Mindful Monkey.

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Just a glimpse of unexpected economic news emerged in January 2010. Few could have predicted what appears to be a small reduction in unemployment!

This got me thinking about two recent articles in the press relating to getting people back to work. The first one looked at making Cognitive Behavioural Therapy more widely available, in job centres for example. Lord Layard has been involved in a Government initiative to increase the availability of ‘talking treatments’ for people who could benefit from psychological therapies for problems for a range of issues.

Job centre staff may be able, under proposed plans, to send unemployed people for CBT without a need for a referral from a doctor. (The Guardian, Saturday 5 December 2009 by Allegra Stratton).

This brings me to another article (which was a response to the first) which suggested that we should not “medicalise” a problem such as unemployment. The thrust of the argument was that the problem is a social, economic, not medical one where there is a shortage of jobs in the economy.

In a sense there are some misunderstandings here. Of course we all hope that the powers that be will do all they can to generate jobs (a green revolution and a sustainable approach would be great; we can hope). However, if we consider the impact on those who have either been out of work for a long time or been made redundant we come across some important barriers to work.

What can happen to people in terms of impact on self-esteem, confidence and self-worth when they have been out of work? How would that affect their ability to look for work effectively? How confident are they likely to feel when they are invited to an interview?

I knew a colleague who was an intelligent, articulate, professional lady and she had been in the same job for many years. She stated that the thought of going to a job interview made her feel scared witless (her words), simply because she had not gone through the experience for a long time. She was neither depressed nor did she have a diagnosis of anxiety disorder. Beyond what one knows there is the issue of how well someone can put themselves across. There is no substitute for practice and anything that may increase confidence and bring out the best in people is fine by me. This has nothing to do with medicalising the issue.

CBT (and solution focussed approaches in general) is about challenging and changing unhelpful thoughts, beliefs and behaviours which may be getting in the way. It can provide practical steps and practice in terms of enhancing the state a person is in.  Done with a good heart it may well help many people.

I leave you with this thought: “To be truly radical, is to make hope possible rather than despair convincing” R Williams

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