Friday, December 23, 2011

The great road toll lie.

I can’t take the BS anymore. It’s all over the radio, TV and newspapers. The endless harping on about the danger on our roads over the festive season. The massive amount of money that is being given to the police to police our roads and apparently keep us safe.

The police commissioner announces that over this christmas and new year season 16 people will die from car accidents. That amounts to one ten thousandth of one percent of the population of this state. It is a minute threat to us. Even if you add in all the injured people it is still going to be a very tiny number. There are far more serious dangers particularly from cancer and heart disease and diabetes that will kill and injure us, than motor vehicle accidents.

Lady with car.

This amounts to a major mismanagement of public money by the government.


Child psychotherapy

I was asked the other day what model do I use when I work with children and I could not answer the question. I originally trained for two years in a psychoanalytic approach to child psychotherapy but that was a long time ago and I have changed my approach considerably since that time.

Eventually in answer to the question I simply made a list of the things I would look for and do at least in the early stages of working with a child.

Usually via drawing I establish the emotional status of the child. I use the catharsis approach to feelings - identify the feeling, express the feeling and drop the feeling.

baby & bear

Again usually via drawing I establish the family structure as the child sees it. I ask the child to draw their family and then analyse aspects of the drawing to get an understanding of the child’s perception of the what they see as their family.

Establish the life script decisions the child has made:
Don’t exist
Don’t be you (the sex you are)
Don’t be a child
Don’t grow up
Don’t make it (succeed)
Don’t be close
Don’t be important
Don’t belong
Don’t be well (sane)
Don’t think
Don’t feel
Don’t get your needs met
Don’t be separate

Letting go

Establish the inborn temperament of the child
Rhythmicity - Regular or irregular
Approach/withdrawal - Positive or negative
Adaptability - Adaptive or non-adaptive
Intensity of reaction - Mild or intense
Quality of mood - Positive or negative
Activity level - Low or high

Attachment style between mother and child - it requires a couple of sessions with mother and child together to ascertain the attachment quality

Parenting strategies - interviews with the mother and father to discuss various parenting strategies to deal with difficult circumstances

Woman looking

Establish overall family structure - emeshed vs distancing family structure


Monday, December 19, 2011

Psychodynamics of the recreational drug user.

The social drinker unlike the alcoholic has the ability to do these transactions. The Child ego state has the desire for more but the Adult ego state and the Parent ego state have the strength to curb the excesses of the Child.

Rec drug user diagram

The alcoholic or problem drug user does not have the strength in the Adult and Parent to restrict the Child ego state desire for more.

Hair girl
Too much?


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gender identity

Gender identity - Am I male or am I female
Sexual orientation - Am I sexually or romantically attracted to the same sex or opposite sex.
Sex role - how do I practically display my gender identity and how do I relate to the opposite sex.

Gender identity

An interesting statement about cross dressing which seems to make sense. But the male cross dressers I have worked with by and large are not homosexual which does not make logical sense really. But it does indicate that gender identity and sexual orientation are two separate things.

Who am I?


Locus of control

Locus of control and personal responsibility

LOC Hout 1

LOC Hout 2


Friday, December 9, 2011

Interviewing the child - Part 2

In the previous post Kahless says

I have never drunk a cup of coffee in my life I dont have the inclination, though i do wonder if it is because as a kid, i distinctly remember my brother telling me i dont like coffee. powerful stuff eh!

This is exactly the next point I was going to make. In the previous post I referred to the idea of the leading question. One can also make a ‘leading statement’ as it could be called. Doing such a thing in interviewing a child can be positive or negative depending on the circumstances.

Children are more suggestible than adults because their Adult ego state is in a rudimentary form. As a result when an adult says something to a child it will accept it more freely than would an adult. The child cannot do the critical analysis or factual assessment of what is being said as effectively as an adult can.

Brick carrier

Consider this clinical situation:

A child reports that it has a pet fish which it loved very much. The previous day the cat climbed up on the aquarium, managed to snare the fish and eat it.

The child psychotherapist then says: “Oh, that is sad for you”.

This is a leading statement as it defines reality for the child.

