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Articles and resources

Connecting to your best self

Johnathon Abbey

In my Private Practice (and in respect to my own focus of how well I'm traveling) I like to use a concept that helps people to connect to the best or "ideal" selves. I use the following three questions to help individuals person get to this place:

  1. What is your favourite memory?
  2. What do you most like to do everyday?
  3. What do you like about yourself?

The first of the three questions is used to help the person connect to the deeper themes that represents their best life. The second question helps the person to identify how they may access "snippets" of their best life in every day activities that they find fulfilling. The third question helps the individual understand that they have the "blueprints" or the "tools"  that are necessary to help drive them toward any goal that they would like to focus on. Finally, with the focus on moving gradually from one place to another (on any particular goal). I am able to easily support this process.  This helps others devise interesting and unique ways to create real changes in their lives and mindful enjoyment on the way to the attainment of their goals.

If you enjoyed this post we would appreciate you sharing it. Please feel free to comment or add your thoughts. image source: shutterstock. Johnathon Abbey Founder/ Psychologist Abbey Health Consulting

Connecting individuals to their dream life

Johnathon Abbey

Helping people who access care giving organisations or allied health services is aided by a focus on their dreams, goals or wishes. Connecting the individual to their vision forward (in the best way you can within your available resources) moves the person to a closer approximation of their ideal life, or the deeper themes that relate to their ideal life. When you think about how it would feel to be in the same situation as the person receiving support, this brings to mind further ideas about what life would be like. I often find that when I want to provide help to individuals from their perspective, the following aid me in this process:

  1. Find qualities about the person that you appreciate, which make them valuable, unique, interesting, strong, clever, or funny etc. Reflect to them the qualities that you enjoy about them. These qualities can be used as centralising themes, reference points or stable/ positive aspects about the person.

  2. Connect the individual to their core strengths. Some people are strong under pressure, some are humorous, helpful or quick thinkers. Others are able to advocate for themselves or are able to share unique contributions. It is important to connect the person to their strengths. This helps the person perceive a sense of “I’ve got this…. I'm going to anchor towards my strength and move to something better from here”.

  3. Help the person imagine what life would be like if they could live their ideal life.

    1. You can help them devised ways of practically moving in small graduated steps towards their ideal life.

    2. Alternatively, you can connect them to their bigger dreams from a theme based perspective (the deeper themes associated with their dreams, goals, desires and wishes). For instance, at their deepest level some people have a strong desire to “give and receive love”, or to experience “comfort” and “ease”. These concepts can be experienced in the person's life in a variety of ways and may not necessarily be achieved (only) by the fulfilment of one particular goal.

  4. Integrate the person value, their strengths, their goals and help them see the overall picture.  It is important to remind them that we never move from 0 to 100, but rather from 1 to 2, and 2 to 3 and so on.

Attainment towards one’s goals may be gradual. However, with direction and purpose and the ability to access the deeper themes associated with bigger dreams, this can help individuals to move ahead with goals that are consistent to them at their deepest level.

If you enjoyed this post we would appreciate you sharing it. Please feel free to comment or add your thoughts. image source: shutterstock. Johnathon Abbey Founder/ Psychologist Abbey Health Consulting

Continually shaping care giving environments

Johnathon Abbey

Throughout the caregiving industry, best practice outcomes for the individuals we support is crucial. Often, considering what it would feel like to receive the service yourself, is a helpful way of understanding the importance of good care giving services. It is important to consider that there is always room for continual improvement and new ways to do things. People providing services in care giving roles across key industries such as: children in care, people with disabilities, those in aged care and individuals with mental health vulnerabilities, also benefit from having their needs catered to. It is important that we take care of care giving staff in the process of delivering care services. This enables these individuals feel best placed to provide their best services.

By supporting care giving individuals or employees to give their best, this further supports the individual to remain connected to their own sense of purpose. This also helps them to hold in mind a strong person centred, care planning approach. This helps give vulnerable people further opportunities to lead good lives. You can stay supportive and remain “in tune” with the needs of caregiving individuals by considering the following points:

•Good caregiving is enhanced when that individual is in a good place to provide care. This may mean that attempts to help them connect to their best selves, abilities, core values or desires is important for the attunement and purpose tied to their role (which leads to better outcomes for people being supported).

•Helping a caregiver to connect to their “best place” will assist them as motivation, commitment and structure are key in the role of caregiving.

•Many factors may also detract from excellent caregiving and excellent customer service. Therefore guidance, support, and a safe environment to provide care and communicate about

If you enjoyed this post we would appreciate you sharing it. Please feel free to comment or add your thoughts. image source: shutterstock. Johnathon Abbey Founder/ Psychologist Abbey Health Consulting


Getting the systems right for caregiving organisations

Johnathon Abbey

Helpful systems underpin good caregiving. However unhelpful factors can arise in care giving and professional roles which can pose as roadblocks to success.

