The GetPsyched Reading List 2019

The GetPsyched Reading List 2019

Welcome to the GetPsyched reading list 2019!

I love reading, and there is nothing I love more than a good psychology book.

I developed this reading list based off of some of my favourite books over the past few years.

If you are a psychology student, graduate, qualified psychologist, therapist or simply just interested in the topic of psychology then there will be a book in here for you, or maybe two, or maybe all of them!

Check out my reviews of all 20 books and simply click on the name of the book to be taken straight to a link to purchase it!

GRIT

I’m kicking off the GetPsyched reading list with one of my favourite books from last year.

Grit, by Angela Duckworth, utilises real empirical psychological research to establish the key characteristic that determines the difference between the successful and unsuccessful.

That key characteristic is Grit!

Grit meaning the determination to continue to pursue goals and objectives regardless of failure.

Not only this, but grit also means the desire to learn from failure and apply that learning to the next attempt to achieve their goals.

This is a brilliant book, well written and not your typical hard to read psychology book full of jargon and difficult concepts. A real must read for 2019!

Click here to buy Grit.

BLACKBOX THINKING

Blackbox thinking really came at the right time for me.

I had just started my doctorate in counselling psychology and was struggling to come to terms with a failed assignment.

This book really opened my eyes to the power and true purpose of failure.

Blackbox Thinking looks at different professional industries in our society and tries to teach lessons of industries that refuse to learn from failure, those that do and the differences in those industries as a result.

If you want to gain a better understanding of what failure is all about, the purpose and power of what failure can do for us, then this book is a must read!

Click here to buy Blackbox Thinking

ON BECOMING A PERSON

Carl Rogers is one of the greatest pioneers of psychotherapy and psychology!

His work created a new age of therapeutic work during times of psychodynamic and behaviourist principles.

With a focus on the client as an individual, in their subjective world, Rogers’ work was revolutionary.

This book really encapsulates his ideology and philosophy better than any other.

What’s more, is that you don’t need to be a therapist to really appreciate and gain benefit from his work and knowledge

A new appreciation of the individual, empathy, unconditional positive regard and congruence, an appreciation of the principles in this book and enhance the life of any reader, from any background and profession.

Click here to buy On Becoming A Person.

FLOW

 

The book, unsurprisingly so, introduces the concept of ‘flow’.

Flow is a state that if reached, it is argued, can enrich the lives of people, and is the key to true happiness.

 combination of a number of things such as minimising some of the challenges we catastrophise in life, as well as learning from our failures encapsulates what flow is about, however, it includes so much more.

This book is a bit of a classic in psychology and I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would.

Backed with real sound empirical principles this book is one for the people looking to introduce a new concept in their lives to experience some more happiness in 2019!

 

Click here to buy Flow

SCRIPTS PEOPLE LIVE

Scripts People Live is a classic Transactional Analysis (TA) text

It really goes in depth to one of the most intriguing aspects of TA therapy

Scripts, in short, are functions, routines and plans that are laid out by us from birth, with how we plan to live our lives.

Understand the script that you live can be a vital part of self-discovery and treatment for mental health issues TA argues

Click here to buy Scripts People Live

OUTLIERS

This, for me, is Malcolm Gladwell’s best work.

He illustrates in this book how being separate and different from the pack can be to your great advantage when trying to excel and get ahead in life.

So often, people want to be on the best sports team, at the best university or hired by the best company, but does this really give us the opportunity to be an outlier?

Does this really give us the opportunity to stand out from the pack, be different, be noticed and great opportunities for ourselves?

In this book, Gladwell outlines how being different and separate from the rest could be one of your greatest strengths.

Using some incredible examples, from industries and professions from all over the work, Gladwell outlines this point superbly!

Click here to buy Outliers

THINKING FAST AND SLOW

Thinking fast and slow can be a challenging read I will not deny it

However, this is in the GetPsyched Reading List 2019 because of how thought-provoking it is.

If you can get past the challenges you might experience in reading it, this book talks in great detail about the two different parts of our decision making brain, the logic behind them and how it rules everything we do.

