“An award-winning app developed for teenage mental health by Dr. Nihara Krause, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, using the basic principles of an evidence-based therapy called Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT).”
5 and 15 minute activities to comfort, distract, express, and release. You can also use this app to practice guided breathing, to log your activities (and self-monitor), and to journal.
Apple StoreRating: 4.4 stars (556 ratings)
Google Play Rating: 4.3 stars (1,982 ratings)
Psyberguide Rating: 3.00 (credibility) and 4.28 (user experience)
“The ground-breaking Healthy Minds Program uses neuroscience, contemplative traditions, and skill-based learning methods to help you develop the skills for a healthy mind, now in the palm of your hand. Translating pioneering neuroscience into tools for everyday life, our unique framework guides you through the four pillars of the science of training the mind.”
Guided meditations for awareness, connection, insight, and purpose.
Apple Store Rating: 4.9 stars (672 ratings)
Google Play Rating: 4.7 stars (1,032 ratings)
Psyberguide Rating: 3.67 (credibility) and 4.38 (user experience)
Subscription: No, but you must sign up for a free account
“We offer the largest free library of guided meditations on earth and the world’s most loved meditation Timer, for free.”
95,000 guided meditations, stories, and soundscapes for sleep, recovery and healing, stress and anxiety, performance, health and happiness, relationships, and spirituality. You can also access live events, discussion groups, and classes.
Apple Store Rating: 4.9 stars (305K ratings)
Google Play Rating: 4.9 stars (125,993 ratings)
Psyberguide Rating: 3.33 (credibility) and 4.38 (user experience)
Subscription: No. You have the option of creating a free account.
“Mantras are phrases we repeat to ourselves that highlight our strengths & values and can motivate us to do and feel good. A mantra helps you become your best possible self and My Mantra is designed to help you get there. As part of the IntelliCare suite of apps, My Mantra lets you create these motivating mantras and construct virtual photo albums to serve as encouragement and reminders of these mantras in your life.”
A simple app for developing personal mantras to inspire and uplift.
Apple Store Rating: 5 stars (2 ratings)
Google Play Rating: N/A
Psyberguide Rating: 3.67 (credibility) and 2.78 (user experience)
“Practicing mindfulness means grounding yourself in the present moment. Mindfulness has been shown to be helpful for reducing stress and coping with unpleasant thoughts and emotions. Mindfulness Coach will help you practice mindfulness meditation.”
Mindfulness training and practices. You can also use this app to set goals and log your progress.
Apple Store Rating: 4.7 stars (4K ratings)
Google Play Rating: 4.8 stars (5,230 ratings)
Psyberguide Rating: 3.00 (credibility) and 3.30 (user experience)
“Oak helps you decompress by transforming your meditation practice from an experiment into a habit. We support you from your first session to your 500th, with mindful, loving-kindness, and sleep meditations as well as unguided sessions and breathing exercises. Individualize your meditations by duration, and customize with silence or calming background sounds. Oak tracks your progress and encourages you to continue building a healthy meditation practice.”
Meditations and breathing exercises for relaxation and sleep. You can also access a mantra meditation course.
“Lower your stress levels, reduce anxiety, overcome fears, relieve pain, get better sleep, and so much more. All made possible with access to hundreds of meditations in the Tapping Solution App. You’ll learn how to use Tapping (also known as EFT, or Emotional Freedom Techniques), to lead a happier and healthier life.”
Tapping meditations and audiobooks.
Apple Store Rating: 4.8 stars (7.4K ratings)
Google Play Rating: 4.6 stars (6,098 ratings)
Psyberguide Rating: N/A
Subscription: $94.99 yearly (some content available without a subscription, account sign-up is free)
“With this easy-to-use app, you can practice mindfulness meditation anywhere, anytime with the guidance of the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center. Scientific research shows mindfulness can help manage stress-related physical conditions, reduce anxiety and depression, cultivate positive emotions, and help improve overall physical health and well-being.”
Basic and wellness meditations, as well as videos and podcasts.
Research indicates that personality is a strong predictor of political affiliation, leading to the question: What personality traits are associated with modern liberalism versus conservatism? This article explores different personality characteristics of the left and the right in America.
Liberalism Versus Conservatism
Liberalism is “a political and moral philosophy based on liberty, consent of the governed, and equality before the law” (Wikipedia, 2021). Modern liberalism in America “combines ideas of civil liberty and equality with support for social justice and a mixed economy.”
Meanwhile, the foundations of American conservatism (defined as “a political and social philosophy promoting traditional social institutions” [Wikipedia, 2021]), are based on four fundamental concepts: liberty, tradition and order, the rule of law, and belief in God (Intercollegiate Studies Institute).
Morals & Values
Liberals and conservatives differ in morals and values, with empathy being a notably distinct value that designates the left as ‘bleeding heart’ liberals. In fact, research indicates that when a person’s ability to empathize increases, they shift to having a more liberal perspective.
Conservatives, on the other hand, are more concerned with duty and order, valuing the ability to exert personal self-control to meet the demands of self and others.
Regarding spirituality and belief in God, conservatives are more religious, more likely to pray, and more likely to attend church, while liberals are more likely to lean towards atheism. What’s more, Republicans tend to believe that belief in God is necessary for morals while Democrats believe morals can exist without religion.
In one study, liberals were found to value care and fairness more while conservatives were more likely to value loyalty, authority, and sanctity. Also, Democrats exhibit more creativity than their Republican counterparts, who prefer certainty and clarity.
Additional research suggests that conservatives value structure, simplicity, and tradition. Republicans place greater emphasis on stability. Meanwhile, the ‘bleeding-heart’ liberal cares more about openness, compassion, and equality. Democrats place greater emphasis on progress and innovation.
Intelligence, Thinking Style, & Problem-Solving
Regarding political affiliation and intelligence, one study found that liberals and non-religious individuals have higher IQ’s than conservatives and religious individuals. In contrast, other research suggested that individuals who identified as Republican had greater probability knowledge, higher verbal reasoning ability, and better question comprehension.
Regardless of political affiliation, mental rigidity (i.e., ‘black-and-white’ thinking) is characteristic of individuals who identify as either far left or far right (extremist views).
When it comes to problem-solving, conservatives are more structured and persistent. Conversely, liberals are more flexible, and tend to think outside the box. Also, Democrats are better at tolerating complexity and ambiguity than Republicans, and are more influenced by emotions.
Liberals and conservatives experience fear differently. Conservatives have a greater fear of death (which enhances their need for security). While Republicans fear chaos and the absence of order, Democrats tend to fear emptiness.
In one study, when asked about a world where God doesn’t exist, conservatives expressed fear that tradition and order would fall apart, resulting in chaos. Liberals, on the other hand, feared a world without God as barren, lifeless, and devoid of beauty or meaning.
What’s more, neuroscientists found that Republicans and Democrats processed risk differently, although they did not differ in the risks they took. Liberals showed significantly greater activity in the brain region associated with social and self-awareness. Meanwhile, conservatives showed significantly greater activity in the brain region involved in the body’s fight-or-flight system.
However, one study found that compared to conservatives, liberals are more likely to smile genuinely and use ‘happier’ (positive) language.
Other research suggests that compared to Democrats, Republicans are more alert to negativity and spend more time focusing on the negative (but do not seem to be negatively impacted by it).
Interestingly, research indicates that compared to liberals, conservatives experience disgust more easily and intensely, and have stronger physiological reactions when they are repulsed. Similar research suggests that disgust may influence moral judgement.
Political Affiliation & Language
There are a few key differences in language and speech patterns of conservatives and liberals. Republicans are more likely to use language that stresses clarity and predictability while Democrats use emotionally expressive language and have a preference for poetry.
In an analysis of U.S. presidential speech transcripts, conservatives demonstrated a preference for nouns, and tended to refer to things by name rather than providing a description of their features. (Example: “He is an adventurer” versus “He is adventurous.”) It was determined that the use of nouns over adjectives was a way to promote stability, familiarity, and tradition.
On Twitter, liberals swear more (with ‘f**k’ and ‘sh*t’ in their top ten most used words) and are more likely than conservatives to use emotionally expressive language and to express both positive feelings and anxiety. Meanwhile, conservatives are more likely to tweet about religion, with ‘God’ and ‘psalm’ as popular words. What’s more, liberals on Twitter are more likely than conservatives to use words like ‘I’ and ‘me,’ while conservatives use ‘we’ and ‘our’ more.
Trust in Science
Liberals and conservatives differ in how trusting they are when it comes to science and empirical data. Some research indicates that compared to liberals, conservatives are less trusting of the scientific community. Additionally, conservatives are more skeptical of the value of empirical data. Liberals, on the other hand, tend to be more optimistic about knowledge gained from scientific research and its potential applications.
Other research found that while Democrats are generally more ‘pro-science’ than other political parties, Republicans trust science with the exception of the following issues: global warming, evolution, gay adoption, and mandatory health insurance.
Regarding science bias, research suggests that both Democrats and Republicans are less likely to trust science when it does not align with their political beliefs.
In sum, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that personality is a strong predictor of political affiliation. Liberals and conservatives tend to have different values, thinking styles, temperaments, and emotional experiences.
While partisan differences may contribute to a polarized divide in America, this doesn’t have to be the norm. Rather, differing perspectives can be complementary and maintain balance.
Liberal… conservative… or somewhere in between… try to learn from opposing viewpoints and aim to value differences, regardless of political affiliation!
Queen Mary, University of London. (2015, September 16). Study finds people’s conservative and liberal traits show up in their Twitter vocabulary: Different language used by supporters of different parties reflects psychological understanding. ScienceDaily. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150916161824.htm
Regnery, A. S. (2018). THE PILLARS OF MODERN AMERICAN CONSERVATISM. Intercollegiate Review.
