Friday, September 20, 2019

Corporate Budgeting Systems: Overview and Analysis

Corporate Budgeting Systems: Overview and Analysis Joo Hee Kim Accounting and Financial Management Budgeting is the Process of expressing quantified resource requirements (amount of capital, amount of material, number of people) into time-phased goals and milestones (, 2017). Budgets help decision makers to identify problems and to increase their understanding of the task environment (Ahrens 1997). For this reason, budgeting is still regarded as an organizational imperative if costs are to be controlled and financial performance to be achieved (Frow, Marginson and Ogden, 2010). The budget has historically entered the central stage of the management control system in most organizations (Otley, 1994). One of the main reasons that big companies get their budgets in the first place is to coordinate different parts of the business. By sharing accurate information publicly and based on a common set of decisions, ensuring harmonious interactions between units can lead to efficient processes, high-quality products, low inventories and satisfied customers (Jensen, 200 1). As such, traditionally, budgeting system has been considered to provide effectively four major benefits to the most organizations. (1) First of all, budgeting system provides the capability for managers to quantify the necessary resources and distribute these to the involved organizations prior to the beginning of the project. (2) Throughout the budget planning activities, the involved organizations will have a better interaction and communication to identify the problems, understand issues, pertaining to the tasks and then, finally allocate the necessary budgets to each organization. (3) Consequently it encourages each organization to conduct their task diligently and efficiently without wasting their resources. (4) Finally, It provides the persistent evaluation how the project performed under the budgeting planned and the great future index for the next budgeting plan. However, under the current increased competitive global environment, requiring more dynamic and imminent resource allocation have raised the concern that the traditional budgeting systems are inefficient and incapable to satisfy dynamically changing environments and suggested the myopic decision making and budget games in which they proposed (Hansen et al., 2003; Ostergren and Stensaker, 2011). Also, Welch has described the unnecessary wage increase due to the misguided performance evaluation, inherited by the incorrect budgeting planned (Welch, 2005). In addition to the inherited slow adaptive functionality and misguided performance evaluation. Jensen has described that the traditional budgeting process wastes time, twists decision making, consuming a huge amount of wasting executives time, due to the intentional false forecasts or manipulating critical information, consequently, twisting the resource allocation (Jensen, 2001; Jensen, 2003). In addition to these human and organizational barriers, genuinely, it takes lots of unnecessary time and resources to create a proper budget, prior to the beginning of the tasks. Statistically, organizations spend 20-30% of their time in the budgeting process. Also, budgeting generally limits the likelihood of achieving high growth or significant cost savings by setting an upper limit of the allowable budgets. At the same time, budgets can hinder high growth because overspending over budget would cut costs in the short term in order to achieve margin goals, consequently, hindering long-term goals (de Waal, Hermkens-Janssen and van de Ven, 2011). Recently, in order to overcome of the issues in the traditional budgeting system described above, a number of alternative methodologies have been proposed for the budgeting process, including activity-based budgeting, profit planning, rolling budgets and forecasts, zero-based budgeting, and beyond budgeting (Hansen, Otley and Stede, 2003). In particular, Jensen proposed a A Linear Compensation Plan to remedy the current budgeting process in which actual performance, regardless of budgetary goals, will be utilized to provide senior executives unbiased estimates for the planned achievable goal. However, later, Jensen described that it can be problematical for organizations to simply adopt or implement the proposed linear compensation system. It is because Target-based bonuses are deeply ingrained in the minds of managers and in the managerial codes of most organizations. More than that, if the measures and evaluation were not correctly performed, executives will have the more risk of distorting managerial decisions, even under a linear bonus system. In addition, the positioning and slope of the bonus line are based on the prior years performance. Of course, it would reduce the risk of overcompensating for the performance, but it can cause the reduction of incentives for the increasing performance, which results in dropping the motivational effects of the performance targets. Also, the increased performance compensation would require companies