Snapshot: Glenn Bilsborrow

Friday, July 29, 2011

Registered Psychologist, Macquarie Psychology – Hobart Australia

Psychology has always been a fascination for me but we didn't really find each other properly until later in my life. When I left school I was going to be a mechanic! But my employer told me that he had decided not to take on another apprentice, so that was that. Needless to say, I didn't stay there long. After a few more years working, I went to university and started studying a bachelor of arts with the intention of doing psychology. I really enjoyed anthropology and English, but found first year psychology a bit dry! Overall, it seemed too far removed from everyday life, let alone people. So I changed to business.

After completing a business degree I went to work in the real world and slowly realised that it was a world of conformity and rules. The aim was to make money and everything was about making more of it. At this time I was living and working in Sydney, Australia. I worked in various capacities such as financial planner and as an advisor to small business. So eventually, in 1991, my partner and I decided to move to Tasmania where her family was and where we could raise our two boys in a place that was a little more removed from the rat-race.

During all these years of work, I had always been interested in the journey of self-understanding as well. In my early 20s I discovered self help books teaching such things as Transactional Analysis and Gestalt Therapy. I read as many books as I could find. I wanted to know about myself and my role in this world. I went to see therapists. The first one was good. The second was not as good. I wasn’t sure that therapists were able to offer anything substantial and I was concerned that it perhaps wasn’t really a 'science'. Maybe we just turn out to be who we were going to be despite 'psychology'?

But I was a scientist at heart, and business and science are worlds apart. So, one day I decided to go back to psychology. I had decided by this time that psychology did have something to offer when done properly. I wanted to do it properly. I restarted the arts degree part-time and got into honours at the University of Tasmania. I spent a few years working on my Doctorate and became a registered psychologist.

My philosophy in life had always been that of a generalist. I wanted to gather knowledge about a wide range of things and apply that to my vocation, whatever that was. Being a psychologist was a way of utilising that experience; use my own journey and the variety of things I learned in life, and at university, to help those who are in need. So I became a specialist, which now actually sits well. To that role I bring all the differing perspectives of living and working in various places. Since working as a psychologist, I have felt fulfilled and happy. There is not a day that goes by where I don't feel grateful for my life. I used to worry that one day it would all go pear-shaped and not last. But over time I learned to trust that it wouldn't. Of course there have been bad times. But overall, life has really been good to me.

In all those early years where I was learning about life and myself, funnily enough, I was never drawn into mindfulness in a formal way. Back in the 80s I read a book called "The relaxation response" and I was intrigued by how meditation affected the mind and body. I also read and absorbed books on visualisation and many other techniques that helped to still the mind. I applied these to my life in a casual way. One outlined a technique that I tried and found affected me profoundly. It started off small, only a slight change. Over time, as I practiced it, I was able to ‘hold’ this sensation of letting go. I had learned to be equanimous for short periods in a focused way by letting go of an attachment to sensations in the body. I still use it and it led me to have an affinity later with the practice of mindfulness. I also learned a long time ago, of the impermanence of emotion and the notion that we are often rooted in the present by emotion, but have to also have an eye to the fact that this will change.

I met Bruno in 2000 and was struck by his calm, his dedication and the clarity he brought to things. He wanted me to understand mindfulness in a deeper way by practice. His view was that if you have found something this good, you want others you care about to also benefit from it. I resisted. “What was the point of working hard on something designed to make you happier in your life when you are already happy?” I thought. Over time, we had chats about his methods and I could see a definite advantage in utilising a more pervasive mindfulness approach with clients.

I heard others, including Jon Kabat-Zinn, talking about the benefits of mindfulness and I had read much on it. So I began to practice it more formally. Since then, it has been imbedded in my work with clients. What I like about this approach is that it is experiential. It is one's own experience and not that of another who may be trying to help you change your understanding of what you experience. It asks you to do it to yourself, without a 'middle man'. In MiCBT, mindfulness is not on the periphery, it is central. When I thought about it, I realised that traditional CBT is often simply trying to put a wedge between someone and their troublesome thoughts. Why not start deeper; why not work on it yourself through the practice of mindfulness? Above all, being mindful really does impact on what you bring to therapy. I think Bruno has truly brought mindfulness to psychotherapy in a unique and powerful way and I am grateful for his wisdom.

