client’s experiences. I flat out do NOT have an issue with animal-assisted therapy happening in a community centre or setting like a school, hospital, nursing home and rehabilitation centre. Due to these settings because they are critical mental health settings. Yet I am very iffy about these settings when it comes to animal-assisted therapy because a qualified psychotherapist might not be used instead a volunteer might deliver the therapy. Of course, this volunteer would be trained. Also, it is important to note Brief Psychological Interventions are also delivered by trained volunteers and they’re effective. However, my problem is still similar to the problem that fully qualified clinical psychologists have with BPIs. Psychologists train for years and years to deliver highly effective psychological interventions and then some volunteers get trained up to do our work for us in a much, much shorter space of time. Honestly, if it works, it works and as long as it helps our clients I support it. But it is just annoying that we have to train for years and years and there are ways for other people to get trained in psychological interventions in a shorter time. I remember that conversation and criticism in my BPI lecture very well, because BPIs are good and needed but I can see the argument from fully qualified psychologists. And yes I know Brief Psychology Interventions are different to animal-assisted therapies, but still. Clinical Psychology Conclusion Originally, I picked animal-assisted therapy because I thought this podcast episode would be shorter but it turns out I’m in a critical-thinking type of mood and there is a lot to unpack here. Personally, I am not totally against animal-assisted therapy because it helps some people, but I will need a lot more high-quality studies before I could ever call myself a supporter of this therapy. I think the evidence and theoretical basis of this therapy are questionable at times. And as much as I sort of want a dog, I actually really do, I don’t think I’m enough of an animal person that I would want to spend my days working with animals in psychological therapy. I prefer traditional therapies, like cognitive behavioural therapy, and I enjoy drawing on systemic and humanistic approaches too at times. Therefore, just as a reminder, animal-assisted therapy is a type of psychological therapy that involves different animals. For example, dogs, cats, birds and horses and incorporates these animals into a client’s treatment plan. Then the therapist, client and animal work together to complete therapeutic activities outlined in the treatment plan, with these activities having defined goals to help the client reach the therapeutic outcomes they desire. Finally, if animal-assisted therapy works for particular clients then that is brilliant and I wish those people all the best of luck. But personally, I’ll be sticking with therapies that have a strong research base and do not use animals in a therapeutic setting. That’s just my personal taste but if you like the sound of animal therapies then go for it. Life is way too short not to do what you love. So if you love animals and working with them then go and investigate animal-assisted therapy. You never know how you might be able to use them to help a client decrease their psychological distress, improve their life and make them smile. If you want to learn more, please check out: FREE 8 PSYCHOLOGY BOOK BOXSET Working With Children And Young People: A Guide To Clinical Psychology, Mental Health and Psychotherapy. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it. Also available as an AI-narrated audiobook from selected audiobook platforms and library systems. For example, Kobo, Spotify, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, Overdrive, Baker and Taylor and Bibliotheca. Patreon for exclusive access and rewards Have a great day. Clinical Psychology References Anestis, M. D., Anestis, J. C., Zawilinski, L. L., Hopkins, T. A., & Lilienfeld, S. O. (2014). Equine‐related treatments for mental disorders lack empirical support: A systematic review of empirical investigations. Journal of Clinical Psychology,70, (12), 1115-1132. Beck, A. M., & Katcher, A. H. (1984). A new look at pet-facilitated therapy. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 184(4), 414-421. Charry-Sánchez, J.D., et al. Animal-assisted therapy in adults: A systematic review. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. August 2018; Volume 32:169-180. Chur-Hansen, A., McArthur, M., Winefield, H., Hanieh, E., & Hazel, S. (2014). Animal-assisted interventions in children's hospitals: A critical review of the literature. Anthrozoös, 27(1), 5-18 Kamioka H, Okada S, Tsutani K, et al. Effectiveness of animal-assisted therapy: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Complementary Therapies in Medicine. April 2014; 22(2):371-390. Kamioka, H., Okada, S., Tsutani, K., Park, H., Okuizumi, H., Handa, S., Oshio, T., Park, S., Kitayuguchi, J., Abe, T., Honda, T., & Mutoh, Y. (2014). Effectiveness of animal-assisted therapy: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 22(2), 371-390. Mandrá, P.P. Animal assisted therapy: systematic review of literature. SciELO Brazil. 2019; CoDAS 31 (3). Marcus, D. The Science Behind Animal-Assisted Therapy. Current Pain and Headache Reports. 2013; volume 17, Article number: 322. Marino, L. (2012). Construct validity of animal assisted therapy and activities: How important is the animal in AAT? Anthrozoös, 25(Supplement 1), 139-151. Nimer J., Lundahl B. Animal-assisted therapy: a meta-analysis. Anthrozoos. Stern, C., & Chur-Hansen, A. (2013). Methodological considerations in designing and evaluating animal-assisted interventions. Animals, 3(1), 127-141 Whiteley, C. (2024) CBT For Anxiety: A Clinical Psychology Introduction To Cognitive Behavioural Therapy For Anxiety Disorders. CGD Publishing. England. I truly hope that you’ve enjoyed this blog post and if you feel like supporting the blog on an ongoing basis and get lots of rewards, then please head to my Patreon page. However, if want to show one-time support and appreciation, the place to do that is PayPal. If you do that, please include your email address in the notes section, so I can say thank you. Which I am going to say right now. Thank you! Click  https://www.buymeacoffee.com/connorwhiteley for a one-time bit of support.

