Archive for category: News

Women’s Wellness Group Calgary

red-fragment Women’s Wellness Group Calgary.

Develop your ability to live a happier, more fulfilling life.

Would you like to live a positive and healthier life? Did you know that human beings are predisposed to think negatively? Did you know that you can change this bias?

Our group program will teach you ways to deliberately change these tendencies, helping you to connect and develop your own personal strengths and resources.

We will cover: basic foundations for well-being; opportunities to experience and practice Positive Psychology techniques; group discussions allowing participants to share their experiences and learn from one another.

The group is facilitated by two Registered Psychologists (Katherine Schurer and Danica Heidebrecht).

Cost: $450 for 5 weekly 90 minute sessions. Fees are eligible for reimbursement through many benefit packages.

Starting: April 29, 2015 to May 27, 2015 (inclusive).

Only 8 spaces available! Accepting registration now – adult women only.

Please contact Katherine for more information or to register: 403-483-0651 or

Calgary Herald Interview

blue-fragmentCalgary Herald describes the challenges of Skin Picking and Hair Pulling.

Dr. Corrick Woodfin, Registered Psychologist, was recently interviewed about the treatment he offers for Skin Picking Disorder and Trichotillomania.

The article has also been listed on the national CBSN website here.

Everyone has their own strategies for dealing with stress – some healthy and others less so. According to one Calgary psychologist, 5 to 7 per cent of the population deal with stress by picking their skin.

Dermatillomania, or skin picking disorder, was added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) in May 2013. It is classified as a body-focused repetitive behaviour, in which those afflicted spend a significant portion of each day picking at their skin to the extent of causing damage. In many cases, the face is the focus but it may involve other parts of the body as well.

Registered psychologist Dr. Corrick Woodfin is one of only three registered psychologists in Canada who openly treats the disorder and other related behaviours such as trichotillomania, or hair-pulling disorder. He says the relatively few methods of treatment and the stigma associated with skin picking disorder are what motivated him to learn more and how to help treat it.

“In a city the size of Calgary, we know that there are 20,000 to 30,000 people that experience skin picking disorder. That’s probably an underrepresentation, because people don’t tend to report it or seek treatment,” says Woodfin. He says that 25 per cent of his current clientele is made up of  sufferers of the disorder.

Danielle Roberts, a Calgary-based freelance writer in her late 20s, has suffered from skin picking disorder for 11 years. It was triggered at age 17, when someone pointed out a spot on her shoulder and suggested that she squeeze it. That came during a time of turmoil in her life, and for Roberts, the mental reward and stress relief associated with picking the spot were instant.

“The sensations before picking can range from extreme and intense anxiety to being completely unaware of what I’m doing,” she says.

“While I’m picking, I am extremely focused on the task at hand. I’m remarkably determined to ‘fix’ whatever imperfection I’ve focused on. It feels so relieving when I feel that I’ve ‘fixed’ something, but afterwards, I feel shameful, ugly, and frustrated.

“Logically, I know that I’m not fixing anything and actually making my skin worse, but the impulse and belief are not ones I’ve yet been able to get away from.”

Once thought to have been related to obsessive-compulsive disorder, Woodfin says the origins of skin picking disorder are still being understood.

“The understanding that we’ve got is that it’s far more complex than simply an impulse disorder – in terms of etiology. We know that it likely has a genetic component. With research and our understanding now, this is very much a disorder in its own right,” says Woodfin.

He says that while individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder hate the process of their impulsive behaviours, those with skin picking disorder find the behaviours pleasurable.

“Another idea is that it tends to run in people who have a propensity for addictions. If we think about the nature of the urges that people with this disorder have, you can argue that it has an addictive component, because the urges themselves are quite addictive in nature.”

Woodfin says that the challenging thing about treating skin picking disorder is that while the behaviour is used as a method of stress management, it can also function as a stress activator.

