The cultural challenge within

Who would want to be a Garda?

By Mark Reddy Published Garda Review 03/12/2007

The work of the Gardaí is underpinned by the relationship it has with the public for which it serves. This proud organisation has undergone dramatic changes; with the increase in population, violent crime and meeting the changing needs of a new demographic of different ethnic and religious backgrounds. It has also faced its share of knock backs and bad publicity that would destroy most services and yet continues to meet every challenge head on; to provide a service that is greatly appreciated and respected by the majority.

As with any organisation there are always two sides, the public and the private. When both are in harmony most problems can be dealt with through open communication. When there is conflict between the public and private face of any service, sooner or later the private issues will come to ahead. An inevitable fact.

If An Garda Síochána relies on effective communication among all staff. If trust, respect, understanding and appreciation at every level is absent then issues will develop that may well impact on the public face of the organisation; and the service it is designed to provide.

A level of disharmony within the organisation has seeped through into the public domain in many different episodes. These issues have brought it home to the public that there is conflict within the force.

Negative publicity and internal disputes have contributed to a sense that An Garda Síochána is not infallible or immune from either doing wrong or being wronged. Obviously, for An Garda Síochána to be truly effective it needs to be seen as professional, moral, fair, unbiased and impartial public servants at all times.

For any new recruit this is a very tall order to achieve in the current climate. Everything action is magnified, scrutinized and monitored. There are many who eagerly wait for the next potential scandal or internal strife within the force to exploit this to their benefit.

So you still think that you want to be a Garda? Within the organisation you there are daily challenges with traumatic and stress-filled situations requiring anyone to be at their very best. As in almost any workplace there are those who have lost track of the moral code and authority for which they serve.

The negative cultural aspects of the private face of the service challenge the most hardy and moral of individuals. Firstly, anyone feeling stressed as a result of carrying out their duties find it difficult, if not impossible, to be able to say this without fear of being considered ‘weak’.

Research has shown that 76% of Gardaí questioned said they did not feel supported in their jobs and 71% said they found it difficult to tell their colleagues that they found the job stressful at times.

Most members who are gay, lesbian or bisexual find it impossible to share this aspect of their life for fear of recrimination, isolation and discrimination. Policing is considered a ‘masculine’ profession. Research has also shown it is one that most dislikes homosexuals. A recent study into sexual minorities within An Garda Síochána showed that there was a high level of sexually derogatory terms and comments used frequently from within the private world of the service and also used against the public.

Sadly, there are members of the force who don’t believe themselves to be doing wrong by taking part in, and not challenging, those who feel it ok to belittle someone as a result of their sexuality. Or consider those who value their mental health as being weak. Is this something you can challenge?

We are all unique in our differences. As a member of this service it requires you to exemplify to maintain your professionalism when those about you lose theirs. Should it make a difference to you when carrying out your duties what your colleague’s background is, as long as they can do the job?

Irish Society is changing; we are more qualified than ever before. We are open-minded to difference and progressive in our understanding and acceptance of others, An Garda Síochána is increasingly comprised of a cross section of this community, and those responsible for passing on the baton to this new breed of Gardaí have a moral responsibility to challenge and weed out those that will represent the service in a negative light. If you turn your head away and ignore those who discriminate against someone who may need to seek support or someone of a different gender, sexuality or ethnic background to yourself then sadly you are wrong and responsibility will be yours for the slow decline in public confidence and staff moral of the service.

Equality is easily achieved as long as everyone understands and appreciates its importance, not one member of the force is perfect and therefore is open to having difficulties. The choice is yours. GR

6 Ways to Stop Worrying

Hop off the worry train. Just because you have an idea ("I might get fired") doesn't mean you need to ride it to its terminus. ("There are 50 ways I could screw up, and I've got to avoid them all.") "Worry can waste energy—you're trying to fix every possible problem, even if none exist," psychologist Robert L. Leahy says. Instead, think of a few tasks that will help whatever happens, like bonding with coworkers.

Plan to fret. "Take half an hour to worry intensively, then move on," says Penn State professor Tom Borkovec, Ph.D.
Keep a journal. Jot down your worry, then in a few days or weeks, write the outcome. What you'll find: Things usually turn out better than you think they will.

Challenge the likelihood of your worry. If your husband is late coming home and you imagine he has been hit by a bus, think about the emotion behind your worry. (You are anxious because you love him and want to keep him around.) Once you have identified the emotion at the heart of your worry and allowed yourself to experience it, see if it's a reasonable worry (hint: probably not). Then let it pass rather than allowing anxiety to ruin your quiet night at home.

Peel an orange. The next time a thought threatens to snowball into a stressfest, grab an orange or grapefruit. Press your nail into the skin, peel it back and smell the citrus scent, focusing on every sensation. "Rather than worry about the future, you can bring yourself into the moment,"

Get nostalgic. Visualize your key life events of the past 10 years. You probably can't recall the worries linked with these experiences, or, if you can, you may see that most never happened (e.g., you didn't trip and fall at your wedding). Tell yourself that current worries will fade from memory, too.

Types of Medication

A Brief Overview of the Types of Medication prescribed to those in need.

The drugs, which are prescribed medically, have been selected because of their power to relieve the symptoms of mental illness and stabilise the condition – the main groups are anti-depressants, tranquillisers and mood stabilisers.

Low levels of serotonin are thought to be a cause of depression and other related conditions. Medication like anti-depressants can bring the levels of this chemical back to normal. Anti-depressant medication may take two/three weeks before full benefit is experienced. It is important to take medication even when you feel completely well as early discontinuation may precipitate relapse. Some people may need more than one course of treatment.One group of anti-depressant drugs, the monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI) requires patients to avoid certain foods, drinks and medicines. Patients on these drugs are given a warning card listing these by their doctor.

Tranquillisers or neuroleptic medications are used to treat major illnesses like schizophrenia and psychotic depression. These drugs suppress a chemical, dopamine, thought to be over produced in people with schizophrenia.Like other drugs used in the treatment of mental illness, this medication may need to be taken over a long period of time. Early discontinuation may precipitate relapse.A relative or friend can play an important role in reminding or encouraging you to take your medication. Make them aware of possible side effects. Read the information leaflets and discuss the information with your doctor or Community Psychiatric Nurse.There may be some side effects to treatment with major tranquillisers – if you experience any of the following, you should inform your doctor:* stiffness, restlessness and shakiness known as extra-pyramidal effects* Sensitivity to light – you should be careful in bright sunlight – use a sunblock cream* some people feel tired, dizzy or may be prone to weight gain.

Mood Stabilisers
Mood stabilisers are drugs used in the treatment of excessively “high” moods, irritability, increased energy and activity. Drugs & AlcoholAs with all types of prescribed medication, it is best to avoid alcohol as it interacts with neuroleptic medicines and increases drowsiness.

Please See Related Articles for advice and support. Always seek medical advice and attention before embarking on a course of medication. Support is always there for anyone who asks from professional and support services please use the links attached to find the most appropriate support you require.

Trauma and Negative Emotion

Perceived Threat and Negative Emotions During Trauma

The exceptionally threatening character of traumatic events has been highlighted in the diagnostic criteria for PTSD (American Psychiatric Association, 1980; World Health Organization, 1992). Perceived threat to life during trauma showed consistent correlations with PTSD severity in a recent meta-analysis (Ozer, Best, Lipsey, & Weiss, 2003), with an average weighted correlation of .26. For perpetrators of violence, the perceived threat to their social status may be an important additional source of threat (Beck, 1999). It was therefore included as a possible predictor in the present study.

Emotional reactions during trauma are also highlighted in the diagnostic criteria for PTSD, in particular fear, helplessness, or horror (American Psychiatric Association, 1994). In Ozer et al.'s (2003) meta-analysis, the intensity of such negative emotions showed an average weighted correlation of .26 with PTSD severity. Other negative emotions that have been shown to predict PTSD include anger and shame (Andrews, Brewin, Rose, & Kirk, 2000).

Cognitive Processing and Disorganized Trauma Memories

Theories of PTSD suggest that information processing is compromised during trauma and that compromised information processing explains PTSD symptom severity over and above what is explained by high arousal and negative emotions (e.g., Brewin et al., 1996; Ehlers & Clark, 2000). The most widely investigated indicator of such compromised processing is dissociation, which was the best predictor of PTSD in Ozer et al.'s (2003) meta-analysis, with an average weighted correlation of .35.

