Welcome to Minds 101
We are a peer support group for people experiencing issues with their mental health. Based in Perth, Western Australia, we are not professional counsellors and are not allied with any outside organization. We do not offer any medical advice or interfere with any treatment you are currently receiving.
Self-help or peer support groups, of the kind we know today, started with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) in 1935. In 1937, an organization focusing only on mental health was formed, called Recovery International (RI). In 1957, an Australian organization was formed called Recovery, which used principles from both AA and RI. In 1975 it changed its name to Grow.
Our group uses the principles from AA, RI and Grow and combines them with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT) to provide the best support we can.
For CBT, we use “Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Dummies”, by Rob Wilson and Rhena Branch. Of course we don’t consider people dummies, we use it because it is targeted at sufferers, rather than therapists.
CBT is a well-tested technique that is ideally suited to peer support groups, as it does not require the need for a qualified counsellor. It is not rocket science, and someone who has undergone a full series of sessions with a professional, can explain how to use the information in the book.
CBT is very effective for problems such as anxiety, depression, anger, addiction and compulsive disorders. The objective is to understand the relationship between thoughts, feelings and behaviour – and to see how our thoughts are what need to be changed first.
For ACT, we use “ACT Made Simple”, by Dr. Russ Harris, who is an Australian doctor (and now psychotherapist), and world authority on ACT.
ACT is relatively new to the therapy world, only really becoming well known in 2005. It is much harder to understand and to explain, but eerily shares much of the same techniques used by Grow.
When CBT is not suitable, because it is not thoughts that are causing the problem (but a medical condition for example), then learning acceptance and identifying goals to improve our quality of life through ACT, will often work instead.
As the founder of the group, I have experience with all three organizations, and both CBT and ACT. My road to recovery started in 1986, so I have spent many years learning the techniques needed to get me where I am now. Through trial and error, I have found what works for me and seen how other people have found what works for them.
While no expert by any means, I have enough personal experience to at least guide the group. And that is what peer support is after all, guided and mutual support – enabling people to find their own solutions.