How rational we think we are when we are reactive compared to when we are considered and think situations through thoroughly, is very different from reality.

A really really insightful read.

Click here to by Thinking Fast and Slow

DAVID AND GOLIATH

 

This is by far and away one of Gladwell’s best books.

He takes some really simple concepts and stories and outlines how having few advantages can actually be one of your biggest advantages.

What I love most about this book is the way Gladwell turns society perceptions on its heads.

So often we think we need more than we really do to be the success we want to be…Gladwell outlines this wonderfully.

 

Click here to buy David and Goliath

 

LOVES EXECUTIONER

Love Executioner has to be my favourite book of all time in the therapeutic field.

I have read this book numerous times, and as a trainee psychologist myself, I get something different from it every single time.

Yalom is one of the most experiences psychotherapists you could imagine, and in Love Executioner, he goes into detail about some of his most memorable cases, for good reasons and bad.

What is amazing about this book is Yalom’s fearlessness about expressing his failures as a therapist.

He does not write this book in an attempt to outline is brilliance, but rather to be open and honest about the realities of working in therapy.

Each case is different, and each case is as exciting and interesting as the next.

What’s more is that Yalom himself learns something new from each client and outlines some of his thinking patterns and therapeutic philosophies as he writes.

This is an incredible book!

Click here to buy Loves Executioner

THE GIFT OF THERAPY

Similar to his other work, Yalom in the Gift of Therapy talks about his personal experiences and process of becoming the establish therapist he is today.

He goes into brutal detail about his trials and successes, something I rarely come across form professional therapists talking about their work.

The lessons he has learned and is willing to relay to the reader are so so valuable.

I really believe this book is not only a must read for therapists and trainees, but for anyone wishing to develop empathic and interpersonal skills with a desire to communicate and relate to others better.

Click here to buy The Gift of Therapy

CREATURES OF A DAY

Creatures of a day, another one of Yalom’s books (you’re getting a sense of a theme here), is very similar to Loves Executioner.

He goes into depth about some of his most challenging clients, why he related to well to some, why he found some so difficult, and what they all taught him.

If you buy and liked Loves Executioner then you’ll want to buy this also!

Click here to buy Creatures Of A Day

MOMMA AND THE MEANING OF LIFE

Momma and the meaning of life is similar to Yalom’s other texts but also very different.

Again, a case study based book, Yalom looks at some compelling clients he has worked with but focusses his writing more on the character of the individuals and what is instilled in Yalom as a result.

A deeply reflective practitioner, Yalom shares some of his deepest vulnerabilities and personal challenges in this book that are surfaced as a result of the work he conducts with each client.

One to read after to have read the other Yalom recommended books, but one that brings a new dimension to his valuable and insightful work.

 

Click here to buy Momma And Me

THE ALCHEMIST

The Alchemist is a bit of a cult classic.

I won’t deny it, at times it can be difficult to read.

However, immersing yourself in this book and learning the lessons of following your dreams and overcoming any obstacle, makes it a fantastic read.

Click here to buy The Alchemist

WORKING AT RELATIONAL DEPTH

This book should be on any trainee or qualified therapist’s reading list.

Cooper and Mearns have written numerous books together but this is a stand out for me.

They look at the concept of the relationship between client and therapists and outline is value, principles and functionality in the therapeutic dynamic.

The therapeutic relationship is the key ingredient to any successful therapy and this book outlines how to do it and value it right!

Click here to buy Relational Depth

A SHORT INTRODUCTION TO COUNSELLING PSYCHOLOGY

 

 

One of the questions I get asked the most is about counselling psychology.

What is it? How is it different from clinical? What do counselling psychologists do?

It can be hard to give the answers that people want from me at times…however, this book as all the answers.

I use this book to this day when outlining key principles and identities in counselling psychology.

With it’s easy to read, digestible principles, its a brilliant read for anyone interested in the field of counselling psychology.

 

Click here to buy A Short Introduction To Counselling Psychology

 

THE EXAMINED LIFE

This book is all about insight.

Much like some of Yalom’s work, this book is based around case studies.

