How do you know when therapy is effective?

We know that talk therapy can be highly effective and life-changing for people grappling with mental health concerns. But for providers and clients alike, there remains a critical question that still sparks much debate: How do you know when therapy is effective? It turns out the answer isn’t always intuitive. We could all use some…

Getting Better Sleep

Your boss gives you a last-minute project, and you have to work into the evening to get it done. You get to bed later than usual but have difficulty falling asleep because your mind won’t let the project go. You toss and turn until you finally fall asleep. Then, because you’re extra tired the next…

Mindfulness: try less, experience more

I first learned about mindfulness in graduate school. One of my professors led a course, and as a stressed-out student it sounded like the perfect escape. I remember feeling excited to finally find a bit of mental bliss and quiet. Instead, I found myself impatiently waiting for everlasting peace, tranquility, and enlightenment. It almost never…

Learning to fly: breaking free from avoidance with values-based exposure

Ten years ago I developed a fear of flying, and when I think back, it was like being in a sitcom. I’m walking down the jetway, feeling a little light-headed, my heart already racing. As I board, I notice that one of the plane doors looks a little rusty. I think, this must be an…

Finding and keeping the motivation to change

One of life’s greatest challenges is getting and staying motivated. Perhaps you want to exercise on a regular basis, eat healthier, make a doctor appointment you’ve been putting off, get to bed earlier, or spend more quality time with your family. Even when you know you want to make such a change, time can slip…

Sharing responsibilities: is there an equitable solution?

When we begin a new romantic relationship, the electricity, magic, and euphoria can lead us to make decisions quickly – meet the parents, move in together, get a pet, have children, buy a house, and so on. We rarely take an objective look at our partner’s personality patterns, how they manage stress, how they handle…

Battling burnout with purpose and meaning

When my kids were toddlers, my husband and I had a complex division of labor. We both worked full-time and, as is often the case for working parents of little ones, there was always way more that needed to be done than we had time for. It felt like we were constantly in motion trying…

Does practice make perfect? On music and mental health

Sometimes we think of psychological difficulties like anxiety, or depression, or anger, more like traits, or something inside us – and that living well means getting rid of this flawed broken piece of us. But what if we approached psychological well-being as something that we can work towards, one small act at a time, over a period of time, across different situations, with different people? What if we practiced well-being?

Gently challenging your thinking traps

It turns out there is a stepwise method for addressing thinking traps that gives us a little freedom from their tyranny. It’s called reappraisal. Reappraisal means slowing down, looking at what’s going on in your mind, and evaluating your thoughts. It’s especially helpful when you’re having a strong emotional response. It’s a skill you can easily learn, and though it seems pretty basic, following the steps can help reduce the intensity of a painful emotion and lead to more effective actions.

Making your personal mission statement

Your company has a mission statement. Why not you? It’s not about goals, outcomes, or profits. It’s about who you want to be and how you want to act in every moment of your life. In essence, a personal mission statement is about your values. They are your inner compass. When things get hard, we tend to lose sight of what’s important. Our actions can be driven by our immediate reactions (e.g., irritability) or old habits (e.g., procrastinating). Values serve as a guide to help us know what to do and how to be.