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Ch.4: Dependency

Do you want to hear my favourite procrastination joke?  I'll tell you later.

- Piers Steel

This chapter aims to cover: What are the main forms of dependency?  Smoking, alcohol, other drugs, junk food, gambling, pornography.  How big a problem is dependency for health & wellbeing?  What are the effective treatments?  Identifying one’s own dependencies & working out a personal response.

 

Commitment contracts: orientation, practicalities & use as therapeutic tools

(This post is downloadable as a Word doc or a PDF file).  

I wrote yesterday about "Commitment contracts: another good way of helping us reach our goals".  In today's post I'd like to look a bit more at the practicalities of setting up and using commitment contracts.  I'll illustrate this by talking about my own personal exploration of this area, but I'd also like to highlight that I think these ideas and the associated web resources are potentially very useful tools for psychotherapists, counsellors, life coaches and their clients.  

Health crisis for Britain's middle-aged

Ouch, a very interesting international health survey, that has just been released, reports:

"Middle-aged Britons are experiencing a mid-life health crisis, according to new research from Bupa, which shows that those aged 45-54 are more likely to be obese, more likely to smoke and more likely to suffer from depression than their peers around the world.

The international Bupa Health Pulse study, which asked more than 13,000 people in 12 different countries questions about their health and lifestyles has shown that late-middle age is the toughest time health-wise for Britons. No other country in the survey - which included Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, Asia and Australasia showed such a consistent range of unhealthy results for this age group.

The study, which questioned more than 2,000 people in the UK, found:

Strong relationships improve survival as much as quitting smoking

The August 11th edition of the British Medical Journal reported: "Having strong social relationships seems to have an effect on survival comparable to that of quitting smoking and larger than controlling traditional risk factors, such as obesity or hypertension. A meta-analysis of social relationships and mortality looked at 308,849 participants aged 63.9, on average, at baseline; 29% died during the follow-up of 7.5 years.  Overall, strong social relationships improved the odds of survival by 50%. Similar results were found for two aspects of relationships, defined by the researchers as structural (integration in social networks) and functional (received or perceived social support), although the link with integration was somewhat stronger.

Recent research: six studies on management, health messages, behavioural activation, ACT, expressive writing, and wellbeing

Here are mixed bag of psychotherapy-relevant studies.  Foy & colleagues' meta-analysis highlights the value to patients/clients of having good communication between their primary care physician and their mental health professional.  The second paper I mention - free full text - by Mollen et al is a bit of a wake-up call for me.  The authors write " ... we will discuss why people conform to social norms and then extend this knowledge to the field of health communication and behaviour change. We will elaborate on the advantages and disadvantages of using social norm messages, and then offer alternatives for the use of social norms in health communication messages ... Clearly, there is a substantial evidence suggesting that, when unhealthy behaviour is highly prevalent, descriptive norms should not be conveyed in health promotion campaigns.

Handouts & questionnaires for outcome tracking: depression, mania, side-effects, anxiety, worry, alcohol, sleep, gambling & more

Well, well, well ... what a lot of amazing information there is out there on the internet.  I was trawling to try to find the copyright position of the Panic Disorder Severity Scale (more on this soon in a future post) when I tumbled into Mark Zimmerman's "Outcome Tracker" website.  Mark is "Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown University, the Director of Outpatient Psychiatry at Rhode Island Hospital, and Principal Investigator of the Rhode Island Methods to Improve Diagnostic Assessment and Services (MIDAS) project."

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