  • What Is Art Therapy? A Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy Podcast Episode.

    Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that I’ve always been interested in, because it isn’t talked about too much at university or in clinical psychology books. Therefore, I feel that art therapy is shrouded in myth and mystery, so psychology students and professionals aren’t exactly sure what art therapy is. Let alone how art therapy works to improve someone’s mental health. In this clinical psychology podcast episode, we’ll explore what is art therapy, how does art therapy work and so much more. If you’re interested in mental health, clinical psychology and psychotherapy then you’ll love today’s episode. This episode has been sponsored by Abnormal Psychology: The Causes and Treatments For Depression, Anxiety and More. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it. Also available as an AI-narrated audiobook from selected audiobook platforms and library systems. For example, Kobo, Spotify, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, Overdrive, Baker and Taylor and Bibliotheca. What Is Art Therapy? Art therapy is a type of psychotherapy that uses creative techniques to help people express themselves and examine the emotional and psychological undertones of their art. Some of the artistic techniques include painting, colouring, sculpturing and collaging. Then the trained art therapist helps the client to interpret the metaphor, symbols and nonverbal messages in their artwork. As a result, this helps the client to get a better understanding of their feelings and behaviour so they can move on to resolving deeper mental health difficulties and their causes. Personally, I definitely have to admit that I am a little sceptical of this already because this sounds very subjective, and I think this might be great for some people. For example, people who struggle verbally or really, really like art. Yet for other people, this won’t be fun or very good for them, in terms of using art as a medium of communication. For instance, I like art to some extent but not enough to want to use it as a therapy medium. In that case, I personally prefer talking therapies, which this involves to some extent. And my opinion is supported by the literature because research into art therapy is mixed at best. Since some studies have found that art therapy can be effective for different people, but other studies have found little benefit to the mental health of clients (Maujean et al., 2014; Patterson et al., 2011; Schouten et al., 2015; Slayton et al., 2010; Van Lith, 2016). So this is not the most empirically supported type of therapy to say the least. When Is Art Therapy Used? Interestingly, art therapy can be applied to a very wide range of settings and it can be useful for a range of mental health conditions. Such as, art therapy is useful for a therapist working with couples, groups and individuals as well as it doesn’t matter if this happens in a wellness centre, private counselling, hospitals, senior centres or other community settings. Art therapy can be used in all of these settings. Which is brilliant and helps to make this therapy an accessible option for a lot of people. In addition, because I am terrible at art (and I have no desire to get better), it’s good to know that a client doesn’t need any artistic talent for the therapy to be successful. Since art therapy isn’t about the end result of the artwork, it’s all about finding the associations between the client’s inner life and the creative choices they make during the creation process. That’s why art therapy can effectively be a springboard for clients to remember old memories, tell stories that could reveal more about their past and even their beliefs in their unconscious mind. Moreover, when it comes to the list of mental health conditions, art therapy is useful for you’ll see it covers almost all the main types. For example, depression, anxiety, stress, trauma and grief. Yet it also covers emotional exploration, self-esteem problems, personality disorders as well as physical disabilities and illnesses a client might have. What To Expect In Art Therapy? I know you’re all mainly psychology students and professionals so you might find it strange that I’m including a section on what to expect in art therapy from a client’s perspective. Yet I’m doing this because if we understand what our clients go through then this can help us with empathy towards our clients. As well as there is a chance you might listen to this episode today and remember it in the future if you’re working with a client and your current therapy isn’t really working. And you believe they might benefit from art therapy instead, it’s a possibility. And learning never hurts. Therefore, the first session of art therapy will be very similar to basically every other form of psychotherapy. A client will be meeting with the therapist and talking about why you want psychological help and they will learn what this therapist has to offer them. Then the client and the art therapist will work together to create a treatment plan that involves creating some artwork. Afterwards, the client will start creating and during this process, there will be times when the therapist observes how you work without judging or interfering. Next, when the client has finished their artwork, or at times when the client is still working on it, the therapist will ask questions about how they felt about