Masks: What Does the Science Say?

With the great debate on wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it is important to look at what the scientific evidence supports. Scientific evidence comes from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that are peer-reviewed (not from secondary sources, news reporters, or politicians that can “interpret data” however they like). This is important because many of us are being “mandated” to wear face masks if we want to interact with the outside world. So, we need to know both if they work and if they are safe.

With the great debate on wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it is important to look at what the scientific evidence supports. Here it is.

You might be old enough to remember back to May of 2020 when everyone (CDC, WHO, etc.) was telling us NOT to buy masks because they are ineffective at preventing the spread of viruses – and we needed to leave all PPE to healthcare professionals. This made sense and did in fact line up with the scientific literature, as stated by the New England Journal of Medicine, “We know that wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection.”

The CDC was even kind enough to provide of review of RCTs in May of 2020 in an article titled, Nonpharmaceutical Measures for Pandemic Influenza in Nonhealthcare Settings—Personal Protective and Environmental Measures. Their review concluded, “We did not find evidence that surgical-type face masks are effective in reducing laboratory-confirmed influenza transmission, either when worn by infected persons (source control) or by persons in the general community to reduce their susceptibility.”

There are quite a few review articles that summarize the results from RCTs on face masks that include links to all those individual RCTs if interested. The links are posted in the For More Info section below. Also, it is important to remember that these studies were based on the use of surgical masks, not the silly cloth ones that you see everyone wearing. Just hearing that a bandana or scarf “will do” should be enough to make you wonder…

So, What Changed?

Did the science change? Was there a new RCT published in June of 2020 that found wearing masks magically prevented the spread of COVID-19? The short answer is no. The science has not changed. In fact, to date only one RCT has been conducted using cloth masks, and the results caution against their use stating, “Moisture retention, reuse of cloth masks and poor filtration may result in increased risk of infection.” There are also concerns that masks impede airflow and serve only as an obstruction to breathing, not the barrier to pathogens as hoped.

The New England Journal of Medicine editorial on the topic of mask use versus COVID-19 assesses the matter as follows:

“Public health authorities define a significant exposure to Covid-19 as face-to-face contact within 6 feet with a patient with symptomatic Covid-19 that is sustained for at least a few minutes (and some say more than 10 minutes or even 20 minutes). The chance of catching Covid-19 from a passing interaction in a public space is therefore minimal. In many cases, the desire for widespread masking is a reflexive reaction to anxiety over the pandemic.

So, Why the Debate?

Why are Governor’s and Mayor’s and store owners (with zero science background) mandating that we must wear a mask? Why have the CDC and WHO changed their tunes? Why are American’s arguing with each other over whether someone else is wearing one?

One suggestion might be fear. Fear is a powerful emotion. Many are afraid of catching and/or dying of the Coronavirus, and so telling them to wear a mask might just make them feel safer (the placebo effect is real). But it could also be argued that seeing people in masks everywhere you go only reminds you of what you are afraid of…

Conclusion

While there is no scientific basis for wearing a face mask, it does make some people feel safer and more protected. Therefore, it should certainly be allowed for those who want to wear one. But for those that do, please do not wear a cloth mask, especially if worn over and over without washing. Please do not wear one outside. Please wear it for as short as possible. Masks are not healthy and will only lower your immune system – the one thing we should be focusing on improving these days.

For the rest of us, masks absolutely should not be mandated. We should not be forced to wear something that increases our risk of infection and lowers our immune system. (There are also dangers here in relation to human trafficking, but another topic for another day…)

The sad reality is that we are dealing with a virus that seems fond of those with a weakened immune system. What we should focus on is ways to boost our immune system, staying away from those who are sick, and finding ways to stay positive. We also need to remember to be kind to one another.

Note: If you wonder why you haven’t heard this before, be aware that social media outlets and main-stream media are working overtime to hide any information that doesn’t fit their agenda (another topic for another day).

Sources:

CDC – Nonpharmaceutical Measures for Pandemic Influenza in Nonhealthcare Settings—Personal Protective and Environmental Measures: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/5/19-0994_article

Universal Masking in Hospitals in the Covid-19 Era: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp2006372

A cluster randomised trial of cloth masks compared with medical masks in healthcare workers: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25903751/

For More Information:

Masks Don’t Work: A Review of Science Relevant to COVID-19 Social Policy: https://www.rcreader.com/commentary/masks-dont-work-covid-a-review-of-science-relevant-to-covide-19-social-policy

Masks are neither effective nor safe: A summary of the science: https://www.primarydoctor.org/masks-not-effect?fbclid=IwAR0DYFTgLie-9vh73Y1zZZocu7OXXoKRzpQxy-MDsOghYMe-0P83AFlH4qw

