Monday, December 8, 2008

Obama Smokes!

Barack Obama was recently asked why he had not yet completely fulfilled his commitment to quit smoking. Within America, cigarettes are responsible for one in five deaths and smoking-related healthcare costs are tens of billions of dollars. The insinuation is that the president-elect should set a healthy example by being smoke-free.

Although Senator Obama has apparently tried nicotine gum as an aide to quitting smoking, I highly doubt that he has tried clinical hypnosis. Unfortunately, the misconceptions and stigma associated with hypnosis relegate it to an often overlooked treatment option.

As a psychologist, I do understand that clinical hypnosis is actually considered one of the most effective ways to quit smoking. Despite this fact, I could find no government websites that offer free self-hypnosis audio downloads for smoking cessation. Consider the fact that if there was an inexpensive medication that was well-tolerated and potentially curative for a widespread and serious medical condition, pandemonium would ensue, if it were not enthusiastically endorsed and freely made available.

Until similar official endorsement for clinical hypnosis occurs, I encourage smokers to visit for my free hypnosis for smoking cessation instant audio download, discount coupons for other quit smoking aides, and free e-book access to best-selling quit smoking publications.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Managing Stress Without Wearing Rose Colored Glasses!

Throughout the years of my career as a psychologist, I have come to understand fear to be a negative emotion from which most other negative emotions originate. Fear is essentially anxiety. Fear often underlies anger, similar to the proverbial cat with its back up against the wall. The cat lashes out in anger, because it is afraid of being attacked. Anger turned inward is often referred to as depression. And, when one feels guilty, it is typically an indication that one is either afraid of having done something wrong or is afraid of being punished. Managing fears, therefore, can also help to ease a variety of negative emotions.

Nonetheless, fear can be legitimate reaction to the situation. It is important to distinguish illegitimate and legitimate fears. The physiological and emotional reaction to real danger (i.e. - the "fight or flight response') helps one to protect oneself. The rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing, and muscle tension assists in allowing oxygen and nutrients to prepare the body for protective fighting or fleeing. Overactive fear can be an interfering and potentially unhealthy reaction to a perceived danger that is not real.

In situations that do not merit the intensity of the debilitating fear reaction, the level of the fear could also originate from a disturbing memory that has been resurrected by the current environment. The person may be reacting more to the anxiety surrounding the upsetting memory than the current situation. Illegitimate fear could stem from a misperception of the current situation. Illegitimate fear can also originate from a biochemical imbalance, wherein psychotropic medication could be a corrective intervention.

Fear and anxiety can be exacerbated by the words we use. "Should", "Have to", and "Must" are particular culprits. For example, if someone is running late for an important meeting, he or she may complicate the tardiness by suggesting that "I have to get there on time." The "have to" insinuates that if he or she is late that it would be "terrible." The word terrible is emotionally analogous to threat of nuclear warfare.

Running late for a meeting is not terrible. Emotionally, one does not necessarily know the difference between truth and exaggeration. If the perception is terror, the reaction is fear. Questioning self-talk, therefore, is vital since thoughts affect how one feels, while feelings affect how one acts. In this example, the tardy person can remind his or her self that it is his or her choice to arrive on time. It is important to affirm the fact that if the meeting starts late, he or she would actually be early. Even if he or she were late, it would be alright, since it is only a choice to arrive on-time. Although the choice is for responsible reasons, it still remains a choice. As the feelings associated with this new perspective resonate, the effect is a calmer disposition that affords this person to depart sooner, without literally tripping over his or her feet.

Some of my patients have questioned me, regarding how feelings (and not thoughts) primarily dictate one's actions and behaviors. In this regard, I like to share the following analogy. Most people probably have brand name toothpaste or soap in their bathroom. Although they intellectually know that generic toothpaste is basically the same as (and less expensive than) brand name, they pay more for the brand name, because they feel that it will provide them with "fresher breath and whiter teeth." The behavior, within this example, is to pay more for something that is basically the same as the cheaper brand. In essence, feelings trumped thought.

In essence, thoughts affect feelings. Feelings affect behavior. Behavior affects one's future experiences. Understanding the interplay between one's thoughts and feelings can afford one the opportunity to better manage one's feelings, behaviors and resultant experiences. No one is suggesting to look at oneself, others, and the world with "rose colored glasses." It is suggested that one attempt to look at oneself, others, and the world in the most balanced, positive, and accurate manner possible.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

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EMDR & Mindfulness
Information from my PESI seminar on combining meditative exercises with Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. Includes free e-book downloads and other helpful self-help tools!