the artistic process, what was easy or difficult about the artwork and any thoughts or memories the client has about the artwork during the creation process. Also, it is very common for therapists to ask clients about their experiences and feelings before they provide any observations. Finally, using this information, the art therapist will use a wide range of creative and innovative interventions that are tailored to each client to help them. For example, an art therapist might guide clients to build clay structures of a family member, engage in free association about different pieces of artwork, or just tell a story through a photo collage. I suppose that is the nice thing about art therapy is that it gives the therapist a lot of freedom to help their client. Since Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and the vast majority of therapies I’ve come across are a lot more manualised than art therapy. And most of the time that is brilliant but it does restrict therapists to what they can do with their clients, to some extent at least. How Does Art Therapy Work? To wrap up this clinical psychology episode, let’s look at how art therapy works to improve people’s mental health. Therefore, art therapy is based on the idea that therapeutic value can be found in artistic self-expression for people who want to heal or understand themselves or their behaviours at a deeper level. In addition, according to the American Art Therapy Association, art therapists are trained to understand the roles that various art media, texture and colour can play in the therapy process as well as how these tools can help clients reveal their feelings, thoughts and psychological dispositions. As a result, art therapy combines psychological therapy and some kind of visual art media into a specific, standalone therapy but it is used at times in other psychotherapies too. In other words, art therapy is another example of a therapy module that can picked up and combined with other modules depending on what the therapist needs. Similar to how some therapists combine systemic and cognitive-behavioural approaches depending on what’s best for their clients. Moreover, research shows there are five benefits to art therapy and these further help to explain how the therapy works. Firstly, it helps to improve a client’s insight and comprehension as it allows them to verbalise their experiences and emotions. Secondly, art therapy improves emotion and impulse regulation because it improves a client’s ability to regulate and control emotions. Thirdly, art therapy is useful for behaviour change because clients learn to change their behavioural responses towards other people and themselves. This could be a result of the self-directed nature of the creative process. Penultimately, art therapy benefits a client’s personal integration because art helps to improve their self-image and their identity. Finally, art helps to improve a client’s perception as well as self-perception because it helps people to focus on the present moment, identify and connect with their emotions and their body awareness. And personally, I know I’ve mentioned this point a few times before on the podcast but when you really start thinking about psychotherapies as a whole. You really do start to see the commonalities between them. For example, art therapy helps behaviour change, well isn’t any form of behaviour change basically behavioural activation which comes from the behavioural approach? Also, art therapy helps clients to focus on the present moment, could that have come from mindfulness-based approaches which is in turn sort of connected to CBT? As well as art therapy helping emotion and impulse regulation, isn’t that basically the premise of most psychotherapies? And I don’t know say this to discredit any psychotherapy because if it is evidence-based and if it works to improve people’s lives, then I have no issue at all with it. I just think it’s funny to think about how connected all these different forms are. Clinical Psychology Conclusion Whilst I would never want to be trained in art therapy because I am just not sold on its effectiveness and art has no interest for me, I think it is interesting. As well as the entire point of these therapy-based podcast episodes is to help us learn about other forms and concepts from different therapies. Therefore, if you ever hear of a concept or idea from a “new” (to you at least) form of therapy then you can research, get trained in it and maybe use it in your current or future clinical psychology work. It is all about expanding our psychology knowledge. So as a reminder art therapy uses creative techniques to help people express themselves and examine the emotional and psychological undertones of their art. Then the client interprets the metaphor, symbols and nonverbal messages in their artwork. To get a better understanding of their feelings and behaviour so they can move on to resolving deeper mental health difficulties and their causes. And art therapy gives us some more tools and ideas to use in our current or future clinical work and that’s great. Art therapy is interesting, a little quirky and I think it could be useful in the right situation. And as long as it improves lives, decreases psychological distress and helps people, then art therapy is hardly a bad idea. If you want to learn more, please check out: FREE 8 PSYCHOLOGY BOOK BOXSET Abnormal Psychology: The Causes and Treatments For Depression, Anxiety and More. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it. Also available as an AI-narrated audiobook from selected audiobook platforms and library systems. For example, Kobo, Spotify, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, Overdrive, Baker and Taylor and Bibliotheca. Patreon for exclusive access and rewards Have a great day. Clinical Psychology References American Art Association website. American Art Therapy Association Masters Education Standards June 30, 2007. Mathew Chiang, William Bernard Reid-Varley, Xiaoduo Fan. Creative art therapy for mental illness: Psychiatry Research. May 2019; 275:129-136. Maujean, A., Pepping, C. A., & Kendall, E. (2014). A systematic review of randomized controlled studies of art therapy. Art therapy, 31(1), 37-44. Moon, B. L., & Nolan, E. G. (2019). Ethical issues in art therapy. Charles C Thomas Publisher. Patterson, S., Crawford, M. J., Ainsworth, E., & Waller, D. (2011). Art therapy for people diagnosed with schizophrenia: Therapists’ views about what changes, how and for whom. International Journal of Art Therapy, 16(2), 70-80. Schouten, K. A., de Niet, G. J., Knipscheer, J. W., Kleber, R. J., & Hutschemaekers, G. J. (2015). The effectiveness of art therapy in the treatment of traumatized adults: A systematic review on art therapy and trauma. Trauma, violence, & abuse, 16(2), 220-228. Slayton SC, D’Archer J, Kaplan F. Outcome studies on the efficacy of art therapy: a review of findings. Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association. 22 April 2011; 27(3): 108-118. Slayton, S. C., D'Archer, J., & Kaplan, F. (2010). Outcome studies on the efficacy of art therapy: A review of findings. Art therapy, 27(3), 108-118. Suzanne Haeyen, Susan van Hooren, William van der Veld, Giel Hutschemaekers. Efficacy of Art Therapy in Individuals With Personality Disorders Cluster B/C: A Randomized Controlled Trial: Journal of Personality Disorders. August 2018; 32(4):527-542. Van Lith, T. (2016). Art therapy in mental health: A systematic review of approaches and practices. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 47, 9-22. I truly hope that you’ve enjoyed this blog post and if you feel like supporting the blog on an ongoing basis and get lots of rewards, then please head to my Patreon page. However, if want to show one-time support and appreciation, the place to do that is PayPal. If you do that, please include your email address in the notes section, so I can say thank you. Which I am going to say right now. Thank you! Click  https://www.buymeacoffee.com/connorwhiteley for a one-time bit of support.

  • How Can Your Relationship Flourish According To Research? A Social Psychology Podcast Episode.

    Since it’s the beginning of February and Valentine’s Day is coming up in a few weeks, I thought it would be fun to investigate social psychology a little for a change. Due to over the years there has been a lot of good, high-quality social psychology research into romantic relationships and we can apply these lessons to our own lives. Therefore, in this social psychology podcast episode, you’ll get to see six powerful lessons that can help a relationship to flourish according to a 2023 study. If you enjoy learning about social psychology, human relationships and research then you’ll love today’s episode. This podcast episode has been sponsored by Psychology Of Relationships: The Social Psychology Of Friendships, Romantic Relationships and More. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it. Also available as an AI-narrated audiobook from selected audiobook platforms and library systems. For example, Kobo, Spotify, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, Overdrive, Baker and Taylor and Bibliotheca. Note: nothing on this podcast is ever relationship, medical or any other form of official advice. Why Is It Important To Learn About Relationship Flourishing? I’ll fully admit that whilst I have never been in a relationship or dated, I want to look at this topic because I’m writing the blog post for this episode during the day, and then tonight I’m going to a fun social event where I might make some new friends or even meet someone. And this is always fun to look at anyway. Therefore, it’s important that we all understand the reasons how and why relationships can flourish so we can bring new life into our romantic relationships, if they’re starting to feel like a bit of a grind. As well as if we start to feel that our relationships aren’t exciting anymore and we’re continuing the same sense of sameness without anything new or exciting. In addition, learning about relationships gives us a chance for self-growth and connecting with our partners at a deeper level. Halford et al. (2023)’s Addressing The Problem Of Relationship Flourishing The study we’ll be focusing on in this podcast episode is Halford et al. (2023) because the researchers pointed out that over time there have been large changes in what’s considered a good, happy long-term relationship. Due to in the past, couples have been happy to simply be loved by the other and meeting each other’s psychological needs. Whereas in these modern times with social media and globalisation happening, couples are starting to realise that self-actualisation is important too in relationships. Here's a quote from the study that highlights this point even more: “Increasing aspirations for relationship quality are evident in changing reasons for divorce,” this comes from page 156 