Dissociation is a complex concept, and it is unclear how it relates to other forms of cognitive processing that have been shown to influence memory (Roediger, 1990; Wheeler, 1997, 2000). Ehlers and Clark (2000) suggested that two further cognitive processing dimensions, data-driven processing (i.e., the predominant processing of sensory as opposed to conceptual information) and lack of self-referent processing (i.e., failure to encode new information as related to the self and other autobiographical information), predict whether people develop reexperiencing symptoms after trauma. These processes are thought to overlap in part with aspects of dissociation. Preliminary empirical support for a role of data-driven processing and lack of self-referent processing in intrusive trauma memories was found in studies of trauma survivors and volunteers exposed to distressing films (Murray, Ehlers, & Mayou, 2002; Rosario, Williams, & Ehlers, 2006).

Compromised cognitive processing is thought to lead to deficits in the autobiographical memory for the traumatic event. There are different hypotheses about the nature of this deficit, including a deficit in memory representations that facilitate intentional recall (Brewin et al., 1996), highly fragmented memories (e.g., Foa & Riggs, 1993; Herman, 1992), and poorly elaborated memories that are inadequately incorporated into their context of other autobiographical memories (e.g., Ehlers & Clark, 2000). Poor elaboration is thought to lead to poor inhibition of unintentional triggering of aspects of the trauma memory by matching cues. Ehlers, Hackmann, and Michael (2004) further suggested that the poor elaboration should be most pronounced for those parts of the trauma that are later reexperienced.

The mechanisms involved with the formation of trauma memories and deficits in recall specified in the different PTSD models are difficult to measure (Ehlers et al., 2004; McNally, 2003). One way is to code narratives of the traumatic event for indicators of the hypothesized mechanism. Common to the fragmentation and poor elaboration models is the hypothesis that intentional recall of trauma memories should be disorganized. Several studies have shown preliminary support for more disorganized trauma narratives in patients with PTSD versus those without PTSD (Foa, Molnar, & Cashman, 1995; Halligan, Michael, Clark, & Ehlers, 2003; Murray et al., 2002) and in volunteers exposed to a highly unpleasant film who developed intrusive memories than those without subsequent intrusions (Halligan, Clark, & Ehlers, 2002).

Appraisals of the Trauma and Its Aftermath

PTSD has been found to be associated with excessively negative appraisals of traumatic events (Ehlers & Clark, 2000; Foa & Riggs, 1993; Resick & Schnicke, 1993). For example, trauma survivors who blame themselves for the event or those who appraise a traumatic event as a sign of a negative (e.g., incompetent, unworthy, inadequate) self have more persistent PTSD symptoms than those who do not (Andrews et al., 2000; Dunmore, Clark, & Ehlers, 1997, 1999, 2001; Ehlers, Maercker, & Boos, 2000; Foa, Tolin, Ehlers, Clark, & Orsillo, 1999).

Although it is common for people to experience temporary unwanted memories following trauma, only a subgroup suffer from persisting intrusive memories (e.g., Baum & Hall, 1993). Ehlers and Steil (1995) suggested that negative interpretations of intrusions and other PTSD symptoms contribute to the maintenance of intrusive memories because they motivate the survivor to engage in behaviors that prevent processing of the trauma and may even increase intrusion frequency (e.g., rumination, thought suppression, use of alcohol and drugs). Several studies have supported the role of negative interpretations of intrusions in maintaining intrusions and PTSD (e.g., Dunmore et al., 1999, 2001; Ehlers, Mayou, & Bryant, 1998). Other trauma sequelae may also be interpreted in a negative way, contributing to the maintenance of PTSD (Ehlers & Clark, 2000). A common example is that trauma survivors interpret the trauma and its consequences as meaning that they have permanently changed for the worse as a person. Perceived permanent change has been shown to predict chronic PTSD (Dunmore et al., 1999, 2001; Ehlers et al., 2000).

Please See the related link for the full article and related articles on PTSD and PTSD in the Emergency Services.


Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety is a common and normal occurrence. However, a chronic, high level of anxiety indicates an anxiety disorder.

Common Anxiety Disorders
Some of the more common anxiety disorders include:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder: A person with generalized anxiety disorder experiences persistent and excessive anxiety or worry that lasts at least six months.

Specific Phobia: A person who has specific phobia experiences intense anxiety when exposed to a particular object or situation. The person often avoids the feared object or situation because of a desire to escape the anxiety associated with it.

Social Phobia: A person who has social phobia experiences intense anxiety when exposed to certain kinds of social or performance situations. As a result, the person often avoids these types of situations.

Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia: A person with panic disorder experiences recurrent, unexpected panic attacks, which cause worry or anxiety. During a panic attack, a person has symptoms such as heart palpitations, sweating, trembling, dizziness, chest pain, and fear of losing control, going crazy, or dying. Panic disorder can occur with or without agoraphobia. Agoraphobia involves anxiety about losing control in public places, being in situations from which escape would be difficult or embarrassing, or being in places where there might be no one to help if a panic attack occurred.

Obsessive-compulsive Disorder: A person with obsessive-compulsive disorder experiences obsessions, compulsions, or both. Obsessions are ideas, thoughts, impulses, or images that are persistent and cause anxiety or distress. A person usually feels that the obsessions are inappropriate but uncontrollable. Compulsions are repetitive behaviors that help to prevent or relieve anxiety.

Post–traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): A person with this disorder persistently re-experiences a highly traumatic event and avoids stimuli associated with the trauma. Symptoms include increased arousal such as insomnia, irritability, difficulty concentrating, hypervigilance, or exaggerated startle response.

Roots of Anxiety Disorders
Many different interactive factors influence the development of anxiety disorders.

Biological Factors
Many biological factors can contribute to the onset of anxiety disorders:
Genetic predisposition: Twin studies suggest that there may be genetic predispositions to anxiety disorders. Researchers typically use concordance rates to describe the likelihood that a disorder might be inherited. A concordance rate indicates the percentage of twin pairs who share a particular disorder. Research has shown that identical twins have a higher concordance rate for anxiety disorders than fraternal twins.

Differing sensitivity: Some research suggests that people differ in sensitivity to anxiety. People who are highly sensitive to the physiological symptoms of anxiety react with even more anxiety to these symptoms, which sets off a worsening spiral of anxiety that can result in an anxiety disorder.

Neurotransmitters: Researchers believe there is a link between anxiety disorders and disturbances in neural circuits that use the neurotransmitters GABA and serotonin. GABA limits nerve cell activity in the part of the brain associated with anxiety. People who do not produce enough GABA or whose brains do not process it normally may feel increased anxiety. Inefficient processing of serotonin may also contribute to anxiety.

Brain damage: Some researchers have suggested that damage to the hippocampus can contribute to PTSD symptoms.

SSRIs and Anxiety Disorders
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a class of drug commonly used to treat anxiety disorders. They raise the level of serotonin in the brain by preventing it from being reabsorbed back into cells that released it. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that affects sleep, alertness, appetite, and other functions. Abnormal levels of serotonin can lead to mood disorders.

Conditioning and Learning
Research shows that conditioning and learning also play a role in anxiety disorders:

Classical conditioning: People can acquire anxiety responses, especially phobias, through classical conditioning and then maintain them through operant conditioning: A neutral stimulus becomes associated with anxiety by being paired with an anxiety-producing stimulus. After this classical conditioning process has occurred, a person may begin to avoid the conditioned anxiety-producing stimulus. This leads to a decrease in anxiety, which reinforces the avoidance through an operant conditioning process. For example, a near drowning experience might produce a phobia of water. Avoiding oceans, pools, and ponds decreases anxiety about water and reinforces the behavior of avoidance.

Evolutionary predisposition: Researchers such as Martin Seligman have proposed that people may be more likely to develop conditioned fears to certain objects and situations. According to this view, evolutionary history biologically prepares people to develop phobias about ancient dangers, such as snakes and heights.

Observational learning: People also may develop phobias through observational learning. For example, children may learn to be afraid of certain objects or situations by observing their parents’ behavior in the face of those objects or situations.

