Psychotherapy and Counseling are Different

Course excerpt from Therapy Tidbits – March/April 2018

Psychotherapy and Counseling are Different

In an article entitled “Master’s therapy not that different” in the Jan/Feb 2018 edition, Larry Powitz, EdD, asks what is it that doctoral level mental health practitioners do different than non-doctoral level mental health practitioners, such as master level psychologists, LCSWs, LCPCs, MFTs, and he concludes that the psychotherapy by all provided is quite the same. “I say the MA can sing the same tune as the PhD,” concludes Dr. Powitz.

I agree with him. I believe that the intervention being provided by many doctoral level (PhD, PsyD, and MD) and non-doctoral level (MEd, MA, MS, MSW, LPCC, MDiv, EAP) mental health practitioners is quite the same. For me the important questions are “How is that?” and “What’s happening?”

Psychotherapy is on the decline, and counseling is growing. The word psychotherapy isn’t even used much anymore. Or the terms psychotherapy and counseling are used interchangeably, as though they are one and the same, but they aren’t.

Psychotherapy and counseling are two different disciplines.

Psychotherapy is an in-depth, sometimes long-term, project that addresses inner and often covert core issues. It’s meant to get at and affect the understructure of a person. Carl Jung called psychotherapy treatment of the soul, which for me implies depth.

Counseling addresses important but external overt behaviors, usually for brief duration, teaching and improving areas of outward functioning.

Psychotherapy is about personal growth, and the relationship between psychotherapist and patient is critical. Counseling is about life management and adjustment, and the relationship between counselor and client is quite secondary.

For example, there is counseling for career and finances and anger management and sexual issues and grief and psychotropic usage. There is no career or financial or grief etc. in psychotherapy, because psychotherapy isn’t directly about such issues; it’s about the person underlying those issues. Psychotherapy is a life changing experience, while counseling is guidance, support, and education.

Homework isn’t typical in psychotherapy, other than encouragement to reflect on one’s experience during the session, whereas homework assignments are frequent in counseling, often with time spent in sessions reviewing and discussing lessons, similar to what happens in a classroom. Psychotherapy is heavily feeling and experience oriented, whereas counseling is heavily cognitive and behavioral focused. In traditional language, psychotherapy is a primary process activity and counseling is very much a secondary process activity.

Though psychotherapy and counseling are two distinct disciplines, there has been over the decades a homogenization of the two. For many, the two have become one, in thinking and in practice. Counseling now includes some psychotherapy, and psychotherapy includes more counseling. The homogenization has blended and even equated two different tunes into a new third tune.

I think it’s been a loss for psychotherapy. It’s like blending and equating physical therapy and surgery. Physical therapy is valuable and exactly what some people need, but it’s not surgery. Counseling is valuable and exactly what some people need, but it’s not psychotherapy. Today psychotherapy in its fullest sense is hard to find, and most mental health providers, doctoral level and non-doctoral level, are providing a service that is quite the same. Most are singing the same tune, the homogenized third tune.

Therapy Tidbits – March/April 2018Therapy Tidbits – March/April 2018 is a 1-hour online continuing education (CE) course comprised of select articles from the March/April 2018 issue of The National Psychologist, a private, independent bi-monthly newspaper intended to keep psychologists (and other mental health professionals) informed about practice issues.

This online course provides instant access to the course materials (PDF download) and CE test. After enrolling, click on My Account and scroll down to My Active Courses. From here you’ll see links to download/print the course materials and take the CE test (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. Click here to learn more. Have a question? Contact us. We’re here to help!

Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. We are approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); 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 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).

Target Audience: PsychologistsCounselorsSocial WorkersMarriage & Family Therapist (MFTs)Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs)Occupational Therapists (OTs)Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs)School Psychologists, and Teachers

Earn CE Wherever YOU Love to Be!

Social Media and Mental Health

Social Media and Mental Health

What would you be doing right now if social media did not exist? There are still some that have not succumbed to the dynamic world of relationship building, sharing, following, messaging, promoting etc. via social media. However, the vast majority (roughly 81 percent) of the U.S. population has at least one social media account, and Facebook alone has about 1.94 billion monthly active users worldwide.

In fact, many people have come to prefer this method of interacting over traditional, in-person, face-to-face socializing. As a psychologist and social media user, I question the overwhelming fascination with social media. Some of us remember life before social media, though recollections may be murky at best.

