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Strategies for Supporting Working Memory Deficits

Course excerpt from Executive Functioning in Adults

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Working memory is the fundamental and essential ability to hold information in mind for the purposes of completing a task. People who have this strength are good at keeping track of things, holding onto details, and making sure nothing is left out when the job is done. They are able to keep track of what they are doing and able to carry the task to successful completion without losing their way.

Those who have weak working memory skills have trouble with multi-step tasks. They have a hard time remembering directions, taking notes, and understanding something that has just been explained to them. This makes it difficult to remember simple things like grocery lists, or what you went into the other room to retrieve. Those who have weaknesses in this area are constantly making careless mistakes, forgetting important matters, losing things, and being teased for being scatterbrained (Dawson and Guare,2016, pp. 23-31).

Some of the outward signs of low working memory capacity are:

  • Reservation during group activities, sometimes failing to answer direct questions.
  • Finding it difficult to follow instructions.
  • Losing track during complicated tasks and may eventually abandon these tasks.
  • Making place-keeping errors, such as skipping or repeating steps.
  • Showing incomplete recall abilities.
  • Appearing to be easily distracted, inattentive, or “zoned out.”
  • Having trouble with activities that require both storage (remembering information) and processing (manipulating information).

The following statement is adapted from Gathercole and Alloway, (2007):

Individuals with this characteristic can learn strategies to help them compensate by utilizing a variety of memory aids. It should be noted that many busy people use these strategies, regardless of the status of their working memory functioning. According to Nadeau(2016,p. 92), the following tips allow you to improve working memory skills:

  • Carry a date planner or smartphone with you at all times to record notes.
  • Avoid situations in which you receive information without the opportunity to write it down.
  • Don’t write notes on scraps of paper, only in your day planner.
  • Always take notes during meetings.
  • Ask co-workers or loved ones to email you rather than call, this provides a written record.
  • Avoid interruptions whenever possible. Close your door or send calls to voicemail.
  • Use a voice recorder.
  • Use visual prompts like sticky notes. Place reminder objects where you’ll see them by the front door, or on the front seat of your car.
  • Develop a beeper reminder system on your watch or computer to cue you regarding scheduled tasks or events.
  • Visualize or pre-rehearse a sequence of things that you need to do.
  • Develop routines. They placed less demand on your memory.

This skill is closely linked with a number of other executive skills, like goal-directed persistence and sustained attention. It is difficult to hold a thought in working memory if you weren’t paying attention when the information was conveyed in the first place.

According to Hartmann (2016):

The first step in learning to remember things is to learn to pay attention in the first place. This is a particular challenge…When it comes time to find the car keys; they seem to have been swallowed by a denizen of the twilight zone. Combs and brushes disappear with regularity and it’s particularly distressing when a wallet or purse is constantly misplaced. The solution for this is to learn the concept of ‘original awareness’. As you set down the car keys, look for a moment at the top of the kitchen counter where you’re putting them and take notice of them there. When people can’t remember things, it’s most often because they failed to pay attention to them in the first place (p. 89).

If you have working memory challenges, it is best to structure your environment to build in as many cues as you can. Dawson and Guare (2016, pp. 129-131) give more specific examples of how to modify physical or social environments to manage weak working memory:

Strategies to remember things to take to work:

  • Place the object in front of the door so you can’t open the door without picking it up, or, put it in my car the night before.
  • Place a small whiteboard next to your purse or keys with notes. For example, “Remember your lunch.”
  • Put your cell phone in your purse connected to the cable you are charging it with.
  • Keep a second set of materials (for example, computer power cords in your office in case you forget to pack something on any given day.)

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Executive Functioning in Adults is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that provides strategies to help adults overcome executive functioning deficits.

As human beings, we have a built-in capacity to accomplish goals and meet challenges through the use of high-level cognitive functions called “executive functioning” skills. These are the skills that help us to decide which activities and tasks we will pay attention to and which ones we will choose to ignore or postpone.

Executive skills allow us to organize our thinking and behavior over extended periods of time and override immediate demands in favor of longer-term goals. These skills are critical in planning and organizing activities, sustaining attention, and persisting until a task is completed. Individuals who do not have well-developed executive functioning skills tend to have difficulty starting and attending to tasks, redirecting themselves when a plan is not working, and exercising emotional control and flexibility. This course offers a wide variety of strategies to help adults overcome such difficulties and function more effectively.

Course #31-08 | 2018 | 61 pages | 20 posttest questions

CE Credit: 3 Hours

Target Audience: Psychology CE | Counseling CE | Social Work CE | Occupational Therapy CEUs | Marriage & Family Therapy CE

Learning Level: Introductory

Course Type: Online

Professional Development Resources is approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC ACEP #5590); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB Provider #1046, ACE Program); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA Provider #3159); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR Provider #PR001); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy (#BAP346), Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635), Dietetics & Nutrition (#50-1635), and Occupational Therapy Practice (#34); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501); the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678); and is CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

Target Audience: PsychologistsCounselorsSocial WorkersMarriage & Family Therapist (MFTs)Occupational Therapists (OTs),  School Psychologists, and Teachers

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Posted by on May 15, 2018 in Mental Health

 

What Others Think – How Other’s Perceptions of Our Mental Health Define Our Stigmas

Course excerpt from Overcoming the Stigma of Mental Illness

Image result for working with mental illness

We know that the fear of being seen as mentally ill or crazy causes considerable distress, and while we might like to think that our fears are not well founded, the reality, according to Psychologists James Wirth of Purdue and Galen Bodenhausen of Northwestern, is that they are.

