Now in Colour is pleased to be able to offer a new service to all our clients. If you have extended health benefits coverage for psychology through Alberta Blue Cross we can now bill them directly (you will not have to submit a claim or wait to be reimbursed). Please note: Clients are responsible for any portion of their fees not covered by Alberta Blue Cross and these fees are due at the time of your session. Please ask your psychologist for further details.
Archive for category: Wellbeing
Now in Colour is pleased to welcome Dr. Shirley Winlaw – Tierney. Shirley is an experienced psychologist and will be providing counselling for adults, including individuals as well as couples. For more information about Shirley, her areas of practice, or to make an appointment, please call (403) 585- 9740 or visit her website at www.agroundedlife.ca
Do you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, with racing thoughts, or anxious feelings before a meeting or event?
Most of us do, at some time in our lives. Anxiety is,after all, part of the human condition. BUT, high pressure moments often require us to feel more focused and present in that moment. This is a simple technique that I teach my clients which helps to manage those unpleasant symptoms of anxiety.
The instructions below are for practice while standing, however, this technique can be just as effective when practiced while seated (although, of course not while operating a vehicle or machinery which requires your full attention and, both hands on the wheel).
1. Check in with yourself. Are you feeling stressed, anxious, overwhelmed? If the answer is “Yes” proceed to step 2.
2. Stand with your legs comfortably apart and take a deep, slow breath – in through your nose and slowly release this breath through your mouth. It doesn’t matter if you are alone, in a crowd, or standing in a long check-out line at the supermarket – this can be done quietly and gently so that no one will know you are doing it.
3. Place both hands, one on top of the other over your belly button (again no one will suspect a thing – you just look like you are resting your arms).
4. Take another deep breath in through your nose and this time as your breathe out through your mouth, focus on your middle. Focus on the feeling of your hands on your belly button (the warmth of your hands, the gentle pressure of your hands). Now, imagine that all of those unpleasant feelings (i.e., stress, anxiety and the weightiness of being overwhelmed) are being pushed down into this section of your body. As you do so, you may start to notice that your legs and feet feel more solid, more firmly rooted to the ground.
5. Take another deep breath in through your nose and, as you breathe out through your mouth, imagine all of those stressful feelings – now located in your middle – are being pushed downwards through your legs and out through the soles of your feet. Once again, you may notice that your legs start to feel solidly grounded and weighty – almost as if you are stuck to the floor, but you are not! You are simply grounded and you can choose to walk away from where you are with a renewed sense of confidence.
6. Congratulations! – You are centered and grounded. Your head will likely feel clearer, you may find you are walking taller, and, as you progress, you could very well find that you are more able to cope with the thing that was stressing you out. For example, the long check-out line in the supermarket may not seem so bothersome and you may even find yourself using the time productively.
I encourage my clients to test this technique with a friend or partner. When you are together and he or she seems a little stressed, you might ask them if you could do a little exercise.
Make sure she or he agrees before going any further.
1. First, ask them to stand with their legs comfortably apart. Then, ask permission to gently push her or his upper arm – if she or he agrees, gently push the upper arm closest to you with your hand. [Please note, the key word here is “gently” – you don’t want to shove her or him, or in any way hurt or injure – just push gently]. You will likely find that she or he is somewhat unbalanced.
2. Once they have regained their balance, start with point number two above and talk them through the exercise (only don’t tell them that their feet and legs are feeling more solid) – ask him or her to imagine pushing all of their worries about the day down through their middle section, through into their legs, and out through their feet. Once you have done this, you may notice that their shoulders appear to be more relaxed and they seem more solidly rooted to the spot.
3. If you observe the above changes, ask her or him once again if you can gently push their upper arm – if they agree, gently push. You may be surprised to see how solid she or he seems – so much so, it would likely take more effort than a gentle push to unbalance them.
4. Remember to congratulate him or her on being able to center and ground themselves and ask them how they feel.
Like anything in life, this little technique takes practice to make it more effective and efficient. The more you practice it, the better you will become and, quite possibly, the heavier and weightier your legs will feel.
Once you are a confident practitioner, this technique will help you to feel more focused, present, and confident in those moments when you need a boost.
Good luck and I hope this technique proves to be helpful.
If you would like further assistance with managing emotions, please feel free to contact our practice as we are currently accepting new clients.
Kind Regards, Dr. Corrick Woodfin, Registered Psychologist.
We know that the mind can have a direct impact on the body, but what about the body influencing the mind? Amy Cuddy’s research indicates that by simply changing the position of our bodies we can change our minds.
Have a look at her TED video here.
Now in Colour Psychological Services is pleased to advertise the opportunity to share our newly renovated office space. We are a new and developing psychological practice located at #502 – 933 17 Ave SW. Our office space consists of two comfortably furnished consulting rooms, each with a large West facing window. The offices are suitable for meeting with individuals and/or couples. As well, our reception area can be used to provide group programming. Our space is best suited to the provision of services to adults. Currently we have office/group space available some weekdays; evenings; as well as weekends. This opportunity would be suited to a practitioner with an established practice or a practitioner starting/building a practice. Photos available at www.nowincolour.ca.
Features include: a calm and modern atmosphere; kitchen area with complementary beverages for you and your clients; use of dishes, dishwasher, microwave, and fridge; ample parking, with wheel chair accessible parking on the second level of our building; easy access to Calgary Transit; access to fax/printer/copier/scanner and Wi-Fi; filing cabinet to store files; use of payment processing service. There would also be opportunities for consultation, advertising, and referral. Please contact email@example.com or 403-483-0651 for more information or to arrange a viewing.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.”
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).
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, EatingWell.com 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).