Apr 06

13 Characteristics of Good Counsellors

Qualities to Look for in an Effective Counsellor

Many heavy drinkers, alcoholics, addicts, co-dependents and adult children of alcoholics have experienced good and bad counsellors. These guidelines may help next time you seek professional help.

Seeking a therapist? Here’s what the experts advise

To be effective, counselling needs to be provided in a way that meets a set of well-defined criteria. Condensing many hundreds of studies, psychologist Bruce Wampold, in a recent American Psychological Association symposium, boiled these ingredients down to this baker’s dozen.

1. Possession of a sophisticated set of interpersonal skills.  Can your therapist communicate to you in language that you understand? Does your therapist talk about you, rather than him or herself?

2. Ability to help you feel you can trust the therapist. Clients of effective therapists believe that their therapists will be helpful because the therapist communicates both verbally and non-verbally that he or she is someone the client can trust.

3. Willingness to establish an alliance with you. Though the therapist is obviously the expert, do you feel that the therapist cares about your goals in therapy and is willing to work with you to set goals that both of you agree on?

4. Ability to provides an explanation of your symptoms and can adapt this explanation as circumstances change. Clients want to know why they’re experiencing their symptoms. Effective therapists provide explanations that clients can understand.

5. Commitment to developing a consistent and acceptable treatment plan. Effective therapists conduct an assessment very early in treatment and share the treatment plan with you.

6. Communication of confidence about the course of therapy. An effective therapist keeps clients in therapy by communicating to clients the feeling that therapy will be worthwhile.

7. Attention to the progress of therapy and communication of this interest to the client. Good therapists are interested in finding out how their clients are responding to treatment. They show that they want their clients to improve.

8. Flexibility in adapting treatment to the particular client’s characteristics. A good therapist doesn’t follow a rigid schedule of treatment- a “one size fits all” approach.

9. Inspiration of hope and optimism about your chances of improvement. Hope is a terrific motivator. Feeling that something is going to work is often a large part of the equation in successful treatment. 

10. Sensitivity toward your cultural background. Therapists adapt treatment to their client’s cultural values. This includes showing respect for your background and being aware of attitudes within your culture or community.

11. Possession of self-insight. An effective therapist is self-aware and is able to separate his or her own issues from those of clients.

12. Reliance on the best research evidence. Therapists should stay abreast of the latest developments in clinical psychology, particularly in their areas of expertise.

13. Involvement in continued training and education. Licensed mental health professionals must participate in continuing education to maintain their credentials.  

The outcome of therapy depends on many factors, but researchers have evidence to show that these 13 qualities in a therapist play a key role in increasing the odds of a successful outcome.  Therapy can occur in many types of situations, ranging from marital counselling to employee assistance. Each therapist may not meet each of these 13 criteria, but as long as you are aware of them all, you can decide whether you or a loved one are getting the best possible treatment.

All these points are fully explained at; Qualities of Good Counsellors

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Mar 19

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Mar 03

Does Rehab Work as a Treatment for Alcoholism and Other Addictions?: Scientific American

Singer Amy Winehouse’s fame and infamy have now been forever linked to one word: rehab. She is only one of many recent high-profile cases in which attempts at rehabilitation from substance abuse failed. Amidst strange public outbursts earlier this year, actor Charlie Sheen asserted that it was not rehab, but rather he, himself, that had been his secret weapon against abusing cocaine and booze.

And celebrities are not the only ones with untreated substance abuse problems. More than 20 million Americans ages 12 and older needed—but were not receiving—treatment as of 2007, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Full story @ Does Rehab Work as a Treatment for Alcoholism and Other Addictions?: Scientific American.

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Feb 22

Recovery: the Big Umbrella

Recover — verb. 1: get something back again after losing it; regain. 2: get well again after being ill or weak.

 

Above is the Oxford Dictionary meaning of the word recovery. Notice, it’s about getting something back after losing it, regaining control, power over your life, improving your health, rejoining the community in general. Recovery is a BIG word that means lots of different things to people. As we all go on a different journey with our addiction problems so to the road to recovery is very different for everyone.

Health care has come a long way these days and we now know it is important to include all aspects of our lives not just the physical or obvious symptoms of our disease. According to the World Health Organisation addiction is classed as a chronic relapsing condition. That means recovery is a very long and varied process which can be very different for each person.

For me it has been an interesting journey. I do not subscribe to any one sort of programme or idea. A mix of many different things has helped me regain my position in society, including peer support, pharmacotherapy, counselling and in general a non-judgemental attitude from the people I involve in my life. I do not look at abstinence as the only way, especially at the start of the recovery journey.

It’s an amazing amount of pressure to place on a person in this condition, and when they inevitably fail they can give up hope and the inclination to try.