to increase bonus caps way beyond traditional compensational levels, which can make organizations discomfort (Jensen, 2001). In addition, more difficulties have described that the cost of changing the current budgeting process can be high due to the initial cost to implement the new system which requires the staffing time change, strategic planning, resource allocation, cost management (Neely, Sutcliff and Heyns, 2002), and eventually results in impacting on other unrecognized management processes, due to the lack of understanding of the current and future adopted systems (Waal, Jap Tjoen San and Zwanenburg, 2006). To overcome the raised issues on the linear compensation schemes, the curvilinear schedule methodology has been proposed which actually, reintroduces a strong incentive in terms of the budget. Jensen has also later agreed that the budget process itself is not the root cause of unproductive behavior. Rather, determining the compensation should combine the budget goals to have proper performance measurements. He has also point out that performance indicators should reflect the functionality of other business units, to align with the departmental performance measures. Management flexibility, decentralization and delegation can also minimize the risk of measuring performance (Jensen, 2001). Jensen criticizes managers for damaging their business because they lie to get more incentives. But currently, companies do not set incentives based only on manager reporting. Annual bonuses can be organized into three basic components: performance measurement, performance standards, and the sensitivity of the pay-for-performance relationship. Most companies rely on two or more measures of performance when evaluating manager performance, such as sales or revenue, earnings per share, operating profit or profit (Towers Perrin, 2005). Historically, accounting-based performance indicators are backward-looking and easy to lie, so firms can avoid cheating by using other measures such as operational or strategic performance goals, quality improvement, and scorecard-based systems. If managers were still cheating as Jansen criticized, the incentive system would not have spread like it does today. In recent, the percentage of SP 500 firms using multiyear accounting-based performance (MAP) incentives for CEOs increased from 16.5% in 1996 to 43.3% in 2008 (Li and Wang, 2016). There are many good reasons to explain why long-term incentives are an effective wage component. First, it provides the most direct correlation between company performance and wages. In other words, incentives can motivate directors to work hard and help them make shareholderoriented decisions. Second, long-term incentives can provide valuable human capital to the board and increase the loyalty of incumbent directors (Irani and Gerayeli, 2017). Furthermore, there is a way to hire a compensation consultant company to get rid of the possibility of any remaining lie. Compensation consultants such as Towers Watson, the Hay Group, and Hewitt Associates can assist the board in setting up wages with knowledge of industry and other peer groups compensation package design. In particular, they can give advice and assistance to the compensation committee (Bender, 2007). In the UK, virtually all companies show that they hire compensation consultants (Conyon, Fernandes, Ferreira, Matos and Murphy, 2011). The existence of an independent board is also important in the process of receiving incentives. Directors must have sufficient pay-performance sensitivity (PPS) for managers (Bruce, Buck and Main, 2005). Jensen insisted Corporate budgeting is a joke. and Corporate budgeting consumes a huge amount of executives time. But I disagree with him. Therefore, I strongly believe that instead of simply tossing off the budgeting process, the efficient budgeting system, combined with a proper performance measurements to determine the correct compensation, is necessary and essential for the company to achieve their goals in a rapidly changing 21st century international economic environment. In particular, from the Abogun and Fagbemis research, budgeting is still selected as a most effective and necessary tool for planning, controlling, communicating, making decisions and creating value (Abogun and Fagbemi, 2011). For instance, on the survey conducted by Libby and Lindsay, most managers have rated the budgeting as good value to achieve their organizational goals, regardless of budget games occurred to some extent in the organization (Libby and Lindsay, 2013). They have also agreed that the right u se of budgeting is of significant value to management. As an additional valuable evidence of the budgeting system, more than 150 organizations in North America uses frequently cost management tool to budget resources that can include everything from raw materials to human resources and facilities (Horngren, Sundem, Stratton, Burgstahler Schatzberg, 2008). In the same opinion, at a meeting on the traditional role of the budget in the organization organized by CIMA and ICAEW in 2004, the budgeting and