Investment in Therapy pt 1

Running the Black Men’s Therapy Group has gifted me and my co counsel Sheila Samuels with more evidence of how necessary the Introductory course/workshop is for Black Men.

A previous post Jitters, observed the negative side of what too often happens, when someone does not get the help so often not looked at as a support. Therapy is often a last resort and sometimes barely that. How can therapy be successful when there is so much at stake? There are a number of reasons for the reluctance to engage. Cost. Culture. Cures and Cons.

Cost
Therapy is not generally a low cost investment. See Kwanda’s initiative to redress this. IAPT was seen as a possible panacea for the masses to engage with psychologically trained individuals to access C.B.T. (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy).

Helping those who wanted psychological support to begin resolving and managing their experiences of depression and anxiety well. The NHS support was provided through GP services for those who either expressed need or were found to be able to access C.B.T. support. The cost for a person wanting C.B.T. is nothing but time. Current waiting lists are between 6 – 18 months in some areas.

Culture
For many people there is a sense of unknowing and unconscious/conscious fear when thinking to access talking therapy (a stigma). TV shows like In Treatment, Queer Eye, In Conversation with John Bishop and Couples Therapy allow viewers to see the process outside of themselves. Sort of like a fly on the wall. Viewers don’t get the first hand raw experience of what therapy does. Therapy can often be a truly eye opening experience. It can be scary too. Don’t let fear prevent you doing great things, again!

Uncoupling
However living with the pain of what potentially is lying hidden could be seen as worse. On a number of levels the person living with the pain knows this too.

Many cultures across the globe have differing ways of managing internal scars. Some attend to these scars in community settings, some go to see a Doctor or psychotherapist, some a faith healer, shaman or spiritual leader a wise elder in the community. The aim is similar – to unbuckle the experience of (emotional, physical, psychological, historic) pain from the present.

Not for Me
Therapy supports a person or group to achieve this aim of unbuckling. In a Western technology filled world. Some cultures have developed a socially accepted space in the minds of their people for therapy to be an acceptable form of treatment. For some cultures including the African Diaspora, Asian Diaspora and South East Asian Diaspora, therapy is often seen as something that is not to be touched. Therapy is for other peoples.
“We don’t speak our family matters to outsiders.”
“It makes us weaker as a community that has already suffered and is going through our own ongoing struggles with it’s identity purpose, history and future.”

Cures
Therapy is not a cure. It has helpful elements that have curative affects for individuals and for groups but it by no means can wipe out past traumas and pains in a single shot. The process can take time – sometimes for a few years.The accumulative effects are like a river cutting through rock or an overnight heavy snowfall. Therapy cannot undo centuries of pain. What therapy can do is support a better understanding to support groups and communities resolve current and past experiences.

Finding a Heart

It is Written
Books like The Body Keeps The Score and It’s Not Always Depression support an individual and groups to begin reviewing their current lived experience and review them critically. The two books highlighted above and therapeutic encounters generally encourage people to take out the parts that are not working for them anymore. Observe the learning from an array of differing experiences. Begin implementing another way to live and live well. I can think about a number of clients I have worked with for 1 – 5 seasons who have all gained somethings from therapy and found a way to let their past demons die and accept their now to live as best as they can making improved choices.

Cons
Therapy has it’s good, bad, and indifferent encounters between therapists and clients. The right mix often happens when skilled therapists meet willing clients to address their difficulties. At times an incompatible mix can happen of cultures, sexes, compassion fatigue of therapists, unconscious biases, identities and egos are amiss and both the client and therapist cannot make the therapeutic encounter work. The fatigued battle weary therapist and enthusiastic risk aware client would be an interesting dynamic to supervise.

Cons?
The thinking behind IAPT’s 6 appointment model is that a short focused piece of work can be effective when a single problem is looked at solely. This is equal to 300minutes of considered time and can be effective to resolve an issue. The difficulty arises when more than one primary concern is activated or pulled through. Which can happen as a result of discussing the other factors around the initial reason a person engages in therapy.

