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Are you in Burnout? 10 Important Questions and Answers

I’ve been thinking about what makes gifted adults unique to work with in my private practice. Ten common characteristics make them stand out from the crowd. Gifted adults come to therapy ready and able to do challenging cognitive work. This makes sense because their resilience to adversity is based on their high IQ and intellectual […] Continue Reading

I have worked with several people that have diabetes. One individual went into a diabetic coma during a therapy session in my second year of graduate school. I called parametics and my client left the outpatient clinic by ambulance. I was fortunate to have a supervisor, Karen, at the time that was diabetic herself. She […] Continue Reading

People need to put their "scaffolding" in place as quickly as possible, both physically and emotionally, when they find themselves injured. Whatever the injury, when people are incapacitated and unable to look after themselves, the sooner they can erect the physical and emotional scaffolding they will required over the longer-term, the better. I like the […] Continue Reading

Many people have been traumatized by watching media coverage of the wild fires that raged through Fort McMurray and the surrounding areas. These people may have signed up to welcome people that were forced to leave Fort McMurray into their homes. They may have fostered animals that their owners couldn't currently care for. They may […] Continue Reading

This 2016 Ted Talk features Dr. Andy Hawkin, a physician who teaches with the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute, located in Denver. His talk is titled, “Mind the Gap: Moving from Mind to Body.” Dr. Hawkin begins this Ted Talk by stating, “Mr. McPhee lived a short distance from his body.” He continues by saying, “We are all […] Continue Reading

Dr. Jennifer Freyd, a Clinical Psychologist at the University of Oregon, spoke about the incidence of rape on university campuses at a trauma conference. She stated that approximately 20% of female university students will be vaginally raped on an American campus while completing a four-year degree. This number is supported by a press release that […] Continue Reading

I used to work in a maternity clinic for a while. Physicians would refer women to meet with me that were struggling in the weeks immediately after giving birth. During our first session, I would ask these women what was happening for them. Enough of them told me that they were feeling regret about having […] Continue Reading

I learned several days ago that my neighbour, Sharon, has a problem with her lower back. She has a damaged disc near the base of her spine. Her physiotherapist told her this is not an uncommon problem. She is 53-years old. The physiotherapist said disc problems can come with aging and the inevitable deterioration of the […] Continue Reading

Lots of people are looking for work at any given time. In Calgary, more people than usual looking for work today because of the low price of oil and all the lay-offs that have happened over the past year and a half. With low oil prices and unemployment rates so high, it can be tempting […] Continue Reading

The title of this blog post won’t make any sense to people who lived outside of Calgary. But if you live in Calgary, even if you don’t work in the oil industry, you get it. If it’s not you that has no work to do, then someone you talked to earlier today is in this […] Continue Reading

As a psychologist, I sometimes see people return to work from medical leave too soon. When this happens, their efforts fail and they end up back on leave again. In both cases when this has occurred in my practice, my clients said they felt “better” and were ready to get back to their desks. They believed they […] Continue Reading

In my private practice as a psychologist, I have worked with as many male survivors of domestic violence as female survivors. I find it baffling, based on this experience, that the fact that men are sometimes battered by women is not in the media at all. When I talk about males survivors of domestic violence, […] Continue Reading

Psychologists are taught to help their clients get over a fear of snakes during their first year of graduate school. This topic of taught in undergrad psychology classes, too, because the theory is pretty straight forward. Few of us get the opportunity to help people get over their fears of snakes, or cats or dogs, […] Continue Reading

There are people who experience depression. Some of us escape this affliction, but a large number of us will experience bouts of depression that can be pretty awful. During a bout of depression, it’s normal to find it difficult to get out of bed. When this happens, people that are depressed will beat up on […] Continue Reading

Almost 100,000 people have lost their jobs because of the downturn in oil prices. That’s a huge number. The media says that more job cuts are to come. One large oil company announced this morning that it will cut an additional 7,000 jobs worldwide. My neighbours are a case in point. The wife was terminated […] Continue Reading

Some of my clients that I work with in my private practice have difficultly forming healthy relationships. These difficulties are the result of how their parents interacted with them when they were young. It’s not their fault that they struggle, but it is their responsibility to fix the problem. The topic I am exploring today is […] Continue Reading

I remember reading an excellent story about how parents can talk to their children when something bad happens. I want to re-tell that original story because it is powerful. I have told re-told it several times as a psychologist in my private practice. The original author, who was a psychiatrist, wrote that one of his […] Continue Reading

In a recent blog post, I wrote about fight, flight or freeze. These are our body’s hard-wired responses to danger and operate outside of our conscious control. They are invaluable to have when we find ourselves facing a grizzly bear on a trail, as I did two summers ago while hiking in Waterton National Park. Freeze happens […] Continue Reading

Dr. Martin Seligman, depression expert and father of positive psychology, talks about the current state of psychology in this popular TedTalk. Seligman discusses both research and practice. He touches on the importance of genetics, drug treatments and patient responsibility. He focuses, however, on the importance of improving lives to make people happier. Seligman states, “Psychology […] Continue Reading

I attended an excellent lecture recently. The speaker explained how we can become emotionally hijacked and “head over the waterfalls” to behave in historically patterned ways, without any volitional thought whatsoever. Behaving in historically patterned ways is a good thing when it involves something like walking. Initially, the motor behaviours involved in walking require a […] Continue Reading

