The Recovery Letters: Addressed to People Experiencing Depression

James Withey, a trained counsellor who worked in social care for 20 years, was diagnosed with clinical depression, attempted suicide and spent time in psychiatric hospital and crisis services where he developed the idea for The Recovery Letters. He met Olivia Sagan, Head of Psychology & Sociology at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, and a chartered psychologist and former counsellor, when she contacted him directly as she had seen The Recovery Letters website. Both keen to work together to do the book, and with the mix of academic backgrounds and personal experiences in mental health, it was a great match. 

In 2012, The Recovery Letters was launched to host a series of letters online written by people recovering from depression, addressed to those currently affected by a mental health condition. Addressed to ‘Dear You’, the inspirational and heartfelt letters provided hope and support to those experiencing depression and were testament that recovery was possible.

Below are two letters from the book:

Read letter one here

Read letter two here

 


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Simon McCarthy-Jones talks to Human Givens

McCarthySimon McCarthy-Jones, author of Can’t You Hear Them?, talks to Human Givens about what is known – and what has been ignored – in explaining the experience of hearing voices. 

The experience of ‘hearing voices’, once associated with lofty prophetic communications, has fallen low. Today, the experience is typically portrayed as an unambiguous harbinger of madness caused by a broken brain, an unbalanced mind, biology gone wild. Yet an alternative account, forged predominantly by people who hear voices themselves, argues that hearing voices is an understandable response to traumatic life-events. There is an urgent need to overcome the tensions between these two ways of understanding ‘voice hearing’.

Read the interview here

 


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Tips to help children with ADHD develop self-control, concentration and problem-solving skills

ADHD supportSusan Young, author of The STAR Program, talks about the innovative methods she has developed to help children with ADHD  develop their self-control, concentration and problem-solving skills.

I started working with young people with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) over 20 years ago. The clinical picture has changed over these years due to research, which has considerably advanced our scientific knowledge and understanding about the aetiology, presentation, treatment and prognosis of ADHD. ADHD is now recognised to be a lifespan condition yet, despite international guidelines on the assessment, treatment and management of ADHD, too many young people reach adulthood with undiagnosed ADHD. As a psychologist, I am less concerned with a “clinical” diagnosis than the functional problems associated with inattention and the immediate or longer-term effects on a child’s development and life satisfaction. As a mother I know how worrying this can be and, as a clinician, I know that steps can be taken to help and support a child in overcoming these difficulties. I know how important it is for everyone to work together to help children effect change in their lives, so I wanted to develop an intervention that may involve teachers, parents/carers and the children themselves. We do not often intervene directly with children and treatments: we usually aim to make change by teaching those who interact with them to change the environment around them in some way. I think this underestimates our children’s abilities and misses an important opportunity. Why can we teach children academic skills but not life skills? I wrote the STAR Intervention to provide these life skills to children, their parents/carers and, hopefully, others involved in their care. Continue reading

Anorexia and Obesity: Two of a Kind?

anorexia Dr Nicola Davies is a health psychologist, counsellor, and writer specialising in raising awareness about health, wellbeing and weight loss. She is a member of the British Psychological Society and the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. Nicola also keeps a health psychology blog and runs an online forum for counsellors. She is the author of I Can Beat Obesity! and I Can Beat Anorexia! and the co-author of the Eating Disorder Recovery Handbook.

While generally regarded as two separate, very different issues, anorexia and obesity actually share many similarities – not only in terms of risk factors, but also psychological, behavioural, cognitive, genetic, and neuropsychological similarities.

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The Use of Play in Therapy

playDr Fiona Zandt has written the below article on the importance of play in therapy. Dr Fiona Zandt and Dr Suzanne Barrett, authors of Creative Ways to Help Children Manage BIG Feelings, are clinical psychologists who currently work in successful private practices in Melbourne. They each have over 15 years’ experience working with children and families. 