25 Top Therapist-Recommended Books for Self-Improvement
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13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do: Take Back Your Power, Embrace Change, Face Your Fears, and Train Your Brain for Happiness and Success (2017)
By Amy Morin
Amazon Description: “Everyone knows that regular exercise and weight training lead to physical strength. But how do we strengthen ourselves mentally for the truly tough times? And what should we do when we face these challenges? Or as psychotherapist Amy Morin asks, what should we avoid when we encounter adversity? Through her years counseling others and her own experiences navigating personal loss, Morin realized it is often the habits we cannot break that are holding us back from true success and happiness. Indulging in self-pity, agonizing over things beyond our control, obsessing over past events, resenting the achievements of others, or expecting immediate positive results holds us back. This list of things mentally strong people don’t do resonated so much with readers that when it was picked up by Forbes.com it received ten million views.
Now, for the first time, Morin expands upon the thirteen things from her viral post and shares her tried-and-true practices for increasing mental strength. Morin writes with searing honesty, incorporating anecdotes from her work as a college psychology instructor and psychotherapist as well as personal stories about how she bolstered her own mental strength when tragedy threatened to consume her.
Increasing your mental strength can change your entire attitude. It takes practice and hard work, but with Morin’s specific tips, exercises, and troubleshooting advice, it is possible to not only fortify your mental muscle but also drastically improve the quality of your life.”
Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones (2018)
By James Clear
Amazon Description: “No matter your goals, Atomic Habits offers a proven framework for improving-every day. James Clear, one of the world’s leading experts on habit formation, reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results.
If you’re having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn’t you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don’t want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change. You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. Here, you’ll get a proven system that can take you to new heights.
Clear is known for his ability to distill complex topics into simple behaviors that can be easily applied to daily life and work. Here, he draws on the most proven ideas from biology, psychology, and neuroscience to create an easy-to-understand guide for making good habits inevitable and bad habits impossible. Along the way, readers will be inspired and entertained with true stories from Olympic gold medalists, award-winning artists, business leaders, life-saving physicians, and star comedians who have used the science of small habits to master their craft and vault to the top of their field.
Learn how to:
make time for new habits (even when life gets crazy);
overcome a lack of motivation and willpower;
design your environment to make success easier;
get back on track when you fall off course;
…and much more.
Atomic Habits will reshape the way you think about progress and success, and give you the tools and strategies you need to transform your habits-whether you are a team looking to win a championship, an organization hoping to redefine an industry, or simply an individual who wishes to quit smoking, lose weight, reduce stress, or achieve any other goal.”
Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find – and Keep – Love (2012)
By Amir Levine & Rachel Heller
Amazon Description: “We already rely on science to tell us what to eat, when to exercise, and how long to sleep. Why not use science to help us improve our relationships? In this revolutionary book, psychiatrist and neuroscientist Dr. Amir Levine and Rachel Heller scientifically explain why why some people seem to navigate relationships effortlessly, while others struggle.
Discover how an understanding of adult attachment—the most advanced relationship science in existence today—can help us find and sustain love. Pioneered by psychologist John Bowlby in the 1950s, the field of attachment posits that each of us behaves in relationships in one of three distinct ways:
Anxious people are often preoccupied with their relationships and tend to worry about their partner’s ability to love them back
Avoidant people equate intimacy with a loss of independence and constantly try to minimize closeness.
Secure people feel comfortable with intimacy and are usually warm and loving.
Attached guides readers in determining what attachment style they and their mate (or potential mate) follow, offering a road map for building stronger, more fulfilling connections with the people they love.”
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma (2015)
By Bessel van der Kolk, M.D.
Amazon Description: “Trauma is a fact of life. Veterans and their families deal with the painful aftermath of combat; one in five Americans has been molested; one in four grew up with alcoholics; one in three couples have engaged in physical violence. Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, one of the world’s foremost experts on trauma, has spent over three decades working with survivors. In The Body Keeps the Score, he uses recent scientific advances to show how trauma literally reshapes both body and brain, compromising sufferers’ capacities for pleasure, engagement, self-control, and trust. He explores innovative treatments—from neurofeedback and meditation to sports, drama, and yoga—that offer new paths to recovery by activating the brain’s natural neuroplasticity. Based on Dr. van der Kolk’s own research and that of other leading specialists, The Body Keeps the Score exposes the tremendous power of our relationships both to hurt and to heal—and offers new hope for reclaiming lives.”
The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have (2020)
By Mark Nepo
Amazon Description: “Philosopher-poet and cancer survivor Mark Nepo opens a new season of freedom and joy―an escape from deadening, asleep-at-the wheel sameness―that is both profound and clarifying.
His spiritual daybook is a summons to reclaim aliveness, liberate the self, take each day one at a time, and savor the beauty offered by life’s unfolding. Reading his poetic prose is like being given second sight, exposing the reader to life’s multiple dimensions, each one drawn with awe and affection.
The Book of Awakening is the result of Nepo’s journey of the soul and will inspire others to embark on their own. He speaks of spirit and friendship, urging readers to stay vital and in love with this life, no matter the hardships. Encompassing many traditions and voices, Nepo’s words offer insight on pain, wonder, and love. Each entry is accompanied by an exercise that will surprise and delight the reader in its mind-waking ability.”
The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World (2016)
By Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, & Douglas Abrams
Amazon Description: “Nobel Peace Prize Laureates His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have survived more than fifty years of exile and the soul-crushing violence of oppression. Despite their hardships—or, as they would say, because of them—they are two of the most joyful people on the planet.
In April 2015, Archbishop Tutu traveled to the Dalai Lama’s home in Dharamsala, India, to celebrate His Holiness’s eightieth birthday and to create what they hoped would be a gift for others. They looked back on their long lives to answer a single burning question: How do we find joy in the face of life’s inevitable suffering?
They traded intimate stories, teased each other continually, and shared their spiritual practices. By the end of a week filled with laughter and punctuated with tears, these two global heroes had stared into the abyss and despair of our time and revealed how to live a life brimming with joy.
This book offers us a rare opportunity to experience their astonishing and unprecendented week together, from the first embrace to the final good-bye.
We get to listen as they explore the Nature of True Joy and confront each of the Obstacles of Joy—from fear, stress, and anger to grief, illness, and death. They then offer us the Eight Pillars of Joy, which provide the foundation for lasting happiness. Throughout, they include stories, wisdom, and science. Finally, they share their daily Joy Practices that anchor their own emotional and spiritual lives.
The Archbishop has never claimed sainthood, and the Dalai Lama considers himself a simple monk. In this unique collaboration, they offer us the reflection of real lives filled with pain and turmoil in the midst of which they have been able to discover a level of peace, of courage, and of joy to which we can all aspire in our own lives.”
Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies: And Other Rituals to Fix Your Life, from Someone Who’s Been There (2020)
By Tara Schuster
Amazon Description: “By the time she was in her late twenties, Tara Schuster was a rising TV executive who had worked for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and helped launch Key & Peele to viral superstardom. By all appearances, she had mastered being a grown-up. But beneath that veneer of success, she was a chronically anxious, self-medicating mess. No one knew that her road to adulthood had been paved with depression, anxiety, and shame, owing in large part to her minimally parented upbringing. She realized she’d hit rock bottom when she drunk-dialed her therapist pleading for help.
Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies is the story of Tara’s path to re-parenting herself and becoming a ‘ninja of self-love.’ Through simple, daily rituals, Tara transformed her mind, body, and relationships, and shows how to
fake gratitude until you actually feel gratitude
excavate your emotional wounds and heal them with kindness
identify your self-limiting beliefs, kick them to the curb, and start living a life you choose
silence your inner frenemy and shield yourself from self-criticism
carve out time each morning to start your day empowered, inspired, and ready to rule
create a life you truly, totally f*cking LOVE
This is the book Tara wished someone had given her and it is the book many of us desperately need: a candid, hysterical, addictively readable, practical guide to growing up (no matter where you are in life) and learning to love yourself in a non-throw-up-in-your-mouth-it’s-so-cheesy way.”
Don’t Feed the Monkey Mind (How to Stop the Cycle of the Anxiety, Fear, and Worry) (2017)
By Jennifer Shannon
Amazon Description: “The very things we do to control anxiety can make anxiety worse. This unique guide offers a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)-based approach to help you recognize the constant chatter of your anxious ‘monkey mind,’ stop feeding anxious thoughts, and find the personal peace you crave.
Ancient sages compared the human mind to a monkey: constantly chattering, hopping from branch to branch—endlessly moving from fear to safety. If you are one of the millions of people whose life is affected by anxiety, you are familiar with this process. Unfortunately, you can’t switch off the ‘monkey mind,’ but you can stop feeding the monkey—or stop rewarding it by avoiding the things you fear.
Written by psychotherapist Jennifer Shannon, this book shows you how to stop anxious thoughts from taking over using proven-effective cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and mindfulness techniques, as well as fun illustrations. By following the exercises in this book, you’ll learn to identify your own anxious thoughts, question those thoughts, and uncover the core fears at play.
Once you stop feeding the monkey, there are no limits to how expansive your life can feel. This book will show you how anxiety can only continue as long as you try to avoid it. And, paradoxically, only by seeking out and confronting the things that make you anxious can you reverse the cycle that keeps your fears alive.”
The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (1997)
By Don Miguel Ruiz
Amazon Description: “In The Four Agreements, bestselling author Don Miguel Ruiz reveals the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering. Based on ancient Toltec wisdom, The Four Agreements offer a powerful code of conduct that can rapidly transform our lives to a new experience of freedom, true happiness, and love.”
Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things (2017)
By Jenny Lawson
Amazon Description: “In Furiously Happy, a humor memoir tinged with just enough tragedy and pathos to make it worthwhile, Jenny Lawson examines her own experience with severe depression and a host of other conditions, and explains how it has led her to live life to the fullest:
‘I’ve often thought that people with severe depression have developed such a well for experiencing extreme emotion that they might be able to experience extreme joy in a way that ‘normal people’ also might never understand. And that’s what Furiously Happy is all about.’
Jenny’s readings are standing room only, with fans lining up to have Jenny sign their bottles of Xanax or Prozac as often as they are to have her sign their books. Furiously Happy appeals to Jenny’s core fan base but also transcends it. There are so many people out there struggling with depression and mental illness, either themselves or someone in their family―and in Furiously Happy they will find a member of their tribe offering up an uplifting message (via a taxidermied roadkill raccoon). Let’s Pretend This Never Happened ostensibly was about embracing your own weirdness, but deep down it was about family. Furiously Happy is about depression and mental illness, but deep down it’s about joy―and who doesn’t want a bit more of that?”
The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are (2010)
By Brené Brown
Amazon Description: “Brené Brown’s game-changing New York Times bestseller, The Gifts of Imperfection, has sold more than 2 million copies in more than 30 different languages and is celebrating its 10th Anniversary in print. Forbes magazine named Gifts one of the ‘Five Books That Will Actually Change Your Outlook On Life.’ Through this self-help classic we find courage to overcome paralyzing fear and self-consciousness, strengthening our connection to the world and helping us to believe we are worthy of self-discovery, personal growth, and boundless love.
A motivational and inspiring guide to wholehearted living, rather than just the average self-help book, with this groundbreaking work Brené Brown, Ph.D., bolsters the self-esteem and personal development process through her characteristic heartfelt, honest storytelling. With original research and plenty of encouragement, she explores the psychology of releasing our definitions of an ‘imperfect’ life and embracing living authentically. Brown’s “ten guideposts” are benchmarks for authenticity that can help anyone establish a practice for a life of honest beauty—a perfectly imperfect life.
Now more than ever, we all need to cultivate feelings of self-worth, as well as acceptance and love for ourselves. In a world where insults, criticisms, and fears are spread too generously alongside messages of unrealistic beauty, attainment, and expectation, we look for ways to ‘dig deep’ and find truth and gratitude in our lives. A new way forward means we can’t hold on too tightly to our own self-defeating thoughts or the displaced pain in our world. Instead, we can embrace the imperfection.”
The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living (2008)
By Russ Harris
Amazon Description: “Build a more satisfying and meaningful life with this best-selling guide to freeing yourself from depression, anxiety, and insecurity through Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.
Are you, like millions of Americans, caught in the happiness trap? Russ Harris explains that the way most of us go about trying to find happiness ends up making us miserable, driving the epidemics of stress, anxiety, and depression. This empowering book presents the insights and techniques of ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) a revolutionary new psychotherapy based on cutting-edge research in behavioral psychology. By clarifying your values and developing mindfulness (a technique for living fully in the present moment), ACT helps you escape the happiness trap and find true satisfaction in life.
The techniques presented in The Happiness Trap will help readers to:
• Reduce stress and worry • Handle painful feelings and thoughts more effectively • Break self-defeating habits • Overcome insecurity and self-doubt • Create a rich, full, and meaningful life”
Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence (2016)
By Rick Hanson
Amazon Description: “With New York Times bestselling author, Dr. Hanson’s four steps, you can counterbalance your brain’s negativity bias and learn to hardwire happiness in only a few minutes each day.
Why is it easier to ruminate over hurt feelings than it is to bask in the warmth of being appreciated? Because your brain evolved to learn quickly from bad experiences and slowly from good ones, but you can change this.
Life isn’t easy, and having a brain wired to take in the bad and ignore the good makes us worried, irritated, and stressed, instead of confident, secure, and happy. But each day is filled with opportunities to build inner strengths and Dr. Rick Hanson, an acclaimed clinical psychologist, shows what you can do to override the brain’s default pessimism.
Hardwiring Happiness lays out a simple method that uses the hidden power of everyday experiences to build new neural structures full of happiness, love, confidence, and peace. You’ll learn to see through the lies your brain tells you. Dr. Hanson’s four steps build strengths into your brain to make contentment and a powerful sense of resilience the new normal. In just minutes a day, you can transform your brain into a refuge and power center of calm and happiness.”
In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction (2010)
By Gabor Maté
Amazon Description: “From bestselling author Gabor Maté, the essential resource for understanding the roots and behaviors of addiction-now with an added introduction by the author.
Based on Gabor Maté’s two decades of experience as a medical doctor and his groundbreaking work with the severely addicted on Vancouver’s skid row, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts radically re-envisions this much misunderstood field by taking a holistic approach. Dr. Maté presents addiction not as a discrete phenomenon confined to an unfortunate or weak-willed few, but as a continuum that runs throughout (and perhaps underpins) our society; not a medical ‘condition’ distinct from the lives it affects, rather the result of a complex interplay among personal history, emotional, and neurological development, brain chemistry, and the drugs (and behaviors) of addiction. Simplifying a wide array of brain and addiction research findings from around the globe, the book avoids glib self-help remedies, instead promoting a thorough and compassionate self-understanding as the first key to healing and wellness.
In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts argues persuasively against contemporary health, social, and criminal justice policies toward addiction and those impacted by it. The mix of personal stories—including the author’s candid discussion of his own ‘high-status’ addictive tendencies—and science with positive solutions makes the book equally useful for lay readers and professionals.”
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, HER Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed (2019)
By Lori Gottlieb
Amazon Description: “From a New York Times best-selling author, psychotherapist, and national advice columnist, a hilarious, thought-provoking, and surprising new book that takes us behind the scenes of a therapist’s world-where her patients are looking for answers (and so is she).
One day, Lori Gottlieb is a therapist who helps patients in her Los Angeles practice. The next, a crisis causes her world to come crashing down. Enter Wendell, the quirky but seasoned therapist in whose office she suddenly lands. With his balding head, cardigan, and khakis, he seems to have come straight from Therapist Central Casting. Yet he will turn out to be anything but.
As Gottlieb explores the inner chambers of her patients’ lives – a self-absorbed Hollywood producer, a young newlywed diagnosed with a terminal illness, a senior citizen threatening to end her life on her birthday if nothing gets better, and a twenty-something who can’t stop hooking up with the wrong guys – she finds that the questions they are struggling with are the very ones she is now bringing to Wendell.
With startling wisdom and humor, Gottlieb invites us into her world as both clinician and patient, examining the truths and fictions we tell ourselves and others as we teeter on the tightrope between love and desire, meaning and mortality, guilt and redemption, terror and courage, hope and change.
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is revolutionary in its candor, offering a deeply personal yet universal tour of our hearts and minds and providing the rarest of gifts: a boldly revealing portrait of what it means to be human, and a disarmingly funny and illuminating account of our own mysterious lives and our power to transform them.”
Negative Self-Talk and How to Change It (2019)
By Shad Helmstetter
Amazon Description: “Negative Self-Talk and How to Change It is an immediately helpful, life-changing handbook of how to deal with negative self-talk – for yourself, or anyone in your life. Shad Helmstetter, Ph.D., the best-selling author of more than twenty books, is the leading authority in the field of self-talk today. In this 60-Minute’ Book™ written for today’s reader, Dr. Helmstetter gives you all of the important information you need to change negative self-talk forever, in a short, easy-to-read, and condensed format. Also included is a special ‘Guide to Changing Your Self-Talk’ from The Self-Talk Institute.”
No Self, No Problem: How Neuropsychology Is Catching Up to Buddhism (2019)
By Chris Niebauer
Amazon Description: “While in grad school in the early 1990s, Chris Niebauer began to notice striking parallels between the latest discoveries in psychology, neuroscience, and the teachings of Buddhism, Taoism, and other schools of Eastern thought. When he presented his findings to a professor, his ideas were quickly dismissed as ‘pure coincidence, nothing more.’
Fast-forward 20 years later and Niebauer is a Ph.D. and a tenured professor, and the Buddhist-neuroscience connection he found as a student is practically its own genre in the bookstore. But according to Niebauer, we are just beginning to understand the link between Eastern philosophy and the latest findings in psychology and neuroscience and what these assimilated ideas mean for the human experience.
In this groundbreaking book, Niebauer writes that the latest research in neuropsychology is now confirming a fundamental tenet of Buddhism, what is called Anatta, or the doctrine of ‘no self.’ Niebauer writes that our sense of self, or what we commonly refer to as the ego, is an illusion created entirely by the left side of the brain. Niebauer is quick to point out that this doesn’t mean that the self doesn’t exist but rather that it does so in the same way that a mirage in the middle of the desert exists, as a thought rather than a thing. His conclusions have significant ramifications for much of modern psychological modalities, which he says are spending much of their time trying to fix something that isn’t there.
What makes this book unique is that Niebauer offers a series of exercises to allow the reader to experience this truth for him- or herself, as well as additional tools and practices to use after reading the book, all of which are designed to change the way we experience the world―a way that is based on being rather than thinking.”
The Power of TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic) (2019)
By David Emerald Womeldorff
Amazon Description: “The Power of TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic) is a fable on self-leadership, because how you lead your own life has everything to do with how you lead in other areas. It is a tool for both individuals and organizations who want to create more effective communication and relationships. Learning how to transform everyday drama and opt for more growth-oriented solutions, is the priceless gift it teaches. As you walk with David, the main character, he shares how he is feeling victimized by life. Through serendipity he meets some wise guides, Ted and Sophia, who show David how he can move from feeling like a Victim to being a Creator of his own life. The Power of TED* offers a powerful alternative to the Karpman Drama Triangle with its roles of Victim, Persecutor, and Rescuer. The Empowerment Dynamic (TED) provides the antidote roles of Creator, Challenger and Coach and a more positive approach to life’s challenges. The teaching story provides a guide for learning and growing through the challenges we all face in our lives. Its message resonates with everyone who, at some time in their lives, feel victimized by their situation. Having helped thousands of people and scores of organizations over the past decade, The Power of TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic) is being published in this 10th Anniversary Edition to convey a very timely message of hope that all of life, whether at home or work, can be transformed to create satisfying and fulfilling relationships.”
