Category Archives: Psychological

Scientists Define the 6 Criteria of Well-Being Read Now

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Professor Carol Ryff studied well-being before it was cool. Twenty years before we all start talking about well-being and thriving, Ryff was already quietly working on the problem at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


She ended up creating one of the first systematic models of psychological well-being, and her model remain one of the most scientifically verified and empirically rigorous today. 1

Carol Ryff was motivated by two things: Firstly,well-being should not be restricted to medical or biological descriptions — instead it is a philosophical question about the meaning of a good life. 2Secondly, current psychological theories of well-being at that time lacked empirical rigor — they had not been and could not be tested.

To construct a theory that joins philosophical questions with scientific empiricism, Ryff mined for building blocks in a diverse selection of well-being theories and research, from Aristotle to John Stuart Mill, from Abraham Maslow to Carl Jung. She identified the recurrence and convergence across these diverse theories, and these intersections gave her the foundation for her new model of well-being.

Carol Ryff’s model of psychological well-being differs from past models in one important way: Well-being is multidimensional and not merely about happiness or positive emotions. A good life is balanced and whole, engaging each of the different aspects of well-being, instead of being narrowly focused. Ryff roots this principle in Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics, where the goal of life isn’t feeling good but is instead about living virtuously.

Carol Ryff’s six categories of well-being are: 2

1) Self-Acceptance

High Self Acceptance: You possess a positive attitude toward yourself; acknowledge and accept multiple aspects of yourself including both good and bad qualities; and feel positive about your past life.

Low Self Acceptance: You feel dissatisfied with yourself; are disappointed with what has occurred in your past life; are troubled about certain personal qualities; and wish to be different than what you are.

2) Personal Growth

Strong Personal Growth: You have a feeling of continued development; see yourself as growing and expanding; are open to new experiences; have the sense of realizing your potential; see improvement in yourself and behavior over time; are changing in ways that reflect more self-knowledge and effectiveness.

Weak Personal Growth: You have a sense of personal stagnation; lack the sense of improvement or expansion over time; feel bored and uninterested with life; and feel unable to develop new attitudes or behaviors.

3) Purpose in Life

Strong Purpose in Life: You have goals in life and a sense of directedness; feel there is meaning to your present and past life; hold beliefs that give life purpose; and have aims and objectives for living.

Weak Purpose in Life: You lack a sense of meaning in life; have few goals or aims, lack a sense of direction; do not see purpose of your past life; and have no outlook or beliefs that give life meaning.

4) Positive Relations With Others

Strong Positive Relations: You have warm, satisfying, trusting relationships with others; are concerned about the welfare of others; are capable of strong empathy, affection, and intimacy; and understand the give and take of human relationships.

Weak Relations: You have few close, trusting relationships with others; find it difficult to be warm, open, and concerned about others; are isolated and frustrated in interpersonal relationships; and are not willing to make compromises to sustain important ties with others.

5) Environmental Mastery

High Environmental Mastery: You have a sense of mastery and competence in managing the environment; control complex array of external activities; make effective use of surrounding opportunities; and are able to choose or create contexts suitable to your personal needs and values.

Low Environmental Mastery: You have difficulty managing everyday affairs; feel unable to change or improve surrounding contexts; are unaware of surrounding opportunities; and lack a sense of control over the external world.

6) Autonomy

High Autonomy: You are self-determining and independent; are able to resist social pressures to think and act in certain ways; regulate behavior from within; and evaluate yourself by personal standards.

Low Autonomy: You are concerned about the expectations and evaluations of others; rely on judgments of others to make important decisions; and conform to social pressures to think and act in certain ways.

Good News or Bad News: Which Do You Want First?

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It’s the setup line to a well-worn genre of joke, but it’s no laughing matter, according to Angela Legg, a Ph.D. student in psychology at the University of California, Riverside.

Legg’s research—done with Kate Sweeney, also of UC Riverside, and published online in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin—put a scientific lens to the question.

The answer, Legg found, depends on whether you are the giver or receiver of the bad news, and if the information will be used to modify behavior.

Close-up photo of hands embracing.

If you are on the receiving end, Legg says, experiments showed that an overwhelming majority—more than 75 percent—wanted the bad news first. “If people know they are going to get bad news, they would rather get it over with,” she says. Then, if there is good news to follow, “you end on a high note.”

Conversely, news givers—between 65 and 70 percent—chose to give good news first, then the bad news. “When news givers go into a conversation, they are anxious. No one enjoys giving bad news. They don’t understand that having to wait for bad news makes the recipient more anxious.”

But good news first, then bad could be a useful strategy if the goal is to get someone to change a behavior—when, for example, Legg says, “you are giving feedback to a patient needing to lose weight, who has to take action. The recipient doesn’t feel good about the news, but may do something about it.”

The Sandwich Approach

Then there is what she calls the good news, bad news, good news sandwich—when the bad news comes between piece of good news on either side. Example: “Your cholesterol is down. By the way, your blood pressure is morbidly high. Your blood sugar levels are good.”

That’s fine if you want someone to feel good, she says. “But hiding the bad news in the sandwich is generally not a good strategy. It downplays the bad news, and the recipient gets confused.”

The person who delivers a bad news sandwich is engaging in what Legg calls conversational acrobatics. “They believe they are making the conversation easier, but the message gets garbled.”

There’s even an acronym in psychological jargon for people who delay giving out bad news or avoid it altogether—MUM (mum about undesirable messages).

“The best news-giving strategies take into account that sometimes we want to make people feel good and sometimes we need them to act,” she says.

Legg’s advice to doctors is that when relaying a diagnosis or prognosis, it’s better to give the bad news first, and then the positive information to help the patient accept it.

What If There’s No Good News?

But how do physicians deliver bad news when there is no good news to soften it?

“Many physicians prefer not to have to give bad news until it’s obvious,” saysThomas J. Smith, director of palliative medicine at the Johns Hopkins Institutions in Baltimore. Palliative care is a relatively new field that emphasizes open and honest communication with seriously ill patients.

According to one study, “If we look at the charts of people with lung cancer, only 22 percent of the charts have any notation that the doctor and patient talked about the fact that the patient is going to die,” he says. “Most of the time the conversation goes along the lines of ‘it’s incurable, but treatable.’ Many times it doesn’t get mentioned again.” In reality, 90 percent of people say they want truthful and honest information.

The “bad news” conversation, Smith stresses, needs to be more than one conversation. “When you give a bad diagnosis, they don’t hear anything [anyone says] for the next three weeks anyway. They are stunned. ”

The situation is improving. “Forty years ago when I started, palliative care wasn’t the norm,” he says. Now, at Johns Hopkins, medical students practice breaking bad news to a trained actor “patient.”

“Many [other] countries are changing, as well. Japan has shifted from no one being told to everyone being told” the truth, even if it’s bad news.

And sometimes, even when the news is bad, good news can follow unexpectedly. Recently, Smith met with a survivor group at the National Institutes of Health, where a woman shared her story: “My doctor told me I had eight months to live. He did say, ‘Some do better, some worse.’ So I took that to heart and told the kids and prepared them, and my husband and I went and picked out our burial plots. I thought at the time it would all be grim, but it turned out to be really important planning.

