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 January 24th TAP welcomed their council member Ian Stevenson to talk about the Context of Management and the impact on therapy in clients referred through Employee Assistant Programmes (EAPs). He spoke about common concerns these clients present with, concerns that leave him wondering about the influence of constant changes in management and economics. With key performance indicators, management by target, as well as fear and loss of work stability for employees, it is more difficult to prevent mental health issues.
The main pressures on clients are constant change to zero hour and/or short term contracts which cause anxiety. Micro management with constant auditing, fear of sanctions and less creativity, build resentment and this fear can affect self-esteem. An increased workload with reduced staffing and a lack of dialogue with management at all levels leads to increased stress levels and an impact on home life, so people learn to stay silent or risk losing their job.
Richard Murphy’s book The Joy of Tax highlights how some large well-known companies avoid tax, a subject which has recently been in the media. These companies’ actions increase the sense of unfairness for the majority of the workforce. Paul Hogget writes of the increased paperwork, care plans, assessments and standardisation in all areas of life that lead to lack of personal encounter between two separate people. For client work this may mean being shown how to be ‘bullet proof’ to survive. Our dilemma is ‘What should our response be?’ do we ‘patch ‘em up and send ‘em back’, trying to cope in this ever changing world; or should we challenge the pathology of the system rather than the person? We are left to debate this statement.
Our next talk is 19th February 2016 when Matthew Appleton will talk about the Life Long Consequences of Obstetric Interventions at Birth. The talk will start at 7.45pm at Taunton United Reform Church, Paul Street. All welcome
We were interested to read in the press today that those supposedly 'inspirational' quotes that suggest you should cut people in a negative mood out of your life to support your own well-being are, mercifully, wrong.
Researchers at the universities of Manchester and Warwick studied 2,000 teenagers and found that having happy friends improved the mood of those experiencing a period of depression, but depressed friends did not have an impact on the mood of those they were with,
The researchers used social media trends to monitor mood across social networks over the period of one year.
The Daily Telegraph commented:
"The results show that being friends with someone who is depressed does not put a person at risk of becoming depressed themselves, but it will be beneficial to a glum mate."
The report says:
"Having sufficient friends with healthy mood can halve the probability of developing, or double the probability of recovering from, depression over a 6–12-month period on an adolescent social network."
Dr Thomas House, senior lecturer in applied mathematics from the University of Manchester said:
“We know social factors, for example living alone or having experienced abuse in childhood, influences whether someone becomes depressed.... We also know that social support is important for recovery from depression, for example having people to talk to. Our study is slightly different as it looks at the effect of being friends with people on whether you are likely to develop or recover from being depressed."
The research was published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society and the link to the full report can be found HERE.