The Yarra Valley CCAV Discussion Group held it's by-monthly night on the 4th of March at Woori Yallock in the home of Graeme Dawson. The Rev Peter Wing-Tang was the guest speaker and he addressed the eight persons present on the night. Those attending were Valley Care counsellors, two Australian Institute of Counselling graduates and another currently in the course. We also had a lady who is co-ordinator of a women's respite care establishment and we had a primary school Chaplain. The Rev Peter Wing-Tang has been Pastor of the Burwood / Glen Waverley Church of Christ for the last twenty years. This has been his first and only posting. He told us that very early in his ministry he was confronted with men's violence and quickly found himself out of his depth. In fact he told us that he did and said so many wrong things through his inexperience that he was physically manhandled in the process. This in turn led him to seek out whatever information was available to help him do a better job. He said that even in the early eighties not a lot could be found on the subject of men's violence and ways in which one could counsel them through it. He then set out with a small group of other interested men to research and collate material. His search took him around Australia, into the USA and the United Kingdom. As he was the only Christian in this group of men, he felt the need to move sideways and hone his work to fit within his Christian framework. Eventually he developed a very comprehensive twelve-week program for men, doing one session each week. He preferred to think of this time as three months or a quarter of a year. The reason for this is that he then offers a follow up care program in the next three months where the client only meets with him fortnightly and this is followed by three months of monthly contact. A final three months is offered for the client to ring just whenever he feels the need to. The men know that Peter's whole orientation is toward a Christian ethos, but he does not vary his program in the first three months to take the client down a 'spiritual search' track. Peter does not charge the clients because of his philosophy of ministry and he believes that this is the reason why he has a full book and a waiting list. He takes on some clients for the courts and some for the Dept of Human Services. Such is Peter's commitment to 'his men', that he sees them at times to suit their schedules, some before work. He invites them to ring him if they are in trouble, twenty-four hours per day. He told us that he has observed in a sample of approx. 500 men, that the anger that produces the violence quite often comes from unmet expectations re lack of tidiness and precision in the home. The smallest issue has the potential to blow into a large-scale problem and is relationship threatening. They expect that the home should be run as their businesses. He has also observed that no matter what the trade or profession, the issues are the same. The bricklayer is just a fastidious over his wall as the surgeon is over his operation. Sometimes the base standard is set for the abuse by a 'model' male mentor figure or a boyhood hero. Obviously we had to drag him away from the questioners to eat my pancake supper especially made for Strove Tuesday.
Graeme Dawson Manager & Counsellor Valley Care Counselling Service
Report on Yarra Valley CCAV Discussion Group Meeting held on Tuesday July 10 at 35 Church Rd Woori Yallock
Speaker: Lorraine Fleckhammer
Lorraine is completing her Ph.D. with work on her major thesis entitled - A multi-modal model of ruminative thought: Unraveling the self-absorption paradox. She spent the first part of the evening talking about her research.
It is to do with a very negative style of thinking that occurs in depression and other disorders. It is based on the premise and the evidence shows that those who tend towards a depressive state ruminate on their problem or symptoms while in the healthier person reflection takes place.
The ruminations can be come a chronic negative pattern of thinking about oneself. It can also become cyclical. The worse the person feels, the more he or she ruminates. The more he or she ruminates the worse they feel.
Lorraine distinguished between rumination and reflection, the latter being a curiosity about oneself, which is a more positive and open activity.
Rumination may be linked to personality type and therefore be difficult to treat as it seems to be the product of nature rather than nurture. She identified various personality types; neurotic, introverted - extroverted, agreeable, open to experience and conscientious. She believes that those who are neurotic tend to ruminate more than others do. There appears to be a relationship between rumination and autobiographical memories, and those who ruminate tend to be more likely to recall negative memories. They also tend to become socially withdrawn, have low self-esteem and are concerned about what others will think of them. They have poor interpersonal relations - the sort of person who does not turn up for interviews (or counselling). Lorraine said that her study sample, because of this, delayed and somewhat diminished her ability to get her returns in. Rumination is linked to fear. Women tend to ruminate more than men do; men being better at breaking the cycle, because they tend to be more active than women are.
Lorraine then went on to speak of The Shame Factor in counselling
Persons with a high amount of shame see themselves as being limited or defective, have a sense of worthlessness, feel self-contempt and judge themselves as incompetent. There is a high correlation between being male and having a strong sense of shame. There are high cultural expectations for men and they typically find it hard to express their emotions. Certain cultures, for example Asian & Middle-Eastern are 'shame based'. People in these cultures find it particularly hard to admit they have been fired or have AIDS etc. Shame also results from sexual abuse. She said we need to be aware of the courage most men display in actually coming to counselling in first place. There is a need to reinforce this as a positive move.
Recognizing Defense Mechanisms:
Minimization of the wrong one has done
Self-criticism & self-blame
Be aware of your own feelings towards the client, e.g. anger, because that is how the client feels.
The most effective way to get through to a client with a strong sense of shame is to build a therapeutic relationship.