I know what you’re thinking….well, no I don’t actually,… but I think it would be a pretty good guess that at the mention of mindfulness, people conjure up visions of robes, shaved heads, incense and chanting.
Yes, mindfulness has been practised in Eastern traditions for generations, but now there is an abundance of new scientific evidence that suggests that the practice of mindfulness has a really important part to play in health, mental health, relationships and focus at school and work. Psychologists and researchers have been working on ways we can apply mindful techniques to help people deal better with the troubles in their lives. Some of the research is even indicating significant changes in the brains of those who regularly practice mindfulness.
We live in an era of fast information and sadly, with that speed and efficiency comes more ways that information can be altered of changed. Internet advertising, pop ups and sidebar activities, fake news – there is plenty that we need to watch for in this space. With more and more information coming to children via the internet, including homework that requires researching topics online, how can we help kids detect what might be genuine information and facts from advertisers, opinion pieces and “fake” news?
I.T. savvy adults can of course install and use up to date security software, but I also think it’s a great idea to skill kids up with a radar so that they can detect what might be dodgy online. It can all get a bit muddy in the internet puddle. How can we help kids to avoid the murky bits?
For preschoolers and early school years
All of the fanciest qualifications in the world won’t help a client if you cannot develop a working relationship with them so that you can deliver what it is they really need from you.
Your client has had some difficult times and likely not a lot of success.
You can walk into just about any community welfare of counselling space and see images of the Stage of Change model hung proudly on the walls – sometimes in multiple languages or in indigenous art in an attempt to make it more responsive to those who might be stuck. You probably know it off by heart – precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance. But sometimes the Stages of Change model just doesn’t seem to be working for you. It’s not enough. Indeed, sometimes, it’s just a reminder of how stuck you feel with a client.
Formulation and treatment planning in complex cases involving a young person are particularly challenging because of the sheer volume of information available to us. The key question is how to make effective use of it all. My suggestion is that we extend the well-known 4P approach to take into account 4 more critically important areas. In my view, ‘4P + 4’ would enable us to reach much greater clarity on what to target, why and how in order to improve a young person’s situation.
For a long time now, good psychologists have been considering client issues with reference to the 4 Ps: predisposing factors, precipitating factors, perpetuating issues and protective factors. I believe that in complex cases involving young people, the 4Ps need to be developed further to take individual development, established evidence, bio-psycho-social approach and system politics into account.
Complex cases involving young people come in a whirlwind of politics, spent and burnt-out workers and a trail of services that, for whatever reason, have been unable to help. In fact, Taz the Tasmanian Devil, the animated cartoon character, comes to mind. He usually moves around in a whirlwind of chaos, but sometimes steps outside to watch from arm’s length. And that’s exactly what we need to do: step back in order to separate the actual presenting problem from the chaos in a complex case.
Complex cases involving young people can seem chaotic. There’s the trauma of their own experience; the multitude of variables introduced by the families, carers and agencies supporting them; and the confusion that can arise from interagency politics, policies and rules. It can be difficult to know where to start in formulation and treatment planning.I suggest taking a step back, like Taz. In my experience, what follows is the clarity that leads to formulation and treatment that are useful. Here’s what you should consider: