In this issue
Noticing the hidden harm
Cinzia Altobelli and Cat Payne report on M-PACT – an intervention with families whose addiction is adversely impacting the children.
Until I started talking...
What is our lasting impact on clients? Lucy-Jean Lloyd discusses a case.
How counsellors can help adolescent clients to achieve relational autonomy. Kirsty Bilski writes from her research.
Mindfulness with reflection
Joanna North introduces her Reflective Practice Pentagon, an aid to full awareness of our clients and their contexts.
Dialectical Behaviour Therapy
Elaine Bousfield writes about DBT groupwork by online service Kooth, which is proving effective in schools and communities.
Suicide ideation – the other option
Lynn Martin believes that referring on is only one solution, just as suicide is for the client.
Cool kids don’t worry!
Groupwork using the Cool Kids anxiety intervention in Australia. By Narelle Smith.
Reflecting on… doing nothing
Thinking about… measuring our effectiveness
Considering… the inevitability of hatred
From the chair
Welcome from the editor
When people come together in groups, there arises, if you believe the media, all manner of undesirable behaviours: cattiness, competition, bullying, one-upmanship, showing off, discrimination, backbiting and pettiness. And that’s without a counsellor asking probing questions. So why do I put such store by groupwork and family work?
It really doesn’t make sense – unless you are sure you can hold and contain both people and feelings, and provide such a safe space that these behaviours become a focus for rational discussion and curious observation instead of the grounds for outright war. It also makes sense in the light of a new survey1 by the ‘We Need to Talk’ coalition of mental health organisations, of which BACP is a member. This states that one in 10 people referred for NHS psychotherapy and counselling waits more than a year for the first appointment and over half wait more than three months. How much better if groupwork were more common and more counsellors trained to deliver it?
Three articles in this issue are about such groupwork. Last summer, I attended training with Action on Addiction’s Families Plus in connection with their M-PACT programme (Moving Parents and Children Together). M-PACT engages families who struggle with alcohol and drug addiction. And addiction very much is the family’s problem – everyone is affected and organised around the addiction. I will be privileged to work with this scheme shortly and am particularly excited because I know how successful groupwork and family work can be. So I’m pleased that Cinzia Altobelli and Cat Payne agreed to write for us about this project.
On the other side of the globe, in Australia, Narelle Smith has been adapting the Cool Kids programme for her specific work with children and their families – this time where anxiety has become the tyrant. The benefit of bringing them together as a group lies in the fact that parents hear how their children intend tackling their problems and how they themselves might contribute to the solution.
And finally on the other side of the screen this time, we have Elaine Bousfield writing about Kooth, the online and face-to-face counselling service for young people. Their practitioners have adopted Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) as an efficient way to help young people deal with self-harming behaviours. This has spread offline to local authorities after an initial groupwork pilot. DBT was originally based on CBT techniques and used with clients with Borderline Personality Disorder, but has now been found applicable for many other types of mental distress, and is worth investigating – incorporating, as it does, mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation and interpersonal effectiveness.
I know, when I work with individuals, that I sometimes feel bad about the many others I’m not helping. Perhaps we might all consider offering groupwork (albeit maybe in small groups, and after suitable training) to allow many more young people – with or without their families – to grasp the fact that they are not alone with the difficulties that beset them. After all, this seems to be the single most obvious benefit of these three instances of groupwork: knowing you are not alone and finding out from each other how to be resourceful, how to manage and how to change. Have a read and see what you think. And as a group of therapists, we can come together not only via these pages but also at our next conference to encourage, support, validate and learn from each other – positive group behaviours that are critically needed, both in counselling and out in the world.