Looking to explore how strongly conforming to gender stereotypes of mental illness (such as men being more prone to violence and women being more prone to major depression) influenced other perceptions, Wirth and Bodenhausen used a national survey to ask a group of volunteers from around the country, varying widely in age, education, and socioeconomic status, to read a case history of a person with mental illness. Some read about Brian, who was a stereotypical alcoholic, while others read about Karen, who showed all the classical symptoms of major depression. Still others read switched-around versions of these cases, so that Karen was the one abusing alcohol and Brian was depressed. The idea was to see if the typicality of Brian and Karen’s symptoms (or lack of it) shaped the volunteers’ reactions and judgments.

So did gender conforming representations of mentally ill people shift volunteers’ perceptions of them? Without question, volunteers expressed more anger and disgust – and less sympathy – toward Brian the alcoholic than toward Karen the alcoholic, and vice versa for depression. They were also more willing to help Brian and Karen when they suffered from an atypical disorder (Wirth et al., 2016).

Most striking of all, the volunteers were much more likely to view Brian’s depression (and Karen’s alcoholism) as genuine biological disorders – rather than character defects or matters of personal irresponsibility (Wirth et al., 2016).

The takeaway is that not only are stereotypes around mental illness powerful – mental patients are either violently dangerous or docile and incompetent; we fear the first and disdain the latter – they are not equal opportunity. The image of dangerous mental illness, including violent alcoholism, is much more often directed at men. Similarly, women are much more likely to be caricatured as pathologically dependent and depressed (Wirth et al., 2016).

And the fear of others’ perceptions of our mental health, as one study shows, also includes how well we can perform our jobs.

In the survey of 2,219 working adults in Ontario, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) Senior Scientist Dr. Carolyn Dewa asked two key questions: First, would you inform your manager if you had a mental health problem? And second, if a colleague had a mental health problem, would you be concerned about how work would be affected? Dewa and her team then probed more deeply depending on the answers.

Among the 38 percent who would not tell their manager, the most common reason given was the fear that it would affect their careers. And the second most common reason was the bad experiences of others who came forward, followed by fear of losing friends, or a combination of these reasons (Dewa, 2016).

Among the reasons why people would tell their manager, the strongest factor was a positive relationship with them, followed by supportive organizational policies (Dewa, 2016).

On the other hand, people were much more willing to reveal if a co-worker had a mental illness, with 64 percent indicating that they would tell their manager. Even more concerning was that although they were reluctant to disclose their own mental illness, respondents cited concerns about both the reliability and safety of co-workers with mental illness (Dewa, 2016).

While a significant number of working people have mental health problems, or have taken a disability leave related to mental health – annually, almost three percent of workers are on a short-term disability leave related to mental illness – and Dr. Dewa’s past research has shown that workers with depression who receive treatment are more productive than those who don’t. The reality is that without disclosing, it may be difficult to get treatment.

“Stigma is a barrier to people seeking help. Yet by getting treatment, it would benefit the worker and the workplace, and minimize productivity loss” (Dewa, 2016).

Mental illness stereotypes influence the way we look at other people, how we expect them to behave, how safe we consider them, and how productive in the workplace we think they will be. But they also influence how likely people who struggle with mental illness are to ask for help – help that can improve their mental health and their occupational performance. And as we will see in the next section, denying our stigmas acts as another strong barrier to overcoming them, and seeking support.

Click here to learn more

Overcoming the Stigma of Mental Illness is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that explores the stigmas around mental illness and provides effective strategies to overcome them.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines mental illness stigma as “a range of negative attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors about mental and substance use disorders.” Mental health and substance use disorders are prevalent and among the most highly stigmatized health conditions in the United States, and they remain barriers to full participation in society in areas as basic as education, housing, and employment.

This course will explore the stigmas surrounding mental illness and provide effective strategies clinicians can use to create a therapeutic environment where clients can evaluate their attitudes, beliefs, and fears about mental illness, and ultimately find ways to overcome them. We will explore the ways in which mental illness stigmas shape our beliefs, decisions, and lives. We will then look at specific stigmas about mental illness, from the fear of being seen as crazy to the fear of losing cognitive function and the ways in which we seek to avoid these fears. We will then look at targeted strategies that, you, the clinician, can use to create a therapeutic alliance where change and healing can overcome the client’s fears. Lastly, we will look at the specific exercises you can use in session with your clients to help them address and overcome their biases and stigmas about mental illness.

