More Than One Way

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Hoping you all managed through the festive season. Now that we’re out and on the other side, I thought we’d take a look at a slightly different option when seeking help. Or wanting to help a client with A.B.I. / T.B.I.

Cognitive Analytic Therapy (C.A.T)

What It Is

illustration-im-lost-hiker-no-direction-frits-ahlefeldt

C.A.T. is a type of therapy based on Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Psycho-analytic Therapy.

Typically, therapy is given with a collaborative, person-centred style. New names / labels are found to describe difficult patterns of events, stages in process and emotions and behaviours that link them.

This means that problems can be looked at more in depth. Patterns can be drawn out and joined up in relation with different areas of life; whole situations can be mapped out.

The number of sessions spent with a therapist is limited.

How it Can be Applied to Acquired Brain Injury

I’ve done a little diagram of my own. I think many of you will recognise the re-occuring cycle.

CAT Diagram

This is how I have seen it with different clients over the years. But it can never be a case of “one size fits all”. With help, the best person to draw the process you go through is YOU.

Here’s the thing:-

  • Once expressed and put on paper, the process is not reliant on memory. How a situation is now can be seen and read.
  • Attention can be focussed more easily and areas identified that need tweaking. (For example, with support, the above “Former Self / Current Self” box can be gone into more in depth. A list of former, helpful skills that are still current might be revealed.)
  • A sense of direction could also become clear. (E.g: A still present, helpful skill could be discussed to see how it might be used to effect another box – maybe even re-write what’s in it.)

I shan’t go on. You’ve got the picture.

Research

Some of you out there might like further research on this subject. Here’s a very interesting online publication I came across. (Click the title.) It’s a paper by Caroline Rice-Varian. It’s called:

“The Effectiveness of Standard Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT) with people with mild and moderate acquired brain injury (ABI): an outcome evaluation”.

Referrence: Rice-Varian, C., 2011. The Effectiveness of Standard Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT) with people with mild and moderate acquired brain injury (ABI): an outcome evaluation.. Reformulation, Summer, pp.49-54.

Signing Off

Thanks for reading. Your questions, requests and comments throughout 2020 will be appreciated as always .

And now, in true “Monty Python” style, here’s something completely different: A cartoon called “The Cat Came Back”. (Approx. 8 minutes.)

Enjoy!

Cognitive Rehabilitation Therapy – Companionship & Competition

Two Pronged Brain

Last month I talked of the two ways in which C.R.T. can be given – “Comprehensive” and “Modular”. My personal opinion is that a combination of both helps individuals most. This was following a conversation with someone wanting to help their family member directly.

I hope the link to Dr. Judd’s expertise was useful.

Nowthen, as it’s Christmas, I thought it might be an idea to look at some of the online resources available. There’s stuff out there, some even quite fun, that everyone can challenge each other at.

(“Restorative”)

It’s best to see this often used term as an intention, not a promise. It is used to describe exercises designed to improve precise areas of brain function. For an idea of the different options available online, click here for Phone Arena.Com’s view of their “Top 5” brain training sites. (Just under 4 minutes.) (As always, you may want to skip the ad’.)

(Neuronation)

Not saying it’s the best. Neuronation is the site I’ve most experience with. You can find your own favourite.

The first thing to do is register an email address and password to log on with. The first thing that will greet you will be three choices of subscription: 1. £11 for three months; 2. £5 for twelve months or 3. £299 for a lifetime access to all the games. But as with most things of this nature, you’ll get a free sample of tasters.

To gain access to these free samples, click the “Training” header at the top of the page. The next gives the options of “Daily Training” or “Exercises”.

On your first visit, I suggest you go straight to the exercises. These include a free exercise or two in the following catagories: “Numeracy”; “Language”; “Reasoning”; “Memory” and “Perception”.

Have a practice at each. You can time yourself, but I’d suggest building your confidence by having a go in “Learning Mode”. Pick a catagory; pick an exercise; choose the “Tutorial”; click the “Learning Mode”.

Neuronation monitors and charts your level of performance. At any time, when fatigue or boredom strike, you can come out of your chosen exercise.

