What is PTSD?

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder also known as PTSD is a psychological disorder that can occur following the experience or witnessing of a life-threatening event such as military combat, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, serious accidents, physical or sexual assault in adult or childhood. (Nebraska Department of Veteran Affairs, 2007) It can affect those who personally experience the catastrophe, those who witness it, and those who pick up the pieces afterwards, including emergency workers and law enforcement officers. It can even occur in the friends or family members of those who went through the actual trauma. (Smith & Segal, 2014)

This doesn’t mean that all people who undergo traumatic experiences end up with PTSD. While most people go back to their life routines after some time, some people fail to do so. These people end up with PTSD which could last for a considerable period of time unless treated or else as long as they live. The degree of PTSD differs from individual to individual where some have a deep impact and some only up to a certain extent. People who suffer from PTSD often relive the experience through nightmares and flashbacks, have difficulty sleeping, and feel detached or estranged, and these symptoms can be severe enough and last long enough to significantly impair the person’s daily life. (Nebraska Department of Veteran Affairs, 2007) PTSD is different from a normal response to a trauma. It is expected that once a person encounters a traumatic incident he/she is overwhelmed and frightened by the incident. It is even possible that people face some symptoms of PTSD once they have faced a traumatic event. However the difference between PTSD and a normal trauma is the duration of time. While normal trauma is short lived, PTSD keeps the individual in a state of shock, denying normal functioning.

According to research people with PTSD show a variety of symptoms which can be mainly categorized under three sections. The first category involves a set of symptoms such as reliving the trauma in some way such as becoming upset when confronted with a traumatic reminder or thinking about the trauma when trying to do something else. The second category includes symptoms which involve either staying away from places or people that remind of the trauma, isolation from people, or numbness. The third category includes feeling on guard, irritable, or startling easily.

Despite the fact that PTSD has clear symptoms both psychologically and biologically the identification of PTSD can sometimes be rather difficult because once a person is diagnosed with PTSD, he/she may show a number of other psychological disorders as well which develop along with PTSD. For an example depression, substance abuse, problems of memory and cognition can occur. This is also associated with impairment of the person’s ability to function in social or family life, including occupational instability, marital problems and divorces, family discord, and difficulties in parenting. (Nebraska Department of Veteran Affairs, 2007) However PTSD can be treated with the sage of medical treatment and therapy. Yet the diagnosis at an early stage is vital to avoid long term symptoms. Firstly it is necessary to gain a better understanding of the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Symptoms

PTSD symptoms can come up right after the traumatic experience or else after some time. However the diagnosis for PTSD is only completed if it creates a distress, disruption or a significant change in the life of the individual. It could be within the premises of relationships, work life or even daily chores. There are mainly three types of symptoms as,

  1. Re-experiencing symptoms
  2. Avoidance and numbing symptoms
  3. Arousal symptoms.

Re-experiencing symptoms deal with symptoms that are linked to reliving the traumatic experience. Individuals who undergo traumatic events diagnosed with PTSD may relive the experience in a number of ways. Firstly they may come up with memories that are full of distress which are linked to the traumatic event. These may come up at instances when the individual is least expecting them. Secondly, there may be occasions where incidents in daily life work as a trigger which awakens the traumatic experience. For an example for a rape victim who sees a news headline of a rape that has happened recently, the news may work as a trigger to awaken and relive the trauma. This can cause both emotional and physical reactions. When a memory becomes very real as if the incident is happening again, it is called a flashback. Also the individual may experience nightmares and Intense physical reactions to reminders of the event (e.g. pounding heart, rapid breathing, nausea, muscle tension, sweating) Reliving the event may cause intense feelings of fear, helplessness, and horror similar to the feelings the individual has when he/she was experiencing the trauma.

The next symptom of Avoidance and Numbing symptoms are the effort of the individual to repress and avoid the traumatic experience. In such situations, people with PTSD try to avoid the trauma by avoiding any memory triggers. For example they may avoid going near places where the trauma occurred or seeing TV programs or news reports about similar events. They may avoid other sights, sounds, smells, or people that are reminders of the traumatic event. Some people find that they try to distract themselves as one way to avoid thinking about the traumatic event.