Loss of loved fish = sad feelings

However the child may not be feeling that at all. At that point the child may be feeling anger at the cat and not sadness at the loss.

This can be a bad thing as it may lead to confusion in the child. As the child is highly suggestible it will take on the ‘facts’ provided by the counsellor much more readily. After hearing the counsellor’s comment the child may think,

“I thought what I was feeling was anger but it must sadness as I was told it was”. This can result in the child becoming confused about what is anger and what is sadness. The leading statement has resulted in a problem. The counsellor at least initially needed to ask a question, rather than make a leading statement. For example, “What are you feeling about what happened to your fish?”

Boy carrying fish

In another circumstance one may be counselling a child for anger management. The child who tends to be chronically angry. After some inquiry one discovers that the young boy has learnt that sad feelings are bad things and result in bad consequences. He may have been humiliated by his father when he cried at home. What he does is cover up his sad feelings with anger which is acceptable to his father. The problem is his sad feelings are never resolved and hence he ends up being chronically angry.

Thus the counsellor can make ‘suggestions’ to the child with leading comments such as, “People feel sad when their pet dies”. As they are more suggestible the child will take this comment on more so than an adult would. Such a statement gets planted deeper in the psyche of the youngster than the adult. In this case their suggestibility is being used for therapeutic advantage. (Of course one also makes sure there is not confusion about anger and sadness). The suggestion has affirmed that sad feelings exist, that the child does have sad feelings and that such feelings are appropriate at times


The key to such suggestions is for the counsellor to get the relationship with the child right first, get their timing right and deliver it in a way that will have the most impact.

Hence we get back to the comment by Kahless

I have never drunk a cup of coffee in my life I dont have the inclination, though i do wonder if it is because as a kid, i distinctly remember my brother telling me i dont like coffee. powerful stuff eh!

It is possible this was a suggestion inadvertently given by her brother. The circumstances were right at the time when he made the suggestion and she took it on as a fact. When that happens it is powerful stuff indeed my pommy friend!


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Interviewing the child in the therapeutic setting

(This is a work in progress and will be added to over time).

The problem with interviewing children in counselling is that they are highly suggestible and they look to parents (big people) to define reality.

Because a child has a poorly formed Adult ego state it therefore becomes suggestible. If a child interacts with her brother then she will remember that interaction in her Adult ego state. If an adult person comes along and suggests or says things happened which did not happen then that child may take on what she was told happened rather than what actually happened. The less robust the Adult ego state the more likely this can happen.

Poking toungue

This can range from the very serious where it is believed the child may have been assaulted by someone to the benign when its a feeling about a pet fish dying.

In interviewing a child there are times when the therapist is wanting to get the facts of what happened to a child or some event they were involved in. This is the hard to do because the child is suggestible. The interviewer needs to be cautious they get the information from the child rather than suggesting facts to the child which the child then takes on as facts and presents back to the interviewer.

To avoid suggestions the interviewer must do what is known in the legal profession as avoiding asking leading questions.

“And what did your brother do to you in the back shed?” is a leading question.

Besides asking the child for information it also says to the child
You were in the back shed
Someone was there with you
That person was your brother
He did something to you

social isolation

The weaker the Adult ego state the more the child will take these on as facts that actually occurred. The child may not have been in the back shed for two years. It all of a sudden starts thinking

“I was not in the shed but he said I was so maybe I was and I don’t remember it right”.

The child has now become highly suggestible. Its already weak Adult ego state has become even weaker. It has accepted that in this interview what it recalls is probably inaccurate and the interviewer is in essence telling it what really happened.

This can be made even worse when the interviewer confronts an answer. The child may respond with some sort of comment about not being in the shed. The interviewer takes this as a repression of the event because it was traumatic or maybe as an attempt to protect the brother. He then questions the accuracy of the child in recalling where the event took place and the child’s belief in their recall of the facts is made even more fragile.

C wants magic
Did it really happen?

Thus in interviewing a child one at times must avoid asking leading questions. If one is wanting to get facts from a child leading questions must be avoided. One asks questions with no or very few assumptions in them. One could ask

Where did you play that day?
What were you playing?
Do you play that game by yourself or with other people?
Who have you ever played that game with?
Is it fun to play with him?

