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Category Archives: Counseling

News for professional counselors

A Short Course on Encryption and Cloud Storage

Course excerpt from Ethics & Risk Management: Expert Tips 8

Encryption and cloud storage is a complicated area because it requires an analysis of the interplay of several variables, including confidentiality, encryption, cloud storage and HIPAA. Each of these variables is complex, but there are ways to make the situation more manageable.

Cloud storageEncryption and cloud storage. Let’s consider a few common questions:

“For the purposes of HIPAA, if you have adequately encrypted your data, does your cloud storage provider need to sign a Business Associate Agreement (BAA)?”

The bottom line is that there is no crystal-clear answer to this question. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) hasn’t specifically addressed this issue, so we are faced with the question of how to interpret the security rule.

There are two basic interpretations: “no,” and “yes.” Both have some support, and if you proceed with one interpretation you should consider the countervailing position.

First, the basics: HIPAA Covered Entities (CEs) who work with vendors are required to have their vendors sign BAAs. This is required because it allows the federal government to enforce the provisions of HIPAA on these third-party vendors.

The public policy at work is that CEs shouldn’t be allowed to offload their legal responsibilities to a third party that isn’t subject to regulatory oversight. BAAs are required whenever a third-party vendor has access to Protected Health Information (PHI).

Here’s where it gets complicated. PHI is identifiable data, but if the data are encrypted they are not identifiable. In such a case, why is a BAA necessary?

The interpretation against requiring a BAA for encrypted data finds some support in one of HIPAA’s safe harbor provisions, which states that losses of encrypted data do not trigger a breach notification (the letter CEs send out that apologetically admits to the disclosure of protected health information).

The reason why breach notifications is not required for encrypted data are that the data remain inaccessible if encrypted. The covered entity has essentially lost gibberish.

Thus, this interpretation goes, BAAs are also not required because the vendor does not have access to protected health information. That makes sense. However, it should be noted that this is a fairly permissive interpretation and HHS has declined to endorse this position.

The competing interpretation, which appears to be strongly supported by the official commentary on related regulations (especially the 2013 HITECH amendments to the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules), is that BAAs are required even when the data are encrypted.

Support for this position includes: HHS has not made the criteria for breach notifications the same as the criteria for needing a BAA.

The statutory exceptions for BAAs, such as those with incidental access (e.g., a janitor or electrician) or those who are mere “conduits,” do not apply to cloud storage providers. HHS has indicated that a data storage company is not a conduit because of the “persistent nature” of its contact with the data. Thus, it is persistency, and not the degree of access, that HHS has specifically indicated warrants consideration for the purposes of BAAs.

Commentary prior to the adoption of the security rule asked whether or not BAAs could be something that CEs could address, and thus render unnecessary. In other words, the question was asked, “if we as CEs take adequate security measures to ensure the protection of PHI, can we make BAAs unnecessary?” HHS specifically declined to make BAAs an “addressable” requirement.

Besides the issue of protecting PHI, BAs have additional responsibilities. These responsibilities include accessibility, data integrity, etc. If encryption enabled vendors to escape “business associate” (BA) status, HHS would have no jurisdiction. (From a risk management perspective, the execution of a BAA is something that many CEs do to “distribute” the risk.)

The definition of BA isn’t explicitly restricted to those who have access to PHI. The definition also includes those who perform “any other function or activity regulated by this subchapter.” (See 45 CFR 160.103(1)(i)(B)) The amount of functions and activities that are regulated under HIPAA is huge.

I want to emphasize that I understand the argument that where vendors have absolutely no access to PHI because the data are encrypted, the vendor doesn’t have encryption keys, etc., then HIPAA is (theoretically) a non-issue. It makes a lot of sense. However, we just don’t know at this time if HHS agrees with that position and we have some strong evidence that casts this position as too narrow.

However, the ambiguity also applies to the other interpretation: We don’t know if HHS agrees with the position that the storage of encrypted PHI (where the vendor has zero access to the PHI) still requires a BAA.