Free audiobook downloads of books that are public domain. You can even volunteer your time to read for this initiative.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Self-Actualization Within Dual-Career Families and the Healthy Need For Balance Or Stress Management

Dual-career relationships foster couples' abilities to self-actualize within multiple areas of their lives. Higher education, family responsibilities, child care, career, and improved capacity for intimacy are just some of the worthy pursuits that this lifestyle helps to foster. The obvious benefit of the additional income cannot be understated, especially within a society that places increased demands upon "keeping up with the Joneses."

The added stress, however, of organizing demanding schedules and child care can seem daunting. The ease with which one can "lose one's self" is also a potentially dangerous "workaholism" type of escapism. The insidious and consistent detachment of one's feelings through this type of escapism can dull valuable feelings, which can further and ultimately alienate the over-achiever from him or herself and others, leading to confusion, poor direction, and despair.

Balance is crucial, in order for the dual-career relationship to experience long-term success. Achieving a balance between family, work, and educational responsibilities is now becoming less of an ideal and more of a reality, for example, given the innovative learning opportunities that accredited online programs now provide. "Thinking outside the box" in similar, non-traditional ways is vital, in order to strike a healthy balance and mange stress within this multifaceted lifestyle.

Especially within a dual-career relationship, healthy choices, are the keys to striking a balance between one's physical, intellectual, emotional, interpersonal, and spiritual needs.
Numerous online self-help, meditative materials also exist that can afford helpful ways to manage stress and improve sleep. Timeless advise, like getting plenty of sleep, exercise, eating properly, and taking time to de-stress is even more important today than ever before.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Self-Esteem and the "Binocular Trick"

People naturally want their thoughts, feelings, and experiences to be consistent. If someone interviews for a job, for example, that pays them more than they thought that they would ever earn (even though they are capable of and deserving of the job), their thought that they are incapable is inconsistent with their experience of being offered the interview. Ultimately, they will likely feel very nervous about the interview. As a result of this anxiety and worry, they will not likely interview well. Therefore, they will likely be rejected for the job. This rejection can be internalized as "proof" that they are undeserving, thereby added to their lower sense of self and self-esteem.

Immediately after their aforementioned rejection, their initial anxiety will likely ease, because their experience (getting rejected) is now consistent with their untrue thought (that they are not deserving). Nonetheless, they will likely continue to feel inferior and earn less money. The true reality, however, is that they were and are capable. As they understand this truth (no matter the etiology of the original belief) both in how he/she thinks and feels about themself, they will perform much better in the future. This improved performance (based upon this change in perception and healthy understanding) will likely lead to ongoing approval and acceptance. This positive experience will likely lead to an overall improved sense of self, self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-image.

Another common "cognitive distortion," as described by Burns, that influences self-esteem is known as the "binocular trick." If one has ever looked into a pair of binoculars the wrong way, everything looks far away. In essence, people sometimes use this phenomenon upon themselves, while comparing themselves with others. One might look at one's own accomplishments as if through the wrong end of a pair of binoculars. Conversely, one may examine another's accomplishments as if through the right way through the same binoculars. When looking at one's shortcomings, there may be a tendency to examine these deficits as if looking at them properly though binoculars. On the other hand, others' shortcomings are examined in the opposite way.

Since most publicly embellish personal strengths, while minimizing weaknesses, the etiology of this discrepancy becomes self-evident. When comparing out, it is ultimately vital to remember that our self-knowledge far exceeds our understanding of others. This imbalanced perspective creates an illusion that can be overcome, therefore, by means of an awareness of the role of the binocular trick and the realization that everyone has his or her own set of shortcomings and strengths.

The "Power of Self-Talk" (DOC file)

Monday, September 29, 2008

I would like to share the following two new additions which have recently been highlighted on my website. "PsychSplash" and "Psychological Self-Help" appear to be invaluable resources...

PsychSplash is a service of PsychCentral that showcases psychology-related websites. Psychological Self-Help is Dr. Clayton Tucker-Ladd's FREE online offering.

Dr. Clayton E. Tucker-Ladd's
Psychological Self-Help

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Experts disagree...
What do you think of "The Secret?"

"The Secret," a best-selling DVD, is also available as an inspirational book, written by Rhonda Byrne. The basic tenant is that the things upon which we focus tend to become our reality, as we allow things to happen and do things, consistent with this structured focus, in order to manifest our desires. Furthermore, "The Secret" emphasizes the power inherent within the "Law of Attraction" and "The Power of Intention." Although all the ideas shared within this remarkable program are not necessarily based in science, one can nonetheless benefit from acting "as if" the ideas are all-true, in order to facilitate success. I believe that the true wisdom of "The Secret" is its ability to captivate a world's imagination, by offering its heartfelt reminder of the true nature of limitless possibilities and the power of human perseverance.