Course #21-24 | 2018 | 35 pages | 15 posttest questions

CE Credit: 2 Hours

Target Audience: Psychology CE | Counseling CE | Social Work CE | Occupational Therapy CEUs | Marriage & Family Therapy CE | Nutrition & Dietetics CE | School Psychology CE | Teaching CE

Learning Level: Intermediate

Course Type: Online

Professional Development Resources is approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC ACEP #5590); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB Provider #1046, ACE Program); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA Provider #3159); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR Provider #PR001); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy (#BAP346), Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635), Dietetics & Nutrition (#50-1635), and Occupational Therapy Practice (#34); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501); the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678); and is CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

Target Audience: Psychology CE | Counseling CE | Social Work CE | Occupational Therapy CEUs | Marriage & Family Therapy CE | Nutrition & Dietetics CE | School Psychology CE | Teaching CE

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Posted by on May 2, 2018 in Mental Health

 

Selective Mutism: Cognitive- Behavioral Intervention

Course excerpt from Selective Mutism: Identification and Treatment

Image result for child and teacher

The subject of intervention for children with Selective Mutism has been addressed by several researchers and clinicians. While there have been more than 90 studies of intervention with children who have SM, very few of the existent studies used randomized controlled trial methodology. Many of the articles are case presentations or had only a limited number of research subjects. This article will review the work of researchers who recently completed randomized controlled trials on Cognitive-Behavioral Intervention and published their results.

A cognitive-behavioral approach is a psychosocial intervention that also involves some aspects of behavioral treatment. Variations of cognitive behavioral therapy may include other strategies such as:

  • Play therapy
  • Role-playing
  • Audio/video self-modeling

Oerbeck, Stein, Pripp, and Kristensen (2015) published a one-year follow-up study of children with SM who had received cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). In their pilot study, 24 children (aged 3 to 9 years) received CBT for six months and were then re-evaluated after one year. These children had been diagnosed with SM, and since their most difficult speaking situations occurred at school, these researchers looked at the use of CBT in the school and preschool settings.

In this CBT protocol, the therapist uses “defocused communication” and behavioral interventions. Defocused communication requires that the therapist do the following:

  • Sit beside, rather than opposite, the child
  • Create joint attention using an activity that the child enjoys, rather than focusing on the child
  • “Think aloud” rather than asking the child direct questions

For example, if the child enjoys working a puzzle, the therapist and child sit at a table, side by side, and take turns selecting pieces to put into the puzzle. The therapist talks about what they are doing, such as “I have a puzzle piece that shows the feet of the man.” When the child picks a piece, the therapist might say, “Now you have the man’s head in that puzzle piece.”

The principle for the behavioral intervention is to reward the child immediately if he or she talks to adults with a normal, or near normal, voice. Several details are important here. First, the therapist must give the child enough time to respond and not talk for the child. If the child doesn’t speak the therapist should continue the dialogue even if the child does not respond verbally. Second, if the child does respond verbally the therapist should receive the response in a natural way (e.g., if the child says “I have the biggest piece,” the therapist might then say, “Yes, you have the biggest piece”) rather than praising the child for speaking. The principals of defocused communication and behavioral intervention are then used in settings that are gradually more challenging to the child with SM.

Among the advantages of the CBT interventions described here is that they are easy for parents and teachers to use over the long term. They also help perpetuate the child’s efforts because they are naturally rewarding.

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Selective Mutism: Identification and Treatment is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that details the identification and treatment of children who are “selectively mute.”

It is expected that young children, upon beginning school, will be able to use expressive language to communicate with their teacher and their peers. Negative educational and social outcomes can occur when children lack this essential skill.

Children who persistently withhold speech or who fail to speak in social situations in which it is expected (usually at school), despite speaking normally in other situations (usually at home), have been identified as being “selectively mute.” Selective Mutism is diagnosed when the refusal/failure to speak interferes with educational or social achievement.

This course will discuss the criteria, causes, comorbidities, and treatments for this rare disorder, detailing behavioral, psychosocial, and cognitive behavioral interventions. Essential points will be illustrated by the inclusion of a real-life case study.

Course #21-22 | 2018 | 39 pages | 15 posttest questions

CE Credit: 2 Hours

Target Audience:Psychology CE | Counseling CE | Speech-Language Pathology CEUs | Social Work CE | Occupational Therapy CEUs | Marriage & Family Therapy CE | School Psychology CE | Teaching CE

Learning Level: Introductory

Course Type: Online

Professional Development Resources is approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC ACEP #5590); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB Provider #1046, ACE Program); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA Provider #3159); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR Provider #PR001); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy (#BAP346), Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635), Dietetics & Nutrition (#50-1635), and Occupational Therapy Practice (#34); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501); the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678); and is CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

Target Audience: PsychologistsCounselorsSocial WorkersMarriage & Family Therapist (MFTs)Occupational Therapists (OTs)Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs)School Psychologists, and Teachers

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Posted by on April 19, 2018 in Mental Health

 

Why Purpose Matters: Viral Altruism

Course excerpt from Motivation: Igniting the Process of Change

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Most people remember the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that went viral on Facebook. It is not hard to recall the often hilarious attempts to dump ice over one’s head (or the head of someone else) at most inopportune times. What might be harder to answer is just why the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge went viral.

Social psychologist Dr. Sander van der Linden of the University of Cambridge says the answer has to do with what he calls, “viral altruism.” Viral altruism describes the power of social norms –  especially the appeal of joining a social consensus and the desire to conform to prosocial behavior (such as appearing charitable), having a clear moral incentive to act, and the appetite for a ‘warm glow’, the positive emotional benefit derived from feeling compassionate – to spread rather quickly across our Facebook feeds (van der Linden, 2017).