Numbing symptoms are another way of avoiding the traumatic experience. Individuals with PTSD may find it difficult to be in touch with their feelings or express emotions toward other people. For example, they may feel emotionally “numb” and may isolate from others. They may be less interested in activities they once enjoyed. Some people forget, or are unable to talk about, important parts of the event. Some think that they will have a shortened life span or will not reach personal goals such as having a career or family. (Nebraska Department of Veteran Affairs, 2007)

The final set of symptoms is Arousal Symptoms. Individuals who have PTSD are always vigilant and are on alert after the traumatic experience. This is also known as hyper-vigilance or else red alert. This is identified as increased emotional arousal, which causes a number of symptoms within the individual. They are difficulty in sleeping, outbursts of anger or irritability, and difficulty concentrating. Individuals may find that they are always ‘on guard’ and on the lookout for signs of danger. They may also find that they get startled. (Nebraska Department of Veteran Affairs, 2007)

Other than these symptoms, studies done on PTSD highlight, that it is common for other conditions to occur as well. They are as follows;

  • Anger and irritability
  • Guilt, shame, or self-blame
  • Substance abuse
  • Feelings of mistrust and betrayal
  • Depression and hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts and feelings
  • Feeling alienated and alone
  • Physical aches and pains

(Smith & Segal, 2014)

More than half of men with PTSD also have issues with alcohol. The next most common co-occurring problems in men are depression, followed by conduct disorder, and then problems with drugs. In women, the most common co-occurring problem is depression. Just under half of women with PTSD also experience depression. The next most common co-occurring problems in women are specific fears, social anxiety, and then problems with alcohol. (Nebraska Department of Veteran Affairs, 2007)

Individuals diagnosed with PTSD face issues in daily life specially in relation to functioning. In general, they have more unemployment, divorce or separation, spouse abuse and chance of being fired than people without PTSD. They also may suffer from a broad range of physical symptoms. This is a common occurrence in people who have depression and other anxiety disorders. Some evidence suggests that PTSD may be associated with increased likelihood of developing medical disorders. Research is ongoing, and it is too soon to draw firm conclusions about which disorders are associated with PTSD. (Nebraska Department of Veteran Affairs, 2007)

When it comes to the case of children and adolescents, the symptoms that they display are a bit different from those displayed by adults. These symptoms can be listed as follows,

  • Fear of being separated from parent
  • Losing previously-acquired skills
  • Sleep problems and nightmares without recognizable content
  • Somber, compulsive play in which themes or aspects of the trauma are repeated
  • New phobias and anxieties that seem unrelated to the trauma (such as a fear of monsters)
  • Acting out the trauma through play, stories, or drawings
  • Aches and pains with no apparent cause
  • Irritability and aggression

(Smith & Segal, 2014)

Treatment

Treatment for PTSD allows the individual to deal with the trauma they have experienced, through the identification of symptoms and relieving them. The treatment creates an ambiance for the individual to recall and process the feelings rather than avoid the trauma. The treatment encourages the individual to recall and process the emotions and sensations felt during the original event. And release the bottled up emotions restoring a sense of control by reducing the powerful hold the memory of the trauma has on the individual’s life. There are a variety of treatments that can be used.

Types of treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy allows the individual to talk with a mental health professional. It can occur one-on-one or in a group. This treatment for PTSD usually lasts 6 to 12 weeks, but can take more time.

One helpful therapy is called cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT. There are several parts to CBT, including:

  • Exposure therapy. This therapy helps people face and control their fear. It exposes them to the trauma they experienced in a safe way. It uses mental imagery, writing, or visits to the place where the event happened. The therapist uses these tools to help people with PTSD cope with their feelings.
  • Cognitive restructuring. This therapy helps people make sense of the bad memories. Sometimes people remember the event differently than how it happened. They may feel guilt or shame about what is not their fault. The therapist helps people with PTSD look at what happened in a realistic way.
  • Stress inoculation training. This therapy tries to reduce PTSD symptoms by teaching a person how to reduce anxiety. Like cognitive restructuring, this treatment helps people look at their memories in a healthy way. (National Institute of Mental Health, 2013)
  • Family therapy.Since PTSD affects both you and those close to you, family therapy can be especially productive. Family therapy can help the loved ones understand what the individual is going through. It can also help everyone in the family communicate better and work through relationship problems caused by PTSD symptoms.
  • Medicationis sometimes prescribed to people with PTSD to relieve secondary symptoms of depression or anxiety. Antidepressants such as Prozac and Zoloft are the medications most commonly used for PTSD. While antidepressants may help you feel less sad, worried, or on edge, they do not treat the causes of PTSD. Other than these medications some more are also used. They are as follows.
  1. Benzodiazepines. These medications may be given to help people relax and sleep. People who take benzodiazepines may have memory problems or become dependent on the medication.
  2. Antipsychotics. These medications are usually given to people with other mental disorders, like schizophrenia. People who take antipsychotics may gain weight and have a higher chance of getting heart disease and diabetes.
  3. Other antidepressants. Like sertraline and paroxetine, the antidepressants fluoxetine (Prozac) and citalopram (Celexa) can help people with PTSD feel less tense or sad. For people with PTSD who also have other anxiety disorders or depression, antidepressants may be useful in reducing symptoms of these co-occurring illnesses. (National Institute of Mental Health, 2013)
  • EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)incorporates elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy with eye movements or other forms of rhythmic, left-right stimulation, such as hand taps or sounds. Eye movements and other bilateral forms of stimulation are thought to work by “unfreezing” the brain’s information processing system, which is interrupted in times of extreme stress. (Smith & Segal, 2014)