The Smart but Scattered Guide to Success: How to Use Your Brain’s Executive Skills to Keep Up, Stay Calm, and Get Organized at Work and at Home (2016)
By Peg Dawson & Richard Guare
Amazon Description: “Are you smart, scattered, and struggling? You’re not alone. Cutting-edge research shows that today’s 24/7 wired world and the growing demands of work and family life may simply max out the part of the brain that manages complex tasks. That’s especially true for those lacking strong executive skills-the core brain-based abilities needed to maintain focus, meet deadlines, and stay cool under pressure. In this essential guide, leading experts Peg Dawson and Richard Guare help you map your own executive skills profile and take effective steps to boost your organizational skills, time management, emotional control, and nine other essential capacities. The book is packed with science-based strategies and concrete examples, plus downloadable practical tools for creating your own personalized action plan. Whether on the job or at home, you can get more done with less stress.”
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life (2016)
By Mark Manson
Amazon Description: “In this generation-defining self-help guide, a superstar blogger cuts through the crap to show us how to stop trying to be ‘positive’ all the time so that we can truly become better, happier people.
For decades, we’ve been told that positive thinking is the key to a happy, rich life. ‘F**k positivity,’ Mark Manson says. ‘Let’s be honest, shit is f**ked and we have to live with it.’ In his wildly popular Internet blog, Manson doesn’t sugarcoat or equivocate. He tells it like it is—a dose of raw, refreshing, honest truth that is sorely lacking today. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is his antidote to the coddling, let’s-all-feel-good mindset that has infected American society and spoiled a generation, rewarding them with gold medals just for showing up.
Manson makes the argument, backed both by academic research and well-timed poop jokes, that improving our lives hinges not on our ability to turn lemons into lemonade, but on learning to stomach lemons better. Human beings are flawed and limited—’not everybody can be extraordinary, there are winners and losers in society, and some of it is not fair or your fault.’ Manson advises us to get to know our limitations and accept them. Once we embrace our fears, faults, and uncertainties, once we stop running and avoiding and start confronting painful truths, we can begin to find the courage, perseverance, honesty, responsibility, curiosity, and forgiveness we seek.
There are only so many things we can give a f**k about so we need to figure out which ones really matter, Manson makes clear. While money is nice, caring about what you do with your life is better, because true wealth is about experience. A much-needed grab-you-by-the-shoulders-and-look-you-in-the-eye moment of real-talk, filled with entertaining stories and profane, ruthless humor, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is a refreshing slap for a generation to help them lead contented, grounded lives.”
Taming Your Gremlin: A Surprisingly Simple Method for Getting Out of Your Own Way (2003)
By Richard David Carson
Amazon Description: “This is a completely updated edition of the 1983 classic that introduced a powerful method for gaining freedom from self-defeating behaviors and beliefs. Rick Carson, creator of the renowned Gremlin-Taming™ Method, has revised the book to include fresh interactive activities, real-life vignettes we can all identify with, and new loathsome gremlins ripe for taming. Carson blends his laid-back style, Taoist wisdom, the Zen Theory of Change, and sound psychology in an easy-to-understand, unique, and practical system for banishing the nemesis within. Among the things you will learn are:
Techniques for getting a sliver of light between the natural you and the monster of your mind.
The extraordinary power of simply noticing and playing with options.
Six keys to maintaining emotional balance amid upheaval.”
Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well (2015)
By Douglas Stone & Sheila Heen
Amazon Description: “Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen have spent the past fifteen years working with corporations, nonprofits, governments, and families to determine what helps us learn and what gets in our way. In Thanks for the Feedback, they explain why receiving feedback is so crucial yet so challenging, offering a simple framework and powerful tools to help us take on life’s blizzard of offhand comments, annual evaluations, and unsolicited input with curiosity and grace. They blend the latest insights from neuroscience and psychology with practical, hard-headed advice. Thanks for the Feedback is destined to become a classic in the fields of leadership, organizational behavior, and education.”
The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself (2007)
By Michael Alan Singer
Amazon Description: “What would it be like to free yourself from limitations and soar beyond your boundaries? What can you do each day to discover inner peace and serenity? The Untethered Soul offers simple yet profound answers to these questions.
Whether this is your first exploration of inner space, or you’ve devoted your life to the inward journey, this book will transform your relationship with yourself and the world around you. You’ll discover what you can do to put an end to the habitual thoughts and emotions that limit your consciousness. By tapping into traditions of meditation and mindfulness, author and spiritual teacher Michael A. Singer shows how the development of consciousness can enable us all to dwell in the present moment and let go of painful thoughts and memories that keep us from achieving happiness and self-realization.
Co-published with the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) The Untethered Soul begins by walking you through your relationship with your thoughts and emotions, helping you uncover the source and fluctuations of your inner energy. It then delves into what you can do to free yourself from the habitual thoughts, emotions, and energy patterns that limit your consciousness. Finally, with perfect clarity, this book opens the door to a life lived in the freedom of your innermost being.”
Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers (2004)
By Robert Sapolsky
Amazon Description: “Now in a third edition, Robert M. Sapolsky’s acclaimed and successful Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers features new chapters on how stress affects sleep and addiction, as well as new insights into anxiety and personality disorder and the impact of spirituality on managing stress.
As Sapolsky explains, most of us do not lie awake at night worrying about whether we have leprosy or malaria. Instead, the diseases we fear-and the ones that plague us now-are illnesses brought on by the slow accumulation of damage, such as heart disease and cancer. When we worry or experience stress, our body turns on the same physiological responses that an animal’s does, but we do not resolve conflict in the same way-through fighting or fleeing. Over time, this activation of a stress response makes us literally sick.
Combining cutting-edge research with a healthy dose of good humor and practical advice, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers explains how prolonged stress causes or intensifies a range of physical and mental afflictions, including depression, ulcers, colitis, heart disease, and more. It also provides essential guidance to controlling our stress responses. This new edition promises to be the most comprehensive and engaging one yet.”
You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life (2013)
By Jen Sincero
Amazon Description: “In this refreshingly entertaining how-to guide, bestselling author and world-traveling success coach, Jen Sincero, serves up 27 bite-sized chapters full of hilariously inspiring stories, sage advice, easy exercises, and the occasional swear word, helping you to: Identify and change the self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors that stop you from getting what you want, Create a life you totally love. And create it NOW, Make some damn money already. The kind you’ve never made before.
By the end of You Are a Badass, you’ll understand why you are how you are, how to love what you can’t change, how to change what you don’t love, and how to use The Force to kick some serious ass.”
As a counselor, what do you do when you dislike a client?
Have you ever counseled someone you found offensive? Or maybe you liked the client, but dreaded sessions with them due to an annoying tic, the sound of their laugh, or something equally irritating to you.
As a therapist, it’s important to be aware of personal values as well as any populations you find difficult to work with. This is necessary to avoid imposing your own values on or harming the client. For example, if you cannot remain objective when working with sex offenders or racists, the ethical path is to seek supervision/consultation and training.
If the client is “unlikable” to you and possibly others, imagine how difficult it is to be in their shoes.
4. During the first few sessions, ask the client about previous experiences in therapy, including what they liked or did not like, and what worked well for them.
If sessions have been challenging, it may be that the client is not responding to your interventions. Similarly, if a session is boring for you, it may be that you are using the wrong techniques. Change it up with a different approach.
5. Remain patient and open-minded.
Oftentimes, the solution to “dislike” is getting to know a person better. Also, be aware that what you are seeing could be a defense mechanism or strategy the client used to survive in the past. Your role as a counselor is to teach healthy coping skills (while at the same time validating the client for finding ways to survive).
Explore transference with the client. If transference continues to hinder progress, consider termination. For countertransference, seek supervision and training.
7. If you feel emotionally drained or exhausted by a certain client, set a boundary.
Recognize when you are taking on too much of the client’s pain. Remember that you can be empathetic without feeling everything the client feels. Also, leave work at work. Do not let your clients’ problems consume you in your personal life. On the other hand, if you do not experience any empathy or find yourself uncaring, disinterested, or detached, consider taking a break. It may be time to reassess your fitness as a therapist or even explore a new career.
8. Recognize when the client is bullying, intimidating, insulting, dismissing, etc.
Do not take it personally. Point out the behavior in real time and then explore. Is the client aware of the behavior? Where did the client learn it? What are their intentions? How has it worked in the past? How might it impact others? What are alternative, prosocial behaviors?
9. If you are unsure of exactly why you are dreading a certain client or session, delve deep.
Seek supervision and consultation to find what is bothersome to you.
10. If, on the other hand, you find that you are dreading all sessions, you might be burnt out or experiencing vicarious trauma.
It is time to take some time off work, re-up your self-care game, and/or seek therapy yourself.
11. Learn from the “unlikeable” client.
Working with a client you find offensive or are annoyed by will challenge you more than working with a client who is personable, open, and motivated. You have to find ways to be compassionate and empathetic in order to connect with and help the challenging client. You will also learn about your own biases and become more self-aware. The “unlikeable” client will help you grow and improve as a clinician.
12. Recognize and ditch resentments.
If you resent a client because they are not progressing, not doing their homework, not following suggestions, etc., check yourself. You only provide the tools. It is up to the client to use them. Do not attach yourself to a client’s successes… or failures. Also, recognize where the client is in the change process. If you are using interventions for the “action” stage of change, but the client is in “precontemplation,” you will not get anywhere. Furthermore, instead of labeling the client as resistant, assess stage of change and match interventions accordingly. If the client continues to not progress and/or is not benefiting from therapy, consider termination.
13. If you find a nervous habit or tic (outside of transient tic disorder) bothersome, consider pointing it out to the client (in a non-judgmental way), especially if you have a good rapport with or know the client well.
Broaching the subject opens the door for exploration. The client may not realize they do it or that others notice (and could be offended by) it. For example: a client who picks at their cuticles when they talk about their mother or who makes a joke whenever they feel uncomfortable. By noting the behavior, you increase awareness and the potential for growth.
14. Use appropriate self-disclosure or tell about “a person I know” (with a similar habit) to help normalize an undesirable trait. Also, explain how the habit was eliminated.
For example, say, “When I realized that I said ‘um’ nearly every other word, I recorded my conversations and then restated them without the ‘ums’ until it became second nature.” Or, tell about someone who clicked their pen or smacked their gum until they were made aware, and as a result, ditched the bothersome habit.
15. Recognize the difference between patterns of speech/behaviors and symptoms of a mental disorder.
For example, it can be challenging or frustrating to have a conversation with someone who is experiencing mania, but it is helpful to separate that person from their disorder. Provide your client with psychoeducation and teach about symptoms.
16. Similarly, recognize that some of what you are seeing may be a person’s reaction to trauma.
People react to trauma differently and find unique and varied ways to cope. Teach coping strategies for managing trauma reactions.
17. Also, recognize when what you are seeing may be due to a brain injury.
A brain injury can cause personality changes and/or cognitive deficits. Someone with a brain injury could be forgetful, aggressive, anxious, impulsive, and lack emotional regulation, decision-making skills, and problem-solving skills. A thorough biopsychosocial assessment helps to identify brain injuries, but likewise note that there are many individuals who are unaware of past head injuries or their impact.
18. Teach social skills!
Educate and roleplay prosocial behavior. Also, it may be appropriate to let the client know how their behavior impacts you. For example, when a client frequently interrupts, point it out as it happens and express that it is off-putting. Then, wonder aloud how others feel when interrupted by the client. Suggest that they may feel disrespected, unimportant, undermined, or may altogether avoid conversations with the client.
You are making it about you, not the client. Recognize that beginner counselors almost always experience some discomfort and self-doubt. Accept that you may not say the “right” thing or be able to answer a question. Learn to be comfortable with silence. If you truly do not know what to say, be transparent. Say something like, “I’m not familiar with that. Let me think on it (or research it) and get back to you.” Do not allow your anxiety or self-doubt to hinder a client’s experience in therapy. To engage clients who are challenging or indifferent (i.e., never have anything to talk about), use evidence-based psychoeducational or interactive techniques (i.e., guided imagery, handouts, aromatherapy, etc.)
20. Lastly, be aware that if you are annoyed by or dislike a client, they will (most likely) pick up on it.
If you are unable to be transparent, compassionate, empathetic, and/or show unconditional positive regard, consider termination and referral. Explore your strong reaction to the client with supervisors, and seek training to enhance self-awareness.
In conclusion, it is important for counselors to be aware of their reactions and biases. Since it is unethical to refer a client due to personal dislike, counselors should utilize strategies for managing attitudes and assumptions while providing the client with effective, person-centered services.
When you experience feelings of “dislike” for a client, start by reframing your thoughts. Seek supervision and training. Also, effective counselors recognize the difference between personality and symptoms of mental illness, defense mechanisms, or trauma reactions.
As a therapist, do not take it personally, and always remember the roles transference and countertransference play. Set boundaries and practice regular self-care to avoid burnout. Lastly, recognize that there is something to love in everyone. Practice a strengths-based approach and focus on the positive.
Rape-culture attitudes/behaviors include victim-blaming, slut-shaming, sexual objectification of women, trivialization of sexual assault, denial of widespread rape, and dismissal of the devastating impact of sexual violence.
The following comments embody rape culture in America:
“In MOST cases (not all), the women raped are hoes dressed in some sleazy material and whine about being taking advantage of later.”
“There is no rape culture. There is such a small percentage of men that rape women, there cannot be a culture. [Rape] isn’t even remotely common.”
“It doesn’t matter if you urge or try to teach [men not to rape], they are going to do what they are going to do. It’s best to be prepared, it’s that simple.”
“To make the implication that a woman can dress and act how she wants and not expect a wolf to find her… is just damn ignorant… you don’t go flaunting fresh meat in front of a primal animal and expect it not to attack.”
The above quotes (edited for spelling/typos) are statements from two middle-aged men in response to a Facebook post. The Facebook post proclaimed that women are routinely urged to cover their drinks, to not walk alone at night, to carry pepper spray, etc., and then posed the question, “CAN WE PLEASE URGE MEN TO NOT SEXUALLY ASSAULT WOMEN?”
Ironically, the very comments intended to disprove rape culture provided proof of its existence (and ugliness).
Rape Culture in America
“Women are no more important than any other potential victims, but we are the primary targets of the messages and myths that sustain rape culture. We’re the ones asked to change our behavior, limit our movements, and take full responsibility for the prevention of sexual violence in society.”
Kate Harding (Author)
How common is rape and/or sexual assault in America?
To start, what are the statistics on sexual violence in the U.S.?
1 in 4 undergraduate women were victims of sexual assault while enrolled in college (compared to 6.8% of undergraduate men).
41.8% of students experienced at least one incident of sexual harassment since enrollment.
Additionally, a 2015 study indicated that 20% of surveyed college men committed some form of sexual assault. Other researchers found that nearly 1 in 10 persons ages 21 and younger perpetrated some type of forced sexual violence.
It should be noted that the Uniform Crime Report from the FBI under-represents actual incidents of rapes and does not account for other forms of sexual violence.Since most rapes are not reported to the police, the federal government relies on three data collection systems to measure sexual victimization: The Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Crime Victimization Survey, the CDC National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, and the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System. (For additional sources of reliable data, look to peer-reviewed academic journals and credible sites such as RAINN.)
Experiencing PTSD symptoms during the two weeks following the incident (94%)
Contemplating suicide (33%)
Attempting suicide (13%)
Using illicit drugs
Experiencing problems at work or school (38%)
Experiencing relationship problems with family/friends (37%)
According to research and data from the 2011 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey:
The estimated lifetime cost of rape is $122,461 per victim, or a population economic burden of nearly $3.1 trillion over victims’ lifetimes.
Government sources pay an estimated $1 trillion (32%) of the lifetime economic burden.
What is rape culture?
The concept of rape culture was formulated in the 1970s as a feminist, sociological theory. Rape culture ideology explains how society normalizes male sexual violence while blaming the victim. Additional practices/attitudes that contribute to rape culture include slut-shaming, objectifying women, trivializing rape, denying that widespread rape exists, and minimizing the impact of sexual violence.
Normalizing Rape & Sexual Assault
“[Rape is] unfortunately the nature of the world we live in. Is it not?”
The above comment normalizes sexual violence – it endorses rape as an inevitable fact of life. As a result, emphasis is placed on teaching girls and young women self-defense, vigilance, and modesty. This allows for sexual violence prevention programs to teach “don’t get raped… instead of: don’t rape.” Meanwhile, preventative strategies such as early sex education and interventions for treating aggressive behaviors receive less attention.
For myself, I was taught to yell in a deep voice if assaulted and to not scream. (Supposedly, a high-pitched scream would sexually excite the perpetrator, but a low voice would turn him off.) Also, I carried my keys in hand at night… not so much as to open my car door in a rush, but to stab my attacker in the eye.
“Rape is one of the most terrible crimes on earth and it happens every few minutes. The problem with groups who deal with rape is that they try to educate women about how to defend themselves. What really needs to be done is teaching men not to rape. Go to the source and start there.”
Years later, I took a self-defense class. It was both challenging and empowering. The instructor, before teaching any moves, stressed that to avoid being a victim, the best option is always, always… to run. Self-defense should be used as a last resort.
Self-defense may come in handy, but it’s not a solution to sexual violence. The ultimate goal is not to normalize or defend against, but to eradicate. Rape is not the norm.
Victim-Blaming & Slut-Shaming
“In MOST cases (not all), the women raped are hoes dressed in some sleazy material and whine about being taking advantage of later.”
In a single sentence, the above commenter blames the victim, slut shames, objectifies women (which he later refers to as “fresh meat”), and trivializes the harmful consequences of rape. He implies that “hoes” (i.e., women who enjoy frequent or casual sex) who wear immodest attire should expect or even deserve to be assaulted. He trivializes the harmful impact of sexual violence when he uses the word “whine,” as though rape is a detested chore, not a traumatic and life-altering experience.
Both victim-blaming and slut-shaming contribute to rape culture. What’s more, some women choose to not report sexual assault because they fear the backlash (being blamed or labeled as promiscuous).
“She told me that my rape was not my fault, that I should feel no shame, that – simple as it may sound – I hadn’t caused it. No one causes rape but rapists. No one causes rape but rapists. No one causes rape but rapists. It was true. And it had not been obvious to me. And hearing it from someone else, a professional, someone who should know, helped me believe that soon I would believe it.”
Acceptance of gender stereotypes (i.e., “It’s not ‘ladylike’ for women to desire sex” or “Women who resist are only playing ‘hard to get'”),
Conservative religious beliefs,
Politically conservative views,
Compulsive sexual behavior,
The belief that rape isn’t “real” if it occurs in a marriage or relationship, and
Believing rape myths to be true.
And other factors contributing to victim-blaming:
There is a perceived threat to the assailant’s masculinity,
The victim is wearing tight, revealing, or sexually suggestive attire,
The victim is viewed as promiscuous,
If either the victim or the attacker were intoxicated at the time,
It’s perceived that the victim did not resist or fight hard enough,
If the assailant uses little or no force,
Sexual objectification of women in society, and
The media’s portrayal of what constitutes “real” rape (i.e., “stranger rape” vs. date or acquaintance rape).
