PHILOSOPHICAL MEDITATION | when upset or anxious

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PHILOSOPHICAL MEDITATION | when upset or anxious

– Our minds belong to us, but we do not always control or know what is in them
– can be difficult to not at times feel confused
– can be difficult at times to tell how we are feeling, & what is the meaning of those feelings
– unfocused thoughts constantly orbit our mind constantly
– we need to sort things out
– we need to get on top of things
– meditation as a solution to the chaotic mind
– in the Buddhist world view, anxieties & excitements are not trying to tell us anything especially interesting or valuable
– empty the mind of its confused content
– Western tradition of meditation – similar aim, but believes the anxieties & excitements are important signals about how we should direct our lives
– bring the troubles more securely into focus, & achieve calm through understanding our thoughts & feelings

Meditation requires:
– setting aside some time (20 minutes once per day)
– with pad & pencil to write your answers, ask yourself:
– what is it I regret, am sad, anxious or feel agitated about at present?
[because we are uncertain of meaning, it is best to write “unfiltered”]
[The practice can be comforting/rewarding & help stop us making grave errors in relation to having careers we do not really like]
– see below for specific instruction

Philosophic meditation helps us embark on life’s journey with the right equipment & the right map – it ensure we check our feelings, rather than just “trusting” them only to find ourselves somewhere we do not wish to be.

– argues it is not thinking too much that is the issue, but that we have not yet thought enough.

Philosophic meditation:
– 20 minutes per day
– ask yourself:
1. What am I currently upset about?
2. What am I currently anxious about?
3. What am I currently curious or excited about?
[Two or three words per each/Unprocessed]

Further questions for when upset [when unprocessed, bitterness, confusion & mis-directed aggression result]
– What scared you about the incident?
– You’ve been hurt. It’s normal to be hurt. How have you been hurt?
– What good part of yourself feels in danger?
– How might a nice person have ended up doing what this person did to you? If they were not actively mean, what other explanations could there be for the hurt they have caused?
– if this were to carry on, what would/might be the catastrophe?
– what are you afraid might happen if this were to continue?
– have you been affected like this before?
– if you had to pin down an incident in the past that this somehow reminds you of, what would it be? Is there a pattern here?
– if this had happened to a friend, how would you advise them?
– what might you be able to learn from this upset?

Questions for anxiety:
– tell the story of the coming anxious period in great detail & say exactly what you imagine might go wrong.
– what would happen to you if it did all go wrong?
– if this were to keep happening, then…
– the danger here is that…
– how might you still be ok, even if it was all absolutely terrible?
– how would the person you would ideally like to be, deal with this situation?
– what previous situation does this remind you of? Have you been in something like this before?
– what happened in the past?
– what helped in the past?

Questions for excitement:
– see article

[answering questions helps us begin to unscramble our thoughts & feelings so as to reduce anxiety & increase clarity]

Source: School of Life: http://www.thebookoflife.org/philosophical-meditation/


ABC RN MIRRORS OF THE MIND [language, empathy, neurological basis of ASD]

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ABC RN MIRRORS OF THE MIND [language, empathy, neurological basis of ASD]

– mirror neurons – discovered in 1992 [monkey research in Parma, Italy]
– has taken psychology & neuroscience by “storm
– there was controversy about their existence in humans, but there is now scientific agreement that they exist
– when people extend hand, a person responds – this is mirror neurons in action
– evolution of language, empathy (theory of mind – reading another’s mind or being in another’s shoes) & the neurological basis of ASD
– based on simulating another’s experience – the mirror system
– they play a part in humans imitating others
– why some refer to us as homo imitatus
– mechanism to simulate what others are feeling – imitation is smart
– the chameleon effect – copy something/someone unconsciously
– autism is considered a break down of the mirror system – the “broken mirror theory”

Discussion with Professor Greg Hickock from Uni Calif Irvine
– has written a book about the myth of mirror neurons
– believes “the mirror system” has been over-sold & is a victim of over-reach
– he questions the interpretation, not the existence of mirror neurons – believes the theory falls short with language:
– babies cannot produce speech at 1 month old
– people with cerebral palsy
– people with facial paralysis
– watching sport is it motor imitation or sensory imitation (responding on a sensory level)?
– problems with broken mirror theory & autism
– “the intense world syndrome” – world is too intense for AD
– hyper-sensitive to external stimuli or hyper-empathic to other’s pain.

Source: All in The Mind; RN podcast; original broadcast date: 14 Dec 14

CBT Guide available – https://payhip.com/b/spSQ

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This is an evidence-based, easy-to-understand Guide I have developed in relation to Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, the gold standard when it comes to the treatment of psychological distress. 12 pages in length, just 4,200 words long, this guide represents a good investment in your health and well-being, not to mention your understanding of what CBT treatment typically involves. I hope you find it useful. Best wishes Mark – eBook available here using Paypal @ https://payhip.com/b/spSQ

Interesting Radio National broadcast about differing views on what constitutes “success” in life

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Source: Radio National Late Night Live broadcast: Australian Writer Kate Grenville…

Author discusses new biography “One Life” about her mother – differing views of success; struggles are part of life, as are reversls, importance of incremental steps

Broadcast date: 25 March 2015


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Summary of article:
– negative thinking/self-talk undermines our happiness/success
– this can also include mantras (things you were told) from childhood
– 1980s – New Age positive self-talk/affirmations
– association for psychological science (US) says do not do these as they are so “unbelievable/not credible” for the person with low self-esteem that such talk serves merely to inadvertently reinforce the original negative self-belief
– article likens it to being told to not think of pink elephants & then all you can do is think bout pink elephants
– the new buzzword us “incremental” – don’t set goals too big – have a series of mini-goals, & just focus on one of these at a time
– watch also for the tyranny of “shoulds” & “musts” in relation to what you think you should/must do (they become a but like a parental/authority figure which a person rebels against/resists)
– important to praise ourselves for small personal gains made
– rather than focusing upon the gains that haven’t been made
– small steps are the bedrock of major gains

Source: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/life/columnists/positive-psychology-take-everything-step-by-step/story-e6frg7g6-1227280249537

Anxiety – first steps [understand & reduce symptoms]

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Anxiety – first steps [understand & reduce symptoms]

– Describes an emotional reaction to a perceived threat
– Often known as the fight/flight/freeze response
– It is adaptive and designed to protect you in the face of danger
– It is accompanied by physiological symptoms

– When the anxiety reaction becomes overly sensitive, it can disrupt normal life and become extremely debilitating for the individual

Panic Attack
– Is an extreme physical reaction
– the symptoms are as if there is a fear of dying or “going crazy”
– These attacks can happen often and in a variety of situations

To manage anxiety, an individual needs to understand:
– Their triggers
– The nature of their fears
– What they do to reduce anxiety (Avoidance; Reassurance seeking; Distraction; Thought suppression)

Anxiety Management
– Realistic thinking
– Exposure or engagement (That is, facing your fears)
– Learning new anxiety management techniques:
– Slow breathing
– Relaxation – to squeeze out the stress and let in relaxation
– Positive affirmations
– Goalsetting and planning
– Problem-solving

To begin with:
– Monitor your anxiety throughout the day
– Rate its severity out of 10
– Record your symptoms
– And finally, record the events that were taking place at the time

The aim is to increase your:
– Awareness of environmental triggers
– Awareness and recognition of your subjective levels of anxiety

Source: Mark Taylor Psychology @ https://marktaylorpsychology.wordpress.com/

Our Brain Sees Known Words as Pictures

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Our Brain Sees Known Words as Pictures

Summary of article:
– no dedicated mechanism for reading given it is a fairly recent invention
– hypothesis that reading involves visual perception based on parts of brain that were activated (blood flow studies using fMRI)
– study conducted – evidence gained to support hypothesis where brain sees whole words, converts to pictures hence explaining why reading can occur quickly
– idea of the brain using a visual dictionary in the Visual Word Form Area (VWFA) of the brain, located in the left side of the visual cortex approx behind the left ear [opposite, on the right hand side of the brain is the Fusiform Face area responsible for facial expression which allows humans to recognise faces quickly]
– fMRI study found people responded differently to real, whole words as opposed o nonsense words, or pseudo words such as “haric” (a common test in dyslexia/word recognition screens)
– saw how neurons learned & became “tuned” to new words
– could have implications for learning whole words as opposed to phonetic spelling

Source: http://www.iflscience.com/brain/our-brain-sees-known-words-pictures?sf8271990=1

THE VICIOUS CYCLE OF WORKPLACE BULLYING [Association for Psychological Science]

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THE VICIOUS CYCLE OF WORKPLACE BULLYING [Association for Psychological Science]

– study has found workplace bullying often becomes a vicious cycle, where the more anxious & stressed one becomes, the more likely they are to be targeted for more workplace bullying & abuse
– serious effect on the victim ranging from depression to burnout
– anxiety displayed by the victim makes them more vulnerable to further persecution
– hypothesis – the strain of dealing with bullying exhausts a worker’s mental resources, leaving them less able to stand up to abuse – the associated psychological stress leads to poorer work performance & less support from colleagues & supervisors
– bullying leads to victims having negative perceptions of their workplace, resulting in further personal stress & job negativity
– note: bullying did not necessarily predict the onset of depression
– victims of bullying require coping skills & social support

SOURCE: http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/minds-business/the-vicious-cycle-of-workplace-bullying.html

Depression – Warning Signs – most common symptoms

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Depression – Warning Signs – most common symptoms

1. Self-Criticism
– tyranny of shoulds
2. Loss of Interest
– can exacerbate isolation
3. Significant Weight Changes
– lose interest in food
– emotional eating in a conscious effort to boost mood [American Journal of Clinical Nutrition – eating carbohydrates boosts temporarily serotonin]
– inactivity can boost weight gain
4. Unexplained aches & pains
– pain signals are amplified
– depressed people also typically have a lot more negative self-focus so are more likely to notice pain & concentrate upon them
5. Anger & irritability.
– both a symptom & contributor to depression
– recommends working through feelings of anger & resentment

Source: https://www.yahoo.com/health/5-warning-signs-of-depression-you-shouldnt-ignore-113902935833.html


