5 Steps to Changing the World

How exactly does change come about? As health and mental health practitioners, our calling is to help people change. But I’m thinking about change on a number of different levels. There are the changes we help our clients make, as well as personal changes we might hope to see in our own lives. I’m also thinking about change on a broader scale – change in our communities, change in our profession and, if I may be so bold, change in the world. Stay with me, and I’ll get back to you on what I mean by that. Recently, I decided…

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Mindfulness and Relief from Chronic Pain?

Is medication the best way to relieve chronic pain? Most often, people who are suffering from chronic pain just want it to stop. But given the risks for drug dependency, abuse, and overdose from prescription medications, a number of doctors and researchers are refocusing their attention on alternative ways to help people experience relief. Daniel C. Cherkin, PhD, and a team at the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle, wanted to know if mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) could be as effective in relieving chronic back pain as traditional methods. They designed a randomized controlled study…

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How Does Neuroplasticity Work? [Infographic]

When neuroscience began to discover more about the brain’s remarkable ability to change, it opened up new ways of thinking about our work with patients. By harnessing the power of neuroplasticity, we can help patients think more clearly, learn more easily, develop greater focus, and manage reactive emotions. And that can help them find new ways to respond to a wide range of conditions including brain injury, stroke, learning disabilities, traumatic experiences, depression, and anxiety. But neuroplasticity involves a number of complex processes, and it can be a difficult concept to convey to patients. So we created this as a…

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Olympic Training for the Brain?

Do Olympic athletes have strong brains as well as strong bodies? Research has shown the benefit of exercise in improving cell health (including brain cells), boosting the brain’s natural anti-anxiety drug, and strengthening the aging brain. But we still have a lot to learn about exactly how exercise changes the brain. Recently, a team of scientists from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) conducted a series of experiments to try to tease apart the processes that are at work when we exercise. To do this, they essentially tricked the muscle cells of mice into thinking they were doing aerobic exercise….

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How to Help Clients Process Their Fears about World Events

When you look at the news, there’s pain and violence on every broadcast. But is this something we should help our clients process? Patrick Dougherty would say yes. And he has some clear, helpful guidelines for how to bring up difficult and divisive political and social issues in therapy. It’s one way we can help clients become more regulated and healthy as they interact and engage in their sphere of influence. Patrick Dougherty, MA, LP, is a licensed psychologist, teacher, and author. He’s worked with collective trauma since shortly after serving with the Marines in Vietnam and working in Northern…

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Could Yoga Hold the Key to Healing a Patient’s Trauma?

Approximately 10 million women in America have been physically assaulted at some time in their life. Yes, that’s a sobering statistic. But the far-reaching effects of violence against women are even darker. Over a third of these survivors experience Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder with increased rates of depression, obesity and heart disease. So how do we even begin to approach the healing of such an overwhelming phenomena? The answer is complicated. And I wish current treatment methods showed better results. In a recent large-scale clinical trial, 78% of patients who underwent prolonged exposure therapy failed to overcome their symptoms after 6…

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