Monthly Archives: December 2016

How is your Psychological Health?

The above are some statements measuring level of emotional distress. They can serve as a guideline that something might start to go wrong in life.

It is a difficult time for almost everyone, whether it is the economy globally, crime rates in the country, personal financial issues or major life events, or day to day stress from work, family, relationships etc. We might not be able to change all these challenging situations, but we are able to change our perceptions to them, and improve our coping abilities and psychological resilience.

I am a psychologist specialised in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). I am also trained in Problem Solving Therapy and Hypnotherapy. I help people to pick up the role of therapist for their own problems.

Feel free to leave a comment below, or contact me via hello@huibee.com or 017-2757813.

Let it go or Chuck it away?

I was looking at some psychotherapy worksheets and came across some exercises on “learning to let go“. Here are some of the exercises:

Exercise 1

On a separate sheet of paper, describe a problem that has been making you feel depressed lately. Write about it in as much detail as you can. Choose one of the methods below to physically let go of what you have written, and then do it. As you destroy your problem, tell yourself, “I am letting go of this. I will not let it depress me anymore.”

  • Rip up your paper into tiny pieces and throw it into the garbage.
  • Put your paper through a shredder.
  • Read what you have written to someone else and then give that person the paper and ask him or her to rip it up in front of you.
  • With permission and in the presence of an adult, burn your paper in a fireplace.
  • Write your problem on bathroom tissue instead of regular paper and flush it down the toilet.

Exercise 2

Sit quietly and comfortably where you will not be disturbed. Close your eyes and picture yourself in vivid detail doing one of the following:
You wrap your problem in a box and seal it very securely with strong tape and rope. Then you attach the box to a very powerful rocket. You take the rocket to an outdoor area where there are no houses, trees, or other obstructions. You light the rocket and stand back. You watch as the rocket blasts off into the sky with great speed and force. You watch it carry your problem quickly and powerfully away from you. You watch until it is completely out of sight, far off beyond the pull of Earth’s gravity, continuing to travel farther into space. As you watch it go, you say to yourself, “I am letting go of this. I will not let it depress me anymore.”


What do you think about these exercises?

According to thefreedictionary.com, to let (something) go has the meaning of

  1. to stop having something
  2. to stop trying to control something
  3. to not take action

Whereas to chuck (something) away has the meaning of

  1. to push or shove something out of the way quickly and roughly
  2. to throw something away
  3. to dispose of something

I think the person designing the exercises of “learning to let go” wasn’t quite able to differentiate between letting go and chucking away. By letting go, you don’t push things away, sometimes the thing that upsets you might even still be there, with you in the same room, but you just let go of the struggle, stopping the control… Because pushing it away, throwing it away involve a lot of control too. And most people do find that the more they try to get rid of something off their mind, the more likely the thing returns (have you tried the “try not to think of a pink elephant” exercise?).

In other words, let’s say you were holding on to your problems, if you want to let go, you open up your palm, whether or not the problems leave you, it’s not up to you, but at least you stop the struggle of holding on to it. So no, I don’t think the above exercises are helping people to let go, even if they succeed, the upsetting events are likely to bounce back (still, it works for the short terms, sometimes for the long terms). A good way of practicing letting go is being mindful, being in the here and now (you may learn how by reading this book). You may also try leaves on the stream (remember not to chuck your problems into the stream, but just let them go, let them flow down gently).

Religious Experiences and Psychotic Symptoms

I was recently having a conversation in the clinic and a patient back in the time when I was working in North London Forensic Service popped up in my mind. This is a big black man with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, he also assaulted his ex girlfriend and hence was in the inpatient security ward that I worked at.

From day one I met this man, he was in good order and discipline, never exhibited any of the psychotic symptoms, abusive language or aggressive behaviour of any sort, unlike many other patients there. He was also doing an MBA course through the Open University. So most of the staffs in the team believed that he would make his way out soon, to the community, starting a new life. However, his stay was extended. To our surprise, it was due to a note recorded by a nursing staff (what each patient does every day is recorded on every shift). The nurse got along quite well with the patient, on one occasion, the patient shared with the nurse his experience of seeing white light in his room coming from the sky, and an angelic human coming to him and passing him some positive messages.

