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Halcyon actively monitors change covering more than 150 key elements of life.

The 52:52:52 project, launching both on this site and on Twitter at the beginning of 2023 will help you address 52 issues with 52 responses over 52 weeks.

A Mundane Comedy will be Dominic Kelleher's new book, published in early 2023. Extracts will appear on this site and on my social media accounts the final quarter of 2022. Please get in touch with any questions or thoughts.

What's Changing? - Therapy

Therapy

 

Please see below selected recent therapy-related change.

 

See also:

 

January 2023

 

December 2022

 

November 2022

 

October 2022

  • BACP warned that mental health is in decline - 75% of therapists said that the public’s mental health had declined recently. 88% of therapists who said mental health had declined in 2022 listed cost of living concerns as a reason for this. 70% of therapists agreed that there had been a rise in referrals from first timers to therapy over the past two years. 50% of therapists said the demand for therapy is over capacity, this was up 11% compared to the previous year. 57% of therapists also reported an increase in clients presenting with relationship issues in the past year.
  • A study, led by University College London researchers, examined data from the NHS’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) service for people with dementia who also had clinically significant anxiety or depression. The researchers found that among people with dementia, the treatment proved to be beneficial. Some 63% of them saw a reduction in symptoms of depression and anxiety, after completing treatment through IAPT. Around 40% recovered completely.
  • The School of Life noted that, to an onlooker, one of the strangest aspects of therapy is the sheer length of time it requires. This can be puzzling because an experienced therapist may diagnose the essentials of a person’s troubles in one session and yet a course of therapy can last years, at a rate of one appointment a week. As therapy sees it, the chief difficulty is not to identify someone’s problem, it is to help them see, feel and accept it properly. Were the truth to be laid out before clients, some might leave at once in a mood of fury: we have only limited strength to hear that, for example, our levels of confidence might be connected up a trauma that occurred before we were three.

 

September 2022

 

August 2022

  • Mirena Dimolareva, a lecturer in educational psychology, has claimed that the future for animal-assisted interventions looks promising. She has seen first-hand how children regulate their behaviour during lessons and playtime (often the most challenging time, due to the lack of structure) to make sure they are allowed to spend time with the therapy dogs. If we can teach children to regulate their behaviour in the classroom and potentially transfer this to their day-to-day life, it could have a groundbreaking impact on their ability to learn and their overall wellbeing. She believes that this is particularly exciting as animals may have the potential to elicit these benefits for those who do not currently respond to other interventions.

 

July 2022

  • A biographer of Carl Rogers, David Cohen, wrote that Rogers’s therapeutic philosophy ‘has become part of the fabric of therapy’. Today, in the West, many believe that going to therapy can be an empowering and positive move, rather than an indicator of crisis or sickness. This shift owes a great deal to Rogers, as does the expectation that a therapist will allow themselves to enter into our thinking, and express a careful but tangible empathy. Where Freud focused on the mind in isolation, Rogers valued more of a merging of minds - boundaried, but intimate.
  • Depression affects approximately 280 million people worldwide, and antidepressant medications – though they have offered relief for many – are not as effective as we need them to be. Furthermore, psychotherapy - an effective treatment for depression and other mood disorders - is simply not accessible enough for many people. One assessment found that the median time that a young person waited to access therapy in the UK was 60 days. Many people wait even longer. In a survey of therapists across the US, conducted by The New York Times at the end of 2021, a third said that it would take at least three months for an appointment to open up.
  • Psyche explained that exposure therapy refers to ‘repeated, systematic exposure to cues that are feared, avoided, or endured with dread’. Whether the therapy is delivered in vivo or in sensu, it can provide patients with new, anxiety-reducing and fear-relieving experiences that violate their fear-evoking expectancies - such as patients with a fear of heights (acrophobia) predicting that "If I step too close to a precipice, I am pulled into the depths". Research suggests that successful exposure treatment leads to the formation of a new memory trace – i.e: "Even if I step very close to a precipice, I do not lose control of my body" - in which the formerly feared stimulus (the precipice) is no longer associated with threat. 
  • Whereas CBT emphasises using a set of tools to form new habits of thinking and behaving, psychoanalysis involves an ongoing, collaborative and transformative process involving therapist and patient. The therapist notes ways in which the patient might, in the here-and-now of the therapy unconsciously experience repetitions of past situations. These repetitions, known as ‘transference’, can indicate core psychological conflicts from childhood or adolescence - moments when needs went unmet while growing up. Unlike CBT, psychoanalytic therapy does not view all psychological problems as problems of thinking. There is no expectation that these problems can be resolved merely by helping the patient think more carefully and accurately.