However, this is so applicable for not only therapists but anyone interested in understanding what it takes to overcome some of the most challenging circumstances in life.

The Examined Life is Looks at what insights clients make about themselves, other people and the world around them, and how this can at times be all that is required to achieve healing.

A really moving book.

 

Click here to buy The Examined Life

 

AWAKENINGS

 

Out of all the books on the GetPSyched Reading List 2019, this one blew me away more than any other.

The book outlines the lives of a terrifying condition experienced by only a handful of people in the USA where they were aware of the world around them but unable to speak, move or engage with it.

After 40 years in hospital, these patients were temporarily awoken due to the administration of a new drug.

Ill leave you to find out the rest but this book is both shocking and brilliantly written.

 

Click here to buy Awakenings

THE TRIBES OF THE PERSON CENTRED NATION

A real favourite therapeutic approach book of mine.

The tribes of person-centred do a wonderful job of outlining the different approaches to one of the most famous branches of therapy.

At times person-centred therapy and the different viewpoints of it can be very confusing…this makes sense of it though.

It gives great details of the different forms of PCT and the functionality of hem in practice.

 

Click here to buy The Tribes of the Person-Centred Nation

 

PAVLOVS DOGS AND OTHER EXPERIMENTS

This is one of those books that I just love picking up every now and again.

It’s by no means a self-discovery or intellectual based book but it is so so fun to read and actually gives more detail than I thought it would at first.

If like me you are interested in the basic principles of psychology but have limited time or resources to remind your self of some of the experiments that established these principles…then this is the book for you.

It gives wonderful illustrations and descriptions of the most famous studies in psychologies history.

It’s so easy to read and a really nice break from some of the harder texts I read often.

This book also looks at some of the ethical and legal issues some of these studies raised as well as their findings and how they still influence our lives and understand of psychology today. A really brilliant book!

Click here to buy Pavlov’s Dogs And Other Experiments

THE PSYCHOLOGY BOOK

Very similar to Pavlov’s Dogs and Other Experiments, the Psychology Book is one of those books I love to big up and just have a scan through.

Its nothing heavy and in truth was actually given to me as a bit of a joke.

It’s honestly brilliant though.

It’s a book that makes some of the most challenging and difficult to absorb concepts and principles in psychology easy to digest.

With awesome illustrations and key facts about studies, research, psychologists and experiments, it is everything you need in order to learn the most valuable points of some of the key principles to psychology.

Click here to buy The Psychology Book

 

And that does it folks

Thanks so much for reading the GetPsyched Reading List 2019, make sure to click on the links for each of the books to be taken to options to buy them, each of them really is as brilliant as the next.

Let us know how you liked them as well once you’ve taken a look at them.

And happy reading fro 2019!

How Blog Psychology Contributes To Discussions In Mental Health – Guest Blog Post by Dennis Relojo, Founder of Psychreg

How Blog Psychology Contributes To Discussions In Mental Health – Guest Blog Post by Dennis Relojo, Founder of Psychreg

Due to the popularity of blogs, there are now many people who are increasingly aware of mental health issues. And those who are struggling with them are now more open to talking about it.

Indeed, mental health blogs promote important conversations on mental health, all because of the explosion of the blogging culture.

It is estimated that there are more than 1.8 billion websites. These websites are typically dedicated to a particular topic or purpose, ranging from entertainment and social networking to providing news and, more importantly, as an avenue for critical discussions.


Blogs are essentially another form of websites. At its core, blogs are dynamic websites which are regularly updated and allow reader engagement. Psychreg for instance, allows its readers to engage in a range of topics in psychology, mental health and well-being – with the ultimate aim of addressing intertwined issues within the realms of the discipline.


It is recognised that blogging started in 1994, with Links.net considered to be the first ever blog. Blogging has come a long way – from being interactive, online forms of the traditional personal diary to becoming a repository of critical discussions.

What makes blogging even more remarkable is that it is democratic: Anyone can start their own. Indeed, when I decided to launch my own psychology blog, Psychreg, I found the process to be pretty straightforward.
Taking into account these features of blogging, it is arguably one of the most effective medium to raise awareness about mental health.


