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Developing a training course: life skills for stress, health & wellbeing

Last Spring, I went walking and camping in Glen Affric.  Amongst other things, being away on my own in the hills gave me a chance to think creatively.  Once I was back I wrote a blog post about developing a next generation stress management course.  I said "I've known for some time that I wanted to "upgrade" the stress management/relaxation skills course that I've been teaching for many years.  I find the emerging research on mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) exciting and encouraging ...

Berlin weekend: approaches to happiness

Berlin, Saturday morning.  We flew in from Edinburgh pretty early yesterday.  Direct flight.  Easy.  Guilt over air travel a little allayed by buying carbon offsets through ClimateCare.  We're staying in a Miniloft, one of the really nice set of self-catering apartments designed by Matthew Griffin & Brita Jurgens, an architect couple whose practice is up at the top of the building.

Recent research: two studies on panic, two on attention training for anxiety disorders, and three on the effects of child abuse

Here are seven recent papers on panic, attention training, and the effects of childhood sexual abuse (all details & abstracts to these studies are listed further down this blog post).  Pfaltz & colleagues report on a novel ambulatory respiratory monitoring system that seems to demonstrate that panic sufferers are not routinely suffering from breathing abnormalities (e.g. hyperventilation) when they go about their daily lives.  The CBT theory of panic disorder would go along with this - panic being seen as due, in part, to catastrophizing about the meaning of experienced physical sensations rather than due to simply having unusual physical sensations.  Shelby et al's paper extends this understanding concluding that with sufferers from non-cardiac chest pain (NCCP) "Chest pain and anxiety were directly related to greater disability and indirectly related to physical and psychosocial disability via pain catastrophizing.

Autogenic training: seventh session

Here are handouts and recordings for the seventh Autogenic Training session.  The initial "Autogenic relaxation training" page gives introductory details of this method.  In the face-to-face trainings that I run, I would typically start the two hour class by practising last time's Autogenic Training exercise together - in this case it would be the sixth session's belly focus.  I would then collect the trainees' record sheets and go round the group looking at how each individual's practice had been going and trouble shooting/sharing experiences.  This group discussion time can be very valuable.  It brings up all kinds of interesting points, encourages people to interact and help each other, and reinforces the sense that we are all on this learning/exploring journey together.

Recent research: two studies on depression, one on sex, & three on positive psychology

Here are half a dozen research papers that have recently interested me (all details & abstracts to these studies are given further down this blog posting).  The first by Fournier et al is about whether to choose antidepressants or psychotherapy to treat depression.  They found that marriage, unemployment and having experienced a greater number of recent life events all predicted a better response to cognitive therapy than to antidepressants.  In the second study Luby et al looked at depression in children aged between 3 and 6 years old.  Worryingly they found forms of depression even in kids this young.  They also found over two years of follow-up that "Preschool depression, similar to childhood depression, is not a developmentally transient syndrome but rather shows chronicity and/or recurrence."  Hopefully this kind of research will mean these troubled children have a bit more chance of being identified and helped.

Autogenic training, session 7

For the man who wears shoes, the whole world is covered with leather.

- Traditional

Here are handouts and recordings for the seventh Autogenic Training session.  The initial "Autogenic relaxation training" page gives introductory details of this method.  In the face-to-face trainings that I run, I would typically start the two hour class by practising last time's Autogenic Training exercise together - in this case it would be the sixth session's belly focus.  I would then collect the trainees' record sheets and go round the group looking at how each individual's practice had been going and trouble shooting/sharing experiences.  This group discussion time can be very valuable.  It brings up all kinds of interesting points, encourages people to interact and help each other, and reinforces the sense that we are all on this learning/exploring journey together.

Goal renewal boosts wellbeing: third post

In a series of linked blog posts over the course of this month, I've discussed writing for health and wellbeing, assessment of one's own level of wellbeing, and using a broadened Best Possible Selves exercise.  In today's post I take these ideas a step further by linking them to the research work of Professor Lyubomirsky and colleagues. 

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