Domestic Violence line (24 hours) 1800 65 64 63
Domestic violence services and support contact list | Family & Community Services (nsw.gov.au)
Domestic Violence line (24 hours) 1800 65 64 63
Domestic violence services and support contact list | Family & Community Services (nsw.gov.au)
Dr Rangan Chatterjee chats with Dr Gabor Maté about his radical findings based on decades of work with patients. We’re currently living in a culture that doesn’t meet our human needs. Maté and Chatterjee delve into how our emotional stress can translate into physical chronic illnesses, and how loneliness and a lack of meaningful connection are on the rise, as are the rates of autoimmune disease and addiction.
I strongly encourage viewers, readers, and interested friends to visit Tara’s website Tara Brach – Meditation, Psychologist, Author, Teacher. So much of what I consider to be true and helpful is the wisdom I have learned from Tara Brach, an American psychologist, author, and proponent of Buddhist meditation – but more than that, she is authentic, compassionate and honest.
Retrieved and edited 06/12/2021 from “Voice of Experience: Three rules for identifying abnormal child sexual behaviors” by Gregory K. Moffatt, a veteran counsellor with more than 30 years experience. If you are a survivor of sexual trauma at any age, I encourage you not to read this article.
From the perspective of Moffatt’s professional experience, childhood sexual behaviours can be grouped into three categories: 1. normal behaviours, 2. behaviours that are not normal but not unusual, and 3. behaviours that are abnormal or statistically rare. For the purpose of this post, I will be replacing the word “normal” with “natural” and/or “common” moving forward.
Rule No. 1: Natural or common sexual behaviours in children are never forced. The exploration is mutual. While one child likely had the idea first, both children must participate freely. This doesn’t mean that two children might willingly agree to engage in abnormal sexual behaviours, however, therefore read the next to rules for clarification.
Rule No. 2: Natural or common sexual behaviours in children are never painful. Children who behave within cultural and developmental norms will stop what they are doing when they realise they have caused pain.
Rule No. 3: Natural or common sexual behaviour in children is never invasive. Natural childhood curiosity does not include inserting objects or one’s own body parts into the cavities of others — anus, vagina, mouth, etc.
I’m unsure why Moffatt didn’t make this a 4th rule – he did add that most of the time, this type of childhood behaviour occurs between children of similar age. It is highly unusual for a young child to sexually engage with a teen without violating one of the three rules above. That behaviour definitely calls for further investigation. And, certainly, any sexual interaction between an adult and a child is cause for mandated reporting.
Author: Lori Gottlieb
Maybe you should talk to someone is a genuine, funny, touching, and realistic memoir of one therapist, as she navigates a difficult time in her professional and personal life. I couldn’t put this book down. As a therapeutic counsellor myself, the book gave me a greater understanding of psychology and human behaviour. It is a vulnerable portrayal of a renowned psychotherapist, her therapist, and the clients lives that she discusses in the book – and how they influence her life. If you have any preconceived bias about the therapy profession, this book might give you a new perspective. I laughed whole-heartedly and I blinked back the tears on one occasion. I’m really pleased I read Maybe You Should Talk About Someone. If you’re a busy person, the audio version may be more practical for you.
Human-Kind. Isn’t that lovely. We have moved away from the patriarchal term mankind – ‘man’ who has not always been ‘kind’, necessarily – toward equality between the sexes and acknowledging gender fluidity. Noah touches on this. If you’re interested in the evolution of humanity and how we are capable of co-operating as a global community, give this book a go. You may experience information overload – but when condensing 2.4 million years into less than 500 pages, Harari goes alright. I’m someone who didn’t pay attention to history at school so I found this book enlightening, empowering and also disheartening at times. Harari writes about the breakthroughs of the Cognitive, Agricultural and Scientific Revolutions. The power of human imagination, math and language has been instrumental in the development of humankind into an apex predator, and the destruction of everything else.