A scientific look at the mask fallacy – and why we’re told to wear them: https://uncoverdc.com/2020/07/15/a-scientific-look-at-the-mask-fallacy-and-why-were-told-to-wear-them/?fbclid=IwAR1_EQJEoJbK3ZhkfgQ-1TGrD5-o_aZXjbYHMtP7ZEuRaSa_id8B84L_b2Q

The Facts About COVID-19 by Dr. Kelly Victory (VIDEO): https://www.brighteon.com/7cad71ce-40ab-4def-b0b7-cc5ff7a18925

CDC, WHO And Scientific Journals Admit Face Masks Are Not Effective, Maybe Harmful: https://worldeventsandthebible.com/current-events/cdc-who-and-scientific-journals-admit-face-masks-are-not-effective-maybe-harmful?fbclid=IwAR1KlQcVvYFL2WGseWk5J-Bpvl1N6nifYFk227L3br8nI17KEnUGKmL1wck

The Importance of Returning to School

There is much debate and concern over how to start the 2020-2021 school year and every Board of Education across the country have the unenviable task of deciding how to proceed – bricks and mortar, online, or a hybrid of the two.

With all the debate about how to get our children back to school, it's important that we put politics aside and focus on what is best for the kids.

I thought our county and school system did a tremendous job educating our children last term. They went above and beyond the call of duty in learning how to use online teaching platforms and adjusting their objectives and lesson plans to work while teaching their students in a distance learning capacity. The reality is, however, online school or a hybrid of online and physical attendance will never, in my opinion, equal the education children receive by attending school five days a week and interacting with the class teacher, their peers, and other faculty or volunteers.

The first few weeks of a new school year are important. This is the time children and teachers learn about each other. But what does this look like if children are working from home in a variety of environments? As teachers, we will not know the routines and expectations of every household. We cannot accommodate for every circumstance. If parents are able to go to their place of business, where are the children? Do we then expect babysitters, day cares, or family members to support the child’s learning? How do we as classroom teachers, meet the needs of all students trying to learn in such a wide range of environments and with differing schedules?

As class teachers we establish routines so that children know what to expect every day. In establishing boundaries, classroom rules, and expectations, we ensure the children feel a sense of security. Students know and rely on our set timetable, anticipate what will happen as they progress through the school day, and feel safe in the knowledge that these expectations apply to everyone in the classroom, which allows them to focus on their school work.

Classroom teachers spend a great deal of time and money creating enabling environments for their students. We stock our classrooms so that children have all the resources they will need to complete assignments and have fun! From the playdough, paint, and building materials in the early years to the science experiments and games in middle and high school. Teachers not only offer the use of technology in the classroom, we are required to use technology in lessons. Thus, we have computers, iPads and internet availability. We constantly look for ways to engage the students with their learning and pique their interest so that they will want to become life-long learners.

Teachers carefully consider the layout of the classroom and the accessibility of materials. We model methods of organizing and caring for resources and teach students how to establish good practices when carrying out and turning in assignments. Children learn executive functioning skills that will help them throughout their school career and into adulthood.

One of the joys of the first term is getting to know our students. Finding out about their personalities, interests, and goals, and making a connection. We build a mutually trusting and respectful relationship with our students through shared experiences in the classroom. Furthermore, school is as much about social and emotional education as it is about academics. For how can children succeed if they do not know how to actively listen, concentrate, confidently and respectfully share their ideas and value the ideas of others, cooperate with peers, persevere when learning is difficult, or organize their space and work.

Teachers want their classroom to be a safe place in which children can work hard, try new things, and know it is ok to fail occasionally. By supporting students to bounce back from failure and try again, teachers help them to build resilience and persevere. We look for those “extra few minutes” to provide extra practice and reassurance. We reflect on the days’ lessons so that we can determine when and how best to support a struggling student. We also consider how to extend learning and challenge those students who need stretching, who mastered a skill or concept easily.

As teachers, we value our colleagues and the time spent sharing ideas and reflecting on our practice. We need our meetings with other professionals, such as speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, counselors, and social workers, so that we are providing the best opportunities for children to succeed, especially those children who have individual learning needs. Often, it is not enough to follow a strategy one or two times. As classroom teachers following the advice of other supporting professionals, we plan activities specifically to meet learning goals several times a week. The parents are also given strategies to do at home. This layering and repetition is what enables the child to master a concept and succeed. How do we ensure this all happens when children are not in the classroom, colleagues are unable to confer and support families, and parents, who already overwhelmed with work, are taking on a teacher’s responsibilities?

