The dramatic closure of Kids Company has sent shockwaves around the charity world and prompted some significant questions about how to best offer effective help and support for our young people.
The current system for funding requires a charity to ‘demonstrate need’ by identifying client numbers accessing the service. Certainly, one way to guarantee an ever-increasing client base is to offer promises of cash in envelopes.
The rights and wrongs of Kids Company will no doubt be long debated. Meanwhile, there are unsettling parallels in the troubled world of mental health.
Support or dependency?
When does ‘support’ evolve into ‘dependency' and whose interests are then being served?
We all know long term therapy can create long term clients just as group therapy can create the kind of co-dependency which disincentivises members from recovery, if recovery means exiting ‘the group.’
And what better way to create need, than to pathologise the normal range of human emotional reactions to the ups and downs of everyday life, by creating an ever-expanding range of mental health labels which then require medication?
The DSM scandal
The 1952 edition of the psychiatric ‘bible’, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) listed 106 categories of mental health disorders. The recently published DSM V has seen the number of mental health labels rise to over 400.
Alan Frances, who oversaw the publication of DSM IV has been highly critical, referring to an ‘epidemic of overdiagnosing’. ‘Normality’, he says, ‘is an endangered species’.
With figures now showing a staggering 53 million prescriptions of antidepressants in the UK last year (a rise of one quarter in three years) there are fears that drugs are being offered to numb down uncomfortable emotions as a 'quick fix'.
An essential shift in perception
All good talking therapy is about shifting perception, encouraging people to change their internal dialogue and re-narrate the story they are telling themselves about their life.
One of my most powerful therapeutic interventions is to affirm to my client, ‘There is nothing wrong with you. It’s just that life has got in the way for a while.’
The resulting shift in perception can be dramatic as my client becomes empowered to reorient their locus of control and, once again, reclaim their personal autonomy.
Rightly or wrongly, public perception is that counsellors work with people with problems and coaches work with high flyers. An integrated practitioner such as a Fusion Therapeutic Coach, however, has the skills to work in the best interests of the client wherever they present on the 'continuum of wellbeing.'
And most people really just want to become the best version of their selves; what the father of modern psychotherapy, Carl Rogers, referred to as ‘self actualisation’.
Let’s face it; keeping a client too long in the role of 'client' can create emotional dependency, as much as medicalising emotional wellbeing can create both physical and psychological addiction.
Those of us who work in the caring professions, especially with the young, have a responsibility to make sure we do not become part of the problem rather than part of the solution. We must stay focused on the needs of the client, not ours.
The best things are not things
The greatest ‘gift’ we can give, especially to the young, is the gift of knowledge.
If we pass on good mind management skills to the young, we pass on the gift of emotional resilience which will last a lifetime; a gift which they, in turn, can pass on to their children.
Handing out money does not empower our children to make good choices. Passing on knowledge does, which reminds me of the ancient wisdom;
‘Give a man a fish, and you have fed him once.
Teach him how to fish and you have fed him for a lifetime.’
Perception shifting, self actualisation, affirmations, positive psychology, reframing, therapeutic story and metaphor, personal empowerment, psycho education, holistic coaching and working on the continuum of wellbeing are all elements of The Fusion Model and the NCFE accredited Fusion Therapeutic Coaching Diploma.