Time is a valuable commodity as is a
successful outcome for the work for client and therapist.

Cons??
Six appointments at times does not touch the sides of heavily affected people’s challenges like complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD). Another difficulty that the Global Majority has with encountering therapy are the historic experiences of colonisation, criminalisation, cultural appropriation and theft, villainizing communities and splitting groups of people along tribal, ethnic and gender lines. An implicit encouragement of groups to fight politically or physically inside of these constructed divisions, and then them to be offered a westernized approach to heal communities seems like an insult to a historic injury.

Cons!
Where would trust exist within these paradigms to complete a piece of effective work? Western approaches to therapeutic outcomes were developed originally for a small group of people in Europe!

If we were to widen the lens and take in the planet through a global and pan view, communities from Central and South America, the indigenous populations of Australasia, Inuit communities, Sub Saharan Africans and Northern African communities may not access therapy marginally or fully because of their own senses of culture, their community understandings, religions, beliefs, sense of collectivism and historical legacy experiences with the West. A Eurocentric approach with therapy would need to be de-colonised and become incorporated within the cultures therapy hopes to support.

Cons!!
There are also the experiences of what White psychiatrists, and White therapists have perpetrated against Global Majority communities which adds to the sense of historic mistrust against westernised approaches to healing.

Resources
Black Issues in the Therapeutic Process – Dr Isha McKenzie-Mavinga
Black Bodies TEDx Devante Sanders

Images
Photo by Shane Avery on Unsplash
Photo by Roman Kraft@romankraft Unsplash Autumn Love Signs

The Black Men’s Therapy Course: The quiet revolution

I have been asked over the past few months how the Black Men’s Therapy course has gone. Wonderfully would be how I would answer the question. The initial jitters and experience of serendipity became a rounded experience of therapy.

Wary
Topics covered included included Low Mood and Depression, Anxiety, Mood Management, Addictions, Loss and Self Care. The initial group of men that came were initially in the first few minutes wary. There was good enough reason. None of the course attendees had previously met. They were also new to me and my co-counsellor Sheila.

1st Block
For the first block of 6 appointments, in order to assist the conversation and support holding the group, the frame was to offer
a check in,
review the week just passed through and
towards the end of the meeting provide a
check out.

The first day of the course gave opportunity for the 5 men that joined to meet and greet each other. Get to know who was in the room and know their reasons for being a part of the course. The first day went very well and gave a sense of what the rest of the course would look and feel like.

January 2020
The 2nd block of 6 appointments were looser in their formation. 3 previous attendees joined the follow up course with 1 new attendee. Check ins became a way to engage with the subject material of that night’s discussion. Topics included Intergenerational/Trans-genertional Traumas (PTSS), Micro-Aggressions and Stereotypes.

Refocusing

Congruency
One of the outcomes that I was pleased to notice was the willingness of the group to engage with challenging and difficult material in an open and honest way.

Showing who they are amongst other men without the need to hold up a mask pretending bravado or being a braggart. The vulnerability I had hoped would be a consistent and precious part of the meetings was consistently realised.

One of the reasons a level of congruence was achieved was the sense that we had all come together for a specific purpose. To talk on a level with others that look like us about experiences that intimately impact on our lives, the lives of our families and those we consider friends allies and our community.

Membership
The next block of 15 appointments is to start on the 18th of March 2020. The course will be an open group – and will accept new and previous attendees to attend as often or as infrequently as they would like.

The idea of a closed group became muted within the 1st block of 6 appointments. The idea of not admitting new members after the 3rd meeting was tested after 2 new men joined the course in week 4.

The group successfully negotiated how to accept and work with new members. From January going forward the group were settled in themselves and were willing to engage with difficult personal histories. The men were able to discuss concerns related to identity and being in hostile work spaces.

Sign Up
If interested in joining the next group send an email to either myself or to Sheila Samuels via our websites. Click on the links above.