A more subtle form of victim-blaming is placing all the focus on victim with victim-focused (instead of perpetrator-focused) preventative tips. For example, if a woman is advised to avoid empty parking garages, never leave her drink unattended, etc., and then slips up (i.e., her appointment ran late and she has to walk to car alone or she leaves her drink when taking an urgent call during a date), she is faulted (and may blame herself) for her carelessness.
“Women don’t get raped because they were drinking or took drugs. Women do not get raped because they weren’t careful enough. Women get raped because someone raped them.”
Only the rapist is at fault for committing a sex crime, never the victim, regardless of circumstances.
The definition of slut-shaming is “the practice of criticizing people, especially women and girls, who are perceived to violate expectations of behavior and appearance regarding issues related to sexuality.”
Slut-shaming seeks to humiliate, admonish, or degrade a person. Women are harshly judged for so-called loose sexual behaviors while men are not held to a similar standard.
Women as Sexual Objects
Objectification of women reduces them to sex objects that exist primarily for sexual pleasure. Interpersonal objectification is commonplace, and occurs in the form of unwanted body evaluation and/or advances (i.e., catcalls, leering, sexually suggestive remarks about a woman’s appearance, etc.) Sexual objectification also occurs in the media when women are depicted as sex symbols. Sex objectification is both harmful and dehumanizing.
We routinely reject unpleasant truths and information that threaten our worldview. This allows for the dismissal of commonplace rape and sexual assault in America. It’s easier to view rape as a rare and/or fully preventable occurrence.
Bottom Line: Rape culture promotes sexual aggression. And if you contribute to rape culture, you’re contributing to sexual victimization in America.
“Standing behind predators makes prey of us all.”
To create a culture of anti-rape, we must eradicate rape culture beliefs, practices, and attitudes. Furthermore, we must find a solution-focused approach that aims to eliminate or reduce sexual violence.
Empowerment/assertiveness, sexual assault resistance, and self-defense training programs for women can help to reduce incidences of rape and other forms of victimization. Learning self-defense can also help to increase confidence levels.
Promote Social Norms that Protect Against Violence
Teach Skills to Prevent Sexual Violence
Provide Opportunities to Empower and Support Girls and Women
Create Protective Environments
Support Victims/Survivors to Lessen Harms
An integrated approach that combines early prevention strategies, sex education, ongoing educational programs, and self-defense and empowerment training for women may be the key to creating a counterculture to rape culture, and ultimately eliminating widespread sexual victimization in America.
In sum, sexual violence against women is commonplace and underreported in America. Rape culture contributes to this issue by normalizing male sexual violence, victim-blaming, slut-shaming, sexually objectifying women, trivializing rape, denying the existence of widespread rape, and minimizing the harm caused by sexual violence.
As a way to reduce sexually violent crimes in America, we should focus on strategies that dismantle rape culture, target potential perpetrators, and teach women empowerment and assertiveness. An integrated approach is needed to eliminate rape and sexual assault.
In the very least, take a stand, educate yourself, stay informed, and don’t participate in rape culture!
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I was extremely psyched when I was asked to do a guest post for Mind ReMake Project. The first thing I thought when I saw the Mind ReMake Project website was “Wow, what an awesome, well put together online resource!” The second thing I thought to myself was “The Mind ReMake Project – what a fantastic name!”
The whole concept of “remaking your mind” really makes a ton of sense. Mental health and substance use treatment is all about making your mind over. In a lot of ways, this process of remaking our mind can be directly compared with making over or renovating a home or apartment. With that in mind, consider this analogy further.
When you renovate your apartment or home, first you identify what you need to throw away or update, and the same is true for remaking our mind.
When renovating your home, you would probably start by looking around at the furniture, the appliances, the carpets, wallpaper, fixtures, lighting, etc. It makes sense to carefully scan all around the place and decide what needs to be thrown away or replaced.
Then, the process of renovation starts with getting rid of what does not work for you anymore around the place and eliminating or updating the things that are so worn out or outdated that they no longer bring you comfort or joy.
“If you can change your mind, you can change your life.”
William James (Philosopher)
When remaking your mind, the process is very much the same. You may start looking at things in your mind that are getting in the way of your progress or cluttering up the works inside your brain. This may include negative thoughts, debilitating feelings, destructive habits, bad attitudes, or dysfunctional behavior patterns.
Granted, it is not so easy to get rid of some of these aspects of our mind as it may be to throw away an outdated piece of furniture, but still the process starts with identifying and accepting what we need to change and what we need to improve upon in order to make our mind over.
Question for self-reflection
What negative things do you need to “throw away” or change in order to remake your mind? (Think about negative thoughts, stressors, triggers, feelings, habits, behaviors, moods, attitudes, etc.)
Next, it’s time to gather your tools, learn to use them, and get to work.
Once you have a renovation plan in place and have identified the repairs that need to be made, there is a ton of work to do. You would need to make sure you have the tools needed to get each job done as there may be several different types of renovations that need to be taken care of.
You may even find yourself watching YouTube videos or getting help from experienced friends and others who know how to make the needed home repairs you have identified. For more complicated tasks, you may need to call in an expert to help. Once you have the tools and supports in place, you can then get to work.
When getting to work on remaking your mind, you also will need to gather some tools. This will undoubtedly include coping skills and strategies for all of your mental and emotional goals. It is important to get the right tools for the right job depending upon your needs. Therefore, you may need to develop an array of varied skills for a host of conditions such as anxiety, depression, trauma, substance use, etc. Whatever it is that you need to renovate, you will need to become proficient with applying the appropriate skills.
Often, treatment is the place for many to develop these tools effectively, especially with more challenging mental and emotional conditions. In addition, we need to find supports in our lives who can help us learn to effectively use tools, based on their expertise and experience with the same tasks.
Questions for self-reflection
What are some tools, skills, and strategies that you may need to develop for your mind remake project? Are there any areas where you may need professional help (treatment)? Also, where can you find support to help you with these self- improvement goals and projects?
Finally, you put the work in long enough to see progress take place and then change your lifestyle to keep your new home clean and all your repairs in working order for the long haul.
So far, just to get to this point in home repair, it takes a good deal of time and persistent effort. Putting in the work doing repairs to renovate a home is a process that can take a long time and involve a lot of commitment to regular hard work. With time however, the house starts to take shape and eventually begins to look amazing as repairs and renovations take place. If you do good work, the home renovation project will surely show it.
Naturally then, it only makes sense to take care of your beautiful new home by living a more conscientious, organized, and goal-directed lifestyle. It wouldn’t make sense to completely redo your living room, for example, only to trash it right after. To the contrary, when the home looks new and beautiful, an increased effort is made to maintain the beauty of the renovations and to make the new home improvements last for as long as possible.
“The mind is everything. What you think you become.”
Again, in your personal mind remake project, when you put the work in over a long enough time, your changes and self-improvement start to become more evident to others, and your lifestyle starts to significantly improve. You then do what you can to maintain these changes to avoid going backward and losing all of your hard-fought progress.
Often, some type of plan for relapse prevention is needed so that progress and positive change are effectively managed and sustained on a consistent basis, thus rounding out your mind remake project on a long-term (possibly even lifelong) basis.
Questions for self-reflection
What is needed for you to avoid going backward with your mental and emotional progress? How can your transform your goals and progress into sustainable lifestyle changes that you can effectively manage and maintain on a long-term basis?
Both a home renovation and a mind remake project require a lot of persistence, support, commitment, learning, and of course, time, dedication, and hard work. Still, if you are able to stick with it, the end product is so worth it as you’ll have a new and improved way of life that will surely bring you increased happiness and prosperity. It’s worth the effort!
Ken Pecoraro, LCSW, LCADC specializes in addiction and mental health, and works with both adults and adolescents at Escalator Counseling Services. Ken posts addiction resources and more on his site, Taking the Escalator.
Guest Post by Ralph Macey, Writer/Blogger/Health Care Coordinator
Happiness is all about mindset. Many believe that happiness depends on external factors, but this is not the case. Happiness depends on your mindset. Absolute happiness can exist even in the face of adversity when you have a positive mindset.
Setbacks will always be a part of life. No one can avoid hardships or problems, not even monks or saints. When problems arise, you can tackle them head-on. And when there are joyous moments in life, you can savor them. And when you can remain relatively unaffected by whatever is happening around you, you can create a mindset of absolute happiness.
Human beings have a disgusting trait. They tend to focus more on the negative aspects of life than the positive. Oftentimes, people are more concerned about the things they do not have instead of the ones they already possess. Hence, they become unhappy.
When you dwell on the things you’re missing out on, it is easy to be unhappy. For example, you may feel resentful when you don’t receive a raise or promotion at work. However, when you look outside of yourself at the millions of unemployed people in the world, you may feel better. (At least you have a job!)
Have gratitude for everything you have. Gratitude helps to develop positive emotions, enjoy experiences, tackle adverse situations, and build healthy relationships. When you have gratitude for even the small things in your life, you feel happy.
“Happiness will never come to those who don’t appreciate what they already have.”
Develop a growth mindset and discard the fixed mindset.
There are two kinds of mindsets. The first is the fixed mindset, and the second, the growth mindset.
In a fixed mindset, you are resistant to change. You are rigid in your way of thinking and are not concerned with self-improvement or personal growth. When you encounter challenges, you choose to not learn from them. You tend to defend your position blindly. Hence, you become an angry, irritated, fearful, and unhappy person.