Thus it can be concluded that given the necessary treatment, PTSD can be completely cured, however it is vital that the individual is given proper treatment as early as possible and a positive environment is created for the benefit of the individual and the society at large.

Reference List

Mental Health America. (2010). Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Retrieved from the Mental Health America Website: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder

National Institute of Mental Health. (2013). Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Retrieved from the National Institute of Mental Health Website: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/index.shtml

Nebraska Department of Veterans’ Affairs. (2007). Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Retrieved from the Nebraska Department of Veterans’ Affairs Website: http://www.ptsd.ne.gov/what-is-ptsd.html

PTSD Alliance. (2014). What is PTSD?. Retrieved from the PTSD Alliance website: http://www.ptsdalliance.org/about_what.html

Smith, M, & Segal, J. (2014). Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Retrieved from the Help Guide Website: http://www.helpguide.org/mental/post_traumatic_stress_disorder_symptoms_treatment.htm

WebMD. (2014). Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Retrieved from the WebMD Website:  http://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/guide/post-traumatic-stress-disorder

Nedha de Silva

SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL

Fortunately or unfortunately we are in a world where almost everyone is running after achieving ‘big’ and ‘great’ things. From the day a child is born to this world he is instructed and guided by his parents and elders to become a ‘big’ man one day. ‘Big’ here emphasizes the fact that one must be rich and one must get a good income and a renowned profession.

Indeed it is good to have expectations and aims in life. But instead of being big in your dreams at once, isn’t it good to think about ‘small’ things first? We always purposely or not, try to forget and neglect small and less important things in our lives as we always concentrate on big things which we can’t afford at times. Beauty of life depends on the quality and not on quantity of anything we do. A person can be happy by helping and comforting his friends or relations who are miserable, even with a few words. These must come from the very core of your heart naturally. Few words can do no harm to your wealth. But the happiness that both parties get cannot be explained and this adds beauty to life.

Undoubtedly, being ‘big’ in life means, being more and more sophisticated, complex and affected. But amazingly being small gives the idea of simplicity, contentment and the epitome of satisfaction in many ways. In addition one may misunderstand that small is ‘a bit’ in everything which is not true at all.

So why not be small and simple in life for a change?

 Dileesha Liyanage

Perspectives in Psychology and Counselling

Counselling can be defined as a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals. (American Counselling Association, 2010) In order to practice counselling, it is vital that the counsellors have a thorough understanding and learning of psychology and its theories. Psychology is an intriguing scientific study of the human mind and behaviour which has a diversity of perspectives, each presenting a unique way of interpreting human beings. For the purpose of this writing, we will be analyzing some of the widely used psychological perspectives in counselling, which will emphasize the necessity for counsellors to have a thorough understanding and learning of theories. The psychological perspectives are as follows;

  • Biological perspective
  • Psychodynamic perspective
  • Behavioural perspective
  • Humanistic perspective
  • Cognitive perspective

1.1 Biological perspective

Firstly, Biological psychology is the study of the physiological, evolutionary and developmental mechanisms of behaviour and experience devoted to studying brain functioning. (Kalat, 2007) It pays key attention to the areas of the nervous system, brain, vision, movement, sleep, reproductive behaviour, emotions, cognitive functions and disorders. The biological psychologist tries to study the animal roots of behaviour and experiences to genetics and physiology. The importance of studying this perspective for counsellors may appear as a latent function as the biological perspective depicts an image which bends more towards natural sciences and away from the conventional image of psychology and counselling. Yet the awareness of this field can be most advantageous to a counsellor. For an example let us envisage an instance where the counselor meets a new client who implies that he is suffering from depression. In order to identify whether the client is actually suffering from depression or whether it a level of stress or else is it a reaction which comes out due to another physiological condition, the understanding that the counselor has of sleep patterns, emotions, and disorders may prove beneficial. Or else if a client suffering from anorexia, schizophrenia or even a bipolar disorder, where the client may need medical attention, even to direct and understand the symptoms this understanding is important. This provides a basic understanding of the necessity of the biological perspective.