and what makes this quote increasing is that it is the feeling of growing apart that is the main cause of divorce. Instead of severe marital problems. Personally, I think this finding is rather interesting because it is both what you would and wouldn’t expect to be the main cause of divorce. Since whenever I think about relationship breakdown, I always think about severe problems in a relationship but I don’t always think about growing apart as a reason. Therefore, this does remind us how important it is to make sure we don’t grow apart from our partners. As a result, the researchers wanted to tackle these feelings of growing part in couples by allowing a couple to flourish by targeting feelings of personal happiness and growth enhancement. This would allow the couple to experience growth, resilience as well as intimacy. In addition, Halford et al. (2023) wanted to validate the method that they’ve developed over the years to revive these flatlining relationships. What Are The 6 Elements Of Relationship Education? Interestingly, Halford et al. propose that couples don’t need to spend years in therapy to develop a high-quality relationship. Instead they need to follow a very specific curriculum for about 12 to 18 hours in the comfort of their own home. Thankfully, this means couples can do this regardless of their location even if they are no local couples therapists. The six components of their relationship education programme are as follows: ·       Relationship self-change. This is where the couple learn about the value of goal-setting, why self-change is important to relationship growth and their commitment to relationship enhancement. ·       Communication. Here the couple learns about how to effectively communicate in relationships and they evaluate their own communication skills. ·       Caring and intimacy. In the third component, they learn about the importance of expressing social support, affection and positive shared activities. Then they review their current affection, their engagement in shared activities and their support for their partner. ·       Managing differences. Next the couple reviews the positive effect of differences on the relationship and effective conflict management. ·       Sexuality. Penultimately, they learn about common myths about sexual expression as well as assess their current sexual behaviour in the relationship. ·       Management Of Life Changes. Finally, the couple learn about the impact of life events on the relationship, and they assess what likely life changes they’ll experience and their effects before reviewing how to maintain focus on the relationship in a busy life. Overall, I think on paper they sound a little dry but in reality, they are very important areas. For example, we know that communication is beyond critical in relationships because I know from personal experience that effectively communicating in any relationship is important. And if good communication isn’t developed then bad things can and will happen including the breakup of friendships and whatnot. In addition, I think as great as learning concepts and about relationships are, it is critical that couples actually focus on their own relationship through the reviewing and self-assessment. This is important because it allows couples to apply what they’ve learnt and how to improve their relationship in the future. Of course, this is probably really hard and not ideal but it is important. And there will probably be some uncomfortable situations from time to time but again, that is why good communication is critical. Furthermore, the paper talks a lot about how the authors used statistical models to support their conclusions, the sample was good and I don’t see any glaringly bad problems and because that is proper methodology content I am actually going to skip over that stuff. I will mention (because this is a small soap box of mine) that I think 26 couples might have been a slightly small sample size and I would have preferred over 30 and the mean age was 34. Meaning we can’t really say with empirical evidence that this method works for younger couples or couples over 50. But that isn’t really the point of this particular study and the method does work for these couples. How Can We Use Relationship Education in Our Own Lives? If we take a step back from the paper and focus on the lessons it can teach us then there is a lot the study can teach us for our own relationships. Firstly, I have mentioned there are six areas of relationship education and I think even the brief summary of each section can give you a lot of useful prompts to give about in your relationship. For example, maybe tonight, you and your partner should think about your current levels of affection towards each other, engagement in shared activities and the like. Could you do more together? Secondly, Halford et al. (2023) focused a lot on the importance of self-change and how you are responsible for your relationship flourishing. You can’t leave it to your partner to do all the work and vice versa, it is only by you wanting a change that something good will happen. Finally, the study mentioned that couples benefit from the focusing on the relationship itself and not doing anything else. Therefore, if you and your partner think about the relationship for the 12 hours and try to improve it then there will be benefits. Which I think is really interesting, and you could try to half that time to see some benefits. Like spending 6 