(Updated 11/12/18) A list of peer-reviewed scholarly journals you can access for free online. Read the latest research findings related to mental health, addiction, and wellness.
Compiled by Cassie Jewell, M.Ed., LPC, LSATP
This list is comprised of 70+ academic journals that you can access online. Most of the journals are open-access; others offer limited access (with some free articles). All of the publications are related to mental health, addiction, or wellness. I use many of them for research for this blog. The research is relevant to all health professionals and to anyone who is interested in learning more about mental illness.
(Updated 4/30/20) A list of online education courses and trainings for mental health clinicians (some offering free CEs!)
Compiled by Cassie Jewell, M.Ed., LPC, LSATP
Are you looking to expand your clinical knowledge or do you need CEs to renew your license? In-person workshops and seminars are ideal for learning up-to-date practices and the latest research, but they’re often expensive and/or require travel. And while there are plenty of online programs that offer CEs, most charge a fee.
The following list is comprised of over 50 sites that offer free online courses and webinars. Please note that only a few of the sites offer CEs. However, all of the courses offer opportunities to grow as a clinician and expand your knowledge.
A free 20-hour course with seven comprehensive classes that teaches how to navigate the SSI/SSDI application process with clients with mental illness, who are at risk of homelessness, have a medical impairment, or a co-occurring disorder. CEUs offered for NASW.
Access archived webinars on topics related to treatment services for the lesbian, gay, and transgender population. You can also access a monthly webinar series held on the 4th Friday of each month. CEs may be offered.
Open-ended questions are important in therapy. They allow a client to explore his/her values, ideas, and beliefs. This is a list of 161 questions for group therapy, journal prompts, conversation starters, and/or icebreakers.
By Cassie Jewell, M.Ed., LPC
The questions in this post ask about recovery, spirituality, personal growth, and other relevant topics. As a counselor, I’ve used the questions with adults who struggle with mental illness and addiction, mostly in a group setting. Asking open-ended questions is a basic counseling skill. Open questions invite the client to explore his or her thoughts, beliefs, and ideas. In contrast, closed questions can be answered with a yes or no.
The first section, “Conversation Starters,” is comprised of questions that can be used as icebreakers, at a party, or even on a date. In a clinical setting, use a “Conversation Starter” as a group check-in. It provides an opportunity for group members to engage and to learn about their peers.
Click below to download a free printable handout that includes questions from each category:
Choose 10-15 questions and either print them out or write them on small pieces of paper. Fold the paper slips and place in a container. Clients can take turns drawing and answering questions. Alternatively, they can choose questions for each other.
Select up to 20 questions. Pair the clients and have them take turns interviewing each other.
Select 5-10 questions. Each client writes out his or her answers. Read the answers to the group and have group members take turns guessing who wrote what.
What is the most interesting thing you heard this week?
What’s the one thing you really want to do but have never done, and why?
Would you take a shot if the chance of failure and success is 50-50?
Which one would you prefer; taking a luxurious trip alone or having a picnic with people you love?
If your life was a book, what would the title be?
If you could be any animal, what would you be and why?
What is your favorite day of the week and why?
What do you do when you’re bored?
Favorite band (or artist)?
One food you dislike?
Last movie you saw in a theater?
Last book read?
Favorite toy as a child?
One item you should throw away, but probably never will?
Superman, Batman, Spiderman, or Wonder Woman?
Chocolate or vanilla?
Morning person or night owl?
Cats or dogs?
Sweet or salty?
Breakfast or dinner?
Coffee or tea?
American food, Italian food, Mexican food, Chinese food, or other?
Clean or messy?
What is your favorite breakfast food?
What vegetable would you like to grow in a garden?
Tell about a childhood game you loved.
What’s your favorite dessert?
What’s your favorite month of the year and why?
Who is your favorite celebrity?
Which celebrity do you most resemble?
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
Share about one of your hobbies.
What’s a unique talent that you have?
Introvert or extrovert?
Describe yourself in three words.
Tell about a happy childhood memory.
Name three things (or people) that make you smile.
Mental Health & Addiction Questions
On a scale from 1 to 10, where are you at in your recovery and what does that number mean to you?
Tell about a healthy risk you have taken this week.
What brought you to treatment?
How has your life changed since getting clean and sober?
What do you miss the most about drug/alcohol?
What would your life be like if you weren’t addicted to something?
What makes your addiction possible?
What are your triggers?
Name at least three ways you can cope with cravings.
Name three of your relapse warning signs.
Tell about someone who is supportive of your recovery.
What’s one thing you wish everyone knew about mental illness?