1.2 Psychodynamic perspective

However unlike the biological perspective, the psychodynamic perspective presents a different view. The psychodynamic perspective has its roots in the theories of Sigmund Freud. His studies focused on the belief that our emotions, thoughts and behaviour stem from the unacceptable thoughts from childhood that allow to influence the current thinking. These repressed thoughts and feelings eventually manifest as depression, fears and conflicts. The therapy is relationship-centred and is powered by our interactions with close friends and family. (Martin, 2013) The Psychodynamic perspective helps to understand the root cause of client problems and issues. But this can only be done if the counselor has a thorough understanding of the theoretical features, for an example in this perspective it is vital that the counselor is familiar with the stages of personality development, defense mechanisms, iceberg theory, and the techniques such as free association, transference and interpretation of resistance. If a client comes who is fixated in the oral stage, his behaviour brings out this condition. However the counselor would be able to recognize this only if he is aware of these theories. Even when assisting clients the therapeutic method would depend on the nature of the client’s condition and also the psychological orientation of the counselor. But if the counselor has a broad idea and capacity he has the potential to assist clients in a more effective manner. Even when it comes to problems like depression, anxiety, anger and social isolation, these can all be successfully treated and improved using some form of psychodynamic approach.

1.3 Behavioural perspective

Behaviourism on the other hand doesn’t stress the unconscious and does not place emphasis on gaining insight into early childhood experience. Instead this approach assumes that we have learnt our current behaviours and can learn new behaviours by applying the principles of behaviourism. Hence behavioral refers to a wide range of ideas, practices, and theories. On one end are radical behaviorists, focusing predominantly on learning principles and avoiding any mentalist concepts, such as thoughts. On the other end are cognitive behaviour theorists, like Meichenbaum, who emphasized mental processes in behavior. (Mitchell & Gibson, 2005) Behavioral approaches are designed to change unwanted or maladaptive behaviuor through the application of basic learning principals. Behavioural approaches maintain that both abnormal and normal behaviors are learned. Good behaviour is maintained by reinforcement and unwanted behavior can be eliminated by punishment. Behavior treatment approaches are based on these principles. When speaking of behaviourism three main theories are emphasized.

  1. Classical Conditioning of Pavlov
  2. Operant Conditioning of Skinner
  3. Social Learning/ Modeling of Bandura

Even for counselling the understanding of these theories is vital as they are applied in some of the therapeutic methods. For example systematic desensitization and flooding, both used to relieve from phobic behaviour have their origin in the theory of classical conditioning. Even the Operant conditioning technique, which allows the client to reach the extinction of a negative behaviour though reinforcement, follows the theoretical framework. So a counselor needs o be aware of these theories in order to practice counselling effectively.

1.4 Humanistic perspective

Humanistics believe in free will, that individuals whether consciously or unconsciously create their existence and if afforded the right circumstances can recreate their existence through change.  Most of the humanistic psychologists such as Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow believe that there is an inborn tendency in individuals to self actualize in order to fulfill their potential if they are afforded an environment conducive to growth. (Neukrug, 2003)  The humanistic approach provides a distinct method of counselling and focuses predominately on an individual’s unique, personal potential to explore creativity, growth, love and psychological understanding. The understanding of theoretical knowledge in humanistic psychology is extremely beneficial to clients as well as counselors because they are able to offer a non-judgmental, supportive and understanding service, in a safe and confidential environment. There are many different types of humanistic theories, of which the person centred theory which emphasize the necessity of congruence, empathy and unconditional positive regard from the side of the counselor can be considered one of the most significant of all theories. This empowers the counsellor to allow the client to grow in a positive manner, through genuine understanding and encouragement.