hours total working on each of the 6 areas mentioned earlier. Social psychology Conclusion: At the end of this social psychology podcast episode, I think we can all admit that a relationship can flourish for a lot of different reasons. And I know a good chunk of this episode has been common sense, like we know good communication is important, but just because we know something this doesn’t mean we always follow it. Therefore, whenever you get into a relationship and after a while you get concerned that it is filled with a sense of sameness and dullness. Then use these six areas to kickstart your relationship again and make it exciting. Or better yet actively think about these six areas before your relationship even gets to that stage. Personally, I always find relationship content fun to think about because even though I have no experience whatsoever to draw on here. It gives me knowledge I can use in the future and I always like how this area of social psychology we can apply to our own lives, to improve our relationships so we can be happy, healthy and experience more joy in the future. If you want to learn more, please check out: FREE 8 PSYCHOLOGY BOOK BOXSET Psychology Of Relationships: The Social Psychology Of Friendships, Romantic Relationships and More. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it. Also available as an AI-narrated audiobook from selected audiobook platforms and library systems. For example, Kobo, Spotify, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, Overdrive, Baker and Taylor and Bibliotheca. Patreon for exclusive access and rewards Have a great day. Social Psychology References Ayub, N., Iqbal, S., Halford, W. K., & van de Vijver, F. (2023). Couples relationship standards and satisfaction in Pakistani couples. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 49(1), 111-128. Halford, W. K., & Snyder, D. K. (2012). Universal processes and common factors in couple therapy and relationship education: Guest editors: W. Kim Halford and Douglas K. Snyder. Behavior Therapy, 43(1), 1-12. Halford, W. K., Young, K., & Sanri, C. (2023). Effects of relationship education on couple flourishing. Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice, 12(3), 155–167. https://doi.org/10.1037/cfp0000203 I truly hope that you’ve enjoyed this blog post and if you feel like supporting the blog on an ongoing basis and get lots of rewards, then please head to my Patreon page. However, if want to show one-time support and appreciation, the place to do that is PayPal. If you do that, please include your email address in the notes section, so I can say thank you. Which I am going to say right now. Thank you! Click  https://www.buymeacoffee.com/connorwhiteley for a one-time bit of support.

  • Introduction To Cognitive Behavioural Therapy For Anxiety. A Clinical Psychology Podcast Episode.

    With CBT For Anxiety being released recently, I wanted to investigate the brilliant topic of cognitive behavioural therapy because this is a highly effective psychological therapy that can be used for a wide range of mental health conditions. Therefore, in this clinical psychology podcast episode, you’ll be reading or listening to an extract from the book introduction you to cognitive behavioural therapy. Including its theoretical approach, how it treats mental health conditions and how it came to be in the first place. If you enjoy learning about mental health, psychotherapies and clinical psychology then you’ll love today’s episode. This episode has been sponsored by CBT For Anxiety: A Clinical Psychology Introduction To Cognitive Behavioural Therapy For Anxiety Disorders. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it. Introduction To CBT (Extract From CBT For Anxiety. COPYRIGHT 2024 CONNOR WHITELEY) Now that we’re getting onto the part of the book we’ve all been waiting for, let’s start learning about the amazing topic of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. As a result, we first need to know both the cognitive and behavioural theories that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is built on before we can ever hope to understand how CBT works for anxiety disorders. Therefore, as you can probably imagine Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is based (at least in part) on the cognitive approach to behaviour. As well as Westbrook, Kennerley & Kirk (2007) noted that there is evidence that a lot of mental health conditions are associated with a wide range of cognitive factors. For example, many conditions cause people to have information processing biases, faulty belief schemas as well as dysfunctional ways of thinking. Then if we apply this logic to anxiety disorders then we’ve already discussed in the book how anxiety causes a person to have faulty belief systems about how dangerous the stimuli is, the dysfunctional ways they develop to “cope” with the anxiety and their bias information processing because how they perceive the stimuli. Also, the cognitive approaches to treatment were first pioneered by Albert Ellis (1962) and Aaron Beck (1967) with their aim being to incorporate cognitive processes into psychology, all whilst still maintaining an empirical approach to this because they wanted to avoid ungrounded speculation. In other words, they wanted to make sure their findings withstood empirical scrutiny and it is a brilliant thing that they set out with this in mind. In addition, when it comes to cognitive approaches, this view