MiCBT Institute Newsletter: Vol 2.4 August 2011

Friday, July 29, 2011
Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I hope this finds you well and trust you will appreciate reading the bimonthly newsletter of the MiCBT Institute. I welcome everyone who recently attended a course, workshop or master class in MiCBT and joined the institute’s Affiliate Membership. I hope that all of you will find the information and the peer-reviewed article linked to the August newsletter interesting and informative (click on link to download). Please do not hesitate to send us your comments.

Warm regards,

Bruno Cayoun

MiCBT Institute Newsletter Vol.2.4 MiCBT Institute Newsletter Vol.2.4235kb

Mindfulness in Meditation and Everyday Life

Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Venue: Bruny Island Community Health Centre. 16 School Rd, Alonnah.

Course Dates: Preliminary interview on 26 July. The course runs from 23 August to 11 October 2011. 11.00am to 2.00pm, including a light lunch.

The last session will be Tuesday, 13 December.

Please book on 62931143 at Bruny Island Community Health Centre.

Cost: $5.00 for lunch per session. You will also need to purchase two CDs at $10.00 each for your daily practice.

Tutor: Dr Peter Davies

This 8-week course is based on the one developed by Dr Bruno Cayoun, an internationally recognised Psychologist and Mindfulness practitioner, who regularly teaches in Australia and abroad.

For further information please contact Peter Davies: Email and mobile 0417528375 after 18 June.

What does a Mindfulness course involve?

Mindfulness is a mental state that is experienced as a heightened awareness of our senses in the present moment, free from judgement, reactivity and identification to the experience. As a training method, mindfulness requires paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, from moment to moment, with unconditional acceptance of the current experience. In a Mindfulness course, participants meet together as a class with an instructor for 8 weekly 2-hour classes, with an additional one half-day session 2 months after the 8th session.

The skill of mindfulness is taught through formal and informal mindfulness practices. Formal mindfulness meditation practices include mindfulness of breath, and body-scanning meditation, which help regulate attention and emotion. Informal mindfulness meditation practice involves integrating mindfulness into everyday life. In each class, participants have an opportunity to talk about their experience of the home practices, the obstacles that inevitably arise, and how to deal with them skillfully. Each class is organized around a theme that is explored through mindfulness practice, group inquiry and other relevant exercises.

As mindfulness training is primarily experiential in nature, the main ‘work’ of the course is done at home between classes, using CDs with guided meditations that support participants developing practice outside of class. This requires devoting approximately 30 minutes twice each day to home practice. In many ways this commitment to daily practice is the most important aspect of the course. It is through personal experiencing of mindfulness that we come to understand the possibilities it opens for us in our daily lives.

Over the eight weeks of the program, the practices help you to:
  • become familiar with the workings of your mind
  • notice the times when you are at risk of getting caught in old habits of mind that re-activate downward mood spirals
  • explore ways of releasing yourself from those old and unhelpful habits
  • get in touch with a different way of knowing yourself and the world
  • notice small beauties and pleasures in the world around you instead of living in your head
  • be kind to yourself instead of wishing things were different, or driving yourself to meet impossible goals
  • improve your sense of self-worth
  • accept yourself as you are, rather than judging or blaming yourself
  • decrease stress and gain some peace of mind
  • be able to exercise greater choice confidently in life.

Effects of developing mindfulness include:   

  • Lasting decreases in physical and psychological symptoms
  • An increased ability to relax
  • Reductions in pain levels and an enhanced ability to cope with pain that may not go away
  • Greater energy and enthusiasm for life
  • Improved self-esteem
  • An ability to cope more effectively with both short and long-term stressful situations
  • Enhanced interpersonal relationships
  • Increased ability to manage anxiety and depression and/or low mood
  • Reduced tension
  • Better sleep
  • Greater sense of meaning and purpose in life

Snapshot: Marise Fallon

Sunday, May 29, 2011
I never knew what I wanted to do when I left school and I spent many hours thinking about it while growing up in Brisbane, never coming to a decision that lasted more than a couple of months. When I did finish year 12 in 2001 at the last minute I decided to sign up for a Bachelor of Psychological Science at UQ. It felt like the course chose me, without much conscious thought of my own. I ended up loving studying psychology and I was also lucky enough to be able to combine it with studies in Buddhism (pursuing an interest in Buddhism and Buddhist philosophy that began as a student in high school), meditation in eastern religions and philosophy during the first couple of years.