Pulling together data such as Google and Wikipedia searches, as well as donations, to indicate the longevity and engagement levels of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge campaign, Van der Linden uncovered that the Challenge reached unprecedented ‘virality’ during August 2014. The formula of videoing ice-cold water being poured over your head and posting it to social media while publicly nominating others to do the same in support of a motor neuron disease charity reached approximately 440 million people worldwide, with over 28 million joining in.

Much of the reason the challenge went so viral, Van der Linden notes, is that it meets the recipe for viral altruism – social influences of others already in people’s networks (people were often publicly challenged to participate); the moral imperative of helping people with a debilitating disease (with easily identifiable victims such as professor Stephen Hawking that allowed people to relate to the disease); affective reactions that created strong emotional content (especially because empathy often leads to emotional contagion) (van der Linden, 2017).

Where the challenge stumbled, however, was in translational impact. Van der Linden explains, “Extrinsic incentives, such as competitions or network pressure, can actually undermine people’s intrinsic motivation to do good by eroding moral sentiment. Motivation to participate can get sourced from a desire to ‘win’ a challenge or appear virtuous rather than caring about the cause itself” (van der Linden, 2017).

“Deeper engagement seems especially vital. Something as simple as a single phrase connecting a campaign to its cause can make a difference. For example, those who mentioned the ALS charity in their Ice Bucket Challenge video were five times more likely to donate money than those who did not” (Van der Linden, 2017).

The point Van der Linden makes is that why we do something – our deep-rooted purpose – regulates how long we will keep doing it. Unsurprisingly, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge only went viral once (when they tried again a year later the campaign raised only 1% of what it had originally), and people didn’t continue donating to ALS once they had poured ice over their heads. While the donations were nice, for most people, they were propelled by external, and not internal, incentives. Intrinsic incentives, on the other hand, become internalized to become a new personal normal, shifting motivation in the process. Moreover, deeper engagement often takes more time than rapidly vaporizing social campaigns allow for.

Interestingly, in a social media influenced world, it also seems that a sense of purpose fills another need – it buffers us when we don’t get the feedback we’d like.

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Motivation: Igniting the Process of Change is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that explores how we can tap into, ignite, and harness our motivation to create lasting change.

Motivation today is one of the most coveted traits, thought to underlie our business success, athletic prowess, and even weight loss. But just how do we motivate ourselves? How do we ignite and harness our own motivation to achieve our goals? How do we call upon our motivation when we need it the most? And how do we keep motivation alive to create the lives we want? This course will explore these questions and many more.

We will begin with a discussion about why clinicians need to know this information and how this information can be helpful in working with clients. Next, we will look at the research behind motivation, decipher between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, and explore the roots of what keeps us motivated now, and over time.

Lastly, we will learn the powerful skills needed to create a spark – that is to teach your clients to ignite and harness their own motivation to face fears, make decisions, take action, and create lasting change. Exercises you can use with clients are included.

Course #31-03 | 2018 | 46 pages | 20 posttest questions

CE Credit: 3 Hours

Target Audience: Psychology CE | Counseling CE | Social Work CE | Occupational Therapy CEUs | Marriage & Family Therapy CE | Nutrition & Dietetics CE | School Psychology CE

Learning Level: Intermediate

Course Type: Online

Professional Development Resources is approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC ACEP #5590); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB Provider #1046, ACE Program); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA Provider #3159); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR Provider #PR001); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy (#BAP346), Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635), Dietetics & Nutrition (#50-1635), and Occupational Therapy Practice (#34); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501); the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678); and is CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

Target Audience: PsychologistsCounselorsSocial WorkersMarriage & Family Therapist (MFTs)Occupational Therapists (OTs)Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs)School Psychologists, and Teachers

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Posted by on March 8, 2018 in Mental Health

 

Becoming Celebrities: Media Exposure of Mass Shootings

Course excerpt from Counseling Victims of Mass Shootings

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Mass shootings leave many unanswered questions:

  • Why did the shooter do it?
  • What could have provoked him?
  • What can we do to prevent things like this from happening in the future?

Yet in asking these questions, often in a very public way, we are contributing to what may be one of the largest influencing factors of mass shootings.

According to a paper presented at the American Psychological Association’s annual convention by Jennifer B. Johnston, PhD, and Andrew Joy, BS, of Western New Mexico University, people who commit mass shootings in America tend to share three traits: rampant depression, social isolation, and pathological narcissism. Johnston and Joy issued a powerful message when they stated that what the shooter seeks most is fame, and it is up to the media to deny them that coverage.

After reviewing data amassed by media outlets, the FBI, advocacy organizations, and scholarly articles, Johnston and Joy, defined mass shootings as either attempts to kill multiple people who are not relatives, or attempts resulting in injuries or fatalities in public places. They concluded that the prevalence of these crimes has risen in relation to the amount of mass media coverage of events and the proliferation of social media sites that tend to glorify shooters and downplay victims. Further, the researchers stated that “media contagion” is largely responsible for the increase in these often deadly outbursts (Johnston & Joy, 2016).

“Mass shootings are on the rise and so is media coverage of them. We suggest that the media cry to cling to ‘the public’s right to know’ covers up a greedier agenda to keep eyeballs glued to screens, since they know that frightening homicides are their No. 1 ratings and advertising boosters” (Johnston, 2016).