Scranton's John Norcross, Ph.D. on CBS News - March 1, 2007

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In my opinion, 19th Century German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer, seemed to have summed it best by having declared "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."

James Arthur Ray's website.

Click HERE to watch the entire DVD version of "The Secret."

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Era Of Pills Means Less Talk Therapy???

A recent news story stated that the "Era Of Pills Means Less Talk Therapy." The article highlights the current trend over the decrease in psychotherapy offered, during psychiatric visits. Although it may be true that many insurance companies offer psychiatrists reimbursement incentives to offer more "medication management" than "talk therapy," psychotherapy remains an integral part of mental health treatment.

Within private practice, psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in prescribing psychotropic medication. Psychologists are licensed, non-physician specialists who offer counseling or psychotherapy services. Most insurance reimburses for full 45-50 minute sessions with psychologists. It is not uncommon for many patients to be simultaneously treated by both a psychiatrist and psychologist.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Does Therapy Really Help?

Psychologists are healthcare professionals who rely upon scientific method to understand human behavior. Within a clinical setting, psychologists apply their expertise in a balanced manner, between a directive style and the recognition of the importance of allowing themselves to be more of a facilitator to help their clients help themselves. For most people, this approach allows for accurate assessment of presenting concerns and facilitation of personal growth.

As humans, we do have an innate capacity toward health. Physically, for example, if we cut ourselves, we usually heal. Sometimes, however, if there is an infection, the cut will likely fester, continuing to cause problems, until the wound is cleansed. Therapy can be considered a way to help clean festering, "emotional wounds" that are contributing to present concerns. Although we are a species that is fairly resilient, therapy is a deliberate way, however, to facilitate our resiliency, in order to allow positive change to occur sooner, rather than later.

Talking with an objective other can offer a unique perspective conducive to emotional growth. When attempting to be supportive, unfortunately, family and friends can often make inappropriate comments, like: "Forget it" or "Don't worry about it." Usually that tactic is much easier said than done. Although well-intentioned, these statements tend to serve to further alienate oneself from one's feelings. One's feelings (both pleasant and unpleasant) offer the useful purpose of guiding one in better understanding oneself. It is the misunderstanding or avoidance of feelings that is often a catalyst to undermining our innate process, which helps us to be resilient in the first place.

There is a growing recognition of the fact that "mental health is fundamental to a person's overall health, indispensable to personal well-being and instrumental to leading a balanced and productive life." This awareness likely contributes to the fact that about 15% of our country's population now use some form of mental health services in any given year. Nonetheless, despite effective treatments, according to Dr. Satcher's 1999 Surgeon General's Mental Health report, "Nearly half of all Americans who have a severe mental illness fail to seek treatment". The fact that nearly one in five Americans are affected by a mental disorder, reinforces the understanding that "few Americans are untouched by mental illness", whether directly or indirectly.

Mental illnesses range from clinical anxiety and depression to Alzheimer's disease and schizophrenia. Anxiety disorders, the most common form of mental illness, affect more than 10% of Americans yearly. Almost 25% of Americans will suffer an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives.

Misunderstandings about therapy have kept many from seeking timely, effective care. Similar early misunderstandings, within the medical field, for example, had also existed within the field's early years. I trust that the continued acceptance and appreciation of the discipline of psychology will dispel any residual misunderstandings about its efficacious use and appropriateness to overall healthcare.

Is Our Society Becoming More Callous?

I am writing in response to the disheartening headline that shocked local and national media observers. A recently released surveillance video depicted a tragic hit-and-run scene, wherein witnesses seemingly ignored the elderly Hartford pedestrian, who lay motionless in the middle of the busy street. The report appears to insinuate that our society has become callous to its brethren. Although I certainly do not condone the onlookers' inaction, I do hope to offer insight into their questionable behavior.

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What happened in Hartford is likely an example of what is termed the "bystander effect." Each witness, perhaps confused and aghast at what they just evidenced, look at the other witnesses to see what they are going to do, assuming that the others will take responsibility. The sum result is total inaction. Ironically, this man likely had a better chance of getting help sooner, if there were only one or two witnesses present. When there exist more than two witnesses, the social phenomenon of "diffusion of responsibility" can bring about the bystander effect.