As you can see these questions head in the same direction as the question

“And what did your brother do to you in the back shed?”

But they are allowing the child to define when, where, who and what. I would also be asking these questions whilst having the child distracted by some activity such as drawing. This allows the child more ‘space’ and one can look for changes in the child’s drawing (Behaviour) as the questions are being asked.

Here I have given an example of a legal type of situation which child psychotherapists are sometimes required to do. Leading questions also can interfere in the therapeutic process in a more psychological way which will be discussed next.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Oral stage of development

The oral stage fixation is often associated with the highly dependent person. That person who may have dependent relationships on others or develop a strong dependnecy on a drug of some kind.

These are some of the features of people who have an oral stage fixation.

Oral Stage 1

The oral stage of development is broken into two parts. Initially there is the oral sucking stage which is followed by the oral biting stage, which breast feeding mothers can tell you about!

Oral Stage 2

In the second digram the top two rows relate to the oral sucking stage and the bottom two rows relate to the oral biting stage

Oral sucking stage fixation

Pro-ana. Oral biting stage fixation


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Co Counselling

I was going through some old notes the other day and came across a mention of co counselling. I was always fascinated by the idea of co counselling but never actually did any myself.

I haven’t heard of co counselling even being mentioned for many years. I think it would have been in the early 1990’s when it was all the rage for about a year or two and then disappeared never to be heard of again. Funny how the counselling industry has fashions like that, which come and go.

Big hair

Co counselling is about therapists getting therapy from other therapists. Therapists getting personal therapy is a good idea for two reasons. First it gives them an opportunity to work on their own issues and secondly a “training analysis” as it is sometimes called is a great way to learn therapy. The therapist as a client gets to see another therapist work not only by observing but also by being directly involved in the process. A great way indeed to learn the art of psychotherapy.

However co counselling has extra special interesting factors than just a therapist getting therapy from another therapist. Two therapists meet and decide they want some therapy and it goes like this:

Man in seaweed

Week 1.
Person A is therapist
Person B is client

Week 2.
Person A is client
Person B is therapist

Week 3.
Person A is therapist
Person B is client

Week 4.
Person A is client
Person B is therapist

and so on.

Each week they swap the roles of therapist and client. A most interesting proposal indeed. For instance what happens with the transference? It would provide a most interesting experiment on the nature of transference to see what did happen.

Cat leaping
Social experiments involve risk. If you never take a risk what will you end up with?

Transference is where the client develops a strong attachment and feelings for the therapist. Often the feelings are not reality based. The client starts to put mother’s face onto the therapist and react to her/him in the same way she did 30 years ago to mother.

This happens because the therapist is in the power position with the client and the client starts this transferring process. Sometimes the transference feelings can be quite strong indeed. In co counselling the therapist and client switch roles each week.

What impact will that have on the transference process?
Will both develop a transference?
Will neither develop a transference?
If one or both parties develop some transference how can that be managed in the co counselling process?

Most interesting questions indeed.

It provides a quite different perspective from which to examine the whole therapeutic process.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011


It is an interesting process. I just stopped writing for two weeks. There was no decision to, I just did. The previous month I produced a lot of words for the book I am writing on counselling drug users. I just started writing again today.

It was similar to the first book. I treat my Free Child with great care which is a good thing really, therapeutic as well. I listen closely to it or more just follow its lead. I don’t push myself at all to write. I don’t have a schedule of writing. I need to be very careful of my rebellious side and not to engage it in this large writing project.

Bowling girl

I must admit I do start to wonder a bit as a week goes by and nothing has been written. But I sit back and let the FC take charge. I suppose I am trusting it a bit more as I know it will come back to the keyboard when ready. That happened last time and is happening this time.

Yesterday I mentioned this to someone and they asked if I had writers block. I don’t think so but then I don’t really know what writers block is. I didn’t feel blocked. It is more a feeling of I am taking very close care of that part of me and trusting it will do its stuff when ready.

Heroin overdose

One hears this term quite a lot but it is in fact somewhat of a misnomer.

