To thine own self be true

The idea that we should be true to ourselves has a long and honourable history, and also has much to commend it. However, much depends on how it is interpreted. A very common interpretation is that it involves being clear what your ‘true’ self is and then acting in accordance with that. This entails digging deep into yourself to find out what your ‘true’ or real self is.

This is highly problematic, as it is based on an oversimplified understanding of ...

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Don’t oversimplify the complex or overcomplicate the simple

We live in a world of soundbites and dumbed-down media messages. Having so many people competing for our attention and trying to capture that attention in a short time is bound to lead to an oversimplification of complex issues much of the time. Add to this the fact that there are so many people trying to earn a living by coming up with simple solutions to complex problems and a strong picture of oversimplification starts to emerge.

Sometimes it is a ...

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Robert Adams – a sad loss

Robert Adams was one of the most successful and highly respected authors of his generation. His death on New Year’s Eve at the age of 70 therefore means that the world of human services is now much the poorer.

He was a prolific author and editor, with his work being extremely well received in social work and social care and the human services more broadly. He shared with me and many others a commitment to trying to make sure that social ...

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Force of habit

In my People Solutions Sourcebook I write about the ‘Three Hs’ that are powerful influences on behaviour: head (reason); heart (passion or emotion) and habit. Which is more powerful will depend on the circumstances at any given time. For example, following a major loss heart is likely to be to the fore.

It’s also fair to say that these three sets of influences will affect each other – for example, our reasoning may well be affected by emotional issues at times ...

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Routes to Resilience: a guest post by Carolyn Barber

When we talk about physical health, we mean healthy habits, fitness, strength, agility, energy and so on. Mental health on the other hand has become synonymous with ill-health – depression, anxiety, stress, unable to cope, and above all stigma.

With physical health, we all know that at times we have to work harder at it. We all know that if we get flu, or if we have an operation, there will be a period of recovery needed. Sometimes we have to ...

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Groups and Groupwork – Book Review

A – Z of Groups and Groupwork by Mark Doel and Timothy B. Kelly, Palgrave Macmillan, 2014, ISBN 978 0 230 30857 2, 9 + 241pp.

This book is part of a new series of A to Z books from Palgrave Macmillan. As the name implies, each book contains a set of dictionary-style definitions covering different aspects of the subject concerned, in this case groups and groupwork. Groupwork is a method that can be very effective in a variety of ways, ...

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BOOK REVIEW

Assessment in Child Care: Using and Developing Frameworks for Practice edited by Martin C. Calder and Simon Hackett, 2nd edn, Russell House Publishing, 2013, ISBN 978 1 905541 85 0, 384pp.

This is a new, revised edition of an established textbook. Working with children and young people in need of care and protection is complex and demanding work. Assessment is one of the major keys to effectiveness in this type of work, as it is a process of laying a foundation ...

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Living and learning

Living and learning

It was Friedrich Nietzsche who said that what does not kill us makes us stronger, and he was nearly right. Only nearly? Yes, because much of what does not kill us has no effect on us whatsoever – it simply passes us by. Our life experience has the potential to make us stronger, but only if we capitalise on the opportunities presented. So, a more realistic aphorism would be: what does not kill us has the potential to ...

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The Invisibility of Grief

I attended a conference once where one of the presenters said that when people undergo a major change in their lives they experience something very similar to grief. ‘Similar?’, I thought to myself. ‘No, it is more than similar, it is identical; it is grief’. Grief is our reaction to loss, not just our reaction to bereavement. This sounds a very straightforward statement to make, and yet I regularly encounter situations involving significant losses other than death where the people ...

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Influencing organisational culture

‘Essentialism’ is the technical terms for the idea that each us has a fixed nature: we are who we are and there’s not a lot we can do about it. Despite ample evidence to show that this is a seriously flawed way of thinking, it remains a very common (mis)understanding of human psychology. While it would be foolish not to recognise very strong and lasting patterns of behaviour, though and emotional response in each of us, it would be equally ...

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