 

June 2022

 

May 2022

 

April 2022

 

March 2022

  • A leading counsellor noted that under-40s increasingly come to her before they have even got near a crisis point. They come, they say, because they value their mental health much in the same way that they value their physical health. They often come because they want to acquire communication tools, to head off conflict before it derails them. They are open to each other and genuinely curious. However, many older couples seem to find this playful curiosity more difficult and some long-term married couples who seem to know very little about each other.
  • Hotels have long offered gyms to help guests stay physically fit while traveling, but what about their mental health? Remedying that omission, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants partnered with Talkspace to provide free access to online therapy sessions. When booking a stay at one of the boutique hotel chain's 60 participating properties, guests could claim a complimentary video therapy call with Talkspace.
  • In London, Self Space opened a storefront location to provide anyone with flexible and on-demand mental health care, allowing people to pop in for a session like they would for a haircut. The startup's goal was to remove any perceived barriers to seeing a clinical psychologist or psychotherapist. Clients could usually book a same-day appointment, with the shop open seven days a week. Options include one-on-one therapy, couples therapy, student sessions and executive coaching, or just "a good conversation with a qualified person". 

 

February 2022

  • Mild to moderate depression and anxiety are often treated with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or some other evidence-based, structured psychotherapy, such as interpersonal therapy (IPT). CBT tends to focus on ways to address patterns of negative thinking, whereas IPT focuses more on difficulties with other people. In England in 2021, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, which provides independent, evidence-based guidance to the government, issued a renewed draft guideline for treating depression in adults, which stressed that talking-based treatments should be the first choice for addressing mild to moderate depression.
  • However, Psyche warned that 30-40% of people may not benefit from psychotherapy, which is about the same as the proportion of patients for whom antidepressants do not help (but, fortunately, most people respond to one or the other or both). As with any intervention, talking treatments can do harm as well as good. Data from a study of hundreds of people who received therapy for depression or anxiety via the NHS in England found that just over 14% of clients reported that they had been made worse in the long term. The risk of harm has long been recognised in the psychodynamic community. Simply put, there are some unfortunate people who have been too damaged by traumatic upbringings to be able to tolerate, let alone benefit from, talking about it.
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy, or ACT, which is infused with mindfulness concepts, acknowledges that suffering is part of the human condition and guides people in becoming “psychologically flexible” to navigate life’s ups and downs and keep moving forward. ACT encourages "psychological flexibility" - i.e. people being able to live their lives meaningfully and effectively, regardless of what they’re thinking or feeling, regardless of what memories are coming up, regardless of how they’re thinking of themselves, regardless of how much anxiety they may be experiencing, or sadness or hopelessness.

 

January 2022

  • According to Psyche, while most people learn how to regulate their emotions when they’re growing up, for some, the strategies they adopt are unhealthy or unhelpful. One theory about why this happens is the biosocial theory, from a treatment called dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), which posits that some people are born with a higher level of emotional sensitivity: they have stronger reactions to things, take longer to get over those intense feelings, and generally deal with a higher level of emotional pain (eg, they experience more anger, sadness, shame or anxiety). While this emotional sensitivity (the ‘bio’ part of the theory) isn’t uncommon and isn’t a problem in and of itself, when combined with a problematic environment (the ‘social’ part), things can become difficult.