Part of chapter 2

Drinking games

Poly drug use.
Anyone in the drug counselling field will come across the term poly drug use. This is seen to be the contrary of mono drug use. In real terms there would be very few mono drug users on the planet. The vast majority of people are poly drug users. If one has a wine during dinner and a cup of coffee at the end then they are a poly drug user using both alcohol and the stimulant caffeine. However the term poly drug use usually refers the use of illicit drugs maybe with alcohol at the one time. The person ingests a combination of drugs in the one session.

Where poly drug use assumes most importance is when considering the possibly of drug over dose. The drug counsellor needs to be cognizant with the effects of possible combinations of drugs. Over dose from one single drug is much less common that over dose from multiple drug consumption. One study of drug related over dose, Hickman et al (2006) found only one drug present in just eleven percent of deaths with the average being more than three drugs detected. The most common drugs found in over dose were heroin, cocaine, benzodiazepines, alcohol and methadone. The least common were amphetamines, ecstacy and cannabis. (Also see Newcombe and Woods (2010), McKenna (2002) and Giroud et al (1997))


As a matter of course any drug counsellor will enquire as to what drugs the client is using. They should specifically ask if the person uses heroin, cocaine, benzodiazepines, alcohol and/or methadone and in what combinations in any one drug taking session. If there is a combination used then the counsellor would obviously inform the client of the potential for over dose and look at ways by which the client can reduce the risk of a fatal over dose, such as not using alone and so forth.
(end quote)

As you can see it would be more correctly named as a poly drug overdose as only 11% of fatal overdoses result from the ingestion of one drug. 89% result from a combination of drugs taken. So how can you say which one was the fatal one or played the most part in the death? So heroin overdoses are rarely just heroin over doses.

This comes from chapter 5

smoking girl

Research study
Kerr, D., Dietze, P., Kelly, A. and Jolley, D.
“Improved response by peers after witnessed heroin overdose in Melbourne”. Drug and Alcohol Review. 2009. 28, 327 - 330.

Heroin related over dose
Current IDU recruited at a needle and exchange programme (ie not recreational users)
61% had reported they over dosed after injecting heroin with the median being 3 times
84% reported witnessing an over dose with the median being 4.5 times

46% reported witnessing an overdose in the last 6 months

These figures show that these people are really living on the edge of self destruction. To go that close to death that often would strongly suggest some suicidal or self destructive urges play a part in what they do.

It should be noted that the subjects in this study would be the dependent drug users and not the recreational heroin users because of how they were recruited for the research.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Book award party

Last week we had a party for the book award I recently received.

Here is a photograph of myself with the award certificate.

Tony & award.
Note the Toblerone and the strawberrys!

Here is what the publisher had to say about the award.

The list of university and college libraries that stock the book contuinues to grow. I must admit that I am a bit surprised at the size of the list as the book is still not even one year old. I would have assumed that psychology, social work and psychotherapy degrees would have to plan more on what texts they would use for next year and so forth.

University of Waterloo (Canada)
University of Manitoba (Canada)
Saint Francis Xavier University (Canada)
University of Victoria (Canada)
Vancouver Island University (Canada)
Ryerson University (Canada)
Royal Roads University (Canada)
Simon Frasier University (Canada)
St. Clair College (Canada)
Universite de Montreal (Canada)
Memorial University (Canada)
Mount Saint Vincent University (Canada)
Mount Royal University (Canada)
Wilfrid Laurier University (Canada)
Cambrian College (Canada)
Kwantlen Polytechnic University (Canada)
University of Lethbridge (Canada)
Concordia University (Canada)
University of Guelph (Canada)
Library and Archives Canada (Canada)

Maribor General Hospital Library (Slovenia)

Stellenbosch University Library (South Africa)

Mitt hogskolan library (Sweden)
Stockholm University (Sweden)

PJ Library (Norway)
University of Bergen (Norway)
Norges teknisk-naturvitenskapelige universitet (Norway)
University of Oslo (Norway)
University of Tromso (Norway)

Freie Universitat Berlin (Germany)
Humboldt University of Berlin (Germany)
State and University Library of Dresden (Germany)

