Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy

Sedentary Behaviour, Therapists, and Clients: Promoting Positive Health Behaviours in Therapy/La Sedentarite, Les Therapeutes et Les Clients : Promouvoir Des Comportements Sains En Therapie

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy

Sedentary Behaviour, Therapists, and Clients: Promoting Positive Health Behaviours in Therapy/La Sedentarite, Les Therapeutes et Les Clients : Promouvoir Des Comportements Sains En Therapie

Article excerpt

With levels of sedentary behaviour on the rise in modern society (Asare & Danquah, 2015; Ng & Popkin, 2012; Owen, Healy, Matthews, & Dunstan, 2010; Thosar, Bielko, Mather, Johnston, & Wallace, 2015), understanding what sedentary behaviour is and how it affects our health and well-being are important concepts for all health-related professionals. There is now considerable research that indicates that engaging in lengthy periods of sedentary behaviour throughout the day on a regular basis has the capacity for numerous negative health effects (Katzmarzyk, Church, Craig, & Bouchard, 2009; Matthews et al., 2012; Owen, 2012; Patel et al., 2010). This is troublesome given the following two considerations.

First, numerous studies have explored the negative physical effects of sedentary behaviour and how health professionals such as doctors and health psychologists can intervene (Katzmarzyk et al., 2009; Matthews et al., 2012; Patel et al., 2010; Vallance et al., 2011). However, there are fewer studies on the effects of sedentary behaviour on mental health and little to no dialogue on how mental health professionals outside of health-care settings should consider and integrate this information.

Second, the impact on therapists who engage in consecutive sedentary sessions each workday is not yet a part of the academic dialogue despite what is known about the negative effects of lengthy bouts of sedentary behaviour. Given that self-care is crucial for those in helping professions (Skovholt & Trotter-Mathison, 2011) and physical health is an aspect of self-care (Theriault, Gazzola, Isenor, & Pascal, 2015), it is especially important to include therapists in the dialogue on how to reduce workplace sedentary behaviour. In addition, because therapists are doing interventions with clients, the considerations for reducing sedentary behaviour in the workplace may be different for therapists than for the average person working in an office, who is more likely to be working on a task at a computer or a desk. As a result, research and dialogue on the topic of reducing workplace sedentary behaviour specific to therapists may be required.

The purpose of this article is to synthesize the current literature on the topic of sedentary behaviour and explore the implications for those in the field of counselling psychology. First, a definition of sedentary behaviour is provided, along with a review and discussion of the effects of sedentary behaviour in our modern society. An exploration of how these topics relate to the field of counselling psychology, existing therapies that incorporate movement, and what the implications for the field might be follows. Last, limitations and areas for further research are discussed. For clarity, throughout this article the term therapist is used to refer to any mental health professional conducting therapy, although mental health professionals may identify by a number of different titles in their professional work. Given the negative health effects of sedentary behaviour, it is important for therapists to consider how positive health behaviours with regards to sedentary behaviour might be promoted with clients and to examine the impacts that consecutive daily sessions of sedentary counselling may have on themselves.

DEFINING AND EXAMINING SEDENTARY BEHAVIOUR

Prior to engaging in the dialogue specific to counselling psychology, it is important to understand the nature of sedentary behaviour and its negative impacts. Behaviour happens on a continuum that ranges from sedentary behaviour to vigorous activity (Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, 2012). On the far left of the continuum is sedentary behaviour, which can be defined as behaviour that requires little to no exertion and very low levels of physical movement (Pate, O'Neill, & Lobelo, 2008). Sedentary behaviours include sitting, lying down, watching television, playing passive video games, using motorized transportation, and passive computer usage (Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, 2012; Jette, Sidney, & Blumchen, 1990; Pate et al. …

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