 

December 2021

  • While Stoicism promises to help us build an “inner citadel,” a fortress of power and resilience that prepares us for the difficulties of the world, it makes no promises to make us superhuman. A Stoic isn't someone invincible.. A Stoic is someone who puts themselves back together so they can do what needs to be done, for themselves and for others. The Stoics would have liked the Japanese art form known as Kintsugi, which dates back to the 15th century. In it, masters repair broken plates and cups and bowls, but instead of simply fixing them back to their original state, they make them better, noted The Daily Stoic.

 

November 2021

  • The Financial Times reported on psychoanalyst Adam Phillips' book, On Getting Better, which asks one of the more amorphous questions of psychoanalysis: what draws us to the psychoanalytic couch? A desire to change, which is always a desire to change for the better. On Getting Better considers not simply how we might get better, but whether “self-improvement’” is a productive framework to construct one’s life around. Phillips suggests that our idea of how we want to get better can also be a “way of narrowing our minds, and deferring our desires”, and the question of “what we actually value and why we value it” can too easily be usurped by the desire to improve. Accordingly, he asks what might it look like to “get better at talking about what it is to get better”.
  • In the late 1950s, psychologist Carl Rogers first introduced the concept of empathy for invoking positive change. Over 60 years on, Nir Eyal explored the concept of unconditional positive regard and how it facilitates improved self-confidence to help us live out our values without fear of judgement.
  • An article in Psyche argued that targeting underlying risk factors such as neuroticism represents an efficient approach to addressing common mental health conditions. Given the enormous public health significance of neuroticism in particular, directly addressing this trait has the potential to help ease the burden of mental illness on a global scale.
  • Psychodynamic therapy differs from other talk therapies in using the patient-therapist relationship to explore the patient’s unconscious thoughts and fears, and in allowing the therapist to interject, feeding back how they feel about what the patient is and isn’t saying. A psychodynamic therapist enables the patient to renegotiate their relationships using the therapeutic dynamic as a safe testing ground, noted Psyche. 

 

October 2021

  • French president Emmanuel Macron announced that the government will cover the cost of therapy sessions for any citizen aged three and older,  as part of a broader initiative starting in 2022 to address mental health concerns. “Mental health is a major issue that is insufficiently addressed in our country,” Macron said at a conference for psychology professionals. The president said he sees the new measure as a way to address a “historic demand” for therapy, and help citizens whose mental health is suffering “as soon as possible.”

 

September 2021

 

July 2021

  • Although many mental health treatments are available today, they continue to involve a great deal of guesswork. For instance, if someone is feeling down and sad every day or has lost all interest in the things they usually like (the symptoms of major depression), their GP will usually either offer them an antidepressant drug or put them on a waiting list for psychological therapy. These treatments are somewhat effective: each treats depression successfully in about half of cases. The problem is, there is currently no way to tell whether someone would be more likely to get better after therapy or after drugs (or a combination of the two).
  • HBR pointed to an op-ed in the New York Times Sunday Review affirming that expressive writing can heal us. A certain kind of guided, detailed writing can not only help us process what we’ve been through and assist us as we envision a path forward; it can lower our blood pressure, strengthen our immune systems, and increase our general well-being. Expressive writing can result in a reduction in stress, anxiety, and depression; improve our sleep and performance; and bring us greater focus and clarity.
  • Carl Jung died 60 years ago this month. In the spring of 1957, at the age of 84, Jung set out to tell his life’s story. He embarked upon a series of conversations with his colleague and friend, Aniela Jaffe, which he used as the basis for the text. At times, so powerful was his drive for expression that he wrote entire chapters by hand. He continued to work on the manuscript until shortly before his death in 1961. The result was Memories, Dreams, Reflections - a peek behind the curtain of Jung’s mind, revealing his wisdom, experience, and self-reflection.
  • The Future Today noted that psychedelic therapy is becoming more visible in mainstream media and culture, e.g. 
    • How to Change Your Mind, a 2018 book by Michael Pollan, was a watershed moment, a serious journalist talking openly about the benefits of psychedelics in major media outlets, from the New Yorker to Time to The Late Show. 
    • The Psychedelic Trial was a BBC documentary that explored the implications of a major study at Imperial College. 
    • Lamar Odom Reborn was a documentary detailing the former NBA player’s recovery from addiction using psychedelic medicine. 