When I consider the basis for the seemingly instinctual drive toward social media, two words come to mind: “emotional tug.” Most humans establish connections on a visceral level; sure we are in contact with new people and places daily, but certainly not every single encounter moves us. We appreciate things that make us feel: comedians make us laugh; music motivates us; haunted houses elicit fear. Social media is more like the roller coaster of emotions, possessing the ability to create laughter, love, inspiration, sadness and fear all in a matter of minutes.

Have you ever experienced an abrupt change in mood for better or worse after scrolling through your feed? Have you ever dedicated way too much time arguing with someone over a parasocial relationship (a one-sided relationship that exists only on social media and generally with a celebrity)? If so, you are well aware of the social media effect.

Not every social media user has the same agenda, but it is likely that every user is looking to connect, share and/or learn, all of which require some type of emotional involvement. The limbic system, often referred to as the emotional brain, is an area of our brain thought to house the amygdala, otherwise known as the center for emotions, behavior and motivation. Because of this, it is reasonable to believe that social media has the ability to activate the amygdala.

Understanding the connection between emotion and events could significantly improve your social media experience. Specifically, social media has the ability to evoke happiness, sadness and excitement as well as anxiety, depression, envy, frustration etc. and essentially dictate our moods. If the only emotions you ever experience as you browse social media are inspiration, love and happiness, then you are probably an anomaly and able to teach a lesson or two in social media management and engagement.

However, most social media users experience a more diverse set of emotions. You have probably heard someone say in reference to a social media connection, “I am so tired of blank.” It is far less common to hear, “I am so tired of hearing about his/her vacations and success because it makes me feel jealous and frustrated with my own life.” People generally do not share the deeper negative feelings that emerge due to either lack of insight or shame about the feeling itself. To clarify, if you experience not so desirable feelings while noticing someone else’s success on Facebook, this does not mean that you are someone who wants other people to fail; it just means that you are having a narcissistic moment that compels you to make another person’s post or journey all about you.

The depression and anxiety that arise as a result of your unpleasant social media experience do not merely vanish after you exit, but linger, affecting you consciously or subconsciously. Depression and anxiety surface when we anticipate a threat to our wellbeing; persistent focus on what one perceives as negative stimuli feeds depression and anxiety.

Is it possible to use social media and have a healthy state of mind? Yes, though balance is key. It is essential to manage and check yourself often.

Practice metacognition (think about your thinking) to recognize irrational versus rational thoughts. All are vulnerable to subconscious influence and awareness takes practice. Replace your passive scrolling and engaging with focus and intent, understanding that connecting is optional. A diverse network generally comes with a diverse set of opinions, and if your tolerance is not yet up for the challenge, it may be best to connect only with like-minded individuals.

Course excerpt from Therapy Tidbits – September/October 2017

Related Online CE Course:

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. Is it useful or appropriate (or ethical or therapeutic) for a therapist and a client to share the kinds of information that are routinely posted on SNS like Facebook, Twitter, and others? How are psychotherapists to handle “Friending” requests from clients? What are the threats to confidentiality and therapeutic boundaries that are posed by the use of social media sites, texts, or tweets in therapist-client communication? The purpose of this course is to offer psychotherapists the opportunity to examine their practices in regard to the use of social networking services in their professional relationships and communications. Included are ethics topics such as privacy and confidentiality, boundaries and multiple relationships, competence, the phenomenon of friending, informed consent, and record keeping. A final section offers recommendations and resources for the ethical use of social networking and the development of a practice social media policy. Course #20-75 | 2016 | 32 pages | 15 posttest questions

Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. We are approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); 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 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).

Target Audience: PsychologistsCounselorsSocial WorkersMarriage & Family Therapist (MFTs)Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs)Occupational Therapists (OTs)Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs)School Psychologists, and Teachers

Earn CE Wherever YOU Love to Be!

 

Alabama Psychologist License Renewal & CE Info

Alabama psychologists can earn all 20 hours required for renewal @pdresources.org

Alabama psychologists have an annual license renewal deadline of October 15th. Renewals must be completed on or before October 15th or the license will lapse. To renew a license, the renewal form and associated fee must be mailed to the Board office and continuing education requirements must be met. Credit card payments are not accepted.