I hope this helps or at least provides some things to consider.


By Adam Alban, PhD, JD

Adam Alban, PhD, JD, hosts a website of general information for mental health professionals in California. He has an M.A. and PhD in clinical psychology from Michigan State University and a JD from American University in Washington, D.C. He operates a law practice specializing in legal assistance to mental health practitioners and also has a clinical psychology practice, the Alban Psychology Group. He may be reached at: alban@clinicallawyer.com.


Ethics & Risk Management: Expert Tips 8 is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE) course that addresses a wide variety of ethics and risk management topics, written by experts in the field.

This online course provides instant access to the course materials (PDF download) and CE test. After enrolling, click on My Account and scroll down to My Active Courses. From here you’ll see links to download/print the course materials and take the CE test (you can print the test to mark your answers on it while reading the course document). Successful completion of the online CE test (80% required to pass, 3 chances to take) and course evaluation are required to earn a certificate of completion.

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); and the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678).

 

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The Impact of Suicide

By Laura More, MSW, LCSW

Suicide PreventionThe health and economic consequences of suicide are substantial. Suicide and suicide attempts have far reaching consequences for individuals, families, and communities. In an early study, Crosby and Sacks (2002) estimated that 7% of the U.S. adult population, or 13.2 million adults, knew someone in the prior 12 months who had died by suicide. They also estimated that for each suicide, 425 adults were exposed, or knew about the death. In a more recent study in one state, researchers found that 48% of the population knew at least one person who died by suicide in their lifetime. Research also indicates that the impact of knowing someone who died by suicide and/or having lived experience (by personally having attempted suicide, having had suicidal thoughts, or having been impacted by suicidal loss) is much more extensive than injury and death. People with lived experience may suffer long-term health and mental health consequences ranging from anger, guilt, and physical impairment, depending on the means and severity of the attempt (Stone, Holland, Bartholow, et al., 2017).

The economic toll of suicide on society is immense as well. According to conservative estimates, in 2013, suicide cost $50.8 billion in estimated lifetime medical and work-loss costs alone (Florence, Simon, Haegerich, Luo & Zhou, 2015). Adjusting for potential under-reporting of suicide and drawing upon health expenditures per capita, gross domestic product per capita, and variability among states in per capita health care expenditures and income, another study estimated the total lifetime costs associated with nonfatal injuries and deaths caused by self-directed violence to be approximately $93.5 billion in 2013 (Shepard, Gurewich, Lwin, Reed & Silverman, 2016). The overwhelming burden of these costs were from lost productivity over the life course, with the average cost per suicide being over $1.3 million. The true economic costs are likely higher, as neither study included monetary figures related to other societal costs such as those associated with the pain and suffering of family or other impacts (Stone, Holland, Bartholow, et al., 2017).

Suicide Prevention: Evidence-Based StrategiesSuicide Prevention: Evidence-Based Strategies is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE) course that reviews evidence-based research and offers strategies for screening, assessment, treatment, and prevention of suicide in both adolescents and adults. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. In 2015, 44,193 people killed themselves. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes, “Suicide is a serious but preventable public health problem that can have lasting harmful effects on individuals, families, and communities.” People who attempt suicide but do not die face potentially serious injury or disability, depending on the method used in the attempt. Depression and other mental health issues follow the suicide attempt. Family, friends, and coworkers are negatively affected by suicide. Shock, anger, guilt, and depression arise in the wake of this violent event. Even the community as a whole is affected by the loss of a productive member of society, lost wages not spent at local businesses, and medical costs. The CDC estimates that suicides result in over 44 billion dollars in work loss and medical costs. Prevention is key: reducing risk factors and promoting resilience. This course will provide a review of evidence-based studies on this complex subject for psychologists, marriage & family therapists, professional counselors, and social workers. Information from the suicide prevention technical package from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be provided. Included also are strategies for screening and assessment, prevention considerations, methods of treatment, and resources for choosing evidence-based suicide prevention programs. Course #30-97 | 2017 | 60 pages | 20 posttest questions

This online course provides instant access to the course materials (PDF download) and CE test. After enrolling, click on My Account and scroll down to My Active Courses. From here you’ll see links to download/print the course materials and take the CE test (you can print the test to mark your answers on it while reading the course document). Successful completion of the online CE test (80% required to pass, 3 chances to take) and course evaluation are required to earn a certificate of completion. Click here to learn more.