6 psychological ploys to make you overspend

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Don’t be fooled by the bright lights, attractive displays and what you may perceive as the benign nature of shopping. When you walk into the mall this holiday season, you’re entering a sophisticated game of psychological chess that’s aimed at making you overspend.

To avoid losing your shirt, you need to know what moves might be used against you and how you can go in prepared.

“Planning, preparation and research are the best things you can do at the holiday season,” says Benjamin K. Glaser, features editor at DealNews, a bargain shopping site that publishes guides on when and how to get the best holiday deals. “Have a clear shopping list, a budget and do your research.”

Here are the retail tricks to watch for and how to play the game.

Free gift trick: Who doesn’t want something for free? And the first thing you see when you walk into the department store is a big blazing banner that offers a “free gift with purchase.” So, who cares that the purchase involves cosmetics that aren’t on your gift list? You do use cosmetics, and free is free, right?

Not exactly.

Cosmetics are one of the highest profit items in a department store, which is why cosmetics departments are front and center when you walk in the door. Moreover, unless you’re extremely brand-loyal or have delicate skin, there may be little difference between $30 bottle of concealer that you buy a Nordstrom (JWN) vs. the $10 bottle sold at CVS (CVS). If the concealers are equivalent, you’re paying $20 for that “free” package of mini-lipsticks, which may not be much of a bargain.

What should you do? Consider what you’d normally buy and the cost of buying the alternative product at the mall. Subtract to calculate the cost of the “gift.” And beware the “minimum purchase” requirements. A recent Nordstrom promotion of Clinique cosmetics, for example, offers a free gift — as long as you purchase something for at least $29.

The problem? None of the advertised cosmetics cost $29. Indeed the items that are close — the $27 concealer, the $26 moisturizing gel, the eye shadow package for $28.50 — don’t qualify for the gift, so you’d have to buy a second product and vastly exceed the minimum purchase requirement.

So, let’s say you’re spending $40 to get that free gift. If you looked at the “gift” as a product with a $40 price tag would you buy it? If not, walk away.

Two for one: Like the free gift offer, the concept behind “buy one, get one free” offers is that you’re going to focus on what’s free rather than the cost of what you’re buying. Ask yourself, do I want or need two? If not, is this a good price for the one item I’m buying? If it is, buy what you want and give the spare to charity.

What if it’s a good price for two, but not one? If you have a friend who wants the same item and is willing to split the cost, you’ve got a deal. Otherwise, this offer is no bargain.

Scarcity ploy: There you are ready to pick up an item on your shopping list that appears to be well priced. But the sign has a caveat: “No more than three per customer.” Now you wonder whether you ought to buy more. After all, if you can only have three, this must be a great deal. And the availability must be scarce enough that they’ve got to hold back rabid consumers like you.

Or not. The scarcity ploy is one of six psychological sales techniques recommended in a book called “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” by Robert Cialdini.

Beth Morgan, who dubs herself the Marketing Nerdist, says it’s particularly effective at bringing out the inner teen in all of us — you only want the things you can’t have.

The scarcity principal applies to many products during the holiday season, from restricted quantities to seasonal sales to deals that are only good on one day, such as Black Friday. Act like a grown-up, and buy only what you need.

Black Friday fatigue: The scarcity ploy coupled with some truly great prices on big-ticket items, such as electronics, can convince some dedicated shoppers to engage in parking-lot camp-outs to make sure they’re first in line.

But now you’re tired. Probably not as sharp as you would have been with a full night’s sleep. And your resistance to other, less-impressive bargains is low.

The best way to combat fatigue spending is with planning. Make a shopping list, and search for the best prices for those items before you go out. If this store happens to offer real bargains on all of your needs, rejoice and retire from holiday shopping early. But don’t deviate from the list or pay more than you should just because you’re sleepy.

“Reference” retail bargains: You see the sign: 75 percent off! Buy it quick! Retailers know we’re predisposed to react to steep discounts from regular prices. But regular prices aren’t always what they appear, particularly when they’re labeled “reference retail.”

What’s reference retail? It’s supposed to be the price that another retailer might charge for the same item, said Gerard Tellis, professor of marketing and management at the Marshall School of Business at University of Southern California. But this could be the retail price for a name brand (rather than the off-brand item you’re considering), or it could be the price charged by a luxury retailer.

What it’s not likely to be is the price this retailer would charge on another day when the item isn’t on “sale.”

How do you know whether this is a real deal? You can find out with a swipe of your smart phone. Download Red Laser or Shop Savvy phone apps before you head to the mall. Both read bar codes and search for the best prices available in stores and online.

Impulse gauntlet: It’s hard to walk out of a store without loading your cart with a bunch of small impulse purchases. The store is designed that way. Check-out aisles, for example, are lined with stocking-stuffer fodder, from scarves and gloves to gift cards.

Remember that even small items purchased in quantity can prove to be budget busters, so your mission is to stick to your program. If you started right, you should have a list of everything you need — including the little things you plan to put in the kid’s stockings. Stick to the list, and you might just get through the holiday season without the traditional January debt hangover.

5 Ways to Get Your Unwanted Emotions Under Control

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Emotions are a vital part of our everyday lives. Whether you’re having a good laugh over a text message or feeling frustrated in rush hour traffic, you know that the highs and lows you experience can significantly affect your well-being.

Your ability to regulate those emotions, in turn, affects how you’re perceived by the people around you. If you’re laughing at that text during a serious meeting, you’re likely to get resentful looks from others in the room. On the other hand, if you react with rage at a driver who cuts you off in traffic, you can engender unwanted attention, and perhaps even risk your life.


The study of emotions is not an exact science. Psychologists still debate the body-mind connection in emotional reactivity; don’t have a complete taxonomy of emotions; and are even uncertain about whether emotions are the cause or result of the way we construe the world. However, there are advances being made in understanding the concept of emotion regulation, the process of influencing the way emotions are felt and expressed.

Stanford University psychologist James Gross (2001) proposed a 4-stage model to capture the sequence of events that occurs when our emotions are stimulated. In what he calls the “modal model,” a situation grabs our attention, which in turns leads us to appraise or think about the meaning of the situation. Our emotional responses result from the way we appraise our experiences.

Some emotional responses require no particular regulation. If the emotion is appropriate to the situation and helps you feel better, there’s no need to worry about changing the way you handle things. Laughing when others are laughing is one example of an appropriate reaction that helps you feel better. Expressing road rage may also make you feel better, but it’s not appropriate or particularly adaptive. You could express your frustration in other ways that allow you to release those angry feelings, or instead try to find a way to calm yourself down.

Calming yourself down when you’re frustrated, of course, may be more easily said than done. If you tend to fly off the handle when aggravated, and express your outrage to everyone within earshot (or on the other end of an email), your emotions could be costing you important relationships, your job, and even your health.

An inability to regulate emotions is, according to Gross and his collaborator Hooria Jazaieri (2014), at the root of psychological disorders such as depression and borderline personality disorder. Although more research is needed to understand the specific role of emotional regulation in psychopathology, this seems like a promising area of investigation. For example, people with social anxiety disorder can benefit from interventions that help them change the way they appraise social situations, as shown by research on cognitive behavioral therapy. Many others functioning at a less than optimal level of psychological health, Gross and Jazaieri maintain, could similarly benefit from education about how better to manage their emotions in daily life.