The roadblocks include: resource constraints, high demands, poorly skilled or trained staff, organisational fatigue, workplace conflict, staff burnout, and many other difficult workplace or personal circumstances which impact on workplace achievements.

In the workplaces of those who perform formal care giving and professional roles, employers and organisations can benefit from holding the wellbeing needs of these staff in mind, just as the needs of direct clients are held in mind.

This is not a revolutionary idea, however the impact of an unwell organisational system on care givers, in turn impacts directly on those in need of support.

Whilst we hold in mind that holistic and comprehensive care giving is not always simple, not tending to an unwell system for caregiving poses the potential for unacceptable risks especially when anybody puts themselves in the shoes of the vulnerable person.

5 Things for management teams in caregiving industries to consider:

  1. How do you connect the underpinning values of your staff to your organisations core mission and create a culture of care?
  2. How do you approach systems for staff role clarity and a joined focus amongst staff?
  3. What do you need to do more of in your organisation to hold in mind the human aspects of the work?
  4. How do you harness care staff and professionals to create best practice outcomes for vulnerable people?
  5. How do you celebrate achievement, accomplishment, promote success and revisit practice when things do not go to plan?

If you enjoyed this post we would appreciate you sharing it. Please feel free to comment or add your thoughts. image source: shutterstock. Johnathon Abbey Founder/ Psychologist Abbey Health Consulting

Sensitive care questions: stepping into the shoes of another person

Johnathon Abbey

Johnathon Abbey (original January 12 2016)

Often when working with clients and people in need of additional support, I am usually mindful of two things initially. The first is the need to promote resilience and a sense of achievement for the person within their capabilities. The second, which I will focus on today, is checking whether I have put myself in that person’s shoes, to the best of my ability. I find this process helpful to ground my ideas and give a clear perspective instead of just relying on my professional experience. This process helps me hold in mind another person’s journey, and to see a positive vision for them. Some simple, quick questions I have found helpful, include asking myself:

1.What would it feel like to be in the person’s shoes? This helps me take another perspective about the daily experiences of the person, things they might enjoy, as well as those events in their life which have not been favourable.

2.What would I do in the same situation? This helps me think about my own limitations and how I would navigate the same situation.

3.How could you envision a good day for that person? I try to focus on meaningful things in the person’s life which helps them have a great day or at least help with easing times of difficulty.

4.What would you need from others, or would like to say to them, if you were unable to communicate effectively? I try to imagine the myriad of needs I have personally each day, and in some approximation to the person I am working with, to give at least some of these needs a voice where communication is not always available.  I view this as a starting point to help me test whether I have identified needs important to the person.

5.How can I try to sit and “be with” the person? Sometimes in the struggle for answers about how best to support people, there is the other important aspect about avoiding the rush for solutions, and instead being there with the person on their journey and through their difficulty. 

As mentioned, these questions are only quick starting points that I find helpful. I often go over these questions to see if I can gain a closer approximation to the best way to support someone. These questions help me remain person centred and avoid the temptation to rush to immediate solutions. 

Please feel free to leave comments and share your ideas!

Johnathon Abbey, Psychologist


Why great care teams matter

Johnathon Abbey

Johnathon Abbey (original January 12 2016)

We live in a world which will see a large amounts of care required, across different groups, for instance: refugees, people with chronic physical health needs, those with disabilities, and others such as the large baby-boomer cohort who will entering into aged care, to name a few examples. People who take on the human services caring roles in our community are a valuable group who also need to be supported, developed and given opportunity to excel so they can be treated in a positive way and pass this positivity on to recipients of care and to newcomers to the profession. This helps create a great community of care, and this helps create great care teams. In my humble experience, I have found that great care teams are:

  • Open; they share their learning and thoughts with one another and learn from mistakes
  • They share their gifts to nurture others, and they use humour
  • They problem solve thoughtfully and remain resilient
  • They are ultimately person centred but aware of resource constraints
  • They create joy in their work and share this joy with the person they are supporting
  • They find meaning in their work

Promoting great care teams therefore cultivates best quality of care, to enable others a good quality of life. This is so important, as the need for great caregiving services affects so many of us directly or indirectly. Great care teams can set a good example in the often complex human services field.

If you enjoyed this post we would appreciate you sharing it. Please feel free to comment or add your thoughts. image source: shutterstock. Johnathon Abbey Founder/ Psychologist Abbey Health Consulting