One must seek what works for them and harm reduction is a great place to start. The process allows you to gain some control over your addiction while engaging with services that understand and support you. It may take a few hits and misses to find the service for you but once you have, the relief is massive.

Always remember, you hold the power and the only way to make change is to start.

Anonymous

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Feb 16

A Problem Shared is a Problem Halved

Putting feelings into words produces therapeutic effects in the brain
University of California – Los Angeles

Why does putting our feelings into words — talking with a therapist or friend, writing in a journal — help us to feel better" A new brain imaging study by UCLA psychologists reveals why verbalizing our feelings makes our sadness, anger and pain less intense.

Another study, with the same participants and three of the same members of the research team, combines modern neuroscience with ancient Buddhist teachings to provide the first neural evidence for why “mindfulness” — the ability to live in the present moment, without distraction — seems to produce a variety of health benefits.

When people see a photograph of an angry or fearful face, they have increased activity in a region of the brain called the amygdala, which serves as an alarm to activate a cascade of biological systems to protect the body in times of danger. Scientists see a robust amygdala response even when they show such emotional photographs subliminally, so fast a person can’t even see them.

But does seeing an angry face and simply calling it an angry face change our brain response" The answer is yes, according to Matthew D. Lieberman, UCLA associate professor of psychology and a founder of social cognitive neuroscience.

“When you attach the word ‘angry,’ you see a decreased response in the amygdala, a part of the brain” said Lieberman, lead author of the study, which appears in the current issue of the journal Psychological Science.

The study showed that while the amygdala was less active when an individual labeled the feeling, another region of the brain was more active: the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex. This region is located behind the forehead and eyes and has been associated with thinking in words about emotional experiences. It has also been implicated in inhibiting behavior and processing emotions, but exactly what it contributes has not been known.

Parts of brain “What we’re suggesting is when you start thinking in words about your emotions —labeling emotions — that might be part of what the right ventrolateral region is responsible for,” Lieberman said.

If a friend or loved one is sad or angry, getting the person to talk or write may have benefits beyond whatever actual insights are gained. These effects are likely to be modest, however, Lieberman said.

“We typically think of language processing in the left side of the brain; however, this effect was occurring only in this one region, on the right side of the brain,” he said. “It’s rare to see only one region of the brain responsive to a high-level process like labeling emotions.”

Many people are not likely to realize why putting their feelings into words is helpful.

“If you ask people who are really sad why they are writing in a journal, they are not likely to say it’s because they think this is a way to make themselves feel better,” Lieberman said. “People don’t do this to intentionally overcome their negative feelings; it just seems to have that effect.

Popular psychology says when you’re feeling down, just pick yourself up, but the world doesn’t work that way. If you know you’re trying to pick yourself up, it usually doesn’t work — self-deception is difficult. Because labeling your feelings doesn’t require you to want to feel better, it doesn’t have this problem.”

Thirty people, 18 women and 12 men between ages of 18 and 36, participated in Lieberman’s study at UCLA’s Ahmanson-Lovelace Brain Mapping Center. They viewed images of individuals making different emotional expressions. Below the picture of the face they either saw two words, such as “angry” and “fearful,” and chose which emotion described the face, or they saw two names, such as “Harry” and “Sally,” and chose the gender-appropriate name that matched the face.

Lieberman and his co-authors — UCLA assistant professor of psychology Naomi Eisenberger, former UCLA psychology undergraduate Molly Crockett, former UCLA psychology research assistant Sabrina Tom, UCLA psychology graduate student Jennifer Pfeifer and Baldwin Way, a postdoctoral fellow in Lieberman’s laboratory — used functional magnetic resonance imaging to study subjects’ brain activity.

“When you attach the word ‘angry,’ you see a decreased response in the amygdala,” Lieberman said. “When you attach the name ‘Harry,’ you don’t see the reduction in the amygdala response.

“When you put feelings into words, you’re activating this prefrontal region and seeing a reduced response in the amygdala,” he said. “In the same way you hit the brake when you’re driving when you see a yellow light, when you put feelings into words, you seem to be hitting the brakes on your emotional responses.”

As a result, an individual may feel less angry or less sad.

This is ancient wisdom,” Lieberman said. “Putting our feelings into words helps us heal better. If a friend is sad and we can get them to talk about it, that probably will make them feel better.”

The right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex undergoes much of its development during a child’s preteen and teenage years. It is possible that interaction with friends and family during these years could shape the strength of this brain region’s response, but this is not yet established, Lieberman said.

One benefit of therapy may be to strengthen this brain region. Does therapy lead to physiological changes in the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex" Lieberman, UCLA psychology professor Michelle Craske and their colleagues are studying this question.

Combining Buddhist Teachings and Modern Neuroscience

After the participants left the brain scanner, 27 of them filled out questionnaires about “mindfulness.” Mindfulness meditation, which is very popular in Southeast Asia and elsewhere, originates from early Buddhist teachings dating back some 2,500 years, said David Creswell, a research scientist with the Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA.

