Behaviour of the dancing duck

Good news: the dancing duck generated a response from a reader and so the wisdom of crowds has delivered! NDT personnel are not given to hyperbole, so maybe I will be forgiven, just this once, if I stretch credibility and say, based on the saying that ‘three is a crowd’, that two must be nearly a crowd. Given the evidence, the most plausible reason the duck was dancing was because it was solar powered, like the dancing sunflowers you may have seen.

Moving on to a more serious topic, the treatment of mental health has been a continuous story in the news this year. There have been various initiatives to raise awareness of mental health and its impact, as well as campaigns to increase funding for mental health services. It was against this background that a recent newspaper article caught my eye. Currently, the standard treatment for depression is for patients to undertake cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). CBT is a talking treatment that focuses on how your thoughts, beliefs and attitudes affect your feelings and behaviour and teaches you coping skills for dealing with different problems. It combines cognitive therapy (examining the things you think) and behavioural therapy (examining the things you do). It is most commonly used to treat anxiety and depression, but can be useful for other mental and physical health problems. A CBT therapist helps you to identify and challenge any negative thinking patterns and behaviours that may be causing you difficulties. This can change the way you feel about situations and enable you to change your behaviour in future.

However, the delivery of this treatment requires a qualified CBT therapist. The newspaper article discussed an alternative treatment, behavioural activation, which it reported can be delivered by behavioural activation therapists, who require far less training than CBT therapists, without any compromise on the high level of quality. The treatment is also cheaper per patient. Hence, it could save the NHS money and could be more readily available. Behavioural activation is based on the theory that as people become depressed they isolate themselves, which worsens the symptoms. So, by helping individuals to participate more in activities, such as exercising, having contact with friends and family, learning new skills or even just keeping up with the chores, it can reverse the downward spiral and gradually improve their feelings.

The interesting (well, to me anyway!) thing about this newspaper report is the reversible interaction between thoughts, feelings and behaviour. It links into last month’s article where I recounted how the ‘behaviour’ of the duck made me laugh and feel happy. It also links to the saying I quoted: ‘You don’t laugh because you are happy, you are happy because you laugh’. This is the second thread of thoughts that I had at the time.

Any analysis of past columns would identify that communication is a recurring theme. I have always iterated that behaviour is one of the strongest forms of communication. From the above, it is not hard to see why: our behaviour influences our thoughts and feelings and it also impacts on the thoughts and feelings of those around us, be they family, friends or work colleagues.

Human factors studies have shown that management behaviour sets the tone of an inspection programme. If the predisposition is towards production at the expense of the integrity of the inspection process, NDT operators will pick up on this and the inspection results will never be optimum. The output of the PANI projects has tried to influence the behaviour of the management of both NDT vendors and their clients. However, as individuals we only have full control over our own behaviour. It is incumbent on us all to ensure that our own behaviour has a positive impact on ourselves, our colleagues and management, in general. If you are wondering what this behaviour could be, then a good starting point is the set of behaviour requirements in the BINDT Apprenticeships Scheme. The advanced behaviours are summarised as follows:
  • Teamwork: work effectively in a team and be trusted by others, motivate and empower others, share knowledge and expertise;
  • Courage: be willing to stand in the minority and be respected and understood when doing so, encourage debate about issues with colleagues;
  • Delivery: consistently see things through to timely completion, anticipate problems, maintain systems;
  • Common sense:    consistently apply knowledge and experience with balance;
  • Influence: have a positive impact in multiple contexts to achieve outcome – relationships, team and organisation;
  • Breadth: be business-aware, take a broad view and have interest in business, cultural and social issues and be able to apply insights to guide ways of working;
  • Integrity: act with maturity, honesty, integrity and responsibility.

For further information on these behaviours, visit:

In writing this column, I have realised that I have not heard mental health mentioned or discussed in the context of NDT. Is this something that should be rectified? Please let me or the Editor know what you think.

Please note that the views expressed in this column are the author’s own personal ramblings for the purpose of encouraging discussion within the NDT Newspaper. They do not represent the views of Amec Foster Wheeler or the HSE who funded the PANI projects.

Letters can be mailed to The Editor, NDT News, Midsummer House, Riverside Way, Bedford Road, Northampton NN1 5NX, UK. Tel: +44 (0)1604 438300; Fax: +44 (0)1604 438301; Email: or email Bernard McGrath direct at

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