Let us assume if a client who has committed a number of rapes comes for counseling, the reaction of the counsellor and his behaviour would certainly frame the relationship between the two. If the counselor has a sound theoretical knowledge he has the potential to  use the technique of here and now, where the counselor can genuinely assist the client to reach his fullest potential by being non judgmental and supportive. Another theory that falls under humanistic perspective is the transactional analysis, which again would help counsellers. Based around a client’s self-development and personal growth, transactional analysis provides a connection between a client’s past and how this influence’s present decisions and choices. Transactional Analysis also acknowledges the three ego states that run through every relationship a person has with others. These are the Parent, Adult and Child ego states. (Martin, 2013)  The client is encouraged to look back over past decisions they have made, and to analyze and understand the consequences and subsequent direction. This form of humanistic approach to counselling also helps clients become more in tuned with their thinking and acting skills.

 

1.5 Cognitive perspective

Finally when speaking of cognitive perspective it is necessary to define cognition on the first place. Cognitions are thoughts, beliefs, and internal images that people have about events in their lives (Holden.1993b).Cognitive theories of counseling focus on these mental processes and their influence on mental health. A common premise of all cognitive theories is that how people think largely determines how they feel and behave. As Burns (1980) points out, “every hard feeling you have is the result of your distorted negative thinking. Let us take Mahoney’s constructive approach for an example. According to this approach it challenges the assertion of objectivists that there is a single authenticated external reality. This allows the client to understand his/her unique ways of thinking and making sense of the world and helps clients to create new constructions that might work for them.

Another theory is Ellis Rational Emotive theory which is based on the belief that humans create psychological disturbances by thinking illogically and by maintaining a set of irrational beliefs. This uses a technique called uncovering the ABCs of personality framework which suggests that it was not the activating event(A) that caused emotional consequences(C) but the belief(B) about the event. (Fretz & Gelso, 2006) Such theories help the counsellor to encourage and assist the client by using his theoretical knowledge.

In conclusion the importance of having a thorough understanding of psychology and its perspectives for the purpose of counselling is paramount. Without this scientific knowledge it would be wrong to consider counselling as a profession because the specialty in a counsellor comes along with his expertise which is embedded by his understanding of psychology. It is true that not all perspectives have the same approach to issues but it is these differences that allow the counsellor to have a broad mind and assist the clients to overcome their difficulties while improving the effectiveness of true counselling.

Reference List

  • Mitchell, M. H., & Gibson, R. L. (2005). Counselling & Guidance. New Delhi: Prentice Hall of India
  • Neukrug, E. (2003). The World of the Counselor: An Introduction to the Counseling Profession. California: Brooks/Cole.

Nedha de Silva

On The Necessity of Theory in Counselling

Counselling, generally referred to as the “talk therapy” is now gaining wider popularity in the Sri Lankan context. However the myth still remains that it can be performed simply by anyone. The general assumption is that it is just talking. The validity of this commonly accepted belief is rather doubtful as counselling has its foundation on theory.

            Theories work as the base of all branches of science. They are governed by empiricism and can be proven. Simply speaking the function of a theory is to explain a phenomenon so that it can be understood and allows prediction. According to Maddi (1996), theories are meant to foster an understanding of something hitherto not understood. Even in counselling the theories assist in dealing with clients and their issues. Counselling can be defined as a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals. (American Counselling Association, 2010) To achieve the pinnacles of success in counselling, the competence of counsellors plays a pivotal role. This idea of competence is made up of theoretical knowledge, skills and expertise. Hence the role of theory in magnifying counsellor competence and laying the foundation on which the entire process of counselling is grounded is rather obvious. A theory in this sense works as a blueprint for action. The counsellor’s choices of interventions, reactions, analysis and understanding all flow logically from a theoretical model of what people are like, what is good for them and what conditions are likely to influence them in a self determined, desirable direction. (Kottler & Sheppard, 2008)

Today in counselling there are a variety of theories categorized under 4 or 5 conceptual orientations. All these fall under two categories.

  • Insight theories
  • Action theories

Insight theories such as Psychoanalysis, Existential theories are based more on philosophical grounds without much empirical and substantial evidence whereas Action theories like Behaviorism are based on empiricism. The significance of having two types of theories operating in different levels is beneficial in the field of counselling as it can, not only cover what is apparent but most importantly what is implies. This is why theory is the foundation of good counselling. It challenges counsellors to be caring and creative within the confines of a highly personal relationship that is structured for growth and insight (Gladding, 1990).  According to Boy and Pine (1983) there are mainly six functions of theories in counselling. They are as follows.