focuses on the idea that a mental health condition is caused by a person developing irrational beliefs, dysfunctional ways of thinking and biased information processing like we saw earlier. And this leads to the person’s mental processes being impacted heavily. For instance, the way a person behaves and emotionally reacts to a stimuli is strongly influenced by their cognition. Like their beliefs, thoughts and interpretation. As well as this impacts how a person reacts to an event too. For example, because I personally don’t find spiders anxiety-provoking, if I see a spider then I don’t interpret this as dangerous, life-threatening and I’m not overwhelmed by the emotion of fear. Yet if an anxious person saw a spider then their cognitive processes would tell them this is a life-threatening situation and they will react completely differently to me because the anxious person has biased cognitive processes. Furthermore, the cognitive approach believes mental health conditions develop and the mental health difficulties onset because of cognitive factors (obviously) but both functional and dysfunctional beliefs develop earlier on, and these beliefs may not cause difficulties for a long period of time. And this is something that I personally find very interesting about mental health. A person could have depression, ADHD, autism or another condition and function absolutely perfectly. They can hold down a job, have tons of friends (if they want) and live a perfectly happy life, but it is only when they start to struggle and need help is when clinical psychology is really needed. And something that I personally love to remind people is that a mental health condition isn’t a death sentence like some people sadly believe it is. Sure a person with a mental health condition might need a little more support, guidance and treatment but given all of those things there is a good chance they could live a very happy and relatively clinically “normal” life. Nonetheless, if the person does experience a critical incident event, also known as encounters the anxiety-provoking stimuli, then this would be a disturbing event to them, this could activate their negative beliefs and then lead to a distressing emotional response. What’s The Cognitive-Behavioural Approach? Building on both the cognitive approaches, to form Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, this approach has to be combined with behavioural approaches. Therefore, whilst the cognitive approach focuses on a person’s cognitions and beliefs and how these might lead to particular behaviours. It is these behaviours that are actually a core factor in maintaining or changing beliefs and emotions. Meaning this can become a very vicious cycle. In other words, a person’s negative cognition and beliefs cause negative behaviours. Then these behaviours reinforce the cognitions and beliefs and so on. Since it’s the behaviour in a person’s response to a negative experience or cognition that could have a significant effect on whether the emotion persists. For example, if a person reacts badly to a spider then of course the person will want to avoid spiders to avoid this feeling again. Hence, they develop avoidance behaviours. Like, avoiding the situation and event completely, escaping it or engaging in safety behaviours. Now personally, I love safety behaviours and I think they are truly fascinating because to be honest they have to be some of the biggest cons in psychology. Due to safety behaviours are fully intended to protect us from threat or prevent harm coming to us. As a result, these safety behaviours might reduce our anxiety in the short term, but they always have the unintended consequence of maintaining anxiety in the longer term. That’s why I think safety behaviours are very interesting cons that we pull on ourselves because we convince ourselves that we’re helping ourselves to be less anxious, and if we don’t do these behaviours we’re going to basically die. But in reality, they’re making us “worse”, not “better. Core Treatment Components When it comes to what CBT actually involves, there are a few flat out critical elements that make up this amazingly effective and fascinating therapy. Firstly, there is a lot of cognitive restructuring involved. This component involves challenging and modifying a person’s negative thoughts as well as their dysfunctional beliefs. This is typically done by examining the evidence for a person’s beliefs. For example, we’ll talk a lot more about cognitive intervention in two chapters’ time but an anxious person will believe their safety behaviours save them and without their safety behaviours they will basically die. That is how powerful these behaviours are, so as you’ll see in two chapters a therapist can challenge these beliefs by using experiments and testing whether or not there is evidence to support these beliefs. Another core feature of CBT is it involves a therapist helping to modify a person’s tendency to indulge in unhelpful thinking processes, this relates to the cognitive biases we spoke about earlier, so the therapist works with the client to modify and reduce these unhelpful mental processes. Like, how a person pays excessive attention to the threat, how they ruminate on the anxiety provoking stimuli and they engage in mental checking. As well as when it comes to helping a person reduce their unhelpful behaviours, this includes things like reducing their avoidance, safety and checking behaviours. Also CBT involves