University of the West of England (UK)
Derbyshire library (UK)
University of Plymouth (UK)
Manchester Metropolitian University (UK)
Lancaster University (UK)
University of Hull (UK)
University of East Anglia (UK)
University of Cambridge (UK)
Oxford University library (UK)
University of Exeter (UK)
Coventry City Council library (UK)
Bromley Library service (UK)
Cadbury Heath Library (UK)
Kingswood Library (UK)
Nottingham Central Library (UK)
Yate Library (UK)
British Library (UK)
Ebook library London (UK)
Hounslow Library (UK)
Barnet London Borough Library (UK)

National library of Scotland (Scotland)

University of California San Diego (USA)
Open Library. California State Library (USA)
University of Washington (USA)
Norwich University (USA)
Ithaca College (USA)
Marquette University Raynor Memorial Library (USA)
University of Massachusetts Amherst (USA)
Williams College Massachusetts (USA)
National Library of Medicine Maryland (USA)
Illinois State University (USA)
Loyola Marymount University California (USA)
University of Michigan (USA)
Central Michigan University (USA)
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill (USA)
University of Missouri-Columbia (USA)
Akron-Summit County Public Library, Ohio (USA)
University of California Merced (USA)
University of North Carolina Greensboro (USA)
Library of congress (USA)
University of California San Franisco (USA)
Mt. Hood Community College Library Oregon (USA)
National College of Natural Medicine Oregon (USA)
Oregon Health and Science University (USA)
Northeast WI Public Libraries (USA)
College of DuPage Illinois (USA)
Boston College (USA)
University of Chicago Illinois (USA)
University of North Texas (USA)
Laredo Public Library Texas (USA)
University of Texas-Pan American (USA)
University of Texas at Austin (USA)
University of Puget Sound (USA)

Executive Counseling and Training Academy (Singapore)
Ngee Ann Polytechnic Library(Singapore)
Singapore Polytechnic Library (Singapore)
National University of Singapore (Singapore)

LaTrobe University (Aust)
Murdoch University (Aust)
Monash University (Aust)
Victoria University (Aust)
Bankstown Campus library (Aust)
University of Sydney (Aust)
Queensland University of Technology (Aust)
Deakin University (Aust)
University of Adelaide (Aust)
University of Western Australia (Aust)
University of Ballarat (Aust)
University of New England (Aust)
University of Western Sydney (Aust)
Charles Sturt University (Aust)
Curtin University (Aust)
Australian Catholic University (Aust)
University of Newcastle (Aust)
Bond University (Aust)
University of Melbourne (Aust)
James Cook University (Aust)
National Library of Australia (Aust)

Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)
Dublin Institute of Technology (Ireland)

University of Auckland Library (New Zealand)
University of Canterbury (New Zealand)
Lincoln University (New Zealand)
Northtec library (New Zealand)
Auckland University of Technology (New Zealand)
Unitec Institute of Technology (New Zealand)
Eastern Institute of Technlogy (New Zealand)
University of Otago (New Zealand)
Rotorua District Library (New Zealand)

City University of Hong Kong (China)
National Cheng Kung University (Taiwan)

Dress woman


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Games children play

For the love or money

This is an associated game of Stupid and is sometimes called the game of Spoilt Child. Here love and money get mixed up. The parents believe they can express their love to a child by giving it things. They may even end up saying to the child, “Of course I love you look at all the things I have given (done) for you”.

The parent is for what ever reason unable to express feelings of love or affection to the child. (Their parents may have done the same to them, they have a “Don’t show your feelings” injunction, they may have their own closeness issues, they may equate affection feelings with sexual feelings and that scares them, they may just be self centred and have little interest in giving affection to the child because they want it themselves, and so on).

Hair women

So the parents give things instead showing love or affection. A prime example can be boarding school in some instances. “I have sent my daughter to a very expensive boarding school so she gets the best education”, (and by the way it also gets her out of the way so I can go and do all my things).

