This was one of TAP’s best attended talks - so many came along that extra chairs had to be put out.
Dr. Freeth is a psychiatrist and a counsellor, so she is able to look at the issues from both points of view. She has published a book and contributes to Therapy Today, the journal of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.
In her talk she posed some broad questions. What is the nature of mental distress? How does it arise and what is the most efficient response to it?
There are two approaches. One sees mental illness as arising from physical causes such as a chemical imbalance in the brain. The other view is as a response to life events and that medication can relieve symptoms and alter the emotional experience of the client. Neither can be conclusively proven and there is some overlap. It is not a precise science, although probably most psychiatrists are more in the first school. But things are changing.
Some clients/patients feel that having both medication and therapy is the best of both worlds, whereas others may wish to avoid any drugs. Some will accept a prescription and stop taking them. A few will prefer just the medication so it is important for psychiatrists and doctors to talk to the client/patient about the medication: what it is hoped to achieve and possible side effects.
Dr. Freeth presented two cases studies which explored the issues.
Coming off a medication is as important as the original prescription and she emphasised that just stopping can, sometimes, lead to crisis and needs to managed. It emphasises the importance of having a relationship in which the patient can discuss their situation with the psychiatrist and GP. She also went through the main categories of medication and left some hand outs with links to further research. Her handouts are available to download HERE, HERE and HERE
TAP attracts both students and experienced practitioners (as well as those who have an interest in the subject) and there was a good discussion followed by tea/coffee and biscuits.
The vote of thanks also gave notice of the forthcoming conference on body psychotherapy given by Nick Totton who has a national reputation for his work in this area. Some of the committee have seen him in conference and decided he had to speak to us. Details on the website ( www.taplimited.org.uk )
On the 19th January TAP members and guests welcomed Ounkar Kaur with her presentation ‘Changing Times and Evolving Cultures’ a course that evolved from her MSc research. As an Asian psychotherapist, Ounkar has extensive experience of working with patients from Black and Minority Ethnic communities for various agencies. Ounkar is a Member of the Severnside Institute for psychotherapy and an Accredited Race Equality Trainer as well as having a private practice in Bristol.
In a change to the usual TAP practice. Ounkar invited the audience to sit in an intimate circle and then share with everyone their first names. This close relationship continued later when the audience worked in pairs to discuss experiences connected with differences and cultures.
Speaking quite candidly, Ounkar recounted how she became aware of the variety of differences in her life when she was younger, especially her days at secondary school and the distress she felt when her name was deliberately mispronounced by her classmates and sometimes also by a teacher. This cruel act by the teacher, Ounkar felt, gave mandate to other students to do the same.
The basis of Ounkar’s TAP presentation is the course that she runs in Bristol which is an opportunity for learning about and processing difference. It allows the attendee to deepen their awareness of difference through one’s own internal responses to it. It also includes ongoing explorations and discussions about the dynamics in intercultural relationships and situations, especially where there is a lack of understanding which can easily hinder communication.
It is hoped that at some point in the future the course will be brought to Taunton. In the meantime, see HERE and HERE for details of Ounkar's 8 week course and taster sessions, with further information from Ounkar HERE.
Ounkar received a very warm round of applause and many personal expressions of thanks from a clearly delighted TAP members at the conclusion of her talk.
The next TAP Talk will take place on 16 February when Dr Rachel Freeth will talk on `Clients taking psychiatric medication`. All are welcome.