accompanying process were indispensable and also noted that the traditional budgeting processing was widespread. Significant number of European companies has a budget and continues to use this process (CIMA-ICAEW, 2004). Most of current companies in Australia, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States prepare budgets (Anand, Sahay and Saha, 2004). Is corporate budgeting really just a waste of time, as Jansen argues? If his argument was correct, now that more than 15 years ago, many companies would have to abandon the budgeting system. However, since the economic crisis that started in 2008, the survey and historical data have showed that the budget became more important in planning and resource allocation and companies emphasize specific budgeting features over other companies in response to economic crises (Becker, Mahlendorf, Schà ¤ffer and Thaten, 2016). In Case Study Evidence (Frow et al., 2010), the paper introduces the concept of continuous budgeting to emphasize how an organization can coordinate these potentially conflicting goals. By integrating the use of other budgetary controls with other management controls, the process of continuous budgeting encouraged management to exercise operational discretion when unexpected events occur in which it has placed a strict burden on managers to ensure that they continue to str ive to achieve their financial goals. Again, it has proved that Budgeting effectively contributes to the flexibility and financial principles to implement effective strategies. Therefore, its the right path to adopt alternative budgeting process rather than giving up entirely the budget. For example, continuous budgeting or traditional budgets can be supplemented by other management controls such as Balanced Scorecard (Frow et al., 2010) or Rolling Forecast (sandalgaard, 2012). For other management controls, according to a study by Choe, Dey and Mishra (2014), analyzing diversified companies in Australia by 2004-2008, companies that rely on long-term incentives for executives have achieved even greater progress. Long-term compensation consists of options, equity and other long-term incentive payments. Most of these compensation factors are based on company-wide performance. On the other hand, short-term rewards mainly consist of salaries and bonuses. In some cases, bonuses are targeted at company-wide performance, especially CEOs. For department managers, bonuses are often based on departmental accounting performance. Therefore, we need to develop some compromise schemes to set an upper bound of compensation, for instance, using the all department compensation difference and same time setup the ratio of long-term compensation and the short-term compensation ratio depending on the nature, scale, and profit of the company. Of course, as mentioned before, this compensation system depends on the previous years data to setup the compensation plan for the future potential growth. It may also be a necessary to evaluate company financial system regularly auditing from an independent accounting company that is not related to the companys incentive system. Corporate budgeting is like a knife. Knife would be a weapon when it is caught in the hands of robber, but it can serve as a tool for making delicious food in the hands of a cook, and it can save people when it is in the hands of a doctor. As Jensen argues, when corporate budgeting lefts in the hands of immoral managers, it is easy to become a weapon that damages the company for the benefit of the individual. But if a conscientious manager catches it, it becomes a tool for creating a happy company. If a wise CEO control it, it can also play a role in saving the company. Hence, I strongly believe that we should move toward improving the budget system by incorporating various suggestions described above. Question 2. Typical Executive Compensation Plan in a traditional pay-for-performance compensation plan, managers receive a hurdle bonus when they reach a certain level. The bonus will be improved until the maximum challenge is reached. When managers have a good year and performance is nearing the budget limit, there can be a desire to push the remaining profits into the future. Because they do not receive additional compensation even if they performance exceeds the cap, they will increase their chances of raising their expenses in current year or postpone their sale and gain to next year, in order to increase bonus next year. Suppose there is the organization named ABC, which has fiscal year end December 31 and Fiscal year 2016 budget goal for research expense is $100,000 and service contract revenue is $500,000. Fiscal year 2017 budget will be the same. Currently, ABC financial reports for fiscal year 2016 shows that research expense is $20,000 and service contract revenue is $500,000. ABC research department received a request from a research engineer to purchase $50,000 equipment for beginning of January 2017 and ABC sales department expects to sign on a two months service contract with a client amount of $200,000 in December 2016, but