Is it okay to take medications if you’re in recovery?
Is it possible to get clean/sober without AA or NA?
Do you have a sponsor? What’s helpful and what’s not?
Do you think you’re going to relapse?
What’s the difference between helping and enabling?
Tell about a time you were in denial.
Do you have an enabler? Explain.
Is it possible for someone in recovery for drugs to be a social drinker?
How have drugs and alcohol affected your health?
Is addiction a disease?
Personal Development & Values
Are you doing what you truly want in life?
What are your aspirations in life?
How many promises have you made this past year and how many of them have you fulfilled?
Are you proud of what you’re doing with your life or what you’ve done in the past? Explain.
Have you ever abandoned a creative idea that you believed in because others thought you were a fool? Explain.
What would you prefer? Stable but boring work or interesting work with lots of workload?
Are you making an impact or constantly being influenced by the world?
Which makes you happier, to forgive someone or to hold a grudge? Explain.
Who do you admire and why?
What are your strengths?
What are your weaknesses?
Are you doing anything that makes you and people around you happy?
Tell about a short-term goal you have.
Tell about a health goal you have.
Tell about a long-term goal you have.
Tell about a value that is currently important to you.
What do you like most about yourself?
What do you like least about yourself?
What in life brings you joy?
What are you grateful for?
Who is the most influential person in your life and why?
Tell about one dream you have always had, but are too afraid to chase.
What is something you want to change about yourself and what are two things you can do to accomplish this?
Describe your perfect world. (Who would be in it, what would you be doing, etc.)
Where were you one year ago, where are you now, and where do you want to be a year from today?
Share about a character flaw you have.
What kind of a person do you want to be?
When is the last time you helped someone and what did you do?
Tell about a problem you have right now. What can you do to solve it?
Family & Relationship Questions
Have you ever failed anyone who you loved or loved you? Explain.
Who is your favorite person?
What was it like growing up in your family?
What makes someone a good friend?
What happens when you’re rejected?
What makes a relationship healthy or unhealthy?
Would you rather break someone’s heart or have your heart broken?
Education & Career
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Tell about something you do well.
What’s your dream job?
What are your career goals?
What classes would you be most interested in taking?
Tell about a job you would hate doing.
Would you prefer to work with people or by yourself?
Would you ever do a job that was dangerous if it paid a lot of money?
Would you still work if you didn’t have to?
What do you want to do when you retire?
If you have a job, what do you like about it? Dislike?
How do you deal with difficult co-workers?
What qualities would you like your supervisor to have?
When was the last time you laughed, and what did you laugh at?
If happiness was a currency, how rich would you be?
How do you express happiness?
What are three healthy ways you can cope with anger?
What are three healthy ways you can cope with anxiety?
What does being happy mean to you?
If your mood was a weather forecast, what would it be?
Tell about a time you were happy.
Tell about a time you were heartbroken.
What is the difference between guilt and shame?
Is guilt a healthy emotion?
Can guilt be excessive?
Is there a such thing as “healthy shame”?
What makes you happy?
What makes you mad?
When do you feel afraid?
When do you feel lonely?
Share about the last time you felt guilty.
What embarrasses you?
How does one practice forgiveness (of self and others) from a religious point of view and from a non-religious point of view?
What does it mean to forgive?
Do you have to forgive to move forward?
What brings you meaning in life?
How do you define spirituality?
What’s the difference between religion and spirituality?
When do you feel most at peace?
Do you meditate? Why or why not?
Additional Thought-Provoking Questions
If you could travel to the past in a time machine, what advice would you give to the 6-year-old you? Would you break the rules because of something/someone you care about?
Are you afraid of making mistakes? Why or why not?
If you cloned yourself, which of your characteristics would you not want cloned?
What’s the difference between you and most other people?
Consider the thing you last cried about; does it matter to you now or will it matter to you 5 years from now?
What do you need to let go of in life?
Do you remember anyone you hated 10 years ago? Does it matter now?
What are you worrying about and what happens if you stop worrying about it?
If you died now, would you have any regrets?
What’s the one thing you’re most satisfied with?
If today was the end of the world, what would you do?
What would you do if you won the lottery?
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
How do you think others see you?
What is your biggest fear?
How do you get someone’s attention?
What masks do you wear?
Tell about a poor decision you made.
When is the last time you failed at something? How did you handle it?
