PsychNotes November 2013
November 29, 2013
by Monica A. Frank, Ph.D.
Clinical and Sport Psychologist
Explains what panic is and is not, how it is maintained by the anxiety cycle, and some methods to learn how to control it.
In addition, you may want to download the free Panic Assistance Audio
that coaches you through a panic attack.
"...even panic is normal. Most of us will experience a spontaneous panic attack some time in our life...Because a panic attack feels awful many people assume that it is dangerous..."
November 25, 2013
Describes how to change irrational thinking styles by using the cognitive diary technique. In addition to the Cognitive Diary technique on the
website, you can also download the Cognitive Diary CBT Self-Help app
for Android devices (update just announced previously).
"Our thinking is very changeable. If you worked on changing your thinking everyday by reading, listening to the audio exercises, and
completing a cognitive diary you will find your thinking changing even within a few weeks."
November 23, 2013
This Excel At Life android app helps to identify irrational thinking that can contribute to anxiety, depression, conflict, and other life problems. The update makes the interface more user friendly. This app has had nearly 150,000 downloads since it was first released 2 years ago.
The Cognitive Diary is a method in which you record your thoughts and feelings about a situation. Then you examine your thoughts to determine the accuracy. If the thoughts are irrational, you develop a way of challenging the thinking and use the challenging thoughts repeatedly until they become automatic.
For more info: Understanding and Using the Cognitive Diary
November 20, 2013
Discusses the concept of happiness and the common obstacles to achieving happiness. Reviews the methods on how to reduce the obstacles to happiness.
"...happiness doesn't come with fireworks and a parade. Instead, it sneaks in quietly as the night so that you don't realize it has been there for awhile."
November 18, 2013
Discusses the concept of adapting to change and how CBT can improve psychological flexibility.
November 17, 2013
PsychNote: REWARDING DESIRED BEHAVIOR VS. EVERYONE GETS A REWARD
Behavioral modification of childrens' behavior is based upon reinforcing desired behavior with a reward. It requires identifying a specific behavior as a goal and rewarding that behavior. However, our society seems to have confused this concept. It seems that the concept of reward is understood, but not the concept of identifying the specific behavior.
As a result, we have seen where praise is given indiscriminately rather than based on the behavior. For example, “You are so smart!” rather than “That was wonderful in how you persisted in figuring out that problem!” As you can see, the second statement encourages a specific behavior (persistence) whereas the first statement is too general and doesn't indicate anything the child can do to obtain the reward of praise.
Our society believes that if praise is good, then lots of praise must be even better. But nothing could be further from the truth. Indiscriminate praise teaches a child that he/she doesn't have to do anything to obtain reward—just the fact that he/she exists is enough. Trying to raise a child's self-esteem with meaningless praise can do more harm than good. Children are smart enough to know the difference and can come to believe that they must not be very capable or talented if the adults in their lives can't identify specific things at which they excel.
Children need to learn to strive for something. However, if we reward all behavior or if everyone gets a trophy, children learn there is no point to their effort. Giving them direction, a goal to strive for, helps them to succeed.
For example, research has shown that rewarding school children engaged in cooperative behavior improves that behavior (Embry, 2002). However, such reward involves such things as a longer recess for the winning team. Isn't that interesting? Competitively rewarding cooperative behavior improves cooperation!
Therefore, eliminating competition is not the answer. Competition is important. However, we need to pay greater attention to how it is done. Competition needs to focus on improving the self rather than defeating opponents. As parents, educators, coaches, we need to identify the specific behavioral goals and how we will reward them. Yes, this takes more work than indiscriminate reward, but when done right, it is much more effective.
Creating the right kind of nurturing environment in schools and homes that can provide appropriate specific rewards with limit-setting can improve overall well-being as well as the ability to act based upon long-term goals and values (Biglan et al., 2012). In other words, children learn through competition and limits but we need to clearly define what we want to teach and how the reward and limits achieve that goal.
Biglan, A., Flay, B.R., Embry, D.D. And Sandler, I.N. (2012).The Critical Role of Nurturing Environments for Promoting Human Well-Being, American Psychologist, 67, 257-271.
Embry, D. D. (2002). The Good Behavior Game: A best practice candidate
as a universal behavioral vaccine. Clinical Child and Family
Psychology Review, 5, 273–297.
November 12, 2013
The above audio is part of a series of short mindfulness practice exercises to help train your brain to be more mindful or present focus.
This mindfulness practice is particularly helpful in learning to create a trigger for being more mindful in daily activities. The more you do
this exercise, it will become a reminder and train your brain to trigger mindfulness for whatever you experience after touching the door knob.