How to address abuse in a relationship: Take the right approach in counselling

In this article, I discuss the relative merits of different options clients can take to address issues involving abusive behaviour in relationships.In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I sometimes work with individuals and couples whose goal is to address abusive behaviour in relationships. This is an issue often entails a pattern in which one partner in a relationship engages in behaviours intended to dominate and control the other partner. This leads to abuse in various forms including verbal and physical.There are different counselling options for addressing the issue of abuse in relationships...[more]

2019-03-24T22:05:01-06:00By |Categories: Anger, Relationships|

How to catch hot thoughts so that you can check and change them to feel better

In this article, I discuss several techniques to help you pinpoint the negative thoughts which are causing your emotional distress. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I often have clients who can benefit from skills from cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). One of the most beneficial CBT skills is a thought record. The use of thought records helps a person to feel better by catching, checking and changing ‘hot thoughts’. Hot thoughts are negatively skewed beliefs which people have when they are experiencing strong and unpleasant moods like sadness, anxiety, anger, frustration, guilt, shame and embarrassment, among others...[more]

2018-08-26T21:08:13-06:00By |Categories: Anger, Anxiety, Depression|

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]

2018-01-29T22:14:46-06:00By |Categories: Anger, Depression|

Choosing a good hot thought: Situation-specific or general

In this article, I discuss how to choose a good hot thought which you can check and change to feel better in difficult situations. Much of my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist entails helping my clients to change how they feel by changing the way they think, a key process in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). In this process, clients use a tool known as a thought record to track the negative thoughts which come into their minds in everyday difficult situations they encounter. These negative thoughts are known in CBT as ‘hot thoughts’ and are largely responsible for the person experiencing undue distress in response to these situations in the form of emotions like anxiety, anger, frustration, guilt and sadness.  Fortunately, these hot thoughts are typically beliefs which are not completely accurate and, with the help of a thought record, can be changed to more accurate ‘balanced thoughts’ which reduce emotional distress to a more manageable level. An important consideration in deciding which hot thought to work on is whether it is a thought which is specific to the upsetting situation or one which is ‘underneath’ the situation-specific thought and is more general in scope...[more]

2017-10-05T20:57:16-06:00By |Categories: Anger, Anxiety, Depression|

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

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]

2017-07-30T23:14:12-06:00By |Categories: Addictions, Anger|

Delay and distract: A tool to help you act reflectively rather than reflexively

In this article, I discuss a technique to manage urges to engage in unhelpful behaviours in a variety of situations. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, many clients seek help with issues in which they ‘act out’ quickly and reflexively in response to urges, leading to negative consequences. The list includes people acting out with verbal or physical aggression in response to anger, acting out with eating issues including binge-eating and purging, as well as acting out through the use of alcohol, drugs and gambling...[more]

2016-11-09T12:03:41-06:00By |Categories: Addictions, Anger, Eating Disorders|

To err is human, but is to forgive really divine?

In this article, I discuss what it means to forgive and various factors to consider in deciding whether to forgive someone. Our culture has strong norms encouraging us to forgive those who have wronged us. These norms garner much of their impetus from various well-known statements on the subject. “To err is human, to forgive divine” is one of the most well-known quotations in history...[more]

2018-03-21T11:09:48-06:00By |Categories: Anger, Trauma|

Reduce self-injury behaviours by addressing what lies beneath them

In this article, I discuss ways to reduce non-suicidal self-injury behaviours by targeting the factors leading to the behaviours. It may seem puzzling to an observer that someone would regularly choose to harm themselves through behaviours such as cutting, burning or head-banging. In reality, self-injury behaviours often represent ways of coping with various life issues much as many people use drinking, drugs, gambling, sex and various eating disorder behaviours for this purpose...[more]

Practice tolerating uncertainty to improve your moods

In this article, I discuss how moving away from the tendency toward reducing uncertainty can help you feel better in response to negative situations. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I have been influenced by the statements of many prominent people in my field. One such occasion was when I attended a talk given to the public by depression expert Dr. Michael Yapko. Dr. Yapko said that being able to tolerate uncertainty and ambiguity is one of the most important skills a person can practice to overcome depression...[more]

Work on yourself to improve your relationships…and vice versa

In this article, I discuss how you can benefit from the bidirectional relationship between individual and relationship well-being. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I encounter both individuals and couples as clients. Individuals typically have the goal of addressing an individual issue to improve their emotional well-being and I teach them skills from cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to help them in this endeavour. Couples usually have goals to improve their relationship well-being in various ways. To this end, I typically give them skills from Dr. John Gottman’s sound relationship house model to help them improve their relationship friendship and learn skills to discuss issues more constructively...[more]

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