Johnston and Joy also found that mass shooters share a consistent demographic profile. Most are white, ostensibly heterosexual males, largely between the ages of 20 and 50, who tend to see themselves as ‘victims of injustice,’ and share a belief that they have been cheated out of their rightful dominant place as white, middle-class males. The quest for fame also emerged as a predictable variable, and one that, according to Johnson, skyrocketed since the mid- 1990s in correspondence to the emergence of widespread 24-hour news coverage on cable news programs, and the rise of the internet during the same period. Johnston explains, “Unfortunately, we find that a cross-cutting trait among many profiles of mass shooters is the desire for fame” (Johnston, 2016).

Johnston isn’t the first to note this trend. Media contagion models have previously been proposed by researchers such as Towers et al. (2015), who found the rate of mass shootings has escalated to an average of one every 12.5 days, and one school shooting on average every 31.6 days, compared to a pre-2000 level of about three events per year.

“A possibility is that news of shootings is spread through social media in addition to mass media” (Johnston, 2016).

These trends suggest, and what Johnston and Joy advocate, is a fundamental shift in the way we respond to mass shootings – one that would include much less dramatic media exposure. She explains, “If the mass media and social media enthusiasts make a pact to no longer share, reproduce or re-tweet the names, faces, detailed histories or long-winded statements of killers, we could see a dramatic reduction in mass shootings in one to two years. Conservatively, if the calculations of contagion modelers are correct, we should see at least a one-third reduction in shootings if the contagion is removed” (Johnston, 2016).

Johnston’s suggestions follow those of the working group of suicidologists, researchers and the media commissioned by the Centers for Disease Control to tackle the problem of celebrity suicides. Finding that suicides widely reported in the media tended to have a contagious nature, the group recommended the media reduce its reporting of them. A clear decline in suicides was found a few years later in 1997 (Johnston, 2016).

Media reporting has an undeniable effect on us and, as Johnson points out, offers a reliable vehicle for mass shooters to satiate their need for fame, significance, and power. A secondary benefit to reducing media coverage of mass shootings is the impact upon the public, the media viewers.

Click Here to Learn More

Counseling Victims of Mass Shootings is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE) course that gives clinicians the tools they need to help their clients process, heal, and grow following the trauma of a mass shooting.

Sadly, mass shootings are becoming more widespread and occurring with ever greater frequency, often leaving in their wake thousands of lives forever changed. As victims struggle to make sense of the horror they have witnessed, mental health providers struggle to know how best to help them. The question we all seem to ask is, “Why did this happen?”

This course will begin with a discussion about why clinicians need to know about mass shootings and how this information can help them in their work with clients. We will then look at the etiology of mass shootings, exploring topics such as effects of media exposure, our attitudes and biases regarding mass shooters, and recognizing the signs that we often fail to see.

We will answer the question of whether mental illness drives mass shootings. We will examine common first responses to mass shootings, including shock, disbelief, and moral injury, while also taking a look at the effects of media exposure of the victims of mass shootings.

Then, we will turn our attention to the more prolonged psychological effects of mass shootings, such as a critical questioning and reconsideration of lives, values, beliefs, and priorities, and the search for meaning in the upheaval left in the wake of horrific events. This course will introduce a topic called posttraumatic growth, and explore the ways in which events such as mass shootings, while causing tremendous amounts of psychological distress, can also lead to psychological growth. This discussion will include topics such a dialectical thinking, the shifting of fundamental life perspectives, the opening of new possibilities, and the importance of community. Lastly, we will look at the exercises that you, the clinician, can use in the field or office with clients to promote coping skills in dealing with such horrific events, and to inspire psychological growth, adaptation, and resilience in the wake of trauma.

Course #31-09 | 2018 | 47 pages | 20 posttest questions

CE Credit: 3 Hours

Target Audience: Psychology CE | Counseling CE | Social Work CE | Marriage & Family Therapy CE | School Psychology CE | Teaching CE

Learning Level: Intermediate

Course Type: Online

Professional Development Resources is approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC ACEP #5590); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB Provider #1046, ACE Program); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA Provider #3159); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR Provider #PR001); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy (#BAP346), Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635), Dietetics & Nutrition (#50-1635), and Occupational Therapy Practice (#34); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501); the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678); and is CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

Earn CE Wherever YOU Love to Be!

 

Holiday CE Sale!

Holiday CE Sale @pdresources.org

With only 10 days left in 2017, now is a great time to catch up on any remaining CE you still need, or stock up for 2018. Earn CE wherever YOU love to be and SAVE 20-30% on courses now @ PDR:

 

Holiday CE Sale

Your holiday savings will automatically apply at checkout based on order total, after coupons (yes, you can ALSO use a coupon! :).

20% Off orders $1 to $49

25% Off orders $50 to $99

30% Off orders $100 or more!

Courses must be purchased together (separate orders cannot be combined to receive a greater discount). Offer valid on future orders only. Hurry, sale ends Tuesday, December 26, 2017Shop now!

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APA-Sponsored Online CE for School Psychologists


Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. We are approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners; and are CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

Target Audience: PsychologistsCounselorsSocial WorkersMarriage & Family Therapist (MFTs)Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs)Occupational Therapists (OTs)Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs)School Psychologists, and Teachers

Earn CE Wherever YOU Love to Be!

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2017 in Mental Health

 

Does Gratitude Make Us Happier?

