Brian Brain Strain

On a level road now in Chiang Mai. Getting to know the ropes in the new job and the people working here. I’m seriously impressed with the programme and the practitioners. I have worked in this field for quite a while now and have experience of some terrible places as well as some excellent ones. The Cabin, Chiang Mai, is in the excellent category.

A good way of telling how healthy a rehab is is by taking the emotional temperature of the counsellors team room. If the programme is effective, safe and recovery orientated, the clients will feel safe and cared for and will consequently engage with the programme and counsellors. This means that they will take risks and bring their difficult stuff out in group and 1:1 sessions. If they don’t feel safe because the programme is dysfunctional or the counsellors inexperienced or poorly trained, then the clients will act out or act in and will not share their shadow materials. By a strange process called parallel process, the team will then act out the unconscious and unresolved frustrations of the clients. This manifests as arguments, splitting, clique-forming etc. The team become toxic and this leaks back out into the client group who will them feel even less safe and will act out more resulting in more tensions in the team room etc etc. You get the drift. Clients then frequently resort to substance use to maimagenage the distress. I witnessed this in my previous job in Thailand where poor clinical governance led to the team being hijacked by the addiction process. I also witnessed this in Holland and the UK. Not a pleasant experience. My immediate response to being in the team room here was completely positive. I was made welcome and supported and ‘seen’. There was a sense of calmness and friendliness around and a pleasant place to be in. I felt at home. This is good.

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My jet lag has kicked in. I shouldn’t expect any less as I tempted face a few days ago by writing that I might have got off easy. It’s mainly affecting my sleep patterns and I haven’t had a good nights sleep since my first night, and I thing that was just exhaustion. My brain is straining a bit now under the extra sensory load and not enough REM sleep. But like all things, this too will pass.

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They issued me with a little 125cc scooter to get me around and going home after work today, I took a wrong turning and got lost. Like an eejit, I didn’t have the address of my apartment on me so zigzagged around until I found my way back to the job and from there retraced my steps back to my apartment. Although I enjoy getting lost and exploring new places, I like to have some control over this process. On this occasion, I had no control so felt a bit anxious as a result. I then said to myself. Oh feck it, if I can’t find my way back, I’ll just chain the bike to a railings somewhere, take a GPS coordinate on my phone and catch a taxi home, guessing that a taxi driver could find the apartment block whose name at least I knew. This allowed the anxiety to subside so I enjoyed the being lost bit.

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It’s quite an experience driving on the roads in Thailand, not at all for the faint-hearted. Cars and bikes weave all over the road and there seems to be no order or rules. Yet everything’s seems to run smoothly and, surprisingly, there’s very rarely horn beeping and if there is, it’s just a short, almost apologetic, warning beepette. There’s also a lack of dented cars. I just followed other scooters and did what they did, which seems largely to consist of a lot of giving way and smiling. Works for me.

I went looking for a place to eat somewhere around where I live as I’m prepared to begin to introduce my O’Flora and MacFauna to the locals. I found a little family restaurant and had a very pleasant meal at an outside table next to the Ping River under a palm tree as the sun set. The owner, a lovely middle-aged woman, come to chat with me and practice her English. She had a very open smile and natural manner.

Not much more going on for the rest of the week as just working and resting up. Will report back in over the weekend.

Please feel feel free to comment so I don’t feel like I’m talking to myself…

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