Mindfulness is a technique in which one pays attention to his or her present emotions, thoughts and body sensations, such as breathing, without passing judgment or reacting. An individual simply releases his thoughts and “lets it go.”

“One way to practice mindfulness meditation and pay attention to present-moment experiences is to label your emotions by saying, for example, ‘I’m feeling angry right now’ or ‘I’m feeling a lot of stress right now’ or ‘this is joy’ or whatever the emotion is,” said Creswell, lead author of the study, which will be featured in an upcoming issue of Psychosomatic Medicine, a leading international medical journal for health psychology research.

“Thinking, ‘this is anger’ is what we do in this study, where people look at an angry face and say, ‘this is anger,’” Lieberman noted.

Creswell said Lieberman has now shown in a series of studies that simply labeling emotions turns down the amygdala alarm center response in the brain that triggers negative feelings.

Creswell, who conducted the mindfulness research as an advanced graduate student of psychology at UCLA, said mindfulness meditation is a “potent and powerful therapy that has been helping people for thousands of years.”

Previous studies have shown that mindfulness meditation is effective in reducing a variety of chronic pain conditions, skin disease, stress-related health conditions and a variety of other ailments, he said. Creswell and his UCLA colleagues — Lieberman, Eisenberger and Way — found that during the labeling of emotions, the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex was activated, which seems to turn down activity in the amygdala. They then compared participants’ responses on the mindfulness questionnaire with the results of the labeling study.

“We found the more mindful you are, the more activation you have in the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex and the less activation you have in the amygdala,” Creswell said. “We also saw activation in widespread centers of the prefrontal cortex for people who are high in mindfulness. This suggests people who are more mindful bring all sorts of prefrontal resources to turn down the amygdala. These findings may help explain the beneficial health effects of mindfulness meditation, and suggest, for the first time, an underlying reason why mindfulness meditation programs improve mood and health.

“The right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex can turn down the emotional response you get when you feel angry,” he said. “This moves us forward in beginning to understand the benefits of mindfulness meditation. For the first time, we’re now applying scientific principles to try to understand how mindfulness works.

“This is such an exciting study because it brings together the Buddha’s teachings — more than 2,500 years ago, he talked about the benefits of labeling your experience — with modern neuroscience,” Creswell said. “Now, for the first time since those teachings, we have shown there is actually a neurological reason for doing mindfulness meditation. Our findings are consistent with what mindfulness meditation teachers have taught for thousands of years.”

The research was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health.

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Jan 21

Alcohol Coach

‘Alcohol Coach’ is research based, written by a long term recovered alcoholic who is a professionally trained welfare therapist.

It is a method to begin to create awareness of alcohol abuse, break down denial and connect problem drinkers with Alcoholics Anonymous if needed.

By using the processes in this manual you can start and to give ongoing support to a person on the road to recovery from alcohol abuse. It is suitable for treatment resistant, previously treated and newcomers to treatment. The processes are gentle incorporating Motivational Interviewing, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Twelve Step Facilitation.

Buy and down load the e-book
Now only $7.00 a copy.

PayPal with Mastercard, Visa and Americam Express payment available.

Jan 14

Shaun Marsh’s biggest challenge is staying fit

Shaun Marsh’s biggest challenge is staying fit: Tom Moody – The Times of India.

MELBOURNE: Australian batsman Shaun Marsh’s mentor Tom Moody, who helped him battle alcoholism early in his career, says the cricketer’s biggest challenge now is to fight through the nagging injury problems that are hampering his rise. 

Marsh, who returned to the Australian team for the opening Test against India after battling a back problem, was out for a duck on the first day on Monday. 

Moody, a former Australian all-rounder, had counselled Marsh into giving up the bottle to save his promising career and now that the 28-year-old has recovered from alcoholism, he has the new challenge of keeping himself fit enough for regular cricket. 

Full story at; Shaun Marsh’s biggest challenge is staying fit: Tom Moody – The Times of India.

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Nov 10

How Long to Form a New Habit?

How Long to Form a Habit?

Want to change your excessive alcohol / drinking habits? This article can help you plan how long it may take.

In the experience of our Alcohol Coaches changing drinking habits takes longer than drinking more or less water.

The article says;

Although the average time to change a habit was 66 days, there was marked variation in how long habits took to form, anywhere from 18 days up to 254 days in the habits examined in this study. As you’d imagine, drinking a daily glass of water became automatic very quickly but doing 50 sit-ups before breakfast required more dedication. The researchers also noted that:

  • Missing a single day did not reduce the chance of forming a habit.
  • A sub-group took much longer than the others to form their habits, perhaps suggesting some people are ‘habit-resistant’.
  • Other types of habits may well take much longer.

Full story at;  How Long to Form a New Habit?

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