start date could be either December 2016 or January 2017. Because of timing issue of recording expenses and revenues, the managers are able to meet budgetary targets for 2016 and 2017, if they plan to expense more in current year and record revenues in the next fiscal year. The research department manager could record $50,000 equipment expenses for Fiscal year 2016 askin g a vendor to deliver the equipment and send out the bills to accounting departments few days earlier before January 1, 2017, unnecessarily, because research expense for the year 2016 already met budget goal, which means research manager still can get bonus for the year 2016 even though the research department recognizes $50,000 more expense in 2016. By doing so, the research department probably will exceed budgetary expense targets in 2017, because the department lower actual 2017 expense by $50,000. Also, sales manager could push revenue to the next fiscal year, by choosing the two months service contract start date as 1/1/17, instead of 12/1/16, because FY16 sales budget goal is already achieved. Even if the company ABC financial statement for FY16 can show more revenues if the service contract starts on 12/1/16, sales manager could take 1/1/17 start date, considering his FY16 bonus is guaranteed already, and it would be easier for him to achieve FY17 sales goal since he already achieved $200,000 out of $500,000. It is highly unlikely that any refinements to the budgeting process will ever enable budgets to be perfect because budget is plan for future. However, I think few refinements to the budget plan can prevent Jensons business scenario from real business world. First, senior management can set up their budget comparison method by adopting advanced IT budget system. In Jensons scenario, senior management set the budgets with limited input from line personnel. Because of limited input from same personnel, the budget could be manipulated for the purpose of getting more bonuses. If senior management set up IT budget system, such as uBase and add the procedure to their budget report review procedures, comparing generated report out of uBase to the prepared budget report by limited personnel, and researching the variances between two reports and fluctuation between months, senior management might identify what are the most common unfaithful ways used for management to consistently exceed finan cial targets. Second, the organization uses an incremental budgeting system for a full year. If an organization changes budget period from a full year to half year, and change distributing bonus from annual basis to semi-annual basis, the organization can reduce a lot of cut off issues management used to exceed financial targets. To avoid connecting budgets and sales goals to bonus, Jensen proposed Linear Compensation Plan is an incentive system that compensates for actual performance regardless of your budget goals. Administrators will receive the same bonus for some level of performance even if the budget target is set below or above that level. By eliminating kinks, the unit manager no longer collects cash beyond the target and would not need to make lower the target by putting false information into the budgeting process. As a result, senior management receives unbiased estimates of what they can achieve in the future, and the quality of planning and coordination is significantly improved. In order for Jensens proposed linear compensation scheme to be successful, we need to obtain the following refinements: First, when using multiple performance indicators for individual managers, companies must carefully set up a single, well-defined measure of overall business success, such as economic value added. Ratios such as sales margins or asset returns inevitably result in games. Second, management tends to concentrate in the short term. If you earn a high bonus within a year, it will be harder to get a higher bonus next year, so you will lose incentives to improve performance. A better way is to look at the future in more detail by setting a line of bonuses over the years based on long-term forecasts of growth and profitability. Finally, define the upper limit of compensation as a salary. Also, we need to set absolute objective criteria such as activity-based costing to determine performance by how many tasks have been done in certain time, rather than how many hours an employee worked. Question 1. (1) Answer is d. (2) If Sanjay Ltd sells all 1000 units, it needs not pay for scraping costs, so the minimum price is $ 2. But if it cannot sell all of them, it has to add $ 500 to its sales because it shoud pay for scraping costs. For example, if it sells 100 units, $ 5 is added per unit, so the minimum price is $ 7. However, if it sell 500 units, it will add $ 1 per unit, so the minimum price is $ 3. In the worst case, if Sanjay Ltd cannot sell any units, its better to give them away for free. (3) Total cost = DM(Direct materials) + DL(Direct labour) + OH(Overhead) $25,000 = $20,000 + DL + 1.5 DL $5,000 = DL + 1.5 DL = 2.5 DL DL = $2,000, $25,000 = $20,000 + $2,000 + Overhead