Dr. Pat's Psychology Blog

How to manage feelings of guilt: Normalize, think it through and take action

In this article, I discuss how you can use skills from cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to manage guilt. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I often help clients whose goal is to deal with guilt they are experiencing over something they have done. These clients typically feel remorse for the harm they believe they have caused. They also often feel helpless because, although they regret their actions which may have caused harm, they cannot undo them. The result is that they spend much of the time ‘beating themselves up’ over what they have done...[more]

2018-05-20T21:22:38+00:00 By |Categories: Psychology, Stress|

How to use listening skills to improve communication in your relationships

In this article, I discuss how you and your partner can use listening skills to enhance your ability to discuss relationship issues constructively. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I often help individuals and couples whose goal is to improve their relationships. This often entails helping them to improve their ability to discuss issues constructively. One of the best ways to improve this ability is to use effective listening during discussions of issues...[more]

2018-05-06T21:48:33+00:00 By |Categories: Relationships|

The first step in reducing problematic behaviours: Avoid high-risk situations which you can avoid

In this article, I discuss the importance of steering clear of settings and activities which make it more likely you will choose to engage in behaviours you are trying to reduce or eliminate. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I often help clients whose goals are to reduce or eliminate behaviours which are having negative effects on their lives. These behaviours include alcohol and drug use, gambling, internet use, and binge eating--to name a few. The first step I typically take in helping these clients is to make them aware of settings and activities which put them at risk for engaging in their problematic behaviours...[more]

2018-04-22T20:34:36+00:00 By |Categories: Addictions, Eating Disorders|

Having and building good self-esteem: Is it a slam dunk or are there downsides?

In this article, I discuss whether there are disadvantages to having and facilitating good self-esteem. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, clients often ask for my help in improving their self-esteem. These are typically people who can clearly benefit from changing the negative view they have of themselves with its deleterious effects on their moods, relationships and performance in various domains including work and school. In turn, when these clients take steps toward developing a more positive view of themselves it typically results in significant improvement in these areas of their lives. So taking steps to foster self-esteem in yourself and others is recommended to the point of being a slam dunk, right?...[more]

2018-05-20T18:56:15+00:00 By |Categories: Self-Esteem|

Tracking progress in rebuilding a relationship: Like in a marathon or a triathlon

In this article, I discuss how the approach to tracking progress in a marathon or a triathlon can be helpful in rebuilding a relationship. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I help many clients improve their relationships in couples counselling. In some instances, the relationship has deteriorated so much that one or both partners have very little motivation to work on skills to improve the relationship and may even be considering getting out. At such a dire point, the partners may believe that they do not have the energy to work on the relationship. They may additionally believe that even if they were both willing to work on the relationship, there would be little point in doing so given the relationship’s current hopeless state. In these apparently pessimistic circumstances, I try to be realistically optimistic with the couples with whom I am working...[more]

2018-03-25T21:24:57+00:00 By |Categories: Relationships, Sport & Performance|

How two categories of stress management skills complement each other

In this article, I discuss how using each category of stress management skills is improved by using skills from the other category. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, clients often ask for my help in managing stress. My plan to help them typically involves using two categories of strategies—(1) Problem-focused coping in which they take action to reduce or eliminate sources of stress like problems at work or school, relationship issues, and financial difficulties; and (2) Self-focused coping in which they use skills and activities to improve their emotional reaction to sources of stress. In turn, self-focused coping strategies are of three kinds...[more]

2018-03-11T22:51:39+00:00 By |Categories: Anxiety, Stress|

Change your thinking to manage your emotions and your behaviours

In this article, I discuss how you can target different levels of thought for change in order to feel better emotionally and to break problematic behaviour patterns. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I often see clients who are seeking help with one or both of the following issues—experiencing unpleasant emotional states they would like to change (depression, anxiety, anger, frustration and guilt, to name a few) and engaging in problematic behaviour patterns (substance use, binge-eating, procrastination, being unassertive, and avoiding social situations, to name a few). Fortunately, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) offers strategies which help people address both these issues—alleviating the intensity of unpleasant emotions and breaking problematic behaviour patterns. CBT helps people address these issues by targeting negative thought patterns for change...[more]

2018-02-25T21:36:41+00:00 By |Categories: Addictions, Depression|

What to do if you’ve decided that therapy doesn’t work for you

In this article, I discuss how to proceed when you’ve determined that therapy doesn’t work for you. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I often get clients or prospective clients who are reluctant to proceed with therapy, a particular form of therapy or a specific therapy technique because they have determined either that ‘it doesn’t work’ or ‘it doesn’t work for me’. Such beliefs about therapy, forms of therapy or therapy techniques not working at all or not working for the individual may be in many instances inaccurate. More importantly, these negative beliefs can interfere with the individual making progress in therapy going forward. In the following sections, I will discuss why these negative beliefs about therapy can interfere with progress and how to change them to beliefs which are more conducive to success...[more]

2018-02-25T21:38:54+00:00 By |Categories: Psychology, Sport & Performance|

How to pick yourself up when you’ve ‘fallen down’

In this article, I discuss how to keep moving forward in the face of repeated adversity at the hands of others. One of my favourite movies is Falling Down from 1993 which stars Michael Douglas. It features a man having an extremely frustrating day in which he encounters one thing after another going wrong. His frustration is compounded by it being created primarily by people who appear to care only for themselves and who enjoy inflicting suffering on others. The film begins with Douglas’s character, referred to as ‘D-Fens’ in reference to the letters on his license plate, being let go from his job because he was ‘not economically viable’. On his drive home on a blistering hot day, he is stuck in the middle of noisy traffic because of construction work which does not seem to be serving any purpose. D-Fens abandons his car and encounters a series of frustrations to which he responds each time with a violent retaliation toward the source of his frustration. This includes taking a baseball bat to the...[more]

2018-01-29T22:14:46+00:00 By |Categories: Anger, Depression|
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