Cognitive Factors
Some researchers have suggested that people with certain styles of thinking are more susceptible to anxiety disorders than others. Such people have increased susceptibility for several reasons:

They tend to see threats in harmless situations.
They focus too much attention on situations that they perceive to be threatening.
They tend to recall threatening information better than nonthreatening information.

Personality Traits
The personality trait of neuroticism is associated with a higher likelihood of having an anxiety disord


Organisational Behaviour Introduced

Organisational Behaviour (OB)

Why Study OB?
Through the informal nature of our social relationships, we can be quick to ‘diagnose’ an individuals’ behaviour. At work, however and due to the formal environment that it induces, trying to understand why a person behaves in such a way can be more difficult to understand. The complex nature of human beings only adds to this difficulty.

An effective manager needs to be intuitively aware of what it is, that makes each individual member tick. It is a managers’ responsibility to produce top quality and top results, and this can only be achieved through the commitment of all staff. The study of OB provides managers and those training to be managers, with the necessary level of awareness in order to adopt techniques that are relevant to their particular situation and organisation, which will assist them in their pursuit of managerial and organisational effectiveness.

The Individual
Explains the impact of our actions through the different ways in which we views things through our sensory imaging. How we see things is not always the same as how others see things and this can cause conflict from lack of understanding.
How we perceive other people can be due to how we perceive ourselves. We can sometimes confuse the two and project our own image on others. This is especially relevant when incidents or situations can distort our understanding, such as with the halo effect or stereotyping. The effect of this in the work environment can be found through recruitment and selection, performance appraisals and general communication with others.

Job Related Attitudes

Attitudes are generally formed through the socialization process we all encounter from children into adulthood. These attitudes can come from the values that our carers hold, i.e. parents, teachers etc., or through certain experiences we have in life. Through time, these attitudes can become deep-rooted beliefs or values. Changing a person’s beliefs is rather like changing their mind-set – it is very difficult.

The whole process of attitudes, beliefs and values will be examined in order to identify how we can measure one’s attitudes to work and the impact one’s attitudes can have on others. The importance of understanding about job related attitudes is paramount, our lack of understanding only encourages ineffective communication, ill-health and poor working relationships.

The way in which we learn is based on how we actively interpret or assimilate information. If we prefer to learn a new method of work through actions, a step-by-step manual will have little impact on us. In the classroom for instance, some students will prefer to learn through case studies and lectures alone, whilst others will opt for a more interactive style such as role plays.

Learning in organisations has been seen to be both beneficial for the individual and the company. An individual that is actively involved in training and development and who is able to apply the learning from these events back into the workplace will generally, have an increased interest in their job and the organisation for which they are part of.

Is it money that motivates you to get out of bed on a wet, cold morning or is it the challenge you get from your job? Was it really more money that put nurses out on strike in the 1990’s or was it a deeper rooted need, such as a need for more accountability and responsibility in their jobs?

Motivation examines our internal and external drives, desires and needs. This area identifies how a manager can effectively motivate his/her workforce by being aware of individuals’ motivators. Conducting performance appraisals can be an effective time to gain a deeper insight into our understanding of effort, i.e. how much or how little an individual puts into their job, and why?

Stress and Health
Examines the differences between pressure at work and the physiological factors that can lead to stress. This area highlights how we can assess possible stress factors in others and how to effectively assist individuals in overcoming stress and ill health.

A stressor on the other hand, is some feature of the individuals’ environment that could be seen as threatening or dangerous. Stressors can be mainly physical in origin, e.g. excessive heat, noise, vibration, or mainly psychosocial in origin, e.g. poor management, disrespectful colleagues etc. If an individual experiences strain as a reaction to a stressor then this will result in a negative effect. These negative effects can manifest themselves in physical symptoms such as insomnia, excessive fatigue, gastrointestinal disorders, headaches, and serious disease, e.g., cardiovascular complaints. Or the effects may be psychological, such as depression and anxiety.

The Group
The theory behind group development is fascinating to observe (See Exercise 1: Group Development) and properly acknowledged, can provide accurate indicators for managers to manage. To fully gain the maximum involvement from all members of a group, a manager needs to be supportive and ready to either lend advice or more resources etc, or to delegate and invite the leader/chairperson to take control.

A general rule of thumb, with regard to the differences between groups and teams, is that teams are set up to achieve a specific task/project. Whereas, a group can have an indefinite life span, such as quality circles.
Team working is now common practice in many organisations and the benefits to the individual and organisation will be examined in this element of the module. In order to achieve a task or complete a project, team effectiveness is crucial. What are the components that contribute towards team effectiveness and leadership.

Effective communication is central to OB as a whole and although this area is predominately associated under the umbrella of Groups, its use and your understanding of it should be encouraged to be displayed throughout the whole module.

Understanding the complexity of communication can be simplified by acknowledging the type of structure found in organisations. Does the organisation of which you are part of, have a flat or tall organisational structure? How easy is it for you to observe the flow of communication in your organisation? Do you feel well informed about information and how it is communicated to you?

Identifying common barriers to communication will greatly assist you in your involvement and understanding of groups and teams. Are there effective methods in place to ensure a steady and smooth flow of communication in your place of work? Some organisations provide individuals with an internal newsletter, which keeps people up to date on professional and social matters. Are such methods of communication effective?

With your knowledge of group development and team effectiveness combined, your understanding of effective and ineffective communication will equip you with the basics needed in order to manage behaviour within groups, effectively.

The Organisation
Generally, when asked to think of a leader individuals will relate to people such as Adolf Hitler, Nelson Mandela or The Taoiseach. What is it that leads people to this conclusion? Is it the powerful position that these leaders hold, or can it be attributed towards certain characteristics that they hold?

To understand Leadership, you will need to grasp the historical approaches to this subject first. Firstly, is leadership innate – are we born leaders? Secondly, is the behaviour that is projected by the leader reflective towards the needs of the followers? Finally, can we distinguish the leader because they appear to know best what to do and is seen by the group as the most suitable leader in the particular situation?

Next we need to address the similarities and limitations of both leaders and managers. Is leadership reserved for only powerful and influential figures or is your or a previous manager, a leader? One of the most important findings to come out of the theory of leadership in recent times is the acknowledgement of the role of ‘followers’ within the discipline of Leadership. A ‘follower’ is an individual that is led by a leader. This area is particularly relevant when understanding leadership styles and how the willingness or readiness of the follower can have an affect on the effectiveness of a leader. After all, if a leader has no followers then he or she is effectively not leading. We also address the issue of power in organisations.

Organisational Change and Development
To fully identify with the area of organisational change try to think about how easy or difficult change is to you in your personal life. The manner in which change is embraced will have a large impact on how either an individual or an organisation views the need for such a change. A common response from some individuals towards change is "what was wrong with the way things were?" For organisations, the process of change whether planned or not, will be costly and time consuming but normally always necessary.

When you understand the influences that the internal and external environments have upon an organisation, this will greatly assist you in the understanding of the necessity for organisational change.

Look at a particular external environmental condition that is relevant to your organisation e.g. government legislation, and follow through the effect a change in this condition, can have on the organisation and hence the possible need for the organisation to change in response. Continue this through to the internal environment – what are the changes that you can envisage for customers, managers, individuals, groups etc. This should provide you with a sound understanding of the necessity for change. The following components in the area will address how to manage organisational change successfully.

Organisational Development (OD) addresses the company through and after the change with techniques such as team building. An interesting identification is the effect all of this change has on the culture of the organisation, the structure of the organisation and the issue of management development and organisational effectiveness.

Resolving Conflicts with Colleagues
Think of a colleague/subordinate with whom you have an acknowledged conflict and analyse the situation using the following 4 Step process:

Step 1 Recognise the problem
• Is the problem important enough to acknowledge?

Step 2 Try to understand each other’s position
• Write down your own thoughts and feelings about the conflict.
• Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and write down your perception of how the other person thinks and feels about the conflict and what thoughts or feelings he or she attributes to you.

Step 3 Discuss the problem
• How would you define the problem? Would the other person’s definition of the problem differ? If so, how?
• How do you think the other person perceives his or her own contribution, if any, to the conflict?
• What is your perception of your own, if any, contributions to the problem?
• Is there a hidden agenda? What do you think it is?
• Is there any common ground between you? What is it?

Step 4 Resolve the problem
• What is your preferred solution to the problem?
• What are the advantages and disadvantages of your solution?
• How would your solution be implemented? Would you use a third party?

