In this issue
Pathological demand avoidance (free article)
Phil Christie describes how to understand and work with an obsessional avoidance of everyday demands
On not being weird
What kind of counsellors will we be in school? Nick Luxmoore discusses
Rising from the ashes
Justine Gore-Smith and colleagues set up a co-operative after being made redundant
Survivors of abuse and violence
Interview with Simon Carpenter, founder of CLEAR, a Cornwall-based service
I’ve got a red beast in me, I know it!
Leigh Burrows recommended The Red Beast story to help a counsellor with emotionally complex clients
Of marbles and diamonds
Camille Gibbs explains how to write therapeutic stories to help in difficult situations
Making a text connection
Kerry Gibson researched mobile phone text counselling in New Zealand
I am mixed
Dinah Morley and Cathy Street help us think about the implications for young clients of being mixed race
Expectations – or not
What do adolescents think will happen in therapy? Sally Parkinson and Nick Midgley report
Reflecting on… unconscious communication
Thinking about… a child’s inner world
Considering… the idea of mental health
Welcome from the editor
I recently watched baby frogs cavorting in the water, wrestling, piggybacking and being flipped sideways in their attempts to negotiate the current. The parent was looking on – and I wondered if they were wishing that life was rumbling on in pre-froglet fashion or revelling in this new overwhelm of activity.
Sometimes nothing much happens in the counselling world and we coast along seeing clients, celebrating successes, making notes, attending to CPD and automatically paying out hard-earned cash for membership, insurance, premises, books and materials. And then everything happens at once. Television programmes and newspapers are drawing our attention to the needs of trans children, books are focusing on pathological demand avoidance (PDA) in young people, statistics tell us that there is a growing number of mixed-race young people in the country, and finally we are offered the latest PDFs about important developments in the CYP arena that need reading, digesting and maybe acting on (see the new Updates and Resources section for some of these). Suddenly, there is no time to stand and stare at the frog world. It’s all go.
I’ve commissioned articles on a couple of these topics for this issue. Phil Christie is an expert in the PDA world and although I don’t do labels (as many of you will know), the ideas around this label do provide much food for thought with regard to our clients: could anxiety be behind the most intransigent ‘refusal behaviour’? And we can all usefully think further about diversity – specifically in relation to those of mixed heritage who may have identity issues that affect their wellbeing. We never know who will come through our doors, and I always prefer to have cogitated first. Since I’m not unusual in my workload, it follows that if I’ve noticed a trend, you may well have done so too. So I hope these articles will be a source of information to equip us in our work.
But, as usual, I’ve included some very practical ideas. None of us needs to be short of a story appropriate to a certain child – we show how a published therapeutic story came into being and offer tips on how to make your own story, geared to a particular client. In addition, none of us should disregard what a young client’s expectations of therapy are. We need to make sure we’re aware of that, whatever our preferred modality. If not, the drop-out rate will increase. And again, in practical terms, many counsellors are losing their jobs – the story behind Phoenix Counselling is inspiring: if they can survive, we can, if the worst happens. Finally, you can’t get more up to date than text messaging. Research from New Zealand shows it can work well with young people who need help on tap and who feel texting is the safest method of contact. And the same inter-session contact with a supportive other can also help counsellors themselves to manage their clients better. The example we offer involves meditation and email discussion as well as using a therapeutic story.
If all this information begins to sound like overwhelm, take a step back and pick and choose. We were delighted with all the positive feedback and the small amount of constructive criticism in our recent online survey among members. But what also came over was how members pick and choose the most relevant-to-them articles to focus on if time is short. I’m fine with that. It’s why I don’t dedicate a whole issue to one subject, which would cut some readers out for months. Nonetheless, if we remember one thing from this issue, let’s make it to not be weird, either in a school counselling role or in private practice – Nick Luxmoore rightly points out that teenagers need something different and will find solemn, staid, silent counsellors weird. Like froglets, I guess, young clients will naturally play and flip and want fun. So let’s make a point of being creative in our modalities and relationships.