Learning From The Past and Planning For The Future
MENTAL HEALTH MOMENT July 19, 2002 "In his time a man plays many roles." - William Shakespeare
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CONFERENCES AND WORKSHOPS:
Fifth Annual Innovations in Disaster Psychology Conference
"Psychosocial Reactions to Terrorist Attacks"
Sept. 29-Oct 1
Location: Radisson Hotel
Rapid City, South Dakota
XXI Nordic Congress of Psychology: "Research, Practice, and Prevention - From Books to the World Wide Web"
August 19-21, 2002
Contact: Camilla Tvingmark
Iceland Travel Conference Department
Lagmuli 4, 104
Tel: 354-585-4300; Fax: 354-585-4490
2nd World Conference
on the Promotion of Mental Health
and Prevention of Mental and
Behavioral Disorders: "Developing
Partnerships - Science, Policy, and
Programs Across Cultures"
September 11-13, 2002
London, UNITED KINGDOM
Contact: The Conference Office
Clifford Beers Foundation
Mariazell, 5 Castle Way
Stafford ST16 1BS
Tel: 44 (0) 1785 246668;
Fax: 44 (0) 1785 246668
4th World Congress on Stress
September 12-15, 2002 Edinburgh, Scotland
Contact: Northern Networking Ltd
1 Tennant Avenue
College Milton South
Glasgow G74 5NA, Scotland, UK
Tel: 44 (0) 1355 244966; Fax: 44 (0) 1355 249959
89th International Conference:
Stress and Depression
October 20, 2002 Milan, ITALY
Contact: Istituto di Psicologia Clinica Rocca-Stendoro
Corso Concordia 14
Milan 20129, Italy
1st Ibero-American Congress of Psychology and
International Psychology Students Meeting
November 7-10, 2002 Villas del Mar
Contact: Lic. Alberto Gomez
Calle 5 No. 9
Cerros de Buena Vista 1
Apartado Postal 5276 (La Feria)
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or
STUDENTS, ALUMNI BUILD STRAW-BALE LITERACY CENTER ON AMERICAN INDIAN RESERVATION
Straw, a tough and abundant waste product of wheat production, is the key building block that students and alumni from both Penn State and the University of Washington will use to construct a straw-bale literacy center this month at a community college on the Northern Cheyenne Indian reservation in Montana. Invented centuries ago, straw-bale construction recently has gained in popularity in the southwest. To date, the partnering universities have helped construct three straw-bale demonstration homes on Northern Plains Indian reservations. Other Penn State partners are: Schreyer Honors College, Alumni Association, Rock Ethics Institute, Hammer Center for Community Design Assistance, Kellogg Leadership for Institutional Change, and College of Engineering's Leonard Center, as well as University of Washington and Red Feather Development Group. The full story is at: http://www.psu.edu/ur/2002/straw-balecenter.html. For other project information, visit http://www.engr.psu.edu/greenbuild/
GROUPS SEEK PROACTIVE APPROACHES FOR OFFENDERS WITH MENTAL ILLNESS
The issue of people with mental illness coming in contact with the criminal-justice system. Mental Health Weekly 12(24) 2002 http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/436918?srcmp=psy-070502
MIXED BIPOLAR STATES: AN AGITATED DEPRESSIVE SUBTYPE?
Depressed patients with atypical bipolar features that resemble anxiety or agitation may suffer from mixed states. Journal Watch 1(2) 2002 http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/436879?srcmp=psy-070502
HEROIN USE IN RUSSIA JUMPS, WITH RELATED RISE IN HIV INCIDENCE
The United Nations' drugs watchdog said on Wednesday the use of heroin and other opiates in Russia was soaring, helping the HIV/AIDS virus spread like wildfire among addicts who inject the drug. Reuters Health Information 2002 http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/437281?srcmp=psy-062802
FIRST INSTITUTE IN APPLIED LINGUISTICS UNDER WAY
The first Penn State Summer Institute in Applied Linguistics has brought 144 graduate students from 25 countries to the University Park campus this month for instruction and inspiration in the field of language education. Students participating in the program have the opportunity to earn up to six graduate credits in four weeks of intensive classes, workshops and lectures. Topics being addressed include multilingualism, the connections between language education and ethnicity, improving teacher competence in language classes, and promoting and assessing language learning. For more information, visit http://www.la.psu.edu/
The American Red Cross is assisting hundreds of affected residents in Arizona, California, Colorado and Oregon after a series of severe storms and wildfires broke out over the weekend.
More than 40 damage assessment teams are traveling throughout south-central Texas to determine the number of homes affected by the recent flooding.
The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced today that federal disaster aid has been made available for the Territory of Guam to supplement territorial and local recovery efforts in areas struck by Typhoon Chata'an July 5-6.
COACHING AND COUNSELING
Over the past few decades, coaching and counseling skills have become "hot" topics in organizations. They have spawned a variety of books, articles and organizational programs. While these two concepts are quite often confounded, they are really alternative modes. Coaching refers to behavioral analysis, assisting in overcoming personal skill deficits or environmental obstacles, working out detailed objectives and subobjectives, and providing the moral support that comes from attention, optimism, and feedback as to progress. When counseling is gratuitously added to a coaching situation, excessive emotional considerations may needlessly come into play and, more important, it could constitute a misdiagnosis of the problem.