Blogs demonstrate that people with mental health problems are cared about, understood and listened to. This is the core reason why I developed Psychreg to become a platform for people afflicted with mental health issues to share their narratives. Through the use of blogs, the powerful lived-experience narratives are reaching far more people.


With the increasing popularity of blogs, it is only sensible that they should be adapted in order to change the way people think and act about mental health.


It is comforting to know that across the world, people use blogs as an effective medium to share their narratives and experiences, to increase awareness and understanding, and to offer comfort and support. And not only that, blogs in similar genres are now being given recognition similar to those of mainstream blogs.


Needless to say, blogging is not just simply writing a blog post (and getting to grips with WordPress); there is a psychology behind it. An emerging subfield in psychology that focuses on the application of psychological principles and research in order to optimise the benefits that readers can derive from consuming blogs is known as blog psychology.


A recently published article in the Psychreg Journal of Psychology explored the theoretical underpinnings of blog psychology such as readers’ perception, cognition, and humanistic components in regards to their experience of reading blogs.


Although blog psychology is still in its infancy, there is definitely a huge potential to it towards contributing to the discipline of mental health.

With the continued popularity of blogs, it is crucial that a specialised discipline be developed to encompass all forms of internet-mediated communication, specifically in blogs, such as the use, design, and its impact on mental health and well-being of its readers.

It is also important that mental health bloggers network with each other to share best practices, which was the aim of 1st Mental Health Bloggers Conference held in London last December 2018.


Critical discussions about psychology, mental health, and well-being play a vital role in helping people feel better about themselves.

Blogging provides researchers and practitioners an excellent opportunity to create these conversations. It allows people to feel more connected to the world outside their home through the internet.

This is the very reason the world needs dedicated mental health bloggers, who will talk about relevant health psychology, mental health and well-being issues.

They can help us think progressively and critically, and in essence, help us build a world where everyone takes mental health and well-being more seriously.

Understanding Medical Unclassified Symptoms (MUS), Does Mental Health Play A Role? – Guest Blog Post By Rosie Allden

Understanding Medical Unclassified Symptoms (MUS), Does Mental Health Play A Role? – Guest Blog Post By Rosie Allden

Have you ever suffered lower back pain or pain in general that you can’t explain? An enduring headache that aspirin or ibuprofen won’t kick? A change in your inner works?

Then a few days, a week, a year later it resolves itself? Or maybe its ongoing and your doctor is stuck of how to help? You may have had or have what is termed a medically unclassified symptom.

Physical complaints without being explained by a sports injury or biological cause can be classified as medically unclassified symptoms (MUS). MUS are any physical complaint without any found organic cause or pathology and account for 1 in 5 general practitioner consults in the United Kingdom.

MUS has its own thesaurus of names explaining the same phenomena: somatisation; functional somatisation; psychosomatic and functional symptoms.

Further classified into a number of disorders: somatic symptoms disorder; somatoform disorder; functional somatic syndrome; bodily distress syndrome; functional disorders; and conversion disorder, all disorders denoting physical symptoms with no identifiable cause and un-diagnosable by any medical test.

Then a spanner in the works with functional neurological disorder (FND), that poses physical symptoms to be caused by the nervous system, rather than physical or neurological disorders.

All the disorders are arguably contested illnesses, illnesses not taken seriously in medicine due to no pathological explanatory basis, despite its impact on individuals functioning.

A number of symptoms fall under this bumbershoot; muscular, joint and back pain, the chronic of which is increasingly termed fibromyalgia, a condition of enduring pain; headaches; heart palpitations and chest pains; irritable bowel syndrome; faintness; and tiredness, associated and in chronic cases diagnosable as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) also known as myalgia encephalometric (ME), extreme fatigue.

A proposed 1.5 to 2 million people in the U.K have fibromyalgia and 260,000 individuals have CFS with a trend of incidences between the two and further co-morbidities with other health difficulties.

A number of theories pose to explain these difficult disorders and include traumatic injury, arthritis, autoimmune and, or nervous system abnormalities, although remain inconclusive.

