Working from home? Our tips for staying productive, happy and healthy

Many of us will be working from home for the first time this week, and if you’re used to going into an office and seeing your coworkers every day, this could feel like a big change.

Several members of the bacpac team work remotely, and in this blog we wanted to share some tips to help you stay connected, productive, happy and healthy while working from home.

Create a daily routine
However tempting it might be to work in your pyjamas, we guarantee you’ll feel better and be much more productive if you shower, dress, eat breakfast and get the day started as normal. Set a dedicated time to step away from your computer for lunch and have an idea of when you’d like to finish up for the day.

It’s good to talk
Even for the introverts among us, working from home can feel lonely at times. Keep in touch with colleagues throughout the day using tools like Skype and Slack. Some of our remote teams have a Google Hangout running all day in the background as they work, so that they can chat to one another as if they’re in the room.

Get outside
Fresh air has a big impact on both mental and physical health, and when you’re working from home it’s all too easy not to make the time. Becca, a copywriter for Mayden recommends starting your day with a walk. “I try to think of it as my commute – getting outside for even half an hour before I start my day feels really good.”

A dedicated workspace
Whether you’re fortunate enough to have a home office or you’re making do at a small table in your hallway, try to create a dedicated workspace that’s free from the distractions of home life during your hours of work. It will help you to be more productive during the day, and means you can step away properly to relax in the evenings. Don’t underestimate the value of a good chair to protect your back.

Structure your time
Spend a little time at the start of each week writing and prioritising your to-do list, then think about the times of day you are most productive and plan your work accordingly. Becca tells us “I’m at my most creative in the mornings and early afternoons, so I tend to focus on more challenging projects first thing and save things like admin work for later in the day.”

Prioritise your mental health
Practicing mindfulness can help you feel less overwhelmed, improve sleep quality, and reduce levels of anxiety, depression and stress. Try planning a few screen breaks during your day to practice. The Mental Health Foundation’s website, bemindful.co.uk is a great place to start.

 

Working together: Service continuity for bacpac during Covid-19

We know that private practices are facing unprecedented challenges in the light of the unfolding situation around Covid-19, and we want to reassure you that we are well prepared to support you.

Our office is responding to the recent government advice and most staff are now working from home. We are fully prepared for this eventuality and have robust and well rehearsed business continuity and contingency plans in place. Our technology and best practices enable us to provide a consistently high level of service irrespective of the location of our people or the length of time any alternative working arrangements may be required.

Similarly, we are in regular contact with our key suppliers, who have assured us of their plans and mitigations. We are confident that we can continue to provide our products and services as normal in all circumstances.

We will continue to monitor the situation closely and will update you with any changes we make to our approach in response to developments.

Please don’t hesitate to contact the bacpac team if you have any questions – we are here to support you.

See you at the BABCP annual conference

Next month, BABCP, the leading organisation for CBT in the UK and Ireland, will host their annual conference in our beautiful city and we’re very pleased to be participating.

The three day event will take place at the University of Bath from 3-5 September, beginning on Tuesday with a choice of 12 full-day workshops, followed by 2 packed out days featuring a wide range of skills classes, keynote talks, roundtables, panel discussions and poster presentations.

As part of this year’s conference, Mayden is sponsoring one of the full day workshops: Revolution in Mental Health Service Delivery: The Evolution of Low Intensity CBT. This is a special event for all professionals who deliver Low Intensity Psychological interventions and will celebrate the contributions of the CBT workforce over the past 10 years, with talks from a number of speakers who contribute to Low Intensity CBT, including David Clark and Paul Farrand.

The agenda focuses around important topics including therapist wellbeing, future CPD needs and progression and development within Low Intensity roles. There will also be an update on the accreditation of the Low Intensity workforce and an opportunity to meet the BABCP Low Intensity Special Interest Group committee.

In addition, we will be exhibiting both our iaptus and bacpac patient management systems at the event, and are excited to share demos and talk to you about the advantages of moving from pen and paper to a robust system that will keep your client notes safe.

Bacpac is our affordable, intuitive, and secure client management software, created for individual or a small practice counsellors and psychological therapists. It contains all the features you need to run a successful and efficient practice.

We’re excited to be offering a 30% discount on the subscription price of bacpac to those that attend.

We’ll also be showcasing iaptus – the leading patient management software for psychological therapies, built alongside our partner services in the NHS IAPT programme to support services providing high volume, low intensity therapy.

Register for your place here and tweet us to let us know when you have your ticket. We look forward to seeing you!

