Caring for people with psychosis can be both stressful and mystifying. People who hear voices and respond to visions that the carer can neither hear nor see present particular problems and frustrations. It’s distressing for the individual voice-hearer and, for different reasons it’s distressing for their relatives and other carers as well.
“It’s real for them” is a common expression intended to promote empathy and understanding but there are very real drawbacks if that’s as far as it goes. We all know it’s real for them – that’s why they’re distressed, but if we simply accept that without question we give up a vital part of the recovery process.
In this video we explore the positive benefits that can come from refusing to accept that ‘it’s real for them’ whilst still accepting the other person’s experience. We look at the power of attribution in psychosis, especially in relation to hallucinations and consider the benefits of helping people to change their view about their hallucinations. It isn’t trivialising the problem to see it for what it is. A voice has no power unless the voice-hearer gives it some. However distressing and disturbing voices are they’re still only voices.
By helping people to reframe their interpretation of voices they hear we can reduce the power, the distress and the disruption of those voices.
Please feel free to comment either here on the blog or by using the contact form below and let me know how helpful or otherwise this video has been for you. Please also let me know if you’d like me to cover any other issues facing carers and relatives. I can’t promise to cover everything but I’ll do my best to help if I can.
Those of us who work in mental health services, be that for the NHS or in social care settings receive both payment and training for our efforts. However, there’s an army of unpaid, informal mental health carers who receive neither, despite the fact that without their contributions the whole system would collapse.
It’s estimated that informal carers save the NHS more than it actually spends each year and that situation doesn’t look like it’s going to get better any time soon.
The ‘Carers in mind’ project is my attempt to help redress the balance by providing information and training in practical ways for carers struggling everyday to hold their families together, often in truly desperate circumstances.
If you’re a carer involved in mental health please feel free to comment and let me know what you’d like me to cover. I can’t promise to fulfil every request but I’ll do my best.
Please leave a comment to let me know what you’d like me to cover as this series progresses or use the contact form below to get in touch privately.
Freya Smith is a carer and youth worker. She’s fluent in British sign language and sees all of life as an opportunity for compassion and for helping those in need.
Click the link to see Freya interviewed about her experiences working with homeless children on the streets of Cardiff.
Freya’s enthusiasm is infectious. Her no-nonsense philosophy is practical and effective. To hear her speak about her work with some of the most disadvantaged children in the UK is to catch a small glimpse of what can be possible when we really engage with the task at hand.
“Don’t blame people with mental disorders for behaving like people with mental disorders”
Too often mental health workers expect far more from their service-users than they are currently able to give. Then they blame them for having the very problems that brought them into mental health services in the first place. This is a fundamental misunderstanding of mental illness, of the process of recovery and of the role of mental health workers themselves.
It’s true that people are just people and there really is no ‘us and them’. But when people are struggling it’s not fair to expect them to perform at their best. Instead we should practice ‘therapeutic optimism’… Accept the person’s current difficulties but continue to expect them to overcome those difficulties with a succession of little steps.
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