The patient surely didn’t know this was recorded in the note. However, this was used against to the patient in the court as evidence of him still experiencing psychotic symptoms (both visual hallucination and delusion) and  was not well enough to leave the ward to the community. The patient came to know the details only after the hearing, from his solicitor. He didn’t get to defend himself on his experience, which he later expressed that this was completely a religious experience, which he found amazing and intriguing, and in no way is related to mental illness. He came from a very religious family.

This was at least 4 to 5 years ago. I still remember it because until today I still cannot be sure whether that decision made by the team was correct. I am not a religious person (few years ago I was turned down as a volunteer in an NGO because I told the interviewer that I have no religion!), I can’t truly understand how a very religious person’s experience with god is like. I did complete the Alpha course in the church when I was doing postgraduate in Brighton. I met a lot of very nice persons, some I still keep in touch today. Sometimes I could be quite shocked by their presentations and behaviour during the services, but I respect that it’s their belief, and I learnt from them although I have not experienced it at all.

If it was a so-called normal person experiencing and sharing their religious or cultural experience, we might or might not believe them, but we wouldn’t think they are having hallucinations. How if a religious person with a history of mental illness experienced and shared such encounter? This is like when I worked there, sometimes we had to do night shifts, and many of those African nurses wouldn’t stay on the ward alone no matter what (we shouldn’t anyway, but there are times of emergency etc). They have had so many encounters of “ghosts” and “spirits” and scary stuff, it’s a hospital afterall, it’s easily linked to deaths (and then “ghosts”). But when this was expressed by a patient, even the African nurses would suspect that he was just having hallucination!

I can’t really have any say about these, I have experienced none, spiritual, religious, or thrilling (to be honest I’m happy and keen to experience them). We were told that we should pay attention to cultural influences and backgrounds before we “judge” someone diagnose a patient. It’s true, I now think it was wrong to hold the big man back solely based on that.

CBT & Bipolar Disorder

認知行為療法 (CBT) 如何幫助躁鬱症(雙極症, bipolar disorder)?

躁鬱症的治療過程中,藥物扮演非常重要的角色。而加入認知行為療法(CBT),則可以幫助穩定患者的情緒和保持日常的穩定。

是甚麼導致躁鬱症的高低起伏?根據研究,情緒的起伏,受我們的想法影響。該研究發現極度消極負面的想法或過度積極正面的想法都會影響躁鬱症患者的情緒和行為。而學習和練習CBT就可以緩和這些極端,CBT讓患者學習如何捕捉、挑戰、改變錯誤的或極端的思維,同時識別和改變有問題的行為習慣。

六個針對躁鬱症的CBT技巧

  1. 接受“躁鬱症”這個診斷。首先第一步就是明白和理解這個可以對你的症狀做出解釋的疾病。對很多躁鬱症患者來說,這往往很難接受,所以讓他們學會關於躁鬱症的信號、症狀、起因、病程等是很重要的。這讓患者能去尋求幫助,而且也知道他們其實並不孤單。
  2. 監控情緒。這通常是用工作表或日記來紀錄。目的在於更加能夠覺察情緒的導引和改變。
  3. 進行認知重建。這過程專注于通過學習如何更好的識別想法對情緒扮演的角色、如何識別有問題的想法、和如何改變或糾正它們來改變思維的習慣。(有些時候接受該想法,再與想法產生距離化可能比挑戰和改變想法有幫助-似情況而定)。
  4. 頻密進行問題解決。其中的步驟包括如何識別問題,產生可能的解決方案,選擇適合的方案,嘗試它,和評估其結果。問題解決療法可以應用在生活的任何領域,不管是兩性關係、失業、或卡債等。這所有壓力的根源,如果沒有被好好處理解決,都會帶來復發。
  5. 增強社交技巧。有些躁鬱症的患者缺乏社交技巧,這讓他們覺得自己沒辦法控制生活的其中一些部份。學習自信心訓練等技術能幫助處理與他人的關係。
  6. 穩定日常節奏。給生活建立一個規律的日常活動和節奏,這有助于穩定情緒。

而為了最大化躁鬱症的治療,聽從醫生的指示、完成CBT的家庭作業,和不斷繼續學習關於躁鬱症是很重要的。