This summer, ACCEPT held two well-attended workshops with the theme of “Taking Care, Talking Cures”. These workshops included both lectures and tutorial work along with practical observation of counselling sessions and provided a good all-round introduction to the subject. Lectures ranged from Psychoanalysis to Addiction Counselling and included an interesting introduction to Cognitive/Behavioural Counselling from Mary Morrissey, Senior Psychologist at Cheeverstown, specialist in mental handicap. She began by outlining the history of behavioural psychology from Pavlov to Skinner and obsessions and the inclusion of bio-feedback to monitor stress levels and anxiety. The group responded to her presentation with a number of lively questions, especially from people engaged in nursing and associated professions.
Having outlined Behaviourism, she went on to describe Cognitive, telling us about Rational-Emotional Therapy (RET) and recommending H. Lovett’s book, Cognitive Counselling and Persons with Special Needs, 1985. In answer to the question, Where does Cognitive/Behavioural theory fit into counselling? she outlined the three stages of Egan’s model; first, listening to the problem, secondly understanding and re-assessing and thirdly solving the problem by planning and taking effective action. The therapy is active, directive, time-limited and structured and seeks to challenge negative automatic thoughts and their underlying irrational beliefs. She described ways in which this therapy could be used for depression, making it clear that although the theory accepts that early experiences may lie behind the subsequent problem, the therapy seeks primarily to “overcome inertia” in the present. To this end, Ellis prescribes reality testing of assumptions, enabling the client to experience problem-solving skills and offering remedies for deficiencies in these skills. She concluded with a quotation from Epictetus, the Stoic philosopher:
“Men are disturbed not by things but by the views which they take of them.”
The whole presentation was open and informative, well calculated to interest the group who responded with lively discussion and questions, as well as with some anecdotes about their own experiences. Altogether it was a very lively and helpful introduction.
Report by Mary Montaut