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What are Executive Functioning Skills?

 

Image result for stress at work

Course excerpt from Executive Functioning in Adults

Adults are often relieved when they are told that they have difficulties with “executive functions.” It finally gives name to the frustrations associated with their perceived disorganization. It explains why they might always be late, unprepared, or in a perpetual search for their items such as keys, coat, and more serious things like important paperwork.

Executive functions relate to self-regulating skills that we employ every day in order to accomplish a task (e.g., getting dressed, eating breakfast, loading a backpack, and scheduling social engagements). They help us to plan, organize, make decisions, dynamically shift between situations or thoughts, control our emotions and impulsivity, and learn from past mistakes.

Dawson and Guare (2010) describe executive functioning skills as follows:

“Human beings have a built-in capacity to meet challenges and accomplish goals through the use of high-level cognitive functions called executive skills. These are the skills that help us to decide what activities or tasks we will pay attention to and which ones we will choose to do. Executive skills allow us to organize our behavior over time and override immediate demands in favor of longer-term goals. Through the use of these skills we can plan and organize activities, sustain attention, and persist to complete a task. Executive skills enable us to manage our emotions and our thoughts in order to work more efficiently and effectively. Simply stated, these skills help us to regulate our behavior. “(p.1)

Occasionally in this course, mention will be made of executive functioning deficits in children as well as in adults. The reason for this is that most adults with executive functioning deficits were once children with executive functioning deficits. In order to understand the etiology of these deficits in any individual, it is important to appreciate that:

  1. The skills needed for adult functioning were not learned in childhood.
  2. Adults with these deficits have been struggling for a long time.

A corollary of the second point is that many adults with executive functioning deficits may also suffer from other conditions that need therapeutic attention and which go beyond the strategies discussed in this course. Conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and ADHD, may be either the cause or the effect of the executive functioning difficulties.

Executive functioning difficulties cause young children and teens to struggle with many academic learning tasks. According to Howland (2010), executive functioning skills tend to predict academic success more effectively than any academic accomplishment or cognitive ability tests. Children with poor executive functioning skills are at high risk for dropping out of school and developing social and behavioral problems (Lindsay & Dockrell, 2012). They often lack listening skills and have difficulties with following directions, which can compromise familial relationships, and impede academic and social engagement. As a continuation of these same dynamics, adults with executive functioning difficulties may have trouble holding down jobs and experience poor relationships with friends, spouses, and children.

Difficulty with executive functioning is not necessarily considered a disability, yet it comprises a weakness in a key set of mental skills that assists with connecting past experiences with present actions. People use executive functions to perform activities such as planning, organizing, strategizing, paying attention to/remembering details, and managing time and space.

We use the executive functions in our brains to:

  • Make plans.
  • Keep track of time and finish work punctually.
  • Multitask and keep track of more than one thing simultaneously.
  • Meaningfully include past knowledge in discussions.
  • Evaluate ideas and reflect on our work.
  • Change our minds and make mid-course corrections while thinking, reading and writing.
  • Ask for help or seek more information when required.
  • Engage in group dynamics.
  • Wait our turn to speak.
  • Apply previously learned information to solve problem.
  • Analyze ideas.

Deficits in this area can impact any task, ranging from completing a homework assignment or getting dressed in the morning, to doing the laundry or grocery shopping.

Another way to understand executive functioning difficulties is to observe how the process is supposed to work in an individual with good executive functioning skills. Below is an example, which is segmented into six steps, as derived from Bhandari (2015):

  1. Consider a task to assess what needs to be done.
  2. Plan how to accomplish the task.
  3. Organize the task into a series of steps.
  4. Estimate the time that will be required to achieve the task, and set aside sufficient time.
  5. Adjust as required.
  6. Complete the task within the allotted time.

If one’s executive functions are working well, the brain may go through these steps in a matter of seconds. If one has weak executive skills, however, performing even a simple task can be quite challenging.

To read more about Executive Functioning Skills and to learn strategies and resources that can help, follow the link:

Click here to learn more

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

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Posted by on July 10, 2018 in Mental Health

 

Is it Dementia or Something Else?