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– they represent nature in its most tranquil, gentle guise
– in our busy, practical age there is little encouragement to appreciate them
– clouds are forever changing & show us that things pass in time [perhaps like our moods? Our concerns?]
– clouds are in “constant drama” much like human beings
– clouds can provide a moment of relief for us
– clouds can help return us to a broader perspective
– an image of patience & resolution, of endurance (able to weather all conditions)
– western tradition – philosophy from books
– eastern tradition – philosophy also comes from nature
– trees provide us with education about the cycle of life as well – that change is unstoppable
– & that change needs to be accepted rather than thought of as a catastrophe
– always communicating, chattering, whispering, arguing, dozing, confiding, shouting
– provide an object of contemplation when we are trying to think
– their constant activity enlivens our imagination
– they can provide us with the opportunity to develop insight, but we need to be careful to capture such insights or they too will slip away like the water in the stream
– article suggests rituals to remind ourselves to engage with nature
– clouds, trees & streams provide us with opportunities to contact calm & reason, tenderness & thoughtfulness

source: http://www.thebookoflife.org/clouds-trees-streams/

THE BRAIN – the origin of consciousness

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THE BRAIN – the origin of consciousness

– 2 theories: regional (focal) & global neural activity
– study used fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) technology hitch measures changes in blood oxygenation in areas of the brain
– supported idea that awareness was linked to global activity in neural networks across the brain
– this finding is in addition to knowledge about distinct areas of the brain being responsible for particular cognitive functions such as attention, language & control
– conscious awareness seems o break down the modularity of these functions

Source: http://www.iflscience.com/brain/new-research-yields-insight-origins-awareness?sf7995926=1


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– memories operate on a one-in, one-out policy
– recall leads to the forgetting of others
– known as active forgetting
– regarding trauma, it is important to prevent the intrusive memories of those traumas intruding upon & dominating their everyday life
– reminders, flashbacks, intrusive memories, nightmares

Source: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/03/21/how-your-brain-deletes-trauma.html?source=TDB&via=FB_Page


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– Mark Twain: Worrying is like paying a debt that you do not owe
– Occasional wearing may serve a coping function, helping a person to think & plan ahead
– too much & it becomes distracting, impeding productivity, concentration & affecting mood
– chronic worry can derail a person’s life – aka Generalised Anxiety Disorder
– Often runs in families (a general anxious apprehension)
– Often diagnosed with depression
– Worry is a devious foe
– People who worry a lot most often see their fears or worries come to nothing
– i.e. most catastrophic situations do not materialise
[note the negative reinforcer – leading to the mistaken belief that worrying means things do not turn out bad][correlation is confused with causation]
– research shows that worry hinders rather than aids effective problem-solving
– over time worry morphs from habit into a requirement born of superstition
– worrying also provides short-term stress relief through avoidance & works again as a negative reinforcer/reward system
– this sets up a worry cycle as difficult to break as drug addiction
– suddenly switching to not worrying can be very disconcerting for the person leading to worrying about worrying
– because old habits die hard

– Treatment used to advocate thought suppression (deny, ignore, avoid)
– no longer supported, & thought it may magnify anxiety
– NOW: engage such thoughts in conversation & examine them, question them (& challenge) with real life/world evidence

– Barlow – 2 cognitive Distortions:
1. Over-estimation bias
[the voice of worry ignores actual probabilities & instead imagines & predicts imminence]
2. Catrastophising bias
[consequences are imagined to be negative & extreme – the voice of worry ignores gradations & imagines the worst]

-In real life not all situations are bad &
– not all bad situations are imminent or extreme
– Living requires taking on low-probability risk everyday
– for e.g. – taking a shower could see a person slip & break their neck, but the likelihood is low & the risk is therefore deemed worth it (I.e. taking the shower)
– accurately calculating the odds is crucial to a human being’s decision-making ability & calculation of risk so that we can function/engage in life while exercising judgment:
– low-risk activities we engage in
– high-risk activities we avoid (or not worth taking the risk)

2 questions need to be asked:
– how likely is it really?
– how bad is it really?
[so as to guide the person to see, contrary to their cognitive Distortions, most high likelihood events are not terrible & most terrible events are not likely]

– we are not looking to counter negative thoughts with positive thoughts necessarily, but rather realistic thoughts so that a person can determine for themselves the following:
A. An event may be imminent, but mundane
B. some events are not the end of the world, but are just the world
C. Some potentially catastrophic events can be disregarded (not worried about), because on the whole they are mundane events that need to be done as part of everyday life
D. Some events we believe to be catastrophic are not so at all

SOURCE: Psychology Today @ https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/insight-therapy/201501/how-stop-worrying-and-get-your-life?utm_source=FacebookPost&utm_medium=FBPost&utm_campaign=FBPost

Insomnia – CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) Treatment

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Insomnia – CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) Treatment

– insomnia is trouble falling sleep, staying asleep, awakening too early, or any combination of all three
– sleep difficulties typically last longer than one week
– effects:
– not feeling refreshed after sleep
– energy
– mood
– ability to function at work, school & in general life

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine & the National Institute of Health recommend two therapies:
– doctor-prescribed sleep medication (short-duration only); &
– CBT which looks at:
– providing psychoeducation about insomnia
– sleep behaviours
– Excessive time in bed
– Irregular sleep schedules
– sleep incompatible activities
– hyperarousal
– sleep thoughts
– unrealistic sleep expectations
– misconceptions about sleep
– sleep-related worries
– poor coping skills
– sleep behaviours
– inadequate sleep hygiene
– lifestyle factors (caffeine, alcohol, exercise)
– environmental factors (bedding, lighting, noise)

Other questions to consider:
– What triggered your insomnia?

Please note I have conducted sleep clinics as part of my psychologist training here in Australia.

Treatments for anxiety

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Treatments for anxiety

Treatment depends on the type of anxiety being experienced:
– Mild symptoms can be relieved with lifestyle changes such as regular exercise
– Gold Standard – Cognitive behaviour therapy
– Thinking and behaviour affect how you feel
– Types of thinking being engaged in (often automatically)
– what are productive & non-productive worries
– Relaxation and breathing techniques to manage anxiety & relieve physical tension
– The behaviour therapy component focuses on behaviour activation to increase a person’s level of activity & engagement in pleasurable activities
– graded exposure to feared situations

Other things to consider: family, friends, support, relaxation, exercise, eating well, mindfulness

Types of anxiety:
– GAD: frequently worrying & being worried about a number of events & activities
– OCD: obsessions (frequent thoughts, images or impulses) ‘/or compulsions (repetitive behaviours or mental acts) to manage the obsessions
– Panic Disorder with or without agoraphobia: regular & unexpected panic attacks – may also be accompanied by anxiety & avoidance places, situations & people
– PTSD: experiencing distressing memories, increased physical &mental tension, & avoidance of places, people & feelings related to a traumatic event where the person felt extreme fear, powerlessness or terror
– Social Anxiety Disorder: noticeable & constant fear of one or more social or performance situations
– phobia: fear of object or non-social situation, often leading to avoidance

Source: Beyond Blue

Once I just get this done, everything will be perfect

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Once I just get this done, everything will be perfect

– one thing can never be everything
– for most of us, stressful life events are a hassle rather than a horror
– take a step back & appreciate what is not stressful in your life at such times
– when overwhelmed, take inventory of everything that is good in your life
– do this, particularly when you are very busy or sleep- deprived

Source: http://albertellis.org/once-i-just-get-this-done-everything-will-be-perfect/

Insomnia – CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) Treatment

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Insomnia – CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) Treatment

– insomnia is trouble falling sleep, staying asleep, awakening too early, or any combination of all three
– sleep difficulties typically last longer than one week
– effects:
– not feeling refreshed after keep
– energy
– mood
– ability to function at work, school & in general life

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine & the National Institute of Health recommend two therapies:
– doctor-prescribed sleep medication (short-duration only); &
– CBT which looks at:
– providing psychoeducation about insomnia
– sleep behaviours
– Excessive time in bed
– Irregular sleep schedules
– sleep incompatible activities
– hyperarousal
– sleep thoughts
– unrealistic sleep expectations
– misconceptions about sleep
– sleep-related worries
– poor coping skills
– sleep behaviours
– inadequate sleep hygiene
– lifestyle factors (caffeine, alcohol, exercise)
– environmental factors (bedding, lighting, noise)

Other questions to consider:
– What triggered your insomnia?

Please note I have conducted sleep clinics as part of my psychologist training here in Australia.

Building a Brain – “our brain is a great computer because it is a great guesser”

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Building a Brain – “our brain is a great computer because it is a great guesser”

brain programs around the world:
– international movement focusing on:
1) how to use information to get good results for people with mental illness &
2) can we understand what is going on in the brain which makes us human (at a cellular level in real time)
– moving beyond MRI which measures blood flow rather than neuronal activity itself
– at moment we have symptoms & neuronal chemicals
– an individual neuron has approx 30 connections each x billions of neurons
– bionic eyes are being developed
– neurons are context dependant – same neuron perform different functions at different times
– super-computers cannot at present simulate the brain (insufficient memory; incredible data requirement; will need to have interactive supercomputers with new software)
– assist in the diagnosis of brain diseases
– cognitive architectures – a chip on your computer to perform particular functions
– “our brain is a great computer because it is a great guesser”
– consciousness – is a special state where neurons are collectively working together
– decision-making states and all the other states our brain assumes to do something
– philosophers, ethicists, psychologists, neuroscientists are working together in this research

Source: broadcast date 8 June 2014 on RN’s Australian version of the BBC’s All in the Mind program

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Guide – NOW AVAILABLE

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Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Guide – NOW AVAILABLE

Hello – I thought I should let readers know I have developed a little publication called: “What is cognitive behavioural therapy? A 2015 Research- based Easy-To-Read Guide to Understanding Cognitive Behavioural Therapy”.