  1. It helps counsellors find unity and relatedness within the diversity of existence.
  2. It compels counsellors to examine relationship they would otherwise overlook.
  3. It gives counsellors operational guidelines by which to work and help them evaluate their development as professionals.
  4. It helps counsellors focus on relevant information and tell them what to look for.
  5. It helps counsellors assist clients in the effective modification of their behavior, cognitions, emotional functioning and interpersonal relationships.
  6. It helps counsellors evaluate both old and new approaches to the process of counselling.

These functions highlight the necessity and also significance in having theoretical models which assist to heighten the counsellor competence and its effectiveness. But in elaborating the use and the need of theories I will be using the following arguments.

Firstly, Theory works as a set of guidelines by which a counselor works. When a counsellor encounters a client for the first time, and as he allows the client for self revelation, in the counsellor a certain perception of the client and his/her issues are being built. This understanding comes to the counsellor through the theories because the theory offers a comprehensive system of doing counselling and assists in understanding our client, in the application of techniques and in predicting client change. In addition by examining what we say to our clients, we are able to evaluate whether we are acting congruently with our theory. Theories in this sense work as heuristics; that is they are researchable and testable and ultimately allow us to discard those aspects shown to be ineffective. Even more significantly having a counselling theory tells the world that we are not haphazard in how we apply our knowledge because to function without theory is to operate without placing events in some order and thus to function meaninglessly.(Neukrug, 2003)

Theory also works as a prediction of behaviour. In theory construction we are indirectly trying to establish a basis for predicting

  • A client prognosis
  • Likely consequence of certain interventions
  • Connections between experience and non experience in a client’s life
  • The impact of our therapeutic efforts (Kottler & Sheppard, 2008)

 

Here it is necessary to highlight that counselling is different from just talking with a close associate because we are dealing with a professional who is equipped with theory and expertise. This is why counsellors have the ability to predict client behaviour. For an example let us take the use of Psychoanalytical theory in explaining this idea. A client that comes to a counsellor and explains his condition and issue may not be consciously aware of the issue that is really disrupting him. The counsellor here has the ability to dissect the latent and manifest cause of the condition through prediction. In this case it could be a case of abuse in childhood that comes out in a different from in adult age. Hence theories help the counselor to understand the behaviour and predict. Even when using techniques this prediction helps because it allows him/her to choose the most effective method.

Theories also help to focus on relevant data and what to look for. In this sense theory plays a vital role because as the counsellor listens to the client it helps him/her to grasp and pay attention to the important parts of his speech while continuing the conversation and keep track of these for elaboration later. Also they not only tell the counsellor what to look for but to be cautious of things that he/she might miss out. These theoretical modals have their origins in the values and beliefs of persons who in turn have converted these in to a philosophy and a theoretical modal for counselling. These values and beliefs form a rationale for what one does, how one does it and under what circumstance. It predicts probable outcomes for different sets of conditions. Thus theory summarizes the information base of the philosophy to draw conclusions.(Gibson & Mitchell, 2005) So being open to all these models directs the counsellor and helps to look for the relevant data based on the situation. It also helps him/her to avoid mistakes and used the most effective theory to progress with.

The most important function of all is to assist the client to modify his behavior effectively. After all the necessity of being competent for any counsellor is so that he/she can assist the clients in the best manner possible. For an example when taking the In the Person Centered theory, the main idea that people had an actualizing tendency and if placed in a nurturing environment would develop into fully aware, fully functioning selves clearly highlight that utmost importance should be given for client betterment. In order to get to this stage Rogers recommends the conditions that need to be created as empathy, genuineness and unconditional positive regard. So this suggests that theory has been formulated in a way that develops the counsellor competence. When the counselor is equipped with these the competence would naturally go high. To elaborate, empathy allows the counselor to get into the clients hoes and yet be objective so that he has potential to assist the client.

Yet each theory is an approximation of truth, one person’s/ group’s attempt at explaining phenomena that are difficult to understand and virtually impossible to describe fully. These theories, as with all other human structures are imperfect working hypothesis subject to distortion, biases and limitations. (Kottler & Sheppard, 2008) This is why counsellors should adopt an integrative approach. Here, counsellors use various theories and techniques to match their clients’ needs. As needs change, counsellors depart from a theory they are using to another approach. It is not easy because it requires the counsellor to be familiar with all theories and processes involved. If a counsellor is not well-versed with the different counselling theories, it is likely that he or she may do harm than good.

Thus theories play a vital role in laying the foundation for counselling and counsellor competence. Without theory it would not be scientific and would be a mere discourse between two individuals which will not guarantee a solution. Theories open up different gateways and perspectives to the same issue allowing the counsellor to use the best methods possible. Simply theory is on what everything else it being built. It creates an unending cycle of discovery and testing, evolving theories of ever increasing scope so they that they can guide counselling practice.

