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Nov 2014 - Feb 2015, Vol 21 No 1

Interpersonal Psychotherapy: A culturally adaptive treatment

Jessica Schultz and Scott Stuart - Nov 2014 - Feb 2015, Vol 21 No 1

Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) is an effective treatment used around the world for a variety of psychological disorders. In recognition of the need to provide culturally competent treatment, JESSICA SCHULTZ and SCOTT STUART review the use of IPT with diverse populations and draw on current research to present specific adaptations to IPT with clients from a variety of cultural backgrounds. As researchers continue to establish the efficacy and effectiveness of psychological treatments, attention must be paid to the generalisability of these treatments to diverse populations.

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Interpersonal Psychotherapy for groups: advantages and challenges

Carolyn Deans, Rebecca Reay, Scott Stuart - Nov 2014 - Feb 2015, Vol 21 No 1

Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) is a focused, short-term psychological therapy which is effective for the treatment of a number of mental health disorders. In this article, CAROLYN DEANS and SCOTT STUART provide a brief overview of IPT, its theoretical base, and IPT tactics and techniques. The empirical evidence for the use of group IPT (IPT-G), and the theoretical adaptations for group IPT treatment are reviewed, accompanied by the advantages of working interpersonally in groups and the challenges associated with adapting IPT to this format. An applied example of IPT-G for mother-child bonding, and a case example of a patient’s transition through an IPT group are offered to illustrate the application of IPT in clinical practice.

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A psychobiological approach to couple therapy and issues of reciprocity: The influence of Janteloven on Norwegian couples

Inga Gentile - Nov 2014 - Feb 2015, Vol 21 No 1

With a focus on the importance of cultural sensitivity within the therapy setting, INGA GENTILE explores how long-standing social attitudes exemplified by Janteloven, a set of social laws governing attitudes and norms toward individual success and accomplishment, might contribute to problematic themes presented in the context of modern-day Norwegian couples seeking therapy. Working within a Norwegian cultural frame, two couple case vignettes illustrate issues of reciprocity, and the potential influence of Janteloven on conscious and unconscious individual development, and on intersubjective experience, to further enhance therapeutic change. A psychobiological approach to couple therapy (PACT) — a combination of neuroscience, attachment theory, and arousal regulation — with a focus on moment-to-moment state shifts, allows for depth and sensitivity in understanding how conflicting cultural messages shaped attachment experiences, arousal regulation strategies, and personalities.

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The blood and guts of experiential psychotherapy

Dan Short - Nov 2014 - Feb 2015, Vol 21 No 1

Few things lead to as much of an increase in treatment acceptance and alliance formation as a collaborative endeavour that draws on the creative abilities of the helper and helpee. Experiential psychotherapy is a time-honoured methodology practiced by experts who come from diverse cultures, different theoretical backgrounds, and who apply this method in an endless array of venues. Although some might argue that masters of experiential work rely entirely on intuition, a multitude of skill sets can be identified and developed as specific principles are applied. The creative process does not occur until preconceived notions of how things ‘should be done’ are abandoned in favour of flexible thought stimulated by the uniqueness of the moment and of the person seeking help. Drawing on case studies, DAN SHORT highlights the concepts of utilization, co-conception, and disambiguation to map the vast territory of experiential psychotherapy.

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How does psychotherapy work?

Nick Bendit - Nov 2014 - Feb 2015, Vol 21 No 1

Despite the fact that we know psychotherapy is effective across a wide range of mental health disorders, the mechanism of change is unknown. Each model of psychotherapy has a different theory about how change occurs, yet these theories do not explain why different therapies usually end up with similar outcomes. NICK BENDIT outlines a hypothesis that central to all models, whether they recognise it or not, is a mechanism of change, mediated through the therapeutic relationship, which helps the client to experience emotions and thoughts that were unmanageable previously, and therefore avoided in a wide variety of ways. Different models address this with different techniques, implicit and explicit, but at the core is the safety and human contact of the therapeutic relationship. This, combined with the therapist modelling that emotions are important, tolerable and make sense, allows the client to explore their internal emotional world in a new way. A new relationship to their internal emotional and cognitive world is gradually built, allowing the client to live their life with more control, freedom and comfort.

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Un-diagnosing mental illness in the process of helping

Richard Lakeman and Mary Emeleus - Nov 2014 - Feb 2015, Vol 21 No 1

A medical diagnosis of a mental illness is a powerful symbol of both the presumed nature of the person’s experience and the authority of the person making the diagnosis. RICHARD LAKEMAN and MARY EMELEUS consider the meaning of diagnosis, its place in the ritual of health care, and the practical problems associated with not diagnosing and un-diagnosing. The traditional approach of western medical practice is to undertake an assessment and arrive at the correct diagnosis, which in turn determines the right treatment. Service users present frequently to helping agencies with a diagnosis of mental illness conferred already. This colours the therapeutic encounter and raises expectations of what needs to be done. The therapeutic potential and practical problems of deferring psychiatric diagnosis or ‘un-diagnosing’ mental illness in the context of providing care to people with complex presentations is critically considered. Un-diagnosing mental illness can be an important part of the care encounter as a way of opening a space within which the person’s problems can be considered in a non-biomedical way, or in the final phase of the therapeutic encounter.

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Developing and articulating one's own practice framework

Paul Gibney - Nov 2014 - Feb 2015, Vol 21 No 1

In the process of professional supervision the practitioner reflects upon their performance, receives education and support, and has their work monitored for quality and efficiency. A central task of the supervision process is for the supervisee to develop and articulate their own practice framework. This sharpens the practitioner’s clinical lens and increases professional effectiveness. All going well, the practitioner’s practice framework should always be developing and be subject to regular review. The challenge is to define and capture it on a regular basis, so the practitioner can reflect on whether it is still able to describe their practice, or whether the practice framework needs to be modified or elaborated to better describe the current professional activities, conceptualisation and performance of the practitioner. Drawing from the theory of reflective practice, PAUL GIBNEY offers a model for developing and articulating one’s own practice framework.

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The evolution of sandplay therapy applications

Mark Pearson and Helen Wilson - Nov 2014 - Feb 2015, Vol 21 No 1

First developed in London in the late 1920’s, and further developed in Switzerland in the late 1950’s, the Sandplay Therapy process presents as deceptively simple; it is tempting to consider sandplay simply as a playful way to engage a child client. Over the last 85 years, however, Sandplay Therapy, has proven effective with clients across all ages, with a wide range of presenting issues, and in a variety of contexts. MARK PEARSON and HELEN WILSON review the history, psychotherapeutic process, research, and applications of sandplay therapy. The expanding, practice-based sandplay literature, based primarily on qualitative reports using phenomenological and case study methodology, indicates that sandplay is being used as both a stand-alone modality and as a welcome adjunct to a wide range of therapeutic approaches.

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Coming awake: counselling with the long-term unemployed

Hugh Crago interviews Shawn Stevenson - Nov 2014 - Feb 2015, Vol 21 No 1

In this interview, HUGH CRAGO explores with SHAWN STEVENSON how it feels to be a counsellor with long-term unemployed clients. Can counsellors help such people? How well does the humanistic, relational model of counselling fit with the task of getting the unemployed into the workforce? Clients with dubious motivation and substantial difficulties in living and relating might seem ‘hard core’ and ‘difficult’. However, a flexible, intelligent and emotionally mature counsellor can accomplish a great deal. What facilitates positive results in such settings is explored to provide a better understanding of what counselling can accomplish.

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