This suggests that coaching, not counseling, is the initial remedy of choice for any performance problem. This corresponds to the idea that ability, rather than motivation, should be the initial focus (Gilbert, 1978; Mager & Pipe, 1970). Coaching could also be the preferred remedy for morale problems insofar as good performance itself can be highly motivating. Therapists who have a background in behavioral analysis (not necessarily behavior therapists) can make significant contributions in the coaching area. Target populations are not employees and the focus is not on substantive skills. The consulting opportunity is in design and development of training programs for supervisors in order to make them better coaches. Additionally, any time a supervisory population is a candidate for a training program in personnel-related procedures, members of the personnel department are also candidates - as trainees themselves or as potential workshop leaders.
For narrow organizational purposes counseling can be defined as communication which involves effective, empathetic, action-oriented discussion in a supportive atmosphere (Miller, 1976). By itself, this is nontherapeutic in nature. It lacks the elements of analysis of feelings, confrontation, or other resistance and working-through phenomena. However, this relatively milder form of counseling is at the opposite pole from most organizational communications. These usually involve the neutral exchange of information or unidirectional transmission of assignments. Additionally, it clearly has nothing to do with coaching with the exception that both modes require considerable patience and represent constructive alternatives to transfer or termination. Counseling is indicated:1. when a problem is general dissatisfaction rather than a specific inability to perform effectively;It's neither necessary nor desirable to teach confrontation techniques, self-revelation, or process commentary. Limited though valuable goals can be achieved if consultants are willing to accept the fact that even a small attitudinal change and communication authenticity can go a long way. That small amount consists of:
2. when feelings need to be expressed;
3. when the employee is apparently requesting it.1. positive regard with or without labeling it as such, or even deliberately mislabeling it as "benefit of the doubt", andThe above principles are derived primarily from Maier (1958). In order for this approach to work, four elements are critical:
2. a genuine desire to help. In a bit more advanced direction, it's also possible to give brief training in
3. labeling one's own emotions during the interview without necessarily soliciting the same from the employee. To this must be added
4. an appreciation of the value of listening as opposed to talking.1. didactic explanation of the helping role of the supervisor, which can be justified on the basis that it is ultimately the easiest as well as the most constructive alternative;As long as it's made clear that the supervisor is not being asked to be a "shrink", or to give up the right to make final decisions, the principles of mutuality and supportiveness usually receive genuine acceptance.
2. role play, with or without videotape (consultants should demonstrate, not just critique);
3. a module on coaching as opposed to counseling;
4. a clear indication, either didactic, by example, or both, that no emotional confrontations or other therapeutic skills are required.
In reference to coaching, the same general suggestions apply to counseling. Aim for limited, but valuable and thoroughly presented objectives. Additionally, suggestions 1 and 2 above also apply to coaching training. Suggestions 3 and 4 can be rephrased and summarized as a suggestion which clearly differentiates counseling from coaching.
Coaching and (less frequently) counseling can be considered basic skills which can be employed by anyone in the organization at the supervisory level or higher. However, in practice, they are better taught and more receptively learned when presented within the context of specific applications such as performance appraisal, effective supervision, career development, or assisting special-problem subpopulations.
In summary, counseling and coaching are potential opportunities for therapists to make use of their existing expertise within broader organizational contexts. Three major themes deserve emphasis here:1. the need for a clear distinction between coaching and counseling and their best applications;
2. a "narrow and deep" approach to training, bringing many training modalities to bear on limited goals rather than attempting to make experts out of beginners; and
3. a distinction between a generalized skill approach and an applications- oriented approach.
Individual And Organizational Stress
There are several different approaches to the topic of stress as it affects individuals in organizations (Miller, 1983).
The primary interest addressed in the medical model is the prevention of heart disease, hypertension, gastritis, and other serious illnesses to which the work environment might contribute. "Organizational stressors" identified in the research literature include physical environmental factors such as temperature and noise, supervisor-employee relationships, and all of the tensions inherent in climbing the promotional ladder. A possible consulting approach would be to identify the "stressors" in a given organizational setting and attempting to change them (Kahn, 1974). Symptom-reduction techniques such as the relaxation response or biofeedback training are additional group training approaches. These could be combined with a stepped-up program (internally or externally based) of medical and psychological diagnosis (Warshaw, 1979).
From an organizational view, the original, and still dominant, conception of stress is based on the concept that the individual's role requirements in an organization cause internal conflict, ambiguity and overload (Kahn et al., 1964). They are linked to the medical model by the assumption that problems of this nature provoke alarm, resistance, and exhaustion responses discovered by Selye(1976). A more general view of the Kahn model suggests that stress is caused by a poor "fit" between the individual and the work environment (French, 1974; French & Caplan, 1973). In this model, stress might be caused not only by overload, but also by underutilization or any chronic dissatisfactions with the job.