In this game, over time the child’s bedroom begins to start looking like a shop of “Toys-r-us”. The child gets a never ending series of toys and things with which it can play or be entertained by. Computers, computer games, bikes, flat screen TV, pets, DVD player, CD player, overseas holidays, swimming pool, and so on endlessly. (This is of course encouraged along the way by all the marketing which often portrays the line that if you buy this gift for your child then he/she will feel loved by you.)

Smoking girl

The problem with this game is that it half ‘hits the spot’. And that can trick both parties’ Child ego states. They think they are being shown love when in fact they are not. All humans have a need for love. That need can only be fully met when:

It is shown to the person first hand (so not mother telling the child that father loves her)
Is face to face (so not via email or even the phone to some extent)
Has emotion involved
Has some form of physical contact.

If these conditions happen then the Free Child need of the person for love is met and satisfied. Indeed the child will feel loved by its mother or father if the love is expressed to the child in ways like this.

Love transaction

False love

I sometimes hear clients say; “I know my father loved me, even though he never told me that”, or “I used to over hear my father tell others how much he loved me but he never actually told me”. Unfortunately these only half meet that Free Child need for love.

Societies will even formalise times when the Free Child need for love is meant to be met. In our country it is often birthdays, and the birthday gift is meant to be an expression of love for the other person. But the physical gift is only a symbol of that love and to the Free Child that does not mean much.

This is summed up well by Coleman & White (1988), “To clarify this point, consider the example of a parent and child playing a game of cards. We would invite such a parent to consider the following question : Are you playing cards with your child, or are you playing with your child and that just happens to be cards at the moment? Toys, games and play activities can provide an effective way of avoiding contact with a child. They can allow the parent and child to become side-tracked into the activity and avoid closeness, contact or openness with each other. Parents who provide children with expensive toys particularly need to consider how they play with their children.”(P13).

Trivia wall

In the wall of trivia ‘things’ get in the way of the two parties actually getting close and having intimacy. The Free Child to Free Child transactions get blocked. Indeed in some marital counselling, the counselling can become a thing that gets in the way as well. It gives both parties a ‘thing’ to talk about other than themselves and their feelings for the other party.

A derivative of the game, “for the love or money” is the game of “Childhood obesity”. In this game love does not get mixed up with an expensive gift but instead love gets mixed up with food. The parent has the mistaken belief that it can express its love to a child by providing it with food and the child begins to take this on and when it feels full it feels loved. So it is provided with lots of food and it eats the food in its desire to feel loved. Again this only half “hits the spot”. For a brief while the Free Child need for love is met when it eats but it does not last because the need is not really getting met in the way I described above. (Note there are many other reasons as well for the over weight child).

Woman & dog.

The other derivative of the game, “for the love or money” is the game of “Higher, faster, longer”. In this instance love gets mixed up with achievement in the child’s mind. “If I can jump higher, swim faster or run longer then mum will love me”. “If I can win the gold medal then dad will finally notice me” The child believes that if it can achieve success in sport, business, education and so on then the parental love that it craves will finally be given. I would suggest that many high achievers are of this ilk. Again, it works for a little while, and the parents may in fact provide the contact with the child when it does achieve. The problem is there is always another race, there is always more that could be achieved. So the child never gets to the end and often high achievers are left with a hollow feeling as they look at their trophy cabinet, investment portfolio or degrees hanging on the wall.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Drug use ambivalence

Using the drug use ambivalence technique with those drug users who are in remission.

I have been using this technique now for some time. I have developed it over a number of years and kind of did not realise that until I spoke with my supervisee the other day and she raised some concerns.

It is a two chair exercise where the client sits in a chair and experiences that part of their personality - either the FC or AC.

2 chair

I have used it recently with two women who had been clean for some time but they had both expressed some concern about relapse. They were fine doing the FC chair and gave the usual responses of why they do not want to use - their lives are better, healthier, save money and so forth.

Drug ambivalence

When asked to go to the AC chair both expressed an instant strong fear reaction. One woman even stated,

“That bit does not exist..... if it does exist it is only very tiny”.

