I think we can agree that the past year has taken its toll on all of us. Many people have suffered loss, perhaps the loss of a loved one or the loss of employment and income. There have been other types of loss, too. Some people might have lost trust in governments, each other or their own resources and capacities.
Deanne Jade, founder of the National Centre for Eating Disorders, has lost confidence in the Government’s response to obesity. The pandemic has turned the spotlight on obesity: people who are overweight, so we are told, are less able to fend off the virus, potentially adding to the strain on the NHS. The Government is therefore promoting weight-loss strategies. But Deanne doubts that dieting is the answer. Instead, she advocates a more compassionate approach to obesity. She suggests a middle way – one that recognises the health implications of obesity, but doesn’t fat-shame people who are overweight.
The impact of the pandemic on the mental health of frontline healthcare workers is widely recognised. So why are so few seeking psychological support? Research by Dr Jo Billings, Dr Michael Bloomfield and Dr Talya Greene identifies on p12 some of the barriers to access, including a tendency among frontline workers not to recognise or prioritise their own mental health needs. If that sounds familiar, the research also highlights similar traits among the mental health professionals whose task it is to deliver support.
Genetic testing is now big business, with many companies offering testing kits directly to the consumer. But direct-to-consumer companies are not rigorously regulated. Many also do not require or offer counselling support, either before or after a test. Alan Phillips and Claire Kulke warn of the dangers of simple genetic tests. They argue that counselling is essential to help consumers fully to understand the medical, social and psychological implications of a genetic test.
Clients do not always change – and any change is not always long lasting. Fabio Sinibaldi wanted to find out why change is sometimes so difficult and if it could be made easier and more sustainable. He explains how his research led him to identify a series of mind switches, which could make therapy more effective.
BACP doesn’t classify hypnotherapy as a talking therapy. But George Dimitrov offers both hypnosis and cognitive behavioural therapy – and believes the combination enhances his practice.
At this time of year, it’s important to look back and to recognise that the pandemic has changed many of us professionally, personally and profoundly. But I wonder if we can also begin the New Year by looking forward with hope? It’s a risk, as our hopes could prove foolish and false. But as the vaccine is rolled out across the country, maybe we can dare to think about a different, better future.