Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The more things change...

Been away so long, seems like everything has changed. A hacking of my gmail account drew me back to this blog...I'm in the final write up of my PhD and will be back after this, although I may relocate the blog elsewhere. Watch this space.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New Thinking in Illness Study

This study looks at how the way that we tend to think a lot about certain things might influence our thoughts and behaviours that relate to acute illness, represented by cancer, and chronic illness, represented by diabetes. Increasing our understanding of how people think in response to illness may help identify individuals who may experience difficulties in adjusting to illness and also guide us in developing ways to help you overcome these difficulties.

To participate in this study, you need to be aged 18 or over and have been diagnosed with any of the following: Type I or Type 2 diabetes, breast, colorectal, gynaecological, prostate or skin cancer.

If you'd like to find out more about the study, please visit Thinking Style in Illness

NEWSFLASH!!! Now open to international participants.

Direct Current Stumulation Study


Associate Professor Colleen Loo (UNSW / Black Dog Institute)


School of Psychiatry, UNSW; Black Dog Institute, Randwick NSW


Researchers are investigating direct current stimulation (DCS) as a treatment for depression and potential alternative to medication and other brain stimulation techniques such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Very weak currents are used to stimulate the brain. The stimulation is painless with no known serious side effects, and the person is fully awake and alert during the treatment sessions. Participants will be required to attend the Black Dog Institute from Monday to Friday for 4 to 8 weeks usually for 45 minutes per visit.

Participants required:

Participants must be at least 18 years old and experiencing feelings of depression for at least 4 weeks prior to study entry.


If you would like more information or are interested in participating, please call Angelo Alonzo on (02) 9382 3720 or Donel Martin on (02) 9382 9261 or email TMSandDCS@unsw.edu.au

Saturday, May 07, 2011


Life keeps getting in the way of this blog. So far this year, I have broken three front teeth in a bad encounter with some Scottish shortbread, been hit in the chest by a tree felled by Practical Man (he's NOT a lumberjack and he's definitely not okay!) and now this week put my car out of action by taking out the front of it while reversing down my driveway. No, it doesn't make sense...but I have a very steep driveway, my car slid in the rain on to a wall and then when I tried to get it off the wall, crrunch.

Add to that PhD deadlines, other exams and my mother, in the UK, being diagnosed with dementia, I'm kind of thinking I'd like to rewind this year and start again!

As I am always saying, back soon.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

So long Spud

There was talk in the media last week about a study that showed women care more about their dogs than they do their partners. Of course, it wasn't a serious study, just a survey of pet owners, see here if you're interested to read more. I thought how threatened must PracticalMan be living in a house of three dogs?

Well, today that number shrunk to two as we made the difficult decision to put our beloved golden retriever Spud (noble sounding name I know) to sleep. At the grand old age of nearly 15, and we'd hoped he would make it, Spud suddenly deteriorated overnight. As hard a decision as it was to make, it' was obvious that there was no alternative if we wanted to spare him any suffering.

The Dish (daughter, for new readers) is devastated. Spud had been there every minute of her life. Lifelong friends, they've shared many happy moments together. Spud made me feel safe when PracticalMan was away even though he'd have made any intruder his new best friend. At our previous house, Spud was very smart at finding new ways to escape the back yard but it was never hard to find him. We knew we'd find him at the local shops, curled up under a cafe table, gladly receiving any titbits anyone cared to throw his way. Being such a gorgeous looking dog, he got plenty.

So long dear friend.

Spud, gone walkies.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hey, good looking!

PracticalMan takes it in his stride when I eye up French chef Manu Feildel. In fact, he finds it rather funny  (and occasionally beneficial) that I have developed a sudden interest in French cooking. Similarly, I don' t blink an eyelid when he rushes to watch anything involving former Miss Universe Jennifer Hawkins, although there's no apparent benefit for me there. 'Chacun a son gout ' as Manu would say in his gorgeous French accent. Let's face it, he could be saying 'Your drains need cleaning' and it would still sound fabulous.

Well, it seems we may be on to something according to a new study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.  While you might reasonably expect that a wandering eye would be detrimental to a relationship, trying to rein in that eye might actually be more destructive to a relationship. Based on the concept of 'forbidden fruit', of wanting what you can't have,  trying to limit that wandering eye has a three fold effect in that it reduces satisfaction with and commitment to a relationship whilst increasing memory and attention for attractive relationship alternatives. So, the more I'm not allowed to indulge my newly found passion for 'French cooking' *wink wink*, the more I'm going to think about it, to want to and the more 'ticked off' I'm going to be with PracticalMan when I can't.

Important things to note about the study that may limit these findings are that (1) there was no French chef involved (2) most of the participants were undergraduates and so in early stages of relationships and (3) there was no followup to see if relationships were in fact impacted.

Of course, PracticalMan is sensible. He knows Manu is no threat and, more importantly, he knows which side his brioche is buttered.

For more on the study, see the reference below.


DeWall, C. N., Maner, J. K., Deckman, T, & Rouby, D. A. (2011). Forbidden fruit: Inattention to attactive alternatives provokes implicit relationship reactance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100, 621-629.

Friday, April 08, 2011

The perils of self-disclosure

I've had a recent spare of new clients complaining to me recently about past therapists, psychologists, counselllors and their preference to talk about themselves. There was the psychologist who liked to spend the session talking about the trials and tribulations of his weekend angling trip, the counsellor who thought that discussing work place issues gave her carte blanche to talk about her own frustrations. This information was given to me early on just in case I might be feeling the same need to unburden myself and to stop me in my tracks.

Self-disclosure, the divulging of personal information about the self, presents a considerable ethical dilemma in therapy, a situation made more difficult by the internet search engines and social networking sites. Not all self-disclosure is intentional. Several clients have told me they've Googled me. I immediately went home and Googled myself. Not too much to worry about there... a few sleep-inducing research papers and not much else. I restricted access to my Facebook page, not that I have ever really bothered about using it. Sometimes self-disclosure is unavoidable. When I was out sick for a while, clients knew that about me, and I had to be extremely careful in dealing with questions about it when I returned to work.

But what about intentional self-disclosure? Used sparingly and judiciously, intentional self-disclosure can be  therapeutic, can help to build the therapeutic alliance. It's a double-edged sword, however, and careless or excessive use of disclosure can make make the client uncomfortable, burdened and transfer the focus away from client to therapist.

Similarly, how you deal with requests for self-disclosure from the client is critical. When a personal question is refused with a flat: "no", it may be destructive to the therapeutic relationship. For example, in an environment where trust is key, people might feel there's a lack of reciprocal trust. Maintaining good boundaries at all time is essential but softening that refusal by explaining how the sharing of  personal information would change the nature of the therapeutic relationship and exploring the interest further can be useful.

Client side, therapist side - what's been your experience with self-disclosure? What's helpful? What's not?

Friday, April 01, 2011

The Fun of Flying

I've had some interesting times working with clients with a flying phobia. Luckily for me, no one  has requested in vivo exposure. While I'm not phobic, I certainly don't enjoy flying as much as I used to and the 24 hour flight home to the UK is the stuff of nightmares.

When I do go, it's via the US (slightly longer) just so that I can fly Air New Zealand. Blogpal Reality Ravings first blogged on this safety  video because it features Phil Keoghan (The Amazing Race) with eyebrow.

So much fun, it even makes me feel like flying.