Whether you’re wanting something to do yourself, or get to know and help your familiar-cum-new member of your family, these online products are a good way of doing it.

Wishing you progress throughout 2020. And a Christmas as best as best can be.

Sean

Xmas2020

Cognitive Rehabilitation Therapy – The Two Pronged Way

Two Pronged Brain

Here at last! I thought I was never going to get this uploaded. And still in November too.

Let’s turn our attention back to Cognitive Rehabilitation Therapy (C.R.T.)

Why?

  1. We haven’t talked about C.R.T. for a long time.
  2. Someone recently asked what they could do at home to help their loved-one themselves. (I’ve found a Youtube post that should help. See below.)
(Definition)

There are many. It seems every organisation the world over has its own description of what CRT is. Here’s my “in a nutshell” definition:-

Cognitive Rehabilitation Therapy is a collaborative series of tasks and discussions between therapist(s) and patient(s) / client(s) aimed at helping those patient(s) / client(s) cope with themselves and the wider world after a brain injury.

The implication for Cognitive Rehabilitation Therapists, be they grounded in classical Cognitive therapies or Person-centred therapies, is that C.R.T. involves both active listening and active thinking.

What do I mean by “active thinking”? I mean empathically thinking as the client thinks.

Art of cinversation

(Comprehensive)

Cognitive Rehab’ Therapy takes a two pronged approach. The Person-centred or “Multi-modal” (“Comprehensive”) prong takes account of emotions, behaviour and perceptions altogether.  Active listening flags up the patient’s / client’s motivation or lack of it – gauges what stimulates by whatever degree and how. A therapist can then intuit techniques and interventions to best aid the patient’s / client’s understanding and skills.

The relationship is one of observation – reflection or open question – reaction – observation – response. Such in-the-moment to-ing and fro’-ing between therapist and patient / client can result in unforeseen recognitions. I’m talking about immeasurable and surprising reconnections and new connections within the “neuro-person”, if I may call them that.

(Modular)

The Modular prong is more targeted. Its focus is on areas of damaged brain, not always the holistic person. Formulated exercises are aimed at improving attention, memory, visual and information processing, language or executive functions.

Single modules can be used for an isolated or overriding impairment. Selected modules can be used in group settings or tailored to individual patients / clients. Though less precise in delivery, modular, task orientated group therapy helps in the following ways:-

  • By facilitating peer support.
  • Problem solving by discussion gives greater chance to strengthen confidence, co-operation, as well as some empathy.
  • Less rigid, more flexible problem solving skills – “thinking sideways” also has greater chances to develop.
(Family Involvement)

How about that Youtube link? Clinical neuropsychologist, Tedd Judd, PhD. offers family members advice on how to approach helping a brain injured loved-one. (8.5 minutes.) Click here to watch. (Skip the advert.)

There is every reason to include family members in therapy when and where appropriate and possible.

When couple counselling I find it helps the couple best if we view their relationship as the client. Thinking sideways, it’s not difficult to shift this way of working to a wider family context. After all, it’s the relationship with and around a loved one with the acquired brain injury that needs to readjustment as much as A.B.I. survivor themselves.

More next month. Take care for now.

Someone Walks into a Bank – Brain Injury, Modern Technology and Isolation

This month I’d like to highlight isolation. To help, I’ve the story of Mike. Mike is not a real person, but he is inspired by several real people – people living with the social effects of brain injury as well as cognitive.

What is Isolation?

The state of being separated from someone and/or something else. A “something” might be our community, which means being separated from lots of people. “Community” also implies, by its own definition, that those lots of people are helpful to each other.

So isolation can also mean ending up without help.

Chains of Isolation
  • Invisible cognitive problems
  • Communication difficulties
  • Emotional difficulties
  • Poor access to work
  • Reduced daily living skills
  • Relationship strains
  • Feeling sidelined
Modern Life

On the theme of computers and social skills, here‘s a “Little Britain” sketch I thought you might like before reading about “Mike”. Enjoy!

