My doctoral thesis research into tablet-computer based art interventions for people with dementia and their caregivers has been published. You can find the paper here, or here if you are on ResearchGate. I conducted the research with Paul Camic, Sabina Hulbert and Michael Heron. The research explored the impact of art-viewing on wellbeing, both quantitatively (with measures of happiness, wellness and interestedness built into the app) and qualitatively (through interviews I conducted with all the people who took part). As it was an exploratory study, we focussed on detailed evaluation of people’s experiences and as such the sample size was relatively small (12 pairs). The results suggest that art-viewing on a tablet computer can benefit the wellbeing of people with dementia, and have qualitative benefits for their relationships with their informal caregivers. On the path to finding those results, I learned a lot.
I recently attended the BPS joint CPD event between the Faculties of Intellectual Disabilities and for Children and Young People entitled Making the Transition. The focus was on what happens when young people with intellectual disabilities reach the transition cliff from child and young people’s services to adult services, usually at the age of eighteen. This event was especially pertinent for me, as I worked in a service for people with intellectual disabilities that transitioned from seeing people of all ages to an adults-only service when I was a trainee, which involved actually handing clients over to the new provider.
A recent study has found evidence to suggest that performing acts of kindness can reduce the degree to which people with social anxiety avoid situations they might find anxiety-provoking.
Sometimes in practice, I have found I feel somewhat hypocritical. An example of this was when I was a primary care mental health worker, helping people to work on their blood / needle / injury phobias.
I recently attended a seminar about screen addiction led by Dr Aric Sigman. I was intrigued by the information about how excessive recreational screen-use has a detrimental impact on people, and how each new generation seems to be increasingly glued to screens. I weighed this up against the research I have looked at which aims to develop touch-screen based interventions, some of which act as cognitive prostheses for people with dementia. I wondered where we can draw a line, however arbitrary, between the benefits and the costs of the screens we surround ourselves with.
It is customary, at least in the culture I grew up in, to look back over the past year, and think about the coming year on the last day of a given year. It is also customary to make resolutions, which in my experience can be summed up as “idealistic, knee-jerk plans founded on guilt about recent, primarily health related, shortcomings, which are almost certainly doomed to failure as one realises the financial impact of end-of-year related festivities”. Examples of resolutions might include giving up a certain kind of food, or health-damaging habit, or resolving to do something impressive, like doing a large amount of exercise in one go (and telling everyone about it on social media, of course). Amidst all of this looking to the past and the future, we lose sight of the here and now, which is something that proponents of mindfulness and related endeavours might frown upon. Of course, one might resolve to practice mindfulness more, which might alleviate their consternation.
When I think about my hobbies, which include photography, cycling, motorcycling, hacking and fishkeeping, I sometimes think they’re quite diverse. After all, some of them usually take place outdoors, and others are very much indoor activities. They also seem like a diversion from the often overly cerebral world of clinical psychology. On further reflection however, there are parallels between all of them and psychology. In what might become a regular feature (at least until I run out of hobbies), I shall describe what I consider to be parallels between them and clinical psychology. The first hobby I shall consider is fishkeeping.
In a previous post, I described the thoughts Clinical Psychology Forum 261 – a special about the gap between clinical psychology and psychiatry. A letter summarising those thoughts was published along with other responses to CPF 261 in this month’s Forum, which is somewhat poignantly a special about ‘Remembering the bio in biopsychosocial’.
Therapeutic use of hypnosis is perhaps most commonly associated with the archetypal psychoanalyst, using it to unlock memories and associations that might be inaccessible when people are fully conscious. This is one possible therapeutic use, but there are other areas where hypnosis is being trialled.
One of my colleagues recently spoke to the team about her experiences when she volunteered to help in a children’s hospital in Myanmar with the charity World Child Cancer. Her experiences sounded tough and inspiring, and conveyed a real sense of uncertainty about the role psychology might have in such settings. This included the feasibility of work with people who might have little chance of the stability that is often said to be necessary when working in standard Western therapeutic settings. There was also discussion about the ethics of imposing Western psychological ideology on cultures that might not be compatible or receptive to it, and the unintented potential damage that might be done in the process.