Effective Stress Management Counselling
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Keith Abrahams Dip.HG.P
5th January, 20120 Comments
A quick and simple search on the internet will confirm that
stress is a serious subject, well known and discussed. It will be clear that stress management is not just about managing your own stresses, but also about managing the stress of those around you, especially your staff, family and friends.
That is a sensible moral and social argument as more often
than not, the stress, like a frog in a slowly heating pot of water, is not recognised until it is too boiling hot to cope with! Those suffering with stress may not even know the symptoms, resulting in high costs to themselves, businesses and the health sector when it, understandably, all becomes too much.
Quite naturally stress is a useful physiological attribute reminding us that something needs to change in our lives. It should stimulate action to bring about balance. However, the degree of stress and take action will be dependent on the level of stress experienced and the spare capacity the individual has to respond with. Sometimes the number of stressors experienced may be greater than an individual’s ability to cope. The Holmes/Rhae Life Events Scale is a well known technique, widely used to assess the extent of stress. Checking it out regularly can be a useful temperature gauge on the degree of stress being experienced. However, once recognised, the individual needs to know what to do i.e. how to respond?
The first thing is to be helped to get calm. The next helpful
step is to gain clarity that responsibility (for which the verb is “response”) is different to blame (for which the verb is “lame”) for the stress. Taking charge of stress gives back a sense of control, a basic human need, that once accepted can move the individual towards healthy planning and action.
From this calm place an effective counsellor will explain
the affect of stress on the person’s physiology, explaining that stress creates a lot of emotional arousal, which may even cause significant over arousal. Therefore it is not unusual for people suffering with high levels of stress to think they have a psychological problem, which in itself creates worry and forms part of the vicious cycle of stress. A clear, reassuring explanation of the normal physiological effects of stress can help alleviate this cycle.
The counsellor should then be able to direct the person’s attention to their thinking styles, often called the ‘attributional thinking processes’. This should include bringing the persons attention to the extent to which they have negative way of thinking about the situation (a constant focus on the negative will adversely affect their physiology, increasing the sense of feeling stressed. Again it is not unusual to find that stress symptoms alleviate when thoughts and attention are focused on healthy problem solving and action taking. In fact they should be shown how ensure they are living healthily; eating, resting and playing or us Jonathan Swift reminded us all “The best doctors in the world are Dr Diet, Dr Quiet and Dr Merryman!” Doctoring of this kind will increase a person’s ability to respond to their stressors, these are the responses a counsellor should help them build.
Simple responses like, having regular breaks in activity and having good quality sleep (Dr Quiet). Socialising (Dr Merryman) and energising themselves (Dr Diet). And of course, talking about rather than brooding over problems in order to allow them to take a better perspective. A counsellor should always be helping a client direct and use their imaginations in ways that are health affirming. All of which will increase their capacity to cope with stress.
A rounded, early, psycho-biological approach that uses or
builds the support network of an individual will allow them to respond effectively and to reduce the emotional and economic cost associated with stress.
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