 

 

 

References

 

American Counselling Association. (2010). Consensus Definition of Counselling. Retrieved From the American Counselling Association website: http://www.counseling.org/knowledge-center/20-20-a-vision-for-the-future-of-counseling/consensus-definition-of-counseling#sthash.xVsS6hUu.dpuf

 

Boy, A. V. & Pine, G. (1990). A Person-Centred Foundation for Counselling and Psychotherapy. Springfield, Illinois: Charles C. Thomas Publisher.

 

Gibson, R. L., & Mitchell, M. H. (2005). Introduction to Counseling and Guidance. New Delhi: Prentice Hall. (3)

 

Gladdiing, S. T. (1990). Counselling: A Comprehensive Profession. New Jersey: Pearson.

 

Kottler, J. A., & Sheppard, D. S. (2008). Introduction to Counseling: Voices from the field. Boston, MA: Thomson Higher Education. (2)

 

Maddi, S. R. (1996). Personality Theories: A Comparative Analysis. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.

 

Neukrug, E. (2003). The World of the Counselor: An Introduction to the Counseling Profession. California: Brooks/Cole. (1)

 

Ravi, M. (2010). Counselling: What, Why and How. New Delhi: Viva Books.

Nedha de Silva

SSA elects a new board of officers for the year 2014/2015

The Sociology Students’ Association of the University of Colombo elected the new board of office bearers for the year 2014/2015 on the 19th of March 2014 at the Annual General Assembly. Dr. Chandrasiri Niriella, who was the former Senior Treasurer of the SSA was appointed as the Chief Advisor who will be guiding and overlooking the progression of the Association, while Dr. Dilrukshi Abeysinghe was appointed as the Senior Treasurer. Both expressed a strong desire to work with the new board in expanding the horizons of the association.

Chanuka Viraji Thilakarathna, a third year student majoring in Sociology was appointed as the President, while Wathsala Udeshika Abeykoon also another third year student majoring in Social work was appointed as the Secretary. Coming from two paths of Sociology, the President and the Secretary have high expectations of implementing a variety of projects in the coming year and hope that the combination of their diverse interests in Sociology and Social work will benefit the association in planning new projects.  Addressing the gathering, Chanuka expressed some of her plans stressing the idea that student participation in all SSA activities needs to be increased as it would benefit the association immensely with the addition of different points of view, which would only enhance the quality of projects and add novelty.

The rest of the board of office bearers are as follows. Udari Subashini Samarakoon was appointed as the Vice President , S.A.K.S Samarakoon as the Junior Treasurer and  Dilani Surangika Senevirathne and Nedha de Silva were appointed for the post of Editor.

The SSA brings together a diverse community of students creating an ambiance to not only share their thoughts and views but also to take initiative and to benefit from this rare opportunity.

Threatened

The primeval forest

Does seem to loom

Above this little brook.

The cool brook

Where age old rocks

Stand as if sculpted by nature.

And these fluttering butterflies-

are they heading towards

Adam’s Peak?

But …

The cool water

The breezes that give goosebumps

All these fade to a headache

of a sudden

For above the forest

Loom the transistors:

Like huge iron monsters that

Ate a child’s Christmas up.

 

Yomal Senerath Yapa (University of Kelaniya)

 

What desserts me

Is my gender

You are a boy

While she is a girl

But I am more floue,

Indefinable,

My gender floating

Like round specks of uncollectable

Light inside my body.

Some say I can collect them

And make up a façade

Through needles and forceps

In skilled hands.

But I am left non-plussed.

 

Yomal Senerath Yapa (University of Kelaniya)

SOCIOSCOPE: Expanding Horizons

As of 2012, the socioscope blog seeks to invite the collaboration of students and academic professional from other universities as well. Selected articles will be published under the newly formed ‘guest’ category. The editors for the Sociology Students Association retains the unqualified right to decide on the work that will be published. If amendments are required to be made for any selected piece of writing, the editors will contact the author and discuss the feasibility of the amendments. Please refer to the ‘about’ pages on how to contact the blog management.

We Remember: Interview with Tamara Nissanka

  • Name: Tamara Nissanka
  • Started University in: September, 2007
  • Graduated in: May, 2011
  • Present Sphere of Employment: Qualitative Market Researcher

 

What was life at university like in general?