Resources
Yannick Yalipende
Therapy Today October 2019
Kwanda the Online Village

Image
Photo by Oladimeji Odunsi on Unsplash
Self Portrait Tankerton pebble beach

MARIPOSA QUE SE PIERDE: UN POEMA

Reconozco que una gran
Tragedia ocurrió la ultima
Vez que comimos
Juntos

Tiernamente compartiendo el
Dolor a traves de las mesas de cenar
Escuchando a otros reir y charlar en
Silenciosos colores sobre
Los eventos de anoche
Como si nada
importante estuviera sucediendo
Entre
Nosotros

El jirón significativo
Pensé que podría ser valiente y
Permanecer fuerte y
Afable.
Esto
Comenzó con un paseo
Al lado del agua amurallada.
El paseo a la vez largo
Y alegre. Los dos
Riendonos y charlando
De camino a Candem.
Finalizando lentamane hacia
Una esclusa y cervezas.

Cervezas compartidas – problemas reducidos a la mitad?

Siempre con cervezas.
Cuatro años necesitando
que te quedes y
Continues con tu
No tan tierna e insistente
Fuerza empujando mi
Mente a un nuevo ‘awareni’
Y entonces te fuiste.

Perdido.
Aleteando como un
Pez salido del agua,
Sin el amparo del
Profundo azul que me continue
Sujetando, guiando, nutriendo
Reforzando.

Tu ciudad no es tan lejana
Pero ya parece
Demasiado largo trayecto.
Un amigo vagabundo
Amenudo dice ‘Hasta que
nos volvamos a ver’ y sé
Que eso no puede ser
Hasta que el velo
Se levante. Imperceptible
Una madeja, tan delicada
como un encaje de tela de araña.
Hilado de oro,
Aunque apenas usado.

Cuando nos volvamos a encontrar
Será para decir
Con la boca llena de
‘lo siento’ que el mundo
Mi mundo era mas cálido
Cuando estabas
Cerca. Ahora un gélido
Amanecer me espera con
tu version de ‘tonto ido’

Esta pérdida hiere como las
Demás, como todas las partidas
Finalmente hacen. Solamente esta
Es a causa del descuido
Fue mi propia derrota.

En pie erguido como una
Cabeza Minoica medio enterrada,
Melancólico, oscuro
Gris. El trueno aplaude,
Lluvia.
De nuevo

Image:
Photo by Jonas Jacobsson on Unsplash

Thank you to Susanah for the assistance with a better translation!

Perdiendo Mariposa

Reconozco un gran
La tragedia sucedió cuando
Lo ultimo que comimos
Juntos

Compartiendo suavemente el
Daño en la cena
Mesas escuchando a otros
Ríete y habla
Silenciosos colores sobre el último
Noches eventos como si nada
Importante sucedía entre nosotros.

La lágrima significativa y
Pensé que podría ser
Valiente y fuerte y
Permanecer resistente y
Afable. Esta cosa
Comenzó con un paseo
Por agua amurallada.

La caminata tanto larga
Y chistoso. Los dos
Riendo y hablando
Camden atado.
Enrollando lentamente hacia
Un lago y cervezas.

Siempre con cervezas.
Cuatro años de necesitar
Que te quedes y
Continúa con tu
No tan gentil insistente
Fuerza empujando mi
Mente a nuevos awareni
Y luego te fuiste.

Perdido.
Tambaleándose como un
Pescado sacado del agua,
Sin el equilibrio de la
Azul profundo para continuar el
Sosteniendo, guiando el cuidado
Afirmando

Tu ciudad no esta tan lejos
Pero ya parece
Demasiado gran tramo para.
Un amigo sin hogar
A menudo dice ‘Hasta que
Nos vemos de nuevo y lo sé
Eso no puede pasar


Hasta que un velo es
Levantado Imperceptible
Una madeja, tan delicada
como un encaje de telarañas
Hilado dorado,
Sin embargo, rara vez se usa.

La próxima vez que lo veamos
Será para decir con
Un bocado de soy
penas que el mundo
Mi mundo estaba mas caliente
Cuando eras
Cerca. Ahora un refrigerador
El amanecer me espera con
Tu versión de tonto se fue.