Fortunately, you can handle most of the work involved in regulating your emotions well before the provoking situation even occurs. By preparing yourself ahead of time, you’ll find that the problematic emotion goes away before it interferes with your life:

  1. Select the situation. Avoid circumstances that trigger unwanted emotions. If you know that you’re most likely to get angry when you’re in a hurry (and you become angry when others force you to wait), then don’t leave things for the last minute. Get out of the house or office 10 minutes before you need to, and you won’t be bothered so much by pedestrians, cars, or slow elevators. Similarly, if there’s an acquaintance you find completely annoying, then figure out a way to keep from bumping into that person.
  2. Modify the situation. Perhaps the emotion you’re trying to reduce isdisappointment. You’re always hoping, for example, to serve the “perfect” meal for friends and family, but invariably something goes wrong because you’ve aimed too high. Modify the situation by finding recipes that are within your range of ability so that you can pull off the meal. You may not be able to construct the ideal soufflé, but you manage a pretty good frittata.
  3. Shift your attentional focus. Let’s say that you constantly feel inferior to the people around you who always look great. You’re at the gym, and can’t help but notice the regulars on the weight machines who manage to lift three times as much as you can. Drawn to them like a magnet, you can’t help but watch with wonder and envy at what they’re able to accomplish. Shifting your focus away from them and onto your fellow gym rats who pack less punch will help you feel more confident about your own abilities. Even better, focus on what you’re doing, and in the process, you’ll eventually gain some of the strength you desire.
  4. Change your thoughts. At the core of our deepest emotions are the beliefs that drive them. You feel sad when you believe to have lost something, anger when you decide that an important goal is thwarted, and happy anticipation when you believe something good is coming your way. By changing your thoughts you may not be able to change the situation but you can at least change the way you believe the situation is affecting you. In cognitive reappraisal, you replace the thoughts that lead to unhappiness with thoughts that lead instead to joy or at least contentment. People with social anxiety disorder may believe that they’ll make fools of themselvesin front of others for their social gaffes.  They can be helped to relax by interventions that help them recognize that people don’t judge them as harshly as they believe.
  5. Change your response. If all else fails, and you can’t avoid, modify, shift your focus, or change your thoughts, and that emotion comes pouring out, the final step inemotion regulation is to get control of your response. Your heart may be beating out a steady drumroll of unpleasant sensations when you’re made to be anxious or angry. Take deep breaths and perhaps close your eyes in order to calm yourself down. Similarly, if you can’t stop laughing when everyone else seems serious or sad, gather your inner resources and force yourself at least to change your facial expression if not your mood.

This 5-step approach is one that you can readily adapt to the most characteristic situations that cause you trouble. Knowing your emotional triggers can help you avoid the problems in the first place. Being able to alter your thoughts and reactions will build yourconfidence in your own ability to cope. With practice, you’ll be able to turn negatives into positives, and, each time, gain emotional fulfillment.

6 Signs of Narcissism You May Not Know About

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The recently published 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) lists precisely the same nine criteria for narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) as did the previous version, published 19 years earlier. So these longstanding diagnostic yardsticks are by now quite familiar—not only to professionals but to interested laypeople as well. Because only the extreme, or “classic,” narcissist fits all of these criteria, DSM specifies that an individual need meet only five of them (barely more than half) to warrant this unflattering label.

As a starting point, I’ll reiterate these selected criteria—before, that is, adding six important ones of my own, which either complement or extend these “official” yardsticks. My particular measures for identifying pathological narcissists are based not only on my exposure to the voluminous writings on this character disorder, but also on 30+ years of clinical experience. This experience includes doing personal, couples, and family counseling with such troublesome individuals. But it also involves working independently with those involved with narcissists—whether their distressed children, spouses, parents, friends, or business associates—who repeatedly express enormous frustration in trying to cope with them.

To begin, however, here are DSM’s requirements(link is external) (slightly condensed, and with minor bracketed amendments) for “earning” the unenviable diagnosis of Narcissistic PersonalityDisorder:

1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance.
2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideallove.
3. Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions).
4. Requires excessive admiration [regularly fishes for compliments, and is highly susceptible to flattery].
5. Has a sense of entitlement.
6. Is interpersonally exploitative.
7. Lacks empathy: is unwilling [or, I would add, unable] to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.
8. Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.
9. Shows arrogant, haughty [rude and abusive] behaviors or attitudes.

So what’s left out here? Actually, as regards identifying descriptors, quite a bit. And I’ve no doubt that other therapists could add further to the six additional characteristics I’ll provide here—features that, although regrettably minimized or omitted from DSM, I‘ve routinely seen displayed by the many dysfunctional narcissists I’ve worked with. So, to enumerate them, such individuals:

1. Are highly reactive to criticism. Or anything they assume or interpret as negatively evaluating their personality or performance. This is why if they’re asked a question that might oblige them to admit some vulnerability, deficiency, or culpability, they’re apt to falsify the evidence (i.e., lie—yet without really acknowledging such prevarication to themselves), hastily change the subject, or respond as though they’d been asked something entirely different. Earlier forPsychology Today I wrote a post highlighting this supercharged sensitivity called “The Narcissist’s Dilemma: They Can Dish It Out, But . . . ”. And this aspect of their disturbance underscores that their ego—oversized, or rather artificially “inflated”—can hardly be viewed as strong or resilient. On the contrary, it’s very easily punctured. (And note here another related piece of mine, “Our Egos: Do They Need Strengthening—or Shrinking?”). What these characteristics suggest is that, at bottom and despite all their egotistic grandiosity, they…

2. …Have low self-esteem. This facet of their psyche is complicated, because superficially their self-regard would appear to be higher and more assured than just about anyone else’s. Additionally, given their customary “drivenness,” it’s not uncommon for them to rise to positions of power and influence, as well as amass a fortune (and see here my post“Narcissism: Why It’s So Rampant in Politics”). But if we examine what’s beneath the surface of such elevated social, political, or economic stature—or their accomplishments generally—what typically can be inferred is a degree of insecurity vastly beyond anything they might be willing to avow.

That is, in various ways they’re constantly driven to prove themselves, both to others and to their not-so-confident “inner child” self. This is the self-doubting, recessive part of their being that, though well hidden from sight, is nonetheless afflicted with feelings and fears of inferiority. Inasmuch as their elaborate defense system effectively wards off their having to face what their bravado masks, they’re highly skilled at exhibiting, or “posturing,” exceptionally high self-esteem. But their deeper insecurities are yet discernible in their so often fishing for compliments and their penchant for bragging and boasting about their (frequently exaggerated) achievements. That is, they’re experts at complimentingthemselves! And when—despite all their self-aggrandizement— others are critical of them, they…

3. …Can be inordinately self-righteous and defensive. Needing so much to protect their overblown but fragile ego, their ever-vigilant defense system can be extraordinarily easy to set off. I’ve already mentioned how reactive they typically are to criticism, but in fact anything said or done that they perceive as questioning their competence can activate their robust self-protective mechanisms. Which is why so many non-narcissists I’ve worked with have shared how difficult it is to get through to them in situations of conflict. For in challenging circumstances it’s almost as though their very survival depends on being right or justified, whereas flat out (or humbly) admitting a mistake—or, for that matter, uttering the words “I’m sorry” for some transgression—seem difficult to impossible for them.