Image result for dementia

Course excerpt from Alzheimer’s Disease: A Practical Guide

There are many treatable medical conditions that cause dementia or what appears to be dementia. Do not assume a person has dementia until other causes have been ruled out. These include:

• Depression
• Medication drug interactions, side effects, or drug overdose (generally unintentional)
• Alcohol or substance abuse/withdrawal
• Vitamin and mineral deficiencies due to poor diet, such as vitamins A, C, B-12 and folate
• Traumatic brain injury due to falls, car accidents, or other trauma
• Hormonal dysfunction, primarily thyroid problems
• Metabolic disorders such as dehydration, kidney failure, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
• Infections, such as urinary tract infections or pneumonia
• Heart disease
• Brain disease, especially tumors
• Environmental toxins (AZC, 2017)

It is vital to assess whether a person has an underlying treatable condition that may relate to cognitive difficulties. Early detection of symptoms is important, as some causes can be treated. Medical and physical symptoms should be considered when memory concerns arise. These signs and symptoms include:

• Any new change or decline in vision or hearing
• Any dental concerns, especially those that could be contributing to pain or change in eating habits
Seizure activity, either new suspected seizure activity or an increase in seizure frequency in an individual with a known seizure disorder
• New or worsened incontinence of bowel or bladder
Weight fluctuations, either a noticeable gain or loss
Change in appetite
• Any observed swallowing difficulties
Sleep difficulties or other abnormal sleep patterns or habits
• New difficulty walking or changes in walking abilities
Falls or increased risk of falls (for example, being unsteady or unaware of obstacles)
Pain, either directly reported or suspected through observation of facial expression or other non-verbal clues.

A thorough review of the medication list is an important initial step in the evaluation of any new onset change or decline from baseline. Aging individuals may see multiple doctors and specialists, who can potentially prescribe medications or change treatment plans without collaborating with the others. Any time the medication list expands or new prescriptions are started, there is an increased risk of the medications interacting negatively, combining to make side effects more potent, or causing confusion and problems thinking.

Furthermore, as people age, their bodies change in ways that can influence how medications affect them. Older adults’ brains begin to change in structure and ability. Changes in digestive and circulatory systems, kidneys, and livers affect how fast medications are absorbed, metabolized, and removed from the body. Weight changes may affect the amount of medication older adults need, and how long the drugs stay in their bodies. Medication that was once well-tolerated may now make the elder forgetful and sleepy.

There are numerous types of medications that have potentially adverse effects on alertness and mental clarity and can contribute to symptoms of confusion, dizziness, and walking and balance disturbances. These include certain antihistamines, anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications, sleep aids, antipsychotics, muscle relaxants, antimuscarinics for urinary incontinence, and antispasmodics for the relief of cramps or spasms of the stomach, intestines, and bladder. Some of the drugs that can cause cognitive problems in older adults are sold over the counter. All medications, including prescribed, over-the-counter, and herbal medications should be periodically reviewed with a health care provider to make sure that all medications are necessary and that their benefits outweigh any unwanted risks (NDS, 2017).

Examples of medicines that can cause adverse effects include:

Benzodiazepines, which treat anxiety, sleeplessness, and agitation, may increase older adults’ risk for memory loss, delirium, cognitive impairment, falls, fractures, and motor vehicle accidents. Health care professionals need to carefully consider these side effects when treating older adults and limit the use of benzodiazepines to treating conditions such as seizures or other neurological conditions, alcohol withdrawal, severe generalized anxiety disorder, and anesthesia, as well as end-of-life care. Benzodiazepines include Xanax®, Valium®, Ativan®, Librium®, and Versed®, among others (NAM, 2015).

Medications that have anticholinergic effects – These drugs block one of the chemicals (acetylcholine) that brain cells use to communicate with each other. A drug’s anticholinergic effects can cause older adults to experience confusion, memory loss, and worsening of other mental functions, among other things. Several research reviews show links between drugs with anticholinergic effects and cognitive problems in older adults, such as delirium, cognitive impairment, and dementia. Some drugs with anticholinergic effects include Benadryl®, Cogentin®, Zyprexa®, and Seroquel®.