I was recently browsing some of the units I completed for my counselling diploma – for revision. The human memory has not evolved to store, organise, categorise and recall all the large amounts of information we collect every day, nor is our memory always accurate. It’s important for counsellors and therapists to keep up to date with new approaches to counselling, and it doesn’t hurt to read over learned materials from college days. I thought I’d provide some learning about Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for readers.
Just to acknowledge the work of others, most of what is written below, I have retrieved and paraphrased from ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY Published by: Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors Pty Ltd.
Acceptance and commitment therapy, known as ACT (pronounced as the word ‘act’), is an approach to counselling that was originally developed in the early 1980s by Steven C. Hayes, and became popular in the early 2000’s through Hayes’ collaboration with Kelly G. Wilson, and Kirk Strosahl as well as through the work of Russ Harris. You can look them up on Youtube or Google if you’re interested in what they might have to say about ACT.
“Unlike more traditional cognitive-behaviour therapy (CBT) approaches, ACT does not
seek to change the form or frequency of people’s unwanted thoughts and emotions. Rather,
the principal goal of ACT is to cultivate psychological flexibility, which refers to the ability to
contact the present moment, and based on what the situation affords, to change or persist
with behaviour in accordance with one’s personal values. To put it another way, ACT
focuses on helping people to live more rewarding lives even in the presence of undesirable
thoughts, emotions, and sensations.”
(Flaxman, Blackledge & Bond, 2011, p. vii)
ACT interventions tend to focus around two main processes:
In a nutshell, ACT gets its name from its core ideas of accepting what is outside of your personal control and committing to action that improves and enriches your life.
Cognitive Defusion is the process of learning to detach ourselves from our thought processes and simply observe them for what they are – “transient private events – an ever-changing stream of words, sounds and pictures” (Harris, 2006, p. 6). I think this component of ACT is incredibly beneficial if we practice it daily. I like to say, just like the function of the heart is to pump oxygenated blood around the body, one of the brain’s functions is to have thoughts. We can observe thoughts without taking them to mean more than what they are. Some thoughts are automatic, some are subconscious, and some are unconscious or preconscious beliefs that we consider to be true and factual and “rules” about how the world operates and how we have to operate in it. If someone is defused from their thought processes, these processes do not have control on the person; instead the person is able to simply observe them without getting caught up in them or feel the need to change/control them.
Acceptance is the process of opening oneself up and “making room for unpleasant feelings, sensations, urges, and other private experiences; allowing them to come and go without struggling with them, running from them, or giving them undue attention” (Harris, 2006, p. 7). Practicing acceptance is important because it encourages the individual to develop an ability and willingness to feel uncomfortable without being overwhelmed by it (Flaxman, Blackledge & Bond, 2011). It’s important to acknowledge that to accept something doesn’t mean we like it or have a passive attitude. It is to accept something exactly as it is and then we choose what to do with it. Think of the Serenity Prayer: Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.
Contact with the present moment is the concept of being “psychologically present” and bringing full attention to the “here-and-now” experience (Harris, 2009). I’d also argue that to psychologically present, we must also be aware of our physical body and the sensations within it and outside of it. Because we have the ability to think about the past and about the future, sometimes it can be difficult to stay in the present (Batten, 2011; Harris, 2009). Having contact with the present moment is essential because that it where we find out anchor and power. We have the ability to pay attention in a flexible manner to the present moment and connect with that experience rather than ruminate on past events or future possibilities (Lloyd & Bond, 2015). Some of you might say “What if I can’t stand the present moment?”. True. If you have extreme emotional experiences or have a history of trauma, it may be functional for you to use distraction or talking to someone when the present moment is “too much to take”. What we want to work towards is using healthy coping strategies in the present moment mindfully, instead of behaviours that no longer serve us.
Values, and identifying them, (i.e., what is important to the individual) is a central element of ACT because it assists clients to move in the direction of living and creating a meaningful life. One of the central goals of ACT is to help clients to connect with the things they value most and to travel in “valued directions” (Stoddard & Afari, 2014).
