The Gut-Brain Connection: What Clinicians Need to Know

The Gut-Brain Connection: What Clinicians Need to Know

Butterflies in your stomach. A gut-wrenching feeling. Your stomach suddenly drops… You’d better go with your gut.

I don’t know about you, but all of these phrases packed together gives me a general sense of unease, and for good reason. For most people, these sayings have become synonymous with the kind of scary, traumatic, or anxiety-provoking situations that simply make your stomach churn (pun intended).

On the other hand, for the positive psychology folks, we could also be talking about a remarkably exhilarating experience — falling in love, skydiving, riding a rollercoaster. There are endless scenarios that have elicited this reaction in our lives. But what do they all have in common?


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A Crash Course in Deafness for Therapists

A Crash Course in Deafness for Therapists

Typically, when therapists are asked to define “cultural competence” their response is usually race-based or location-based. Occasionally some include gender and sexual minorities, age, and ability. It’s rare that clinicians and therapists with little experience in deafness consider “Deaf” as a culture.

The topic of deafness and Deaf culture is vast, with many aspects to consider. It would be impossible to cover everything in only a few blog posts. This article is the first of a series about working with Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing (DHH) clients is intended as a starting point for clinicians to begin their own research into deafness and Deaf culture.


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5 Ways to Support Your LGBQ & Gender Non-Conforming Clients in Session

5 Ways to Support Your LGBQ & Gender Non-Conforming Clients in Session

As helping professionals, we share a united goal of empowering the individuals with whom we work to meet their goals. Though it remains important to address social issues on a large scale (e.g., protests, donations, advocating for policy change), a lot of what we do as helpers happens one-on-one. That is, most of us work to empower individuals interpersonally through therapy.

With this in mind, I would like to share tangible ways to support LGBTQQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual) and/or gender non-conforming (individuals who do not identify as cisgender, meaning they have gender identities that do not match the sex they were assigned at birth, and/or those who reject the gender binary, or do not identify as male or female) clients in session while also acknowledging the importance of social justice advocacy on a much larger scale.


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3 Essential Ingredients for Effective Family Therapy

3 Essential Ingredients for Effective Family Therapy

One of the challenges I faced during my training as a psychologist was determining how to improve client behavior between sessions in order to optimize treatment outcomes.

Clients often presented with stressful family relationships, relationships that seemed to limit therapeutic progress. I wanted to help my clients as individuals, but I also understood that they did not exist within vacuums. In family therapy, I was able to help clients appreciate how family dynamics and communication styles are important factors in achieving their individual behavioral health goals.

Family therapy also extended my therapeutic reach beyond the individual and beyond the one hour that we had together each week.


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Attention Psychotherapists… You’re Going to Fail.

Attention Psychotherapists… You’re Going to Fail.

And there’s nothing you can do about it! You have to fail. You must fail… If you want to succeed.

To foster a patient who loves himself, warts and all, therapists must accept and own their foibles and follies. To the best of my knowledge, there is no greater strength than the courage to look our demons straight in the eye. This is a question – “what are your strengths and weaknesses?” – you will face at comprehensive exams and internship interviews; my answer always begins, “they are one-and-the-same: my greatest strength is how I have grown from my weaknesses.”


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Is Social Media Perpetuating Mental Illness in America?

Is Social Media Perpetuating Mental Illness in America?

Social Media is a significant part of life in modern America. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and other social media platforms dominate the lives of individuals across the country. This wave of social media obsession has reached an all time high, with the surge occurring within the last ten years.

There are many positive things to be said about some aspects of the prevalence of social media; one is that it allows individuals to remain informed on the goings-on in the lives of friends and family. It also allows us to communicate instantly with others thousands of miles away and keep abreast with culture and world events. It is fast-paced, worldwide and convenient.

For all of the good aspects of social media, however, there are some major concerns, particularly regarding its connection to mental illness. While social media is a means to connect with others, it also can be a means to push us towards isolation. The perceived connection we experience through social media may instead be pushing us toward depression. In contrast to true connection, social media encourages us to act out of a “false self”, or a self that only engages the positive aspects of ourselves. This is due to the fact that connection through social media is often out of a place of filtered life, not out of true intimacy.


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Mental Health Care for Older Adults is Necessary – Here’s Why.

Mental Health Care for Older Adults is Necessary – Here’s Why.

By the year 2030, one in five Americans will be 65 years or older. The demographic of those aged 80 and older is growing faster than any other age group [1]. There is also a prevailing stereotype of older adults as dependent, depressed, and possibly demented [1].

Taking into consideration this stereotype of the aging population, is there a case to address their mental wellness in addition to the population’s huge demand for basic medical services?


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Bridging Gaps in Mental Health Care with Mobile Apps

Bridging Gaps in Mental Health Care with Mobile Apps

We are fortunate to live in the digital age, where authoritative information on virtually any topic is easily retrieved by anyone with an Internet connection. This asset, combined with skyrocketing rates of smartphone usage over the past decade, may hold the key to improving health for a large percentage of the population.

Even with continued advances in the development of effective treatments and increased access to mental health care, a significant disparity still exists between need and actual delivery of mental health services. Internet-based applications, including mobile technology, could ostensibly increase access to treatment for those most in need [1].

Behavioral health providers tapping into this technology would be effectively reaching individuals through a device on which they already heavily depend. Data demonstrate that people with increased usage of smartphones include vulnerable populations who could benefit the most from interventions, including young adults, people with lower incomes and less educational attainment, and minorities.


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Are Your Patient’s Mental Symptoms Actually Caused by a Medical Disorder?

Are Your Patient’s Mental Symptoms Actually Caused by a Medical Disorder?

The human body is a miraculous thing. The mind-body connection is so endlessly complex that there are many things we still don’t understand, even with the use of technology. As psychologists, we probably appreciate this natural wonder more than other folks, especially since we are constantly trying to decode the mysterious ways the brain works.

Unfortunately, all of the things we have worked hard to understand about the brain can become muddled in the face of illness, when the symptoms we are so familiar with take on a different meaning…well, sort of.

Think about this: does depression feel the same whether it’s caused by a traumatic life event or a hormonal imbalance? Based on the common presentation of symptoms across patients and life circumstances, many would argue yes.


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Psychologists for Social Justice: Let’s not sit on the sidelines.

Psychologists for Social Justice: Let’s not sit on the sidelines.

The American Psychological Association’s Ethics Code preamble requires psychologists to “respect and protect civil and human rights” [1]. Psychologists share this commitment with allied professions: social work, nursing, medicine, anthropology, sociology, political science, and public health [2]. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) asserts that human rights include freedom from discrimination and access to health care, food, and housing. However, the field of psychology has a checkered human rights history, with theory, research, and practices reinforcing and lending credibility to discriminatory practices against historically marginalized groups.


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