Please See related articles and links on the main page for further information.

Workplace Stress an insight

Stress in the workplace is becoming a major concern for employers, managers and government agencies, owing to the Occupational Health and Safety legislations requiring employers to practice 'duty of care' by providing employees with safe working environments which also cover the psychological wellbeing of their staff.

One of the costs, for employers, of work place stress is absenteeism, with the A.C.T.U. reporting that owing to stress, nearly fifty per cent of employees surveyed had taken time off work. Other negative effects were reductions in productivity, reduced profits, accidents, high rates of sickness, increased workers' compensation claims and high staff turnover, requiring recruiting and training of replacement staff.

While a certain amount of stress is needed to motivate individuals into action, prolonged stress can have a huge impact on overall health. More than two-thirds of visits to doctors' surgeries are for stress-related illnesses. Stress has been linked to headaches, backaches, insomnia, anger, cramps, elevated blood pressure, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and lowered resistance to infection. For women, stress is a key factor in hormonal imbalances resulting in menstrual irregularities, PMS, fibroids, endometriosis and fertility problems. Stress can also be a factor in the development of almost all disease states including cancer and heart disease.

Each profession has its own unique factors that may cause stress; below are some causes of stress that cross many professions:
Increased workload
Organizational changes
Lack of recognition
High demands
Lack of support
Personal and family issues
Poor work organization
Lack of training
Long or difficult hours
Inadequate staff numbers and resources
Poor management communication
Lack of control or input

So what can be done to effectively manage workplace stress?
Organizations can:
Educate their employees to recognise the signs of stress.
Where possible, give their employees the chance to be involved in decisions and actions that affect their jobs.
Improve employer-employee communications.
Provide employees with opportunities to socialise together.
Be understanding of employees' personal and family responsibilities.
Ensure employee workloads suit their capabilities and resources (provide more training and resources if not).
Provide support (internal) for employees who have complex stress issues.
Employees can reduce their overall stress by:
Regularly exercising, as this releases 'happy hormones'.
Eating a healthy diet, as stress depletes vital nutrients.
Getting adequate rest.
Being more organized. Get up earlier to have more time.
Delegating responsibility where possible. Say no!

Avoiding caffeine and sugar. Although this may provide an instant lift it later depletes the body of energy and nutrients.

Taking time to do things that bring enjoyment and pleasure.
Making the work environment pleasurable. Taking care of their overall health and wellbeing by practising good self-care.

Sometimes trying to implement change (even for the better) can itself cause stress and prevent a person remaining motivated. In this case it's important to get support for your stress from a counsellor, doctor, naturopath, friend, peer or life coach who specializes in stress issues.

The benefits of a systematic and joint approach to reducing work stress are:

Increased productivity
Decrease in absenteeism
Improved morale
Decrease in workers' compensation claims
Reduction in workplace accidents

The most important benefit of reducing workplace stress is that it will promote a healthy, happy and pleasant work environment for all.



Road Rage and Stress


The negative impact of stress and how we in fact manage it has effects in every aspect of our daily living routines.

One such routine that we can tend to take for granted is driving. Never before has there been so many fatalities and carnage on our roads. The high level of press and media coverage appears in some cases to desensitizes us to the very real fact that some of these incidences may in fact have a link to being stressed out at the wheel.

More awareness of our personal responsibility to take this issue seriously is vital, many times over the holiday period we are told to imagine how it would be if one of our family did not come home because of a needles and senseless accident that may well of been avoided if we took a little more consideration and maturity on the roads

Road Rage

The rate of aggressive driving or "road rage" has risen by 51 percent since 1990. Road rage occurs when a driver reacts angrily toward other drivers. For example, cutting them off, tailgating, giving obscene gestures, or waving a fist. Road rage is generally caused by stress, anything from being called into the boss's office to having an argument with your significant other. Road rage is often the flash point of the accumulated stresses in one's life.

Avoid Road Rage:

Don't take traffic problems personally
Avoid eye contact with an aggressive driver
Don't make obscene gestures
Don't tailgate
Use your horn sparingly
Don't block the passing lane
Don't block the right hand turn lane

Other Tips:

Allow adequate time for your trip
Create a relaxing and comfortable environment in your car (play relaxing music.) Stay away from aggressive drivers

Don't be another satistic, please take a moment before driving to check in with yourself, are you stressed? Does it matter that you're five minutes late? is it better to be late that to kill another person? Simple stuff when we think of it.

If you suffer from stress please take your time to review the articles on the links page.

Blood Pressure reduced naturally

A high-protein/high-fat diet turns the blood alkaline, which thickens it. That’s one of the primary contributing factors to high blood pressure. Apple Cider Vinegar concerts the blood acidity, thins it, lowers the blood pressure and makes circulation less of a strain.

Here’s a quick Apple Cider Vinegar plan to lower high blood pressure:

1.Increase the daily intake of acid in organic form, either as apple cider vinegar, apples, grapes, cranberries or their juices.

2.Change to a more balanced diet. Ask the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society or a local dietitian for guidelines to a heart-healthy diet that’s low in fat and high in fiber. It will automatically give you an advantage in the war on high blood pressure.

3.Change from wheat products (breads, muffins, cereals) to corn, oats, rye or rice. They will assist the shift from alkalinity to acidity within you and reduce strain on your kidneys - kidney damage and eventual failure is an often overlooked complication of high blood pressure.

4.Give up salt and salty foods. This will reverse the blood’s tendency to retain so much fluid - a prime cause of hypertension.

Setting Boundares and Saying NO

We are constantly bombarded daily with requests for our time. While helping others can be very rewarding, at the same time we can feel distraught about constantly obligating ourselves to others while not fulfilling our own needs. We can feel distressed about constant commitments to do things we simply don’t have the time, energy or desire to do.

At times, we may immediately feel the urge to say no, but instead lose our nerve. the question is why?

Is it because:
You fear you won’t be liked or feel a strong need to please everyone
You have to always keep the calendar full so you feel needed and important
You undervalue the need for down time and forget simply not wanting to do anything is a legitimate reason to say no or you would rather not deal with the consequences of saying no and all the feelings that come with it.

Setting boundaries and saying no is taking personal responsibility for your well-being. This requires you to clearly speak up, and specifically ask for what you want. Your decision to say no to requests from family, friends, and co-workers doesn’t have to be filled with feelings of uneasiness and guilt. It fact, it’s important you remember the decision to say no is strictly a personal choice – yours!

Whether at work, with family, or friends, you can say no with diplomacy, tact, and respect. Here are some ways you can take charge and assert your right to say no.

Be sure you have all the facts
Before making a commitment, be sure you have a complete understanding of exactly what’s being asked of you. You may feel confused because you just don’t have enough information to make a decision. You have the right to ask as many questions as necessary.

Ask yourself “Is this a unreasonable request?”
When someone makes a request, he or she is usually tuned into “WIIFM” (What’s In It For Me). People are not necessarily concerned with whether or not a request is in your best interest. If you feel hesitant, trapped or otherwise uncomfortable – go with your gut and say no. These uneasy feelings probably indicate saying yes isn’t best.

Take Your Time
There is no law that says you have to immediately obligate yourself to someone when asked. Take your time before you make a final decision. Simply say “I need time to think about this. I’ll get back to you.”

Set goals
Setting your goals will make it easier to say no. Establishing priorities makes it easy to decide how much time you can devote to others without sacrificing your own needs. You will be more comfortable declining requests that conflict with your priorities.

Speak up - without excuses or apologies
When you have all the facts and decide say no, say no calmly and firmly. An assertive tone of voice, body language, and eye contact lets others know you are serious and definite in your decision.

Don’t be meek.
Say no directly without excuses. Excuses make you appear as if you aren’t in control of your decisions. If you say “I’m sorry but…” this only weakens your stand. If you have decided saying yes is not in your best interest, no apology is necessary.

What if they won’t take no for an answer?
If someone won’t take no for an answer, repeat your position. Maintain your stand and don’t allow yourself to be manipulated or strong armed. No means no and you have the right to stand by your choice.

Feel good about your decision to say no
Feel calm, confident, and comfortable with your decision to say no. Be secure knowing it’s enough to say no simply because you just don’t want to.
Remember, learn how to say no is a win-win situation for everyone.