Social agencies and educational institutions use the term "burnout" rather than stress (Paine, 1982) more frequently. The usual stress of the workplace is often compounded by the added difficulties of working with populations and situations that produce more frustrations than successes (Maslach, 1982). There is another type of burnout that occurs in certain jobs. These include such jobs as air traffic controller or anesthesiologist. In these jobs, the individual must continually function at a level of alertness so high as to incorporate the physiological stress response as a constant rather than as an occasional variable.
Consulting approaches to job-related problems could include:1. analysis of the role requirements of those jobs where stress symptoms seem to be greatest;
2. examination of management policies, human-resource policies, and "cultural" factors that might give rise to unattainable goals or conflicting demands; and
3. group workshops or other interventions aimed at reducing unnecessary role conflict and ambiguity.
Clinical approaches to stress begin with the premise that any stimulus can provoke the "alarm reaction", initiating the stress response (Selye, 1976). Because individuals also differ in their behavioral, cognitive, and emotional versions of Selye's "resistance" and "exhaustion" responses, it can be argued that the primary locus of stress is individual rather than organizational (Miller, 1983). It follows from this that symptoms of stress are more likely to be attributed to the adaptive or maladaptive capabilities of the individual rather than the job (Haan, 1977). They could also be more attributable to idiosyncratic cognitive/emotional responses to stressful stimuli (Coyne & Lazarus, 1980; Hamilton & Warburton, 1979), or to the individual's tendency to magnify the original problem by unnecessarily blaming him/herself for failing to solve it (Ellis, 1978). The concept that organizational (or other) stressors can affect people differently is supported by the fact that stress-induced symptoms are primarily characteristic of the chronically aggressive, angry, multiphasic "Type A" personality (Friedman & Rosenman, 1974; Glass, 1977; Ivancevich et al., 1985).
From the clinical perspective, stress management workshops should include discussion and possibly self-diagnosis of Type A symptoms, an understanding of the vicious stress circle where inability to cope magnifies the original problem and causes secondary symptoms, and teaching individuals to strike a proper balance between excessive self-blame and unproductive externalization of the causes of stress.
Although different remedial actions might apply, there are no fundamental contradictions among the medical, organizational, and clinically oriented approaches to stress. Parts of all three could easily be combined in the same workshop or consulting project. Clinical professionals are as clearly well placed as organizational experts or physicians to provide contributions in these areas. In some ways, they are better placed because the clinician's background and training includes some aspects of those other disciplines.
Coyne, J. & Lazarus, R. (1980). Cognitive style, stress perception, and coping. In I. Kutash, L. Schlesinger, et al. (Eds.), Handbook on stress and anxiety. San Francisco: Josey-Bass.
Ellis, E. (1978). What people can do for themselves to cope with stress. In C. Cooper & R. Payne (Eds.), Stress at work. New York: John Wiley and Sons.
French, J. (1974). Person-role fit. In A. McLean (Ed.), Occupational stress. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.
French, J. & Caplan, R. (1973). Organizational stress and individual strain. In A. Marrow (Ed.), The failure of success. New York: AMACOM.
Gilbert, T. (1978). Human competence. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Glass, D. (1977). Behavior patterns, stress, and coronary heart disease. Hillsdale, NJ: Earlbausm Associates.
Haan, N. (1977). Coping and defending: Processes of self-environment organization. New York: Academic Press.
Hamilton, V. & Warburton, D. (Eds.) (1979). Human stress and cognition: An information processing approach. London: John Wiley and Sons.
Ivancevich, J., Matteson, M. & Preston, C. (1985). Occupational stress, type A behavior, and physical well being. Academy of Management Jopurnal, 25 (2), 373-391.
Kahn, R., Wolfe, D., Quinn, R., Snoek, J. & Rosenthal, R. (1964). Organizational stress: Studies in role conflict. New York: John Wiley and Sons.
Kahn, R. (1974). Conflict, ambiguity and overload: Three elements in job stress. In A. McLean (Ed.), Occupational stress. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.
Mager, R. & Pipe, P. (1970). Solving performance problems, or: You really oughta wanta. Belmont, CA: Fearon Publishers.
Maier, N. (1976/1958). The appraisal interview: Three basic approaches. Palo Alto, CA: University Associates.
Maslach, C. (1982). Understanding burnout: Definitional issues in understanding a complex phenomenon. In W. Paine (Ed.), Job stress and burnout. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.
Miller, D.M. (1976). Counseling in industry: An integrated approach. National Retail Mewrchants Asdsociation Personnel News. Fall.
Miller, D.M. (1983). Process and personality in work-related stress. Baruch College, CUNY (unpublished).
Paine, W. (Ed.) (1982). Job stress and burnout. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.
Selye, H. (1976). The stress of life. (rev. ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.
Warshaw, L. (1979). Managing stress. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
To search for books on disasters and disaster mental
health topics, coaching, counseling, orgainizations,
crisis intervention, crises, and related topics and
purchase them online, go to the following url:
Contact your local Mental Health Center or
check the yellow pages for counselors, psychologists,
therapists, and other Mental health Professionals in
your area for further information.
George W. Doherty
Laramie, WY 82073-0786
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