About the Author:

Laura More, MSW, LCSW, is a healthcare author and licensed clinical social worker. Laura was one of the founding partners of Care2Learn, a provider of online continuing education courses for the post-acute healthcare industry. She now provides healthcare authoring services. She has authored over 120 online continuing education titles, co-authored evidence-based care assessment area resources and a book, The Licensed Practical Nurse in Long-term Care Field Guide. She is the recipient of the 2010 Education Award from the American College of Health Care Administrators.

CE Information:

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 Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy (#BAP346), Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501); the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); and the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678).

 

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Presidents Day CE Sale at PDResources

 

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Valentine’s and President’s Day Sale at PDResources – Buy Two Courses Get One Free!

If two really are better than one, than a third for free should really knock your socks off this holiday! Now through Monday, enjoy a FREE CE course with the purchase of any two @pdresources.org.

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Pennsylvania MHC Continuing Education

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Pennsylvania-licensed mental health counselors have a license renewal every two years with a February 28th deadline. Thirty hours of continuing education are required to renew a license. 

Twenty (20) hours are allowed from online continuing education courses if NBCC-approved. Three (3) hours of ethics, two (2) hours of continuing education in child abuse recognition and reporting are required at each renewal. No office management or practice building courses are allowed. 

Pennsylvania Board of SW, MFT & Prof Counselors 
CE Required: 30 every 2 years
Online CE Allowed: 20 hours
License Expiration: 2/28, odd years
Approval Accepted: ASWB, NBCC, APA 
Notes: 3 hrs ethics each renewal, 2 hrs of continuing education in child abuse recognition and reporting, No office mgmt or practice building courses allowed
Date of Info: 01/25/2017

Pennsylvania counselors can earn up to 20 hours required for renewal through online courses offered on the counseling page @PDResources. Click here to view NBCC-approved online CE courses.

Online Continuing Education Courses for Mental Health Counselors

Nutrition and Mental Health: Advanced Clinical Concepts is a 1-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that examines how what we eat influences how we feel, both physically and mentally. While the role of adequate nutrition in maintaining mental health has been established for some time, just how clinicians go about providing the right nutritional information to the patient at the right time – to not just ensure good mental health, but actually optimize mood – has not been so clear. With myriad diets, weight loss supplements and programs, clients often find themselves reaching for the next best nutritional solution, all the while, unsure how they will feel, or even what to eat to feel better. On the other side of the equation, clinicians so often face not just a client’s emotional, situational, and relational concerns, but concerns that are clearly mired in how the client feels physically, and what impact his/her nutritional health may have on these concerns.

Autism: The New Spectrum of Diagnostics, Treatment & Nutrition is a 4-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that reviews diagnostic changes in autism as well as treatment options and nutrition interventions – both theoretical and applied. The first section traces the history of the diagnostic concept of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), culminating in the revised criteria of the 2013 version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the DSM-5, with specific focus on the shift from five subtypes to a single spectrum diagnosis. It also aims to provide epidemiological prevalence estimates, identify factors that may play a role in causing ASD, and list the components of a core assessment battery. It also includes brief descriptions of some of the major intervention models that have some empirical support. Section two describes common GI problems and feeding difficulties in autism, exploring the empirical data and/or lack thereof regarding any links between GI disorders and autism. Sections on feeding difficulties offer interventions and behavior change techniques. A final section on nutritional considerations discusses evaluation of nutritional status, supplementation, and dietary modifications with an objective look at the science and theory behind a variety of nutrition interventions.