It is available from the following link eBay Australia using Paypal @

Cost is $9.95 AUD & contents include:
– CBT Basics, including cognitive triad, underlying principles & treatment approach
– blueprint of CBT, including tools & why it is helpful
– why CBT works – focus upon beliefs, thoughts & behaviours
– automatic thoughts
– Types of distorted or unhelpful thinking
– Call beliefs
– Map for therapy
– Utility of mindfulness based CBT techniques
– CBT online apps
– List of resources typically used as part of CBT

– Australian psychological Society
– Australian family physician pod cast
– Clinical psychiatry new
– People psychology podcast
– Beyond blue
– Back Institute
– Positive psychology
– The bulletin of the Australian psychological Association
– Bath pod public lecture
– Radio National – the prison of depression podcast
– Judith Beck CBT: basics and beyond
– Stanford University podcast video lecture series
– Hugh Mackay: the good life what makes life worth living


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Dr Beck believes anger results hen a person:
– feel they are being devalued & that this is wrong
– results in drop in self-esteem
– capture feeling & the belief (often exaggerated)
– automatic thoughts arise – need to capture [see Ways to Elicit Automatic Thoughts]
Remember too the ABC Model:
– A for Activating event
– B for thought/underlying belief
– C for consequence

– often people believe A leads automatically to C, but there is B (mindfulness can assist in capturing

Ways to Elicit Automatic Thoughts
– therapy can assist you to capture during therapy (imagine & role play – I.e. in vivo recretion in sessionso as to discover the automatic thoughts

Automatic Thoughts
– ask yourself: what specific thoughts am I having now [writing can assist in identifying out of session – assists in identifying cognitive distortions
– you can also notice a change in affect
– can also be referred to as NATs [Negative Automatic Thoughts]

Record, Rationalise & Replace (3 columns on one page)
– record in detail
– rationalise (label type of ST)
– replace (dispute/assess against facts/evidence)

– Mindreading/assuming
– shoulds, musts, oughts – perfection
– over-generalise
– catastrophise

Sources: Beck institute video for A COGNITIVE EXPLANATION FOR ANGER & HOSTILITY, Ways to Elicit Automatic Thoughts, Automatic Thoughts video

Beck Institute videos [various] – CBT

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– Beck Institute videos [various]
1. CBT in the treatment of depression
– case formulation
– DO NOT use thought record
INSTEAD – behavioural activation is where you begin, including in the office [
– often client is feeling hopeless & wanting to give up
– Q: what would you think if I said that if you follow a few simple instructions you will be able to get of of bed, play ping pong etc.,?
– let’s do a behaviour experiment -‘sit up, in the edge if the bed & put your 2 feet down. Now try standing up. What do the experiments show you?
– activity scheduling with severely depressed
– thought records with moderately depressed people
– get them invested in something outside of themselves (particularly if they are ruminators] – invest in something outside of the tidal wave
– grounding – look, point, name
– thought record – helps in seeing/working out alternate explanation
E.g. Dr – each time You see a patient, Write down if it is pleasurable or not, Whether it added to your sense of mastery
Note: behavioural activation is a form of cognitive restructuring because the patient believed he could not get up.

– work with patient to develop a schedule
– engagement: follow-through

2. Cognitive Restructuring in CBT [or alternative explanations/sensitive challenging/evidence for something]
– what went through your mind?
– when a person is depressed they have a 1 track mind (tunnel vision) [the walls preclude other information coming in]

3. CBT in Substance Abuse
– case formulation
– generic cognitive model
Situation – thoughts – mood/feelings – behaviour – physical reactions
– craving is so strong, it’s ok to give in to it (this time) or I’ll start tomorrow [known as permission-giving]
– experiential/exposure &then going away from it

4. Restructuring Negative Core Beliefs
– core beliefs never go away, but they become latent/quiet
– schemas & core beliefs are essentially the same
– therapy builds up a wall around the negative schema so that it remains inactive
– resilience & positive attitudes de-activate the schema
– restructuring the event
– are there alternative explanations
– does it logically follow?

5. Negative Core Beliefs in CBT
– usually strong/robust & prevails even across relatively neutral situations

6. The Utility of Mindfulness-based CBT Techniques
– Beck: CBT approach of alternate explanation, evidence, application of logic made it worse for cases of Obsessive forms of anxiety (OCD) – belief something bad will happen, I am a terrible person for having such thoughts, by having these thoughts it will come true
– a meditative/mindfulness approach gets the person free – to de-couple from this kind of thinking (round & round/ruminative type thinking)
– mindfulness gives symptomatic relief – does not in & of itself solve the presenting problem, but provides a foundation upon which to work with the cognitive approach

7. Automatic Thoughts in CBT (parts 1 & 2)
– our thoughts are often inaccurate representations of reality
– feelings are not facts
– we have streams of thoughts all the time (Mind is always active)
– not only not necessary to look at all the thoughts, but it is paralysing to do it
– only look at automatic thoughts that have some kind of unpleasant affect/behaviour (I.e. interfering thoughts that stop you proceeding with what you want to do)
– if anxious
– what was the thought behind it
– conduct some form of reality test – e.g. If x happens, so what? What’s the consequence?
– facilitate problem-solving to correct the automatic thought

– patient-centred : patients themselves decide what they want to work on

8. Evaluating Unhelpful Automatic Thoughts in CBT
– is this productive thinking? [much of what people think is not productive]
– ACT – notice the thought, accept the thought, but not pay too much attention to it

9. The Relationship Between CBT & Neuroscience
– has written 3 papers supporting it
– neuroscience confirms CBT works, but neuroscience has not added to CBT, but has shown that biologically, due to particular gene expression, that some respond more to behavioural activation rather than cognitive restructuring & vice-versa

10. Ways to elicit Automatic Thoughts
– why should we believe what the patient reports? Perhaps it is just something they have read, because it is what they think you expect them to say
– recover in therapy by asking questions
– or you can use imagery (imagine/re-imagine the scenario)
– or we role-play, then you tell me what your automatic thoughts are (do in vivo, then able to do in their life at large)

11. The Blueprint of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
– it’s not just a toolbox of techniques
– CBT is an architecture
– individuals in the course of their development experience certain vulnerabilities
– mal-adaptive attitudes/inflexible beliefs
– can permeate their whole personality leading to a personality disorder
– negative attitudes can be activated by a whole series of things that can impinge on an individual’s ability to function
– perception of all events in a biased way & spreads to other areas
– reality is distorted by internal workings of the mind
– cognitive restructuring – no longer seeing things as just mainly black or white
– changes biased beliefs of I’m no good/unloveable etc.,
– change in attitudes & beliefs/perceptions (I.e. see the positive too)
– people who are depressed see things negatively


APHORISMS ( Short sentences that capture a large truth)

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APHORISMS ( Short sentences that capture a large truth)

– The proof of good parenting – the child has no desire to be famous [F. Scott Fitgerald]
– The true indicator of a man’s character is the health of his wife. [Cyril Connolly]
– We all have strength enough to bear the misfortunes of others [de la Rochefoucald]
– What is there to weep over parts of life? The whole of it calls for tears [Seneca]
– The Only people we can think of as normal At those we don’t yet know very well. [Freud]
– Insomnia is the nights revenge for all the thoughts we forgot to have in the day [Mailer]
– There are some people who would never have fallen in love – If they hadn’t heard there was such a thing. [de la Rochefoucald]
– We keep a special place in our hearts for people who refuse to be impressed by us. [de la Bruyere]
– The best vaccine against anger is to watch others in its throes.[Proust]

Source: School of Life @ https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=t93LeMFaLFE


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– depression is not a weakness, is not a moral shortcoming, is not something people have brought on themselves – it is an illness
– mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma & bias shame us all

SOURCE: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/10/mental-illness-quotes_n_6817674.html


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The power of believing that you can improve

Carol Dweck (psychologist & researcher in the area of human motivation) presented in relation to the “growth mindset” (the understanding at our talents & our abilities can be developed) v’s a “fixed mindset” perspective (where people “run” from challenge)
– the grade of “not yet” meaning that you are always learning/striving to do better & achieve the best you can as part of a “learning curve”
– the person with the “growth mindset” engages with mistakes, processes the error, learns from the error & corrects the error
– Dweck suggests the following:
– Praise wisely
– not praising intelligence or talent
– praise the process that the child engages in
– praise effort, strategies, focus, perseverance, attention & improvement (not A’s)
– praise kids when they show they are hardy & resilient
– use words such as “yet” & “not yet” to build confidence & encourage persistence
– neurological development is promoted by attempting challenging things/going outside the comfort zone – neuroplasticity & new connections

Source: TED talk @ http://www.ted.com/talks/carol_dweck_the_power_of_believing_that_you_can_improve

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – PTSD – FOUR CORNERS BROADCAST

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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – PTSD – FOUR CORNERS BROADCAST

– psychological injury of veterans is real
– homelessness a real issue for some returning vets
– vet with story about flashbacks & insomnia/nightmares (recurring)
– medical discharge
– broke
– homelessness
-estranged from family
– suicidal ideation
– St John of God Hospital – group therapy (filmed)
– soldiers, fire-fighters, police
– described their experiences
– violence/sexual abuse background (soldier/vet referred to earlier)
– group rules
-nature of PTSD – clinical psychologist talks to the group
– fight/Flight/Freeze system – leading to terror or horror response for veterans, with ongoing thoughts, (system gets locked on & doesn’t go away once danger is no longer there – a survival system is no longer working effectively)
– PTSD makes highly-effective people unable to function
Trauma memories are totally different to normal memories
– trauma memories get frozen, the memories when triggered turn the system on
– engage the memories/visualise the memories in greater & greater detail so as to take the power away from the memory
– as much detail as you can – what thinking & feeling (exposure therapy)
– anxiousness will be experienced
– 2nd vet’s experience:
– swinging moods
– meltdowns/explode
-isolates himself
– does not like crowds/noise
– story of a meltdown in a theme park
– felt he was attacked by his son whom he nearly punched (impacted on the child)
– marriage breakdown
– went to a Mental Health Unit upon return to Australia
– stigma attached to mental illness
– lost his career / no assistance in transitioning to civilian life
– anger/anxiety
– psychiatrist session
– separate thought from emotion (the training of the warrior)

3rd vet’s story of repeated deployments to Afghanistan:
– aggressive, wound up, confused, emotionally detached resorted to alcohol abuse
– discipline impacts upon the child & the partners
– PTSD requires constant monitoring, medication – no cure in his opinion
– concept in war: “blooding” – lock away the emotions & continue on with the mission
– Tried to not feel & process his emotions while he was there
– culture – not disclosing feelings – stigma/career-destroying

Soldier On was interviewed in relation to a soldier & his interactions with bureaucracy

PTSD associated with depression & the abuse of alcohol

Source: FOUR CORNERS – ABC-TV broadcast date: 9 March 2015

Parents who “over-value” children may turn them into Narcissists

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Interesting study including comments by Professor Mark Dadds who discusses the risk of “over-valuing” children, while noting the need to value children, praise them & let them know of their self- worth.