As the result, Overhead is $3,000. (4) Total costs = Direct material + Direct labour + Overhead = $1,475 + $1,500 + {50(labour hour=$1,500/$30) $35} = $1,475 + $1,500 + $1,750 = $4,700 As the result, Total costs is $4,700. (5) Profits = Total sales Fixed costs Variable costs Profits ($100,00) = Total sales(Selling price 500,000) Fixed costs($400,000) Variable costs(0.75 Selling price 500,000) $100,000 = Selling price 500,000 400,000 0.75 Selling price 500,000 $500,000 = 0.25 Selling price 500,000 $500,000 = 125,000 Selling price As the result, Selling price should be $4. (6) Total Manufacturing Costs ($ 900) = Direct Materials ($ 455) + Direct Labor ($ 300) + Variable Manufacturing Overhead ($ 45) + Fixed Manufacturing Overhead ($100) Target Sales Price ($ 1440) = Total Manufacturing Costs ($ 900) + {Total Manufacturing Costs ($ 900) Mark Up 60% ($ 540)} It does not need to pay Fixed Manufacturing Overhead if Diamond Interiors accepts Mr. John Lees one-time only special order, because of Diamond Interiors has an excess capacity. In this case, Fixed Manufacturing Overhead should be excluded when calculating Total Manufacturing Costs. But Mr. Lee wants the cabinet in a metallic finish rather than laminate, so direct materials will increase by $30 per unit. Total Manufacturing Costs ($ 900) Fixed Manufacturing Overhead ($100) + additional direct materials ($30) = 830 Therefore, the minimum selling price is $830. (However, this minimum selling price did not include the mark up fee. Therefore, the actual selling price may vary depending on the sellers decision.) (7) The net present value (NPV) is the difference between the present value of the cash inflow and the present value of the cash outflow. NPV is used in capital budgeting to analyze the expected investment or profitability of the project.The following is the formula for calculating NPV: where Ct = net cash inflow during the period t Co = total initial investment costs r = discount rate, and t = number of time periods {20,000/1.1 + 25,000/(1.1)2 + 30,000/(1.1)3 +15,000/(1.1)4 + 12,000/(1.1)5 } 75000 = {18181.8 + 20661.2 + 22539.4 + 10245.2 + 7451.1} 75000 = 79078.7 75000 Net Present Value of the computer system is $ 4078.7 A positive net present value indicates that the projected income generated by the project or investment (in present dollars) exceeds the projected cost (also in present dollars). In general, investment with a positive NPV is a profitable investment, and investment with a negative NPV is a net loss. It is the basic element of the net investment value rule that a project or investment must be performed only if the NPV value is positive. Since the NPV of the computer program in question is positive, it is a wise choice for the mayor to purchase this computer program. (8) The cost of equipment is the items purchase price. Knowing the internal rate of return and the expected life of the equipment, the cost of equipment purchase can be calculated using the following formula. 15,000/1.12 + 15,000/(1.12)2 + 15,000/(1.12)3 + 15,000/(1.12)4 + 15,000(1.12)5 = 54071.7 As the result, Cost of the equipment is $ 54,071.7 (9) Return on investment is a simple rate of return without a concept of time. The IRR is calculated by compounding the time it takes to enter a profitable point. There is a limit to the evaluation by simple profit rate calculation that does not consider time. Internal rate of return (IRR) is the interest rate at which the net present value of all the cash flows (both positive and negative) from a project or investment equal zero. Internal rate of return is used to evaluate the attractiveness of a project or investment. If the IRR of a new project exceeds a companys required rate of return, that project is desirable. If IRR falls below the required rate of return, the project should be rejected (, 2017). When a minimum desired rate of return is 12%, the present value of project is calculated as $ 1,646. Because the IRR is positive, Imperial Airways Ltd. should accept this project. 75000/1.12 + 75000/(1.12)2 + 75000/(1.12)3 + 75000/(1.12)4 + 75000/(1.12)5 + 75000/(1.12)6 280000 50000/(1.12) 4 + 10000/(1.12)6 = 308355.6 280000 31776 + 5066.3 = 1645.9 As the result, Present Value of the Project is $ 1,646. When a minimum desired rate of return is 12%, the present value of project is over than zero (calculated as $ 1,646). Thus, the internal rate of return is more than 12%. (10) Year1 Inflow1 + Year2 Inflow + Year3 inflow = $22,000 Inflows from Year1 to Year 4 = $28,000 The payback period is between Year 3 and Year 4. Accurately calculated PBP = minimum period + shortage of inflows / inflows in event = 3 + 3000 / 6000 = 3.5 As a result, payback period is 3.5 years. REFERENCE Abogun, S. and Fagbemi, T. (2011). The Global Debate on Budgeting: Empirical Evidence from Nigeria. International Business Research, 4(4). Ahrens T. (1997). Strategic interventions of management accountants: everyday practice of British and German brewers The European Accounting Review 6(4), 557-588 Anand, M., Sahay, B.S. and Saha, S., 2004. Cost management practices in India: An empirical study. ASCI Journal of Management, 33(1-2), pp.1-13. Becker, S. D., Mahlendorf, M. D., Schà ¤ffer, U. and Thaten, M., 2016. Budgeting in times of economic crisis. Contemporary Accounting Research, 33 (4), pp.1489-1517. Bruce, A., Buck, T. and Main, B.G., 2005. 