Further, their “my way or the highway” attitude in decision-making—their stubborn.competitive insistence that their point of view prevail—betrays (even as it endeavors to conceal) their underlying doubts about not being good, strong, or smart enough. And the more their pretentious, privileged, exaggeratedly puffed-up self-imagefeels endangered by another’s position, the more likely they are to…

4. …React to contrary viewpoints with anger or rage. In fact, this characteristic is so common in narcissists that it’s always surprised me that DSM doesn’t specifically refer to it among its nine criteria. Repeatedly, writers have noted that angry outbursts are almost intrinsic to both narcissistic and borderline personality disorders. And although (unlike the borderline) it’s not particular fears of abandonment that bring out their so-called “narcissistic rage,” both personality disorders generally react with heated emotion when others bring their deepest insecurities too close to the surface.

The reason that feelings of anger and rage are so typically expressed by them is that in the moment they externalize the far more painful anxiety- or shame-related emotions hiding just beneath them. When they’re on the verge of feeling—or re-feeling—some hurt or humiliation from their past, their consequent rage conveniently “transfersthese unwanted feelings to another (and see here my PTpost “Anger—How We Transfer Feelings of Guilt, Hurt, and Fear”).

The accompanying message that gets communicated through such antagonistic emotions is “I’m not bad (wrong, stupid, mean, etc.), you are!” Or, it could even be: “I’m not narcissistic, or borderline! You are!” (Or, in slightly milder version, “If I’m narcissistic, or borderline, then so are you!”) And if the mentally healthier individual has no clue as to what provoked their outburst in the first place, such a sudden explosion is likely to make them feel not only baffled but hurt, and maybe even frightened. But what cannot be overemphasized here is that narcissists…

5. …Project onto others qualities, traits, and behaviors they can’t—or won’t—accept in themselves. Because they’re compelled from deep within to conceal deficits or weaknesses in their self-image, they habitually redirect any unfavorable appraisal of themselves outwards, unconsciously trusting that doing so will forever keep at bay their deepest suspicions about themselves. Getting anywhere close to being obliged to confront the darkness at their innermost core can be very scary, for in reality their emotional resources are woefully underdeveloped.

Broadly recognized as narcissists by their fundamental lack of self-insight, very few of them (depending, of course, on how far out they are on the narcissistic continuum) can achieve such interior knowledge. For in a variety of ways their rigid, unyielding defenses can be seen as more or less defining their whole personality. And that’s why one of the most reliable ways for them to feel good about themselves—and “safe” in the world they’re essentially so alienated from—is to invalidate, devalue, or denigrate others. So they’ll focus on others’ flaws (whether or not they really exist) rather than acknowledge, and come to terms with, their own. And in many curious ways this habit causes them to…

6. …Have poor interpersonal boundaries. It’s been said about narcissists that they can’t tell where they end and the other person begins. Unconsciously viewing others as “extensions” of themselves, they regard them as existing primarily to serve their own needs—just as they routinely put their needs before everyone else’s (frequently, even their own children). Since others are regarded (if they’re regarded at all!) as what in the literature is often called “narcissistic supplies”—that is, existing chiefly to cater to their personal desires—they generally don’t think about others independently of how they might “use” them to their own advantage. Whatever narcissists seek to give themselves, they generally expect to get from others, too (which is yet another dimension of their famous—or infamous—sense of entitlement).

5 Psychological Tricks For When You Can’t Sleep

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Ever struggled to get to sleep? It sucks. You lie awake, toss, turn, put yourself into 14 different positions and finally abandon all thought of getting enough rest before your alarm clock goes off. While there can be a lot of contributing factors to sleepless nights, from too much electronic light at night to sleeping in a room that’s too warm, exactly what to do when you can’t sleep is a bit less well-known. Stare at the wall? Count the famous sheep? Pray?

You could, of course, always convince somebody to read you the massive hitThe Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep, a picture book based on cognitive psychology that uses the reader’s yawns and word associations to convince children to slumber. Without that, unfortunately, you’re going to have to do this on your own — but it’ll be easier than you think. It turns out that psychology actually has some tips and tricks to help the sleepless drift off to the Land of Nod, some of which turn our previous understanding of relaxation on its head.

So next time you’re stuck in a sleepless holding pattern, pick out some of these scientifically validated techniques to push you off into dreamland.

1. Focus On Relaxing Images, Not Counting Sheep

A 2010 study from the University of Oxford found something interesting:counting sheep does nothing whatsoever for our sleep patterns. Nothing. Zero. Squat. (I know, I feel lied to as well.) But the scientists decided to test another option alongside their sheep-counting, and found it was much more effective. The solution? Relaxing images of serene places, like beaches or mountains.

It turns out that counting sheep in the normal sequential manner doesn’t do anything to calm the brain or “trick” it into sleepiness, despite the urban myth of its efficiency. By contrast, people imagining relaxing scenes fell asleep an average of 20 minutes earlier than they would have otherwise. That seems like a fairly good recommendation to me. So the next time you can’t sleep, envision your favorite vista, and try to focus on all its glorious imaginary details until you relax.

2. If You Must Count, Do It Backwards

This is an interesting proposition that’s being put forward by certain sleep experts: if you do want to involve numbers in your sleep progression, you’llget more relaxation from counting backwards, and using patterns instead of direct sequencing. Count backwards from 1000 in groups of three, for instance, or in prime numbers if you’re so mathematically inclined.

Mind games, in this scenario, are distractions: they’re directing the brain to focus on a not-too-challenging, but still absorbing, sequence rather than fussing and running in circles. Visualizing the numbers as you count them, perhaps being written down or forming a pattern, will likely help too. Counting sheep is too easy for your brain. Give it a little more exercise to make it snooze.

3. Practice The 4-7-8 Breathing Technique

There are variations on this particular idea, with different lengths of time involved, but the basic principle remains the same. Basically, it’s regulated, exceptionally slow breathing modulated along a single framework. Dr. Andrew Weil’s version is one of the most famous: breathe in for four seconds, hold for seven, breathe out for eight, and repeat.

Another version involves breathing in for three seconds and breathing out for six, so this is a matter of finding the particular formulation that works for you and your comfortable breathing patterns. It slows your breathing and makes you mindful of your breath, instead of worrying about taxes or the figure on the alarm clock. Win-win.

4. Use Guided Imagery

Guided imagery is a specific sleep-inducing technique that resembles guided meditation. It involves getting very comfortable, breathing slowly, and focusing on a situation, object, place, or memory that you find makes you feel calm. The Sleep Foundation points out that this needs to be extremely individual to work properly; you can’t just pick a generic screensaver. To have genuine emotional and relaxing impact, you need to visualize your childhood bedroom, the smell of your grandma’s house, or something that gives you relaxing thoughts. (Not just pleasure: relaxation. Just thinking happy thoughts will keep you smiling, but likely won’t make you drift off.)

5. Practice Thought-Stopping

One of the major causes of sleep cycle disturbance seems to be anxiety, according to the Anxiety And Depression Association Of America. You’re all ready to get settled and suddenly you’re running over every possible thing that could go wrong with your date tomorrow, or the presentation next week, or why you said that stupid thing on Facebook three months ago. On top of that, sleep anxiety about your insomnia often compounds the problem.

