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Recent research: six studies on positive psychology, goals, relationships, caregiving, mindfulness & nature

Here are half a dozen studies that one could loosely put under the broad umbrella of positive psychology.  Zorba the Greek said "Take what you want and pay for it, says God." and Niemiec et al's study, on the effects of achieving different kinds of goal, supports this statement (for all six research studies mentioned in this blog post see below for abstracts and links).  Quoting Niemiec et al's somewhat awkward language: "The relation of aspiration attainment to psychological health was found to differ as a function of the content of the goals. Attainment of the intrinsic aspirations for personal growth, close relationships, community involvement, and physical health related positively to basic psychological need satisfaction and psychological health.

Autogenic training: fourth session

For the fourth Autogenic Training class, I introduce a number of new practices and ideas.  These include the next stage in the basic Autogenic Training sequence (pulse & general calmness), beginning to work on application during daily life (1st differential exercise), and a focus on the "Nourishing positive states" aspect of inner focus exercises.  For this latter, I discuss ideas about the importance of our attitudes, process visualisation, and implementation intentions.  Please read the introductory remarks and work through the first three Autogenic Training exercises before starting on this fourth Autogenic stage.

Goal renewal boosts wellbeing: first post

Here's a method that's exceptionally likely to both boost our overall level of wellbeing and move us towards the goals we feel our most important in our lives.  It will take a bit of effort and commitment - so don't fall into the trap highlighted by Thomas Edison's comment: "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."

Autogenic training, session 4

“ The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. ” - Mahatma Gandhi

For the fourth Autogenic Training class, I introduce a number of new practices and ideas.  These include the next stage in the basic Autogenic Training sequence (pulse & general calmness), beginning to work on application during daily life (1st differential exercise), and a focus on the "Nourishing positive states" aspect of inner focus exercises.  For this latter, I discuss ideas about the importance of our attitudes, process visualisation, and implementation intentions.  Please read the introductory remarks and work through the first three Autogenic Training exercises before starting on this fourth Autogenic stage.

Recent research: six articles on wellbeing – meaning in life, reappraisal, positive emotions, and neighbourliness

Here are six research articles (see below for abstracts and links) loosely falling into the overall area of wellbeing.  Boyle, Barnes et al report on the association between purpose in life and mortality in older people.  They found that greater purpose in life was associated with considerably reduced mortality even when allowing for a series of possible confounders like depressive symptoms, disability, neuroticism, the number of chronic medical conditions, and income.  Also showing benefits for purpose and meaning, Maselko, Gilman, et al looked at religious involvement in the USA and and its associations with psychological health - specifically links between high, medium and low tertiles (dividing the study population into thirds) of spiritual well-being and religious service attendance and lifetime risk of depression. They found that "Religious service attendance was associated with 30% lower odds of depression. In addition, individuals in the top tertile of existential well-being had a 70% lower odds of depression compared to individuals in the bottom tertile. Contrary to our original hypotheses, however, higher levels of religious well-being were associated with 1.5 times higher odds of depression".

Recent research: six papers relevant to psychotherapy

Here are six studies relevant to improving psychotherapy outcomes.  Brewin et al report on using imagery-based interventions to help people with depressioin.  Lydiard et al highlight the importance of sleep-related disturbances as a treatment target in PTSD.  McCrady and colleagues show that working with couples rather than just individuals seems more effective when using behavioural therapy to help women with alcohol use disorders.  Geerts et al describe rather amazing research investigating "The role of parental bonding and nonverbal communication in the short-term treatment response was investigated in 104 depressed outpatients. At baseline patients completed the Parental Bonding Instrument. We registered the nonverbal involvement behaviour of patients and interviewers from video recordings of baseline clinical interviews and calculated the convergence between patient-interviewer behaviour over the interview ... As hypothesized, low maternal care and high paternal overprotection predicted a poor response to an 8-week treatment.  Maternal care was positively correlated with nonverbal convergence. Moreover, convergence moderated the relationship between maternal care and the response to treatment: Lack of convergence between patients and interviewers turned out to annul the positive effects of maternal care on the treatment response.

Implementation intentions & reaching our goals more successfully (first post)

what are implementation intentions?
"Goal intentions" involve aiming for some desired future outcome.  They are of the form "I intend to attain goal X".  Unfortunately we know only too well that making such intentions does not necessarily mean that we will reach our goals.  As the old saying goes "There's many a slip between cup and lip".  A major review of 422 relevant research studies found that goal intentions accounted for only an average 28% of the variance in achievement of successful outcome (Sheeran, 2002).  Subsequent research suggests that even this figure of 28% is an overestimate (Webb and Sheeran, 2006).  The conclusion is clear - forming a strong goal intention to achieve some desired outcome in no way guarantees success. 

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