How to address social anxiety issues:  Be aware of and target self-fulfilling prophecies

In this article, I discuss how you can become less anxious in social situations by recognizing how your beliefs affect your and other people’s behaviour. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I often work with clients who become overly anxious in social situations. The discomfort these people experience can be so strong that will often avoid social situations or leave social events prematurely. A key factor which contributes to excess anxiety in social situations is negative thinking the person has regarding how others are likely to respond to them when they enter such situations. This negative thinking sets in motion a negative self-fulfilling prophecy in which...[more]

2019-03-12T09:49:18-06:00By |Categories: Anxiety, 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|

Overcoming obsessive-compulsive disorder by using exposure and response prevention

In this article, I discuss how you can use principles from cognitive behavioural therapy to address obsessive compulsive disorder. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I often see clients who suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). This disorder is characterized by a person experiencing: (1) Obsessive thoughts—These are typically disturbing and overly negative beliefs which drive up their anxiety; and (2) Compulsive behaviours—These are repetitive and ritualistic actions the person performs to lower the anxiety created by their obsessive thoughts. The compulsive behaviours typically work in the short run for the OCD sufferer by temporarily lowering the anxiety which stems from their obsessive thoughts. Unfortunately, these behaviours can be so time- consuming that they often interfere significantly with the person’s daily life...[more]

2018-07-17T14:10:32-06:00By |Categories: Anxiety|

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]

2018-03-11T22:51:39-06:00By |Categories: Anxiety, Stress|

How to respond effectively to criticism: Part 3–What to think

In this article, I discuss thinking skills you can use to take the emotional ‘sting’ out of being criticized. In my previous two articles on how to respond effectively to criticism, I discussed how what to say and when to say it can improve your chances of giving an effective response. In this article, I discuss how what you think when you are criticized can also determine the effectiveness of your response. I will focus on strategies to help you think in a manner which will contribute to an effective response...[more]

2017-12-31T23:57:37-06:00By |Categories: Anxiety, Self-Esteem|

How to respond effectively to criticism: Part 2—When to respond

In this article, I discuss how to choose the best time to respond to criticism. In my last article, I indicated that an effective response to criticism involves three elements: what to say, when to say it and what to think. After doing so, I discussed the first of these elements—what to say. In this article, I will focus on the second of these elements—when to give your response to criticism. As was the case with the ‘what to say’ response element, the ‘when to say it’ element partly depends on whether the criticism you are responding to is constructive or nonconstructive...[more]

2017-12-17T22:15:07-06:00By |Categories: Anxiety, Self-Esteem|

How to respond effectively to criticism: What to say, when to say it and what to think

In this article, I discuss the various components which combine to form an effective response when you are criticized. One of the most challenging tasks we all face is responding to criticism. Like it or not, it is part of living that we are going to get criticized. This can happen at work, in our relationships, and in various activities in which we engage. Some of the criticism may be constructive—delivered in a respectful way—and other criticisms may be nonconstructive—communicated disrespectfully, often with negative labels, insults and even verbal or physical aggression. Whether it is constructive or nonconstructive, criticism can be upsetting emotionally and result in negative effects on your self-esteem and your ability to perform effectively in various life situations.  Fortunately, there are effective ways to respond to criticism which can lessen the negative emotional impact on you and allow you be resilient in the face of it...[more]

2017-12-03T22:26:49-06:00By |Categories: Anxiety, Self-Esteem|

How to enhance your performance in front of an audience: Use the social facilitation effect

In this article, I discuss how you can channel your nervousness in front of an audience into a tool which can spur you to better performances. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, clients sometimes seek my help in being able to perform effectively in front of an audience. This issue is relevant to clients who engage in activities such as public speaking, acting, singing, music and sports, to name just a few endeavours which can involve public performing. These clients often seek help in coping with nervousness they experience when performing in front of audiences, citing instances in which they performed poorly and even ‘choked’ as a result of the pressure they felt from having people watch them perform. In helping these clients, I raise with them the possibility that applying psychological skills and knowledge may not only help them to perform well in spite of an audience watching them, it may actually spur them to a better performance. This notion is referred to in psychological research as the ‘social facilitation effect’...[more]

2017-11-05T20:42:06-06:00By |Categories: Anxiety, Sport & Performance|

How to make habits out of enjoyable and fulfilling activities: Take the path of least resistance.

In this article, I discuss how you can use the concept of activation energy to make habits of activities which will bring you the most enjoyment and fulfillment. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, one of the challenges my clients often face is making habits out of activities which will bring them the most enjoyment and fulfillment. These activities typically fall into the category of ‘active leisure’ and include examples such as participating in a hobby or interest, socializing, and exercising individually or with a group or team. Although research indicates that active leisure activities bring the most enjoyment and fulfillment, many people have difficulty making habits of such activities even when they schedule them. Instead, they typically will engage in passive leisure activities such as watching television, playing a video game or surfing the internet on their computers or smartphones...[more]

2017-10-22T22:44:37-06:00By |Categories: Anxiety, Depression, Self-Esteem|

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|
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