In cases like this, focusing on relaxing images may not be helpful, but there’s another technique that may come in handy: thought-stopping. It’s a technique that comes from the University of South Carolina, which directs anxious sleepers to consciously summon the thoughts and worries that are harrying them out of sleep, and then think, in capital letters, STOP! If you find yourself thinking about the worries again, give yourself the same command, and shut it down.


10 things psychologists won’t tell you

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1. “We supported torture programs at Guantanamo Bay.”

“Do no harm” is a professional code of the medical profession, but this basic principle was flouted by several members of the American Psychological Association, the largest society for that profession, representing 130,000 people, according to a 545-page independent report released Friday. Members of that association lied about their involvement with the Central Intelligence Agency post-9/11 torture program in Guantanamo Bay during the presidency of George W. Bush, the report found. The Hoffman Report states that the individuals who participated in the collusion tried to “curry favor” with the Defense Department, and concluded that they may even have enabled the government’s use of abusive interrogation techniques.

The investigation determined that key American Psychological Association officials, principally the organization’s ethics director, joined and supported at times by other association officials, colluded with important Department of Defense personnel to have association issue loose, high-level ethical guidelines that effectively blurred the line for psychologists between unethical and ethical interrogation practices, the report found.

The report found that some of the society’s most senior members, including the director of ethics, used their skills and training to intentionally cause psychological, physical pain and/or harm to an individual who was in custody and not the psychologist’s client and who was outside the protection of the criminal justice system.

“When that profession allows for the potential that psychologists will intentionally inflict pain on an individual with no ability to resist, regardless of the individual’s background or motives, faith in the profession can diminish quickly,” it added.

The American Psychological Association released a comprehensive response to the report on Friday, pledging to implement procedures to ensure this would never happen again. Changes will include adopting a policy prohibiting psychologists from participating in interrogation of persons held in custody by military and intelligence authorities and also to increase the APA’s engagement around human rights activities with other organizations. “Our internal checks and balances failed to detect the collusion, or properly acknowledge a significant conflict of interest, nor did they provide meaningful field guidance for psychologists,” Nadine Kaslow, chair of the report’s Special Committee, which consists of three members of the APA board of directors, said in a statement. “The organization’s intent was not to enable abusive interrogation techniques or contribute to violations of human rights, but that may have been the result.”

2. “Your childhood was bad? Wait till you see your bill.”

Among those who seek psychological help in the U.S., 40% undergo therapy with a social worker, psychiatrist or psychologist, according to JAMA Psychiatry, a peer-reviewed medical journal published by the American Medical Association. All that talk doesn’t come cheap. There is no set charge, but therapists say rates can vary from $75 to $250 an hour. In fact, Americans spend around $10 billion a year on all kinds of psychotherapy — from relationship counseling to cognitive-behavioral therapy — according to research reviewed by Bruce E. Wampold, clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

One therapist’s fees for different clients can also vary wildly, experts say. When shopping around for a therapist, there’s nothing wrong with negotiating, says Simon Rego, director of psychology training at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. Many clinicians offer a sliding scale for those with limited funds, he says. Sometimes, therapists dedicate a certain number of slots per week to low-income clients, he says, and there are counseling organizations that offer pro bono services to veterans and victims of natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy. In other cases, Rego says, therapists expect potential clients to haggle. “Some therapists claim a sliding scale as a rubric to negotiate,” he says.

There’s evidence though that good therapy is a bargain at any price. In clinical trials, psychotherapy has been shown to be effective in treating depression, anxiety, marital dissatisfaction, substance abuse and even sexual dysfunction, Wampold found. And relapse rates can be lower with some types of psychotherapy than with medication, according to research by Steve Hollon, a professor of Psychology at Vanderbilt University. For major depressive disorders, a 2009 Department of Veterans Affairs study on psychotherapy’s effectiveness suggests a combination of therapy and antidepressants as a first line of treatment.

One in five Americans in any given year will have a mental health disorder and two-thirds never receive treatment, says Paolo Delvecchio, director of the federal government’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Center for Mental Health Services in Rockville, Md.

3. “I may not have any training.”

While qualified psychologists, psychiatrists and licensed clinical social workers all require years of training, there’s very little stopping anyone from taking a night course in astrology or philosophy and calling himself a therapist. Therapy is an umbrella term that covers many professions and problems. It’s more of a descriptive term than a professional one, says John C. Norcross, a professor of psychology at the University of Scranton. In fact, anyone could advertise as a “therapist,” put it on a business card, set up a website and wait for people to call. “Seek mental health services from someone licensed to practice by the particular state in which you reside,” Norcross suggests.

Experts recommend that consumers who need mental health care turn to a psychologist, psychiatrist, or licensed clinical social worker. Psychologists must have a doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.), doctor of psychology (Psy. D) in counseling or clinical psychology or doctor of education (Ed.D.), and pass a state-level licensing exam. Psychiatrists have to earn a doctor of medicine (M.D.) and complete a medical residency. Licensed clinical social workers (LCSW) need a master’s degree (MSW or MA), and must meet medical clinical exam requirements. Licensed counselors also need a master’s degree (MA or MS) and pass a national licensing examination. The American Psychological Association, American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, American Psychiatric Association, National Association of Social Workers and American Counseling Association can make referrals, as do state licensing boards and many health insurance plans list in-network mental health professionals.

For therapeutic services slightly outside the realm of mental health, though, another type of professional might be appropriate. For instance, some life coaches practice as therapists, says Julie Hanks, owner and executive director of Wasatch Family Therapy in Salt Lake City, Utah, who recently earned her Ph.D. in marriage and family therapy. (A life coach draws on techniques from psychology and career counseling, but working as a life coach requires no formal training.) Life coaches can be well-suited to helping people decide their next career move or improve their productivity, and plenty of informed consumers choose them over therapists for personal projects, business mentoring and creative endeavors. Many life coaches clearly state that their services are profoundly different from therapy or counseling. Nonetheless, Hanks says, she’s been surprised by how many clients have told her they weren’t aware their coaches weren’t trained to treat mental health problems.

4. “Will you ever stop talking?”

While therapists are paid to listen to a patient for about 45 to 60 minutes at a time, it’s not always easy, especially since people in therapy can get so wound up in the minutiae of their day that they ramble on instead of tackling real issues. “I’ve been bored out of my mind occasionally,” says Hanks, the Salt Lake City therapist. But there’s an upside to her only very occasional boredom: It clues her in that something isn’t working. Then, she says, she knows to ask herself, “What do I need to do differently with this client?”

Sometimes it’s the therapist, rather than the client, who isn’t giving real issues the attention they deserve. Marci Robin, the beauty director of lifestyle and cosmetics site, recently wrote about her experience with a therapist who fell asleep during her session — while Robin was crying. Shortly before arriving at her therapist’s office in New York, Robin had been assaulted by a group of boys who hit her with a cup filled with ice. “As I spoke, I noticed her drifting off,” she says.

Such incidents are relatively uncommon. But therapists, like anyone on the job, can succumb to drowsiness and distractions. “Patients who have seen other therapists have reported this to me,” says Mirean Coleman, a clinical social worker and senior practice associate with the National Association of Social Workers. “I have also been informed by patients of therapists who texted or played games on their cellphones during therapy sessions.”