GDPR one year on

GDPR one year on

In May 2018 the EU General Data Protection Regulations – or GDPR – came into force. The new regulations signalled a step change in the way that personal data could be handled. Businesses from global corporations to independent sole traders had to sit up and take notice as the GDPR were set to apply to any business, however large or small. The fines for data breaches were set to be eye wateringly high.

The introduction of the regulations was concerning for many providers of psychological therapy services as practitioners hold so much data about their clients. Lots of questions were suddenly being raised around acceptable ways to contact clients, how long data could be retained for, how data should be securely kept, and what ‘legitimate interest’ really meant for marketing activities and contact with individuals. The GDPR also signalled an increase in the administrative burden of keeping client records. This included managing individual clients’ consent to be contacted, the deletion of client data if a client requested their details to be permanently erased (the ‘right to be forgotten’), and creating a suitable consent form. Getting to grips with data security terminology presented another challenge – what was the difference between a ‘data controller’ and a ‘data processor’? It was hard to know where to start.

Here at Mayden we wanted to help our bacpac clients to navigate the GDPR. We provided a template consent form that therapists could amend for their own practice. We also produced a free eBook setting out the key aspects of the GDPR that therapists would need to be aware of and comply with to get ready for the new regulations. We had already ensured that bacpac was fully GDPR compliant so our existing users could be confident that their client data was safe and secure.

We understand how important it is that therapists comply with the GDPR. A year on from the introduction of the regulations we are keen to understand what the impact has been for therapists and our bacpac clients. We have produced a short survey to gather feedback about how challenging (or not!) the introduction of the GDPR has been. We are also keen to understand if there is anything that bacpac could do to help make compliance even easier for the benefit of you and your clients. We’d love to hear your thoughts so please do take a few moments to complete our survey. Be sure to look out for our next blog where we will be sharing the findings.

User stories: Consolidating our service at West Kent Mind

In this video, West Kent Mind’s lead counsellor and IT manager, Brian Pugsley, shares how the practice uses bacpac in a multi-user environment.

Brian reveals that he no longer has concerns around the security of patient data and the business continuity across multiple locations. He says that using bacpac may even enable further locations to open up!

We’re thrilled to hear that our software is helping such a crucial service and that the therapists love it too.

Thank you for coming to share your story Brian.

GDPR – what does it mean for you?

There’s been a lot of coverage in the media recently about the new EU ruling on data protection – the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), and as therapists and counsellors you might well be wondering what it means for you, your practice and your clients.

Well, as a therapist or counsellor, you are classified under the General Data Protection Regulation as a ‘data controller’ and there are some requirements that you will need to ensure you meet.

The rules and requirements around GDPR are complex, so we thought we’d help shed a bit of light on the subject with this short ebook.

Download GDPR ebook

If you have any questions about your role in GDPR, or how bacpac can support with the new requirements, please feel free to get in touch.

10 things to look for in an online client management system for counsellors

For some counsellors, keeping notes from treatment sessions with their therapy clients can be a doddle. For others it’s a constant administrative challenge of managing paper records and updating various databases and other documents, and manually assessing clients’ progress. Not to mention dealing with the ever present risk of losing a highly confidential client file.

Online client management systems can be a great way of reducing the administrative burden, helping counsellors and therapists to manage their caseloads more efficiently and keep records as safely as any NHS system.

When choosing an online client management system for therapy it really comes down to how you want to manage your client records and what you want a system to do for you. Read our e-book and this will help you to understand what to look for in a client management system.

Information booklet cover

Outcome measures to reduce drop off

This post is one in a series of guest blogs from bacpac user, psychotherapist, coach and consultant, Barry McInnes, exploring the benefits of recording and analysing outcome measures as part of therapy. Click here to read the first part, second part and third part in the series.

 

Reason number 2 to for considering taking outcome measures with clients as part of your therapy session…

Measures might well save your (therapy) relationship

The therapeutic relationship which we prize and which figures so highly in successful outcomes is fragile and can be easily damaged.

In a revealing blog post, Tony Rousmaniere recounts how he systematically went about gathering feedback from clients about their experience of therapy with him:

“You understand me thirty percent of the time.”
“I need to you to slow down.”
“I was sad and you cut me off.”

“These words of dissatisfaction are from my clients. They weren’t easy to hear, but they have changed how I practice psychotherapy and have significantly reduced my dropout rate.”

I’m sure we’d all like to think this couldn’t possibly apply to us. On a different blog however, Scott Miller highlights studies which show that in 19-42% of sessions clients report tensions or actual breakdowns in the therapeutic relationship, figures which rise to 41-100% of sessions when trained observers are used to identify ruptures between clients and therapists.