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International Journal of Economics and Financial Issues, 7(1), pp.285-292. Jensen, M.C. (2001), Corporate budgeting is broken lets fix it, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 79, pp. 94-101. Leahy, T. (2001), The top 10 traps of budgeting, Business Finance, Vol. 7 No. 11, pp. 20-34. Libby, T. and Lindsay, R.M., 2010. Beyond budgeting or budgeting reconsidered? A survey of North-American budgeting practice. Management Accounting Research, 21(1), pp.56-75. Li, Z. and Wang, L., 2016. Executive compensation incentives contingent on long-term accounting performance. Review of Financial Studies, 29(6), pp.1586-1633. Neely, A., Sutcliff, M. and Heyns, H. (2002), Driving Value through Strategic Planning and Budgeting, Research Report, Cranfield School of Management and Accenture, Cranfield. Ostergren, K. and Stensaker, I. (2011), Management control without budgets: a field study of  beyond budgeting in practice, The European Accounting Review, Vol. 20 No. 1, pp. 149-81. Otley, D.T., 1994. Management control in contemporary organizations:  towards a wider framework. Management Accounting Research 5, 289-299. ROZENFELD, G.C., 2017. CHAPTER FOUR DISSIDENT OPINIONS ON BUDGETARY CONTROL SYSTEMS IN THE 21ST CENTURY: EVIDENCE FROM A MULTINATIONAL RETAIL ORGANISATION LOCATED IN THE UK. Dissident Voices in Europe? Past, Present and Future, p.41. Zhang, C., Wang, S., Gao, Z. and Zhao, X., 2015. Study on the Manipulation Effect of CEO Power on Executive Compensation Level: A Literature Review. Reflective Essay: Grief and Bereavement Reflective Essay: Grief and Bereavement This essay is a reflective journey through the loss I have experienced in my life. The essay will discuss two models of bereavement, dual process and continuing bonds. Towards not only understanding self in the process of loss, but also to understand some of the theories used to assist those who are grieving. Relevant referenced literature will be used to demonstrate understanding of the models of loss chosen for the assessment. The loss that has impacted my world most recently began with the wonderful knowledge of pregnancy. That beautiful piece of news set in motion a series of events beginning with the primary loss of membership within a band, which I had created and maintained for six years. The band was a manifestation of hopes, dreams and realisations I had carried since childhood and finally began actualising in my early thirties. The secondary losses were simple I thought, as in losing the social network associated with being a band member, and the loss of a portion of identity. However, a major friendship was also lost in the process and this in reality lay far deeper than the apparent primary loss. This friend and fellow band member M was actually my x partner and soul mate, with who I had shared my life and musical experiences from the age of nineteen. Even though we had separated as partners we were still very close as friends and involved musically. I had lost my x, my best friend, my band membe r, fellow song writer, and pain in the butt. I acknowledge that adjusting to motherhood and the happiness of my new family life overshadowed the losses I was experiencing, and also my resilience, spirituality and being quite differentiated contributed to my ability to cope, move forward and adjust to yet another segment of my very interesting, challenging and rewarding life. Attachment and meaning, family systems, social support, cognitive process in adjustment and coping, are all factors and terms associated with the theories of loss and bereavement which have preceded and assisted Stroebe and Schut (2007) to generate the dual process model. Their model perceives a person oscillating between loss-orientation and restoration-orientation. Loss-orientation deals with the process of having a good cry and experiencing and dealing with the emotion of loss, and restoration-orientation deals with getting oneself back into feeling okay to proceed with life emotionally, physically and psychologically. Within this process of oscillation it is important to understand the need for both negative and positive thought processes within both loss and restoration. Furthermore it is important that one experiences and adjusts to both aspects of thought processes in life, even when it appears that loss is not perhaps a prominent focal point. Stroebe and Schut (2004) discuss how attachment theory plays a role within the dual process model, by aligning loss-orientation with the experience associated through loss of a relationship where the bond of attachment is deep. Secondly their restoration-orientation process can align with cognitive stress theory by making use of tasks or coping strategies to assist a grieving person to find balance in their process