And of course when there’s a third party in the mix, he or she can be the reason conversations wander. In couple’s therapy, for instance, it’s not unusual for the more dominant partner to attempt to hijack the session. “There are some people who are a bit narcissistic and enjoy hearing themselves talk, and the therapist never really gets an accurate sense of what goes on in the relationship,” says Fran Walfish, a therapist in Beverly Hills, Calif.

5. “I need you more than you need me.”

After a few sessions, therapists often recommend additional treatment. But insiders say clients should watch for signs it’s time to move on. “If you feel like your therapist needs you financially” — for instance, if he or she is pushing for more sessions even though you feel better — “get another therapist,” Hanks says. Although the majority of therapists go into the profession because they genuinely want to help others, she says, a weak economy can make it difficult for a therapist to let a client go. Therapists who are struggling to keep their practice afloat — or who don’t have a potential client to fill the available time slot — might be particularly inclined to try to squeeze extra money out of their clients. “A good therapist does not want their clients in therapy forever,” she says.

What’s more, even a good therapist might not be the right therapist for a particular person. Clients reporting little or no change in their emotional well-being within their first six visits for cognitive therapy tend to show no improvement over the entire course of therapy or end up dropping out, according to multiple studies over three decades by psychologists Barry Duncan and Scott M. Miller, both of whom are also licensed therapists. “You should feel that you are on your way within a month, says Miller, founder and director of theInternational Center for Clinical Excellence, a worldwide community of health care practitioners. A long-term client-therapist relationship with no early change can encourage inaction and co-dependency, he says. The length of time a patient should be with a therapist should be based on the treatment goals and progress of each patient, says Coleman from the National Association of Social Workers. “If a patient fails to meet their initial and revised treatment goals, then other alternatives should be considered.”

6. “Maybe I’m the one who needs therapy.”

There’s no shortage of patients who complain that their therapist has as many issues as they do. When it’s time to say goodbye to a client, for instance, some therapists themselves can exhibit signs of co-dependency. When Kathy Morelli, a family counseling therapist in Wayne, N.J., told her New York-based therapist that she was getting married, was moving to New Jersey and wouldn’t require her services anymore, her therapist wasn’t exactly tickled for her. In fact, she didn’t see why Morelli should have a problem going 25 miles out of her way. “She thought I could commute into the city to see her — at night,” Morelli says. “She made a big stink about it. It was very weird.”

Others have come across different peculiarities in their hunt for a good therapist. Stacey Glaesmann, a clinical psychologist and former therapist in Pearland, Texas, wanted to talk to her therapist about postpartum depression. But her therapist had more important things to discuss, she says. Chief among them: God. “I thought, ‘What the hell?’ I had come to her to talk about being depressed, not because I was looking for religion.” Another therapist she went to appeared to be addicted to her cellphone and answered it during a session. “She didn’t even say, ‘Excuse me,’” Glaesmann says. “How rude can you get?” Of course, such incidents aren’t the norm, says Lisa Brateman, a licensed social worker and therapist based in New York.

For some people, there are alternatives to sitting in a therapist’s office. For instance, a little exercise goes a long way. In fact, the effect of regular exercise on mild to moderate forms of depression is similar to the effect of cognitive behavioral therapy, according to the co-authors of the book “Exercise for Mood and Anxiety,” Jasper Smits, associate professor of psychology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, and Michael Otto, a psychologist at Boston University. The two authors analyzed the results of dozens of published population-based and clinical studies related to exercise and mental health to arrive at their findings.

7. “I don’t have to practice what I preach.”

Some university programs and state licensing authorities require mental-health professionals to undergo therapy, but it isn’t universal. Utah and California are among several states that don’t require therapists to receive psychotherapy before they practice. Hanks, who does require it of those who work in her practice, says it’s crucial for a therapist to lie on the proverbial couch in order to understand what the client is going through. “I can’t take a client beyond anywhere I have not been willing to go myself,” she says.

Plus, Hanks says, when a therapist needs mental-health care, seeking treatment from another therapist is considered preferable to self-treatment. “Therapists need therapists like doctors need doctors. We need a different point of view.” Tina Tessina, a psychotherapist based in Los Angeles, says therapy helps a qualified therapist remain an emotionally strong and independent observer.

Some experts suggest consumers ask potential therapists about their own experience in the patient’s chair and their mental health. Tessina even recommends that those in the market for a marriage counselor seek a therapist who’s happily married. Others say a therapist who’s experienced similar mental health issues to a patient’s — including a marriage breakup — might be more empathetic and wiser. On the other hand, some argue that the therapist’s personal life isn’t relevant to treatment. After all, a doctor who’s never broken a bone is still trained to set one. And many therapists have a zero self-disclosure policy with clients, Glaesmann says.

8. “Your secret is (sort of) safe with me.”

Most patients assume their sessions are confidential, but there are many instances where these sessions could be made public. The records of therapy sessions could become part of a divorce proceeding or employment dispute if a client alleges emotional or mental damages on the part of a spouse or co-worker. Or they could be disclosed if there is a legal dispute between the therapist and the client. Laws also vary by state, therapists say.

If a client expresses suicidal or — indeed — homicidal thoughts, therapists may also be legally required to report that. Nor is a serious crime necessarily protected by client-therapist privilege. Glaesmann says she was obliged to turn over her notes on one client to the local district attorney after the client’s wife found child pornography on his computer, she says. “That had not come up during our therapy,” she says, “but if it had, I would have had to report it to authorities, as viewing child pornography is a crime.” Katherine Nordal, executive director for professional practice at the American Psychological Association, says the group advises therapists to provide a patient’s record only if a court orders it or if they have obtained consent from the patient.

The Health Information Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 does provide some protections for minors. Under HIPAA, the therapist must get a signed disclosure from a client ages 12 to 18 before releasing the minor’s health care records to anyone, including parents; however, in some states, parents may not be denied access to their child’s health records. Insurance companies are only entitled to certain types of information when evaluating whether a person qualifies for medical insurance; this excludes psychotherapy notes and diagnoses, which have special status under HIPAA.

9. “I’ll be there for you, but your insurance might not.”

Health insurance companies can place limits on how many therapy sessions they’ll pay for, and they may be keen to wrap up the sessions before the client is ready. Relying on insurance to pay for therapy isn’t always in a person’s best interest, says Joseph Winn, a clinical social worker in Arlington, Mass. “The insurance company will make their determination regardless of what you, or your therapist, feels is appropriate,” Winn says. If a client disagrees with an insurance company’s decision not to provide additional treatments, he or she can appeal, says Susan Pisano, a spokeswoman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, the industry’s trade group. And people can continue treatment by paying out-of-pocket. Under the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, insurers must also provide their clients a reason why they stop or decline payment for mental health services.

There have been some efforts by lawmakers to make it easier for Americans to get mental health coverage. The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which employers with 50 or more workers began adhering to in 2011, requires that when coverage for mental health and substance use conditions is provided, it be generally comparable to coverage for medical and surgical care. That means, for instance, that insurers can’t put a cap of, say, 30 annual trips to a psychiatrist for mental health if they haven’t put such limits on treatment for other conditions, like cancer or diabetes. President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which takes effect in 2014, broadened the 2008 act to include all insurance and employers providing health care and is expected to extend federal parity protections to 62 million Americans, with mental health coverage deemed an “essential health benefit.” Some insurers treat therapists as specialists, which typically require a higher copay: $30 or $50, say, instead of $20.