I have always felt that I have been extremely lucky in life and, wanting to give back to a world that I loved, I always had a strong desire to help others. Studying psychology seemed to fit well with this. I graduated in 2006 and, wanting a break from study, spent three years working in an office supporting computer systems. Throughout my undergraduate study and during these years working afterwards, I spent 6 months travelling through south-east Asia, worked on yachts in the Whitsundays for a few months and drove/camped around the coastline of Australia on another amazing trip. During these years I realised how much I loved meeting learning from people. I also found myself drawn to the pursuit of activities that pulled me into the present moment: snorkelling and scuba diving, rock climbing and skydiving.

When I moved to Tasmania in February 2010 to begin a Masters in Clinical Psychology at UTAS I didn’t know much about mindfulness. I remember it being mentioned only once in my undergraduate course. I had heard about it through friends working in psychology in Brisbane and was intrigued to find out more. As I sat on my first day at UTAS, listening to potential supervisors for the masters theses talk about their research interests, I distinctly remember being excited to hear about Dr Bruno Cayoun’s interest in mindfulness and all things “east meets west”. Over the next week I read whatever I could find on mindfulness and did what I could to convince the uni to let Bruno be my supervisor. I was very happy when I found out this had worked.

Bruno introduced me to MiCBT and, as I began to develop a thesis project looking into mindfulness, I also began my own daily meditation. Bruno’s guidance, with such wisdom and patience, through both of these endeavours has been invaluable. I slowly plodded along with the daily meditation, being one of Bruno’s worst students at times I’m sure, struggling to find a balance between my strong desire to do the mediation and my strong desire to do anything else but. The meditation has now become an integral part of my life, though, and while I still have bad weeks sometimes, I keep coming back to it. I have loved witnessing the gradual change in the way I experience each moment of each day. My practise has already taught me so much about myself - my emotions, my thoughts and my place amongst the world - and I know this is only the very beginning of a long journey of awakening. Mindfulness has also been an invaluable tool for dealing with the stresses of being back at university, which have included the research project I’ve been working on.

On top of coursework and placements, my research has required me to teach 25 mindfulness courses (some last year and some this year). My study investigates the results for those completing different types of 8-week mindfulness courses: everyday mindfulness (informal mindfulness only); mindfulness of breath only; and body scan. Running these courses has been an amazing experience and I feel blessed to have been able to offer this opportunity to so many in the community. While I have not yet analysed any data regarding the differences in participant outcomes for each type of course, I know that many benefited regardless of the course completed. Running these courses, along with my own practice of mindfulness, has convinced me of the value of these techniques. I am so grateful to have been able to learn these skills for my own life and also to have the skills to be able to teach mindfulness to my clients when I finally become a practicing psychologist. (Thanks Bruno.)

Marise Fallon, BSc.
Master Student (Clinical Psychology)
University of Tasmania


Mindfulness-integrated CBT: Principles and Practice

Monday, April 18, 2011
Mindfulness-integrated CBT: Principles and Practice (Wiley-Blackwell) represents the first set of general principles and practical guidelines for the integration of mindfulness meditation with well-documented and newly developed CBT techniques to address a broad range of psychological dysfunctions.
  • The first book to provide a strong rationale and general guidelines for the implementation of mindfulness meditation integrated with CBT for a wide range of psychological difficulties
  • Incorporates ancient Buddhist concepts of how the mind works, while remaining firmly grounded in well-documented cognitive and behavioural principles
  • Provides new insights into established understanding of conditioning principles
  • Includes a comprehensive list of frequently asked questions, week-by-week instructions for professionals to facilitate application of the therapy, along with case examples and the inspiring stories of former clients.

Click here for more information.