What Is Depression

Depression is a common disorder affecting at least 10% of the population directly at some stage or other in their lives. In addition to the marked impact it may have on many facets of the patient's life and that of the family, mood disorders in their many subtle guises have had a major influence on the artistic, political, religious and financial spheres of most cultures. These brief introductory notes outline the different types of depression and how they are treated. If you would like to know more about the subject you can obtain a recommended reading list from Aware.

What is Depression?
The word depression has many different meanings but in a psychiatric context it is used in two specific ways. It is frequently used by patients to describe their feelings of emotional distress and in this sense it is regarded as a symptom. Depression is also a diagnosis which a doctor might make when a patient complains of several symptoms such as feelings of sadness and fatigue, having a disturbed sleep, poor appetite and lack of interest. Though there are many different symptoms present when a depressive disorder is diagnosed the symptom "depression" is just one of these. Sometimes, however, when a diagnosis of depression is made the patient may not actually feel depressed. In many cases a person who is depressed may not realise the nature of the problem and they may need a doctor to tell them that their excessive fatigue or anxiety is actually depression. Everybody gets feelings of sadness or depression and for most these are short-lived and tolerable. Such feelings, or "normal depressions ", occur most frequently in response to the disappointments of everyday life and to a lesser extent our mood fluctuates with the seasons and in response to hormonal factors. Depression which is particularly severe or prolonged and is more than the person is able to cope with is considered an "abnormal depression" or a depressive disorder.

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Cognitive Behavioural Therapy CBT

CBT is a short-term talking treatment that has a highly practical approach to problem-solving. It aims to change patterns of thinking or behaviour that are behind people’s difficulties, and so change the way they feel. This booklet is for anyone interested in knowing more about CBT. It explains who and what it's for, and how to find a therapist.

What is cognitive behaviour therapy?

Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) describes a number of therapies that all have a similar approach to solving problems, which can range from sleeping difficulties or relationship problems, to drug and alcohol abuse or anxiety and depression. CBT works by changing people's attitudes and their behaviour. The therapies focus on the thoughts, images, beliefs and attitudes that we hold (our cognitive processes) and how this relates to the way we behave, as a way of dealing with emotional problems.

An important advantage of CBT is that it tends to be short, taking three to six months for most emotional problems. Clients attend a session a week, each session lasting either 50 minutes or an hour. During this time, the client and therapist are working together to understand what the problems are and to develop a new strategy for tackling them. CBT introduces them to a set of principles that they can apply whenever they need to, and which will stand them in good stead throughout their lives.

CBT is a combination of psychotherapy and behavioural therapy. Psychotherapy emphasises the importance of the personal meaning we place on things and how thinking patterns begin in childhood. Behavioural therapy pays close attention to the relationship between our problems, our behaviour and our thoughts.

What's the history of CBT?

In the 1960s, a US psychiatrist and psychotherapist called Aaron T. Beck observed that, during his analytical sessions, his patients tended to have an 'internal dialogue' going on in their minds, almost as if they were talking to themselves. But they would only report a fraction of this kind of thinking to him. For example, in a therapy session the client might be thinking to him- or herself: 'He (the therapist) hasn't said much today. I wonder if he's annoyed with me?' These thoughts might make the client feel slightly anxious or perhaps annoyed. He or she could then respond to this thought with a further thought: 'He's probably tired, or perhaps I haven't been talking about the most important things'. The second thought might change how the client was feeling.
Beck realised that the link between thoughts and feelings was very important. He invented the term 'automatic thoughts' to describe emotion-filled or 'hot' thoughts that might pop up in the mind. Beck found that people weren't always fully aware of such thoughts, but could learn to identify and report them. If a person was feeling upset in some way, the thoughts were usually negative and neither realistic nor helpful. Beck found that identifying these thoughts was the key to the client understanding and overcoming his or her difficulties.

Beck called it cognitive therapy because of the importance it places on thinking. It's now known as CBT because the therapy employs behavioural techniques as well. The balance between the cognitive and the behavioural elements varies among the different therapies of this type, but all come under the umbrella term cognitive behaviour therapy. CBT has since undergone scientific trials in many places by different teams, and has been applied to a wide variety of problems.

What's so important about negative thoughts?

CBT is based on a 'model' or theory that it's not events themselves that upset us, but the meanings we give them. Our thoughts can block us seeing things that don't fit with what we believe is true. In other words, we continue to hold on to the same old thoughts and fail to learn anything new.

For example, a depressed woman may think, 'I can't face going into work today: I can't do it. Nothing will go right. I'll feel awful.' As a result of having these thoughts – and of believing them – she may well ring in sick. By behaving like this, she won't have the chance to find out that her prediction was wrong. She might have found some things she could do, and at least some things that were OK. But, instead, she stays at home, brooding about her failure to go in and ends up thinking: 'I've let everyone down. They will be angry with me. Why can't I do what everyone else does? I'm so weak and useless.' So, that woman probably ends up feeling worse, and has even more difficulty going in to work the next day. Thinking, behaving and feeling like this may start a downward spiral. This vicious circle can apply to many different kinds of problems.

How does this kind of problem start?

Beck suggested that these thinking patterns are set up in childhood, and become automatic and relatively fixed. So, a child who didn't get much open affection from their parents but was praised for school work, might come to think, 'I have to do well all the time. If I don't, people will reject me'. Such a rule for living (known as a 'dysfunctional assumption') may do well for the person a lot of the time and help them to work hard. But if something happens that's beyond their control and they experience failure, then the dysfunctional thought pattern may be triggered. The person may then begin to have 'automatic' thoughts like, 'I've completely failed. No one will like me. I can't face them'.

CBT acts to help the person understand that this is what's going on. It helps him or her to step outside their automatic thoughts and test them out. CBT would encourage the depressed woman mentioned earlier to examine real-life experiences to see what happens to her, or to others, in similar situations. Then, in the light of a more realistic perspective, she may be able to take the chance of testing out what other people think, by revealing something of her difficulties to friends.

Clearly, negative things can and do happen. But when we are in a disturbed state of mind, we may be basing our predictions and interpretations on a biased view of the situation, making the difficulty that we face seem much worse. CBT helps people to correct these misinterpretations.

What form does treatment take?

CBT differs from other therapies because sessions have a structure, rather than the person talking freely about whatever comes to mind. At the beginning of the therapy, the client meets the therapist to describe specific problems and to set goals they want to work towards. The problems may be troublesome symptoms, such as sleeping badly, not being able to socialise with friends, or difficulty concentrating on reading or work. Or they could be life problems, such as being unhappy at work, having trouble dealing with an adolescent child, or being in an unhappy marriage. These problems and goals then become the basis for planning the content of sessions and discussing how to deal with them.
Typically, at the beginning of a session, the client and therapist will jointly decide on the main topics they want to work on this week. They will also allow time for discussing the conclusions from the previous session. And they will look at the progress made with the 'homework' the client set for him- or herself last time. At the end of the session, they will plan another assignment to do outside the sessions.

Doing homework

Working on homework assignments between sessions, in this way, is a vital part of the process. What this may involve will vary. For example, at the start of the therapy, the therapist might ask the client to keep a diary of any incidents that provoke feelings of anxiety or depression, so that they can examine thoughts surrounding the incident. Later on in the therapy, another assignment might consist of exercises to cope with problem situations of a particular kind.

The importance of structure

The reason for having this structure is that it helps to use the therapeutic time most efficiently. It also makes sure that important information isn't missed out (the results of the homework, for instance) and that both therapist and client think about new assignments that naturally follow on from the session. The therapist takes an active part in structuring the sessions to begin with. As progress is made, and clients grasp the principles they find helpful, they take more and more responsibility for the content of sessions. So by the end, the client feels empowered to continue working independently.

Group sessions

CBT is usually a one-to-one therapy. But it's also well suited to working in groups, or families, particularly at the beginning of therapy. Many people find great benefit from sharing their difficulties with others who may have similar problems, even though this may seem daunting at first. The group can also be a source of specially valuable support and advice, because it comes from people with personal experience of a problem. Also, by seeing several people at once, service-providers can offer help to more people at the same time, so people get help sooner.

How else does it differ from other therapies?

CBT also differs from other therapies in the nature of the relationship that the therapist will try to establish. Some therapies encourage the client to be dependent on the therapist, as part of the treatment process. The client can then easily come to see the therapist as all-knowing and all-powerful. The relationship is different with CBT.