(Mike’s Story)

One Saturday morning, Mike decided to visit his bank. He had to cancel a direct debit. Not feeling confident, he had it in his head that a staff member would help from across the counter or in one of the side offices.

A reminder on his mobile three hours before the bank closed prompted him why he needed to get up in good time. (Being a Saturday Mike’s bank closed early.)

He arrived at the bank and stood in line to be seen. As he waited, a member of staff approached him. She had an ipad in one hand and a cheerful greeting for him. Before he could answer she asked if Mike banked on line. She told him that if he did, he need not have made the journey into town.

Mike felt awkward. He heard himself say: “I’m not interested. I’m just here to cancel a direct debit. Sorry.”Bank2

She carried on regardless. Mike tried to concentrate, but panic rose and her words began to wash over his mind. Anger began to take over from panic. The level of his voice matched the level of his emotion. “Stop!” Embarrassed he apologised. He tried humouring her. “I’m a dinosaur. I don’t get on with technology. I prefer to speak face to face with someone.”

Eventually, Mike felt telling her he had a brain injury was the lesser of evils. He coped better when not having to think about PIN and customer reference numbers, and yet another password. Telling her was his only way out of this situation. He did not like doing it; he worried who else might be listening.

The lady accompanied him to a desk and another member of staff. And even though that member of staff tried to help, her computer would not allow her to authorise the cancellation. In the end, Mike was led into a cubicle with a phone and given a number to ring.

Eventually Mike and the voice at the other end cancelled the direct debit. It had taken the voice several ways to answer Mike’s one last question, but the voice did not mind. The voice belonged to a human whose relative had had a stroke.

Mike was grateful but eager to get home. He felt drained and in no hurry to talk to anyone else that day.

As the “Little Britain” sketch shows, you don’t need to have a brain injury to be frustrated with modern technology. But for those with ABI, the problems can double.

Take care for now.

Sean

 

Action for Brain Injury Week 2019

Hello, everyone.

20th -26th May 2019 is “Action for Brain Injury Week”. Activities aimed at raising public awareness of the effects of brain injury, and the dangers, will be held. Headway is the force behind it, and its branches will be holding Hats for Headway up, down and sideways across the UK. Find out more by clicking the poster.hats-for-headway-poster-2019

As this year’s theme spotlights fatigue, I may as well throw my hat into the proverbial ring and talk about fatigue in this month’s post. My neurologist once said to me: “Sean, you can do most of what people can do. It’s just that what they do on one Mars bar, you can do on two.” So here’s an example of how fatigue gets to me – what takes me from over-tiredness to being on top of things again.

This week I’ve taken a few days off from my day job. (I know we’ve just had Easter, but hey, I was doing Easter type things.) The day job often tires me out. There are times I return home and doze on the sofa before I’ve the energy to do anything else.

The house being a bit of a mess despite help, I’ve chosen to use the time to get a few outstanding chores done. To help myself, I’ve written a “to-do” list with reminders on my mobile for each day.

Today’s To-Do

7am to 8am = Emails; letters; catch up on yesterday’s journal (1 hour reminder)

8:29am 8:31am = Med’s (Daily 1 minute reminder)

9:30am to 10:50am = Trip to shops etc. (3 hour reminder)

11am to 11:15am = Make important phone (15 minute reminder)

11:15am to 11:30am = Coffee & Kit Kat (1 minute reminder)

11:35am to 12:35pm = Filing (10 minute reminder)

12:40pm to 1pm = Lunch (10 minute reminder)

1pm to 3pm = Blog (10 minute reminder)

3pm to 3:20pm = Break (10 minute reminder)

3:50pm to 5:30pm = Blog (10 minute reminder)Snoozing brain

5:40pm to  6pm = Snooze / read (15 minute reminder)

6:10pm to 6:30pm = Get ready for evening out with friends (1 minute reminder)

Thinking Behind It

Knowing what I’m like, I factored in some safeguards to help keep my cool, not get wound up if Life, if not my self did not keep to my time-plan. Let’s face it, the real world is filled with delays and “unforeseen circumstances”.