Teachers also support families. That “quick chat” at the beginning or end of the day can reassure and support parents and carers as they work with their children. The scheduled meeting with a teacher so that a parent or carer can share difficulties a child may be experiencing at home (such as a divorce, death of a loved one, or illness). The note sent in letting school know of a child’s accomplishment outside of school so that it can be recognized and celebrated by their peers. These open lines of communication allow teachers to foster positive relationships with students as well as their families, so that we can all support students to achieve.

So much goes into a child’s learning, much of it taking place behind the scenes. With the best will in the world, we cannot expect the same rigour or comprehensive education from a part time, online schedule as we provide to children attending school full time.

For more information, visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website’s article “The Importance of Reopening America’s Schools this Fall” (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/reopening-schools.html) or the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) website’s article “ Pediatricians, educators, and Superintendents Urge a Safe Return to School This Fall” (https://services.aap.org/en/news-room/news-releases/aap/2020/pediatricians-educators-and-superintendents-urge-a-safe-return-to-school-this-fall/)

Bullying: Why Kids Need to Learn Resilience

Bullying, for most kids, is a fact of life. It will happen in some form, at some point in their lives. For parents, the question is: How can we better protect our children from bullying?

Bullying, for most kids, is a fact of life. It can happen on the playground, and it can happen online. This is why we need to teach kids resilience.

Asking this question, researchers used a validated biopsychosocial 10-item resilience scale to explore the relationship between resilience and experience with bullying and cyberbullying. The scale included statements like “I can deal with whatever comes my way,” “I am not easily discouraged by failure,” and “Having to cope with stress makes me stronger.” Also included were items assessing both the protective capacity of resilience as well as its reparative ability to restore equilibrium in the lives of youth when they face adversity.

Drawing from a nationally-representative sample of 1,204 American youth ages 12 to 17, what the researchers found should have us all rethinking resilience: uniformly, students with higher levels of resilience were bullied at school or online less often, and among those who were bullied, resilience served as a buffer, insulating them from being affected in a negative manner at school (Hinduja & Patchin, 2018).

In Hinduja’s words, “Resilience is a potent protective factor, both in preventing experience with bullying and mitigating its effect. Resilient kids are those, who for a variety of reasons, are better able to withstand external pressures and setbacks and are less negatively impacted in their attitudes and actions than their less-equipped peers when facing this type of victimization” (Hunduja, 2018).

As Hinduja and Patchin note, there has been much attention to bullying, and various anti-bullying campaigns exist, however, what is often forgotten is the role and responsibility of the child who is bullied.

“We want children to learn and develop the skills they need to deal with problems, and yet we rarely help them engage with those problems so that they can grow in their ability to solve them. Instead, we seek to constantly protect and insulate them – instead of bolstering their self-confidence, problem-solving ability, autonomy, and sense of purpose – which are all innate strengths,” says Hinduja (Hinduja, 2018).

The takeaway, according to Hinduja, is that kids do have the ability to become resilient, and develop agency to allow or disallow much of the harm that others try to inflict – and youth-serving adults have a responsibility to teach and model for them the proper strategies to deflect, dismiss, or otherwise rise above the insults and hate.

Related Online Continuing Education (CE) Courses:

Building Resilience in your Young Client is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE) course that offers a wide variety of resilience interventions that can be used in therapy, school, and home settings. Click here to learn more.

Cyberbullying is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE) course that reviews evidenced-based research for the identification, management, and prevention of cyberbullying. Click here to learn more.


Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Professional Development Resources maintains responsibility for this program and its content. Professional Development Resources is also approved by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC ACEP #5590); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB Provider #1046, ACE Program); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA Provider #3159); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR Provider #PR001); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy (#BAP346), Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635), Dietetics & Nutrition (#50-1635), and Occupational Therapy Practice (#34); the Georgia State Board of Occupational Therapy; the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed mental health counselors (#MHC-0135); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501); the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678); and is CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

Enjoy 20% off all online continuing education (CE/CEU) courses @pdresources.orgClick here for details.

Earn CE Wherever YOU Love to Be!



Consuming Media: How Much is Too Much?

We are now spending as much as 15.5 hours per day consuming media in some form. We want to know what’s happening in the world in relation to COVID-19. We want to know what’s happening with the FBI/Flynn case. We want to know what our favorite celebrities are doing during quarantine. We want to know a lot of things…

We are all consuming media at alarming rates, but how much is too much?

Yet our total consumption of media isn’t the only thing that continues to trend sharply upward. Violence in the media has also been increasing year after year, especially the amount of gun violence in top-grossing PG-13 movies – which can be seen by children of all ages. And violence is not exclusive to movies. Media reports of school crime were found to over-represent the potential for danger. To be clear, data shows that less than 1 percent of murders of children occur on school grounds.

And all this exaggeration of violence in the media causes us to come to some pretty inaccurate conclusions about the likelihood of violence and perpetuates the very stereotypes that likely contribute to ongoing violence.