Course excerpt from Leveraging Adversity

 

Image result for images showing gratitude

 

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero

In his 2012 TED talk, Dan Gilbert, the author of Stumbling on Happiness, states, “A year after losing the use of their legs, and a year after winning the lotto, lottery winners and paraplegics are equally happy with their lives” (Gilbert, 2012).

For most people, this makes no sense. Why would it be that losing everything wouldn’t fundamentally change our happiness levels? This is, after all, what most of us believe. It’s why we try to avoid setbacks, mitigate losses, and improve our health. If having losses—and none might be so severe as the ones suffered by paraplegics—can mean that we arrive at the exact same place as when we win the lottery, why should we spend so much time trying to avoid them? Maybe we shouldn’t.

But we still need an answer. How is it possible that losing the use of limbs can lead to the same level of happiness as winning the lottery? And what does this mean about the way we look at setbacks? To answer these questions, we first have to consider two possibilities:

  • What we predict will make us happy doesn’t. That is, in considering what leads to happiness, and making decisions based on happiness, we choose wrongly.
  • Losing everything leads to a profound feeling of appreciation for what we have left, and this feeling of appreciation is highly linked to happiness.

Let’s consider the first possibility. Gilbert, and many others like him, have shown repeatedly that the attachments we make to certain outcomes—whether it is winning the lottery, having a child, getting a raise, or losing everything—are often wrong. And this may have a lot to do with our beliefs about happiness.

Happiness, for most people, is inextricably linked to beliefs about experiences (Gilbert, 2006). If we believe that earning a college degree will lead to happiness, we pursue that. And if we are raised in a family that values athletic achievement, we go after that.

We are also highly influenced by the environment. The fascinating research of Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, authors of Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness, has shown that the environment influences us much more than we think, even in subtle ways. In one study, Thaler and Sunstein had subjects read a passage that was primed toward slowness (using words such as “old,” “tired,” “weak,” and “retirement”) or a passage that was primed toward speed (using words like “energetic,” “lively,” “young,” and “children”) and then measured the subjects’ walking speed down the hall as they exited the research lab. Without having any idea what was being measured or to which study group they had been assigned, the subjects showed something fascinating: the ones who had been primed to walk faster did just that, while participants who had read the passage primed for slowness did indeed walk slower (Thaler & Sunstein, 2009).

Neither group had been told anything about walking slower or faster; they had simply been exposed to it through verbal priming.

So we can be primed to act in certain ways that are presumed to lead to happiness. It’s why we go for the promotion. It’s why we want the big house on the nice street, the luxury vehicle in the garage, and the vacation home in Vail. And like it or not, we are constantly exposed to messages that tell us what will lead to happiness. We are told what to buy, what to wear, what to eat and when to eat it, and where to vacation. Yet we are also told that if we don’t jump on the opportunity now, the chance will be gone. The sale ends tonight, you have to buy now, and the sale only lasts so long. Making use of our fear of missing out, or what Gregg Easterbrook, author of The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse, calls “loss avoidance,” marketers not only prime us, they prod us (Easterbrook, 2004).

So what do many of us do? We pursue that esteemed position—the one with the hefty salary—so we can buy the nice house, the new car, and the fancy vacation home. And the zest with which we go after this American dream—the one that promises happiness—can only be equated to a disease called “affluenza,” according to John de Graaf, David Waan, Thomas Naylor, and David Horsey, authors of Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic. What these authors cite is a multitude of unequivocal examples of all-out consumerism—in each of the past four years, more Americans declared personal bankruptcy than graduated from college, we have twice as many shopping centers as schools, and our annual production of solid waste would fill a convoy of garbage trucks stretching to the moon—that all lead to the same conclusion: we have been led to believe that all this spending will bring us happiness (de Graff et al., 2005).

Yet nothing could be further from the truth.

Consider the data presented by Easterbrook:

“The percentage of Americans who describe themselves as happy has not budged since the 1950s, though the typical person’s real income more than doubled during that period. Happiness has not increased in Japan or Western Europe in the past half-century either, though daily life in both of those places has grown fantastically better. Adjusting for population growth, unipolar depression, the condition in which a person simply feels blue, is ten times as prevalent as it was half a century ago” (Easterbrook, 2004).

Easterbrook goes on to make the case that the way we link material wealth to happiness is a “nature’s revenge law” where no matter how much money you have, there will always be something you can’t afford. And while you will never be materially satisfied, you will also have “reference anxiety” because you will be comparing yourself to those around you and worrying that you are not keeping up. You will always be expecting more, and regardless of how high your income is, the minute it plateaus, so will your happiness.

Because the truth is, as Easterbrook accounts, “Most of what people really want in life—love, friendship, respect, family, standing, fun—is not priced and does not pass through the market. If something isn’t priced, you can’t buy it, so possessing money doesn’t help much” (Easterbrook, 2004).

While this premise may seem obvious upon second glance, many of us fall for it. As one man described to me, “You just get stuck in a cycle where you know you are unhappy, but you can’t quite figure out why, and so you just keep buying things trying to make yourself feel better. But at the end of the day, you are still stuck with yourself—and a lot of stuff you don’t really need.”

In terms of predicting what makes us happy, we often pursue a set of false beliefs about happiness—that is, that the things we think will make us happy actually don’t. But when it comes to predicting our happiness, we also make another error: we miscalculate the impact that losses will have on us (Gilbert, 2006).