Emotional—Coping effectively with life and creating satisfying relationships
Environmental—Good health by occupying pleasant, stimulating environments that support well-being
Financial—Satisfaction with current and future financial situations
Intellectual—Recognizing creative abilities and finding ways to expand knowledge and skills
Occupational—Personal satisfaction and enrichment from one’s work
Physical—Recognizing the need for physical activity, healthy foods, and sleep
Social—Developing a sense of connection, belonging, and a well-developed support system
Spiritual—Expanding a sense of purpose and meaning in life
Find additional SAMHSA links in the Resources section of this blog. SAMHSA is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA’s mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities. Anyone can access free publications, workbooks, and fact sheets on substance use disorder and addiction by visiting the SAMHSA website. Additionally, free online tools are available to assist with locating treatment services.
In order to maintain balance, it helps to have a variety of wellness strategies in your toolbox. The following list is comprised of 37 ideas for personal/professional development, self-improvement, and creating healthy habits.
1. Read one inspirational/motivational book per month or
2. Read one wellness article per week.
3. Take advantage of free classes offered at the library or through Coursera. (Coursera provides universal access to education by partnering with top universities and organizations.)
4. Take part in a new activity or event to step outside your comfort zone. (Examples: Join a book club, take a cooking class, attend a Meetup, etc.)
5. Make time for an old friend.
6. Develop an exercise routine, write it down, and then stick with it. No excuses!
7. Walk your dog (or borrow one from a friend!)
8. Complete household tasks and chores on a daily basis. Create a chore list. Don’t procrastinate!
9. Stay informed on the latest science and health news/research with sites like Science Daily.
10. Attend a workshop to learn about a topic you’re unfamiliar with.
12. Improve your posture. (And yes, there are apps for that!)
13. Read a non-fiction book.
14. Take a daily inventory; assess your attitude, productivity, etc. before going to bed.
15. Drink more water, green tea, and black coffee. (And drink less wine, beer, sugar-sweetened beverages, and soda!)
16. Practice active listening.
17. Overcome a fear.
18. Identify your “blind spots” by soliciting feedback from a trusted friend or loved one. They can help you to recognize areas for improvement by sharing their observations. (Example: You may not realize how often you complain until someone points it out for you.) Make a commitment to change.
21. Practice daily meditation and mindfulness. Spend a few quiet moments alone every morning, drinking a cup of coffee. Or journal before going to bed. Reflect on your day and think about what you’re grateful for. Practice deep breathing exercises or listen to guided imagery scripts. Create your own unique ritual.
22. Dress up, style your hair, apply makeup, get a manicure/pedicure/facial, wear sexy shoes or your favorite jacket… Alternatively, you may prefer to put on your comfiest clothes, sweatpants or a fuzzy sweater. Whatever makes you feel good!
23. Be optimistic. Catch yourself if you start complaining and reframe your thoughts. Always assume positive intent.
24. Complete a task you’ve been putting off.
25. Watch a TED Talks.
26. Cook and enjoy a healthy meal.
27. Learn to juggle.
28. Learn a foreign language (or sign language).
29. Practice random acts of kindness, give a spontaneous gift, or help a stranger.
30. Create a vision board.
32. Be a tourist in your hometown. (Free walking tours are often available in larger cities!)
33. Donate blood or plasma.
34. Memorize the lyrics to a song (or rap) of your choice.
35. Find a Pinterest project that interests you. Pin it and then do it!
36. Pick up trash in your neighborhood.
37. Write and mail “thinking of you” cards/postcards.
Additional Ideas: Run a 5K (or 10K!) Adopt an elderly pet that needs a home.
Please leave a comment with your own unique ideas for self-improvement!
A unique list of wellness-based thirty-day challenges.
By Cassie Jewell, M.Ed., LPC
There are plenty of 30-day challenges out there, but this post is unique in that all the challenges listed are wellness-based. It may seem counterintuitive; after all, balance is at the foundation of wellness. However, quitting a harmful habit, like smoking, would drastically improve your overall health, which would then enable you to achieve true balance. And the thirty-day challenge, while not a scientifically proven method, allows the perfect opportunity to quit harmful habits while developing healthy ones. Plus, it’s fun, especially when several people (or a group of people) participate. Read on for 30 exciting ideas for thirty-day challenges.
Difficulty Level – Easy
1. Give one compliment per day
2. 30 days of flossing
3. Five minutes of mindful breathing every day
4. 30 days of gratitude journaling
5. Set sleep schedule for 30 days
6. 30 days of matcha or green tea
7. Learn a new vocabulary word every day for 30 days
8. Daily act of kindness
9. Read a random Wikipedia article every day for 30 days
10. 30-day dog walk challenge
11. Write a daily poem or short story
12. No cursing for 30 days
13. Pray (or spend time in quiet reflection) every morning