Engage Aotearoa

Welcome to the Engage Blog

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The Engage Blog is an online space for sharing and exploring useful or interesting ideas, research updates and resources for people who experience mental-health challenges and their supporters. Browse from the top to find the latest posts. Use the search bar on your right to find something specific or explore the categories in the drop-down menu below. If you have something useful you’d like to see added, feel free to get in touch.

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Out of hiatus and open for private practice!

Engage Aotearoa is finally ready to come out of hibernation and you’ll notice a few changes have taken place over the past few months.

The big news is that after five years working full time as a psychologist within our DHB services, I have now freed myself up to add one day of private practice to the Engage Aotearoa web-resources. I have teamed up with the good folks at Changing Minds for a space to see people and am looking forward to working from a service-user led setting once again. You can find out more about my private psychology services here.

I’ve simplified things a fair bit and Engage Aotearoa has returned to its original form as a self-funded, non-profit initiative, now with a small private practice on the side to help sustain it. Over the last few years, Daniel has taught me everything I need to know to keep the website updated by myself and more than a decade after setting out on the Engage Aotearoa journey it’s an exciting step to be able move forward on my own two feet.

I am in progress with reviewing and updating all of the resources on the website. You will notice that the links to some resources have been disabled while I do this. A number of the info packs have already been reviewed and you can read them online here. The Butterfly Diaries Volume 1 has now been made available as a PDF e-book you can download and share around at will. And the Community Resources Directory has been moved onto its own series of webpages so you no longer have to download a long pdf document to read it – you can still download it to share around in the real world if you’d like though. Updating the directory after a five year hiatus is a pretty big task and a lot has changed in that time. If there is something you would like to suggest I add, do get in touch.

Please note, that I have updated my contact details.

Viva la revolution!

Miriam

Dr Miriam Larsen-Barr
DClinPsych, MNZCCPTLE



An illustrated guide to the positive childhood experiences that build resilience

Many people are familiar with the research showing that Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are strongly predictive of later experiences of mental-health challenges and a whole host of other poor outcomes. But what about the experiences that strengthen our resilience?

A 2019 study looked at the childhood experiences involved in building resilience and experiences of wellbeing. They identified seven childhood experiences shared by resilient adults. Artist and therapist Lindsay Braman has illustrated the key findings so they’re super easy to read and share.

Of course if you missed out on these experiences in childhood, there’s still plenty you can do to build your resilience later. Humans are just so resourceful and creative, it’s amazing how many ways we can find strength.

Read more about the 7 Positive Childhood Experience associated with resilient adults here.

Highlights from Engage on Facebook

We Can’t Keep Treating Anxiety From Complex Trauma the Same Way We Treat Generalized Anxiety: Vicki Peterson writes “I’ve been living with the effects of complex trauma for a long time, but for many years, I didn’t know what it was. […] For those who have experienced trauma, anxiety comes from an automatic physiological response to what has actuallyalready happened. The brain and body have already lived through “worst case scenario” situations, know what it feels like and are hell-bent on never going back there again. The fight/flight/ freeze response goes into overdrive. It’s like living with a fire alarm that goes off at random intervals 24 hours a day. It is extremely difficult for the rational brain to be convinced “that won’t happen,” because it already knows that it has happened, and it was horrific.” Read more here.

Man Lessons – How to make a documentary about transitioning: “Over six years, Ben Sarten filmed Adam Rohe (who was assigned female at birth) on his journey into manhood, forming a friendship that to them has become as important as the documentary itself.” Read more here.

I was diagnosed with acute psychosis at 19. Here’s what came next:Kris Herbert reflects on her tumultuous mental health journey to share what she’s learnt along the way. She writes,”Our mental wellbeing is not fixed. It’s a shifting continuum and at the edges, we each have our limits. We all also have access to tools like exercise and meditation, good food and, hopefully, someone to talk to.” Read more here.