 

May 2021

  • The modern world can present the body as a machine that just needs to be regularly exercised. However, it is a remarkably sensitive organ in which a lot of our pain and hope is stored and that we need to interpret and handle with subtlety. This impact of our body upon our mind is something that needs to be explored as it is easy to pay attention to one more than the other and to ignore the crucial balance between the two.

 

April 2021

  • During anxious times, it perhaps makes sense that companies offering therapy to the masses would receive a a lot of interest and headlines. But as noted in The Cut, the apps’ patient-as-consumer approach means they often don’t live up to their promises, for therapists or users.
  • According to Psyche, most people learn how to regulate their emotions when they’re growing up. But for some, the strategies they adopt are unhealthy or unhelpful. One theory about why this happens is the biosocial theory, from a treatment called dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), which argues that some people are born with a higher level of emotional sensitivity: they have stronger emotional reactions to things, take longer to get over those intense feelings, and generally deal with a higher level of emotional pain (eg, they experience more anger, sadness, shame or anxiety). While this emotional sensitivity (the ‘bio’ part of the theory) isn’t uncommon and isn’t a problem in and of itself, when we combine this with a problematic environment (ie, the ‘social’ part), things can become difficult.
  • Covid transformed the way many people work, including those who look after our mental health. For much of lockdown, psychotherapists, counsellors, psychologists and psychiatrists had to venture into the world of online therapy, tackling their clients’ issues via a computer screen, and often the experience has felt less than ideal for all those involved. But throughout much of lockdown, another option has become increasingly popular: combining therapy with the benefits of the great outdoors. The British Psychological Society (BPS) issued guidance on this, advising its members on how best to take their work outside, addressing issues such as confidentiality and the absence of a boundaried space. Yet many therapists ditched the four walls and a couch approach a long time ago and have been working out in nature for years. For example, psychotherapist Beth Collier is founder of the Nature Therapy School, which offers training to psychotherapists who want to practise outside. 

 

February 2021

  • Mental health often isn't addressed until someone reaches a state of crisis, much like someone not eating well or exercising until they've had a heart attack. California-based startup Coa aims to flip that convention and get people to take a proactive approach to mental health through regular maintenance and tune-ups. The company launched inearly 2021 after its founders first trialled the concept by hosting mental health pop-ups across the U, offering one-off emotional fitness classes for USD 25, and three themed eight-week series for USD 240. While classes are led by licensed therapists, Coa stresses they aren't for clinical needs.

 

December 2020

 

September 2020

 

August 2020

  • According to the Financial Times, the highest value for money comes from treating mental illness. There are many reasons for this. Empirically, mental illness accounts for more of the misery in our society than any other factor, including poverty. Under Covid, mental illness, became on average nearly 10 per cent worse for those already mentally ill, especially for women and young people. Excellent psychological treatments exist for most mental illness, and they are not expensive. But they reach fewer than one in five of those who need them. Finally, the economics. Mental illness is the main illness of working age, accounting for half working-age morbidity, and half of all disability and absenteeism. When people recover, they go back to work, come off benefits and pay more taxes.
  • The emerging field of financial therapy may have little to do with a particular money problem, but is instead often concerned with more subconscious issues that is causing stress. The root of a person’s relationship with money is very deep. “Money is a window to early trauma,” according to psychotherapist Judith Barr, in Connecticut, who focused on finance after recognising the deep effect that financial stress was having on her clients. “There have been very few times that I have worked with anyone on their money relationship where that hasn’t shown up.”

 

July 2020

  • An app can track mental health via your phone usage. It gauges users’ emotions by analysing factors such as voice, keystrokes, and amount of sleep. The hope is it will give mental health professionals a way to know how their patients are doing outside of a clinical setting so they can provide specialised treatment options.