But what about during a national crisis? What is the effect of saturating your brain with information that points to a danger like that of the coronavirus?

As it turns out, it is not much different from exposing your brain to overexaggerated accounts of violence.

The end result is well, acute and chronic stress. In short, this type of exposure makes the danger live on – inside your head. But that’s not all. Numerous studies have shown that viewing violent or fear invoking media causes changes in our brains and behavior, such as increased risk of aggression, increased anxiety, disrupted sleep, increased impulsivity, and risk of addiction, and increased rates of depression.

And yet, we have the choice, every day, to click on the media reports, to scroll through our friends’ Facebook posts, to search for more information about COVID-19. I’m not saying we shouldn’t do that. What I am saying is that we shouldn’t do only that. Or better yet, we should adopt a 3 to 1 ration of positive to negative information. This, after all, is the ratio put forth by Author Barbara Frederickson in her book, Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveal How To Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity and Thrive to boost happiness.

So maybe next time you want to check the media for the latest news on the coronavirus, think twice. It may likely be better to find something uplifting and positive to view (or do) instead.

Related Online Continuing Education (CE) Course:


Psychological Effects of Media Exposure
 is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that explores the psychological effects that media exposure has on both the witnesses and victims of traumatic events.

This course will explore why we are so drawn to traumatic events and how media portrayals of these events influence our thoughts, conclusions, and assumptions about them. It will then discuss how the intersection of trauma and media has evolved to provide a place for celebrity-like attention, political agendas, corporate positioning, and even the repackaging, marketing, and selling of grief.

Lastly, the course will look at the interventions and exercises clinicians can use to help their clients understand the effects of trauma becoming public, how to protect themselves, and most importantly, how to recover from traumatic experience – even when it becomes public. Course #21-23 | 2018 | 44 pages | 15 posttest questions 

Click here to learn more.


Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Professional Development Resources maintains responsibility for this program and its content. Professional Development Resources is also approved by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC ACEP #5590); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB Provider #1046, ACE Program); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA Provider #3159); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR Provider #PR001); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy (#BAP346), Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635), Dietetics & Nutrition (#50-1635), and Occupational Therapy Practice (#34); the Georgia State Board of Occupational Therapy; the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed mental health counselors (#MHC-0135); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501); the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678); and is CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

Enjoy 20% off all online continuing education (CE/CEU) courses @pdresources.orgClick here for details.

Earn CE Wherever YOU Love to Be!

Clinical Supervision for Mental Health Professionals


Clinical Supervision for Mental Health Professionals
 is a 4-hour online continuing education (CE) course that will present evidence-based research and best practices in clinical supervision of mental health professionals.

Clinical Supervision for Mental Health Professionals is a 4-hour online CE course that will present evidence-based research and best practices in clinical supervision of mental health professionals. Topics include developmental models of supervision, ethics, risk management, the use of technology, diversity awareness, self-care, and burnout prevention.

As we discuss the various aspects of supervision, we will consider evidence-based research and guidelines as recommended by the American Psychological Association (APA), The Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (ACES), and more.

Topics presented will include developmental models of supervision, ethics, risk management, the use of technology, and diversity awareness.

We will discuss the goals of the supervisory experience and highlight strategies for building an open and trusting relationship between the supervisor and the supervisee, considering how this may be different from a therapeutic relationship. Information on record keeping and accurate documentation is provided and performance evaluations will be included, along with information about disciplinary actions, disciplinary supervision, and termination.

Lastly, we will discuss self-care and burnout prevention. The information presented here is an overview and it is recommended that professionals use this course as a guide for further study and to develop their own competency as clinical supervisors.

*Note: This course meets the Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, MFT & Mental Health Counseling’s requirement of 4 hours qualified supervision training in every third renewal cycle and information specific to Florida is included after the ‘Resources’ section at the end of the course.

Course #40-49 | 2020 | 78 pages | 25 posttest questions

Click here to learn more.

This online course provides instant access to the course materials (PDF download) and CE test. The course is text-based (reading) and the CE test is open-book (you can print the test to mark your answers on it while reading the course document).

Successful completion of the online CE test (80% required to pass, 3 chances to take) and course evaluation are required to earn a certificate of completion. You’ll have 3 years from purchase date to complete for credit.


Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Professional Development Resources maintains responsibility for this program and its content. Professional Development Resources is also approved by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC ACEP #5590); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB Provider #1046, ACE Program); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA Provider #3159); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR Provider #PR001); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy (#BAP346), Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635), Dietetics & Nutrition (#50-1635), and Occupational Therapy Practice (#34); the Georgia State Board of Occupational Therapy; the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed mental health counselors (#MHC-0135); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501); the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678); and is CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

Enjoy 20% off all online continuing education (CE/CEU) courses @pdresources.orgClick here for details.

