Innovative Research

If you have a history of suicidal thoughts or know someone who died by suicide, you may want to look into a new research project called Our Data Helps by Qntfy. You can donate social media data (from online activity) and/or fitness & sensory data (from wearable devices) to help researchers learn more about why suicides happen and how they can be prevented. The project will analyse the language, physical data, and media patterns of people who sign up to help the project.

Technology-Assisted Treatment

Many psychology researchers, including the Veterans Administration, are studying the effects of mental health applications. While indiscriminate screen time is widely known to reduce peoples’ focus, some research indicates that consistent, intentional use of some mental health apps tends to boost self-awareness; effectiveness; and happiness. The Veterans Administration is specifically studying the app PTSD Coach, which I would like to use with a client. Please let me know if you would like to participate in that process! Here are some applications I already find useful with many of my clients:

  • Narrative Therapy Questions: helps the participant conduct a deep self-interview about their preferred life direction and related obstacles
  • Calm: 100+ guided meditations to choose from. The app will track the dates and lengths of of your meditations
  • Relax: helps practice diaphragmatic breathing, which is good for nervous system regulation and panic-attack prevention
  • Mood Tracker: charts symptom severity/remissions/patterns based on pre-programmed OR customized data schemes

Sexuality Education

I attended two great conferences related to the intersection of sexuality and mental health:

  • the LGBT-Affirmative Therapist Guild annual conference
  • 5th Annual Sexuality conference at KU Med

Both conferences included great panel presentations: Race Relations Under the Rainbow; Identity Development and the Therapeutic Alliance; Eating Disorders and Sexuality; and Being HIV+ in Today’s World.

Daring Greatly

I am currently re-reading the wonderful book Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown. If I only had a single therapeutic tool or paradigm, Dr. Brown’s work may be the one. Dr. Brown examines yucky problems like scarcity, shame, and defense mechanisms with finesse and humor. For those of you who have not seen her first viral video, here it is: vulnerability .

Lessons from Improv

I am currently taking an introduction to Improvisation Comedy class. Improv is a fun way to practice…

  • awareness: it’s hard to keep people’s attention if your own attention is wandering
  • listening: respond to a group story rather than one’s own preoccupations
  • acceptance: in improv, you working as a team–and other people have some weird ideas
  • healthy risk-taking (AKA healthy vulnerability): it gets the dopamine going; it builds competence and resilience

Externalizing Anxiety

An anxious computer programmer reprogrammed his anxiety. First, he outlined his worries into a computer program. Then, the program emailed him anxious messages throughout each day. The programmer read the messages–as if they were comical spam messages. This process helped him emotionally distance from worry and deconstruct anxiety in real time.

The original audio story can be found here: here

Sensation-Seeking

I recently completed a training with Dr. Ken Carter about Sensation-Seeking behavior. We explored healthy and/or problematic sensation-seeking constructs like adventure & thrill seeking; novelty & unique experiences; disinhibition; and boredom susceptibility.  Some emerging research indicates that healthy sensation-seekers reduce anxiety through their sensation-seeking and are less likely to experience PTSD in their lifetimes. However, unhealthy sensation-seekers may be more prone to addictions.

Trauma Stewardship

In addition to other healthy life practices, I find great resiliency in a self-book: Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others. This book provides a framework for managing vicarious trauma. The text outlines 16 possible imbalances within a caregiver or service provider–such as cynicism, deliberate avoidance, hypervigilance, and an inability to embrace complexity. Readers can self-assess their experience and make adjustments. This collection of research and anecdotes relates to various human services, including social work, law enforcement, education, and medical fields.