This blog will emit fibromyalgia and CFS, as they are independently recognised disorders and will focus on other MUS symptomology that remain an enigma in the biomedical texts.

The surge of unidentifiable symptoms has been recognised in Germany with the division of mental health care into psychiatric and psychosomatic, the U.K in comparison operates from the dual model of physical, with various specialities and mental (psychiatric) health.

Interestingly individuals with psychological distress will present with unexplainable physical symptoms and similarly, those suffering stress will demonstrate similar physical complaints with chronic stress acting as a catalyst in a number of illnesses.

We have all undoubtedly heard of the brain-gut axis, the communication of brain to gut and gut to the brain; gut microbes attributable to our mental health and counter to this mental health associated with irritable bowel syndrome.

Then there are the less common brain-uterus, for both sexes, there is the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis, which keeps our reproductive centres and immune systems in check.

We as a species are a mind-field of axes in the conjunction of physical and psychological health and is levelled-up or levelled-down as a result of our endocrine system, our perfume centres spritzing out hormones.

When stressed cortisol prepares our innate autonomic nervous response of either fight, flight or (a less effective survival instinct if you’re not a possum) freeze, either to conserve the energy to at some point leg it or conjure the energy to fight.

Unfortunately, in this stone-age, we can’t fight it out with other humans (it’s not an accepted practice) nor can we set fire to our workload, walk away from our desks and be done with it.

This primal response is synched with the tenth cranial nerve (vagus nerve) (known as the polyvagal theory), this nerve sends messages from your brain to your heart, lungs and digestive tract.

Picture this, you are about to do a speech to a large group of people, before stepping out your heart beat increases (circulating the blood to all extremities, including feet, essential for the flight component), your breath might quicken and shorten and your tummy knots (the expression ‘bricking it,’ is literal).

Congratulations your nervous systems are working, and after the speech, your cortisol will ease up on the ninja grip and you will go back to an equilibrium.

In the potentiation of stress may mean this equilibrium isn’t restored and remains on full volume (this is the case in PTSD), whilst one night of not sleep fretting about the presentation tomorrow, a week, a month of not sleeping impacts individuals’ health.

Stress has been linked to not just insomnia but asthma; brain shrinkage and memory loss, a catalyst in the development of Alzheimer’s; circulatory problems; gastrointestinal disorders; hypertension; cardiovascular diseases, to name a few, let alone depression, anxiety and headaches from the stress of it all.

The use of stress management mediates our heightened responses into the awareness that it is unlikely that the audience you are presenting to is going to go after you with pitchforks and this can be aided with the likes of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

Generally, if we are stressed we are somewhat psychological distressed and if we are psychologically distressed we will be stressed. An example of a nervous breakdown whilst donating a psychological state is a result of a number of stressors, neither is exclusive.

The therapeutic techniques of CBT and similar, are psychological techniques found effective in the management and mediation of pain and in the symptoms associated with MUS.

The enigmatic circumstance of MUS may well be the mysterious soup of our body’s response to psychological distress and stress with the endocrine and nervous systems responding appropriately or not, affecting our physical health.

This blog touches on only one of our motion centred room odourise going off (cortisol), we have a collective of 50 different hormones simultaneously operating all at the same time… Giving rise to potential toxic chloroform to our body’s regular functioning.

For further reading check out Dr O’Sullivans, ‘It’s all in your head.’ Check it out by clicking here

A Life of Learning, Lessons, Writing and Psychology – An Article by Jodie Fleming

A Life of Learning, Lessons, Writing and Psychology – An Article by Jodie Fleming

I love studying. Prior to my seven-year psychology degree, I started three other degrees. I love learning, I love researching, I love growing, but mostly, I love writing. The sense of achievement that follows looking at a finished document that didn’t exist before provides me with such satisfaction.

I grieved after completing my degree, over the end of that part of my life.

Such was the loss, I wandered aimlessly, wondering how to fill my days. How to fill the gap in the joy, calm and sense of achievement that writing had fulfilled.