Committed action is the process of taking steps towards one’s values even in the presence of unpleasant thoughts and feelings (Harris, 2009). Behavioural interventions, such as goal setting, exposure, behavioural activation, and skills training, are generally used to create committed action. The ACT model acknowledges that learning is not enough, one must also take action to create change.
Self-as-context, or what I prefer to call “the observing self” or simply just our self-awareness, creates a distinction between the ‘thinking self’ and the ‘observing self’ (Harris, 2009). The thinking self refers to the self that generates thoughts, beliefs, memories, judgments, fantasies, and plans, whereas the observing self is the self that is aware of what we think, feel, sense, or do (Harris, 2009). “From this perspective, you are not your thoughts and feelings; rather, you are the context or arena in which they unfold” (Stoddard & Afari, 2014). Being aware of the observing self allows an individual to have a greater ability to be mindful and in the present moment, as they can separate themselves from the thoughts, beliefs, and memories they have.
Hello readers! A few of the cognitive styles below were mentioned in my last post. As humans, we have a tendency to forget things so a bit of revision can be useful.
Many people have cognitive processes that result in overall unhelpful thinking styles that they tend to apply globally across situations and which may result in emotional distress (such as depression or anxiety) or unhelpful behaviours (such as anger or avoidance). Some of the most problematic thinking styles are listed in the extract below.
Mental Filter: This thinking styles involves a “filtering in” and “filtering out” process – a sort of “tunnel vision”, focusing on only one part of a situation and ignoring the rest. Usually this means looking at the negative parts of a situation and forgetting the positive parts, and the whole picture is coloured by what may be a single negative detail.
Jumping to Conclusions: I’m sure you’ve heard people say on television, “Don’t jump to conclusions” or “The truth is we just don’t know yet”. We jump to conclusions when we assume that we know what someone else is thinking (mind reading) and when we make predictions about what is going to happen in the future (predictive thinking).
Personalisation: This involves blaming yourself for everything that goes wrong or could go wrong, even when you may only be partly responsible or not responsible at all. You might be taking 100% responsibility for the occurrence of external events.
Catastrophising: Catastrophising occurs when we “blow things out of proportion” and we view the situation as terrible, awful, dreadful, and horrible, even though the reality is that the problem itself is quite small. A helpful restructuring of this cognition is to ask yourself if the situation will still be awful, terrible, or dreadful in a month. There may be ongoing consequences or stress involved if you lose a job or a relationship ends, so validate the experience you are having but also take a look at the big picture. What’s the worst that could happen? Why is the worst so “bad”? And if you are being realistic about the issue, reach out for some help if you can.
Black & White Thinking: This thinking style involves seeing only one extreme or the other. You are either wrong or right, good or bad and so on. There are no in-betweens or shades of grey.
Should-ing and Must-ing: Sometimes by saying “I should…” or “I must…” you can put unreasonable demands or pressure on yourself and others. Although these statements are not always unhelpful (e.g. “I should not get drunk and drive home”), they can sometimes create unrealistic expectations.
Overgeneralisation: When we overgeneralise, we take one instance in the past or present, and impose it on all current or future situations. If we say “You always…” or “Everyone…”, or “I never…” then we are probably overgeneralising.
Labelling: We label ourselves and others when we make global statements based on behaviour in specific situations. We might use this label even though there are many more examples that aren’t consistent with that label.
Emotional Reasoning: This thinking style involves basing your view of situations or yourself on the way you are feeling. For example, the only evidence that something bad is going to happen is that you feel like something bad is going to happen. I live with anxiety and it can be debilitating at times. I use my “wiser thinking” or “rational thinking” to evaluate whether I am operating from an emotional mindset. You might ask yourself: “What’s the evidence?”, “Does the past necessarily predict the future?”, “Am I angry or fearful right now because that might be clouding my judgement?”. It can be helpful to talk to someone who isn’t caught in your emotional headspace, or perhaps wait for the emotion to subside to think about the situation again.
Magnification and Minimisation: In this thinking style, you magnify the positive attributes of other people and minimise your own positive attributes. It’s as though you’re explaining away your own positive characteristics.