Earn CE Wherever YOU Love to Be!


7 Simple Ways to Deal with Stressful Situations

Sometimes we find ourselves in stressful situations in which we have no control. Our only recourse is to move straight ahead, take responsibility for our actions, and take the necessary steps to make a difference. But, we do have a choice on how we react to stressful situations.

Sometimes we find ourselves in stressful situations in which we have no control...except over our response. Here are seven simple ways to handle it better.

Here are seven simple ways to deal with stressful situations:

1. Progressive Relaxation

Relax the mind and body by following the instructions of a guided relaxation. These are multitudes of guided relation videos on YouTube, as well as apps you can download for your phone or tablet. Just 10 minutes a day will make an enormous difference in your energy and stress levels, as well as boosting your immune system.

2. Creative Visualization

Learn to focus on images which reinforce your calm and create a healing response in your body. Instead of daydreaming about what may go wrong, daydream about how well the entire affair will turn out. Learn to immediately replace the negative images with positive images. Create one scenario in your imagination to which you may return in moments of stress. Imagine yourself in this scenario being relaxed and acting in a calm, centered manner. See yourself handling every situation with a smile, confidently and joyfully.

3. Exercise

A thirty-minute brisk walk will fight anxiety and depression, as well as increase your energy levels. You’ll get more done in less time.

4. Joy and Optimism

Focus on what’s right in your life and avoid negative thoughts. Smell the roses, see the beauty around you and make an effort to see the good in everything and everyone.

Focus on what’s right in your life and avoid negative thoughts. Smell the roses, see the beauty around you and make an effort to see the good in everything and everyone.

5. Journal Writing

Helps fight anxiety when you use it to get painful topics off your mind. Say
what you need to say with no uncomfortable consequences.

6. Meditation

This is the key to the mind-body connection. When meditation is used properly, it aligns the mind and relaxes the body simultaneously. It’s easy to learn and can make an enormous difference in your life.

7. Mini-Meditation

For just 2 minutes every hour, close your eyes and focus on one sound from
your surroundings. It could be the water cooler hum, traffic noise, footsteps, etc. Just close your eyes and listen – focus on the chosen sound.

These techniques require no special costly equipment or large blocks of time, only your attention. They will lower your blood pressure and reinforce your immune system.

We must learn to take care of ourselves and successfully handle stressful situations. These simple suggestions can be the beginning of a lifetime of confidence, self-esteem, and improved health.

By Dodie Ulery

Related Online Continuing Education (CE) Courses:

In the Zone: Finding Flow Through Positive Psychology is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE) course that offers a how-to guide on incorporating flow into everyday life. Click here to learn more.

Anxiety: Practical Management Techniques is a 4-hour online continuing education (CE) course that offers a collection of ready-to-use anxiety management tools. Click here to learn more.

Writing it Out: Journaling as an Adjunct to Therapy is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE) course that discusses why and how to use journal writing as a therapeutic tool. Click here to learn more.

Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. We are approved to sponsor continuing education by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Georgia State Board of Occupational Therapy; the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed mental health counselors (#MHC-0135); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners; and are CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Professional Development Resources maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

PDR offers over 150 accredited online CE courses for healthcare professionals. 

Target AudiencePsychologistsSchool PsychologistsCounselorsSocial WorkersMarriage & Family Therapists (MFTs)Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs)Occupational Therapists (OTs)Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs), and Teachers

Enjoy 20% off all online continuing education (CE/CEU) courses @pdresources.orgClick here for details.

Earn CE Wherever YOU Love to Be!

Feeling Blue? Three Quick, Easy Ways to Boost Your Mood

Stay home. Don’t go out. Don’t travel. Do only the essentials. Keep six feet of distance between yourself and others. If you didn’t understand the context of these orders, they would seem incredibly odd. They would also seem like a perfect recipe for confusion, stress, loneliness, and generally feeling blue.

Do you ever find yourself feeling blue these days? Here are 3 quick and easy tips to boost your mood - it all starts with a smile!

But these are the days of a pandemic. We are in the midst of something most of us have likely never experienced before – and hopefully won’t ever again.

This is the new reality, and social distancing is what we must do to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. However, we don’t have to succumb to feeling blue. Here are three quick and easy ways to boost your mood:

1. Offer A Little Kindness

“Walking around and offering kindness to others in the world reduces anxiety and increases happiness and feelings of social connection,” says Douglas Gentile, professor of psychology at Iowa State University.

In a study comparing three strategies to lift mood, Gentile and his colleagues found those who practiced loving-kindness or wished others well felt happier, more connected, caring and empathetic, as well as less anxious (Gentile et al., 2019).

