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Are you in Burnout? 10 Important Questions and Answers

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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 that I attended in California. 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 […] 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. When I […] 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

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

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

"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

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

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

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

Dr. Daniel Amen is a clinical psychiatrist and brain disorder specialist, as well as a best selling author. In this interesting TedTalk, Dr. Amen describes the importance of brain scans in diagnosing and treating patients that suffer from brain injuries as well as personality disorders. Using SPECT Brain Scan technology, imaging can reveal the level […] Continue Reading

I will sometimes meet a new client that is struggling to come to terms with the actions of a sociopath. The sociopath may be a member of their family -- a husband or a father, for example. While the sociopaths in the following stories happen to be male, please be aware they can also be female. The prevalence […] Continue Reading

Talking to your aging parents about the physical and mental losses they are experiencing is not easy. This is often because your parents are used to being "the parent" in the relationship, and you are used to being the child. As parents live into their advanced years, however, they are more likely to become dependent […] Continue Reading

There is a stigma attached to seeing a psychologist. It’s warped and it’s inaccurate. My clients say this after they’ve met with me once. And many say they would say so after we’ve worked together for a while if there wasn’t a stigma attached to doing so.  The sign on my office door indicates just my first […] Continue Reading

James Prochaska developed “Prochaska’s Stages of Change Model,” which is a model that describes how people change. Psychologists use it when they are trying to figure out why one of their clients isn't making progress in therapy. Prochaska was motivated to develop the model after his father died from alcoholism, despite his family’s best efforts […] Continue Reading

I sometimes discuss the purpose of life with my clients. A philosophy that resonates well is to discuss Socrates’ idea that the purpose of life is not the pursuit of happiness, which is what many of us have been taught to think, but rather the pursuit of the whole range of human emotions. The thinking […] Continue Reading

I sometimes work with people that have a family member with dementia. This is a stressful period for most people, both from an emotional perspective, and because it is difficult to learn where to find appropriate resources. Obtaining a formal diagnosis of dementia for your family member is an important first step that is required to […] Continue Reading

I recently helped a good friend transition her mother, who has mild to moderate dementia, into an assisted living program. As one of the first steps, I wrote a letter to the mother’s primary care physician, documenting the signs of dementia that I observed when I spent a week with her at her cottage this past summer. The […] Continue Reading

I am often asked by my clients for help on how to lose weight, get fit, or improve their sleep. Not surprisingly, these are areas where people find it extremely hard to achieve and maintain change.A person has to commit to maintaining a change in behaviour over the longer-term in order for any improvement to have […] Continue Reading

“Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter: Growing Up With a Gay Dad,” by Allison Wearing is an excellent autobiographical book that offers an insider’s view into what it was like for the author to learn that her father was gay when she was in early adolescence, and how she wrestled with this fact through her mid-20s. […] Continue Reading

In my practice, I often explain to people how the occupations of a psychologist and a psychiatrist differ, because the majority of people do not know the answer. It is important to understand these differences when you or someone you know is dealing with a major psychological disorder so that you understand what services to seek from […] Continue Reading

As a psychologist, I work with accomplished professionals to help them make personal and professional changes to overcome obstacles that are limiting them. The majority of my clients are highly educated. Another segment are individuals that have learned what they have needed to learn on their own to build successful careers. My professional background leaves me […] Continue Reading

It is important to realize that a significant number of people who attempt suicide tell someone about their plans or give warning signs before acting on them. If someone tells you that they are considering or have decided to take their own life, the first and most important thing you can do is to listen […] Continue Reading

The book, A Beautiful Mind, by Sylvia Nasa (1998), describes the real life story of Nobel Laureate John Nash, an academic mathematician who was diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia in his late 20s. The book, A Beautiful Mind was also made into a popular movie starring Russell Crowe, in 2001. I recommend this book to family […] Continue Reading

Bipolar Disorder is a psychiatric disorder most easily identified by its severe mood swings, or 'mood disturbances.' The term ‘Bipolar Disorder’ has replaced the terms ‘manic depression’ and 'manic depressive disorder,’ which are no longer commonly used. People diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder have experienced periods or 'episodes' of both depression and either mania or hypomania. […] Continue Reading

Often times when I meet with a new client who is experiencing exaggerated mood swings that they feel unable to control, we will investigate whether the client has met diagnostic criteria for a manic episode, a hypomanic episode, and/or a major depressive episode. Sections of the following descriptions of mania, hypomania, and depression are referenced […] Continue Reading

Many of the clients that I counsel who have Bipolar Disorder, as well as family members of those diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, have found it helpful to read about the experiences of others who have lived with Bipolar Disorder. Here are three suggested books that provide accounts of what it has been like for the […] Continue Reading

Children who have a parent die suddenly -- whether by accident,  natural causes, or suicide -- and children whose parent's death is more anticipated -- such as from a terminal disease, regardless of the cause of death -- will all experience grief and loss. Early reactions to the death may be greater for sudden death than anticipated death […] Continue Reading

The forewarning that comes with the anticipated death of a parent typically involves a great amount of change for a child over a long period of time. Researchers have found that the cumulative stress experienced over the duration of the parent’s suffering, prior to an anticipated death, may actually result in mental health problems for the child. […] Continue Reading

A number of researchers have theorized that the sudden death of a parent -- such as from a car accident, job-site fatality, suicide or  homicide -- may lead to worse suffering for a child than when the death of the parent is anticipated. When a sudden death occurs, a child may experience a state of shock after being told that […] Continue Reading

Temperament is generally defined as “constitutionally-based individual differences in emotional, motor and attentional reactivity, and self-regulation." It is strongly heritable and is relatively stable over time. Temperament is often viewed as a predictor of psychological symptoms in children because certain temperament characteristics can leave children at risk. The nature of the relationship between dimensions of temperament, such […] Continue Reading

Over two decades ago, researchers established that children of psychologically-disordered parents were more poorly adjusted than children of mentally healthy parents. The study of resilience followed as researchers realized that some children flourished in the midst of adversity. Resilience can be thought of as a person’s capacity to tolerate negative experiences. Protective factors and risk […] Continue Reading

A significant number of children have a parent die before they reach adulthood. Parental death is a major stressor experienced by 3.5 percent of children before the age of eighteen. Parentally bereaved children are at increased risk for poor mental health outcomes during childhood and adolescence. Researchers found that 21 percent of parentally-bereaved children met criteria […] Continue Reading

During the 1970s, the concept of invulnerabable or stress-resistant children became popular, based on the belief that some children have such a tough mental disposition that they are impervious to stress. Researchers now realize that resilient children do not possess mysterious or unique traits and that even children who show remarkable successes dealing with stress […] Continue Reading

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Are you in Burnout? 10 Important Questions and Answers