CBT favours a more equal relationship that is, perhaps, more business-like, being problem-focused and practical. The therapist will frequently ask the client for feedback and for their views about what is going on in therapy. Beck coined the term 'collaborative empiricism', which emphasises the importance of client and therapist working together to test out how the ideas behind CBT might apply to the client's individual situation and problems.

What kind of people benefit?

People who describe having particular problems are often the most suitable for CBT, because it works through having a specific focus and goals. It may be less suitable for someone who feels vaguely unhappy or unfulfilled, but who doesn't have troubling symptoms or a particular aspect of their life they want to work on. It's likely to be more helpful for anyone who can relate to CBT's ideas, its problem-solving approach and the need for practical self-assignments. People tend to prefer CBT if they want a more practical treatment, where gaining insight isn't the main aim.

CBT can be an effective therapy for a number of problems:

anger management
anxiety and panic attacks
child and adolescent problems
chronic fatigue syndrome
chronic pain
drug or alcohol problems
eating problems
general health problems
habits, such as facial tics
mood swings
obsessive-compulsive disorder
post-traumatic stress disorder
sexual and relationship problems
sleep problems

CBT does not claim to be able to cure all of the above problems. For example, it does not claim to be able to cure chronic pain or disorders such as chronic fatigue syndrome. Rather, CBT might help people with, for example, arthritis or chronic fatigue syndrome, to find new ways of coping while living with the disorders.

There is a new and rapidly growing interest in using CBT (together with medication) with people who suffer from hallucinations and delusions, and those with long-term problems in relating to others. It's less easy to solve problems that are more severely disabling and more long-standing through short-term therapy. But people can often learn principles that improve their quality of life and increase their chances of making further progress. There is also a wide variety of self-help literature. It provides information about treatments for particular problems and ideas about what people can do on their own or with friends and family.

Why do I need to do homework?

People who are willing to do assignments at home seem to get the most benefit from CBT. For example, many people with depression say they don't want to take on social or work activities until they are feeling better. CBT may introduce them to an alternative viewpoint – that trying some activity of this kind, however small-scale to begin with, will help them feel better. If that individual is open to testing this out, they could agree to do a homework assignment (say to go to the cinema with a friend). They may make faster progress, as a result, than someone who feels unable to take this risk.

How effective is it?

CBT can substantially reduce the symptoms of many emotional disorders – clinical trials have shown this. For some people it can work just as well as drug therapies at treating depression and anxiety disorders. And the benefits may last longer. All too often, when drug treatments finish, people relapse, and so practitioners may advise patients to continue using medication for longer. When patients are followed up for up to two years after therapy has ended, many studies have shown an advantage for CBT. This research suggests that CBT helps bring about a real change that goes beyond just feeling better while the patient stays in therapy. This has fuelled interest in CBT. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends CBT via the NHS for common mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety. (NICE is an independent organisation responsible for providing national guidance on promoting good health and preventing and treating ill health.)

Comparisons with other types of short-term psychological therapy aren't clear-cut. Therapies such as inter-personal therapy and social skills training are also effective. The drive is now to make all these interventions as effective as possible, and also, perhaps, to establish who responds best to which type of therapy.


CBT is not a miracle cure. The therapist needs to have considerable expertise – and the client must be prepared to be persistent, open and brave. Not everybody will benefit, at least not to full recovery, in a short space of time. It's unrealistic to expect too much.

At the moment, experts know quite a lot about people who have relatively clear-cut problems. They know much less about how the average person may do – somebody, perhaps, who has a number of problems that are less clearly defined. Sometimes, therapy may have to go on longer to do justice to the number of problems and to the length of time they've been around. One fact is also clear, though. CBT is rapidly developing. All the time, new ideas are being researched to deal with the more difficult aspects of people’s problems.

How does CBT work?

CBT is quite complex. There are several possible theories about how it works, and clients often have their own views. Perhaps there is no one explanation. But CBT probably works in a number of ways at the same time. Some it shares with other therapies, some are specific to CBT. The following illustrate the ways in which CBT can work.

Learning coping skills

CBT tries to teach people skills for dealing with their problems. Someone with anxiety may learn that avoiding situations helps to fan their fears. Confronting fears in a gradual and manageable way helps give the person faith in their own ability to cope. Someone who is depressed may learn to record their thoughts and look at them more realistically. This helps them to break the downward spiral of their mood. Someone with long-standing problems in relating to other people may learn to check out their assumptions about other people's motivation, rather than always assuming the worst.

Changing behaviours and beliefs

A new strategy for coping can lead to more lasting changes to basic attitudes and ways of behaving. The anxious client may learn to avoid avoiding things! He or she may also find that anxiety is not as dangerous as they assumed.
Someone who’s depressed may come to see themselves as an ordinary member of the human race, rather than inferior and fatally flawed. Even more basically, they may come to have a different attitude to their thoughts – that thoughts are just thoughts, and nothing more.

A new form of relationship

One-to-one CBT can bring the client into a kind of relationship they may not have had before. The 'collaborative' style means that they are actively involved in changing. The therapist seeks their views and reactions, which then shape the way the therapy progresses. The person may be able to reveal very personal matters, and to feel relieved, because no-one judges them. He or she arrives at decisions in an adult way, as issues are opened up and explained. Each individual is free to make his or her own way, without being directed. Some people will value this experience as the most important aspect of therapy.

Solving life problems

The methods of CBT may be useful because the client solves problems that may have been long-standing and stuck. Someone anxious may have been in a repetitive and boring job, lacking the confidence to change. A depressed person may have felt too inadequate to meet new people and improve their social life. Someone stuck in an unsatisfactory relationship may find new ways of resolving disputes. CBT may teach someone a new approach to dealing with problems that have their basis in an emotional disturbance.


REBT- Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy


REBT is a practical, action-oriented approach to coping with problems and enhancing personal growth. REBT places a good deal of its focus on the present: on currently-held attitudes, painful emotions and maladaptive behaviors that can sabotage a fuller experience of life. REBT also provides people with an individualized set of proven techniques for helping them to solve problems.

REBT practitioners work closely with people, seeking to help uncover their individual set of beliefs (attitudes, expectations and personal rules) that frequently lead to emotional distress.

REBT then provides a variety of methods to help people reformulate their dysfunctional beliefs into more sensible, realistic and helpful ones by employing the powerful REBT technique called "disputing." Ultimately, REBT helps people to develop a philosophy and approach to living that can increase their effectiveness and happiness at work, in living successfully with others, in parenting and educational settings, in making our community and environment healthier, and in enhancing their own health and personal welfare.

But don't you need to uncover the past in order to really understand people's problems?

Contrary to what some people erroneously believe, REBT does recognize that we may be strongly influenced by events in early life. Much of our philosophy of life—what we think about ourselves and our values—is learned from past experiences. But the past is with us in the form of beliefs that we carry in our head in the present. REBT homes in on the beliefs that are harmful in our current emotional life and behavior—whether those beliefs arose in the distant reaches of our youth or within the past few weeks.

REBT believes that the "nuttiness" of our past exerts its influence in our current-day thinking patterns and beliefs. Although we cannot change the past, we can change how we let the past influence the way we are today and the way we want to be tomorrow. In this sense, REBT is an optimistic approach to living and to solving problems.

I've heard that REBT tries to do away with negative emotions altogether by making people think logically and objectively. Is that true?

This is a fundamental misconception of REBT. Perhaps more so than any other approach, REBT emphasizes the involvement of emotions in just about every aspect of our thinking and actions. REBT proposes that when our negative emotions become too intense (e.g., rage, panic, or depression), not only do we feel very unhappy, but our ability to manage our lives begins to deteriorate. At these times, the quality of our thinking changes and we begin to take things over-personally, blow things out of perspective, condemn others for their transgressions and generally become less tolerant of life's hassles and hardships. REBT helps restore the emotional balance in an individual's life by providing methods for thinking more realistically and level-headedly about ourselves, other people, and the world.

But aren't feelings such as anger and anxiety normal and appropriate?