Without measures, can we ever really know how our clients experience us in sessions? Of your last five clients that dropped out, is there anything that you could have anticipated? Anything that, had you had been aware, might have resulted in a different outcome?

Is it possible that using a short measure of how your client experiences sessions with you, like the Session Rating Scale (SRS) or the ARM-5, might help you to better understand and perhaps avoid the unexpected empty chair?

I’d welcome your thoughts and your feedback. Drop me a line by emailing barrymcinnes@virginmedia.com. You can also read more about what works in therapy from a research perspective on my website.

If you are a practising therapist in private practice and would like to contribute to the bacpac blog yourself, please get in touch using the contact form.

Measures to Help You Understand Your Client’s Experience of Therapy

This is the third in a series of guest posts from bacpac user, psychotherapist, coach and consultant, Barry McInnes, exploring the benefits of recording and analysing measures as part of therapy. Click here to read the first part and second part in the series.

In my last blog, I introduced 5 compelling reasons to use outcome measures in therapy. Over the next few blogs, I’ll be unpacking each one.

Without further ado, reason number 1…

You may learn something about your client’s experience that you really, really need to know

Most of us see our clients for no more than one hour a week. Our clients experience the remaining 167 hours without us. However comprehensive our assessment of their needs may be, there will be always areas of their experience that are unknown to us, particularly in the early stages of therapy.

Global measures of distress such as the CORE-OM and GHQ-28 enable us to access areas of our clients’ experience that we may not otherwise discover. Some of these aspects may affect their capacity to engage with therapy, especially in the critical early stages.

Take, for example, the client who is chronically sleep deprived, or whose levels of despair and hopelessness may cause them to abandon therapy prematurely. For this client, these symptoms may be such a ‘normal’ part of their existence that they fail to mention them during therapy. As such, these factors escape our attention, but still have the capacity to affect the course of our work with the client.

Collecting outcome measures routinely during treatment could help to bring to the surface something that makes the difference between early termination and a successful outcome.

I’d welcome your thoughts and your feedback – drop me a line by emailing barrymcinnes@virginmedia.com. You can also read more about what works in therapy from a research perspective on my website.

If you are a practising therapist in private practice and would like to contribute to the bacpac blog yourself, please get in touch.

 

5 Compelling Reasons for Using Measures in Therapy

We invited psychotherapist, coach and consultant, Barry McInnes, to write a series of guest blogs exploring the benefits of recording and analysing outcome measures as part of therapy. This is the second of those posts. Click here to read the first blog in this series

Before we start talking about the questions of which outcome measures to use and how to incorporate measures into your practice, there are some attitudinal and ideological questions to discuss. Until these are addressed, the “how to…” is going to be largely irrelevant.

I wonder, of the three descriptions that follow, which best describes your current attitude to the merits of using measures in your practice?

  1. I’m fully on board

  2. I’ve no strong feelings either way

  3. I believe measures have no place in the therapy process

If you fall into the first category then the chances are that what follows will be familiar to you. If you fall into the second, perhaps something here may convince you of the benefits of using measures. If you’re in the last category, and have got this far, please at least read the next paragraph before you abandon this blog!

As therapists, we pride ourselves on being open-minded, curious and willing to do what we know works for clients, right? This is true, except, it seems, when it comes to using measures. An Australian study of mental health service clinicians’ attitudes to using measures found that 67% would refuse the use of self-report measures even if they acknowledged that it would lead to better patient outcomes.

I’m probably very much like you in terms of changing my practice. Show me a compelling reason for doing something differently and, all other things being equal, I’ll at least consider it. Otherwise, forget it. In that spirit, below follow some arguments that I find compelling why we should consider using measures if we aren’t already doing so…

  1. You may learn something about your client’s experience that you really, really need to know
  2. Measures might well save your (therapy) relationship
  3. A measure may be the only way you discover the true risk your client is at
  4. Clients will likely sense if you’re going ‘through the motions’ so learn to use measures well
  5. Therapist self-appraisal is not a reliable measure of effectiveness

Please note that these aren’t simply my opinion – for most there’s a decent body of evidence to back them up. I’ll be delving into each of these arguments in detail in upcoming blogs over the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, I’d welcome your thoughts and your feedback – drop me a line by emailing barrymcinnes@virginmedia.com. You can also read more about what works in therapy from a research perspective on my website.

If you are a practising therapist in private practice and would like to contribute to the bacpac blog yourself, please get in touch.