This morning I met with Heidi Fettes, a counsellor with Momentum Counselling Dundee.

My friend/coursemate, Sophia, had already spoken with Tim from the Momentum team back in December. One of the things Sophia took away from her chat with Tim was a list of feeling words he had put together to indicate intensity of an emotion. She gave me a copy, and this laid foundations for a large facet of my project’s research and concept generation. As a result, I thought it would be useful to talk to a member of the Momentum team myself. 

 

Heidi and I chatted for about 40 minutes about her therapeutic processes, the tools she uses and my MK1 presentation concept.

Some of the key points about her process:

  • Talk is at the core of her anxiety related therapy sessions
    • The first thing she does is ensure they feel at ease and understand that the therapy environment is a ‘safe space’
    • She doesn’t have a set procedure for clients. Everyone is different, and she adjusts accordingly on the fly.
  • Once she has established a therapeutic relationship, she starts with ‘why’.
    • Exploring potential event triggers -> ‘When was the last time you began to feel x’
      • Asking people to revisit/re-experience the moment with her.
        • Allows her to understand and interpret reactions
          • Including the severity of physical symptoms
      • Allows her to understand severity and whether the anxious thoughts are really irrational unhelpful thoughts making a big impact on the client’s life.
      • She referred to this as ‘situational therapy’
  • She doesn’t use any quantitative analysis of a client’s week.
    • Finds it impersonal -> not fitting into her talk led therapy methods.
    • This contrasts with Dundee University Counselling Service’s use of CORE forms for monitoring a client’s mental wellbeing across a week.
  • The Feeling Words List is occasionally used in her sessions as a tool to coax out feelings and associated severities
    • ‘Oh yeah, I felt X’ *pointing to word*
    • It helps clients avoid the feeling of embarrassment when discussing how they felt.
      • Talking about feelings can be perceived as shameful, this negates this by adding an authoritative reference point which reminds clients that this is something others have felt before.

 

After discussing her therapy sessions we talked a little about my Mark 1 Prototype Concept using the slides I used at the presentation. Here’s some of the feedback she gave me:

  • It would be useful as an unintrusive replacement for thought sheets.
  • Important to be used to acknowledge thoughts as ‘just thoughts’.
  • It would have to be clear to a client that it isn’t a replacement for counselling and instead a tool to supplement it
    • “It’s not something to solve your problem, it’s something which might help.”
  • She was very interested in being able to recognise trends and acknowledge spikes occurring in regular patterns.
  • The Moriarty Scoring system only takes into account negative feelings
    • She picked up on the fact that sometimes it’s not always a bad thing to have negative thoughts. It’s only human.
    • I need to shift focus towards ‘unhelpful thoughts and feelings’
      • A harder thing to identify.
  • The focus should always be on improving
    • Even though it’s about tracking negative/unhelpful thoughts, the user can’t feel overwhelmed by negativity when using the tool

My scratch notes from the chat:

Heidi1

Heidi2

Heidi3