of loss. The strength of the dual process model as Stroebe and Schut (2004b) explain is the ability to understand that people fluctuate between positive and negative thoughts and emotions. Additionally by applying certain aspects of cognition tools and the understanding of attachment, a balance between the swaying emotions and thoughts can be normalised and processed in a comfortable and personal manner as adaption takes place. In my experience of grief I certainly experienced the swapping of emotional positions such as sadness that our friendship had ceased, and feeling okay that M wanted to disconnect. I am able to reflect with both sadness and joy, when I ponder our shared love and experiences. However I also take great strength from my husband and son, my parents and siblings in an almost unconscious process of living and loving. Continuing bonds resonated with me in that it recognised attachment bonds dont disappear when one experiences loss or death, instead the connection and bonds change and continue. Klass and Walter (2004) explain continuing bonds as recognition that the human condition in both life and death is far more complex and unique than many theorists previously had argued. In addition research discovered that many diverse people carried on conversations and relationships with the dead. Klass, Silverman, Nickman (1996) relate that continuing bonds means that those left behind feel a real sense of the person they have lost, either unconsciously or on a conscious level, therefore their changed relationship with the deceased is a continuous process of adjustment. It is now realised people dont get over a loss of a loved one, they continue to have an internal relationship or tell stories to keep their meaning alive. From what I have understood of continuing bonds dealing with grief, is simply not a s simple as getting over a loss, but a process of mourning, grieving, adjusting and changing. Packman, Horsley, Davies Kramer (2006) cite Hogan and DeSantis who refer to attachment in connection with continuing bonds such as reaffirming relationships, search for understanding, checking in with deceased, reconnecting, asking for guidance, and seeking to meet again, it seems the process demonstrates once more that attachment and love does not cease with the death or loss of our loved ones. Nadeau (2007) discusses continuing bonds around how families make meaning via conversations and shared feelings through storytelling, family conversation or verbalising experiences of the person who has died. In addition to dreaming, comparing and experiencing interpretations of personality, joining or linking of events or perhaps considering fatalistic observations, through which these processes assist a person to deal and adjust to the loss and life without the physical presence of their loved one. It almost seems ridiculous in my mind to consider those Ive lost in life as being completely gone just because they died or have disconnected their friendship. In my personal culture of beliefs, values, and spirituality, death is but a single part of an enormous cycle where as human beings we experience the physical plane of existence, which is only a fraction of our total cycle of being and knowing. The process of writing this assessment has made me consider exactly what losses I have experienced. I began by making a time line of losses, and realised that through death I had lost four grandparents, friends, one x mother-in-law, and one current mother-in-law, nine cats, one bird, and one dog. The losses consisted of my heart at least three times, contact with aunts and uncles, and my cousins, jobs, dreams, my band, friends, even my respect at certain times, and the most significant friendship of my life prior to meeting my husband and my baby. Through contemplating my losses I can identify with certain aspects of poor self-esteem that has occurred in my life, and understand how feeling unworthy of certain considerations from friends is mixed in with the manner in which I handle loss in general. Being strong inside even though I feel alone is part of the coping mechanism loss in my life has taught me. For me being differentiated and resilient are the real keys to handling lifes my riad of experiences. Walsh (2006) suggests that beliefs and values build our cultural and family historical story that in turn builds resilience, which is strongly tied in with ones spiritual beliefs and life meaning. Weiten, Lloyd, Dunn, Hammer (2009) cite Gallagher and Chase who suggest that children benefit immensely from having their sense of resilience strengthened and nurtured by cherishing close relationships between children and parents. Resilience can help with the development of coping strategies, for example how to release anger, or help children be able to differentiate between risk assessment of traumatic event and management of possible danger. Furthermore the importance of relating and sharing of values and beliefs, not only in self, but also in a wider social arena, and encourage the ability to see and endeavour towards a positive future. My