Published

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.

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Lost in transition

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.

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Killing (your demons) with kindness

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.

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On practicing what you preach

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.

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Screens – worthy addition or wasteful addiction?

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.

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What about now?

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.

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Parallels between psychology and fishkeeping

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.

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Talking about ‘the gap’

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’.

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Look into my eyes…

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.

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Which came first, the sleepiness or the culture? Is there more narcolepsy in Japan?

I’ve been reacquainting myself with sleep-related issues of late, as half of my current placement is in a sleep disorders team. When looking into narcolepsy, I was intrigued to note that rates of narcolepsy are about four times higher in Japan according to self report than they tend to be elsewhere. This got me thinking about my sleep-related observations from the two years I spent there, and I wondered about differences in the way that sleep seems to be conceptualised in Japanese culture.
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