Source: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/technology/sci-tech/parents-who-overvalue-their-kids-may-turn-them-into-narcissists-study-20150309-13z5ks.html

A-HA PARENTING: 10 THINGS TO DO INSTEAD OF PUNISHING YOUR CHILD [change from punitive to empathic parenting]

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A-HA PARENTING: 10 THINGS TO DO INSTEAD OF PUNISHING YOUR CHILD [change from punitive to empathic parenting]

– His actions have an impact on the world
– He can always choose his actions
– He is responsible for his actions
– Everyone makes mistakes
– When mistakes happen, you have to repair them
– Cleaning up mistakes is harder than choosing the right action
– Reflect on their actions to make better choices next time
– It takes courage to do the right thing
– When we make responsible, considerate choices we become the person we wish to admire
– And we feel better about ourselves

1. Move from anger to empathy
– if the child expects judgment & punishment, they are less inclined to open up
– & opening up is necessary to gain insight into the child’s thinking & feelings
2. Connect
– if child is worried you will get upset, the child goes into fight/flight/freeze mode & shuts down.
– If you need more time – take it to come down and manage your anger
– Aim is to find out the child’s reason for acting the way they did
– it may not seem a good reason to you, but it is their reason, & it provides the start point for problem-solving
3. Tell your child you want to hear his thoughts about what happened
– let him talk
– reflect back your understanding
4. Keep your thoughts on connection and learn about what happened from his perspective
– Kids know what is the right choice but something gets in the way
– What was it that got in the way?
– how can he address this so it doesn’t happen again?
– Punishment does not help the parent gain insight
– Does not help the child problem solve themselves – In fact it often involves covering up.
5. Ask open ended questions to keep the conversation light & safe
– Share a laugh
– Remind him that this is a growth experience for both of you
– Were you aware of making the choice?
– What led him to the choice?
– What does he think about it now?
– Was there a cost to making that choice?
– Would he do it again?
– Why or why not?
– How could he support himself to choose differently next time?
6. Empower your child to repair “ruptures” – ask:
– What can you do now to fix the problem?
– Did this incident show you Anything in your life you want to change? That’s bigger than just this one incident?
– How can I support you?
7. Resist the urge to jump in with punishments – Instead be quiet and listen
– discipline is not about punishment
– it’s about helping the child realise what he does has consequences & impacts upon others
– about taking responsibility to have a positive rather than a negative impact
– avoid being too heavy as it places the child on the defensive
8. Validate even when he feels there is nothing to repair, or is unable to repair
– calm down (child and parent)
– talk empathically
– help child express & process feelings
9. Step into your own power
– you are the parent
– about supporting the child & making them feel secure
– some children just require more support
10. Expect an adjustment period
– “best you can” parenting
– moving from punitive parenting will mean the child stops obeying out of fear
– more misbehaviour is to be expected
– stay empathic & do not take “perceived rudeness” personally
– stay compassionate
– welcome upset feelings so they open up to you
– you are changing your habits – if you change, the child changes

SOURCE: http://www.ahaparenting.com/blog/What_To_Do_Instead_of_Grounding_Your_Kid

Child’s Brain Development – Mind the Bump / Beyond Blue

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Mark Taylor Psychology

Child’s Brain Development – Mind the Bump / Beyond Blue

– Mindfulness for optimal child development
– Research is showing parents who use mindfulness skills increase the likelihood of raising children/adolescents who are emotionally resilient
– We all know what it feels like to be overwhelmed and confused
– we all Also know how reassuring it is when we are able to respond with calm flexibility
– when we do this, we are using our frontal lobes
– we also know that babies, children & adolescents do not have fully-developed frontal lobes & This part of the human brain is not hardwired until the human being is in their early 20s
– neuroscience: humans Have the ability to influence the development of each other’s brains
– mirror neurones
– when a baby is distressed & crying, similar reactions of fear & distress are aroused in the parent
– babies are…

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Getting grief right

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Getting grief right

– written by a psychotherapist
– Stages of grief: Denial, anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance
– Cultural expectation About grief – Put it behind you and get on with life
– Coping through acting better than you feel – This can be exhausting
– Approach: tell me your story (The narrative of your life)
– validate the person’s experience
– In therapy stages of grief, Self-diagnosis & societal expectations do not matter – you can surrender to your sorrow
– Grief is as unique as a fingerprint – That is we all do it differently & in our own time
– The story of loss has three chapters:
1. The strength of the bond with the person who has been lost
– the degree of attachment & strength of grief are linked
– The size of their grief is attached to the size of their love
2. The death event itself
– when death is traumatic & premature, the person often questions their sanity
3. The long road that beings when the outside world stops grieving with you
– reassuring others you are ok is often exhausting when you really need to sink into your sadness & grieve & accept
– Support groups can be useful – to learn from others that closure is not wanted because it means closing off a sacred bond
– Isak Dinesen (Writer) “All sorrows can be borne if you put them in a story or tell a story about them.”
– There is no right or wrong way to grieve
– There is no pressure to move on
– There is no shame in intensity or duration
– Sadness, regret, confusion, yearning, & all the experiences of grief become part of the narrative of love for the one who died.

Source: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/01/10/getting-grief-right/?smid=fb-nytimes&smtyp=pay&smvar=mapkwp&kwp_0=9727&_r=0

I Matter app – positive conversations about relationships

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I attended an excellent MHPN webinar about DV matters in particular, however this could prove useful nonetheless. The I Matter app is an interactive virtual library of articles/quizzes etc., about what constitutes positive a positive relationship, together with the idea of boundary crossings and when what one believes is a loving relationship becomes a controlling, abusive relationship. The idea is there is never any consent to abuse in a relationship.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Guide – NOW AVAILABLE

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Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Guide – NOW AVAILABLE

Hello – I thought I should let readers know I have developed a little publication called: “What is cognitive behavioural therapy? A 2015 Research- based Easy-To-Read Guide to Understanding Cognitive Behavioural Therapy”.

It is available from the following link eBay Australia using Paypal @

Cost is $9.95 AUD (12 pages, 4200 words) & contents include:
– CBT Basics, including cognitive triad, underlying principles & treatment approach
– blueprint of CBT, including tools & why it is helpful
– why CBT works – focus upon beliefs, thoughts & behaviours
– automatic thoughts
– Types of distorted or unhelpful thinking
– Core beliefs
– Map for therapy
– Utility of mindfulness based CBT techniques
– CBT online apps
– List of resources typically used as part of CBT

– Australian psychological Society
– Australian family physician pod cast
– Clinical psychiatry new
– People psychology podcast
– Beyond blue
– Back Institute
– Positive psychology
– The bulletin of the Australian psychological Association
– Bath pod public lecture
– Radio National – the prison of depression podcast
– Judith Beck CBT: basics and beyond
– Stanford University podcast video lecture series
– Hugh Mackay: the good life what makes life worth living

Re-Reading is Inefficient – 8 Steps for Studying Smarter – ability, intelligence, & learning are related to how you approach learning – i.e. working smarter.

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Re-Reading is Inefficient – 8 Steps for Studying Smarter – ability, intelligence, & learning are related to how you approach learning – i.e. working smarter.

Active learning strategies are recommended on the basis of psychological research. Such strategies include: flash cards, diagramming & quizzing yourself so as to discover gaps.

Summary of main points:
1. Don’t just re-read class notes, assignments & text book chapters
– most students report this is there number one go to strategy.
– Research shows the second reading is often cursory because it creates the false impression that you know it, when in fact there are most likely gaps in your knowledge

2. Ask yourself lots of questions. Better to read once & ask yourself lots of questions.
– retrieving information actually helps with memory consolidation
– when you get it wrong, it provides an accurate diagnostic for what you do not know.
– questions to ask yourself are: Why? How? What?
[so instead of reading & skimming, ask yourself questions to aid your understanding

3. Connect new information to what you already know.
– on the second reading, relate new information to material you already know

4. Draw out the information in a visual form
– use drawings, diagrams, flow charts, visual models
– very effective for memory retention
[more engaged learning rather than passive learning]

5. Flash cards so you can re-test yourself (even for those things you get right)
– repeating is good for memory retrieval

6. Don’t cram – space out your study & repetition to aid memory retention

7. Teachers should do this too – that is go over things in class & in homework

8. No such thing as a maths person.
– Carol Dweck from Stanford University has researched student mindsets about learning where they typically fall in one of two categories:
– fixed learning – i.e. “I have a certain amount of talent for this topic.” – Where beyond a certain point, the student thinks they can no longer learn/develop.
– growth mindset – learning involves using effective strategies, putting aside time to do the work, & engaging in the learning process so you learn & develop. [generally becoming more successful students who persevere]

Source: http://www.vox.com/2014/6/24/5824192/study-smarter-learn-better-8-tips-from-memory-researchers


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1) A.A. MILNE – Winnie the Pooh:
“Promise me you will Remember you are braver than you think; stronger than you seem; smarter than you think.”

2) Dr Seuss – Horton Hears a Who
“A person’s a person no matter no matter how small.”

3) Aesop – The Lion & the Mouse
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

4) A.A. MILNE – Winnie the Pooh:
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

5) Roald Dahl – The Twits
“If you have good thoughts thy will shine out of your face like sunbeams & they will look lovely.”

6) Dr Seuss – Oh the Places You’ll Go
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And you are the one who will decide where you will go.”