Continuing Education (CE) Requirements:

  • CE Required: 20 hours per year
  • CE Deadline: September 30th (credit is accrued on an annual basis October 1 – September 30)
  • Online CE Allowed: No limit if sponsored by APA


Alabama psychologists can earn all 20 hours required for renewal and Save 20% on online courses offered @pdresources.org.

Alabama psychologists can earn all 20 hours required for renewal @pdresources.org

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for Alabama-licensed psychologists and maintains responsibility for all programs and content. Over 100 courses are available @pdresources.org.

CE information obtained from the Alabama Board of Examiners in Psychology website on July 12, 2017.

Please be advised:

Failure to comply with renewal requirements by October 15 shall result in a Lapsed license. Failure to renew prior to October 15 will not deprive the licensee of the right to renew, but does prohibit the individual from continuing to practice unless working in an exempt setting. A licensee who fails to renew a Lapsed license within two (2) years after the expiration date IS NOT ELIGIBLE for reinstatement and the license may not be restored or reissued. The individual will be required to submit a new licensure application and meet statutory requirements for licensure in existence at the time of re-application.

 

Powerful Ways to Develop Positive Emotions to Have High Self-Confidence

By Vivian Hart

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Inside the Healthy Mind

By David Satcher M.D. and Mehmet Oz M.D.

Inside the Healthy MindPixar recently released an intriguing new movie this week that playfully follows an adolescent and her parents through the lens of their five personified emotions — fear, anger, joy sadness, disgust. The title Inside Out tells the whole story since this is how the happy mind evolves. The movie works because most Americans are aware of this challenging reality.

Research reveals that Americans value emotional health more than physical health, an acknowledgement of the magnitude of this issue and its dominating influence in our search for happiness. According to the study, roughly two-thirds of Americans report that they know how mental wellness can be attained. But only half have access to the resources (health insurance, discretionary income) needed to help them reach the goal of emotional well-being. External observations support these insights. This month’s alarming report that alcoholism affects roughly 1 in 7 Americans sent a shiver down our collective spines. This is higher than expected and reveals that we are slipping in our quest for healthy minds.

Of course, the stigma surrounding admission of mental illness also holds many back from seeking support. Nearly half of Americans will not turn to others for support even though only a minority report being “very satisfied” with the current state of well-being, according to an Edelman report. Even when someone seeks help, many find the process daunting as they get referred from nurse to doctor to specialist and back again. And even when robust expertise and help exist, access to professionals and reimbursement has lagged far behind similarly important chronic illnesses like diabetes, hypertension and cancer.

Over 45 million Americans are living in poverty. Among other things, crises of poverty remove a sense of control that all humans need to cope with life. The realities of poverty can largely contribute to poor physical and mental health and also addictive behaviors, thus the startlingly high alcoholism figures. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”

What is going on? We have some systemic obstacles and this mandates a public health mobilization. Surgeons General Reports on mental health have historically pointed us in the right direction, yet we surprisingly have never had one on addiction and recovery from the disease. The good news is these obstacles are now more surmountable than ever. We can even save America money while improving mental health which translates to great VALUE. For example, Dr. Satcher’s research team reduced reduced the psychiatry length of stay at Atlanta’s Grady Memorial Hospital ER by 45 minutes per patient, which over the course of a year would cut wait time by over 1,700 hours; a potential savings of $77,300 with that system improvement alone.

Federal regulations will also become active this summer which compel health care payers to value mental health treatment services at the same level of care of other conditions. This means that if, for instance, an insurance company pays for a patient to see a diabetes specialist (almost all do), then it must equally provide for patients to see mental health professionals. This represents a seismic shift in how the health care system values the problem. The major financial barrier to help will drop away, but the shortage of mental health care providers in many communities demands that we also seek holistic solutions to achieving mental well-being.

The self help movement and lots of home-grown experience support the value of getting people to create communities that support each other. Programs like the Doctor Oz Show showcase “best practices” and practical insights from organizations like the National Council for Behavioral Health and the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine. Health programming also promotes practices to help people live with consciousness and awareness, kidnapping anxieties and freeing the brain to enjoy the moment. Many joyful people even keep “gratitude journals” and have come to recognize that emotional wellness is found right inside of us, and it is free!

Read More: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mehmet-oz/inside-the-healthy-mind_b_7701966.html?utm_hp_ref=huffpost-dr-oz

Five Simple Things Psychologists Wish Their Patients Would Do

From The Huffington Post

5 Things Psychologists Wish Their Patients Would DoTherapists want the best possible outcomes for their patients, and surprisingly there are about 5 simple common things they would like to see happen.

Everyday Health asked five psychologists to share their lists of things they would like to see their patients do.

They were all pretty consistent, making frequent references to mindfulness, self-compassion, self-awareness, healthy lifestyle adjustments, and work on positive relationships. Here’s their advice:

 

1. Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is not an exotic technique: It’s simply about being present in the moment without judgment, says Dr. Rego, director of psychology training at Montefiore Medical Center and associate professor of clinical psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.

“Our minds are built to jump around, back and forth, especially in today’s multitasking world,” he says, but “there’s a great deal of research supporting the mental and physical benefits of learning to be more mindful.”

Dr. Greenberg, a clinical psychologist in Mill Valley, California, who blogs forPsychology Today and is the author of the upcoming book The Stress-Resistant Brain, says that mindful self-awareness is “building an observer perspective on yourself and your life,” and that it’s one of the most important early steps a person can make toward change.

One way to practice mindfulness is by focusing on awareness of your breathing, says Dr. Symington, a clinical psychologist in private practice in Pasadena, California. “You close your eyes and follow your breath for a specified period of time,” he says, which helps lower stress levels and improves your skill at detecting internal sensations, like feelings of tension.

 

2. Be kind to yourself

Greenberg calls this sidelining your inner critic. “Seeing yourself with loving eyes doesn’t always come naturally,” she says, and talking back to your inner critic takes practice. “Change happens when you drop perfectionism and give yourself permission to be a human being who makes mistakes,” she explains.

Dr. Malkin, a psychologist and psychology instructor at Harvard Medical School, and author of Rethinking Narcissism, echoes Greenberg’s recommendation. “Many of my clients berate themselves for each and every mistake,” he says. But research shows that this kind of self-punishment is the worst way to change behavior. “We’d all do much better celebrating our moments of success than laying into ourselves for our ‘failures,’” he says.

“Question [your] thoughts,” advises Rego. “All too often, we buy into our thoughts without challenging them.” You need to be willing to consider that your initial reactions to things may be wrong, especially when those reactions are extremely negative, says Rego.

 

3. Practice Self-Observation and Evaluation

While you need to counter self-punishment, you also need to be willing to examine yourself realistically. “Be willing to be uncomfortable,” advises Greenberg. “Therapy works by helping clients access their thoughts and feelings about difficult or painful experiences.” The more you avoid going to these painful places, she says, the slower things will go.

And try not to be too impatient with yourself as you navigate that process. “No matter how hard we work to change, old habits occasionally creep back in,” says Malkin.

You shouldn’t see the return of something you thought you’d resolved as a failure, but as an opportunity to ask questions of yourself, says Malkin. For example, you might ask yourself, “What made it harder this time for me to skip the drink, or use a gentler tone with my partner, or exercise when I felt panic coming on?” he says. “There’s always an answer — and finding it often leads to tremendous growth.”

Understanding what triggers a return of behaviors is important, says Symington, adding that self-knowledge can help you plan for these vulnerable moments in your life. “Identify the pattern and then make a plan for the challenging space you know is coming.” Your plan might include having healthy distractions available for when you may need them, or preparing ahead of time to encourage a friend or hug a loved one.

When it comes to children in therapy, Dr. Kauffman, a child psychologist in Menlo Park, California, says that parents may need to be observers for their child. “It’s incredibly beneficial to have an update and a heads-up from parents before a session,” she says, because children often forget to share “fairly significant events.”

 

4. Do What You Can to Stay Physically Healthy

Sleep well — period. “This is the lowest-hanging fruit in mental health,” Malkin says.

And keep a food diary, suggests Symington: “Just the act of recording meals often improves our diet.” Most people are surprised, he adds, about how much their diet affects their mood and behavior.

Exercise has many proven benefits: It boosts mood, reduces anxious energy, and promotes good health overall, says Symington. “Put it on the schedule and make it non-negotiable,” he advises.

“Increasing activity levels … has been shown to directly improve [symptoms of]anxiety and depression,” agrees Rego.

 

5. Make and Strengthen Healthy Relationships

“We live in a network of relationships that either hold us back or push us forward,” notes Malkin, “and people don’t always like our efforts to change.”

