The One Thing That Creates Lasting Change.

The One Thing That Creates Lasting Change.

It New Year, so of course people are trying to think about the best ways to improve themselves, how they can lose that holiday weight, how they can increase their salary, how they can be a better partner and an all-around improved version of the person they were last year.

I am passionate about people, I love their interactions, their perceptions, their emotions, their beliefs of the world and of others and how all of this connects together to create a whole worldview.

When it comes to self-development though, this fascinating interaction of emotions, thoughts, behaviours and upbringings create unique perceptions about the world and about the self.

In short, what I am getting at here is that everyone has their own perceptions of how they are going to be better than they were last year, in whatever area it is they want to improve.

Over the next few weeks, self-help book sales will increase, gym memberships will double at least and some may even consider quitting their job and starting something up for themselves.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of all of the above, and each has a place at times in our lives, but how do we truly create lasting, deep, positive change in our lives?

About 6 years ago I got into lifting at the gym. I found the process of working out almost therapeutic. Physical activity and weight lifting had always been a part of my life, but I now wanted to focus more on it.

I bought some new gym clothes and joined the gym at my university. I had heard that in order to really put on muscle, I had to eat more. So, this is what I did.

In truth, it ended in me gaining quite a bit of fat as opposed to muscle, at the time I thought I was doing well, I was working out quite a bit and eating as much as I thought I needed.

The reality was that I was doing the opposite, I was heavier, not as healthy as I had been and feeling unhappy with how I was looking.

Until I pointed the finger back at myself in every situation. You see, I was great at being able to point the finger at others and convince myself that I was in the position I was in because of them. “I have the wrong workout programme”, “I go to the wrong gym”, “the government is putting hidden sugar in my milk”.

All of this went on in my head as to why I wasn’t getting to where I wanted to be. It wasn’t until I made my self accountable for everything, and I mean everything, that I started to see change. Now, you might this that this sounds like a massive strain on a person to hold themselves accountable for everything, sometimes people don’t have control over their circumstances.

I completely agree. Take the weight situation for example, people might get ill, or medication that they need to take may cause weight issues. What I would say in circumstances such as these is to hold yourself accountable for the factors you do have control over. You’ll be surprised, when fully honest with yourself, just how much of an impact accountability can have.

When I pointed the finger back at myself and said, “it’s not the gyms fault, or the workout programmes fault, or even the government’s fault, it’s my fault”, I started to see change. I realised I wasn’t reading the labels of my food correctly, I realised that although I was eating more, I wasn’t calculating how much. I held my self accountable in the gym, working harder than I had the previous week and working around injuries and illnesses.

After doing this, I saw real change. I felt happier with myself and with my workout regime. What’s more is that This accountability led me to feel pride that I had pushed myself to achieve what I had. I didn’t rely on self-help schemes or even a personal trainer. I held myself accountable and made the changes that way. It led to consistency in my workouts and fed into other areas of my life, such as my academic studies.

The reason for this post is simple. Over the next few weeks, we will hear a lot of professions, and those that maybe aren’t professionals, talk about how to make your new year’s resolutions last, how to keep them going for a full year rather than just a full week. Holding yourself accountable for the situation you want to change, even when it may be the case that others should be more accountable than you, it’s what will develop lasting change. It will drive you to continual growth a feeds into all other aspects of your life…I off to the gym!

The Combination of Therapy and Technology – Is the Future Already Here?

The Combination of Therapy and Technology – Is the Future Already Here?

The combination of therapy and technology is a topic that I find really interesting and one that I often feel is either overlooked, ridiculed or ignored.

I feel that we are on the verge of seeing some huge technological advances in the way we conduct and facilitate therapeutic services.

The development of online, web chat and telephone counselling in recent years has been met with both massive growth for numerous psychotherapy services and debate between professionals regarding the ethical considerations that come with such advances.

What Already Exists?

The facilitation of web chat and telephone counselling services may not seem like therapy has reached a galaxy far far away. It does however give us an idea of the direction that therapy is heading in, one that is more technologically aware.

The anonymity and ease of access that users may experience in utilising such online services may improve the likelihood of them accessing therapeutic services that will only benefit them in the future. I wonder what you think of the ethical dilemmas of online therapeutic services, contrasted with the potential outreach such services can facilitate.

Recent Research

I recently read a few articles that focussed on the development of technology and how it can benefit those wishing to access therapeutic services. ‘Technology-Enhanced Human Interaction in Psychotherapy’ (Imel, 2017) is a very interesting read, published in The Journal of Counselling Psychology, that focusses on how technology could help with feedback processes for client and counsellor, as well as the potential for what they call a ‘technology –mediated treatment modality’. Fundamentally meaning how technology can play an active role in the facilitation of therapy.

This quote from this article really highlights how Imel (2017) views the potential of technology in therapy:

“Technology is beginning to provide treatment options that do not require these dramatic efforts at the outset—meeting the client closer to where they are.” p390

New Initiatives

Perhaps the timing of this blog post is appropriate as only recently the Scottish Government has announced the development of a computerized cognitive behavioral therapy programme that will be launched nationwide next year.

This is in part due to the initiative by the government to increase the accessibility and development of psychological therapies to treat the developing issue of mental health.

As exciting as it is to see the access and development of psychological therapies increasing, what does this mean for working therapists?

Recent research has stated that computerized or app based therapy services can be as effective as face to face therapeutic treatment with a qualified practitioner.

The Future of Therapy?

Therefore, should we as therapists and trainees be concerned?

In my opinion, we shouldn’t be concerned. I view technological advances in therapy as something therapists can work with instead of compete against. Furthermore, many of the studies that have concluded that app based therapeutic service are as effective as face to face, consider issues such as smoking addiction and self-help initiatives instead of issues such as major depressive disorders. With regards to these issues, face to face therapy has been deemed highly effective.

Developments in app based and technological therapeutic initiatives should be welcomed by us working in therapy. Not only is there a place for such developments, but I believe they can aid our work in psychological therapy and ultimately benefit the client.

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