behavioural experiments (definitely more on that later) and exposure and response prevention (again more on that in a later chapter). Levels Of Cognition Of course, we could never ever hope to learn about cognitive approaches and CBT without looking at levels of cognition, and this is absolutely critical when it comes to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Since a person’s levels of cognition are as follows: ·       Their automatic thoughts ·       Their intermediate beliefs, attitudes and rules which are assumptions about the world and the self. ·       Their core beliefs. Their basic beliefs about their self, others and the world. And this idea about levels of cognition is flat out critical in CBT because a therapist has to be very careful when they do cognitive restructuring because you cannot hope to change someone’s core beliefs automatically. That just isn’t how things work but you can start off with challenging and modifying a person’s automatic thoughts then their intermediate beliefs and then their core beliefs. You need to work “slowly” and gradually for the therapy to work. An anxiety example of how a therapist might go about finding out what a person’s core belief is, is as follows: ·       I’m terrified of spiders (automatic thought) ·       I know if a spider gets near me it could attack me (potential intermediate belief) ·       If a spider touches me then I know for a fact I’m going to get bitten and I’ll be rushed to hospital (potential core belief) Now I have to admit that it is far, far easier to come up with potential levels of cognitions with depression for teaching purposes but you get the general idea. A CBT therapist would have to effectively peel back the layers of a person’s cognition to truly understand why they have these biased mental processes. Thinking Errors/Biases If you’ve studied depression then you might be familiar with this section of the chapter because there are a lot of commonalities between all types of CBT (at least “first-wave” therapies) and the types of cognitive biases and errors a CBT therapist would encounter. Therefore, here are the following cognitive errors a therapist is likely to encounter and I have broken them up so you can clearly see the error and an example of what it is like: ·       All or nothing- if I can’t love all dogs then I’m scared of all of them. ·       Exaggerated standards/expectations- if I can’t pet a dog then I’m a failure (a potential example at least) ·       Catastrophising- my life is over because if I go outside I might see a dog and it might kill me. ·       Selective attention to the negative/threat- a person is basically always drawn to anxiety provoking stimuli. ·       Over-generalising- “I’m scared of my brother’s pet dog so I’m scared of all dogs” ·       Dismissing the positive- I might be able to stroke my sister’s dog but I feel worthless and scary around all other dogs. I’m so lame. ·       Magnifying/minimising- minimising the positive and magnifying the bad ·       Jumping to conclusions ·       Emotional reasoning- being irrational and basing your reason on emotion, not fact. ·       Personalising ·       Internalising/externalising Again, some of those examples might sound similar to depression and that is to be expected considering there is a comorbidity between depression and anxiety in some people. Role Of Avoidance And Safety Behaviours Returning to my topic and building upon what we learnt earlier, a very good definition of a safety behaviour can be found in Salkovskis (1988, 1991): “A behaviour which is performed in order to prevent or minimise a feared catastrophe” As well as we know that safety behaviours have several effects on a person’s beliefs. Like they prevent a person from getting disconfirming evidence about their beliefs (this is flat out critical for the information in two chapters’ time), this can increase the sensation a person experiences like their anxiety and fear, and safety behaviours increase their rumination and preoccupation with the anxiety provoking stimuli. Overall, all these effects on behaviour that safety behaviours cause are linked together to make the person focus on the stimuli they find threatening and this of course isn’t helpful. Hence, the need for CBT for anxiety disorders which is what we’ll look at in a moment after we understand more about the behavioural approach. I really hope you enjoyed today’s clinical psychology podcast episode. If you want to learn more, please check out: FREE 8 PSYCHOLOGY BOOK BOXSET CBT For Anxiety: A Clinical Psychology Introduction To Cognitive Behavioural Therapy For Anxiety Disorders. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it. Patreon for exclusive access and rewards Have a great day. Clinical Psychology Reference Whiteley, C. (2024) CBT For Anxiety: A Clinical Psychology Introduction To Cognitive Behavioural Therapy For Anxiety Disorders. CGD Publishing. United Kingdom. I truly hope that you’ve enjoyed this blog post and if you feel like supporting the blog on an ongoing basis and get lots of rewards, then please head to my Patreon page. However, if want to show one-time support and appreciation, the place to do that is PayPal. If you do that, please include your email address in the notes section, so I can say thank you. Which I am going to say right now. Thank you! Click  https://www.buymeacoffee.com/connorwhiteley for a one-time bit of support.

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