SOURCE: http://encurious.com/post/90982259223/quotes-from-childrens-books

TEDX Cambridge – Talks to Understand How We Work & How to Work Better Together [PART ONE]

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TEDX Cambridge – Talks to Understand How We Work & How to Work Better Together [PART ONE]

Summary of talks:
Linda Hill (Management Visionary, Business Professor)
– studies “leaders of innovation”
– across industries & across different countries
– to have innovative organisations (creating new & useful products & services) will require humans to “un-learn” their traditional notions of leadership, leadership teams & “brains trusts” more generally [as well as the focus on who is right & who us winning; not setting a direction & ensuring no one deviated from it.]
– ideas such as creating a vision [often to be innovative, this “vision” is hazy at best
– innovation is not about individual genius but collective genius
– cites example of company that has created computer-generated movies & made the genre mainstream
– process cannot typically be condensed to a “neat series of steps” (typically process is iterative, inter-related & messy)
– movie shots – some quick, others not; some shot in order, but most not – scene/content dependent
– leadership must allow individuals to contribute their “slice of genius”
– at the heart of innovation is a paradox – individual creativity & harnessing for one particular piece of work
– innovation is a journey – a collaborative problem-solving among people who have different expertise & points of view
– trial & error, false starts, & mistakes are typical (exhilarating & scary for individuals simultaneously)
– she states successful innovative organisations have three capabilities:
1. Creative Abrasion (creative marketplace of ideas through debate & discourse – amplifying difference, rather than minimising difference; it is not brainstorming where people suspend judgment, but discussion based on expertise to create options – based on diversity & subject matter conflict)
2. Creative Agility (testing & refining the ideas & options; reflect & adjust based on learning through discovery, rather than planning a future; running a series of experiments rather than pilots)
3. Creative Resolution (decision-making; “no going along to get along”; no individual or group is allowed to dominate; decisions not the sole province of the boss, but rather more inclusive)
She cites another company – this time a well known search engine company:
– allowing talented people to play out their passions

Innovative organisations allows people to be creative & be willing to use that creativity o solve problems

New leadership looks like:
– building a sense of community – a world to which people want to belong, like a public square where people will interact
– building the three capabilities
– anyone, regardless of role/level, can contribute
– where all “disruptors & minority voices can speak up & be heard”
– talented people “don’t want to follow, they want to co-contribute”
– “nurture the bottom up”
– not a dictator of viewpoints, but rather an aggregator of viewpoints
– hire people who argue with you
– “the social architect rather than the visionary”
– not having everyone “looking up (to the boss)” but outwards – unleash the power of the many & release the stranglehold of the few

Source: http://tedxinnovations.ted.com/2015/02/15/playlist-talks-to-understand-how-we-work-and-how-to-work-better-together/

CRIPPLING WORKLOAD – Mental Illness in the Australian Workplace (RN ABC)

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CRIPPLING WORKLOAD – Mental Illness in the Australian Workplace (RN ABC)

– mental illness – main reason workers take extended sick leave &/or become incapacitated (research by dr Sam Harvey, Psychiatrist – based on national health surveys conducts in the period 2001 to 2011)
– costs also for the economy ($10.9 Bn annually cited – source: The Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance)
– affects 1 in 5 workers annually
– stigma/prejudice still present
– cites case of teacher not being supported in workplace
– high rates of depression within the law & Federal Court Judge’s own experience with depression (Justice Shane Marshall), as well as instances of bullying
– mental illness extends across all industries
– dr Harvey – mental illness accounts for 10% of workers compensation claims & 1/3 of workers compensation budgets (reason cited: psychological injury takes longer to recover from than physical injury; figures cited – 14.2 weeks away from work when a psychological injury c/w 4.8 weeks lost from work for a muscular-skeletal injury)
– professor from Deakin Uni – costs of mental illness are tip of iceberg when one considers issues of turn-over, retraining, & “presenteeism”; also states he believes that – due to stigma – for every one workers compensation claim (psychological injury) made, some 30 go unreported
– makes point about job strain arising as a result of people having high-demanding jobs, but little control about how to get the job done
– cites figures that such work conditions exist for approx 22% of women & 18% of men
– mental illness in the workplace is often ignored as a health & safety problem

SOURCE: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/backgroundbriefing/crippling-workload/6130900

How your job can be positive for your mental health – suggestions fom Headpace

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Employment can assist with mental health recovery while continuing to provide the individual with financial security.

summary of article:

– work provides structure & routine

– work provides/contributes a sense of meaning & purpose

– provides opportunities for social inclusion & support

Possible barriers:

– reduced self-confidence

– peer pressure/social stigma & possible discrimination from employer &/or colleagues

– uncertainty about support available

– continuing concerns that workplace stress issues have not been adequately addressed, coupled with loss of connection with work & colleagues

Plan RTW (Return to Work)

– regular catch-ups ith employer/colleagues so as to “stay in the loop”

– letting employer know if you wish to receive visits from colleagues

– consider letting employer contact GP

reources are also available from the link, plus a personal story video, advice on making adjustments & workplace rights

Source: Headspace & beyond blue @

The Blueprint of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy [Beck Institute]

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The Blueprint of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
– it’s not just a toolbox of techniques
– CBT is an architecture
– individuals in the course of their development experience certain vulnerabilities
– mal-adaptive attitudes/inflexible beliefs
– can permeate their whole personality leading to a personality disorder
– negative attitudes can be activated by a whole series of things that can impinge on an individual’s ability to function
– perception of all events in a biased way & spreads to other areas
– reality is distorted by internal workings of the mind
– cognitive restructuring – no longer seeing things as just mainly black or white
– changes biased beliefs of I’m no good/unloveable etc.,
– change in attitudes & beliefs/perceptions (I.e. see the positive too)
– people who are depressed see things negatively


Concerns mandatory reporting is putting doctors at risk – Radio National [calls for change to laws & working environments]

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Concerns mandatory reporting is putting doctors at risk – Radio National [calls for change to laws & working environments]

– conundrum – mandatory reporting forces doctors to hide mental illness from other doctors for fear of being mandatorily reported
– doctors are traveling to WA for treatment of their own mental health issues to avoid mandatory reporting which applies in other states – this is because WA is exempt from the mandatory reporting requirements
– doctors can be reported under the categories of inappropriate conduct & impairment, with a notification leading to suspension or restrictions placed upon their practice & information being placed on the AHPRA website
– reports in media about recent deaths of four young doctors (3 psychiatric registrars & 1 medical intern, all working in public hospitals) has highlighted these fears & how they potentially impact upon a doctor’s likelihood to seek as early as possible treatment for mental health related issues
– a review of mandatory reporting laws has recently been completed, but is not yet public; however the review is expected to be tabled at the April meeting of the Council Of Australian Governments (many in the medical profession are reported to be hoping that the laws revert to the West Australian model (& this has been further supported by 2 medical insurers)
– working environment issues also cited, as was extra duties

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/backgroundbriefing/2015-02-15/6083558


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We thought you may be interested in having a look at this growing online community @
http://www.australianbadgeguides.com/buy-the-guides/ – particularly if interested in Australian social & cultural history dating back to WW1 (as shown in Australia’s fundraising badges, buttons & pins, such as Anzac Day, Legacy Appeals etc.,) – for information our well-researched 2015 Guide to Australia’s Fundraising Buttons, Badges & Pins – Anzac Day is now available for immediate reading as a downloadable eBook using Paypal from http://www.australianbadgeguides.com/buy-the-guides/) & our 2014 Guide to Australia’s World War One Badges is also available, amongst many others.

How do you know if you need therapy?

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With the exception of the UK references, this is a timely article – if in Canberra, I can be contacted on 0467 087 300 & I practice CBT & mindfulness in particular – I appreciate it is a big step, but if the following applies to you, perhaps it is worth considering
– a relationship ending
– loss of someone close to you
– perhaps you’ve always felt at odds with the world
– do you feel you are running into the same problems time & again
– you are thinking about past traumas more often of late
– you feel your home & work life is suffering
– you are no longer enjoying the things that once gave you pleasure
– do you find yourself, eating or drinking more than usual, or are you taking drugs to cope?

Source: https://psychologies.co.uk/how-do-you-know-if-you-need-therapy


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– friends can have conflicts too
– children need to have relationship repair skills
– conflict is a normal occurrence in life
– children who have the skills to manage conflict are
– happier
– have stronger relationships &
– learn better at school
– many parents let children sort it out themselves – hence why the loudest often works
– other parents jump in & “fix”
– suggests trying this when child disagrees with friends /siblings
1. Ask all sides for their side of the story
2. Have children state their own needs & wants by asking them what thy want
3. Help children listen & understand the needs & wants of the other
4. Help children think of different ways to solve the problem – assist & encourage the children to develop solutions
5. Help develop win-win solutions
6. Put solution into action & review



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– Courageous love is expressive

– consider using:
– touch (physical) races, wrestles, hugs
– tell them in words (praise, affection)
– time focused on them & them alone
– gifts – a gift or token of your love
– service – like helping him or her with his/her chores

Ask your child to name three things that make him/her feel loved the most
– journal it
– make a point of doing it /showing it each day

Source: http://www.positive-parents.org/2015/02/love-courageously-challenge-day-six.html

Protect yourself from anger: Learn to boost confidence and composure

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Protect yourself from anger: Learned to boost confidence and composure

– grievous are the consequences of anger as much as the causes of it
– concept of “ego anger” with irrational demands, recurrent & lingering features
– consequences can include:
– physical violence
– relationship loss
– when expressing anger, people tune into the emotion rather than the substance
– long-term health risks
– concept of “anger traps”
– confident composure:
– recognise you can only directly command yourself
– can influence controllable events only
– you have psychological resources to defuse conflicts & finesse those conflicts (I.e. responding flexibly & effectively)

Blame-Anger Factor
– holding onto anger is like holding onto something ready to throw it at another person
– “road of life” analogy – rarely smooth – full of challenges, frustrations, stress, blame
– it is normal to blame those you believe caused you pain
– condemning & punishing is like holding onto something
– confidence to take charge of yourself & adversity (despite the anxiety caused)
– you have options – to stress yourself or
– to problem-solve & exude confident composure
– begin by showing empathy to others important to you & thereby building relationships
– control your own reactions
– deep-breathing;
– buy time to calm down
– examine anger assumptions – why you believe it is ok to get angry
– change from “ego anger” to “enlightened” – why play the game of “anger”?
– accept reality – the situation is as it is
– make Your anger/impatience/frustration the target of change
– defuse & let go of the anger

The Anger-Anxiety-Procrastinaation Connection
– confrontation anxiety
– or is it more realistic to be assertive, noting it is difficult but more helpful & effective than bottling it all up
– procrastination is used to avoid confrontation
– put off procrastination by
1. Accepting there is a problem which needs to be addressed/changed
2. Break steps down into plunks – smaller, planned chunks
3. Develop a positive, can do form of reasoning
4. Accept her emotions without ignoring/distracting herself
5. Change her behaviour & act as though she can do it without argument or anger

Aristotle – Anyone can become angry. That is easy. To be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, & in the right way… That is not easy.

