306 – Recognising Suicide Risk in Therapy Clients

306 – Recognising Suicide Risk in Therapy Clients

Unmasking Neurodivergence and Ethnicity Using Digital Tools – Giving Feedback to Your Tutors

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In Episode 306 of the Counselling Tutor Podcast, your hosts Rory Lees-Oakes and Ken Kelly take us through this week’s three topics:

  • Firstly in ‘Ethical, Sustainable Practice’, we look at recognising suicide risk in your therapy clients.
  • Then in ‘Practice Matters’, Rory speaks with Lesley Simpson-Gray about unmasking neurodivergence and ethnicity using digital tools.
  • And lastly in ‘Student Services’, Rory and Ken talk about how to give feedback to your tutors.

Recognising Suicide Risk in Therapy Clients [starts at 03:41 mins]

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Supporting a client who is at risk of taking their own life can be very challenging as a counsellor. In this section, Rory and Ken discuss some ways of recognising if your client is high risk, and the steps you can take to prepare for this:

  • It’s time to make a shift away from prediction-based risk assessment and towards an emphasis on therapeutic engagement.
  • We should be aiming to engage with these clients who may be thinking of taking their own life and working on it within the therapeutic relationship.
  • This is a subject that requires continuous CPD.
  • Risk assessments can be very useful – but they’re not foolproof.
  • To recognise suicide risk in your therapy clients, you need to be thinking about the dynamic nature of a client and how this might present.
  • Detecting suicidality requires holistic evaluation, detailed enquiry, and checking context.
  • This is a subject with a lot of personalisation – it could present itself differently in different clients.
  • Neurodivergent clients could be at a higher risk.
  • Do you need to break confidentiality? Can you take a collaborative approach with an involvement of support systems around the individual?
  • To help yourself recognise suicide risk in your therapy clients, make sure you’re doing the training around this subject.
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Unmasking Neurodivergence and Ethnicity Using Digital Tools [starts at 19:09 mins]

In this week’s ‘Practice Matters’, Rory speaks with Lesley Simpson-Gray about unmasking neurodivergence and ethnicity using digital tools such as video games.

The main points of this discussion include:

  • There are so many layers to identity.
  • People have different ethnic experiences and that shape their perception of the world.
  • This can also change how mental health is viewed.
  • Neurodivergence is yet another layer to identity – some difference may be seen as threatening to those less accepting.
  • Learning difficulties can often be dismissed as behavioural issues.
  • Video games can be used as a way for the autistic community to practice social skills and have a space that sometimes feels safer than the real world in terms of social relationships.
  • Finding characters they can relate to, and gaining power through that.
  • Allowing them to be themselves in a way that helps people to see it and accept them.
  • Tools for communication and figuring out identity.
  • A co-created environment to allow the client to feel comfortable and invite you into that space.

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Giving Feedback to Your Tutors [starts at 44:04 mins]

It’s common to receive feedback from your tutor, but sometimes you get the opportunity to give them feedback – and you should use it! In this section, Rory and Ken discuss how to give helpful feedback, particularly to your tutor:

  • Giving honest feedback can require us to have courage and be congruent.
  • Feedback should never be given with the intention to hurt someone – it should be aiming to help.
  • There can be an element of power imbalance in tutor-student relationships, but giving feedback can help to rebalance this slightly.
  • Useful feedback offers suggestions for improvement.
  • Try to think of a positive, then state what your challenge/struggle was, and then say what could have made that better for you – what works, what doesn’t, how can that improve?
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Detecting and Assessing Suicidality

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