ALL WOMAN Monday, May 08, 2017,
By KIMBERLEY HIBBERT
PEOPLE who seek out the services of a counsellor or therapist are often perceived as mentally unstable or weak; however, that is a gross misconception which has led many individuals to regard counselling as taboo.
Other misconceptions about therapy/counselling include the following: (a) a counsellor will tell you what you should or should not do, (b) a counsellor will share your secrets with your relatives or your boss, and (c) counselling requires a long-term commitment.
On the contrary, professional counselling demands confidentiality and your written consent for information to be shared. Your autonomy must be respected, and benefits must be derived by those dealing with chronic problems and situational concerns. For what reasons do most people seek therapy?
It is a very long list and includes depression, anxiety, the break-up of a romantic relationship, family problems, relational problems with a partner, neighbour, friend or boss, problems with drugs and/or alcohol, eating disorders, stress management, suicidal thoughts, grief and loss, and lack of motivation.
While the reasons may vary from person to person, a therapist will help an individual to cope with general problems, enhance personal growth, and increase self-awareness.
Some people may argue that confiding in a trusted friend or family member will help, but a counsellor provides a comfortable, non-judgemental and safe environment for individuals to share their personal struggles — a situation that a friend may not readily provide.
Psychiatrist Dr Geoffrey Walcott explained that there is three main levels of therapeutic intervention — supportive, re-educative and reconstructive psychotherapy.
“The first and most common, supportive psychotherapy, is aimed at bolstering the patient’s psychological defences and providing reassurance — as in crisis intervention — rather than probing provocatively into the patient’s conflicts. This group uses basic principles of psychotherapy and tends to be eclectic, meaning using techniques from different schools,” he outlined.
Dr Walcott said that all individuals can benefit from supportive psychotherapy, either to enhance performance or to overcome an adverse event. He added that this can be carried out by people with basic training in mental health and basic principles of counselling; for example, a mental health nurse, or psychologists with both clinical and counselling degrees at the master’s level.
The psychiatrist said that re-educative psychotherapy seeks to address specific clinical problems which the patient may have.
“It usually follows the course of a specific school of treatment such as the popular cognitive behavioural therapy by Aaron Beck and Albert Ellis. This is usually carried out by a qualified practitioner, counselling or clinical psychologist, and psychiatrists who have been formally taught in the modality they utilise,” he pointed out.
Dr Walcott said the final form, reconstructive psychotherapy, seeks not only to alleviate symptoms but also to produce alterations in maladaptive character structure and to expedite new adaptive potentials.
“This aim is achieved by bringing into consciousness an awareness of and insight into conflicts, fears, inhibitions, and their manifestations. They initially were intensive, such as psychoanalysis, but new therapeutic modalities have emerged that offer short-term regimens, such as dialectic behavioural therapy by Marsha Linehan and psycho-historiographic psychotherapy by Frederick Hickling. The practitioners would be the same for re-educative,” Dr Walcott said.
He maintained that practitioners are available locally to meet the needs of each individual, so people should not be afraid to seek help.