After a bit of discussion she stated that she did not want to acknowledge that it existed because then she might use again. Indeed we had spent a good deal of time in the previous weeks discussing the idea of relapse and she was quite open about it. She was fully aware in her Adult about her desire to use drugs again but to actually experience that part of self was an entirely different thing. Her statement about it not existing or only being very small was highly incongruent. This however does show the difference between her Adult being aware of her desire to use again and her first hand experience of that part of her personality that wants to use. Which supports the validity of this technique.

Design woman

However this raises an interesting question, What was she actually scared of? Does the bigger fear reaction mean the more likelihood of relapse or the closer the person is to a relapse.

Or it may simply mean that the person is scared of relapse even if they are not at any great risk of doing so.

I do not know the answer to that question. However my supervisee expressed some concern at this technique. She reported that by asking the person to experience the part of self that wants to use drugs may in fact increase the likelihood of them doing so. Another interesting proposal and one that I do not agree with.

The fear reaction, along with the reluctance to ‘be’ that part, (with one person even denying its very existence) means that she had repressed that part of her personality. She had become unintegrated in that way. She had locked away this part of her personality and kept it hidden from her conscious.

Toffee apple

Psychological theory states that the more you integrate parts of the personality the less trouble they will be. By keeping it unintegrated the more likelihood there is that she will relapse. By experiencing it and integrating it, the less problematic it remains in the personality.

Also with her being the AC part of self it allows me to relate to it directly. This is a most important thing to do. Whilst sitting in the AC chair I can dialogue directly with it. Thus we have the opportunity to develop some relational contact. It allows us the option of building up some kind of relationship. This is a very good thing as it allows the AC to stop feeling so isolated. It defuses it and people are always in better psychological shape when they feel they are in some kind of relational contact with others.

Any time I come across some kind of self destructive aspect in a client my first goal is to establish some kind of relational contact with it.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Singapore workshop

This is a picture of the group of counselling students I worked with recently. I ran a workshop on the theory and practice of group psychotherapy.

Group therapy training 2


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Rackets and feelings

This post is a work in progress and I will complete it at a later time. It is for the comments by KYLady and di345 who asked about feelings and rackets.

One of the problems with the concept of rackets is that it has had many differing definitions in the literature. Below are listed some of them.

Defn of rackets

So people use the term in different ways and mistakenly assume (often) that they are talking about the same thing when they are not. As you can imagine confusion results in such debates over feelings and rackets.

Also I have been remiss and excluded one of the more significant barriers to dropping a feeling. So the list has increase by the number of one.

Aussie storm trooper

Barriers to dropping a feeling

The racket value of the feeling
The strength of its connection to a script decision
Secondary gains associated with it.
Characterological basis of the feeling


Self harm

This was sent to me today by a self harmer who did this to her leg.

Self harm

It catches the emotional core of the Borderline personality. A mixture of anger and fear.

She makes an interesting distinction between ‘playing” self harm and ‘punishing’ self harm. This is playing self harm where the cuts a quite superficial but with punishment self harm the cuts are significantly deeper. And it is the bleeding that has the most psychological significance.


In my book - Working with suicidal individuals - I propose 8 possible motivations for self harming:

1. Self harming as part of gang tattooing behaviour.
2. Self harming to make self feel real which can be found in those who dissociate.
3. Self harming to make self feel something.
4. Self harming used as a means of tension relief and to release pressure build up.
5. Self harming as a physical expression of emotional pain. Self harming is seen as providing concrete evidence of the pain.
6. Self harming as a means to self nurture. It allows the person to care for self as can be found in Munchausen Syndrome.
7. Self harming as a means to punish self and an expression of self hatred.
8. Self harming as a means to manipulate others or as a cry for help.

It would seem that reason number 7 is part of the motivation to self harm. As for seeing the blood and bleeding one would need to enquire as to what it means for the self harmer. It could be a variety of things such as found in reasons # 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6.


What personality type are you?

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Personality types 1

Personality types 2


Friday, November 4, 2011

Book review - Part 2

This comprehensive book review comes from the magazine of the Institute of Transactional Analysis which is a UK based association.

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Review 1

Review 2

Review 3


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Book review

From the newsletter of the International Transactional Analysis Association

ITAA script newsletter