– ego anger is triggered by irrational demands & expectations & it may seem automatic (as if caused by something)
– however, you do have a choice to think, feel & act differently.
– believe you can respond reflectively & effectively, & then do so
– practice makes progress, & when mistakes are made, practice repair

Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/science-and-sensibility/201104/protect-yourself-anger


How highly successful people deal with depression

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How highly successful people deal with depression

Summary of article:
– develop a goal with therapy
– so as to steadily achieve little wins which, together, eventually amount to change
– be willing to examine the arc of your life – that is your early experiences – to think deeply about your past
– stop self-sabotaging
– think about themselves & their life in new ways
– recognise that past traumas can come into their lives, & overwhelm them, leading them back to a child-like place (& way if thinking, feeling & behaving)
– “flooding” of old traumas – knowing ow to recognise them & pull yourself out of the situation
– identify triggers for depression as soon as they start
– are prepared to invest in therapy (e.g. cited in article – person has therapy 4 hrs/week)
– person states one session per week did not work for him (three for himself & one with his partner)
– identify patterns & implications of arguments with loved ones
– working out treatment – therapy, medication or combination pharmacotherapy
– also with exercise, pastimes/hobbies, journaling, faith/spirituality
– they recognise that depression “just happens” & is not a “personality flaw/weakness”
– it is a true disorder, not a shortcoming
– typically has multi-factorial cause
– they recognise recovery from depression takes time & a lot of work
– are not prepared to be stigmatised because of their illness
– are mindful of signs

Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2015/02/04/the-most-powerful-ways-to-beat-depression/

Pathological video game use can be ‘life-dominating’ [article]

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  • Pathological video game use can be incredibly life-dominating.
  • Child neglect resulting from video game use is not unheard of, and several children in the United States reportedly have murdered one or both of their parents for taking awaytheir video games, Dr. Atkinson said at the annual meeting and scientific symposium of the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry
  • Many terms are used for pathological video game use, including problematic video game use, gaming disorder, and Internet gaming disorder, which is the term used in section III of DSM-5
  • Whether chronic video game use is a societal problem or an individual problem “is a very big question,” Dr. Atkinson said.
    • If kids are playing video games and they’re all getting out of shape, that’s a cultural challenge
  • Most youth do not develop addictive behavior from playing games like EverQuest. “Substance use and gaming are different,” Dr. Atkinson said.
    • The amount of time spent at the expense of other things is one of the primary harms of video gaming,
    • but financial concerns are not irrelevant. The new Star Wars Battlefront game would cost $2,100 if someone were to buy all of the available extras for the video game. Otherwise, it would take several hundred hours of game play to achieve all of these unlocked features.”
  • While video games do not induce supraphysiologic dopamine release in the way drugs like cocaine do, the addictive potential is measured by an equation of reward versus effort.
  • Obtaining a video game is not dependent upon social interactions, unlike drug use in states where the drug in question is illegal. In fact, the fewer social connections, the greater the risk of developing a video game use disorder.
  • “The perception of harm of video game addiction is very low, and parents do not consider the potential for developing an addiction before they buy a computer, handheld device, or video game console,” he said. “It is viewed as something that has to be limited … not as something that is impossible to limit.” However, when parents begin to detect problems, they often find themselves unable to control their children’s or teens’ use of gaming, according to Dr. Atkinson.
  • In the DSM-5, Internet gaming disorder is defined as being preoccupied with games and withdrawn when not playing them, including irritability, anxiety, and sadness. Tolerance manifests as needing to spend more time playing the game. Typically, gamers cannot reduce their use despite effort, and there is a loss of interest in other activities and hobbies, Dr. Atkinson said.
  • They may continue to engage in overuse of games despite knowing it’s a problem; they may lie about usage, may use games to escape anxiety or guilt, and may have lost or risked losing relationships or career opportunities because of games.
  • “Not all gamers will do all of these things,” he emphasized. “For example, some gamers have disordered use and lose interest in other things, but don’t lie about it.” DSM-5 criteria also note that the video gaming itself must cause clinically significant impairment and must not be a manifestation of another disorder.
  • Tools aimed at helping in the diagnosis include the Problem Video Game Playing Questionnaire, the Internet Gaming Disorder Scale, the Internet Gaming Disorder Scale–Short-Form, the Problematic Online Gaming Questionnaire, the Game Addiction Scale, and the Electronic Gaming Motives Questionnaire, which measures enhancement, coping, social, and self-gratification motives.
  • According to Dr. Atkinson, 90% of children in Japan, Korea, North America, and Europe play video games. However, the prevalence of Internet gaming disorder is estimated to be 1% in the United States, 1.14% in Germany, and 5.9% in South Korea. Males have higher rates of pathological video game use, while afflicted females tend to have more problems.
  • Pathological gaming use is associated with high levels of previous truancy and few leisure activities. It’s also associated with depression, poor impulse control, narcissistic traits, high anxiety, poor social competence, and less religiosity.
  • “The overlap with depression is very interesting,” Dr. Atkinson said. “Gamers have a heightened rejection sensitivity, compared with nongamers. When they get rejected in a peer group or for a job, they tend to take it harder than people who don’t game. The gaming world is a place where you can be safe from rejection. If your credit card goes through, you’re allowed in.”
  • Anhedonia is another factor within the clinical syndrome of depression that is associated with video game use. A nationwide community sample of individuals in Korea showed that gaming and depression have their overlap most strongly with the “escape from negative emotions” model (J Nerv Ment Dis. 2017;205[7]:568-73).
  • Other associated problems include greater obesity; metabolic indicators, such as high triglycerides and cholesterol; and sleep deprivation. Chronic gamers also tend to have less social support, less health promotion, and heightened social phobia. “When you’re gaming all the time, you’re going to have less opportunity to engage in an exposure paradigm to help you get over your social phobia,” Dr. Atkinson said. “Problem gamers are also more likely to have pathological use of pornography, poor impulse control, and ADHD symptoms.”
  • Parental management training can be successful at setting gaming limits in children under 12 years of age, he said. Pathological video game use is associated with physiologic stress in the family problem-solving task. One study of a brief 3-week family therapy intervention as measured by functional MRI showed that improvement in perceived family cohesion was associated with an increase in the activity of the caudate nucleus in response to the gamer’s viewing images of family cohesion and was inversely correlated with changes in online game playing time (Psychiatry Res. 2012 May 31;202[2]:126-31). “Bringing the family together may give them something to do besides gaming,” Dr. Atkinson said. “That can help them put games in a more balanced perspective.”
  • The largest evidence base supports cognitive-behavioral therapy for Internet gaming disorder, but there is insufficient evidence to make a clear statement of benefit (Clin Psychol Rev. 2017 Jun;54:123-33). Gaming-related cognitions accounted for a large portion of the variance in treatment response.
  • “Does the gaming cause the thoughts? Or do the thoughts cause the gaming?” Dr. Atkinson asked. “The cognitive model of CBT would tell you there’s a bidirectional relationship.”
  • As for medications, bupropion has been shown to reduce online gaming in depressed individuals, and escitalopram also may be efficacious. One comparative analysis showed that there were greater effects from using bupropion than for using escitalopram (Clin Psychopharmacol Neurosci. 2017 Nov 30;15[4]:361-8). Methylphenidate also has been shown to reduce online gaming (Compr Psychiatry. 2009 May-Jun;50[3]:251-6).
  • Parents who take video games away from their children often are met with a burst of aggression. “There’s an attempt to reestablish dominance in the situation, to obtain the old reinforcer or to reestablish control,” Dr. Atkinson said. “It’s different from tapering a drug; this is something that you have to plan for. Tapering video games is difficult to do. If the kid plays longer than they’re supposed to, what do you do then? You may have a fight to discontinue the video game. That’s one of the practical problems.”




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BDNF – Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor

  • Neurotrophin: a chemical (like NGF – Neuronal Growth Factor) that promotes the survival and activity of neurons. In addition to NGF, the brain also uses brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) as a neurotrophin. BDNF is the most abundant neurotrophin in the adult mammalian cortex.
  • Most antidepressants require 2 or 3 weeks before benefits begin, suggesting their effects on depression are not directly mediated by their synaptic actions. One explanation may be that antidepressants gradually increase the release of neurotrophins such as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and cause an increase in cell size (it has been established that neurons in the hippocampus and cerebral cortex shrink in size when people are depressed).
  • In some depressed people, neurons in the hippocampus and the cerebral cortex shrink.
  • Behavioral effects of antidepressant drugs often take longer than the effect on our neurochemisrty which happen within hours
  • One explanation is that antidepressant drugs increases the release of BDNF which promotes neuron growth and survival.

The building blocks of healthy family relationships

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Healthy family relationships help all members of a family feel safe and connected to one another. While all families go through good and difficult times, a family with healthy relationships is still able to interact with one another in a safe and respectful way. Positive interactions between family members outnumber difficult ones.

Healthy family relationships – what are they?

In healthy family relationships, people are able to trust and rely on each other for support, love, affection and warmth. Families often share common goals and try to work together to reach those goals. For example, children may help their parents and carers to get the dinner dishes done so that everyone can relax or everyone in the family may do their own bit to help save some money to go on a family holiday. Some things we may see in families building positive relationships include:

  • each person in the family is valued and respected
  • two-way communication exists
  • each family member makes an effort to understand and trust the other’s point of view
  • family members check in with each other, especially when making important decisions
  • adults share responsibility, where possible, for caring roles.