Kindness is a simple strategy that is equally available to us all. We are all capable of offering a kind word, a smile, or our time to help another. And when we do, we are helping ourselves feel better too.

2. Laugh

Laughter, especially social laughter, increases endorphins in the brain, which, according to researchers may be an important pathway that supports formation, reinforcement, and maintenance of social bonds between humans (Manninen et al., 2017).

“The pleasurable and calming effects of the endorphin release might signal safety and promote feelings of togetherness,” explains Professor Lauri Nummenmaa from Turku PET Centre, the University of Turku.

And even more compelling, laughter seems to work in a sort of virtuous cycle, where the more we laugh, the more opioid receptors we develop, which then increases our ability to find more joy and more laughter.

If you are feeling blue, simply hold a smile for seven seconds (even a completely forced smile) and you will feel better. You may even find yourself laughing (at yourself!). It's a quick and easy way to "trick" your brain into releasing endorphins and finding happiness. :)

If you are feeling blue, simply hold a smile for seven seconds (even a completely forced smile) and you will feel better. You may even find yourself laughing (at yourself!). It’s a quick and easy way to “trick” your brain into releasing endorphins and finding happiness. 🙂

3. Revisit A Resolution

Completing things that you set out for yourself comes with feelings of satisfaction, increased serotonin levels, and for some people, increased endorphin levels. And we all have things that we want to do, or wanted to do in the past, and have not been able to accomplish. So why not take the time now to revisit them?

Think about what you’d like to accomplish, make a plan, incorporate commitment strategies to keep yourself on track, enlist the help of some family or friends if needed and reach those long-lost goals. Instead of New Years resolutions, just call them “Quarantine resolutions.”

With a little kindness, laughter, and some commitment to reach our goals, the effects of social distancing can be mitigated. And who knows, we might even reach some goals we have always wanted to. No more feeling blue.

With a little kindness, laughter, and some commitment to reach our goals, the effects of social distancing can be mitigated. And who knows, we might even reach some goals we have always wanted to. No more feeling blue.

Related Online Continuing Education (CE) Courses:

Finding Happiness: Positive Interventions in Therapy is a 4-hour online continuing education (CE) course that explores the concept of happiness, from common myths to the overriding factors that directly increase our feelings of contentment. Click here to learn more.

Leveraging Adversity: Turning Setbacks into Springboards is a 6-hour online continuing education (CE) course that gives clinicians the tools they need to help their clients face adversity from a growth perspective and learn how to use setbacks to spring forward, and ignite growth. Click here to learn more.

Psychological Effects of Media Exposure is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that explores the psychological effects that media exposure has on both the witnesses and victims of traumatic events. Click here to learn more.

Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. We are approved to sponsor continuing education by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Georgia State Board of Occupational Therapy; the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed mental health counselors (#MHC-0135); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners; and are CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Professional Development Resources maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

PDR offers over 150 accredited online CE courses for healthcare professionals. 

Target AudiencePsychologistsSchool PsychologistsCounselorsSocial WorkersMarriage & Family Therapists (MFTs)Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs)Occupational Therapists (OTs)Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs), and Teachers

Enjoy 20% off all online continuing education (CE/CEU) courses @pdresources.orgClick here for details.

Earn CE Wherever YOU Love to Be!




Three Ways to Make Teletherapy Even More Effective

If you are a counselor, therapist, or psychologist used to seeing clients in the office, the coronavirus has certainly changed the way you work. No more office visits. Everything is now remote. As many mental health professionals struggle to make the transition to teletherapy, become familiar with the platform they are choosing to use, and help their clients adjust, here are three ways to make your teletherapy even more effective.

Teletherapy

1. Invite Your Client To Discuss Their Thoughts About Teletherapy

When clients first come to the office for therapy, it is always helpful to look for ways to make things more comfortable for them. One way to do this is to ask them what it is like for them to come to therapy. From the minute they make the appointment, to the time they step into the office and meet you, often you will find a wealth of information, and in the process, help them feel more comfortable expressing their thoughts and feelings, however uncomfortable, with you.

As teletherapy is likely new for many clients, the transition can be a wonderful time to again lay the foundation for your client to express her thoughts to you. One great way to do this is simply to ask your client what teletherapy is like for them. Ask how they feel about not coming to the office, about doing therapy at home, about the process of getting online, or using the telephone, and about not seeing you in person. These questions can serve to make the transition more comfortable for your client, and also help you both navigate any uncomfortable components of teletherapy together.

2. Use Your Client’s Environment

When a client comes to the office, we have already taken steps to set it up in a way that we hope will make clients more comfortable. We may have placed our diplomas on the wall. We may have hung inspirational pictures or quotes. We have probably placed the furniture in a way that will help clients feel relaxed and comfortable.