Delirium is a common and often preventable contributor to the cognitive decline in older adults. Health care providers can play an important role in identifying patients at moderate to high risk for delirium, especially in pre-surgery, intensive care, and post-acute care settings, where it occurs most often. Common risk factors for delirium include age greater than 65 years, hospitalization, chronic cognitive impairment or dementia, current hip fracture, severe illness, multi-morbidity, depression, cerebrovascular disease, and alcohol or substance withdrawal.

The American Delirium Society (2015) notes that each year, over 7 million Americans suffer from delirium while hospitalized. People who experience delirium in the hospital (compared to people without delirium) are more likely to:

• Have a longer hospital stay and greater hospital associated complications.
• Have higher mortality rates, both while in the hospital and up to a year later.
• Need long-term care after hospitalization due to loss of physical function while in the hospital.
• Develop dementia even if delirium is resolved during the hospital stay.

Hospitals are not likely to recognize delirium. The Society estimates that more than 60% of patients with delirium are undiagnosed during their hospital stay.

Older adults often react differently to common medical conditions. A urinary tract infection, pneumonia, pain, myocardial infarction and even constipation can cause delirium. When experiencing delirium, a patient may suddenly be unable to concentrate or pay attention. They may show erratic behavior, such as panicking and trying to leave the room because they think the room is on fire. Once the underlying medical problem is resolved, the person’s confusion and agitation will clear.

Confusion and delirium are not normal for older adults. Check for underlying medical issues first.

It can be difficult to know whether a person has dementia or is experiencing delirium. To the untrained observer, the symptoms look similar.

Delirium can often be prevented by avoiding the use of indwelling bladder catheters, ensuring the person drinks enough water, providing adequate pain control, getting the person up and walking early after surgery, and making sure the person has adaptive devices such as hearing aids and eyeglasses. Additional prevention includes allowing hospitalized older people to sleep undisturbed between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. so that their normal sleep cycle is less disrupted (AZA, 2018c). Guidance from the American Geriatrics Society (McCormick, 2015) gives the following evidence-based recommendations for delirium prevention and management:

• Nonpharmacological interventions should be administered to at-risk older adults to prevent delirium. These include walking; orienting older adults to their surroundings; sleep hygiene; and assuring adequate oxygen, fluids, and nutrition.
• Healthcare professionals should have ongoing education about delirium.
• Each hospitalized person should be evaluated medically to identify underlying factors that could cause delirium and manage those factors proactively.
• Postoperative patients should have adequate pain control.
• Avoid medications that might cause delirium.
• Avoid the use of Cholinesterase inhibitors to prevent or treat delirium. These are drugs to treat Alzheimer’s disease and include Donepezil (Aricept®), Rivastigmine (Exelon®) and Galantamine (Razadyne®).
• Benzodiazepine drugs should not be the first choice for agitation treatment. Neither benzodiazepines nor antipsychotics should be used for people with hypoactive delirium.
Restraints should be avoided if at all possible. They may increase the person’s agitation.

Click here to learn more

Alzheimer’s Disease: A Practical Guide is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that offers healthcare professionals a basic foundation in Alzheimer’s disease prevention, diagnosis, and risk management.

This course will present practical information to aid healthcare professionals as they interact with clients who are diagnosed with any of the many types of dementia. We will review what is normal in the aging process, and what is not; diagnostic criteria for Alzheimer’s disease; testing cognition and gene testing; risk factors; and clinical research. We will then discuss the struggle caregivers face and provide strategies for how best to support them.

The next section will provide practical guidance for caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease, including daily care activities, keeping the person safe, and unwanted behaviors. Next we will review prevention and compensation strategies to help people protect their cognitive health as they age, including modifiable risk factors that have the potential to reduce the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease. A final section on protecting our elders from scams and how to find reputable resources for information is included.

Course #31-12 | 2018 | 56 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

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)

Earn CE Wherever YOU Love to Be!

 

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2018 in Mental Health

 

Strategies for Supporting Working Memory Deficits

Course excerpt from Executive Functioning in Adults

Related image

 

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.)

Click here to learn more

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

Earn CE Wherever YOU Love to Be!

 

 
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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

Earn CE Wherever YOU Love to Be!

 
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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.

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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!

 
 
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