One study (Geggie, J., DeFrain, J., Hitchcock, S., & Silberberg, S. (2000). Family strengths research project. Newcastle, NSW: Family Action Centre, University of Newcastle) asked different types of Australian families to suggest what they considered to be the qualities that made their families strong even when facing difficulties. Eight characteristics were identified:

Family strengths as identified by Australian families

  • Communication: Listening to each other and communicating with openness and honesty.
  • Togetherness: Sharing similar values and beliefs that create a sense of belonging and bonding.
  • Sharing activities: Spending time together doing things they enjoy (e.g., sports, reading, camping or playing games).
  • Affection: Showing affection and care regularly through words, hugs, kisses and thoughtfulness.
  • Support: Offering and asking for support, with family members knowing they will receive help, encouragement and reassurance from one another.
  • Acceptance: Understanding, respecting and appreciating each family member’s unique qualities.
  • Commitment: Seeing family wellbeing as a first priority and acting accordingly with commitment and loyalty.
  • Resilience: Being able to tolerate difficulties and adapt to changing situations in positive ways.

Families also identified that the biggest challenges for family relationships were communication breakdown, parenting issues and difficult relationship patterns. To build stronger family relationships, it helps to first recognise family strengths before working on challenges.

Children benefit from healthy family relationships

Children thrive on feelings of belonging and affection that come from having caring and supportive families. The quality of family relationships is more important for children’s wellbeing than the size or composition of the family. Whether families with children have one parent or two, whether they include step-parents, grandparents or other carers, they can build strong, positive relationships that promote family wellbeing and support children’s mental health.

When children receive love and support in a warm family environment, they are better able to take on the childhood tasks of exploring their world and learning new skills. They also learn from the family environment how to connect to other people and build healthy relationships. This helps them experience more positive peer relationships and teaches them how to interact with adults. Children who learn the skills of building healthy relationships are more likely to grow up to become confident and resilient individuals.

Families come in different shapes, sizes and numbers

Families can have different expectations of their children’s behaviour and the roles of parents and carers. This leads to differences in family relationships and communication styles. Many beliefs about what helps create strong family relationships are influenced by the values and experiences that parents and carers were exposed to in their own families while growing up.

Cultural background also influences the values and goals adults have for children’s development. There are also differences within cultures, meaning that no two families will have the same values, even if they come from the same community. For example, it is common in western industrialised societies like Australia for parents and carers to value children’s independence, such as personal responsibility for interactions, whereas parents and carers from non-western cultural backgrounds frequently give more emphasis to joint family responsibilities and togetherness. In some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, for example, family members may be jointly responsible for caring for children and the elderly, as well as sharing food, clothing and housing and acting as a support network for each other.

Differences in the make-up of families with children may also lead to diverse relationship and support needs. Some examples include:

1. Two-parent families

Family relationships are first influenced by the main couple relationship; this partnership has a major impact on interactions among all family members. While parents and carers may sometimes find it a challenge to meet children’s needs as well as their own and their partner’s needs, it is still important to set aside some time to attend to the couple relationship.

It is important that parents try to resolve conflict between them. Unresolved conflict between parents may impact directly on children or on the effectiveness of their parenting (e.g., by giving inconsistent messages to children). Maintaining effective communication and support for each other as parents enhances the couple relationship and supports positive relationships in the family as a whole.

2. Sole parents

Sole parents may miss the support provided by another parent or carer and feel over-stretched by the responsibility of caring for children alone. Having a support network of friends and relatives can make a big difference. Where possible, separated sole parents can support their children by sharing positive co-parenting arrangements with the other parent. This can be achieved when parents and carers value and respect the importance of children having opportunities to develop their relationships with both parents.

3. Blended and step-families

When separate families come together and form a new family, they are referred to as blended or step-families. Family members may or may not be biologically related to each other. Blended families may have to take into account more complex relationships when trying to build healthy family relationships. Children may feel their prior relationships with parents or carers have changed because of the new couple relationship and parents’ and carers’ relationships with step-children. Family members, especially children, may still be grieving the loss of their original family.

Families may have to discuss how new and existing relationships between children and parents or carers are going to work. Children may spend time with two families who have different expectations of them. These changes can cause a lot of stress to children as well as parents and new partners. Having realistic expectations and making house rules clear and predictable to all family members is very important.

It is helpful to reassure children that they will still have the love and support of both parents. It is also useful to take as much time as needed for everyone to adjust to the new family. Help all family members recognise the importance of treating everyone with respect.

4. Foster families

For various reasons, children sometimes live in out-of-home care or foster care with people they may or may not be related to. The adults who take on this caring role are known as foster parents and they provide a safe and caring place for children. The children being cared for may have complex needs and this can be challenging for foster parents. In many cases, the end goal is to reunite children with their families of origin. Hence, foster parents have the difficult task of opening their hearts and homes to their foster children and one day having to say goodbye. Still, foster parents play an important role as they can help children to feel safe, secure and cared for and also show children what positive relationships can look like.

5. Grandparents as carers

Depending on family circumstances, grandparents may either care for children for some, most, or all of the time. Whatever their time involvement, grandparents play a significant role in building healthy family relationships. Grandparents can model what healthy family relationships look like and their involvement also helps children see family relationships in the wider, extended family context.

When grandparents take on the main caregiving role, they become responsible for providing safety, security and care for children so they feel a sense of belonging within the family. If grandparents share this role with the child’s main caregivers, other grandparents, members of the family or caregivers outside the family, it is helpful to discuss how all the different family relationships may work so that the child knows what to expect when they are with their various caregivers and continue to feel safe and secure in all their relationships.

Dealing with conflict

Conflict is a normal and healthy part of family life. For example, families often disagree over things like house rules, what TV show to watch or bedtime. Families are made up of individuals who will sometimes have different ideas, wants or needs. Conflict can occur at any time so it is important for families to have effective ways of managing it. Conflict itself is not a problem–but the way it is handled might be. When conflict is managed in positive ways, family relationships are strengthened. For example, agreeing that everyone gets to choose their favourite TV show that week and to take turns watching something they enjoy. When not dealt with effectively, conflict can be stressful and damaging to relationships.

Many parents and carers find that conflict between siblings happens again and again. Children in the same family often argue, tease and complain about each other, even though they may provide good company for one another during other times. When children fight, it is important for parents and carers to help children identify the problem behind the conflict and guide them through a process of problem solving. Children often look to a parent or carer to judge who is right and who is wrong in a conflict; however, taking this approach can lead to more frequent conflicts. Assisting children to work through the steps of problem solving helps them manage conflict fairly and become more cooperative (the problem-solving process is discussed later in this information sheet).

The following sections provide some suggestions about how to strengthen family relationships so positive experiences outweigh difficult ones. When relationships are strong and healthy, they are better able to withstand the stress of challenging times and celebrate the positive experiences.

Building positive family relationships is about dealing with conflicts as well as making time to relax and do fun things together.

Ways to build healthy family relationships

Building and maintaining positive relationships with children and with all family members is not always easy. It can be hard work trying to ensure everyone’s most important needs are met. All families have times when tempers flare, feelings get hurt and misunderstandings occur. It takes good communication, flexibility and creativity to manage these situations and maintain positive connections.

Some factors that help build strong and caring family relationships include:

  • making relationships a priority
  • communicating effectively
  • working together as a family
  • providing support for each other.

1. Making relationships a priority

Our responsibilities outside the home are important. Likewise, putting aside some time to look after our relationships at home is also important. By making family relationships a priority, we are highlighting that they are important to us.

Here are a few ways to show your family that they are important:

  • Spend time with children and other family members: Many of us lead very busy lives with lots of responsibilities. When you are together, it may be helpful to set aside a few minutes each day to spend with your family and children doing simple things like talking to them, singing songs, playing a game, reading a story or the newspaper, or even making dinner together. Make the activity fun or do something that your child wants to do. Let your child show you how to do something so that they feel special. Seizing opportunities to spend time with family members as they arise can be helpful as well.
  • Be affectionate: Everyone has different ways of showing love and care. Some people give lots of hugs and kisses, others give a high-five, pat on the back, nod, wink or show a thumbs-up. Some others may say ‘I love you’ or ‘You’re special’. Any positive sign of affection shows that you care and may help develop trust and closeness in the relationship. Being warm and caring also means giving your family and children attention both when they are happy and engaged in their activities and when they are upset and need some comforting.
  • Celebrate little achievements: While it is fun to celebrate birthdays and important milestones like walking, using a spoon or riding a tricycle, we can also make happy occasions out of everyday positive things that your child does. Some examples are: a child sharing a toy, siblings playing together with their toys, speaking courteously, following routines independently, asking for help politely and children showing you a game they have completed.
  • Separate work and family life: Work can take many forms, including household chores, working in the garden, working in an office or organisation, caring for family members or running errands. This can take up a large part of the day. Sometimes we may forget to switch off from work and end up thinking about it even when we are not working. It may be helpful to remind ourselves to try to give our full attention to our family and children when we are with them. If we do remember something work-related, it may be helpful to write it down for later. This can help with being fully present with our family.

When children see you making relationships a priority in the ways described above, they learn that they are important to you and feel loved. Children will then understand these are important things to do to build strong relationships.

2. Communicating effectively

Effective communication means that everyone has a say and is listened to. Good communication is essential for healthy relationships. The way people talk and listen to each other builds emotional ties and helps make our wants and needs clear. Effective communication helps family members feel understood and supported.

However, communicating effectively can be challenging when there is pressure to get things done. When families become busy, there may be little ‘quality time’ for talking and listening to each other. Ineffective styles of communication can also damage relationships. This occurs, for example, when family members speak to each other disrespectfully or use put-downs.

The adults within a family can communicate values to children, such as respect and caring. This can be done by taking some time every day to talk and share information with children. Children also learn how to communicate respectfully when they see the adults around them speak respectfully to each other. As a result, children may begin to copy these respectful ways of communicating.