Connecting families with wool – Why play is so important when working therapeutically with children

A therapist recently described using an activity from our book that involves using wool to connect family members to make visible the ways in which their feelings and actions impact upon each other. Following the session the child who was being brought to therapy articulated some of what she had learnt to her Mum. She said that she now knew that if she died, everyone would be really sad, and that not everything was her fault. Her comments reflected some key messages that the therapist wanted to convey – namely that she was part of a family who cared about her and were all being affected by the difficulties they were experiencing. Blame was removed and the responsibility for change was shared, laying the foundation for the therapist to work effectively with both the parents and the child.

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Managing Anxiety and Depression on the Autism Spectrum

The dramatic increase in the prevalence of autism spectrum conditions among children and adolescents and the correspondingly large number of youth transitioning into adulthood has created an urgent need to address the mental health problems faced by many adults on the autism spectrum. Nearly a half million youth with autism will enter adulthood over the next decade and most will continue to require some level of support. In addition, there is a large and diverse group of adults whose autistic traits were not identified in childhood and have not received the appropriate interventions and services. Although autism symptoms may improve with age, co-occurring mental health issues may worsen in adolescence or adulthood. As a result, there are a sizable number of adults on the higher end of the spectrum who are now seeking help to deal with feelings of social isolation, interpersonal difficulties, anxiety, depressed mood, and coping problems. Unfortunately, mental health problems such as anxiety and depression and even the diagnosis of an autism spectrum condition itself often go unrecognized. Although the rate of co-occurring (co-morbid) mental health issues for adults on the spectrum is high, accessing services to address these symptoms is frequently difficult and the extent of the problem will only increase as more and more youth transition to adulthood.

Evidence is beginning to emerge for interventions addressing the mental health needs of this growing and under-served group of adults, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT has direct applicability to adults on the autism spectrum who often have difficulty understanding, managing, and expressing emotions. It has been shown to be effective in changing the way a person thinks about and responds to feelings such as anxiety and depression. With CBT, the individual learns skills to modify thoughts and beliefs through a variety of strategies which improve interaction with others in helpful and appropriate ways, thereby promoting self-regulation and mental health. It is a goal oriented approach and primarily emphasizes here-and-now problems, regardless of one’s history, traits, or diagnosis. CBT also provides a more structured approach than other types of psychotherapy, relies less on insight and judgment than other models, and focuses on practical problem-solving. Moreover, because individuals learn self-help in treatment they are often able to maintain their improvement after therapy has been completed. Evidence-based CBT holds considerable promise as an effective intervention for improving the quality of life and psychological well-being of adults on the autism spectrum.

Despite the availability of effective psychological treatments for anxiety and depression, a substantial number of adults on the autism spectrum do not seek professional help. Common obstacles to mental health care access include limited availability and affordability of services, confidentiality issues, lack of insurance coverage, frequent delays and long waiting periods, and social stigma. Likewise, many service providers do not have the experience or expertise to work with individuals on the autism spectrum, particularly those with co-occurring mental health issues. Self-help interventions represent an increasingly popular alternative to therapist-delivered psychological therapies, offering the potential of increased access to cost-effective treatment for a range of different mental health issues. They provide an opportunity for the individual to gain some useful insights and begin to work through their problems with limited guidance from a therapist or mental health professional. Research has clearly shown that self-help strategies are effective, practical, and acceptable for many individuals in reducing mental health problems such as mild to moderate anxiety and depression, often alone or with other forms of treatment. Self-help interventions have the potential to play an important role in providing effective treatment to the large proportion of adults on the spectrum who are experiencing mental health issues.

While there is no shortage of books describing the debates and challenges related to the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum conditions, there is a need for a practical resource for adults on the spectrum that promotes self-understanding and directly teaches effective ways of coping with their emotional challenges. Overcoming Anxiety and Depression on the Autism Spectrum: A Self-Help Guide Using CBT presents strategies derived from cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), adapted specifically for adults on the higher end of the spectrum, to help them overcome anxiety and depression, and improve their psychological well-being. The author takes the best of CBT therapeutic methods to facilitate greater self-understanding, self-advocacy, and better decision-making in life-span activities such as employment and interpersonal relationships. This self-help guide provides evidence-based tools that can be used to learn new ways of thinking, feeling, and doing. It includes questionnaires, worksheets, and exercises to help the reader:

  • Evaluate his or her autistic traits and discover their cognitive style.
  • Identify and modify the thoughts and beliefs that underlie and maintain the cycles of anxiety, depression, and anger.
  • Apply therapeutic techniques such as mindfulness, positive self-talk, guided imagery, and problem solving.
  • Accept the past and achieve unconditional self-acceptance.
  • Deal effectively with perfectionism and low frustration tolerance.
  • Avoid procrastination and learn to maintain positive changes to their progress

Used alone or in combination with therapy, Overcoming Anxiety and Depression on the Autism Spectrum: A Self-Help Guide Using CBT is an essential self-help book for adults on the higher end of the spectrum looking for ways to understand and cope with their emotional challenges and improve their psychological well-being. It was honored as an Award-Winning Finalist in the “Psychology/Mental Health” category of the 2016 Best Book Awards.

About the Author

Lee A. Wilkinson, PhD, is a licensed and nationally certified school psychologist, chartered psychologist, and certified cognitive-behavioral therapist. Dr. Wilkinson is author of the award-winning book, A Best Practice Guide to Assessment and Intervention for Autism Spectrum Disorder in Schools (2nd Edition), also published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers and editor of a best-selling text in the American Psychological Association (APA) Applying Psychology in the Schools Series, Autism Spectrum Disorder in Children and Adolescents: Evidence-Based Assessment and Intervention in Schools.

Borderline Personality Disorder: One Step at a Time

Tracy Barker, author of A Sad and Sorry State of Disorder, is an expert by experience on how to live with and manage borderline personality disorder (BPD), now a happily married home maker committed to raising awareness of BPD, she has written an emotional and honest piece on how it feels to have BPD, the struggles and how to deal with it; one step at a time.

One step, then take a break –
a few days, to recover.
One step, then rest
before embarking on another.

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Emma Bacon discusses eating disorders, her books and building a healthy relationship with food

RelationshipEmma Bacon, author of Rebalance Your Relationship with Food and co-author of Eating Disorder Recovery Handbook, is the founder of BalancED MK, an eating disorder support service, which she set up after her own recovery from anorexia nervosa. She also offers mentoring and facilitates a self-support group for sufferers and carers, with the aim of spreading awareness and understanding about eating disorders. We caught up with her and asked her a few questions about her book, her inspiration and what keeps her motivated. 

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Bo Hejlskov Elven on applying the low arousal approach to parenting for his new book Sulky, Rowdy Rude?

Bo Hejlskov Elven is a parent and one of Europe’s leading clinical psychologists specialising in challenging behaviour. In this new blog for JKP he offers insights into how the low arousal approach informs his new book (written in collaboration with Tina Wiman) on parental strategies for managing the most challenging behaviour of any child, Sulky, Rowdy, Rude?: Why kids really act out and what to do about it.

 

The psychologist Douglas MacGregor proposed a theory of motivation in the sixties. He argued that we can view humans in two different ways: Either we think that people are lazy and need to be controlled and motivated by rewards and punishment, or we think that people do their best if we create the right environment for them to develop autonomy. His theory was on management, and he and later psychologists have shown that the second view increases productivity. In our book Sulky, Rowdy, Rude? we adapt that way of thinking to parenting. This is in no way controversial in Scandinavia, where we live, but may be a less common view in other parts of the world. Continue reading

Disruptive, stubborn, out of control? How can we tackle challenging behaviour in schools?

disruptive behaviourIn this extract from Disruptive, Stubborn, Out of Control?, Clinical Psychologist Bo Hejlskov Elvén looks at the psychology behind children’s behaviour and offers fresh advice to teachers on how to handle confrontation in the classroom. Referring to his method as the low arousal approach, he puts forward that it is best not to rise to the bait, but to act moderately in order to restore harmony and gain the student’s trust.

Click here to download the extract

With many examples of typical confrontational behaviours and clues for how to understand and resolve the underlying issues, his book provides an innovative approach to restructuring the teacher-student relationship. Click here to find out more about the book.

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