It was, overall, time well spent! I’d heard quite a lot about the SL universities of course, especially the University of Colombo, and had read about it frequently, but the experience of actually attending university as an undergraduate was very different, and a lot more enjoyable than reading about it in print. One of the best things about university was that you come into contact with students from diverse parts of Sri Lanka and of different ethnicities and cultural orientations; being interested in people from an early age, this proved to be a satisfying encounter for me.

In my first year, I chose to pursue International Relations, English and Sociology, later I opted to specialize in Sociology. On the whole, I felt that I grew up, literally and figuratively, at university; I feel that I developed a more mature outlook about life.

What made you opt for Sociology as your specialization?

From an early age, people and the many facets of social interactions fascinated me. I loved the social-studies unit on the school syllabi, and my passion about unraveling the nature of the society was with me throughout. Once I was done with my G.C.E. A/L exams, I took to roaming online searching for sociology related articles, to orient myself with the discipline. As yet, I didn’t have a clear understanding of what the discipline constituted per se, but I was still interested in the content of the subject. I also read about the undergraduate programmes offered by the UOC department of sociology and was attracted. In a way, then, I had my heart set out on specializing in sociology, if I ever got the opportunity. From a more practical standpoint, I also searched for what career paths would open up for me, were I to major in Sociology, and I satisfied myself on that head as well. Looking back, I’d say that the decision to specialize in sociology was both sentimental and practical at the same time.  

Have your experiences with the Department of Sociology affected your career choices?

Immediately after graduating, I joined the Ceylon National Chamber of Industries – the CNCI – for a project of comparatively short duration. Later, I found work at a market research company which specializes in qualitative research; I’m completing a year with them coming July. Yes, my degree in sociology, along with the multitude of experiences gained as sociology undergraduate was a definite asset. For instance, I had good grounding in empirical research – both quantitative and qualitative although I wasn’t too keen about overwhelming myself with numbers! – which proved to be invaluable since I had to work in research; I was expected to engage in focus group discussions with consumers and was required to condense and analyze their responses in order to develop better market strategies. I also had plenty of hands on experience concerning the same at university, what with the research I had to undertake to complete my dissertation and the superior foundation I obtained through field research training programmes. Also the limited number of psychology based courses I took helped me gain insight into the aspect of consumer psychology.

You were the first ever editor for the editorial branch of the resurrected UCSSA. Tell us a little about the intended breadth and depth of this division and the founding of ‘socioscope’.

Technically the idea for socioscope – a blog to harness the sociology related contributions of the academic staff and students at the university – came before the idea to resurrect the UCSSA. Our main purpose was to give the sociology department an online presence and after the UCSSA was resurrected we brought socioscope to life under the editorial branch. Fellow undergraduates within and without the department were enthusiastic contributors, and so were the academic staff. I also received help with the IT aspects of it and the technical elements required for the blog to function smoothly. The socioscope was actually part of a larger arrangement; we expected to couple it with a printed version, a magazine to be published quarterly or annually. We hope that the future generations of the UCSSA would one day make our dream a reality. 

Socioscope is not delimited to articles of purely sociological orientation. For instance, the blog recently featured several creative pieces of work by novel contributors. What are your opinions on this subject?

Interesting question. We do publish articles with an academic orientation of course – it is meant to be a university centered blog after all! – but we discourage copious quantities of technical jargon in the work we publish. The whole idea of the blog is to demystify the discipline of sociology and make it accessible to the lay person without risking oversimplification. A helpful analogy would be to compare the blog with our intended counterpart, a magazine. If you observe carefully, you’ll see that the archives and categories are organized so as to complement the layout of a magazine. A magazine should harvest creativity and to this end poetry, photographic essays and such like becomes invaluable. We want the tenuous students about to start life as an undergraduate help decide if sociology is right for them. In SL at least, they are not likely to have encountered sociology as a separate discipline before university entrance and so are unlikely to be familiar with the intricate workings of the subject. This being the case, their job would certainly be thankless were they forced to sift through mounds of technicalities in sociology, no matter what brilliant intellect they might convey to the specialist!              

We Remember

‘We Remember’ is a project which explores the beginnings of the UCSSA: its renovation from the original association for sociology undergraduates. Through a series of interviews conducted by undergraduates of the Department of Sociology, the founders reveal their impetus, vision and inspiration for the formation of the UCSSA and their designs for its future. Stay tuned to ‘socioscope’ for frequent updates.    

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