This course will explore the concept of flow, also known as optimal performance, which is a condition we are all capable of, yet seldom cultivate. When in flow we experience a profound and dramatic shift in the way we experience ourselves, our capabilities, and the world around us. Our focus sharpens, our strengths are heightened, we feel an intense sense of euphoria and connection to the world around us, and we often realize capabilities we didn’t know were possible. For clients, flow doesn’t just help them become more capable, it dramatically improves their lives – teaching them not just to expect more from themselves, but how to cultivate the very conditions that make expecting more possible. This course, packed with exercises, tips, and tools, will demonstrate just how flow can be incorporated into your everyday life, and used to help your clients move from simply surviving to a life that harnesses and builds upon their own unique potential to thrive.

Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. Our purpose is to provide high quality online continuing education (CE) courses on topics relevant to members of the healthcare professions we serve. We strive to keep our carbon footprint small by being completely paperless, allowing telecommuting, recycling, using energy-efficient lights and powering off electronics when not in use. We provide online CE courses to allow our colleagues to earn credits from the comfort of their own home or office so we can all be as green as possible (no paper, no shipping or handling, no travel expenses, etc.). Sustainability isn’t part of our work – it’s a guiding influence for all of our work.

Approved CE Provider

We are approved to offer 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 one week of completion).

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2017 in CE Requirements, Counseling

 

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Florida Mental Health License Renewals – Save 20% Off Your Order

Your Florida license renewal deadline is less than 3 months away. Are you ready?

Here’s a quick reminder of your requirements:

CE Required: 30 hours every 2 years, of which:
2 hours Preventing Medical Errors is required each renewal
3 hours Ethics & Boundaries is required each renewal
2 hours Domestic Violence is required every third renewal
3 hours Florida Laws and Rules is required every third renewal
Online CE Allowed: No limit @ PDR
License ExpirationMarch 31, 2017

You can earn all 30 hours for renewal through online courses offered @ PDR and we report to CE Broker for you. Order now and Save 20% on ALL online courses!

Continuing Education Courses for Florida Mental Health Professionals

Preventing Medical Errors in Behavioral Health is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE) course intended to increase clinicians’ awareness of the many types of errors that can occur within mental health practice, how such errors damage clients, and numerous ways they can be prevented. Its emphasis is on areas within mental health practice that carry the potential for “medical” errors. Examples include improper diagnosis; breaches of privacy and confidentiality; mandatory reporting requirements; managing dangerous clients; boundary violations and sexual misconduct; the informed consent process; and clinical and cultural competency. There are major new sections on psychotherapy in the digital age, including the use of social networking systems, the practice of teletherapy, and the challenges of maintaining and transmitting electronic records. *This course satisfies the medical errors requirement for license renewal of Florida mental health professionals.
Ethics & Boundaries in Psychotherapy is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE) course intended to give psychotherapists the tools they need to resolve the common and not-so-common ethical and boundary issues and dilemmas that they may expect to encounter in their everyday professional practice in the 21st century. Among the topics discussed are definitions of boundaries; resolving conflicts between ethics and the law; boundary crossings vs. boundary violations; multiple relationships; sexual misconduct; privacy and confidentiality in the age of HIPAA and the Patriot Act; ethics issues with dangerous clients; boundary issues in clinical supervision; ethics and cultural competency; ethical boundaries in use of social media; ethical practice in teletherapy; fees and financial relationships; and a 17-step model for ethical decision making. * This course satisfies the ethics & boundaries requirement for license renewal of Florida counselors, social workers & MFTs.
Domestic Violence: Child Abuse and Intimate Partner Violence is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE) course intended to help healthcare professionals maintain a high state of vigilance and to be well prepared with immediate and appropriate responses when abuse is disclosed.Domestic violence, in the form of child abuse and intimate partner violence, remains a pervasive part of contemporary life in the U.S. Its effects are deep and far-reaching. This course will teach clinicians to detect abuse when they see it, screen for the particulars, and respond with definitive assistance in safety planning, community referrals, and individualized treatment plans. There is a special section on the complexity of an abuse victim’s decision about if and when to leave an abuser. This course meets the Domestic Violence license renewal requirement of all Florida licensees.
This course is approved to meet the requirements of a Florida Laws and Rules course as a license renewal requirement for Florida-licensed clinical social workers, marriage and family therapists, and mental health counselors. It is required every third biennium after initial licensure. Content of this course will include excerpts from the relevant Florida statutes and Administrative Code regulating the practice of social work, marriage and family therapy and mental health counseling, along with interpretive commentary and case examples. Included are Chapter 491 of the Florida Statutes – the practice act for these named professionals, Chapter 64B4 of the Florida Administrative Code – establishing the Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage & Family Therapy & Mental Health Counseling, and selected sections from Chapters 39, 394, and 456 of the Florida Statutes. Emphasis is on those issues most important for practicing mental health clinicians in delivering ethical, legal, and competent professional services while attending to prudent risk management practices. The goal of this course is to make life easier for clinicians by presenting a brief summary of the relevant laws and rules of practice in the State of Florida, leading to an ever-increasing awareness of and conscious compliance with the particulars of those bodies of legislation.