However, when we use teletherapy, the environment our client is in is set up by our client. They may choose to attend their sessions with you from their office, their living room, or their bedroom. And, like you, they have also placed their furniture in a way that makes them feel comfortable and hung their pictures or paintings in a way that feels right to them.

Their room may be neat and tidy, or messy and disorganized. Whatever the case, you can ask your client to share their environment through video with you. And then, you can ask your client to describe why they have chosen to set up their environment as they have.

Much like your office is a reflection of you, your tastes and preferences, and, to some extent, your beliefs and values, so is your client’s environment. You may even find that there are components of your client’s environment that could be changed to help her feel even better.

3. Send Follow Up Messages

When we see a client in the office, we may have a practice of recapping what we worked on, revisiting the gains and progress they have made, reviewing any homework we assign and preparing for the work ahead. This is a wonderful way to keep the therapy sessions effective, organized, and helpful for the client.

With teletherapy, we have the opportunity to send our client follow-up messages with all of this information, which will make it easier for them to retain. According to HIPPA, “Non-public facing remote communication products would include, for example, platforms such as Apple FaceTime, Facebook Messenger video chat, Google Hangouts video, Whatsapp video chat, Zoom, or Skype. Such products also would include commonly used texting applications such as Signal, Jabber, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts, Whatsapp, or iMessage.

Typically, these platforms employ end-to-end encryption, which allows only an individual and the person with whom the individual is communicating to see what is transmitted.” Once you choose the platform that works for you and your client, sending messages can be easy, helpful, and effective.

Teletherapy, while it is a big transition for many mental health professionals and clients alike, can be tremendously effective, and you may even find, with a few small steps, even preferable for you and your clients.

Related Online Continuing Education (CE) Courses:

E-Therapy: Ethics & Best Practices is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE) course that examines the advantages, risks, technical issues, legalities, and ethics of providing therapy online. Click here to learn more.

Ethics and Social Media is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE) course that examines the use of Social Networking Services (SNS) on both our personal and professional lives. Click here to learn more.

Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. We are approved to sponsor continuing education by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Georgia State Board of Occupational Therapy; the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed mental health counselors (#MHC-0135); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners; and are CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Professional Development Resources maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

PDR offers over 150 accredited online CE courses for healthcare professionals. 

Target AudiencePsychologistsSchool PsychologistsCounselorsSocial WorkersMarriage & Family Therapists (MFTs)Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs)Occupational Therapists (OTs)Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs), and Teachers

Enjoy 20% off all online continuing education (CE/CEU) courses @pdresources.orgClick here for details.

Earn CE Wherever YOU Love to Be!



Avoidant Grief: Is it Useful?

Grieving the loss of a loved one can be one of the most difficult experiences of our lives. We may struggle with intrusive memories, difficulty concentrating, and prolonged feelings of emptiness. We may also desperately try to block out any memories of our loved one to spare ourselves the painful feelings, also known as avoidant grief.

Avoidant Grief

However, blocking out feelings, according to a new collaborative study between Columbia Engineering and Columbia University Irving Medical Center, may ultimately exhaust our ability to cope effectively.

Using a machine-learning approach to functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) called “neural decoding,” which establishes a neural pattern or fingerprint that can be used to determine when a given mental process is happening, researchers tracked the ongoing processes of mental control as loss-related thoughts came in and out of conscious awareness during a 10-minute period of mind-wandering in 29 subjects.

“The major challenge of our study was to be able ‘look under the hood’ of a person’s natural mind-wandering state to see what underlying processes were actually controlling their experience,” explains Noam Schneck, lead author of the study (Schneck, 2018).

All of the subjects in the study had lost a first-degree relative (a spouse or partner) within the last 14 months. While spontaneous fluctuations in their mental processes were monitored using fMRI, subjects performed a modified Stroop task, a test widely used in psychology to measure a person’s ability to control the contents of attention, and a separate task presenting pictures and stories of the deceased.

Schneck and his team discovered that those with more avoidant grief engaged their attentional control process to block representations of the deceased from conscious awareness (Schneck et al., 2018). Schneck explains, “Our findings show that avoidant grief involves attentional control to reduce the likelihood that deceased-related representations reach full conscious awareness. Even though they are not aware of it, avoidant grievers actively control their mental state so that spontaneous thoughts of loss do not enter their consciousness. This kind of tailoring of mind-wandering likely exhausts mental energy and leads to time periods when the thoughts actually do break through” (Schneck, 2018).

Schneck likens the process to an “ineffective pop-up blocker” that runs in the background of your computer. He says, “You might not be aware that it’s there but it slows down the overall operating speed and eventually breaks down and the pop ups get through” (Schneck, 2018).

