Featured HRAF Global Scholar: Sandi James | Human Relations Area Files

HRAF Global Scholar: Sandi James Title: PhD Candidate, Public Health and Social Policy University Affiliation: La Trobe University, Australia and Universiti Malaysia, Sabah Research Topic: Exploring Alcohol use in Sabah, Malaysia: Preliminary …
— Read on hraf.yale.edu/featured-hraf-global-scholar-sandi-james/

Short piece on therapy for specific groups


Bisexuality continues to be a controversial concept for many. Often bisexuality is dismissed as “just a phase” or that the individual who identifies as bisexual is “testing the water” and “experimenting or lying to themselves and others – that they must be one or the other, that there is no such thing as bisexual.

These beliefs seem to exist across the board – both within the heterosexual world and also within homosexual communities. It is often thought that they are too ashamed or afraid to come out and hide it by identifying as “bi”, at times labelling and attacking them as betraying the community or “copping out”.

Identifying as bi can be challenging. Often it involves coming out twice, once as gay and then as bi. Individuals can find themselves excluded from both the heterosexual and homosexual communities and can be socially and psychologically isolating and painful.

Increasing rates of alcohol, substance abuse and other process addictions can be the result of all these factors. Having to hide and be dishonest about who you are is damaging to our sense of self and personal wellbeing.

As with other sexual orientations it is important to have a space to be honest and learn to manage those difficult emotions and situations without turning to substances or processes. Identification with others alongside individualized programing can be instrumental in initiating the change process and building the life we deserve.

ACT can be an incredibly beneficial tool, using the hexaflex to work with individuals where they are at. Building committed action, identifying values, using acceptance and creating a life that is worthwhile for them can help to create an incredible change for people.

There is little or no research available on working therapeutically with this population. Some research is available related to shame and self-destructive behaviours. Casiello-Robbins, Wilner, Peters, Bentley & Sauer-Zavala (2019) published a paper in the Journal of Contextual Behavioural Science looking at the role of aversive responses to emotions. Other research has been done regarding working with shame using other approached particularly Cognitive Behavioural Therapies (CBT). These approaches can be useful although research into working therapeutically with this distinct population is well overdue.

Cassiello-Robbins, C., Wilner, J. G., Peters, J. R., Bentley, K. H., & Sauer-Zavala, S. (2019). Elucidating the relationships between shame, anger, and self-destructive behaviors: The role of aversive responses to emotions. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 12, 7-12. https://contextualscience.org/publications/cassiellorobbins_wilner_peters_bentley_sauerzavala_2019


So life is on pause for all of us… I have found myself stuck in Northern Ireland due to border closures and flight restrictions. I have been working on other projects while I wait to return to Malaysia, particulalry related to maintaining mental health during this crisis and period of isolation and distancing. I’ll post these here as they become finalised…

Stay safe. Stay home. Lets all get through this and support each other as much as possible.

Bornean indigenous knowledge and tradition – a dance between tradition and intoxication.

The Global Alcohol Policy Conference rounds up today. It has been a brilliant conference, over coming difficuties related to the corona virus 10 to deliver an important and vaulable discussion regarding the state of alcohol policy and research in 2020. Much work still to be done. Looking forward to the next 12 months and the adventures to come in progressing my research and getting the indigenous knowledge of the Kadazandusun out into the world.. supporting change in reducing alcohol related harm… and seeing improvement in quality of life in the communities I work for!

Next stop…..

In a few weeks I am heading to Dublin to present at the Global Alcohol Policy Conference. First though, I’ll be presenting a data blitz at the School of Public Health and Psychology research festival on Monday. Following Dublin I head to Sabah, finally, and pick up my life and work there. April brings a trip to Taiwan to conduct a workshop on Ultra Brief Psychological Interventions as well as running the route of the Borneo Death March in reverse, finishing with the 75th anniversary ANZAC day ceremony in Sandakan. May is Kaamatan and will see the beginning of my field work and a chapter of my thesis. So many things. So excited for this next chapter. Bring it on. I am ready!!!!! ❤️