Dr. Pat's Psychology Blog

Dr. Pat’s Psychology Blog2019-05-09T09:50:47-06:00
  • Video: Strategies for Improving Self-Esteem

    In this episode of Dr. Pat's video tips, I discuss two categories of strategies to help you improve your self-esteem: 1. Cognitive strategies which help you to think more positively about yourself. 2. Behavioural strategies in which you engage in activities which help you to feel good about yourself.

  • Managing stress: Two approaches are better than one

    In this article, I discuss why using both problem-focused and self-focused approaches to manage stress is more effective than using only one of these approaches. One of the most basic concepts I try to convey to my clients is how to manage stress. Once you realize that effective stress management boils down to using two categories of approaches, what can seemingly be a daunting task becomes much easier...[more]

  • Video: How to Manage Stress

    Registered psychologist Dr. Patrick Keelan discusses two categories of strategies to help you manage stress: Taking action to address sources of stress in your life while using skills and activities to make it easier to handle them emotionally.

Lessons from an historic tennis match: Strategies you can use in your life

Psychology, Sport & Performance|

In this article, I discuss psychological skills used in the 2019 US Women’s Open tennis final which can help you succeed in many endeavours. I was riveted watching the historic 2019 US Women’s Open tennis final between Canadian Bianca Andreescu and American Serena Williams. Ms. Andreescu was seeking to make history by becoming the first Canadian of either gender to win a Grand Slam tennis tournament while Ms. Williams was vying to win her 24th Grand Slam title to tie the all-time women’s record. As much as I respect Ms. Williams for her talent and accomplishments, I proudly admit that I was cheering for my fellow Canadian to beat her. The 19 year old did so in impressive fashion, toppling in her first US Open a tennis legend who had the home-court advantage with the crowds squarely behind her. Although Ms. Andreescu won in straight sets 6-3, 7-5, the match was very entertaining and full of dramatic twists. As a psychologist, I found the match particularly intriguing because...[more]

How to address your child’s behaviour issues in a separation or divorce situation


In this article, I discuss how to identify the cause of these issues which points to steps you can take to address them. I sometimes work with parents who are separated or divorced and who have children with behaviour issues. These issues typically manifest themselves at home, at school and/or daycare, during recreational activities and in other settings. Addressing these concerns is best done by taking a two-step approach. First, use strategies to identify the source of the child’s behaviour issues...[more]

Happiness: To pursue it or not to pursue it—that is the question

Depression, Psychology|

In this article, I discuss whether it is reasonable to pursue happiness as a goal. The title of this article may raise some Spockian eyebrows, to borrow a phrase from one of my favourite sports commentators. That is, it may seem obvious that pursuing happiness as a goal is both a worthwhile and reasonable endeavour. After all, doesn’t almost everyone want to be happy or happier? And are there not many steps people can take to make it more likely they will be happy or happier? Despite evidence pointing to an affirmative answer to these questions, it is not a foregone conclusion that people should pursue happiness as a goal...[more]

How to manage your moods behaviourally while waiting for cognitive skills to take effect

Anger, Anxiety, Depression|

In this article, I discuss how you can use behavioural skills to manage your moods while waiting for your efforts with cognitive skills to pay off. My work with clients typically entails helping them learn cognitive and behavioural strategies to address their issues. Many of these issues involve managing moods such as depression, anxiety, anger and frustration. One challenge in using this dual-pronged approach is that behavioural strategies generally show more immediate benefits compared with cognitive strategies. This occurs because behavioural strategies usually involve taking some action in a straightforward manner whereas cognitive strategies entail learning and applying skills to change your interpretation of situations in order to experience emotional relief...[more]

How to manage your emotions while driving: A double-barreled approach

Anger, Stress|

In this article, I discuss how to manage your stress and anger behind the wheel. As someone who drives to and from work several days a week, I have experienced many challenges in managing stress and anger. Dealing with gridlock when you need to be somewhere by a certain time, encountering drivers who behave in an inconsiderate manner and experiencing car problems are just some of the events which can tax a person’s ability to manage their stress and anger behind the wheel. Being subjected to these events each day can wear on a person to the point of burnout. Fortunately, there are strategies to manage one’s emotions which can be applied to driving challenges including those I’ve mentioned...[more]

Nothing is certain except death and taxes…and relationships?


In this article, I discuss how to cope with uncertainty about the future of your relationships. I once had a session with a couple in relationship counselling in which the focus was the negative impact of one partner’s individual issues on the relationship. The issue was one that the partner had been dealing with throughout her life. Not surprisingly, the issue had manifest itself in their relationship. In exploring ways to help the couple get their relationship back on track, we discussed steps that the partner could take to address her issue including meeting with a therapist in individual counselling. Near the end of the session, the second partner asked me what assurance I could give him that his partner would not slip back into having difficulty as result of her individual issue. He expressed concern about committing to a relationship and a partner for which the possibility existed that the struggles they were facing as a result of her issue may reemerge. The best way I found to respond to him was with the adage, “Nothing is certain in life except death and taxes.”...[more]

Agreement on goals: An additional challenge of couples counselling


In this article, I discuss why one of the keys to success in therapy is more difficult to achieve in couples counselling. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I work with many clients in individual counselling as well as helping many people with their relationships in couples counselling. One of the keys to helping all these clients is for the clients and me to agree on what goals we should pursue in counselling. Reaching agreement on goals is typically easier to achieve in individual counselling compared with couples counselling...[more]

CNN’s Crossfire: A model for constructive communication?


In this article, I discuss what features of the program couples should and should not model when discussing their issues. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I sometimes help clients by referring to material in the media such as television, radio, books, and the internet. A television show I often discuss when helping couples with constructive communication is the CNN program Crossfire. Crossfire was a political program which originally ran from 1988 until 2005 and then had a brief second run between 2013 and 2014. It featured discussions of issues...[more]

Dr. Pat featured in the June 2019 edition of Reader’s Digest

Anger, In the Media|

Look for the June 2019 edition of Reader’s Digest Canada. Dr. Pat was interviewed for the cover story, “Getting Angry, The Right Way; How to harness your rage and reap the rewards” by Lisa Bendall. In the article Lisa, does an excellent job outlining common issues and misconceptions around anger with practical advice on ways to deal with anger constructively.

If at first you don’t succeed in therapy: Try another therapy approach


In this article, I discuss the importance of finding a therapist whose approach is a good fit for you.In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I often help clients using the theoretical approach known as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). This form of therapy focuses on the client making changes in thinking and behaviour to facilitate improvement in mood and daily functioning.When I trained to become a psychologist, I chose CBT as the primary perspective to guide me in helping clients. Although CBT has substantial research supporting its effectiveness in helping people address many issues, the fact that several other perspectives also had research substantiating their value meant that this was not the primary factor leading me to choose it over the alternatives.The factor which made the difference in my selecting CBT over other perspectives was that its focus on practicing skills to change thoughts and behaviours fit my personality like a glove...[more]