However, experts say handling insurance is currently still cumbersome for practices — and that the best therapists are increasingly the ones who won’t even accept insurance. “Insurance has become so difficult and expensive to work with,” says David Reiss, a psychiatrist in San Diego. “While there some very good therapists that work with insurance, if therapists can afford to practice without having to accept insurance, they often will.

10. “Time’s up. Here’s a pill.”

There has been surge in the use of medication to treat mental health problems, studies show. In 2005, a mere 11% of psychiatrists — who, unlike social workers and some other kinds of therapists, are licensed to prescribe drugs — used talk therapy with all of their clients, down from 19% in 1996, according to a 2008 study in the medical journal of the American Medical Association. Similarly, the proportion of patients visiting psychiatrists for talk therapy fell to 29% from 44% in the same period. Psychiatrists get reimbursed by insurance companies at a lower rate for a 45-minute psychotherapy session than for a 15-minute medication visit, the study found.

As talk time went down, pill-popping went up — a trend which some mental health professionals find troubling. The use of psychiatric drugs among adults increased by 22% from 2001 to 2010, and one in five Americans now take such meds, according to industry data compiled by Medco Health Solutions, a pharmacy benefit manager in Franklin Lakes, N.J. And it’s not just adults who are increasingly being prescribed drugs for mental health. Some 6.4 million children ages 4 to 17 have received a medical diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, an increase of over 40% in the past decade, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To be fair, the Food and Drug Administration policy states that it only approves drugs after rigorous clinical trials and that any potential side-effects are stipulated on the labels. And many people get prescriptions from their primary health provider rather than from a psychiatrist. But compared with medication, psychotherapy has fewer side effects and lower instances of relapse when discontinued, says Nordal of the American Psychological Association.

Talk therapy can be as effective in treating depression as the most recent generation of antidepressants, according to a 2011 review of 15 studies and published in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease by researchers at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul and Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. That’s not to say therapy and pharmaceuticals are mutually exclusive options — or even the only options. Many people solve their own problems on a routine basis through exercise, yoga and meditation, or by talking to their families or attending religious services. But a professional can still be helpful, says Scott D. Miller, from the International Center for Clinical Excellence. “There are many paths to having a more fulfilling and less troubled life, and psychotherapy is just one of those,” he says. “Like with toothpaste, people have a choice.”

The Surprising Science of Praise

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As parents, we love to praise our children. When a daughter or son has succeeded in something at school, at home or in an activity, we love telling them, “You’re so smart!” “You’re so talented!” “You’re the best!”

After all, reinforcing a child’s success with praise is good for them, right? Well, maybe. But, it may depend on the praise that’s given, and certain kinds of praise can actually do harm.

Ability or Effort?
Lewis Terman was a pioneering psychological researcher at Stanford University and was the person responsible for creating the Stanford-Binet IQ test in America between 1904 and 1915. He modified the original test created in 1905 by Frenchman Alfred Binet. In fact Terman coined the term “intelligence quotient” or IQ. He launched a study of high IQ students in 1921, tracking 1,528 individuals in what has become the longest running research study. Participants were followed throughout their lives using surveys about all aspects of their lives every 5 to 10 years. Current participants are in their 80s and 90s.

In 1968, Terman’s associate, Melita Oden compared the 100 most successful and 100 least successful men in the group, defining success as holding jobs that required their intellectual capability. For instance, those who were deemed successful were in professions such as medicine, while those deemed unsuccessful were in jobs such as sales clerk. She found that the IQs of the two groups were nearly identical; the difference being meaningless in any practical term. The big difference turned out to be in “will power, perseverance and desire to excel.” And these traits were discernible by grade school.

Traits Are Not Fixed and Effective Praise Can Build Traits for Success
So we see that IQ may be less important than personal traits, like persistence. But are not personal traits fixed? Aren’t children born with unique personalities, which may predispose them to persistence or resilience? Maybe, but there is some compelling science that says that traits can be instilled or, at least, strengthened.

A former Columbia University researcher, who is now currently at Stanford, psychologist Carol Dweck, conducted a series of landmark studies with her colleague, Claudia Mueller, in the late 1990s about praise and education outcomes. Their findings have been replicated and expanded by numerous studies since.

The findings repeatedly showed that praising intelligence or talent made children actually less persistent, less confident and less resilient. Because intelligence and talent are things they can’t control, every challenging situation they faced became a confrontation that could discredit their being labeled intelligent or talented.

But praising improvement and the process children engage in — like their effort, hard work, strategy or focus — led to greater persistence, greater resiliency and greater success. Dweck and her colleagues showed that the traits identified by Oden are not fixed, but can be instilled and strengthened.

Especially in children and teenagers, the brain and personality — and personal traits — are being found to be elastic, adaptable and capable of change. Both for the better or otherwise.

Praising correctly can improve traits linked with education and life success. It involves praising for things, processes, approaches and outcomes that children can control and replicate on their own. What the praise should do is concretely identify these for the child, because he or she may not be able to link the correct cause and effect; link their effort or focus to a successful outcome.

Praise can help them make that connection and associate positive emotional reinforcement with that cause-effect connection.

Better vs. Best
Telling children they are the best may make them think that ability at something is fixed and they may avoid situations that could disprove their status as the best. But telling children they have gotten better because of what they did or how they did it, lets them know that ability at something is not fixed; that it can improve and they have the power to make it happen.

The science is surprising yet compelling:
“That’s so much better!” may be far more effective than “You’re the best!”

Joel L. A. Peterson is the award-winning author of the critically acclaimed book, “Dreams of My Mothers” (Huff Publishing Associates, March, 2015).

“Compelling, candid, exceptionally well written, “Dreams Of My Mothers” is a powerful read that will linger in the mind and memory long after it is finished and set back upon the shelf. Very highly recommended.”



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The psychology industry in New York is not growing quite as quickly as most other states; however there are a lot of opportunities for a future psychologist. The New York Department of Labor estimates that psychologist jobs are expected to grow 4.6% through the year 2018. This creates openings in healthcare settings, research facilities, teaching facilities and more. Of course there is always the option of private practice for a psychologist as well.

A psychologist has the knowledge and experience to assess and diagnose mental illnesses that could be wreaking havoc on a person’s life. The psychologist can then help that individual create goals to overcome that illness, prescribe a treatment plan, and guide their client on the journey to illness management or recovery. This is a very serious responsibility to take on, so the state of New York wants to be sure licensed individuals are highly qualified to care for their patients, hence the strict requirements in place for future psychologists.

Education Requirements for Psychologist Licensing in New York

Those on the path to becoming a psychologist in the state of New York will need to obtain a doctoral degree in psychology from a program registered as “licensure qualifying” by the Department. The state also wants their psychologists to be able to identify child abuse and know the procedures for reporting it, so they’re required to complete training or coursework to satisfy the Child Abuse Identification Reporting requirement in the laws and statutes of New York. Research the various psychology degrees in New York.

new york

The exception to the doctoral degree requirement is only for those who plan to become school psychologists. These individuals must only earn a Master’s Degree in school psychology and then complete 2 years of supervised experiencing before going after their license.