Note my reminders to myself. I’m not as good at waking up as I once was. My mobile actually bleeped my need to be at my computer at 6am – 1 hour before hand; I’d set myself a 1 hour “window” to psyche myself up to the reality of getting out of bed.

Be gentle with yourself when doing your own list.

I also planned breaks at times close to my daily routine at work. This has put me in a business-like frame of mind. (Parent ego state, to reference last month’s post.) Pacing is a must.

Here’s a presentation I Googled you might find helpful: “There is Nothing Lazy About Someone with A Brain Injury” by Adasm Anicich.

What Happened

I got up at 7:30, so already I was behind what I’d intended. Thankfully, a letter I needed to compose was a virtual repetition of what I’d written a year ago. I just needed to change the date and a couple of other things and print off an updated version. After the usual showering and breakfast toutine, I left home half an hour later than planned.

But what I needed to do took less time than I thought. And my return bus stood waiting for a driver at the stop. (Good luck happens too.)

My point is: Be SOFTLY regimental.

Today I got all I needed to do at my computer. When I made my phone call I did not get an answer, even though I tried twice. I got through a big bit of my filing and I’ve completed this post to you on time, on the 15th of May. I’m happy.

Until next month, take care.

 

 

 

Panic Buttons for A.B.I.

This month I’ve been asked to write about panic attacks. Wow! I thought. Why haven’t I covered it before? When any of us are unable to think straight, our biology, our emotions carry us along.

Where they carry us, we don’t know until we stop, draw breath and take in what we can of our situation. Up until that point, we don’t know which direction we’re taking ourselves. We become proverbial “headless chickens”.

Before any compensatory therapy or strategy can prove useful, Step One has to be a willingness to face fears. This is most true of clients whose cognitive functioning can be problematic, even on the happier days.

TV Static

The clouding of consciousness (brain fog) is for ABI clients / patients, physical. In a lot of cases it does not go away. Emotions determine the degree of cloud cover, but it’s always there to be lived with.

Another way to describe an injured brain might be as a faulty TV set. I am reminded of Sunday mornings I spent many, many years ago – playing around with the aerial of my parents’ gogglebox – trying to get an undistorted picture of the BBC test card before “Mr. Benn” started.

As therapists, the most we can do is reduce the amount of static and suggest positions the aerial might work better. The aerial’s actual positioning to stabilise their picture behind their static is our clients’ job.

There is no real, by the book, “how to…” with this. In my view, it has to be person-centred. Here‘s a link to Part One of a counselling session (not one of mine) with a head injured client. It lasts 9 or so minutes.

N.B. The client reports being “snappy”, NOT “panicky”.

Panic Button Controls
  • DON’T FIGHT, TAKE FLIGHT. Remove yourself from the environment / situation causing your panic.
  • Find somewhere you can be safe and quiet.
  • Begin listening to your own breathing, taking slow, deep breathsABI and Panic
  • Close your eyes and, if possible, imagine you’re in your favourite surroundings, doing a favourite thing.
  • If imagining you are somewhere else is impossible for you, hold an object in both hands and look at it. Keep listening to your breathing as you notice each of the object’s details – shape, colour, texture, markings…
  • Keep practicing. Set a special time and place aside for yourself.

Reading what to do might be easy. Remembering and doing it, as we all know, is hard. It helps most to be with someone while you practice.

Click here for Part Two of the counselling session. Again, not a counselling session of mine. Part Two also lasts around 9 minutes.

Patchy Reception & Counselling

If you are perhaps wanting counselling, the following points may help you decide.

  1. It offers you a room clear of clutter and distraction – space to breathe and relax.
  2. Regular time slots (50-60 minutes) that can be used to off load – kind of scatter thoughts, feelings, experiences into and around that room.
  3. It provides someone who will support, not judge. Part of that support is in helping take control of the panic. Part is in helping you get organised.

If I was to counsel you, I’d combine listening with breathing techniques and other Mindfulness exercises. A new sense of self can grow. Because as your new self becomes less patchy, you could begin to identify your gut instincts – which situations cause panic more than others and how to deal with them yourself.

Take care for now.

Sean