Understanding the existence of this phenomenon can help future bystanders break free from its effects. Additionally, if one finds oneself in the role of the victim, one should attempt to single out a particular bystander, by pointing to the one witness and requesting their singular assistance. Although the severity of his injuries certainly prevented this victim from making any requests, it is somewhat reassuring that at least some of the witnesses, in this case, did phone 911.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, during which the free National Anxieties Disorders Screening Day is held. Consider what Kim Bassinger, Marc Summers and football great Earl Campbell have in common. They have all suffered from an anxiety disorder, America's most common mental illness. According to the National Institute for Mental Health, nearly a quarter of the American adult population will suffer from an anxiety disorder at some time in their lives.

Unlike normal worries, these individuals can experience a variety of symptoms which can include spontaneous panic attacks, endlessly checking and rechecking their actions, persistent, uncontrollable worry and social anxiety, which interferes with their lives. The symptoms of anxiety disorders are characterized by fear and anxiety that appear for no apparent reason.

Anxiety disorders include Panic Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Social Phobia, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Left untreated, these conditions often become accompanied by depression, substance abuse and suicidal thoughts. Although most sufferers never connect with appropriate treatment, effective treatments do exist, which can offer relief within a relatively short period of time.

The first week of every October is designated as Mental Illness Awareness Week, during which the free National Depression Screening Day is held. Consider what Abraham Lincoln, Ernest Hemingway, and Brooke Shields have in common. They have all suffered from clinical depression. Depression and manic-depression strike more than 17 million Americans each year, according to figures from the National Institute of Mental Health. Fewer than half, however, actually seeks treatment, despite the fact that treatment can help 80 - 90 percent of those affected.

Common symptoms of depression include feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, restlessness and irritability, changes in sleep and appetite, loss of energy and thoughts of death or suicide. Manic-depression includes feelings of euphoria or agitation. Clinical depression is more than just the 'blues. It is a real, pervasive condition that even has the potential to be life threatening. A sufferer has no better chance to "just snap out of it" than someone, for example, with a seizure disorder simply controlling their attacks. The screenings initiatives are invaluable opportunities for people, who might otherwise be timid about discussing their concerns or symptoms, to do so without feeling pressured.

Click HERE For Information on a FREE Mental Health Screening!

Click HERE to watch excerpts of the online VIDEO:
"The Pain of Depression - A Journey Through the Darkness"

Monday, April 28, 2008

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) --
Effective For Military's PTSD Symptoms

The Department of Defense now encourages troops to seek psychological counseling, having recently eased its policy on disclosure mandates. I applaud this initiative, especially since about one in eight of our American soldiers are reportedly returning from Iraq, suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. As treatment, the Department of Defense/Department of Veterans Affairs Practice Guidelines have also placed Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) in the highest category, recommended for all trauma populations, at all times.

EMDR is a form of psychotherapy that assists patients in resolving disturbing memories. It is imperative that any lingering misconceptions surrounding its efficacy be dispelled, in order that more soldiers are afforded the opportunity to alleviate their suffering, by applying this remarkable therapeutic approach.

As a Pennsylvania psychologist, I have been using this form of therapy, since 1995. Most of the concerns, about EMDR, seem to have been centered upon the notion that there existed little evidence for its use as one of psychotherapy's "empirically supported treatments." In so much as it is vital that no health care provider do patient harm, my question is to consider the harm that could occur, however, if EMDR is not offered as a timely treatment option.

Throughout the years, it has been my experience that EMDR seems to help patients make a link between what they "know" to what they "feel." This "break-through" is invaluable, especially with the trauma patient who is finally able to resolve their torment. Numerous studies also appear to support this same contention that EMDR offers a protocol and treatment approach that is efficacious, time efficient, and particularly indicated when dealing with patients with trauma-based issues, like many of our young soldiers.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Saturday, April 12, 2008


Use this space to create your own topic of discussion!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Secret Law of Attraction
and The Power of Intention

On my website, I host several inspirational videos, including videos featuring Dr. Deepak Chopra, Dr. Wayne Dyer, and "The Secret." I find the basic tenant of the "The Secret" quite inspirational, in that the things upon which we focus tend to become our reality, as we allow things to happen and do things, consistent with this structured focus, in order to manifest our desires.

Although all the ideas shared within these programs are not necessarily based in science, I do believe that one can still benefit from acting "as if" the ideas are all-true, in order to facilitate success. Furthermore, I believe that the true wisdom of "The Secret" is its ability to captivate a world's imagination, by offering its heartfelt reminder of the true nature of limitless possibilities and the power of human perseverance.