Before, I had sat in my favourite chair in the sun and listened to the tap tap of the keys and I turned my thoughts into pages and pages of my thesis. I sipped tea and felt the warmth on my skin and worked at my all-consuming task. I hadn’t ever predicted the ritual would leave such a gaping hole in my life and my wellbeing.

Soon after finishing my degree, I returned to writing for other reasons.

Diagnosed with breast cancer, I began journaling in the form of letters to my grandmother, my nan, who had died four years earlier. I found I could connect with her throughout my time of need by putting pen to paper and in doing so, her answers to my questions and the love and support I knew she would have given revealed themselves, loudly and clearly. Comfort.

Cancer treatment, hair, breasts, ovaries all came and went and soon I felt well enough to search for meaning in all that had just happened in my life. What if, as a psychologist, one who had worked extensively with cancer patients, I had a message to share that might alleviate someone else’s burden of illness just a little? I knew I had something to share, something of value, and decided to write a book.

I joined a writing class and in three years my breast cancer memoir, A Hole in my Genes, was complete. Revisiting my old friend, the writing process, brought me stunning mindful calm and a sense of achievement like no other, in the form of meaning for my cancer experience.

However, with the words ‘The End’ came another grieving period, my all-consuming ritual ended once again. It had been a catharsis. It assisted with my processing of facing my mortality. It had allowed me to express a myriad of emotions safely, yet fully. Writing had saved my life.

Now what?

Fast forward a matter of weeks and the urge to write, to create, to express myself tugged at my thoughts ever so strongly and I knew I need a new writing project.

A coffee, a dog walk, and some tossing around of ideas with a photographer friend one afternoon saw the birth of The Psychology of It.

As psychologists, psycho-education is one of our most valuable and most utilised tools.

When our clients can understand the what, why, when and how of a disorder, or a reaction, an emotion, a behaviour, they are more than half-way towards knowing how to choose the most effective coping tools to manage their situation.

Therapy is an interesting beast and I know for myself at least, I go through phases of using particular interventions,particular stories and metaphors and I certainly have my go-to examples thattend to help most people understand a variety of topics.

I noticed that I would find myself repeating the same information, using the same analogies, drawing the same diagrams over, and over again, day in and day out, wishing a resource existed, using my language, to direct my clients to.

Of course, there are amazing resources online but mostly they specialised in certain areas, were too science-y, too self-help-y, or were generally too ‘something’ that my clients wouldn’t read.

Enter Stage Left, The Psychology of It.

The Psychology of It website is where it all began. I adore writing in many different formats and so created a website with five different categories. As a psychologist, the evidence-based research and science is key to efficacious work. We are scientist-practitioners and are always evaluating the work we do with our clients, as well as keeping up-to-date with the latest best practice principles. A lot of the time however, this information is only available in research journals and not easy tounderstand for the general community.

So, I began with a section called Analyse This, where we were able to interpret the more scientific information in a user-friendly way. There are descriptions of different disorders as well as information about different treatment modalities, and articles that describe why certain human experiences are so.

In the name of being user-friendly, I wanted a quick reference guide to a number of easy-to-learn coping tools that people could access and easily understand. These are the tools I’m teaching my clients every single day and so to have an article I can print out for them, or direct them too after a session to reinforce the skill they have learned that day, is invaluable. Those articles are found in The Coping Toolkit.

I also wanted a space to write about personal opinions and experiences. The main aim of The Psychology of It is to normalise human experiences, reduce the stigma and highlight the similarities we have as human beings, as opposed to always focussing on the differences. I didn’t always want to have to be scientific about things and noticed that a lot of people are more likely to read information if it’s presented in a more personal format. This is where Up Close & Personal came in.

Another main aim for The Psychology of It is to connect us all, human to human, again by highlighting the similarities we experience as humans. Conversations on the Couch does that beautifully by introducing people from all walks of life and ‘interviewing’ them, using the same set of questions that explore their personal life experiences and opinions, identifying their unique outlooks but also highlighting their commonalities with others. This section helps us feel as though we’re not the ‘only one’. In fact, Fraser has his own Conversation on the Couch up on the website. You can find it here.