Of course! But it is the quality of feelings that is important. Experiencing intense irritation and displeasure when things go wrong can motivate you to change frustrating conditions. Feelings of rage, on the other hand, often land you in a smoldering stew, where you're likely not to take any action at all, or to act in ways that are impulsive and self-defeating. A bit of anxiety or some degree of concern about facing the boss can add an edge of excitement that sharpens performance; excessive anxiety, however, can interfere with thinking and action. While REBT tries to minimize debilitating emotions, that does not mean that it's unhealthy to experience keen feelings of sorrow or displeasure when you experience misfortune.

With REBT's emphasis on reducing emotional upsets in the face of unfairness or misfortune, doesn't it encourage the preservation of the status quo? (Not to mention take away energy to make things better?)

One of REBT's favorite maxims (first expressed by Reinhold Neibuhr) is: "Grant me the courage to change the things I can change, the serenity to accept those that I cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference." REBT seeks to empower individuals both by helping them more effectively handle their own painful emotions, and by enabling them to change their own behavior and improve their world where possible. When you get too upset, it is much more difficult to behave in constructive ways. By gaining better control over upsetting emotions, you become far more able to act assertively to change bad outside circumstances.

With all this emphasis on "me," doesn't REBT encourage selfishness?
Don't we already have too much selfishness in this world?

A very good question. Yes, many people are too selfish for their own and others' good. REBT provides people with the skills and attitudes to become less selfish. Selfishness is often motivated by ego-gratification. Many selfish people tend to be very needy and demanding and are intent on getting what they want at any cost in order to feel good about themselves. REBT helps people to reduce their own neediness and specifically their need to prove themselves to others. To discourage selfishness, REBT teaches what Albert Ellis calls the value of rational self-acceptance. According to Ellis, healthy people are usually glad to be alive and accept themselves just because they are alive and have some capacity to enjoy themselves. They refuse to measure their intrinsic worth by their extrinsic accomplishments, materialistic possessions and by what others think of them. They frankly choose to accept themselves unconditionally; and then try to completely avoid globally rating themselves—meaning their totality or their "essence." They attempt to enjoy rather than prove themselves. Thus, rather than acting out of selfishness, they learn to operate from responsible self-interest.

Isn't REBT just about intellectual disputing?

REBT does help people by teaching them to recognize and change those aspects of their thinking which are not sensible, accurate or useful. This is probably what is meant by intellectual disputing. However, it also uses a host of other emotional and behavioral methods designed to reduce upset feelings and increase personal effectiveness. These include rational-emotive imagery; assertiveness, self nurturance, risk-taking, and other behavioral homework assignments; communication skill training; and "shame-attacking" exercises.

I've heard that REBT is only really useful with very intelligent people.

REBT can work very well with very bright people. Good brain power can help certain people analyze more quickly the ways in which their thinking is illogical when they are upset. However, just because you have the potential to quickly see the irrational qualities of your thinking, doesn't mean you will use your potential to help yourself. Many very bright people are more motivated to argue the "rightness" of their beliefs than to consider they might be wrong.

Over the years, REBT methods have been adopted for children as young as five or six years old, and even for the learning-impaired. Rational emotive behavior therapists are trained to tailor REBT to meet the wide variety of intellectual, cognitive-developmental and other personal characteristics of clients.I've heard that REBT therapists do a lot of confronting. This doesn't sound very empathic or supportive.

REBT practitioners are very concerned about establishing a helpful, supportive, and facilitative alliance with people. They realize that not all people come to therapy ready for action and change, and that some people—because of their personalities and problems—require a great deal of support and empathy before they are ready to change. At the same time, REBT practitioners tend to take an active role with their clients. They help provide people as quickly as possible with the tools to help them change their beliefs leading to disturbing emotions, thus freeing them to confront their everyday problems with all their resources.

By being so active, aren't REBT therapists "controlling" the client?

REBT practitioners have excellent insight into the nature of problems in living and how to help clients free themselves from their emotional misery about them. They are conscious that many clients find it difficult to address the main problems in their lives and their own inner obstacles to happiness. Rational emotive behavior therapists work collaboratively with clients to clarify existing problems, and to identify important general problems to work on together. And yes, REBT practitioners are active in teaching clients new methods for changing their thinking, feelings and behavior. However, REBT does not control the client. Rather, it empowers people to manage their own emotional problems more effectively and to take control of their own behavior in order to try to obtain more of what they want in life.

Does REBT force its own beliefs about what's rational on people?

REBT defines rational beliefs as those which help people live satisfying, healthy, and fulfilled lives. Over the years, Albert Ellis has identified a set of rational beliefs or values which abet a person's happiness and survival. For example, rational self-acceptance—which involves people giving up the self-rating game—seems to help people significantly reduce anxiety and increase feelings of self-acceptance.

High frustration tolerance, which encourages people to accept (not like) life's hardships and other people's imperfections, leads to greater perseverance, patience, and the ability to get along with others. REBT practitioners are careful, however, not to impose "rational" beliefs. REBT accepts that there are also other "non-rational" belief systems that can help people achieve happiness. REBT accepts the value system of the client and works within that framework to facilitate the client's goals.By emphasizing the individual's beliefs and values and eliminating "shoulds," isn't REBT incompatible with religious values?
REBT has discovered that when people impose rigid expectations on themselves, other people, and the world they are likely to experience unnecessary emotional distress.

In REBT, these expectations are expressed as absolutistic "shoulds," "oughts," and "musts." For example, "I should be successful in important things I do at work" can get you into emotional hot water when you make mistakes or fail. REBT affirms the value of achievement, but helps clients give up their demandingness for total success at all times. REBT advocates instead a more preferential system of values: one which encourages people to work toward their professional goals, but never to condemn and damn themselves when they fail to achieve them. In a similar way, REBT is useful in helping people from diverse religious backgrounds to be more self-accepting, as well as more accepting of other people who may not share their particular values.

REBT makes sense, but I can't seem to apply it to myself—I understand it "intellectually," but not "emotionally."

When you think about it, what REBT sets out to accomplish sounds pretty ambitious: its goal is no less than changing core irrational beliefs that you've spent your whole life rehearsing, living, and "feeling." For many people, it takes some time before the emotional "gut" follows what their head already "knows." Learning new ways of thinking and new beliefs can be compared to a horse-driven carriage which has had the same driver and horse for years. The horse knows where to go without having to be told by the driver. Once you change the driver (new ways of thinking), the horse still goes in the same direction (old emotions and behaviors), but the driver has to strain at the reins to produce a change in direction (new emotions and behaviors). The positive aspect of the strain you may experience in using REBT is that it shows you are learning new ways of feeling and behaving and that you are taking charge of your own direction in life.

Brief Therapy

Brief therapy is an umbrella term for a variety of approaches to psychotherapy. It differs from other schools of therapy in that it emphasises

(1) a focus on a specific problem and

(2) direct intervention. In brief therapy, the therapist takes responsibility for working more pro-actively with the client in order to treat clinical and subjective conditions faster. It also emphasizes precise observation, utilization of natural resources, and temporary suspension of disbelief to consider new perspectives and multiple viewpoints.

Rather than the formal analysis of historical causes of distress, the primary approach of brief therapy is to help the client to view the present from a wider context and to utilize more functional understandings (not necessarily at a conscious level). By becoming aware of these new understandings, successful clients will de facto undergo spontaneous and generative change.

Brief therapy is often highly strategic, exploratory, and solution-based rather than problem-oriented. It is less concerned with how a problem arose than with the current factors sustaining it and preventing change. Brief therapists do not adhere to one "correct" approach, but rather accept that there being many paths, any of which may or may not in combination turn out to be ultimately beneficial.

Psychodynamic Therapy

What is it?

Psychodynamic therapy (or Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy as it is sometimes called) is a general name for therapeutic approaches which try to get the patient to bring to the surface their true feelings, so that they can experience them and understand them.

Like Psychoanalysis, Psychodynamic Psychotherapy uses the basic assumption that everyone has an unconscious mind (this is sometimes called the subconscious), and that feelings held in the unconscious mind are often too painful to be faced. Thus we come up with defences to protect us knowing about these painful feelings. An example of one of these defences is called denial - which you may have already come across.

Psychodynamic therapy assumes that these defences have gone wrong and are causing more harm than good, that is why you have needed to seek help. It tries to unravel them, as once again, it is assumed that once you are aware of what is really going on in your mind the feelings will not be as painful.

How long does it last?