sense of myself as a differentiated and resilient person has also been a driving force behind my search of spiritual answers outside my birth religion. I live my life through my sense of spiritual knowing, which I align with the Buddhist concept of dharma, reincarnation and karma. My foundation of spirituality and knowing in God as my belief and value system is how I function through lifes loves and losses. I now understand how positive functioning is interconnected with a sense of differentiation. Corey (2009) discusses, differentiation is the process of becoming an individual with a positive sense of separateness from family of origin, able to live life with an ability to accept responsibility for ones own emotions, thoughts, feelings, perceptions and behaviour. I am truly thankful for the two strengths of resilience and differentiation, as in whenever I feel alone in my experiencing of loss, be it as simple as feeling I have no one to talk to, I can draw from inside myself the strength to escape negative emotional spirals. I also have an immense sense of connection to a higher spirit and find great comfort in lifes meaning and feeling of universal love. Since life, love, death, loss and grief all are experienced, affected, and expressed, in highly individual styles and approaches it seems logical there should be different methods and theories attached to grief and loss counselling. Therefore when I look at the two models of dual process and continuing bonds, I feel it important to understand attachment in life and loss. Machin (2009) discusses that the sense of self and independence is born out of the relationships of attachment we experience across our lifespan. These attachments are what allow a person to develop resources such as coping mechanisms, resilience, and the predisposition towards either positive or negative outlooks on life as well as death and loss. Sigelman and Rider (2009) refer to Bowlbys theory of attachment, concerning how a person copes through lifes challenges and stages, which can depend a great deal on the style of attachment they have developed, such as securely attached opposed to avoidant or resistant atta chment. These attachment styles play out through life in the manner of relationships beginning with family relationships, meaningful friendships, and marriage relationships, a person experiences through life and through their losses. Sigelman and Rider (2009b) cite Parkes who in conjunction with Bowlby constructed their theory of attachment model of bereavement, based on the simple fact that loss and love are counterparts that cannot be separated. Furthermore our interpersonal connections are built through attachment and centred on the conveying and sharing of love. Machin (2009b) also considers that attachment styles are also impacted through family culture, especially in how a person is taught the norms, values and beliefs surrounding appropriate mourning and grief, and life and love. As I reflect on how I seek and find support around my loosing M as a close friend, the cultural influence and norm my family advocates, is that of behaving as if nothing has changed. Almost like sayi ng, what are you worried about, and ignoring any deep feelings that need sharing to complete the cycle of grief. In relation to attachment within my family history I would say I have learnt secure attachment as a child, but as I grew my sense of attachment to my parents and siblings had a feeling of separateness, which funnily enough I feel was the grounding for my sense of differentiation and resilience, self reliance, sense of spiritual belonging and an ability to have a positive life mindset. On the flip side that separateness I felt when younger was the underlying force behind my poor self-esteem which was an enabling factor in the attachment style of relationship I shared with M. No matter the type of grief or loss one experiences or suffers in some way or another, love is at the heart of the felt experience. Even if the loss is as simple as the loss of a job, or perhaps a beloved cat, or friend, a partner, a mother or father, sister or brother, or sadly a child, it is love that binds us, it is love that makes life and death worthwhile. Kubler-Ross (1998) put it very succinctly when she wrote, you should live until you die, no one dies alone, everyone is loved beyond comprehension, everyone is blessed and guided, and the hardest lesson to learn is unconditional love, everything is bearable when there is love, and finally the only thing that lives forever is love (p288). To conclude this essay I would reflect on the importance of a counsellor taking the time to experience and deal with lifes losses and loves. Whether one chooses a particular model or process to assist the journey of self discovery, it is important to understand the underlying concepts of the attachment bonds that are formed over a life span. The bonds we form also bring the love that not only continues but also fluctuates between positive and negative emotional balancing and adjustment.

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