Finally, I realised there might have to be a ‘miscellaneous’ category which I named New Things. Whether it be new resources, new experiences, new people, it’s a section where almost anything fits.

As well as the five sections filled with articles by some wonderful guest writers, we also keep a resource list called Stuff We Like. It’s always needing updating so if you have any recommendations, please don’t hesitate to let me know!

In the world of social media, The Psychology of It is linked to a Facebook page with over 3000 followers, and also on Instagram and Twitter. These all allow for further reach for the messages we’d like to spread, reducing the stigma of mental illness, and pushing the barrow for mental health, messages of wellbeing and the importance of self-care.

The Psychology of It is growing and in many ways has taken on a life of its own.

This year, it has also become a clinical practice in south-west Victoria, Australia. This practice allows me to work as the type of clinician I’ve also aspired to be. Many sessions with clients are starting to be conducted outside of the clinic walls where we take the practice of the skills learned in session, into real life. Clients are booking in for mindful walking, running, eating sessions. I’ve also purchased two stand-up paddleboards so that in the warmer months, mindful breathing and grounding sessions can be conducted on our beautiful rivers and ocean. Within the next few weeks, I’ll be undertaking a Trauma-based Yoga for Clinicians workshop and am excited for what doors that may open for me both personally and professionally.

To top it all off, I’m extending the messages of the importance of self-care, well-being and preventative mental health by hosting The Psychology of It’s first international Wellbeing Retreat in Bali, Indonesia. To find out more about that, you can go to http://thepsychologyofit.com.au/retreat.html.

I’m so excited to be combining the science of psychology, with the ancient wisdom of yoga led by my close friend and colleague Peta Jolley, in the stunning heart of Bali. We are looking forward toa week of companionship, learning, personal exploration and growth, not to mention stunning experiences and the most amazing wellness food on the planet. Mindful Tribes have designed such a wonderful boutique experience for us and we’d love for you to join us.

In the meantime, A Hole in my Genes iscurrently at the publisher’s and will be available before the end of the year. I’ll keep you up to date and would love to offer the Get Psyched community a nice big discount.

Health Psychology, How Can It Help? by Rosie Allden

Health Psychology, How Can It Help? by Rosie Allden

Health psychology, is an ambiguous field of psychology with many people asking, “so what is it you do exactly?”, whilst it says what it is on the tin- the psychology of health, the potentials of health psychology exceed current specialisms they work in.

I am admittedly a masters student in health psychology with clinical skills (and therefore arguably biased), I am also passionate about mental health. I like to zoom out from the micro investigations of health psychology to the macro level applications and interconnectivity of overall physical and psychological health, an either harmonious or discordant duo.

What Health Psychologists Do & Their Roles

Health psychologists utilise the Biopsychosocial model (Engel, 1980) a triad of factors; biological, physiology and genetics, thanks to the splicing combination of your mum and dad; psychological, our quirks and toolkit of skills in navigating life; and social, our tribe and environment, all of which contribute to our overall health and well-being.

Health psychologists’ roles vary from supporting individuals in the management of illnesses and understanding the incurring social and psychologically impact and how to help, particularly important in the knowledge of terminal diagnosis’s. We are interested in understanding individuals adherence or lack of, to medication and the reasons for the lack of engagement in health checks and health screening.

In case of more intimate and personal inquiries of sexual health and screening of breast, cervical and testicular cancer, we are interested in how we can break down barriers to encourage engagement and enable prevention, early detection and treatment.

Interested in General Health & Well-Being

Health psychologists further advise individuals on lifestyle behaviours with smoking cessation, weight management and healthy living programs to improve health and reduce the risk of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs, are non-infectious and non-transmissible diseases that are often preventable through lifestyle alterations, as promoted by the World Health Organisation campaign).

This inclusive approach to health means health psychologists are the ideal candidate for reviewing and advising towards public health reforms and health initiatives. Essentially anything related to health and an individuals’ mentality around it, you will find a curious health psychologist wondering why.

Generally, we know that eating a whole bag of doughnuts is not good for us and that the extra bottle of wine the night before was not necessary (although this may only be acknowledged the next morning).