Greenberg agrees that as you find self-improvement in therapy and learn to be assertive and set boundaries, “People in your life may push back or be angry at you.” She says that you need to be ready for these changes, and you may have to move away from unhealthy relationships to allow room for healthier ones.

“Change is hard,” agrees Symington, who advises sharing the struggle with a friend or spouse, and advising others you’re close to of your goals.

Building and strengthening social networks is also critical, notes Rego. “Strong, healthy social networks serve as an excellent buffer for life’s stresses and can help decrease the impact of psychological disorders,” he says.

For parents whose child is in therapy, however, the advice is a little different. Children must choose their own comfort level with sharing, which is something most parents understand, says Kauffman.

“Some parents can’t help but probe and question about the content of therapy sessions,” she adds. “It’s important for parents to understand the value and power of the safe and confidential therapeutic space for a child.” If something comes up that parents do need to know about, she works with the child to explore ways of communicating the information to the parents. Read More…

5 Things Psychologists Wish Their Patients Would Do was originally published on Everyday Health.

Medical Marijuana – New Online CEU Course

By Leo Christie, PhD

Medical Marijuana is a new 3-hour online CEU course that presents a summary of the current literature on the various medical, legal, educational, occupational, and ethical aspects of marijuana.

Medical Marijuana

In spite of the fact that nearly half of the states in this country have enacted legislation legalizing marijuana in some fashion, the reality is that neither the intended “medical” benefits of marijuana nor its known (and as yet unknown) adverse effects have been adequately examined using controlled studies. Conclusive literature remains sparse, and opinion remains divided and contentious.

This course is intended to present a summary of the current literature on the various medical, legal, educational, occupational, and ethical aspects of marijuana. It will address the major questions about marijuana that are as yet unanswered by scientific evidence. What are the known medical uses for marijuana? What is the legal status of marijuana in state and federal legislation? What are the interactions with mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, and suicidal behavior? Is marijuana addictive? Is marijuana a gateway drug? What are the adverse consequences of marijuana use? Do state medical marijuana laws increase the use of marijuana and other drugs? The course will conclude with a list of implications for healthcare and mental health practitioners. Course #30-86 | 2016 | 55 pages | 24 posttest questions

CE INFORMATION

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists; 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 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 Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501); the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); and the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Leo Christie, PhD, LMFT, is a Florida-licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a doctorate in Marriage and Family Therapy from Florida State University. Past President of the Florida Council on Family Relations, Dr. Christie is currently CEO of Professional Development Resources, a nonprofit corporation whose mission is to deliver continuing education credit courses to healthcare professionals throughout the United States. He has more than 20 years’ experience in private practice with a specialty in child behavior disorders and as an instructor for over 500 live continuing education seminars for healthcare professionals.

 

 

9 DIY Ways to Improve Your Mental Health

By Stephanie Pappas, Live Science Contributor

9 DIY Ways to Improve Your Mental HealthLet’s be upfront: Sometimes, achieving better mental health requires professional help. People may need a therapist, or even medication, to deal with disorders like depression or anxiety.

But those serious diagnoses aside, we could all do with a little brain tune-up. Fortunately, science has some suggestions for how to overcome personality quirks or unhealthy patterns of thinking that leave people functioning less than optimally.

Here are some things that studies have found may improve people’s mental health:

1. Set goals, but don’t take failure personally

Most people are at least a little bit of a perfectionist in some area of life. Aiming high can be the first step to success, but studies have found that high levels of perfectionism are linked to poor health and increase the risk of death. Perfectionism is also linked to postpartum depression.

The problem is that perfectionism has two facets: Perfectionists tend to set high goals for themselves, but they also tend to worry about it if they fail to reach extreme levels of performance. The high goals are not the problem as much as the so-called “perfectionist concerns,” or feelings of failure and worthlessness that come with falling short of reaching them, which can wreak havoc on mental health.

The trick to getting around this perfectionism trap might be to set goals without taking failure personally, said Andrew Hill, a sports psychologist at York St. John University in England.

One strategy, Hill told Live Science in August 2015, is for perfectionists to set small, manageable goals for themselves rather than one big goal. That way, failure is less likely, and so is the self-recrimination that can keep a perfectionist down. In other words, perfectionists should force themselves to think about achieving success in degrees, rather than in all-or-nothing terms.

2. Go outside

The indoor environment protects us from heat, cold and all manner of inclement weather. But if you don’t get outside frequently, you might be doing a number on your mental health.