Families can set the tone for positive communication:

  • Listen: Focus on what children are saying to show that you are genuinely interested. Give your full attention and treat what family members say as important. While really listening can take a little extra time, it can also help you and your child to come up with joint solutions for problems when needed (rather than offering your own solutions).
  • Tune in: Paying attention to emotions is important for supporting positive family relationships. As well as listening to words, it helps to pay attention to body language and expressions as this will assist in noticing and responding to feelings. Tuning into your own feelings and expressing them in ways that allow others to understand them promotes caring relationships. Tuning into children’s behaviours and feelings to understand the way they are behaving allows you to guide them as they learn to express their feelings in words.
  • Acknowledge feelings: Listen for meaning and feeling and actively check that you understand your child’s feelings. By helping children to explain their feelings you can help them understand their emotions. For example, ‘It sounds like you’re feeling sad because you wanted to have a turn like everyone else and you missed out’. Acknowledging feelings might in itself be a solution for your child. This also stops a problem from getting worse as the child’s feelings are heard and respected by the family.
  • Show respect: It is easier for people to listen and accept your view when you communicate in a respectful and caring way. This allows children to sense your calmness and warmth even when setting boundaries. For example, his dad Robert could say to Luke, ‘I know you enjoy watching your cartoon but I still want you to say “Hello” when I come home’. This shows that Robert understands Luke’s position, and wants Luke to understand his.
  • Set a good example: The way you communicate is important as children are learning what to do by watching you. Focusing and providing caring responses may not always be easy, especially when you are tired, busy or dealing with conflict. However, by showing children that what they say is important and providing them with respectful responses, they can learn to do the same when they communicate with you, other family members, and their peers. For example, say ‘sorry’ when you make a mistake or hurt your child’s feelings or ask ‘How was your day?’ and really listen to the answer.
  • Send clear messages: Parents’ and carers’ actions send a message which can be interpreted differently by family members. Clear messages are less likely to be misinterpreted. Avoid giving mixed messages where you say one thing and do another. Since people see actions more often than they hear the words you are saying, try to match what you do with what you say. When this is not possible (e.g., you are not available when you said you would be), provide an explanation and apologise.
  • Talk with children: The way adults speak can encourage children to respond or to shut down. Listening and paying attention shows interest but it is also helpful to ask specific questions about topics of interest to children. This encourages them to talk more and share their knowledge. Follow children’s lead and give them space to talk or be silent. Often they find it easier to talk spontaneously, for example, while doing an everyday activity, rather than sitting down to talk face to face.

3. Working together as a family

Discussing things as a family is often very helpful for dealing with concerns and finding solutions to problems that come up. It is also helpful to have family discussions when planning something fun for the whole family to do. Working together as a family helps everyone feel that they have something important to offer. This helps create a sense of belonging in the family and strengthens family bonds.

These strategies may help families work together:

  • Communicate clear expectations: Talk together so there is an opportunity to explain roles and expectations. Clear boundaries for children’s behaviour helps them understand what they need to do and what will happen if they do not follow these boundaries.
  • Talk about the good stuff: It is helpful to talk about what is working well in family relationships.
  • Have family discussions: This gives the family a chance to talk about both the little things and the big things. Discussions can be very short or long, spontaneous or planned, depending on what needs to be talked about and how long very young children can focus for. It can be used to decide on family chores, house rules or plan family activities and outings. Trust can be built during family discussions by respecting and listening to everyone’s views without judging or putting them down. Let children who are able to talk to have a say. Encourage children as well as adults to hear and understand each other’s views and needs.
  • Include children in decisions: Even very young children can be included in decision making. Provide a couple of options and say ‘Which one?’, to help them pick. This decision making helps the children feel valued and important.

Working together as a family helps everyone feel they have something important to offer. Some ideas on how to use family discussions:

  • Setting up a chores roster.
  • Saying things you would like to happen (eg Tina wants more time to play with mum or dad wants more hellos and hugs).
  • Setting up the house rules.
  • Planning a zoo outing and which exhibits to look at.
  • Having everyday family fun (eg card games or making pizza together).
  • Resolving a conflict that has occurred between all siblings.

Discussing things as a family can encourage children as well as adults to solve problems creatively. Addressing and solving problems supportively helps to strengthen family relationships. For example, once mum understands that Tina just wants to play with her and is not just resisting bedtime, they can talk together about planning special time each day. Having a chance to express needs in positive ways encourages healthy communication, support and cooperation.

Using a family problem-solving approach helps to avoid blaming, is supportive of family members and builds togetherness. It is also a very effective way of helping children learn skills for managing conflict, solving tricky situations and decision making that can be used in many different situations.

Problem solving

The problem-solving process involves:

  • identifying the problem that needs to be solved, rather than judging the person
  • making sure that everyone’s concerns are listened to
  • coming up with a range of options or alternatives and thinking them through together
  • choosing and reaching a family agreement for a solution or action plan
  • trying out the action plan and checking how it has gone.

4. Providing support for each other

While families can try to do all they can to work together and build positive relationships, there will still be times of stress. Different needs arising within the family may create stress between family members. Pressures that come from outside (e.g., work or financial pressures; caring for other relatives) may also affect families and children. Sometimes these pressures can make it more difficult to develop positive family relationships. At times like these, supporting members of the family can help reduce feelings of stress and help maintain strong family relationships.

Some ways to provide support are:

  • Being present: It may help to let family members know that you are there to help, provide comfort, love and care. Everyone shows comfort in different ways. Some examples may be a hug or some kind words. Checking in with them to see how they are going may also be beneficial.
  • Sharing the load: Sometimes people get overloaded with the tasks that need to be finished. At these times, being aware of a family member’s needs and offering to help them can reduce stress. For example, if someone in your family has many chores to do, finding time to help out can help relieve some stress. In this way, children also learn that they can help out or receive help when needed.
  • Checking in with others: There may be times when you notice some families around you having difficulties in their relationships. It helps to be sensitive and thoughtful about the relationships around you. Consider whether other families may benefit from additional support and resources to strengthen their relationships and check in if you are wondering if this is needed.
  • Asking for help: Sometimes we may need to ask for help when we find that we have too many things to do. Taking care of ourselves and seeking help is important. When we feel calm and relaxed, we have the time and energy to build positive relationships. For example, if you feel you need a break, ask a family member or friend to help out so you can have some time away. Parents and carers may find asking for help tricky but it is an important way to build healthy family relationships. For more information on taking care of yourself, have a look at our information about positive mental health for parents and carers.

Source: https://www.kidsmatter.edu.au/mental-health-matters/family-relationships/building-blocks-healthy-family-relationships

Building strong family relationships

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Children thrive on the feelings of belonging and affection that come from having caring and supportive families. Research shows that the quality of family relationships is more important for children’s wellbeing than the size or composition of the family. Whether families have one parent or two, whether they include step-parents, grandparents or other carers, children can experience strong, positive family relationships that promote family wellbeing and support children’s mental health.

The keys to developing healthy family relationships include making relationships a priority, communicating effectively and providing support for each other. To create strong family relationships and promote a sense of belonging for the whole family, families can:

  • dedicate quality time to each family member, which will show them you value and appreciate them
  • create a caring environment by being available when a family member needs support
  • incorporate family rules so children can trust that you will be consistent in the way you care for them
  • be a positive role-model by being caring and respectful towards others
  • take the time to play with children and create experiences of teamwork, where each person has a unique role. This will help each child understand the principles of inclusiveness and belonging
  • allow each child to be part of discussions about simple decisions such as what to have for dinner. This will also develop their skills in compromising
  • create family routines. This gives children a sense of predictability and an understanding of what is important within the family.

Tips for fun rituals

Here are some suggestions to help incorporate rituals into your family routine:

  • make time for an activity that a child enjoys
  • read a bedtime story
  • allow all members of the family to take turns offering ideas for family activities each month
  • during mealtime, ask the children to think of something they would like to know about you or your family
  • look through old family photos and talk about your family history.

Tips for getting motivated – self-talk and self-awareness [Reachout]

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Motivation is what drives us to make the things happen – but staying motivated isn’t always easy. Get some tips on how to become (and stay!) motivated, and suggestions for what to do if you just can’t get into gear.

This can help if:

  • you want to figure out your goals and learn how to achieve them
  • you’re feeling unmotivated
  • you want to get stuff done.

Positive and negative motivation

Motivation is what drives you towards a goal, gets you up in the morning, and keeps you working through a task, determined to succeed when things get tough. But motivation can be both positive and negative:

  • Positive motivations focus on the positive things that will happen when you take action. For example: ‘Finishing this assignment means I’m only a step away from being qualified.’
  • Negative motivations focus on the negative backlash that will occur if you don’t take action. For example: ‘If I don’t finish this assignment in the next few hours, I’ll fail my course.’

Negative and positive motivations can both be effective in different circumstances. However, it’s much easier to do something because you actually want to, rather than because you want to avoid a particular outcome if you don’t do it. If you don’t have a positive plan of action, using negative motivation can make you feel helpless and may even reduce your motivation.

How to become (and stay) motivated

  • Set goals. When you set a goal, you make a decision to act in a way that will help you achieve what you want. Goals give you a direction to focus on – one that’s measurable and has an endpoint. This can help you to stay motivated.
  • Choose goals that interest you. You’re much more likely to stay motivated if you’re working towards something that you genuinely want to do or achieve, rather than what other people want for you.
  • Find things that interest you within goals that don’t. Sometimes other people set goals or tasks for us that we don’t find interesting or want to do. So, try and find something within that task that does motivate you. For example: ‘I hate maths, but it’s going to help me become a builder, which I want more than anything.’
  • Make your goal public. If you tell someone – or write down – your goal, you’ve essentially made a promise to keep your word.
  • Plot your progress. When you’re working towards something, it can be really motivating if you can see evidence that you’re making progress. Draw or create a visual representation of how you’re coming closer to achieving the goal you’ve set yourself.
  • Break up your goal. Start with easier tasks and work your way up to bigger challenges. Breaking up a task in your mind into achievable chunks helps build confidence.
  • Use rewards. Promise yourself some sort of reward each time you complete a step/task.
  • Don’t do it alone. Join a class, or find a teacher or someone you can share the experience with. Other people’s encouragement to keep going can be a big boost to your motivation, particularly when you’re doing it tough.

If you’re really finding it hard

If you’ve tried but failed to get motivated, then it might help to talk it through with someone you trust. Sometimes it can be hard to achieve things on your own, so having a good support network may help when you’ve taken on a big challenge.

What can I do now?

  • Write down some goals for the coming year.
  • Plan some rewards or treats to keep your motivation up.
  • Tell someone about your goal, to keep yourself accountable.

Source: https://au.reachout.com/articles/tips-for-getting-motivated