We are looking for volunteer counsellors with disability experience (all expenses paid: supervision, travel and contribution to BACP/insurance and small remuneration possible) and a part-time paid managerial post (maternity). Please contact us if you are interested.
Poem by Anna Harper, one of our members, which she was happy for us to share:
Give me a hand to live my life
I’ll tell you what to do
No you don’t need to entertain me
Just go with me
I’ll instruct you
Tell you what to do
If I’m in my head
It doesn’t always mean I’m worried
You don’t need to ask me
Just trust that I’m all right
My emotions are not your responsibility
Don’t hold onto them
Let me deal with them myself
Give me a hand with my life.
We will be starting an 8-week mindfulness and meditation programme in Birmingham soon.
It can help with pain, dealing with frustration or coping better negative thoughts (e.g. assessments from social services, NHS, benefits or work capability which have a tendency to drag you down) which can spiral out of control.
Friendly and relaxed, give us a bell/email to find out about dates/locations/costs (around £5-7.00).
it’s easy to get stuck in negative cycles of thoughts…especially when living with disability because there are plenty of people trying to get us down.however,you can learn to take a step back from these thoughts and stop the cycle…try a few free meditations on www.franticworld.com under resources…if it helps there is an 8 week self help book with cd…for extra motivation join one of our workshops or call us for 1-2-1 support.
Bloch Touch Psychotherapy: A new approach to therapy for people with communication disabilities
Peter Bloch comes from a family with varying degrees of hearing loss, including profound loss, and he has moderate hearing loss himself. Peter has a background in psycho-physical therapy and in ‘person-centred’ psychotherapy and he has developed a unique form of therapy through touch that can be particularly helpful to people with communication disabilities. It fulfils the conditions for successful psychotherapy without any dependence on talking and hearing.
What is Psychotherapy?
Psychotherapy is a general term used to describe an intervention that aims to help us to increase our sense of well-being as a result of a better relationship with ourselves and with others. A better relationship with ourselves is usually taken to mean the ability to be more accepting of who we are, of our strengths and our weaknesses, and the freedom to pursue our own path in life without the interference of other people. A better relationship with others usually means that we are able to relate with other people with greater openness, trust and intimacy. There are many different ways of conducting psychotherapy, reflecting different theories about the causes of human suffering and about the most effective way to help people with these.
What is ‘Person-Centered’ Psychotherapy?
‘Person-centered’ therapy is probably the most broadly influential of the various modern therapeutic models. It is based on the evidence from scientific research that shows that when genuine and deep relating takes place between a therapist and their client, then the client becomes gradually more able to “be themselves” in the relationship and to risk relating more openly with the therapist. In time, clients find that these abilities extend into other areas of their lives, and many studies have shown that psychological health depends on these personal and interpersonal skills.
Most people think of psychotherapy as something that depends on talking, and most types of therapy work this way. However, although the opportunity to talk through problems can be very helpful, all of the evidence shows that it is the quality of the relationship that develops between therapist and client that is the most important factor in successful therapy. Therapists that foster trusting relationships with their clients are generally those who are the most worthy of trust (they tend to be genuine, empathic and kind in the therapeutic relationship) and are the most open to relating deeply with their client. Since successful relating between people can happen without speaking, there is an increasing interest in other approaches, including touch.
The problem with talk therapy for people with communication disabilities
It is well established that people with disabilities in general, and with communication disabilities in particular, are more likely to have mental health issues than the average person. Quite apart from the practical difficulties inherent in disability, and the particular challenges that come from being deaf in a hearing world, people with hearing loss can find it more difficult to participate fully in the social and other interpersonal relating that is so important for good mental health. Yet, despite this greater vulnerability, there is remarkably little provision for deaf people and many receive little or no help.
The traditional psychotherapeutic relationship involves many ways of communicating, including gesture, facial expression and even touch. However, the most important means of communication is generally considered to be the words that are spoken. This can present a challenge to people with hearing and other communication disabilities.
The availability of interpreters is a problem throughout the health system and in mental health in particular. Working with deaf people generally takes longer than with hearing people, and gaining the extra expertise requires considerable commitment from staff. Many psychotherapists have little sense of the particular issues facing the deaf and have given little consideration as to how they might be able to proceed with therapy with a person who cannot hear.