A June 2015 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science found that spending 90 minutes walking in nature can decrease brain activity in a region called the subgenual prefrontal cortex. This area is active when we’re ruminating over negative thoughts. Walking alongside a busy road didn’t quiet this area, the researchers found.

This latest study is only one of many that suggest that spending time outdoors is good for the mind. A 2010 study in the journal Environmental Science & Technology found that 5 minutes in a green space can boost self-esteem. In a 2001 study published in the journal Environment and Behavior, time in green space even improved ADHD symptoms in kids compared with time spent relaxing indoors — for example, watching TV.

3. Meditate

Meditation may look like the person is sitting around, doing nothing. In fact, it’s great for the brain.

A slew of studies have found that meditation benefits a person’s mental health. For example, a 2012 study in the journal PLOS ONE found that people who trained to meditate for six weeks became less rigid in their thinking than people with no meditation training. This suggests that meditation might help people with depression or anxiety shift their thoughts away from harmful patterns, the researchers suggested.

Other studies on meditation suggests that it literally alters the brain, slowing the thinning of the frontal cortex that typically occurs with age and decreasing activity in brain regions that convey information about pain. People trained in Zen meditation also became more adept at clearing their minds after a distraction, a 2008 study found. As distracting and irrelevant thoughts are common in people with depression and anxiety , meditation might improve those conditions, the researchers said.

4. Exercise

Next we’ll tell you to eat your vegetables, right? (You should, by the way.) It’s not fancy advice, but moving your body can benefit your brain. In fact, a 2012 study in the journal Neurology found that doing physical exercise was more beneficial than doing mental exercises in staving off the signs of aging in the brain.

That study used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to scan the brains of Scottish participants in their early 70s. Among the 638 participants, those who reported walking or doing other exercises a few times a week showed less brain shrinkage and stronger brain connections than those who didn’t move. People who did mentally stimulating activities such as chess or social activities didn’t show those kinds of effects.

Exercise can even be part of the treatment for people with serious mental disorders. A 2014 review in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that physical activity reduces the symptoms of depression in people with mental illness, and even reduced symptoms of schizophrenia. A 2014 study in the journal Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica found that adding an exercise program to the treatment plan for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) reduced patients’ symptoms and improved their sleep.

5. Be generous in your relationships

A giving relationship is a happy relationship, according to a 2011 study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family. In the study, couples with children who reported high levels of generosity with one another were more satisfied in their marriages and more likely to report high levels of sexual satisfaction.

Moreover, studies show that keeping a committed relationship strong can be a big boon for your mental health. People in the early stages of a marriage or a cohabitating relationship experience a short-term boost in happiness and a drop in depression, according to a 2012 study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family. And among same-sex couples, the official designation of marriage appears to boost psychological functioning over domestic partnerships (though domestic partnerships provided a boost, too).

Being generous in nonromantic relationships can provide a direct mental health boost, too. A 2013 study in the American Review of Public Administration found that people who prioritized helping others at work reported being happier with life 30 years later.

6. Use social media wisely

In general, having social connections is linked to better mental health. However, maintaining friendships over Facebook and other social media sites can be fraught with problems. Some research suggests that reading other people’s chipper status updates makes people feel worse about themselves — particularly if those other people have a large friend list, which may lead to a lot of showing off. Those findings suggest that limiting your friend list to people who you feel particularly close to might help you avoid seeing a parade of peacocking status updates from people who seem to have perfect lives.

Time on social networking sites has been linked to depressive symptoms, though it’s not clear whether the mental health problems or the social media usage comes first. A study presented in April 2015 at the annual conference of the British Sociological Association found that social media is a double-edged sword: People with mental health conditions reported that social media sites offered them feelings of belonging to a community, but also said that Facebook and other sites could exacerbate their anxiety and paranoia.

The best bet, researchers say, is to take advantage of the connectivity conferred by social media, but to avoid making Facebook or Twitter your entire social life.

“You have to be careful,” University of Houston psychologist Linda Acitelli told Live Science in 2012.

7. Look for meaning, not pleasure

Imagine a life of lounging by a pool, cocktail in hand. When you aren’t sunning yourself, you’re shopping for cute clothes or planning your next party.