“It’s a very effective behaviour at managing all sorts of moods, and that in many ways is why it’s very challenging to treat.” At the same time, he adds, that’s why it’s a condition that can stay with an individual for life.

“The impact of body-focused repetitive behaviours like skin picking on the activities of daily life is huge. It can be extremely debilitating for people. The troubling thing is, there is a genetic underpinning to this, and we can’t modify our genetic makeup.”

Woodfin uses various treatments, not to “cure” his clients of the disorder, but to help them manage their behaviour. While historically habit reversal training was used to treat body focused repetitive behaviours, cognitive behavioural therapy is one of Woodfin’s main treatments.

“It takes a great deal of effort from the individual to want to try and manage this, but if they’re willing then what we can work towards is effective management, so that the client is aware of their triggers, they’re aware of what maintains the problem, and they’re aware of how to target it,” he says.

Although she has seen a therapist and was taking medication for a short period of time, Roberts has now learned to effectively manage her disorder through support groups and online resources. Skin picking disorder is still so unknown that the therapists she saw were initially unaware of the behaviour and its causes.

“While none of my therapists knew of the condition, they were extremely diligent in trying to grasp it. It was frustrating though. When you go in for help – especially when you’re paying for it – you shouldn’t have to educate the person you’re paying to help you,” says Roberts.

It was through online resources and forums that Roberts discovered the Canadian BFRB Support Network, a recently developed federally registered non-profit organization based in Toronto. Soon afterward, she began writing for the network because she wanted to raise awareness about the disorder.

She has also attended the network’s monthly support groups, and says that meeting others dealing with the disorder “in the flesh” for the first time recently has allowed her to realize how much in common she has with other  sufferers.

“To finally vocalize the frustrations with others who understood, to be able to joke about it and provide hope for others, it was exhilarating,” she says.

“For me, I go to the groups to support others, as I’ve got a reasonable grasp on my condition. I haven’t yet needed the boost from my peers, but it’s great to know that they are there for me.”

Woodfin recognizes not all individuals with skin picking disorders or related behaviours are interested in seeking help from a clinical psychologist. He suggests doing what Roberts has done and says that’s an good way to manage the disorder on a personal level.

“If people think that they’ve got a mental health disorder and that they’re crazy, it’s going to encourage the stigma that people aren’t seeking support. I would direct people to websites and support groups within Calgary, and to really arm themselves with information about what this is and what it isn’t,” suggests Woodfin.

“Part of getting rid of the stigma is recognition that there is information out there that is helpful and supportive, but the first thing is realizing that you’re not alone.”

 yellow-fragment Diet and mental health: Brain foods – what makes a difference and some yummy recipes.

Although traditionally food has provided us with energy and the building materials for our bodies, research suggests that food directly impacts our mental health (Gomez-Pinilla, 2008).canstockphoto5734863

The UK-based Mental Health Foundation suggests that good nutrition is essential for our mental health and that a number of mental health conditions may be influenced by dietary factors. They further suggest that one of the most obvious, yet under-recognized factors in mental health is the role of nutrition. As well as its impact on short and long-term mental health, the evidence indicates that food plays an important contributing role in the development, management and prevention of specific mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease. Please refer to the following link for the full article:

The message is: what we eat affects our mental health. The Mental Health Foundation echo Gomez-Pinilla’s (2008) sentiments – notably, good nutrition can be just as important for our minds as it is for our bodies. If you find that your mood changes after meals and snacks, it may be that you’re lacking the nutrients that can help promote good mental health. The Mental Health Foundation provides a table to learn what your diet might be missing and what foods might make a difference to your mental health:

Once you have figured out what you might be missing, have put together a number of delicious looking “Mood Boosting Recipes” which can be found here:

Happy eating! Now in Colour Psychological Services Inc.

Reference: Gómez-Pinilla, F. Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function. Nature Reviews Neuroscience 9, 568-578 (July 2008).

Pin It on Pinterest