 

June 2020

  • At Seattle’s Gottman Institute, relationship therapists attach wires to couples to assess their interactions. Now, the institute’s co-founders are spinning off this tech set-up into a startup, Affective Software, Inc. The new company offers an app-based, DIY solution, reports GeekWire. Couples upload videos of themselves (or their therapist does, with permission) to the app, which uses machine learning to assess the couple’s verbal and nonverbal behaviour. Couples can also choose to use fingertip sensors in conjunction with the app, to add additional data.
  • A chatbot called Woebot provides an AI-fuelled version of cognitive behavioural therapy. The makers of Woebot say it offers a powerful new form of self-care to those dealing with anxiety, depression and other mental health issues. The app free to use, and is working its way towards full FDA approval; a randomised, controlled trial by Woebot and Stanford University found the app could help people with depression. By mid 2020, Woebot exchanged 4.7 million messages with people every week. Woebot and apps like it have been a crucial aid for millions during the pandemic. But even before lockdowns began, psychiatry and talking therapy services in most affluent countries were stretched beyond their limit.

 

May 2020

  • Big Think wrote about how ecotherapy (also referred to as nature therapy) has been proven to be effective and is used in various practices and cultures around the world. While we stroll around the forest, breathing in the fresh air, airborne chemicals like phytoncides (a chemical many plants give off to fight disease) are also entering our system. When this happens, the human body responds by increasing the number of natural killer blood cells (a type of white blood cell) which attack virus-infected cells. In one 2009 study, participants spent 3 days/2 nights in a forested area. Their blood and urine were sampled before, during, and after the trip. Natural killer cell activity measured significantly higher during the days spent in the forest and the effect lasted up to 30 days after the trip. The results of a 10-study analysis proved that both men and women have similar self-esteem improvements after experiencing time spent in nature, and the boost in mood particularly impacted men. 

 

April 2020

 

March 2020

 

February 2020

 

January 2020

 

November 2019

 

October 2019

 

September 2019

 

July 2019

  • A mental therapy program using virtual reality, the Yes I Can project, was trialled in Hong Kong. Launched by AXA insurance, the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Oxford VR, the program aims to help patients overcome their social fears. 250 people were recruited to traverse VR environments that reflect everyday scenarios like going to a cafe, a convenience store or a doctor’s waiting room. In those spaces they will confront and safely engage in social situations. 

 

June 2019

 

May 2019

 

April 2019

 

February 2019

  • Some 45 million people live with mental illness in the US alone, but only 43% get the treatment they need. Now there’s an app for that, although it’s not yet clear if chatting online delivers the same life-changing benefits as traditional therapy. Quartz noted that talk therapy has its limits, but that for many people, including those with conditions like depression and anxiety, it can help. As the number of people who suffer from mental illness has risen starkly, virtual therapy might be a way to bring the benefits of talk therapy to those who find the face-to-face version cost-prohibitive or simply inconvenient.

 

December 2018

 

October 2018

 

September 2018

 

August 2018

  • Mexican healthcare company Docademic launched Cool Emotions, a free app that uses AI and cognitive behavioral methodology to provide therapy, noted Trend-Watching. Launched in July 2018, Cool Emotions is designed to support young Latin Americans with issues such as depression, teen pregnancy and bullying. The app helps patients identify their problems, as well as educate them, propose solutions and motivate them to act. Therapy sessions on the app, with live therapists, last approximately 15 minutes. Patients that keep up with their sessions are rewarded with Docademic’s MTC cryptocurrency, which can then be exchanged for anything from medicines to concert tickets.

 

July 2018

  • Psychotherapy is one of the most valuable inventions of the last hundred years, argued The School of Life (TSOL), with an exceptional power to raise our levels of emotional well-being, improve our relationships, redeem the atmosphere in our families and assist us in mining our professional potential. But it is also profoundly misunderstood and the subject of a host of unhelpful fantasies, hopes and suspicions. Its logic is rarely explained and its voice seldom heard with sufficient directness. TSOL shared 20 small essays on its key concepts.
  • Psychotherapy won’t work for everyone, adds TSOL: one has to be in the right place in one’s mind, one has to stumble on a good therapist and be in a position to give the process due time and care. But that said, it believes that, with a fair wind, psychotherapy also has the chance to be the best thing we ever get around to doing.

 

Pre 2018

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