This can vary quite a lot. The length of treatment can vary anywhere from 8 weekly sessions, to therapy going on three times a week for a number of years.
In the UK, psychodynamic therapy on the NHS is relatively rare, and tends to be performed mainly by Clinical Psychologists. This tends to be of the shorter variety.

What's the difference between Psychodynamic Therapy and Psychoanalysis?
Although similar to Psychoanalysis, in fact it was derived from a similar background!, it tends to differ in two obvious ways. Firstly it is shorter (usually!), and secondly there tends to be a more specific aim to psychodynamic therapy. For example, sorting out a phobia. Whereas, Psychoanalysis will tend to look to affect a lot more of your personality.

How does the Therapist work?

The therapist normally takes an attitude of unconditional acceptance. This basically means that the therapist holds you in high regard because you are a person, no matter what your problem is.

The therapist tries to develop a relationship with you, to help you discover what is going on in your unconscious mind. They do this partly by theoretical knowledge (academic stuff!), partly by experience, and partly through their knowledge of themselves.

We know the last part must seem quite weired, but actually it is critical. The therapist often uses how they feel in the room with you, as a guide to how you are feeling. They are, for lack of a better way of putting it, testing the relationship with you to discover more about you than you are aware of. The therapist uses interpretations, which are a way of making sense to you about what is going on, in order to help you become aware of your unconscious feelings.

So, in every session, the therapist is trying to judge, how much you are in touch with your own feelings, what feelings you are not aware of, how close are you to knowing the unconscious feelings, how painful these feelings are to you, and how well you can tolerate the pain that becoming aware of these feelings will bring.

How the therapist works is actually more complicated than we have presented here, but we hope this gives you a rough idea.

Does it Work?

Sometimes, but not always.

Psychodynamic therapy has got a scientific record of its effectiveness for certain conditions (e.g. depression). However, because of the way it is carried out it is really hard to judge just how well it does work. The experts tend to argue amongst themselves whether it works, but we think the best judge of the issue are the patients themselves. A lot of patients have reported that it has helped them enormously, and indeed some go on to full psychoanalysis. However, equally a lot of patients, really disliked it. These people tended to drop out of therapy quite quickly.

Psychodynamic therapy is one of the few mainstream therapies that focusses on aspects of your personality, and although it is used to treat a wide variety of conditions, it seems to us particularly suited for problems to do with personalities, and past and present relationships.

Therefore, the advice that we offer to you is that if this type of therapy appeals to you, then find out a bit more, and give it a go. There are a lot of people that are glad they did. However, be prepared to be open and honest, and be prepared to find the going difficult, especially at first. Even, if it doesn't seem appealing now, you may find someway down the line, that you would like to give it a go.

Like in all therapies, there are no guarantees

False Allegation in the Workplace

It is clear to us all that life has changed drastically over the past ten years. The high cost of living, the pressures of paying bills, work pressures and now all to often we spend hours each day sitting in traffic trying to get to and from work.

These are very real facts of life for the majority of us. As these types of pressures increase so to does our ability to communicate and get on with our fellow colleagues. The array of emotions and frustrations of life can play out each day in our relationships with those we work with and for. For most the time in work is filled with good humour and gossip for others the pressures of working with people who you don't get on with can be difficult and ad to the problems one may have. In real life not everybody gets on or likes each other, this is normal but should never affect the work that you're paid to do.

These issues can be added too by having someone in a senior position who may also be suffering from the effects of work related stress or is someone maybe not qualified to be in such a position or is just not a great leader, this then makes the working relationships extremely difficult and challenging.

In my experience those that are subjected to acts of being falsely accused of something often work in areas where there is a lack of leadership and overall sense of instability within the working team and environment. These false allegations can stem for example from such issues as staff members putting others down for their work habits at meetings when the other person isn't there, or going so far as to make allegations out of spite and jealously. They are then further exasperated when or if the individual/s are faced with having to back up their claims, this can result in further stories and lies being told. All to often with firm management these issues can be sorted and even rectified from the moment they begin but when they are not then the trouble begins.

When a false allegation is made all involved have to account for their roles including the senior manager who now faces attention in regard to their inability to deal effectively with such issues before they develop, this may well result in the senior staff member covering their own back and supporting the lies being told. At times it may well be an issue driven by a Manager in order to make themselves look important or be seen to be working or out of insecurity in their own position if the person is more qualified than themselves.

If a situation arises and gets to this point it should be made clear to all what the process is in regard to dealing with such allegations and how it may well effect all involved if it continues on a formal path. There should be a cooling off period in which those parties making allegations can consider what in fact it will mean to do so. I need to make it very clear again at this point that this entry is in regard to those making false allegations and not those who are truly suffering as a result such incidents as bullying and harassment. The policy by which those making false allegations are dealt with needs to be discussed and the person appointed to investigate the allegation needs to be impartial, if not the case is wrong from the start.

Nearly all to often in my experience the vast majority of those on the receiving end of false allegations are Males colleagues with the allegations coming from Female colleagues. However, false allegations can be seen in many areas of employment and between all sexes, an example could be those in the Police Services who are continuously at the wrong end of false allegations by those out to make money and seek revenge etc, or those working in such areas as Prisons and Places of Detention who may face false allegations due to their working position. Allegation of sexual harassment against a man can also be a problem as they can be easily made and have long lasting consequences that are difficult to prove, even when fought and found to be unfounded there is always a level of guilt attached in the minds of some.

The best way to fight such malicious and horrendous allegations is to challenge the liars to repeat their allegations in court, certainly by all means go through the unions, seek other alternatives but in my experience you have to fight for your name and your reputation and if it means getting those that chose to lie into a witness stand to do so then that's the way to go (after all other options are explored from as early as possible).

There is one thing that always stands to those at the wrong end of a false allegations and that is the truth. It will often come to light that you may be responsible for certain minor infractions within your work, such as leaving early on a Friday or not having your paper work up to date, this trivial information will all come to light when those making false allegations are pushed against the ropes in an investigation, these issues maybe used in a feeble attempt to put blame on you, as it is easier at times for an employer to get rid of you than it is to challenge those not telling the truth. My advice is Never be swayed by such trickery, accept you where wrong apologise but never back down from the truth and always challenge the real lies being said against you.

If after the Unions are finished and little can be done seek out a good Solicitor who knows about employment law, in fact your union should have a solicitor for this. From the very beginning demand every allegation in writing, take your time with this as liars in such circumstances find it difficult to keep up the pretence. Start to catch them out line by line, respond in writing including copies for your Union and legal advisor make sure this is indicated on your responses so everyone knows you are going to the very end with this, Keep your responses short and directly challenge each lie, always finish with how upset you are, how these are false allegations and how this affects you and your family. Seek a good counsellor to support you and to also support your case if taken for emotional abuse.

All to often you may have to accept that you won't get these people to court, the employer will want to end it and will want rid of you. Never accept anything other than all of your wages and an exceptional reference before going. You may well then want to take separate legal actions against each individual, for me I think it's best to just walk away if you can, those making the false allegations will never be trusted again, your employer will know that they too were taken advantage of but can never show it, however, they will always have a black mark against each of the staff members involved, eventually these people tend to move on, if the organisation is big enough they will move throughout but will never amount to anything. You on the other hand have learned a valuable lesson, never get involved in such things as bitching even if everyone is doing it, never get to friendly with those you work with, never, never drink with your workmates and always keep a diary. Now these might seem like strong measure to take but you will have to judge the place you work for yourself, most will know if these measures are necessary.

If you're experiencing anything like this it's vital that you take some power back, try and find a solution very early on that in no way compromises your innocence, research everything related to your policies and labour law, look for information on your rights, talk on forums with those in the same position, start forums if you find non, seek legal advice from an experienced workplace lawyer, use your union to their full extent, never attend a meeting with your employer alone, never respond to anything unless you have a written copy of what you're replying to at least 48hrs prior to any meeting, take your time responding, appreciate your family and friends for supporting you. Try and let go of the need to seek revenge and the hatred you have towards these people as this will eat you up inside.

Always remember you are not alone, there are thousands of people everyday accused wrongly in their workplaces, some are extreme with two and even three people ganging up on one person but if you have the truth you will always win and take back your life.

This article does not reflect every possible false allegation case or every employer. People need to also be responsible for their own part big or small in conflict, but it does give an insight in to some of the difficulties faced and lessons learned that can be followed. Contact me or share your story for others to learn from.