“What we’ve shown is that outside of our conscious awareness, we are constantly editing our own mental experiences to control what does and does not get in. And this process of editing is not always helpful” (Schneck, 2018).

It is understandable that we may seek to avoid painful feelings, however, the point Schneck and his team make is that, ultimately, we cannot avoid painful feelings. As they say, “they do break through.” A better goal is perhaps to relax our conscious and unconscious mental controls of painful feelings and learn to accept them into our awareness.

Related Online Continuing Education (CE) Courses:

Grief: The Reaction to Loss is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that teaches healthcare professionals how to recognize and respond to grief. Click here to learn more.

Caregiver Help: Depression and Grief is a 2-hour online video-based continuing education (CE/CEU) course that addresses caregiver depression and grief and provides strategies to help the caregiver cope. Click here to learn more.

Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. We are approved to sponsor continuing education by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Georgia State Board of Occupational Therapy; the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed mental health counselors (#MHC-0135); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners; and are CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Professional Development Resources maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

PDR offers over 150 accredited online CE courses for healthcare professionals. 

Target AudiencePsychologistsSchool PsychologistsCounselorsSocial WorkersMarriage & Family Therapists (MFTs)Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs)Occupational Therapists (OTs)Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs), and Teachers

Enjoy 20% off all online continuing education (CE/CEU) courses @pdresources.orgClick here for details.

Earn CE Wherever YOU Love to Be!

The Psychological Effects of Social Isolation

Increased aggressiveness towards unfamiliar others, persistent fear, and hypersensitivity to threatening stimuli. These are some of the effects of social isolation described in a study done by Moriel Zelikowsky and colleagues at the California Institute of Technology (Zelikowsky et al., 2018).

Social Isolation

In another meta-analysis done at University of Surrey and Brunel University London, researchers found that social isolation could be linked to increased inflammation in the body (Smith et al., 2020).

As Kimberley Smith, a lecturer in Health Psychology at the University of Surrey, explains, “Loneliness and social isolation have been shown to increase our risk of poorer health. Many researchers propose that part of the reason for this is because they influence the body’s inflammatory response.”

Another study found that social isolation is linked to increased risk of mortality (Alcaraz et al., 2018).

Social isolation, while it might have been something we spoke about rather infrequently in the past, now seems like it is a new normal. It is necessary. We need to do everything we can to stop the spread of the coronavirus, COVID-19.

But just how this affects us mentally and physically is another matter altogether. While it is important to stop the spread of the coronavirus, social isolation is not good for our health – mentally or physically. And even before quarantine orders were put in place, social isolation was a growing problem. In the United States, for example, about half of people older than 85 live alone, and decreased mobility or ability to drive may cut opportunities for other socialization (Brown et al., 2017).

Social Isolation is a “Silent Killer”

Moreover, during a U.S. Senate hearing on aging issues in the spring of 2018, a representative for the Gerontological Society of America urged lawmakers to support programs that help older adults stay connected to their communities, stating that social isolation is a “silent killer that places people at higher risk for a variety of poor health outcomes.”

Now, more than ever, the effects of social isolation will be felt, and more so by those already at risk, as the coronavirus is much more deadly to the elderly population.

There is hope, however. In a study that appeared in the American Journal of Epidemiology, in 2018, the authors concluded that most detrimental were “the lack of interpersonal connections.” When people were able to develop and maintain more interpersonal connections – remotely or otherwise – the effects of social isolation were not nearly as powerful (Alcaraz et al., 2018).

So where does this leave us? Now, more than ever, is the time to pick up the phone, send an email, text, or message, reach out, and stay connected. Your brain and body will thank you.

Related Online Continuing Education (CE) Courses:

Managing Anger & Aggressive Behavior is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE) course that provides strategies for dealing with anger and aggression in clinical practice. Click here to learn more.

Psychological Effects of Media Exposure is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that explores the psychological effects that media exposure has on both the witnesses and victims of traumatic events. Click here to learn more.

Psychological Effects of Ostracism is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that explores the effects of ostracism and social exclusion in both children and adults – in the real world, and online. Click here to learn more.

Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. We are approved to sponsor continuing education by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Georgia State Board of Occupational Therapy; the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed mental health counselors (#MHC-0135); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners; and are CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Professional Development Resources maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

PDR offers over 150 accredited online CE courses for healthcare professionals. 

Target AudiencePsychologistsSchool PsychologistsCounselorsSocial WorkersMarriage & Family Therapists (MFTs)Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs)Occupational Therapists (OTs)Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs), and Teachers

Enjoy 20% off all online continuing education (CE/CEU) courses @pdresources.orgClick here for details.

Earn CE Wherever YOU Love to Be!