Esta pérdida corta como el
Otros como todas las salidas
Finalmente hacer. Solo esto
Uno causado por negligencia
Fue por mi propia ruina.

De pie como la mitad
Cabeza minoica enterrada,
Meditando de color morado oscuro
Gris. Es trueno
Aplausos y lluvia.
De nuevo

My thanks to Google Translate.

Losing Butterfly: a Poem

I recognise a great
Tragedy happened when
Last we ate
Together

Softly sharing the
Hurt across dinner
Tables hearing others
Laugh and talk in
Hushed colours about last
Nights events as if nothing
Important were happening
Between
Us.

The tear significant and
I thought I could be
Brave and strong and
Remain resilient and
Affable.
This thing

Began with a walk
By walled water.
The walk both long
And humorous. We both
Laughing and talking
Camden bound.
Winding slowly towards
A loch and beers.

Beers Shared and problems halved?

Always with beers.
Four years of needing
You to stay and
Continue with your
Not so gentle insistent
Strength pushing my
Mind to new awareni
And then you left.

Lost.
Floundering like a
Fish pulled from water,
Without the balance of the
Deep blue to continue the
Holding, guiding nurturing
Affirming.

Your city is not that far
But already seems
Too great a stretch to.
A homeless friend
Often says ‘Until we
Meet again’ and I know
That cannot happen

Until a veil is
Lifted. Imperceptible
A skein, as delicate
as cobwebbed lace.
Spun golden,
Yet seldom worn.

When we next meet it
Will be to say with
A mouthful of I’m
*sorries that the world
My world was warmer

When you were
Near. Now a cooler
Dawn awaits me with
Your version of silly gone.

This loss cuts like the
Others, as all departures
Eventually do. Only this
One caused by neglect
Was of my own undoing.

Standing like a half
Buried Minoan head,
Brooding deep purple
Grey. It’s Thunder
Claps and rain.
Again

Resources
Raymond Antrobus on CBC
Grenfell Tower Have You Heard George’s Podcast?

Images
Cover Photo by Eeshan Garg on Unsplash
Photo by Tom Rogerson on Unsplash

Insomnia and possible ways to sleep

I know two people who have challenges with sleep. My son aged 10 and my wife CW. I have over the past few years investigated and interrogated both to get an understanding of what happens for them when they try to go to sleep. Below are my findings and possible solutions.

Similarities
Both my son P, and my wife CW, have active working memories that retain events of their days.

For my son; the entertainment he has thinking about school, his friends and activities he was involved in the day, alongside whatever technological gadgets that have captured his imagination seem to keep him awake. He tires at about 10:00pm.

My wife is usually engaged in numerous nocturnal intellectual pursuits that seem to be a holdover from studying at an intense level for 5+ years.

Concerns
Some of her intellectual meanderings involve worrying about our eldest son, worrying about me, worrying about if the backdoor is locked, worrying about work and worrying about future events, that may never happen, or never happen.

Then there are the many frustrations of being a PhD survivor. Being married to a man who does not want to admit his failing health and doing the laundry are high on the agenda as is a family relocation.

To Canada to be clear.

A future Blog is in development currently that speaks to this huge change!

Strategies
A few years ago I once offered the unwise task of counting backwards from 100 in 7s to CW. Not only was she able to do it (patterns) 93, 86, 79, 72… but became more enraged and upset that she had completed the task of 7 counting and not fallen asleep. I am often still reminded.

Resourcefulness
I have offered to CW Tom Bilyeu’s how to get a decent rest (see below) on his podcast Impact Theory to support her sleep improvement. She has not listened to it yet, stating that podcasts are not her thing. (SMH)

The wise Eric Berne’s ‘Yes But’ approach from Games People Play I have just started to remember because, as the book suggests, it doesn’t really matter what method, I or anyone else offers/presents as the golden bullet to get to sleep, it will be refuted, denied and ridiculed by stubborn sleep refusers and CW.