Pointing to what is called the impact bias, Gilbert explains that when considering the future, and the way we will feel about the future, we tend to overestimate the hedonic impact of future events. The flip side of this, as Gilbert also mentions, is that we also tend to overestimate the negative impact of bad events.

Making his point, Gilbert quotes Moreese Bickham, who spent thirty-seven years in the Louisiana State Penitentiary for a crime he didn’t commit. Upon being released, Bickham stated, “I don’t have one minute’s regret; it was a glorious experience” (Gilbert, 2012).

No one would consider that such a fundamental loss would lead to happiness, and certainly not a “glorious experience,” but the point to be made is that we make a profound miscalculation. And the miscalculation is not in whether or not losses will undermine our happiness—they will. The real miscalculation we make is in our ability to adapt. Perhaps it’s the unknown nature of losses that clouds our predictions, or perhaps it’s that we have an innate ability to take the events that happen to us and “find a way,” as Gilbert states. We don’t see our own ability.

Yet, here again, we might be more influenced by the environment than we would like to admit. Because while child psychologists tell us that all attempts to shape a child’s behavior should employ the use of a three-to-one ratio—three positive statements to one bid for change (criticism)—we expose ourselves to something entirely different. Ray Williams, the author of Breaking Bad Habits, reports that media studies show that bad news far outweighs good news by as much as seventeen negative news reports for every one good news report (Williams, 2011). The supposition that Williams makes is that the media exploits our own biological tendency to focus more—and be impacted more—by bad events than positive ones. And because, as we know from section one, we seek to elaborate negatively charged emotions more than positive ones, we will return to the negative news again and again.

But there might be another reason we are saturated by negative news. Negative news keeps us feeling bad, and as the story goes, the way to happiness is to spend. The supposition is that the worse we feel, the more we will spend. Making matters worse, an anxious, depressed state does not lead to wise spending decisions. And being made to feel negative—and primed to reach for a cure that cannot possibly make anyone feel better—in many ways, we are put into a state of learned helplessness. And while in this state, it’s not surprising that when bad events do give us a feeling of helpless in our own lives, we miscalculate the way in which we will respond to them.

Now let’s consider the second possibility. The idea that losing everything somehow leads to actually feeling more grateful seems entirely foreign to most people. But as we already know, we make some pretty big mistakes when it comes to predicting how we will feel. And losses have an undeniable effect on gratitude.

The reason they do is that, as Joseph and Linley (2005), two researchers who study losses and the processes we take to get through them, suggest, gratitude is an essential part of the recovery process. It appears that people’s recovery from the traumatic experience is influenced by the extent to which they are able to find some benefit in the experience (Joseph & Linley, 2004). And the kinds of benefits people report—living life to the fullest, a greater appreciation of family and friends, and valuing each day more – are what most people really want.

Whether it’s valuing each day more, living life more fully, or simply appreciating those “little moments,” gratitude has a remarkable effect on the way we get through any kind of adversity. Gratitude orients us toward noticing the positive aspects of our lives, which is especially helpful in light of losses.

In the words of one survivor, “even the smallest joys in life took on a special meaning” (Tedeschi & Calhoun, 2004). These little moments of joy—a child’s smile, spending time with loved ones, a beautiful sunset—add up to a profound appreciation for what we still have.

Gratitude, and especially the kind that comes from losses, changes our priorities. For many people who report severe life setbacks, the sense of being “so lucky” is not uncommon. And gratitude causes one to value what’s left—just as Amy Purdy, the world’s top-ranked Paralympic snowboarder, related after losing both legs to bacterial meningitis, “I almost lost my left hand and my nose—it could have been much worse” (Purdy, 2011).

To many of us, the story seems unbelievable. But Amy Purdy, in looking back upon her experience, “wouldn’t change it.” And Amy’s experience isn’t unique. Several trauma survivors also report “not wanting things to be different.” In the words of one survivor, “This was the one thing that happened in my life that I needed to have happen, it was probably the best thing that ever happened to me” (Tedeschi & Calhoun, 2004).

Losses, setbacks, and traumas put things in perspective. They cause us to take a look at how we were living—to acknowledge that life could have been lost—and to reconsider what is really important. This leads to a profound recalibration of values and a much more purposeful life. As one cancer survivor stated, “I don’t concern myself with life’s small inconveniences, and I don’t have the patience for chronic complainers. I am so grateful for having survived cancer…I’m living the best life I can, and I don’t take anything for granted” (Verona et al., 2009).

The connection between gratitude and a purposeful life may explain what many have found when studying Vietnam War veterans. Those who reported higher levels of gratitude had more positive daily functioning (irrespective of symptomatology). But this might also be why a second study found a positive relationship between posttraumatic growth and recovery from trauma (Joseph & Linley, 2004).

The idea postulated by those who study posttraumatic growth is that trauma can lead to profound growth. That in going through even horrific experiences, there can be growth that surpasses pre trauma functioning. And some of the most undeniable evidence for posttraumatic growth can be found when looking at the September 11 attacks in 2001. Peterson and Seligman (2002) measured people before and after the attacks on the VIA inventory of psychological strengths, which acts as a map of positive functioning (Wood et al., 2011; Seligman & Peterson, 2002). Astoundingly, gratitude was shown to increase over this period. And this was not the only study. Several subsequent studies showed that gratitude appeared to increase for both adults and children after the attacks (Seligman & Peterson, 2004). There is something about losses, even the most profound ones, that dramatically increases gratitude.

