Update on website traffic: my own favourite top 15 (6-10) - therapist feedback, relationships, conflict, group work, & walking
Last updated on 19th January 2017
Last month I used Google Analytics to identify the most read pages on this website and I wrote the post "Update on website traffic: the ten most popular blog posts". This got me thinking - "What are my own personal favourites?" I quickly realised that the posts that I've written that have had the most impact on me and my practice as a therapist are nearly always made up of sequences of blog posts rather than just individual items. I said that glancing back over the last year or so, themes that stood out included mindfulness, therapist feedback, self-control, conflict, embodied cognition and positive psychology. Going further back still there are the posts about interpersonal groupwork, relationships, therapeutic writing, walking in nature, compassion, exercise, healthy lifestyle, attachment and goal setting. I went on to write "Update on website traffic: my own favourite top 15 (1-5) - mindfulness, compassion, embodied cognition, attachment, & willpower". This wasn't meant to represent my top five blog sequences - more just five of my top fifteen. Today I'd like to write about another five favourites from that top fifteen - feedback, relationships, conflict, group work, and my own walks in the hills. So first therapist feedback:
Therapist feedback. At last year's main UK cognitive behavioural psychotherapy conference in Guildford, I went to Michael Lambert's talk "What shall we do about the fact that there are supershrinks and pseudoshrinks?" Although I know a lot about the therapeutic relationship, the data Michael presented hit me like a ton of bricks. I went on to write a series of posts about this area. "Barry Duncan's book 'On becoming a better therapist'" is a good place to start. "The heart & soul of change: delivering what works in therapy (2nd edition)" is more of an academic overview and contains the challenging assertion "The combination of measuring progress (i.e. monitoring) and providing feedback consistently yields clinically significant change ... Rates of deterioration are cut in half, as is dropout. Include feedback about the client's formal assessment of the relationship, and the client is less likely to deteriorate, more likely to stay longer, and twice as likely to achieve a clinically significant change." The post "The Norway feedback project: a clear & sensible way to make psychotherapy more effective" shows where some of the data for this assertion comes from. In "Personal experience: feedback as opportunity & as a way of getting back on track" I describe extending the use of feedback into group psychotherapy & into training workshops, and finally there is the self-explanatory post "Psychotherapists & counsellors who don't monitor their outcomes are at risk of being both incompetent & potentially dangerous".
Relationships. Good relationships are so important in multiple ways. In 2010, the biggest research overview ever looked at 148 relevant research studies, that followed nearly a third of a million people over an average of 7.5 years, and showed that "Strong relationships improve survival as much as quitting smoking" (or at least are "associated" with as much benefit). These benefits are partly through better health behaviours - see "Be the change you want to see in the world" for more on the amazing way effects spread through social networks - and partly due to direct biochemical mechanisms, for example on inflammation, glucocorticoids & oxytocin. There are also major gains for psychological health & wellbeing - see, for example "Friendship: science, art & gratitude", "Meeting at relational depth" and "Different kinds of group, different kinds of friendship". Also relevant here are the many available handouts & questionnaires on the "Good knowledge" pages "Relationships in general", "Relationships, families, couples & psychosexual" (see too "Sexual behavior, sexual attraction and sexual identity") and "Interpersonal group work".
Conflict. Sometimes relationships involve conflict - this isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it's often hard. There are reasons to think that a key difference between more and less effective counsellors/psychotherapists lies in the way that they manage conflict. It's tempting to consider this might be true more generally in life as well. There are many posts on this website looking at conflict - examples include "Conflict & disagreement, in & out of therapy", "My dilemma: passion or peacefulness?", "Peer groups: Cumbria autumn group - challenge & flowing on", "Holiday, friendship & meditation retreat", "Peer groups: Wiston autumn group - third morning", "Opening up group, sixth session", "Cooperative behaviour cascades in social networks", "Peer groups: Ravenstor autumn group - depth & confrontation", "Peer groups: Cumbria spring group - authenticity, learning & interpersonal conflict", "Conflict: not too much, not too little - some research suggestions", "Conflict: not too much, not too little - and how to make it constructive", "The importance of assertiveness in close relationships", "When to get real & problem solve in close relationships", "Insights from 'game theory'" and "Feedback, groupwork & learning from difficulties".
Group work. There's a lot about group work on this website. Often the quite personal descriptions seem to trigger helpful broader thinking on stress, health & wellbeing. A subsection of these group blog posts are about peer residential groups - typically mixed groups in the spring and men's groups in the autumn - see May '08, November '08, May '09 (with a description of cathartic work), November '09, May '10, November '10, May '11, October '11 (an autumn mixed group here), May '12, September '14. "Different kinds of group, different kinds of friendship" and "Setting up a therapists' support group" look more at non-residential peer support groups. "A quiet rant to group facilitators" discusses the importance of personal experience of groups for health professionals who are considering running them. There are then three detailed session-by-session descriptions of the kinds of groups that I run at "Interpersonal group work", "Autogenic relaxation training" and "Life skills for stress, health & wellbeing".
Walking (mostly in the hills). If you click on this website's "Walking" tag, it takes you through to thirty or so posts. Several are about the benefits of exercise. Most however are about my own personal experience of walking - typically in the Scottish hills. Much of the most creative, "original" thinking on this website is bundled in with the descriptions of these long - often solitary - walks. There are a series of six posts in the Spring of 2008 about walking in the Fainnichs, eleven posts about a trip walking in the Sahara early in '09, a particularly thoughtful series of six about Glen Affric the next month, a couple too on climbing the Ben Lui group. Then things go a bit quiet until three posts on the Mamores in April 2010 and a different kind of walk thinking of my mother the next month. Partly because I had hurt my hip, partly because I was writing about other things, there's then a gap until the pretty dramatic pair of posts about Skye & Kintail this month.
Next month I intend to write about posts on exercise, healthy lifestyle, therapeutic writing, goal setting & positive psychology.