Gabor Mate is a well-known physician and best-selling author that worked with heroin addicts on Vancouver's east side for 10 years. In this compelling, humourous lecture, he speaks about the struggle to overcome addiction honestly and knowledgeably. This lecture is a wonderful introduction to Mate as an engaging, compassionate healer and human being. […] Continue Reading

Whether you plan to take from December 24 until January 4 off, or will only step away from your desk for Christmas Day and Boxing Day, I encourage people to embrace the holiday season as an opportunity to take better care of themselves. One psychologist I know takes this idea to an extreme, and I think […] Continue Reading

Every so often, one of my clients will tell me they are addicted to pain pills. I have a unique background that leaves me a good position to help these clients. During my residency year, I spent six-months working at a methadone clinic with 300 heroin addicts. During my post-doc year, I worked at a chronic […] Continue Reading

A lot of people feel overwhelmed by how much they have to do on a daily basis. They end up not doing a lot of things well as a result. But they sometimes don’t realize that it is okay – and even appropriate – to hire people to help them out at home. I work […] Continue Reading

People tend to panic when their medical leave application gets denied by their insurance company. In my experience, a primary reason that people’s claims get denied is because their applications, which their physicians' submit, are incomplete. An insurance company has every right to deny claims that are incomplete. Universities don’t admit students that submit incomplete […] Continue Reading

A number of the clients I see in my practice did not have good enough parents. Their parents fell short of meeting the mark. In the absence of having good enough parents, when no other adult steps in to help the child, the child suffers. This failure is common enough in our society.  The pain that some of […] Continue Reading

I have seen a number of expats in my practice as a psychologist. Expats (or expatriates) are people that have left their own country of origin to live and work in a foreign country. In my practice, my expat clients have left their country of origin to come to Canada.<< Details in the stories that […] Continue Reading

I often see evidence of trauma in the clients I work with. I will ask whether they experienced developmental trauma, meaning neglect and abuse during childhood. They will sometimes say no. This used to confuse me until I started asking whether their parents experienced trauma. This question frequently elicit stories. So will asking my clients […] Continue Reading

I often discuss the roles that people can assume in relationships with my clients. As we talk about a relationship, we will sometimes do an exercise that can help them to develop new insights. Today, my plan is to share that exercise with you.  As I talk about a relationship with a client, I write the […] Continue Reading

"On the Move" (2015), by Oliver Sacks, is an autobiographical book that I will recommend to my clients. Sacks is perhaps best known for his book "Awakenings" (1973), which was made into a popular movie by the same title in 1990, starring Robin Williams. Sacks trained as a physician in England in the 1950s. He became […] Continue Reading

Adam Leipzig shares his ideas on how to know your life purpose in this TedXTalk. In addition to his experience in the entertainment industry, Leipzig is a motivational speaker. In this video, he takes the audience through a series of five questions that can help them define what their life purpose might be. He contemplates why it […] Continue Reading

Some problems are tougher to solve than others. Knowing when you’re up against a difficult one is helpful because you can be more patient with yourself as you look for a solution. Knowing you have a tough problem on your hands lets you adopt a more forgiving philosophy that centres on the knowledge that “this is going […] Continue Reading

It’s not an accident that the word “pain” is used to refer to both physical discomfort and emotional discomfort. The way I think about pain is that people will feel it physically if they don’t – or are unable to –  feel it emotionally. People that experienced developmental trauma (meaning neglect and abuse as children) […] Continue Reading

I was once asked to help get the photograph of a minor (a child under the age of 18 years) removed from an 'adult website.' This was a rather serious problem because the minor didn’t know his photo was posted on the site. Identifying details in the following story have been changed to protect privacy. […] Continue Reading

Some people are not aware of their emotions. They cannot tell you if they are happy or sad. They may be laughing or crying, which you would think would help them to identify what they are feeling. They may even be yelling, which you would think would let them know that they are angry. But […] Continue Reading

Dr. Daniel Amen is a psychiatrist and expert on brain imaging science. In this TedxTalk, Dr. Amen describes how brain imaging can change paradigms and our understanding of what a healthy brain and life can be. By first describing what hurts the brain -- including physical injury, drugs, alcohol, smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, environmental […] Continue Reading

I have heard a lot about adult birthday celebrations. Sometimes there are surprise parties. Sometimes there are gifts. Cake often figures into it. Today, I would like to write about how some people get celebrating someone else’s birthday absolutely right. And how some people get it wrong. Lots of my clients tell me they enjoyed their […] Continue Reading

I often talk to my clients about the change process when they are frustrated that things in their lives are not changing fast enough. It’s hard to see change when you are in the middle of it. All you can see, much of the time, is how far you have to go rather than how […] Continue Reading

People that find themselves in burnout are often in burnout because their standards are too high. One of the tasks I work with my clients on when they are in burnout is to help them lower their standards. Details in the following story have been changed to protect privacy. A colleague of mine named Sansom […] Continue Reading

In this short video, author Randy Komisar responds to two questions that came out of his best selling book, “The Monk and the Riddle: The Art of Creating a Life while Making a Living.” These questions are (1) How do you find your passion? and (2) How do you pursue it? The book offers advice […] Continue Reading

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Are you in Burnout? 10 Important Questions and Answers