In a growth mindset, you crave learning and personal development. Whenever there is a challenge, you view it as an opportunity for improvement. With a growth mindset, you evaluate the situation, acknowledge the drawbacks, and focus on the skills you need to be successful. You do not have an inflexible, narrow mindset and are not driven by ego. Instead, you embrace any new challenge as a learning opportunity. Thus, you become happy and content.
If you want to be happy, adopt a growth mindset and discard the fixed mindset. Regard every challenge you face as a medium to grow and prosper.
Make a list of the things that make you happy.
Make a list of the things and memories that make you happy. Every morning, jot down a few words or phrases (i.e., friends, a favorite vacation, a beloved pet, your favorite meal, a brand new car, etc.). Add to your list daily. Once you have a list of considerable length, devote 30 minutes to reviewing it. In those 30 minutes, reflect on the people, places, events, and things that bring you joy.
Do not overthink or judge yourself.
Human beings have 6200 thoughts per day. And not all of those 6200 thoughts are positive. You experience both positive and negative thoughts. Try to not dwell on your negative thoughts, and do not overanalyze them. When you overthink things, you may worry unnecessarily and feel unhappy. Also, do not be ashamed of your negative thoughts. It is okay to have negative thoughts; just don’t let them overpower you. Let the negative go, and instead, focus on the positive.
Think about the best moment of the day.
Before going to sleep at night, think about the best moment of your day. It will bring a smile to your face. Did you love the food your significant other cooked for dinner? Or, if the meal was mediocre at best, be happy that they took out time from their busy schedule to prepare something for you. (It’s the thought that counts, right?) Relish in the feelings of happiness and gratitude as you drift off to sleep.
Focus on your goals and the journey rather than the obstacles.
You will face obstacles in life. Sometimes, you will fail and fall flat on your face. But you can pick yourself back up. Focus on your goals and on the journey itself, not on stumbling blocks you encounter along the way. When you’re fixated on a problem, you become discouraged and are thereby less likely to look for the solution. Subsequently, you get stuck, and happiness may seem out of reach.
To get unstuck, develop a plan, and then take action to achieve your goals. Get back on track with a renewed focus, and fight until you succeed. Your vision of success will help you move forward as you continue on your journey.
“Happiness is a journey, not a destination.”
Ben Sweetland (Author and Psychologist)
Think positive thoughts about others.
When you think negatively about the people in your life, you become incapable of maintaining healthy, genuine relationships. Misunderstanding and miscommunication can lead to conflict. Heated arguments or giving the cold shoulder generates hostility.
As much as possible, assume that others have positive intentions. Do not judge their words, actions, or motives. Judgments cloud your heart with unhappiness.
Stop comparing yourself with others.
Each life is precious. Every journey is different.
Now, envision that you’re scrolling through Facebook. You probably see smiling, attractive faces and happy, perfect families. In comparison, your life may seem dull or pathetic. Suppose you just went through a painful breakup, and when you view your home feed, all you see is your friends getting married or having babies. You may feel disheartened. If so, remind yourself that Facebook only reveals a tiny piece of the picture, not the full story. You are looking at edited highlights of your friends’ lives. You don’t know what happens behind the scenes. Stop comparing your life with others, and write your own story.
“Happiness is letting go of what you think your life is supposed to look like and celebrating it for everything that it is.”
Mandy Hale (Author)
Seek medical help to regain your lost happiness.
Happiness leaves your life when you develop severe depression. Depression is like a thief. It steals optimism and joy. If left untreated, depression can lead to hopelessness and mental anguish and will rob you of the ability to feel any pleasure or enjoyment. It may impact your relationships with others, in addition to affecting sleep, appetite, and energy levels.
What would you do if you were having heart palpitations, dizziness, and chest pain? Would you ignore your symptoms… or would you ask someone to drive you to the nearest hospital? Certainly, you would seek immediate medical care. Urgent health issues require treatment; likewise, urgent mental health issues require treatment.
When there are chemical imbalances in the brain, your thoughts, emotions, and perceptions are affected. As a result, you experience depression, anxiety, etc.
If you are depressed, consult with a psychiatrist to learn about available treatment options. After assessing your symptoms, the psychiatrist will recommend one or more medical treatments. The first line of treatment for depression typically consists of medication and psychotherapy. However, if your symptoms persist despite continued treatment, your doctor may prescribe an alternative treatment, transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy, or TMS therapy.
What is TMS therapy?
TMS therapy is a non-invasive treatment that involves the delivery of recurring magnetic energy impulses to the parts of your brain that regulate mood. The magnetic pulses stimulate targeted brain cells to enhance communication between different parts of your brain, restoring balance. When TMS therapy is given at regular intervals, it is called repetitive TMS (or rTMS). TMS therapy reduces symptoms of depression and improves mood. TMS therapy is also effective for decreasing symptoms associated with OCD, PTSD, anxiety disorders, chronic pain, etc. This treatment is painless and has little to no side-effects. It does not involve sedation. Even after undergoing a session, you can drive back to your home without any hassle. That’s the best part of TMS therapy.
In conclusion, to cultivate a happiness mindset, you must master your mind, not the other way around. True happiness comes from within and is not influenced by external factors.
To develop the happiness mindset, practice gratitude, strive to improve yourself and learn, reflect on the things that make you happy (daily), be kind to yourself (and others), be solution-focused, compare self with self (not anyone else), and seek psychiatric care for depression.
Guest Author: Ralph Macey, Writer/Blogger/Health Care Coordinator
Ralph Macey, a professional writer since 2008 and medical health/patient care coordinator at savantcare.com since 2014, writes articles on all mental health-related subjects. He holds a degree and two professional certifications in his field and continues to upgrade his knowledge with additional classes and seminars. He also provides mental health consultations and private fitness instructions for free in his local community.
This is a list of the 16 best email newsletter subscriptions for therapists, other mental health workers, students, and consumers. These e-newsletters were selected for quality/relevancy of content and usefulness of resources.
“Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.”
Please repost this and/or share with anyone you think could benefit from these resources!
16 Best e-Newsletters for Therapists
Newsletters are categorized based on target population: General/nonspecific and trauma-informed newsletters for therapists and counseling students, newsletters for addiction professionals, newsletters for both mental health professionals and consumers, and newsletters for research news.
Site Statement: “ACEs Connection is a social network that recognizes the impact of a wide variety of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) in shaping adult behavior and health, and that promotes trauma-informed and resilience-building practices and policies in all families, organizations, systems and communities. We support communities to accelerate the science of adverse childhood experiences to solve our most intractable problems. We believe that we can create a resilient world where people thrive.”
Best for: News/articles about trauma and Webinar opportunities
Site/Organization: National Council for Behavioral Health
Site Statement: “The National Council for Behavioral Health is the unifying voice of America’s health care organizations that deliver mental health and addictions treatment and services. Together with our 3,381 member organizations serving over 10 million adults, children and families living with mental illnesses and addictions, the National Council is committed to all Americans having access to comprehensive, high-quality care that affords every opportunity for recovery.”
Best for: Webinar opportunities, trainings, news, and other resources
Site/Organization: American Psychiatric Association
Site Statement: “Psychiatric News Update is a weekly e-newsletter bringing you up-to-the-moment news about APA news; services, programs, and educational materials available to APA members; and links to the latest research reports in the American Journal of Psychiatry, Psychiatric News, and Psychiatric Services.”
Best for: News/research and training opportunities (free for members)
Site/Organization: Psychiatry Advisor (from Haymarket Medical Network)
Site Statement: “Psychiatry Advisor offers psychiatric healthcare professionals a comprehensive knowledge base of practical psychiatry information and resources to assist in making the right decisions for their patients. Creating your free account with Psychiatry Advisor allows you access to exclusive content, including case studies, drug information, CME and more across our growing network of clinical sites.”
Best for: News and articles related to psychotropic medications, and training opportunities
Site/Organization: Society for the Advancement of Psychotherapy
Site Statement: “A strong voice for psychotherapy and home for psychotherapists, the Society for the Advancement of Psychotherapy is committed to preserving and expanding the theoretical and evidentiary base for psychotherapy and psychotherapeutic relationships, supporting life-long learning of psychotherapeutic skills, as well as making the benefits of psychotherapy accessible to all. The Society is an international community of practitioners, scholars, researchers, teachers, health care specialists, and students who are interested in and devoted to the advancement of the practice and science of psychotherapy. Our mission is to provide an active, diverse, and vital community and to generate, share, and disseminate the rapidly accumulating evidence base in clinical science and practice.”
Site/Organization: Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC)
Site Statement: “Addiction & Recovery eNews is a bi-weekly newsletter delivering trending and breaking news, innovations, research and trends impacting the addiction-focused profession to over 48,000 addiction professionals every other Friday.”
Best for: Training (both free and low-cost) opportunities, news, and employment postings
Site/Organization: American Society of Addiction Medicine
Site Statement: “The ASAM Weekly is a source of timely, useful news briefings of top stories for addiction medicine combined with ASAM developments in education, advocacy, state chapter news and more. ASAM Weekly is a great way to keep informed and is delivered to the inboxes of ASAM members every Tuesday.”
Best for: News and articles about addiction medicine
Site Statement: “The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation is a force of healing and hope for individuals, families and communities affected by addiction to alcohol and other drugs… With a legacy that began in 1949 and includes the 1982 founding of the Betty Ford Center, the Foundation today also encompasses a graduate school of addiction studies, a publishing division, an addiction research center, recovery advocacy and thought leadership, professional and medical education programs, school-based prevention resources and a specialized program for children who grow up in families with addiction. Stay up-to-date on the latest addiction treatment trends, research and practices as well as news about Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation’s facilities, events and staff with Clinical Connection, [a] bi-monthly e-newsletter.”