Researchers Find Lack of Evidence, Call for Halt to ECT: “A new review, published in Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, re-assesses studies that compare electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) with placebo treatment for depression. The analysis also assesses the only five available meta-analyses that claim that ECT is effective.” In a press release, John Read, the lead author says “This body of research is of the lowest quality of any I have seen in my 40-year career.” Read more here. In related news, dozens of people have sued the NHS after experiencing a slew of serious adverse effects that they were not informed of before they consented to ECT procedures.

Inside Internal Family Systems Therapy: In this article, Ben Blum gives a detailed description of Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS), including both clinician and service-user perspectives. Blum writes,”IFS therapy is upending the thinking around schizophrenia, depression, OCD, and more. […] In IFS, mental health symptoms like anxiety, depression, paranoia, and even psychosis were regarded not as impassive biochemical phenomena but as emotional events under the control of unconscious “parts” of the patient — which they could learn to interact with directly.” Read more here.

Find more on the Engage Facebook page.
www.facebook.com/engageaotearoa/

Alcohol and drug withdrawal tips from the NZ Drug Foundation

Many Kiwis were affected by alcohol and drug withdrawal symptoms during the Covid19 lockdown and the NZ Drug Foundation compiled some vital strategies and tips for people struggling with their alcohol or drug use. Visit www.drugfoundation.org.nz/covid-19/

Online Wellbeing Sessions from Changing Minds

During lock-down Auckland’s service-user network, Changing Minds, started sharing free peer-led support sessions online and this project has grown wings to make it easier for people to connect and take care of themselves during this extra stressful time.

Visit www.wellbeingsessions.nz to select from a menu of options from mindful journaling, fitness sessions, poetry readings, a drop-in support group, a supporting families group and more.

New issue of the Journal of Contemporary Narrative Therapy out now

The latest issue of the Journal of Contemporary Narrative Therapy is online now, free for anyone to read and full of great reflections like this quote from Rebecca Solnit…

“What’s your story about? It’s all in the telling. Stories are compasses and architecture; we navigate by them, we build our sanctuaries and our prisons out of them, and to be without a story is to be lost in the vastness of a world that spreads in all directions like arctic tundra or sea ice…We tell ourselves stories that save us and stories that are the quicksand in which we thrash and the well in which we drown… We think we tell stories, but stories often tell us … The task of learning to be free requires learning to hear them, to question them, to pause and hear silence, to name them and then to become the storyteller.”

Find the latest issue and an archive of past issues here.

Editors: Tom Stone Carlson, Sanni Paljakka, marcela polanco, and David Epston

Clinical experiences of supporting people to taper off antipsychotic medication

Tapering Antipsychotic Treatment
Mark Abie Horowitz, Robin M. Murray, David Taylor, JAMA Psychiatry. Published online August 5, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2020.2166

In this paper three leading researchers in the field of psychiatric drug withdrawal summarise their clinical experience in supporting people to taper off antipsychotic medication.

You can request a full-text copy of this short, peer-reviewed opinion piece directly from the authors on Research Gate here: www.researchgate.net/publication/343467517_Tapering_Antipsychotic_Treatment

More results from The Experiences of Antipsychotic Medication Study

Read online at Science Direct
or request a copy of the full-text on Research Gate

UK Doctors trial Arts Prescriptions

We stumbled upon this video from the BBC on Facebook earlier in the week. GP doctors referred people to “link workers” whose job was to know about all the extracurricular activities in the neighbourhood and link people in with them. Anything from gardening to painting groups. Why? Because most of the people presenting to their GP with mild to moderate mental health difficulties also had social difficulties. Well worth a watch. We wish this existed in NZ.

Click here to watch Dr. Daisy Fancourt talk about Arts on Prescription

 

New Research: Support makes a difference in antipsychotic medication withdrawal

An important part of my doctoral research and some further analysis has just been published in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology. You can follow this link to view a copy of the full text online, but will need a subscription to download a pdf copy to keep:  https://rdcu.be/MpKs

Here’s a screenshot of the abstract for quick reference…

Abstract Attempting to Stop Antipsychotic Medication Success Supports and Efforts to Cope