Paradise? Not so much. A 2007 study found that people are actually happier in life when they take part in meaningful activities than when they focus on hedonism. University of Louisville researchers asked undergrads to complete surveys each day for three weeks about their daily activities. They also answered questions about their happiness levels and general life satisfaction.

The study, published in the Journal of Research in Personality, found that the more people participated in personally meaningful activities such as helping other people or pursuing big life goals, the happier and more satisfied they felt. Seeking pleasure didn’t boost happiness.

8. Worry (some), but don’t vent

Everyone’s had the experience of worrying about something they can’t change. If constant worrying becomes a pervasive problem, though, science suggests you should just put it on the calendar.

Scheduling your “worry time” to a single, 30-minute block each day can reduce worries over time, according to a study published in July 2011 in the Journal of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics. Patients in the study were taught to catch themselves worrying throughout the day and then postpone the worries to a prearranged block of time. Even just realizing that they were worrying helped patients calm down, the researchers found, but stopping the worrying and saving it for later was the most effective technique of all.

Venting about stresses, however, appears to make people feel worse about life, not better. So set aside that worry time — but do it silently.

9. Learn not to sweat the small stuff

Daily irritations are part of life, but they can also wear us down. In a 2013 study in the journal Psychological Science, researchers used two national surveys to look at the influence of minor annoyances on people’s mental health. They found surprisingly strong links.

The more negatively people responded to small things like having to wait in traffic or having arguments with a spouse, the more anxious and distressed they were likely to be when surveyed again 10 years later, the researchers reported.

“It’s important not to let everyday problems ruin your moments,” study researcher Susan Charles, a psychologist at the University of California, Irvine, said in a statement when the research was released. “After all, moments add up to days, and days add up to years.”

Follow Stephanie Pappas on Twitter and Google+. Follow us@livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on Live Science.

Related Online CEU Courses:

Anxiety: Practical Management Techniques is a 4-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that offers a collection of ready-to-use anxiety management tools that can be used in nearly all clinical settings and client diagnoses.

Depression is a 1-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that provides an overview to the various forms of depression, including signs and symptoms, co-existing conditions, causes, gender and age differences, and diagnosis and treatment options.

Eliminating Self-Defeating Behaviors is a 4-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that teaches you how to identify, analyze and replace self-defeating behaviors with positive behaviors.

Nutrition in Mental Health & Substance Abuse is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that discusses how good nutrition impacts a person’s mental health and well being.

Professional Development Resources is approved to offer continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); 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 California Board of Behavioral Sciences; 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 Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; and by theTexas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners.

Preventing Medical Errors in Social Media

Course excerpt from Preventing Medical Errors in Behavioral Health

Preventing Medical Errors in Behavioral HealthYour mobile calls and texts can be (and probably are being) snooped and stored, your email can be hacked, your tweets and Facebook posts are available for all the world to see. If you consider bringing your client communications into this realm, what ethical concerns do you need to address? If the concept of privacy is not totally extinct, it is certainly on the endangered list.

All therapists, regardless of age or stage or whether we were trained in this century or another, find ourselves practicing in a digital world. Even in this early part of the 21st century, the list of digital communications applications – mobile devices, email, texting, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, cloud computing, electronic medical records, webcams, etc., etc. – is endless and still growing. As our careers progress, the proliferation of such technologies is likely to continue to challenge our capacity to stay current. With the introduction of each innovation, the threats to reasonably error-free practice will continue to multiply.

As is the case with most innovations, there are benefits and there are risks. The benefits are usually very seductive, promising increased speed, efficiency, and convenience. The risks are usually hidden, requiring thoughtful consideration before they show themselves. The point here, within the context of preventing medical errors in behavioral health, is that the use of this technology has become so routine that clinicians might adopt it mindlessly without carefully thinking through the potential consequences in therapy situations. Sometimes we may even make a conscious decision to trade security for convenience. The results can include unanticipated breeches of confidentiality or the transmission of private information to unintended parties, sometimes leading to severe damage to clients.

According to Pope and Vasquez:

“Technology creates new ways for us to connect with our patients. Geographic barriers fall. Relationships take new forms. We may start and end therapy without ever being together in the same room with the patient… But the benefits come with costs, risks, and occasional disasters. Digital technologies take confidential information that was once confined to handwriting in a paper chart kept under lock and key and spread it over electronic networks.”