Below is the complete educational path for the Psychologists:

Psychologist Educational Track
School Programs Average Education Length Choosing Online or Campus
1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree View Programs 4 Years Online or Campus
2. Earn A Master’s Degree View Programs 2 Additional Years Online or Campus
3. Earn a PHD or PsyD View Programs 2-4 Additional Years Online or Campus

There are different types of doctoral programs available in the state of New York, and depending upon which one you choose, you could spend 3 to 7 years earning your degree. Some of those programs will include hands-on experience like internships and supervised residencies, which can count as part of your supervised experience requirement.

Supervised Professional Experience Requirements for a Psychologist

While you’re earning your degree and for some time after, you will be gaining experience that is required in order to obtain your license. You must accumulate at least 2 years’ worth of experience, defined as 1750 clock hours per year. One of these years can be completed while you’re earning your degree, provided it is one of the following:

  • A university-approved doctoral level practicum, internship, field experience or applied research. The research must not be part of your dissertation or thesis requirement.
  • Teaching psychology as a university or college faculty member may also be excepted if it meets all the state requirements.

The additional year must be earned after you’ve earned your degree, and must meet all the requirements in Section 601-A of the Education Law of New York.

Note: To learn more about how to earn a psychology license in the state of New York, please visit the New York Office of the Professions.

Examinations for the Psychologist License in New York

The only test required in the state of New York to become a psychologist is the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP), administered by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards. This is the industry-standard test, and covers the following topics:

  • Biological Bases of Behavior – 12%
  • Cognitive-Effective Bases of Behavior – 13%
  • Social and Cultural Bases of Behavior – 12%
  • Growth and Lifespan Development – 12%
  • Assessment and Diagnosis – 14%
  • Treatment, Intervention, Prevention and Supervision – 14%
  • Research Methods and Statistics – 8%
  • Ethical/Legal/Professional Issues – 15%

Psychologist Career Outlook In New York

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there are about 10,170 clinical, counseling and school psychologists in the state of New York and that those psychologists earn an annual median wage of $84,090 per year. The annual median wage is at the center, meaning that half of psychologists in the state of New York earn more than that amount while the other half earn less. On a national level, the lowest ten percent of psychologists earned lower than $39,060 while the top ten percent earned an annual median wage in excess of $110,410.

The hidden science behind dating success: Psychologist reveals the simple seven-step guide to make sure he comes back for more

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You can only ever have one first date with Mr Right, so for singletons looking for love, it can come with huge pressure to make sure he doesn’t turn into Mr Wrong.

However, for those who think they are unlucky in love, it might just be down to making some basic dating mistakes, according to emotional intelligence expert, Madeleine Mason.

Madeleine tells daters to: 'Focus on the hand when you make a point of something, on the shoulder as you rise to go to the loo, on the knee as you laugh about something'

Don’t head to a bar or restaurant for a first meeting, don’t give him too much of your time, and be more interested than interesting, she advises.

In an exclusive interview with FEMAIL, Madeleine, who is the founder of dating service, says challenging the norm that playing hard to get is the way to make him want more should also be a no-go – as playing it cool can be detrimental to your chances of success.

The key to getting a man interested in a second date? ‘Light touch and lots of laughing,’ she advises.

Here Madeleine reveals the seven points behind getting any man to come back for more.  

1. Create a great first impression – before you even meet: ‘We make snapshot decisions about our partner within a few minutes of meeting them, which are difficult to change,’ says Madeleine, who advises creating that first impression before you even meet by calling your date to arrange your night out.

‘Be upbeat and excited on the phone but without sounding too keen,’ she says. ‘And smile while you talk, even if it’s only over the phone.’ Experts say you can ‘hear’ a smile, even if you can’t see it.

The psychology: ‘Human minds have a tendency to fill in the blanks,’ Madeleine says. So when we don’t have enough information about something we create a full picture with whatever is available.

‘By calling and taking the initiative, you come across as cool, charming and collected and the person will start to make other positive assumptions about you,’ she says.

Madeleine Mason says that having a coffee on a bench is a far better first date than a fancy night out

2. Meet for a cup of coffee on a park bench: ‘While you might want to impress your date with a hot outfit or lavish dinner, if it’s the first time you meet, keep it casual and matter of fact,’ says Madeleine, who says that having a coffee on a bench is a far better first date than a fancy night out.

The psychology: Making it casual indicates that you put value on the person and not the actual night out, Madeleine says. And by showing that you are not willing to give a total stranger more than 60 minutes of your time, Madeleine also says you are illustrating your own self-respect.

‘It’s good to show that they have to put in a little effort by being nice, fun or interesting in order to get more of your time,’ she says.

3. Be interested more than interesting: ‘Ask questions of your date that demonstrate you are interested in who they are as a person,’ Madeleine says. ‘Find out about their interests, passions, hobbies, how they take their tea, how they grew up and their favourite memories.’

Not only will your interest be appreciated by your date, you will also gather information that helps you decide whether you can see yourself together romantically.

Madeleine also advises making the questions quirky. She advises asking: What is your favourite childhood cartoon character and why? If you were to be turned into an animal, what would you choose? ‘Dating is meant to be fun,’ Madeleine says. ‘So you can let go with your questioning.’

The psychology: ‘The talker – your date – will have a positive association to the listener – you – and will feel like they have had a good time,’ Madeleine says. ‘Humans are ultimately ego-centric and love nothing more than talking about themselves. There is nothing more attractive than having someone listen to you uninterrupted and un-judged.’

4. Make yourself laugh: ‘If you are bored, your date will be too,’ Madeleine says. ‘Make sure you have a good time and bring out your inner child if you need to. Dare to be different. Dare to have fun.’

The psychology: In short, emotions are contagious. ‘If you are having fun, laughing or smiling, your date will be influenced by this and end up thinking they had a good time,’ she says. ‘Although make sure you are not laughing at your date’s expense.’

5. Be vulnerable: Share something intimate about yourself, not too deep, but something that shows you have a fear or concern, Madeleine advises.

You can even tell your date that you fancy them, which also leaves you slightly vulnerable. ‘But say it without expecting an answer,’ she adds.

The psychology: ‘The more vulnerable you can be, the more you open you will be, and your date will feel safe to open up also,’ Madeleine says.

‘This creates a psychological space where you begin to feel a bond forming – the beginnings of a deeper connection.’

If there seems to be an element of trust between you are more likely to both feel inclined to go on a second date.

6. Touch your date – ever so softly: During the meeting, touch your date but keep it subtle. ‘Focus on the hand when you make a point of something, on the shoulder as you rise to go to the loo, on the knee as you laugh about something,’ Madeleine says.

The psychology: ‘Light touch can be a powerful aphrodisiac,’ Madeleine says. ‘When we get touched, we get a dose of oxytocin, a hormone that makes us feel good.’

‘When we feel good, we are likely to attribute it to the person we are with. We will want more of that and say yes to a second date.’

7. Playing hard to get is old news: If you get a text, answer within 12 hours. If you are interested, act interested. Be nice. Demonstrate you are fun to be with.

The psychology: According to research, one of the most desirable characteristics people look for in a partner is kindness.

‘If you demonstrate this, you become more desirable in your date’s eyes,’ Madeleine says. ‘But note this is not the same as being a pushover, who says yes to everything or have no opinions.’