We know exercise is good for us; both physically and neurochemically releasing a whole load of feel-good chemicals and stress is bad for us, chronic stress being a catalyst to a whole range of ill-health. Those cooped up in our study’s for days working on projects and dissertations, arguably teeter on the verge of cabin fever and are likely, stressed, intuitively crave human contact.

“Whosoever is delighted in solitude, is either a wild beast or a god.” Francis Bacon.

This intuitive need as humans is being recognised in the medical community with an increasing number of doctors breaking out of the biomedical bounds, prescribing not pills but nature, gardening, exercise and play (specific for children, however arguably great for big kids too).

Scotland is at the forefront of this engagement with Shetland island now prescribing rambling and birdwatching for individuals’ health, whilst the Scottish Government is rolling out social prescription, engaging individuals in holistic alternatives in the community.

Community engagement further addresses the epidemic of loneliness, found to attribute to worsened physical and psychological health; community engagement provides opportunities for developing interpersonal relationships, which as a social species we thrive from and are hard-wired for.

These holistic treatments have long been recognised in the mental health community in the utilisation of art, drama, dance and group therapy, it is a novelty in the treatment and management of physical health, despite its comorbidity with psychological well-being. The further adoption of Eastern approaches in the West with mindfulness, meditation and yoga, has been found to mitigate symptoms in both physical and psychological ill-health.

Health Psychology’s Place & Impact

So where do health psychologists stand in this new shift of health? Whilst holistic prescriptions are being sprinkled around like fairy dust (rare but can still happen in the case of Peter Pan’s gang in this case Scotland), general practice services remain inundated and mental health services waiting lists are ever growing.

In the United Kingdom, 1 in 3 of general practitioner consults relate to mental health and 1 in 5 to medically unclassified symptoms (MUS are physical complaints without any organic explanation, often a manifestation of psychological distress).

General practitioners are further pressured by GP shortages and a 9-minute consultation to speed talk about all your concerns and find a resolve (the U.K ranks highest on the scoreboard for the shortest appointment duration in the whole of Europe). This limited time means that the nature of MUS are not investigated and are subsequently treated as a physical complaint and reports of mental health symptoms are diagnosed with the self-administered Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9).

The PHQ-9 is a series of 9 questions in the diagnosis of common mental disorders, mainly depression and anxiety, a positive score concludes in a proposed diagnosis and a referral to mental health services, a prescription of anti-depressants or a combination.

A valid and reliable self-administered measure, with established use in primary care settings, what it doesn’t do and GPs don’t have the time to do is explore other life factors that are impacting on health.

Consider a few scenarios; you work nights and are a single parent, you have a few hours of sleep between chores and collecting the children before returning to work in the evening; you are carer for a family member and also study and work; you are in an abusive relationship and managing your own business; or you are young mum recently diagnosed with breast cancer.

All of these situations have the potential to make us feel exhausted and affect our psychological health, this does not necessarily equate to individuals’ having the underlying pathology of a mental health disorder instead it is understandable in the circumstance.

“Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, surrounded by arseholes.” Sigmund Freud.

All health symptoms, in non-emergency circumstances, will primarily present in general practice, the introduction of health psychologists could enable an encompassing biopsychosocial enquiry into individuals’ life circumstances and lifestyles.

Generally, individuals are resistant to disclose honestly about our bad lifestyle choices to GPs, yet the confidentiality bounds of psychologists may enable an open disclosure. This is particularly important in high-risk groups with men presenting physical ailments in cases of psychological distress and in the recognition of intimidating partner violence.

Maybe the next step for health psychologists could provide a service between mental health and general practice services, referring individuals to the likes of social prescriptions or programs to improve lifestyle and for individuals to be embraced and supported in their community. The awareness of what health psychologists do and what we can do to help you is critical in the assurance of the profession and individual engagement to becoming a less ambiguous speciality.

Many thanks to GetPsyched for letting me feature as a guest blogger and to those who have read this blog I hope you found it of interest.

For those who would like to share their view on the introduction of health psychologists in general practice, I would love your contribution to my research, please click here and complete the questionnaire, it takes about 20 minutes.

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