Best for: Free Webinar opportunities, online courses, news, and podcasts
Site/Organization: National Harm Reduction Coalition
Site Statement: “National Harm Reduction Coalition is a nationwide advocate and ally for people who use drugs. We are a catalyst and incubator, repository and hub, storyteller and disseminator for the collective wisdom of the harm reduction community.”
Site Statement: “Partnership to End Addiction is a result of the cohesive joining of two pioneering and preeminent addiction-focused organizations — Center on Addiction and Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. We combine our depth of expertise with our compassion-driven, hands-on approach to deliver solutions to individuals and families and proactively take action to incite productive change. Together, as Partnership to End Addiction, we mobilize families, policymakers, researchers and health care professionals to more effectively address addiction systemically on a national scale.”
Site/Organization: Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Site Statement: “DBSA provides hope, help, support, and education to improve the lives of people who have mood disorders. DBSA offers peer-based, wellness-oriented support and empowering services and resources available when people need them, where they need them, and how they need to receive them—online 24/7, in local support groups, in audio and video casts, or in printed materials distributed by DBSA, our chapters, and mental health care facilities across America.”
Site Statement: “Mental Health America (MHA) is the nation’s leading community-based nonprofit dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness and promoting the overall mental health of all. MHA’s work is driven by its commitment to promote mental health as a critical part of overall wellness, including prevention services for all; early identification and intervention for those at risk; integrated care, services, and supports for those who need them; with recovery as the goal.”
Best for: Webinars that offer certificates of attendance, news, recommended articles/podcasts, and downloadable toolkits
Site/Organization: Brain & Behavior Research Foundation
Site Statement: “The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation is a global nonprofit organization focused on improving the understanding, prevention and treatment of psychiatric and mental illnesses. The Foundation is committed to alleviating the suffering caused by mental illness by awarding grants that will lead to advances and breakthroughs in scientific research.”
Site/Organization: Recovery Research Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital
Site Statement: “The Recovery Research Institute is a leading nonprofit research institute of Massachusetts General Hospital, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, dedicated to the advancement of addiction treatment and recovery. The Recovery Bulletin is a free monthly e-publication summarizing the latest and best research in addiction treatment and recovery.”
Best for: Research news related to addiction and recovery
Site Statement: “ScienceDaily features breaking news about the latest discoveries in science, health, the environment, technology, and more – from leading universities, scientific journals, and research organizations.”
According to Wikipedia, fake news is “false or misleading information presented as news. It often has the aim of damaging the reputation of a person or entity, or making money through advertising revenue.”
How can you spot false information, defend yourself against it, and prevent the spread of fake news?
How to Spot Fake News
“The news and the truth are not the same thing.”
Walter Lippmann (American Journalist)
Your Brain on Fake News
Many accept fake news as fact – providing that it matches up with their current beliefs. This is due to confirmation bias, the tendency to look for and accept information that supports and confirms (rather than rejects) existing beliefs. Confirmation bias occurs when people gather or remember information selectively, or when they decipher it in a biased manner.
COGNITIVE DISSONANCE CAN LEAD TO CONFIRMATION BIAS. ACCORDING TO THE THEORY OF COGNITIVE DISSONANCE, WHEN SITUATIONS INVOLVE CONFLICTING ATTITUDES, BELIEFS, OR BEHAVIORS, PEOPLE EXPERIENCE MENTAL DISCOMFORT. WHEN ONE’S ACTIONS OR THOUGHTS CONTRADICT THEIR BELIEFS, THEY MAY ATTEMPT TO REDUCE THE DISCORD TO ALLEVIATE GUILT, SHAME, AND ANXIETY.
AN EXAMPLE OF COGNITIVE DISSONANCE IS AN ANIMAL LOVER WHO FEELS GUILTY FOR EATING MEAT. AS A RESULT, THEY EXPERIENCE DISCOMFORT. TO REDUCE SHAME AND RESTORE A SENSE OF BALANCE, THEY MAY REJECT OR AVOID INFORMATION THAT PROMOTES VEGANISM OR CRUELTY-FREE LIVING.
To compensate for confirmation bias, a person must develop critical thinking skills and have a flexible (not rigid) thinking style. To challenge long-held (sometimes unconscious) prejudices, expose yourself to different viewpoints and perspectives. Also, question what you learned (or were told) in childhood.
Moreover, research indicates that we’re more likely to believe fake news when both accurate and inaccurate information are mixed together in a source.
To avoid the misinformation trap, critically evaluate information immediately, always consider the source, and be aware of the brain’s difficulty with processing information that’s a mix of both fact and fiction.
Regarding gender and age, some research suggests that men are more likely than women to spread misinformation on social media as are individuals over the age of 65.
When it comes to politics and political news, be aware that partisan identity may lead to believing and/or spreading misinformation. Political views may also impact how likely you are to respond to warnings about potential threats and endangerment. Gender and age are additional factors that may contribute to the spread of fake news.
University of California – Los Angeles. (2017, February 2). Political affiliation can predict how people will react to false information about threats: Studies show that conservatives believe untrue warnings more than liberals do. ScienceDaily. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170202141851.htm
Despite a large body of scientific research, myths and misconceptions about addiction remain prevalent in today’s society, contributing to stigma, barriers to treatment, and higher health burdens. The following is a list of common misconceptions.
15 COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT ADDICTION
1. Misconception: Addiction is choice.
Fact: Addiction is widely recognized as a primary disorder of the brain. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, “Addiction is a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and an individual’s life experiences. People with addiction use substances or engage in behaviors that become compulsive and often continue despite harmful consequences.” Heavy and continuous use of drugs/alcohol damages the brain, increasing the likelihood of addiction.
Despite this, choice can play a role in long-term sobriety, similar to how lifestyle decisions (i.e. treating symptoms, exercising, eating well, etc.) play a role in the management of other chronic illnesses such as diabetes or heart disease.
2. Misconception: Addiction is a character flaw or weakness.
Fact: The idea that addiction is a moral failing is based on the moral model of addiction. The reality is that addiction has little to do with moral conviction; both inherently “good” and “bad” people are susceptible to developing a substance use disorder.
That being said, a person in active addiction may act in contrast to their values; but that doesn’t mean they’re morally flawed. The moralization of addiction and associated stigma only contribute to guilt, shame, and a decreased willingness to seek treatment.
3. Misconception: Addiction is the result of a lack of willpower (and if someone “wanted it enough,” they would quit).
Fact: Like other chronic illnesses, addiction cannot be “willed” away. Individuals with substance use disorders are not compromised in willpower or lacking in self-discipline.
“The mentality and behavior of drug addicts and alcoholics [are] wholly irrational until you understand that they are completely powerless over their addiction and unless they have structured help, they have no hope.”
4. Misconception: Some people have “addictive personalities.”
Fact: While relapse is relatively common, it doesn’t have to be a part of recovery. There are many contributing factors, both biological and environmental (i.e. stressors), that increase the chances of relapse.
Successful relapse prevention plans involve the avoidance and/or management of risk factors. Also, the less severe the addiction, the more likely someone is to avoid relapse altogether.
7. Misconception: Abstinence is the only path to recovery.
Fact: Recovery is not one-size-fits-all. For some, abstinence may be the only acceptable route, but for others, a reduction in use or the use of a less harmful substance is the desired outcome.
8. Misconception: You have to attend 12-step meetings and work the steps to get sober.
Fact: While AA and NA are often part of sustained sobriety, they are not the only way to stop using drugs or alcohol. Alternative evidence-based treatments for addiction include cognitive behavioral therapy, medication, family therapy, and group therapy.
9. Misconception: You have to be “ready” to stop using in order for treatment to work.
Fact: Addiction is characterized by ambivalence (i.e. you want to get sober and at the same time, you want to get high). Motivation comes and goes. A person may enter treatment with no intention of quitting, and then undergo a significant transformation. Or, someone may feel 100% ready to stop only to later change their mind. Ambivalence is normal.
That being said, the consequences of addiction (or costs of using) are oftentimes what tip the motivational balance, leading to increased motivation.
“When you can stop, you don’t want to, and when you want to stop, you can’t.”
10. Misconception: You have to want recovery for yourself before you can get sober.
Fact: External motivators (i.e. the threat of losing a job, divorce, legal consequences, etc.) frequently precipitate treatment, and motivation is then internalized during treatment.
11. Misconception: You have to hit “rock bottom” before you can recover.
Fact: Sustained sobriety can be attainedwithout experiencing severe consequences. While the costs of using are often what motivates someone to get sober, there’s no rule that you have to “bottom out” first. This misconception can be deadly; you may die waiting (or death may be your “rock bottom”).
“Remember that just because you hit bottom doesn’t mean you have to stay there.”
Robert Downey, Jr.
12. Misconception: If you’re receiving medication-assisted treatment (MAT), you aren’t really sober.
13. Misconception: Needle exchange programs and safe injection sites enable continued use.
Fact: Harm reduction methods reduce HIV/HCV infections and decrease overdose deaths. According the the CDC, “the majority of syringe services programs (SSPs) offer referrals to medication-assisted treatment, and new users of SSPs are five times more likely to enter drug treatment and three times more likely to stop using drugs than those who don’t use the programs.” SSPs are proven and effective, and aren’t linked to increased drug use or crime.
14. Misconception: Narcan enables continued use.
Fact:Narcan (an opioid reversal medication) enables life. It gives someone a chance for recovery.
15. Misconception: “Once an addict, always an addict.”
Fact: Having a substance use disorder increases your chances of becoming addicted to other substances, but the belief that you’ll forever be an “addict” can be counterproductive or harmful. People grow and change, and may stop viewing themselves as “addicts” when they leave the lifestyle behind.
The belief that “once an addict, always an addict” also depends on the recovery model you subscribe to; for example, AA/NA principles support the idea of the “lifelong addict,” but those who believe in other models may prefer to call themselves “ex-addicts” or simply say, “I don’t drink.”
“Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.”