While gratitude may have evolved to make us more cooperative, trusting, and favorable toward others, the question remains: Does this improve happiness?

Gratitude has been repeatedly linked to eudemonic well-being—the kind of purposeful, authentic living reported by trauma survivors (Joseph & Linley, 2004). And eudemonic well-being is highly related to happiness – in a longitudinal cohort of over 5,500 people initially aged fifty-five to fifty-six years, Wood and Joseph showed that people low in eudemonic well-being were 7.16 times more likely to meet criteria for clinical depression ten years later (Joseph & Linley, 2004).

Gratitude also relates to willingness to forgive, which is associated with the absence of psychopathological traits and is integral to positive functioning. Gratitude is connected to low narcissism and appears to strengthen relationships and promote relationship formation and maintenance. Relationship connection and satisfaction also appear to be highly linked to gratitude, and experimental evidence suggests that gratitude may promote conflict resolution and increase reciprocally helpful behavior (Wood et al., 2010).

Gratitude appears to also have important health ramifications and is associated with a significantly lower risk of major depression, generalized anxiety disorder, phobia, nicotine dependence, alcohol dependence, and drug “abuse” or dependence. Additionally, feeling thankful has been related to a much lower risk of bulimia nervosa, which is not surprising given that interventions that increase gratitude appear to improve body image (Wood et al., 2010).

Looking at the role of gratitude in staving off posttraumatic stress disorder, researchers looked at a sample of Vietnam War veterans, including forty-two patients diagnosed with PTSD and a control group of thirty-five comparison veterans, to find that gratitude is “substantially lower in people with PTSD.” Further, gratitude was shown to relate to higher daily self-esteem and positive affect above the effects of symptomatology (Wood et al., 2011).

Gratitude also appears to improve sleep. Many studies have specifically examined the possible relationships between gratitude and sleep in a community sample of 401 people, 40 percent of whom had clinically impaired sleep. Gratitude was related to total sleep quality, sleep duration (including both insufficient and excessive sleep), sleep latency (abnormally high time taken to fall asleep), subjective sleep quality, and daytime dysfunction (arising from insufficient sleep). In each case, gratitude was related to sleep through the mechanism of pre-sleep cognitions. Negative thoughts prior to sleep are related to impaired sleep, whereas positive pre-sleep cognitions are related to improved sleep quality and quantity (Joseph & Linley, 2004).

And gratitude appears to offer a buffer against negative emotions. In three separate studies, it has been negatively correlated with depression (Joseph & Linley, 2004). This is also consistent with the life orientation approach to gratitude, as being oriented toward the positive seems to counteract the “negative triad” of beliefs about self, world, and future seen in depression (Joseph & Linley, 2004).

The single measure of gratitude appears to be linked to more independent traits of well-being than any other measure. It has been correlated with positive emotional functioning, lower dysfunction, and positive social relationships. Grateful people score as less angry and hostile, depressed, and emotionally vulnerable, and experience positive emotions more frequently. Gratitude has also been correlated with traits associated with positive social functioning, emotional warmth, gregariousness, activity seeking, trust, altruism, and tender-mindedness. Finally, grateful people had a higher openness to their feelings, ideas, and values, and greater competence, dutifulness, and achievement striving (Joseph & Linley, 2004; Achor, 2011).

When it comes to the way losses affect us, we make some pretty big miscalculations. Not only do we fail to consider that we are not the best predictors of our emotional states, but more importantly, we profoundly underestimate our ability to adapt. And when it comes to adapting—learning to leverage our losses in service of ultimate growth—we fail to see the advantage that gratitude offers.

What we should know by now is that gratitude orients us to notice the positives, alters our priorities, enhances our sense of purpose, and dramatically improves our happiness. We should also know that facing challenging setbacks, naturally engages our sense of gratitude, and that helps us cope.

Click here to learn more

Leveraging Adversity is a 6-Hour online continuing education course. This course gives clinicians the tools they need to help their clients face adversity from a growth perspective and learn how to use setbacks to spring forward and ignite growth. Packed with recent data on post-traumatic growth, behavioral economics, and evolutionary psychology, this course begins with a look at just what setbacks are and how they affect us. Clinicians are then introduced to the concept of “leveraging adversity,” that is, using it to make critical reconsiderations, align values with behavior, and face challenges with a growth mindset. The course then addresses the five core strengths of leveraging adversity – gratitude, openness, personal strength (growth mindset), connection, and belief – and provides numerous exercises and skills for clinicians to use with clients.

Course #61-03 | 2018 | 92 pages | 35 posttest questions

 

CE Credit: 6 Hours

Target Audience: Psychology CE | Counseling CE | Social Work CE | Occupational Therapy CEUs | Marriage & Family Therapy CE | School Psychology CE | Teaching CE

Learning Level: Intermediate

Course Type: Online

Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. We are approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners; and are CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

 

Target Audience: PsychologistsCounselorsSocial WorkersMarriage & Family Therapist (MFTs)Occupational Therapists (OTs)Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs)School Psychologists, and Teachers

Earn CE Wherever YOU Love to Be!

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2017 in Mental Health

 
 
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