Endurance
The reason, I think, some people (my wife may be one of those people too) who “enjoy” being able to survive on 2-4 hours worth of sleep and apply extra cranky crunch to all who experience them.

It’s the get out of all get outs! Excuses of all excuses. They, Insomniacs, can never be challenged or provoked to look at the intensity of what their brain’s deprived of rest has wrought. Perhaps genius springs forth from fatigue?

The Boardroom
Listening to the Tim Ferris Podcast (see below) I heard of a technique that I thought was worth mentioning to those who have trouble sleeping.

Imagine that you are in a boardroom and have the director’s seat. You call the meeting to order as the director of this sleep meeting you are about to conduct.

Now imagine the other seats filled with all those annoying voices that plague you at night.

Imagination Riot
Personify them exquisitely. Dress them. Give them personalities and a place to sit at the table. You may want to depending on importance and urgency, rank these voices and place less important ones further away.

Dreamy waves depicting a sweet sunrise or sublime sunset. Perhaps sleep too are formed like waves...
Dream Like Waves

Name and Listen
Each voice has something to say to you about something specific.

There’s the voice that represents Fear, Anger, Love, Money, Work Mistakes, Regret, Family, Denial, Debt and financial concerns, Politics, Worry, Inner Child woes, Death, Car, Transport and Travel and a mariad more.

Roll up Sleeves
Now for the hard part. Imagine one of your principle concerns sitting next to the directors chair. They are speaking about what they have found, seen and have predicted to happen next in your life.

Usually in the day, you engage and take on with energy all that they are saying. Getting prepared to wage war on all that they brought to your attention.

The difference now, laying prone you are only going to listen and thank them for bringing all that they have to your attention, and importantly NOTHING more!

Loosening Grip
The ‘concern’ once being heard will dissipate and choose to leave the boardroom. In the least it will be satiated and choose to quieten from bothering your attempts to sleep. I invite you to do this for all the voices clamouring to speak to you.

Patient Practice
The technique takes practice. In time you won’t be able to stay awake long enough to listen to all of their complaints and worries, you will be too tired relaxed and calm to stay awake. Wouldn’t this be a better way to bring the day to an end?

Sleep Oddity
I know this sounds like an odd task to complete at the end of an already busy and tiring day. But would offer, does another night of twisting, turning and concerning oneself with thoughts that keep you awake for hours longer, seem like a good use of precious restoration time to you?

Technique.
The understanding I am left with is one of tactical empathy. Be prepared to be triggered and then not to act when applying the boardroom techno. But by listening you have given the ‘voice’ all that it was after – an audience. Once they have shared all there is to be shared, there is not much more for the ‘concern’ to do so they quieten.

Ignore Marry Avoid
Choose not to engage with the content. An outcome from from having a daily meditative practice is to allow thoughts to pass and not follow them, as the mischief makers want to entice! Listen with care and thank them for all that they brought to your attention. With an empty head and all ‘voices’ now abated sleep should happen.

This may feel strange. But it is what the insomniac has said that they needed. I know, they have woken me up to tell me! “Quiet in the mind to be able to go to sleep.”

Fear
Often we want change, and fear change at the same time. Some people believe that we should suffer on some level for past wrongdoings. I strongly refute this idea as a truism. Insomnia is a learnt experience and so can be unlearned or another tactic applied to get to go to sleep. The dread of staying awake again could be the motivator that ushers in change for insomniacs leading to a global phenomenon.

For the insomniac procrastinator, maybe there is the want to figure out what it all means and stay awake doing so.
It is a choice to be made between sleeping or not to sleep.

One – leads to an increase in mental ability and does increase resilience affability, mental acuity and alertness, and overall health exponentially.

The other – a slow death.

The choice is yours.

Resources
Impact Theory – Get the Best Rest
Science of Success – Reluctant Meditator
Tim Ferris – Safi Bahcall
Two Guys on Your Head – Sleep
Late Night Tales: Another Late Night -Zero 7

Images
Photo by Harli Marten on Unsplash
Photo by Linus Nylund on Unsplash