Dr. Pat's Psychology Blog

Chicken and egg: Quality of the therapeutic relationship and progress in therapy

2017-08-13T22:51:59+00:00 By |Psychology|

In this article, I discuss how the quality of the relationship with your therapist can affect your progress in therapy – and vice-versa. A well-established positive correlation exists between the quality of a client’s relationship with their therapist and the client’s progress in therapy. That is, research indicates that clients who have a good relationship with their therapists are more likely to make progress in therapy compared with clients who have a bad relationship with their therapists. Many people assume this research finding necessarily means that therapists should focus on taking steps to improve the quality the therapy relationship...[more]

Two motivators to change behaviour: Hope for the good and fear of the bad

2017-07-30T23:14:12+00:00 By |Addictions, Anger|

In this article, I discuss how you can use hope for positive consequences and fear of negative consequences as motivators to help you change unwanted behaviour patterns. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, clients sometimes have the goal of changing unwanted behaviour patterns such as procrastination, losing one’s temper and excessive substance use. One of the best ways to help clients achieve behaviour change in these instances is to help them focus on motivators for the types of change they are seeking. Two types of motivators serve this purpose...[more]

To vent or not to vent: That is the question

2017-07-17T11:35:58+00:00 By |Psychology|

In this article, I discuss whether venting about difficult people and situations is helpful in and out of your psychologist’s office. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I often encounter clients who choose to spend some or all of the time in a counselling session ‘venting’. This typically involves complaining about difficult people and/or situations affecting them. Given that people pay to see psychologists and that psychologists are ethically obligated to attempt to ensure that clients are benefiting from their services, it is reasonable to consider whether venting is a productive use of time in therapy. A related concern is whether it is beneficial to the client to vent to people other than their psychologist outside of therapy sessions. I will explore these questions in the following paragraphs...[more]

Viewing addictions as habits: An improvement over viewing them as diseases

2017-07-04T15:12:12+00:00 By |Addictions|

In my last article, I discussed a commonly held view of addictions as diseases. I indicated that while this view has some advantages such as removing shame and consequently making it more likely a person will come for treatment, it also has substantial disadvantages. These include interfering with the person taking the necessary steps to address their addiction if they come to therapy, instilling a passive ‘fix me’ mindset which is counterproductive to making progress, as well as establishing negative expectations for progress. At the end of my last article, I said that I would propose an alternative way to view addictions which is more conducive to making progress than the view of addictions as diseases. I will discuss this alternative view in the following sections.

Viewing addictions as diseases: The pros and cons

2017-06-16T09:37:18+00:00 By |Addictions|

In this article, I discuss the commonly held view of addictions as diseases along with the pros and cons of this view including its effects on progress in treatment. A commonly held view of addictions is that they are diseases. The view holds that if you are unlucky enough to be afflicted with such a disease, it will be with you for your life because it cannot be cured. Furthermore, because your addiction is a disease, you are unable to exert control over it. Acknowledging this lack of control or powerlessness is the basis of 12-step programs which are used to help people with addictions for issues such as...[more]

Practicing skills: A formula for success inside and outside your psychologist’s office

2017-05-21T22:05:55+00:00 By |Psychology, Sport & Performance|

In this article, I discuss how you can use the same route to success in addressing your psychological issues which you are already using in other endeavours in your life. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I offer prospective clients a free 30-minute consultation to allow them to determine whether the approach I use would be a good fit for them. In order to help people with this decision, I frequently remark that if you can be successful by learning and practicing skills in other endeavours in your life, you can be successful at using cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to address your issues...[more]

Reducing self-injury behaviours: Identify and address the motives

2017-05-07T21:07:33+00:00 By |Psychology, Self-Esteem|

In this article, I discuss ways to reduce non-suicidal self-injury behaviours by identifying and addressing the motives for these behaviours. In my practice as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, among the most challenging issues I encounter is clients engaged in self-injury behaviours such as cutting or burning oneself.  Referred to as non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI), these behaviours are not engaged in for the purpose of taking one’s life. However, they are often precursors to later suicide attempts and are most commonly displayed by adolescents. To help these clients, my strategy is first to identify the reasons they are engaging in self-injury behaviours...[more]

Being a fan of a sports team: How to enjoy the psychological benefits while minimizing the psychological costs

2017-04-23T23:35:25+00:00 By |Psychology, Sport & Performance|

In this article, I discuss how you can enjoy the psychological benefits of being a fan of a sports team while taking steps to prevent the psychological downsides. Some of my most memorable times have been those in which I have been a fan of sports teams. Team Canada’s narrow win over the Soviet Union in the 1972 hockey Summit Series brought excitement and passion to me and millions of other Canadians who watched the landmark event. In my younger days, I also regularly enjoyed going to the games of my hometown Winnipeg Blue Bombers football team which I attended with my father and siblings.  On the other hand, my support of sports teams has at times had negative effects on my mood. For example, I have recently seen my hometown Winnipeg Jets miss making the NHL playoffs and my adopted hometown Calgary Flames get swept out of the playoffs in the first round. For the last two seasons, the Toronto Blue Jays’ baseball success had me and many Canadians on a high as we followed their exploits. In contrast, so far this season I cannot bear to watch the Blue Jays as they currently sport the worst record in the major leagues. These examples illustrate that being a fan can have highs and lows...[more]

How to perform well in sport—whether you are in or out of the zone

2017-04-10T16:03:30+00:00 By |Sport & Performance|

In this article, I discuss skills to enhance performance in sport by getting in the zone and how to perform well when you are not in the zone. Top performances in sport and other endeavours are associated with being ‘in the zone’. Being in the zone, also known as achieving the state of ‘flow’, is defined by being completely absorbed in the present moment as well as in the movements and actions needed to perform at your best. It is a state of relaxation and optimal concentration in which the athlete is not preoccupied with worries about the result or other matters and is able to focus in the midst of distractions in the setting in which they are performing. Because top performance is associated with being in the zone, athletes strive to learn and practice psychological skills to help them achieve this state...[more]

Habits for preventing and overcoming depression: It’s how you behave and what you think

2017-03-25T22:14:14+00:00 By |Depression|

In this article, I discuss habits to prevent and overcome depression which stem from cognitive behavioural therapy. In my continuing series on habits, I now turn to habits to help you prevent and overcome depression. These habits are rooted in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Using CBT as a framework, in the following sections I will discuss behavioural habits followed by cognitive habits...[more]