In addition, many people who have communication disabilities but who do not have particular mental health issues could benefit from psychotherapy in order to improve their relationship with themselves and others, the primary goal of the therapeutic relationship. For these people, obtaining and benefiting from suitable therapy can be a major challenge.
What is Bloch Touch Psychotherapy?
‘Person-Centred’ Relational Psychotherapy is based on the theory, well supported by evidence from scientific research, that the opportunity to relate fully with another person in a transparent and safe environment, having first given formal consent by requesting therapeutic contact, contains the power to strengthen a person’s sense of themselves and of their relationship with others.
Bloch Touch Psychotherapy is a unique approach that applies these principles through the medium of a subtle and sensitive touch. There are some other types of psychotherapy that use touch, but these generally include doing something to the client, whereas in the Bloch approach the only goal of touch is to facilitate a sufficiently deep communication between therapist and client in order that the main benefits of psychotherapy can occur.
Therapy sessions last for about 40 minutes. Everyday, comfortable clothes are ideal for sessions, and none need to be removed. Most sessions take place sitting in a chair, although clients can use a therapy couch if this is more comfortable. The therapist places their hands on the client in a manner that is gentle and non-intrusive and the atmosphere of sessions is informal and relaxed.
The touch therapist, after many years of intensive ‘hands-on’ experience, is able to sense the uniqueness of the client with their hands. This happens in much the same way as in skilled psychotherapy, where a highly experienced, sensitive, interested and involved person, after a period of contact with another, comes to have a sense of the nature of that person, and the degree to which they are open to a fuller relating. With this awareness, the therapist is able to respond to the client as the individual that they are. This response happens in the subtle aspects of how their hands move and make contact, rather as one person, in attentive communication with another, signals to their partner their awareness of who they are as a person, and that they are available to meet with them.
In this way, the therapist communicates to the client that they are being offered a meeting, that they are continuing to be offered a meeting, and that this gentle and friendly invitation will continue indefinitely. This offer stands as a reminder to the client of their existence, of their value, and of their freedom to accept the offer to meet if and when they wish, with a partner that also exists and is of value. In the moment that the client is able to recognise and is ready to accept this offer to meet with the therapist, even if not always at first quite consciously, they are embracing their own existence, their own value and their connection with another person, who also exists and has value who can stand in partnership with them.
These meetings are usually experienced by the client as deeply rewarding. They lead in time to a re-ordering of priorities in life, with increasing precedence being given to activities and values that enhance a fuller sense of self in unifying relation with others.
The special advantages of the use of touch in therapy
Psychotherapists have traditionally been cautious about the use of touch. Some are afraid that their approach will be misunderstood, and extra training is often needed to help therapists become clear about issues around physical boundaries and appropriate relationships. In addition, there has tended to be a higher social status associated with psychotherapy, perceived as an “intellectual” profession, than with physical therapy; and physical therapy has tended to be associated with treatments for physical disorders rather than for psychological distress.
However, since research shows that the success of psychotherapy depends principally on the quality of the relationship that develops between therapist and client, and since communication through touch is a fundamental part of being human, the possibilities of touch for therapy are important and increasingly being recognised within mainstream psychotherapy. It is an almost universal experience that being touched by someone who is noticing you as a person, who is interested in you and has at all times your best interests at heart, is profoundly therapeutic.
For people with hearing loss and other communication disabilities, touch therapy has the advantage that speech is not the primary (or even a necessary) method of communication. And there are many other advantages. The conventions of using language, such as thinking, analysing and explaining, are bypassed by the directness of touch. Many people find it easier to allow the close interpersonal contact necessary for psychological healing to take place when they do not feel that they must explain and define themselves before they can trust the therapist. There is something basic about touch that allows many people very quickly to permit a depth of relating that can take months, or even years, in talk psychotherapy. And touch itself has many benefits: there is a large and ever-increasing body of scientific research that shows that touch is vital for mental and physical health.
In addition, for many people with physical disabilities pain, discomfort or physical limitations are experienced as a major part of their suffering. Being touched and physically moved by a person who has the skills and understanding to appreciate these is usually experienced as a central part of the therapeutic experience in Touch Psychotherapy and generally leads to an improvement in posture, mobility and balance. Movement becomes an opportunity for a fuller and more complete expression of who one is as a person, rather than an expression of restriction and difficulty, and this often gives relief from the commonest forms of musculoskeletal pain. For people who have experienced physical abuse, the Bloch approach can be experienced as a direct ‘antidote’ to the earlier injury and abuse of trust. Some clients have said that they have been waiting all of their lives to be touched in this way.