Click for ebook
The Secret of the Ages
by: Robert Collier

FREE Ebook download of the 1926 book that inspired Rhonda Byrnes.
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Think and Grow Rich
by: Napoleon Hill

FREE Ebook download of the 1937 book that inspired Bob Proctor.
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The Master Key System
by: Charles F. Haanel
FREE ebook download of the 1912 book.
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for ebook
The Science of Getting Rich
by: Wallace D. Wattles

FREE ebook download of the 1910 book.
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As A Man Thinketh
by:James Allen

FREE ebook download of the 1902 book.
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Enjoy a FREE preview of Rhonda Byrne's 2006 book, "The Secret."
It is also available as an instantly downloadable ebook.
Click HERE.

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The Principles of Successful Manifesting
FREE ebook download of 2008 ebook.
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100+ additional FREE ebooks related to "The Secret"
25 Self-help / Inspirational Videos
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Monday, February 18, 2008

Learned Helplessness and Self-Esteem

"Living Life on Life's Terms" means that there are certain things concerning life, about which we must adhere. For example, one of the "terms" of life is that we need to breathe air and drink water. One of the other "terms" is that sometimes bad things happen to good people. Nonetheless, we can learn from these experiences. One of the things that we often learn is that we do have choices.

Young circus elephants, for example, have often been trained to keep them from escaping, by tying them to a post, while they are still very young. After countless, fruitless attempts to free themselves, the baby elephants believe that they cannot escape. Eventually, even as strong, adult elephants, they will not attempt to flee. The elephants have leaned to be helpless, despite their new reality.
Not unlike other animals, humans can mistakenly learn to be helpless. Unlike most other animals, however, we have the unique intellectual capacity to understand the nature of our limitations, in order to rise above them.

What we focus upon tends to become our experience. If we believe that we are "bad" and "deserve to be punished," then that becomes our reality. If we understand, however, that we were "victimized," that sometimes bad things do happen to good people, we can learn from our unfortunate experience that we still do have choices, despite our initial feelings of "learned helplessness." We can eventually "accept life on life's terms" that despite what happened, that does not make me who I am. I am a good person who has positive choices and deserves good things. This new, healthier perspective now becomes our reality, as we allow things to happen and to things, consistent with this empowering belief.

Virtual Light and Sound Machine Meditation FREEWARE for Effortless Stress Management

Since 1997, Herbert Benson, of the Harvard Medical School, has reaffirmed that "Sixty to ninety percent of [doctor-patient] visits are prompted by conditions related to stress." Especially in today's world, stress management is truly vital to emotional, relational, and overall physical health. As a psychologist, I understand that most tend to consider meditative exercises as too difficult to learn; and too time consuming to practice.

Although activities like watching television and listening to music can be relaxing, they do not illicit the relaxation response that is most beneficial for managing stress. In order to de-stress, people need to do something that sounds contradictory, namely engage in activity that is not passive. The Surgeon General recommends physical activity for stress management. One can also manage stress by engaging in self-meditations.

De-stressing with...

"Virtual Light & Sound Machine"
Meditation FREEWARE

Even though Light and Sound Machines are effective devices that help to induce healthy meditative states, most also consider them to be too expensive. To sample the positive effects of these devices, "Flasher 1.51" is actually a fully-functional, virtual Light & Sound Machine freeware program, that was created in the early 1990's. It was designed to similarly entrain brainwaves with precisely timed, flickering lights. One can simply choose the settings one wants, sit in front of the computer monitor, and close one's eyes. The software then pulses the monitor so that the flickering is experienced behind one's closed eyelids. It offers a remarkably effective, seemingly effortless feeling of DEEP RELAXATION, within only a few minutes. The effect appears very similar to the experience of using actual Light & Sound Machine goggles.

This meditation enhancer was recently given new life, by an American computer programmer. It now allows the previously out-dated program to function within today's modern Windows environment. I often recommend it to my patients who want to better mange their stress.

Virtual "Light & Sound Machine" Meditation FreewareGet it from CNET! Installation Instructions

The effectiveness and ease of audio hypnotic programs can even be enhanced with the use the meditation enhancer software technology, described above. For some FREE audio hypnosis downloads and complete information on Light & Sound Machine technology, please feel free to visit my website:

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Our Feelings Dictate Our Actions...

If you are like most people (including myself), you probably have brand name toothpaste or soap in your bathroom. Although we both INTELLECTUALLY know that generic toothpaste is basically the same as (and less expensive than) Colgate, we pay more for the brand name, because we FEEL that it will provide us with "fresher breath and whiter teeth."

Advertisers trick our emotional selves into feeling good about their product over their competitor's or generic, often causing us to CHANGE OUR BEHAVIOR to spend more for their product.

How can we use this basic "Psych 101" principle to our advantage, in order to empower ourselves to create our own positive change?