Learn more:

Preventing Medical Errors in Behavioral Health is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that satisfies the medical errors requirement of Florida mental health professionals. The course is intended to increase clinicians’ awareness of the many types of errors that can occur within mental health practice, how such errors damage clients, and numerous ways they can be prevented. Its emphasis is on areas within mental health practice that carry the potential for “medical” errors. Examples include improper diagnosis; breaches of privacy and confidentiality; mandatory reporting requirements; managing dangerous clients; boundary violations and sexual misconduct; the informed consent process; and clinical and cultural competency. There are major new sections on psychotherapy in the digital age, including the use of social networking systems, the practice of teletherapy, and the challenges of maintaining and transmitting electronic records. Course #21-03 | 2015 | 28 pages | 14 posttest questions

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Professional Development Resources maintains responsibility for all programs and content. Professional Development Resources is also approved 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 California Board of Behavioral Sciences; 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 Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; and by the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners.

Domestic Violence: Child Abuse and Intimate Partner Violence

Course exerpt from Domestic Violence: Child Abuse and Intimate Partner Violence

The essential paradox of family violence is that – while it affects so many individuals so adversely in all sectors of society – it is only minimally discussed because of the stigma and is only poorly understood and confronted by the legal, professional, and social systems that are responsible for protecting and treating victims. Individual cases of abuse frequently go undetected for many years, largely due to the shroud of shame and silence that still persists today, in spite of all efforts to bring domestic violence to light and to justice. It crosses all social and cultural boundaries, including demographic, socioeconomic, and religious strata. The status of family abuse victims has even been compared to that of individuals who had HIV/AIDS in the early 1980s when the disease was “barely recognized, hardly discussed, highly stigmatized, and often ignored or denied” (Fife and Schrager, 2012). While we have made impressive strides in the battle against HIV/AIDS in the last three decades, we have made relatively little progress in the area of family violence.

Child abuse, for example, in spite of progress in protecting the rights of children, remains a dire social issue. Rubin (2012) cites government data indicating that in just one year in the U.S., substantiated cases of child abuse totaled over 700,000 children – about 1.3% of the population of children. To make matters worse, the long-term sequelae include a wide range of serious consequences, such as physical injuries, impaired brain development, behavioral disturbances, substance use disorders, and a variety of psychological disorders. In addition, there are a number of mechanisms by which children who are abused may grow up to become abusers themselves.

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is, unfortunately, also a pervasive part of life in U.S. society. In surveys, over 35% of women and nearly 28% of men say they have been raped and/or physically assaulted and/or stalked by a current or former spouse, cohabiting partner, or date at some point in their lifetime (Black et al, 2011). Survivors of these forms of violence may experience physical injury, mental health consequences like depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and suicide attempts. Other health consequences like gastrointestinal disorders, substance abuse, sexually trans¬mitted diseases, and gynecological or pregnancy complications are also common. These findings suggest that intimate partner violence is a serious concern in mental health, criminal justice and public health.

Domestic Violence: Child Abuse and Intimate Partner ViolenceDomestic Violence: Child Abuse and Intimate Partner Violence is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that will teach clinicians to detect abuse when they see it, screen for the particulars, and respond with definitive assistance in safety planning, community referrals, and individualized treatment plans. Course #20-61 | 2012 | 31 pages | 18 posttest questions

This course is presented in two sections. Part I will deal with the scope, definitional concepts, dynamics, recognition, assessment, and treatment of victims of child abuse. A section on bullying is included, with consideration of a contemporary variant of bullying known as “cyber-bullying.” There is also a section addressing the question of whether abused children grow up to become abusers themselves. A strengths-based model of assessment and intervention is detailed.

Part II will cover similar aspects of intimate partner violence, including women, children, and men. Sections are included on cross cultural considerations and same gender abuse dynamics. Emphasis is on identifying victims of IPV and providing screening and intervention procedures that are intended to empower victims to take control of their own lives. There are sections on the dynamics that influence when/whether abuse victims decide to leave their abusers and how clinicians can prepare for immediate interventions as soon as a client discloses that he/she is being abused.

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists; by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) to offer home study continuing education for NCCs (#5590); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB #1046, ACE Program); the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (#PCE1625); the Florida Boards of Clinical Social Work, Marriage & Family Therapy, and Mental Health Counseling (#BAP346) and Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501); the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); and the TexasBoard of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678).

This course satisfies the domestic violence requirement for biennial relicensure of Florida mental health professionals.