Is Bloch Touch Psychotherapy suitable for everyone?
Most people who are suitable candidates for psychotherapy are able to benefit from touch psychotherapy, and even the most severe communication disabilities are no bar to successful therapy. In addition, people with physical and cognitive disabilities, even profound disabilities, are usually able to benefit from this approach. However, touch therapy should only be considered as an additional therapy for people with psychoses and severe depressive disorders and not as an alternative to medical care. Touch psychotherapy may not be helpful for people with some personality disorders or for people who do not like being touched. There is a detailed introduction to Peter’s work on a website for therapists at The Principles and Practice of Touch Therapy and a simpler introduction with information about individual therapy sessions on his private practice website at Bloch Healing Touch Psychotherapy.
Living with disability can at times be difficult, both for the person with the disability and their partners, parents or family members. It is surprising the amount of people we speak to who do not open up to their families and partners about some of the tough stuff related to disability. This applies equally to the person with the disability and the person who may assist them on a daily basis.
Often this stems from loving the other person and not wanting to ‘burden’ them with our stuff…but over time this can build up and can cause relationship problems. We are also missing out of support we COULD be getting from our partners and family members and this can cause things like anxiety and depression as mentioned in this BBC article in the link below.
It can be hard to see how talking about anger, frustration, guilt, low mood and resentment can ever be a positive thing. However, if both of you are able to see the disability as a joint issue you are working on together, then how we cope with the tough emotions fits into that picture.
If you feel unable to open up at this point, that’s where our support can help to build your confidence and take steps to be more open with your partner with the aim of staying together.
Here’s hoping we can convince GPs locally to refer partners and carers on to us!
Great to see some more research which reflects what you guys tell us, that more emotional support is needed after rehabilitation and all helps to justify why we are around…here’s hoping we can become a national organisation in the future!
Stroke ‘emotional impact often overlooked’
The emotional impact of a stroke is too often overlooked and should be given the same priority as physical rehabilitation, campaigners say.
A survey of more than 2,700 survivors and their carers in the UK found many had experienced emotional suffering.
More than half of the stroke survivors surveyed said they had felt depressed and two-thirds reported anxiety.
But 42% told the Stroke Association they felt they had been abandoned after their physical needs had been seen to.
Of the carers who took part in the poll, eight in 10 had experienced anxiety and frustration.
Strokes affect about 152,000 people in the UK every year. The brain damage caused by the condition means it is the largest cause of adult disability in the UK.
There are now more than a million stroke survivors in the UK – a figure set to rise because of the ageing population.
Stroke Association chief executive Jon Barrick said: “Stroke leaves survivors and families shocked, shaken and anxious as their lives are often irreversibly changed in an instant.
“Better recognition by health and social care professionals of the impact of stroke will help people to be properly assessed and get the right support.”
Many people still do not know about the hidden pot of gold and support provided by the government’s Access To Work. If you work you can get help towards your daily wheelchair, support workers, equipment and much more, which of course also helps you in your personal life too!
They now have support to HELP YOU SET UP YOUR OWN BUSINESS. Support will vary depending on where you live we expect, like it does for NHS wheelchair vouchers, but our experiences with them have been wonderful.
If anyone contacts them about this new support for entrepreneurs, do leave some feedback on here about your experiences, good or bad.
it’s easy to get stuck in negative cycles of thoughts…especially when living with disability because there are plenty of people trying to get us down.however,you can learn to take a step back from these thoughts and stop the cycle…try a few free meditations on www.franticworld.com under resources…if it helps there is an 8 week self help book with cd…for extra motivation join one of our workshops or call us for 1-2-1 support
Something worth sharing and applications for a free week’s holiday have only just opened so a good chance of getting through….good luck…
- Music…it can do wonders to lift mood and doesn’t have to cost a penny…we went to see the Notebenders at Birmingham Symphonie Hall this wknd 4 free,they are on every month,fantastic saxophone band…most cities have some free live music events, so as disability benefits are being cut we can still have fun…in fact we need to make sure there are fun times to compensate for the tough ones