In this issue
Counselling in China
Gareth Davey and Xiang Zhao report on the changing status of counselling in a rapidly changing China.
Life after death
Pete Connor reflects on 25 years’ counselling people living with HIV.
Write, read, share, reflect
Therapeutic writing groups present particular challenges and rewards for the facilitator and participants, as Jeannie Wright explains.
Growing old happily
New research shows a clear link between happiness and better physical and mental health in old age Catherine Jackson reports.
Christiane Sanderson: Hear them and believe them
Barry McInnes: Why I love research
In the client's chair
Billy Hague: Sorting out my bag of worries
Rachel Freeth: I am feeling powerless
Client encounters in a dual role
Lydia Tischler: I am not a victim
How I became a therapist
From the chair
Amanda Hawkins: So much to talk about
I’ve been hearing for a number of years about China’s growing need for counselling as it transitions to an economic superpower, so I’m pleased to be able to publish Gareth Davey and Xiang Zhao’s article, which gives a good introduction to the status of counselling in China today.
It is fascinating to reflect on how unsuitable some Western models of counselling are for Chinese people. The Chinese are brought up to identify with the group rather than as individuals. Also, they see the practice of openly expressing thoughts or feelings about family members to outsiders as dishonouring to their family; to remain outwardly passive and restrained is seen as positive. The values of person-centred counselling, for example, can therefore be difficult for Chinese clients; focusing on independence, autonomy and self-direction may conflict with obeying parents and dependence on family. Some clients may be unable to make decisions without consulting their parents. The client in our case study tells us she would prefer her therapist to tell her what to do. As the article says, Chinese clients often have a preference for CBT but even this needs to be adapted to cultural needs.
Pete Connor has spent the last 25 years counselling people with HIV. As he says, 25 years ago a positive HIV diagnosis was a traumatic and catastrophic event. Many of us lost friends and colleagues to AIDS in the late 80s and early 90s and, before reading Pete’s article, I hadn’t fully realised that HIV is now a chronic but treatable condition. People with HIV can now live out a more or less natural lifespan. But, as Pete describes, newly diagnosed clients may present in great distress, believing they have just received a death sentence. People facing a life-time of powerful drugs with unpleasant side-effects may understandably struggle to look on the bright side. The role of the counsellor is no less vital than it was 25 years ago.