Shining a Light into the Darkness

I’ll admit it. I’ve been counting down the days until this year’s Winter Solstice. As the sun sets around 4:20 each afternoon, and darkness envelops the windows of NICABM, I find myself longing for more hours of daylight. Is it any wonder, then, that images of light and dark play such a prominent role in so many winter holiday celebrations? The celebration of Hanukkah commemorates the miraculous supply of oil that kept lights burning for eight days following the rededication of the temple in Jerusalem. The Christian tradition celebrates light coming into the world in the form of a child….

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Could Stronger Resilience Promote Better Health?

Could greater resilience reduce a person’s need for health care services? James E. Stahl, MD, MPH, and a team of researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital Benson-Henry Institute (BHI), noted that poor psychological and physical resilience is often associated with an increased use of healthcare services. Since research consistently shows that mind-body interventions can be effective in reducing stress and increasing resilience, Stahl and his team wanted to see if a resilience training program could reduce the demand for health care services. To do this, they created a retrospective, controlled pre/post intervention database analysis of patients who received care at…

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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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