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]

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]

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]

2016-11-09T12:03:43+00:00 By |Anger, Trauma|0 Comments

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]

A myth about cognitive behavioural therapy: It doesn’t focus on emotions

Contrary to what you may infer from its name, emotions play a central role in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). In this article, I will give several examples of how CBT is in many ways ‘all about emotions’. For some time, I’ve considered ‘cognitive behavioural therapy’ in certain respects to be an unfortunate name for the form of therapy in which I specialize. The name of a similar form of therapy which preceded CBT--rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT)—is one which has certain advantages over the name cognitive behavioural therapy...[more]

Distraction: A double-edged sword

In this article, I discuss how you can manage the bad kind of distraction and make use of the good kind of distraction. Distraction is like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Most people think of distraction as an inherently negative Mr. Hyde. That is, distractions often interfere with being able to focus on important tasks such as those at work or at home as well as performing in sports and other areas...[more]

Thought records: Great antidotes to ruminating

In this article, I discuss a tool you can use to feel better by changing your thinking when you’re dwelling on negative thoughts. If you’re like me, you sometimes find yourself ruminating—dwelling on negative thoughts which lead to you to feel upset. For example, you can ruminate on worrisome thoughts leading you to experience intense anxiety such as...[more]

Heed the advice of Albert Einstein to address your issues

If what you are currently doing to make progress on your issues isn’t working, continuing in the same manner is likely to keep you stuck. In this article, I discuss how following Einstein’s recommendation that you try something different to get different results applies to working on issues in counselling. Although Albert Einstein is celebrated primarily for his accomplishments in the field of science, his influence is also evident in psychology and counselling...[more]