Enjoy 20% off ALL Online CE courses for your Florida LCSW/MFT/MHC license renewal. Use coupon code PDRPC308 at checkout to redeem (prices shown above include 20% discount). Valid on future orders only. Offers expire 3/31/2017.

PDR-LogoProfessional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. Our purpose is to provide high quality online continuing education (CE) courses on topics relevant to members of the healthcare professions we serve. We strive to keep our carbon footprint small by being completely paperless, allowing telecommuting, recycling, using energy-efficient lights and powering off electronics when not in use. We provide online CE courses to allow our colleagues to earn credits from the comfort of their own home or office so we can all be as green as possible (no paper, no shipping or handling, no travel expenses, etc.). Sustainability isn’t part of our work – it’s a guiding influence for all of our work.

Approved CE Provider

We are approved to offer 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 one week of completion).

 

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Nutrition and Mental Health – New Online PDResources CE Course

Nutrition and Mental HealthNutrition and Mental Health: Advanced Clinical Concepts is a 1-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that examines how what we eat influences how we feel, both physically and mentally. While the role of adequate nutrition in maintaining mental health has been established for some time, just how clinicians go about providing the right nutritional information to the patient at the right time – to not just ensure good mental health, but actually optimize mood – has not been so clear. With myriad diets, weight loss supplements and programs, clients often find themselves reaching for the next best nutritional solution, all the while, unsure how they will feel, or even what to eat to feel better. On the other side of the equation, clinicians so often face not just a client’s emotional, situational, and relational concerns, but concerns that are clearly mired in how the client feels physically, and what impact his/her nutritional health may have on these concerns. For example, research into the role of blood sugar levels has demonstrated a clear crossover with client impulse control. Additionally, the gut microbiome, and its role in serotonin production and regulation has consistently made clear that without good gut health, mitigating anxiety and depression becomes close to impossible.

So if good mental health begins with good nutritional health, where should clinicians start? What advice should they give to a depressed client? An anxious client? A client with impulse control problems? This course will answer these questions and more. Comprised of three sections, the course will begin with an overview of macronutrient intake and mental health, examining recent popular movements such as intermittent fasting, carb cycling and ketogenic diets, and their impact on mental health. In section two, we will look specifically at the role of blood sugar on mental health, and research that implicates blood sugar as both an emotional and behavioral regulator. Gut health, and specifically the gut microbiome, and its influence on mood and behavior will then be explored. Lastly, specific diagnoses and the way they are impacted by specific vitamins and minerals will be considered. Section three will deliver specific tools, you, the clinician, can use with your clients to assess, improve and maximize nutrition to optimize mental health. Course #11-06 | 2017 | 21 pages | 10 posttest questions

