Psychology

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

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

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

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 stick to your New Year’s resolutions: Combine outcome and process goals

In this article, I discuss how goal-setting concepts can increase your effectiveness at making and sticking to New Year’s resolutions. The start of the New Year is a time when many people make resolutions involving setting goals for everything from losing weight to being a better person. And a short time after the New Year begins is typically when many of those who made resolutions give up on achieving them. Although lack of a plan is often a key factor in people not sticking to their resolutions, there is an additional reason people fall short which often gets overlooked. This factor relates to the types of resolutions people tend to make with a focus too much on outcome-oriented goals in which achieving a particular result is the aim. If people were to have their resolutions based on measures of success in addition to outcome measures...[more]

Habits to make your relationships thrive: Part 2—Habits for a good relationship friendship

In this article, I discuss habits to help you have thriving relationships by building and maintaining a strong relationship friendship. In my last article, I discussed one of the keys to having thriving relationships—learning and practicing habits to allow you and your partner to discuss issues constructively. In this article, I will discuss habits which will help you and your partner to have a solid relationship friendship. Practicing habits in these two important areas is fundamental to having a good relationship according to Dr. John Gottman, creator of the ‘Sound Relationship House’ model of relationships...[more]

The key to achieving good emotional health and thriving relationships: It’s all about the habits

In this article, I discuss the key to achieving good emotional health and thriving relationships—having habits which help you to generate these positive results. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I often have to dispel misguided notions in my clients regarding how I can help them improve their emotional health and their relationships. Many people come to counselling expecting to be ‘cured’ by my identifying and fixing some problem they identify as the reason they or their relationships are not doing well. Although addressing a major problem can often play a role in having good emotional health and fulfilling relationships, what usually makes the biggest difference is less dramatic...[more]

Setting boundaries: Short-term pain, long-term gain

In this article, I discuss why it is beneficial to set boundaries even though it may sometimes be unpleasant to do so. Situations requiring us to set boundaries are those in which we need to send a message to others that they have not treated us properly. Examples include not being given good customer service, not being paid back the money you are owed by someone or any situation in which a friend, family member, relationship partner or anyone else has not treated you with respect. Setting boundaries involves letting the offending party know with your words and/or your actions that it is not acceptable for them to treat you in this manner...[more]

Psychology: A natural treatment for anxiety disorders

In this article, I discuss the benefits of using psychological skills as an alternative to medication in treating anxiety disorders. In my last article, I indicated that medication is viewed by many as the treatment of choice for depression. It is also commonly used in the treatment of anxiety disorders. However, just as there are many drawbacks to using medication to treat depression, there are disadvantages to treating anxiety disorders using medication...[more]

Psychology: A natural treatment for depression

In this article, I discuss the benefits of using psychological skills as an alternative to medication in treating depression. Medication is viewed by many as the treatment of choice for depression. This is evident in the large numbers of people who are prescribed antidepressant medications by their family doctors or psychiatrists. Taking medication to treat depression is facilitated by many people visiting their family doctor as the first source of help when they are depressed along with omnipresent advertisements for antidepressant medication in various media. Although many people have benefitted from the use of medication for depression, there are several downsides to it...[more]

Fake it until you make it to enhance your life

In this article, I discuss how taking action when you don’t feel like it can bring you benefits. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I often encounter clients who could benefit from taking action to improve their lives. For example, a client in depression counselling may benefit from engaging in pleasurable activities or a client who is lonely would help to address their issue by taking action to increase their social interactions. A common barrier to clients taking action toward improvement is that they don’t feel like taking action at a given time, preferring to wait until they feel like taking action before doing so. Given that it may be some time before they do feel like taking action, this barrier can present a major challenge facing the client in addressing their issues...[more]