About the Author:
Claire Dorotik-Nana, LMFT, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in post-traumatic growth, optimal performance, and wellness. She is licensed to practice in California and Colorado. Claire earned her BS in Kinesiology and worked as personal trainer for years before becoming a course developer for International Sports Science Association. Claire is always thinking about ways to improve physical fitness and nutrition as a modality for improving mental health. She also writes in her popular blog, Leveraging Adversity on Psychcentral.
This online continuing education course is offered by Professional Development Resources, a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. Our purpose is to provide high quality online continuing education (CE) courses on topics relevant to members of the healthcare professions we serve. We strive to keep our carbon footprint small by being completely paperless, allowing telecommuting, recycling, using energy-efficient lights and powering off electronics when not in use. We provide online CE courses to allow our colleagues to earn credits from the comfort of their own home or office so we can all be as green as possible (no paper, no shipping or handling, no travel expenses, etc.). Sustainability isn’t part of our work – it’s a guiding influence for all of our work.
We are approved to offer 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 one week of completion).

 

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People Buy More Food After the New the New Year – In Spite of Resolutions

From The University of Vermont

People Buy More Food After New Year in Spite of ResolutionsDespite New Year’s resolutions to eat better and lose weight, people buy the greatest amount of food and calories after the holidays, finds a study led by a University of Vermont researcher.

The study, published by PLOS ONE, finds consumer spending on food increases by 15 percent over the holiday season (Thanksgiving to New Year), with most of the increase attributed to higher levels of junk food.

But shoppers buy the greatest amount of food after New Year – the equivalent of a nine percent increase in calories above holiday levels, says Prof. Lizzy Pope of the University of Vermont, who led the study as a post-doctoral researcher at Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab.

“People start the New Year with good intentions to eat better,” says Pope, who recently joined UVM’s Dept. of Nutrition and Food Science. “They do pick out more healthy items, but they also keep buying higher levels of less-healthy holiday favorites. So their grocery baskets contain more calories than any other time of year we tracked.”

The findings are surprising given the holidays’ reputation for overeating – and suggest that people need better strategies for shopping under the sway of “res-illusions,” the research team says.

The researchers recommend that consumers use written grocery lists to deter impulsive junk food purchases; substitute as much junk food as possible with fresh produce and nutrient-rich foods, and split grocery baskets visually to ensure nutritious foods represent at least half of your purchases.

Background and methods

The authors of the study, New Year’s Res-Illusions: Food Shopping in the New Year Competes with Healthy Intentions, are Lizzy Pope (University of Vermont), David Just (Cornell University), Brian Wansink (Cornell University), and Drew Hanks (Ohio State University).

“We wanted to see how New Year’s resolutions and the end of the holiday season impact grocery shopping habits – how much food people buy, and how many calories the foods contain,” says co-author David Just, Cornell University.

More than 200 households in New York State were recruited to participate in the seven-month study of grocery store spending behaviors, from July 2010 to March 2011.

To identify shopping patterns, researchers split the data into three periods: July to Thanksgiving represented participants’ baseline spending (how much the average shopper regularly spends per week on groceries), Thanksgiving to New Year’s was considered the holiday season, and New Year’s to March the post-holiday period.

Foods were categorized as healthy or less healthy based on a nutritional rating system used at participating grocery stores.

“Despite New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier, people tend to hang on to those unhealthy holiday favorites and keep buying them in the New Year,” says co-author Drew Hanks, The Ohio State University, who worked on the study as a post-doctoral researcher at Cornell.

“Based on these findings,” Hanks adds, “we recommend that instead of just adding healthy foods to your cart, people substitute less healthy foods for fresh produce and other nutrient rich foods. The calories will add up slower and you’ll be more likely to meet your resolutions and shed those unwanted pounds.”

Source: http://www.psypost.org/2015/01/despite-resolutions-people-buy-food-new-year-30609

Related Continuing Education Courses:

 

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