Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Clinical Health Psychology, Health and Prevention In Aging, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Intervention: Children Adolescents, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Legal Ethical Issues, Prevention, Psychological Disorders, Psychological Intervention, Treatment of Psychological Disorders, Uncategorized.

Description: So how do psychologists feel about the issues raised in the Globe and Mail’s Open Minds series on the state of mental health treatment in Canada? Read this Ontario Psychological Association (OPA) Facebook page post to see their specific response to an Op Ed (opinion/editorial) column by Andre Picard a Globe and Mail health reporter who contributed to the series. Have you seen or heard any other responses? Have you heard or become involved in or started any discussions on the issues raised in the series?

Sources: Ontario Psychological Association (OPA) Facebook page comment on the Globe and Mail’s Open Minds series (Andre Picard’s Op Ed piece)

Date: Released June 5, 2015

Andre Picard

Photo Source: Photo of Andre Picard, Globe and Mail Health Reporter


Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is OPA’s position on Andre Picard’s Op Ed column?
  2. Review the comments that follow the OPA piece and comment of their general tone and on what position the OPA members seem to hold?
  3. Search and see if you can find any government responses wither to the OPA position or to the Globe and Mail’s Open Minds series (see earlier blog on this series on this site for links to all the articles in the series).

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Aging Psychological Disorders, Assessment: Clinical Decision Making, Clinical Health Psychology, Health Psychology, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Intervention: Children Adolescents, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Legal Ethical Issues, Prevention, Psychological Disorders, Psychological Intervention, Treatment of Psychological Disorders, Uncategorized.

Description: The Globe and Mail has produced a series of articles on the current state of mental health treatment in Canada. It does not so much focus on the quality of the treatment options available (they are pretty good) but rather on the general availability (or lack thereof) of such services. You can think of the central issue this way. Let’s say you (are given a diagnosis for a disease that is progressive but potentially treatable (cancer, pneumonia, a broken leg) and you are told that you might be able to start receiving treatment for it quickly but you might have to wait 6 months to a year for treatment or you could pay up front for your treatment and maybe get some or all of your costs back or maybe not. How would that feel given what we hope to be able to expect from the Canadian health care system? Well effective treatments exist for many mental health issues and disorders and the treatment work better if they are applied earlier and in a level or dosage that is appropriate for the issue or disorder. However, psychological or psychiatric treatment services are not routinely considered to be the same as “medical” services and so either there are VERY long wait-lists or they are only covered, or only partly covered, by third party health insurance plans (like Blue Cross) and that coverage varies from comprehensive to limited to non-existent and is usually only held by people as part of their work benefits plans.

Pick and article or two and get a feel for the short and long term implications of re-thinking how we think (and how we fund) psychological therapies, or read them all and get a larger scale view of this issue.

Source: Globe and Mail: Open Minds Series

Date: May 22 to June 1, 2015

Canadian mental Health

Photo Credit: Globe and Mail;

Links: See each with article list below:

OPEN MINDS: Better Mental Health Care

A Globe and Mail Series (May and June 2015)

May 22, 2015 The Case for Publicly Funded Therapy

May 24, 2015 The Difficulty of Getting a Definitive Mental Health Diagnosis

May 24 For Kids In Need Of Mental-Health Care, Too Often We Offer Drugs, Not Help

This is part of a series about improving research, diagnosis and treatment. Join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #OpenMinds

May 24, 2015 To Improve Mental Health, Tackle Problems Early

May 24, 2015 The Cluster Effect: Is Self-Harming Contagious

May 24, 2015 The Tricky Issue of Consent in Adolescent Mental Health Care

May 25, 2015 Look Long-Term When Assessing The Costs Of Psychotherapy

May 25, 2015 Unleashing the Power of Technology to Deliver Psychotherapy

May 26, 2015 Andre Picard Psychotherapy: A Better Funding Model Must be Found

May 26, 2015 How Bias in Mental health Care Hurts Women, from the Lab to the Medicine Cabinet

May 27, 2015 Can your Diet Shape your Mental Health?

May 27, 2015 Inside the world’s best mental-health program to keep homeless people off the street

May 27, 2015 Workplaces have Responsibility to Promote Mental Well-Being of Employees

May 28, 2015 Niall McGee didn’t believe in depression – until cancer medication put him in a suicidal spiral

May 29, 2015 Mental Illness Meets Big Data: A Predictions Opportunity

May 29, 2015 Why Business Leaders Profit from Mental Health Literacy

May 29, 2015 In Pursuit of Mental Health’s Holy Grail

May 30, 2015 This week’s Talking Point – building a better mental health care system. Plus letters to the editor

June 1, 2015 How to Fix Canada’s Mental Health System

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Is there anything wrong with Canada’s Mental Health Treatment system?
  2. What might we do differently?
  3. What are the short and long term considerations of changing and not changing the Canadian Mental Health Treatment system?

References (Read Further):

Hodges, C. A., O’Brien, M. S., & McGorry, P. D. (2007). Headspace: National Youth Mental Health Foundation: Making headway with rural young people and their mental health. Australian journal of rural health, 15(2), 77-80

Access Canada: The Douglas Institute at the heart of the future in youth care

Headspace: Natioanl Youth Mental Health Foundation: Australia

Posted by & filed under Sensation-Perception, Sensory-Perceptual Development, Uncategorized.

Description: You have probable seen many visual illusions but have you taken the time to see what people have to say about how or why they work? Understanding illusions can provide insight into how our sensory (visual) system works. Have a look at one or two of the sites linked below and pay attention not just to the illusions but to the explanations.

Source: Various – see links below

Star Wars Scroll Illusion

Date: May 15, 2015

Photo Credit:

Links: Article Link —

So you have probably seen a lot of visual illusions. They pop up on websites all the time and they are discussed in Introductory and Sensation and Perception Psychology texts and classes. But do you know how they work? Understanding an illusion provides insight into how our visual/sensory system works, how we process visual information and how we perceive stability and change in the visual environment. Have a look, speculate as to how each illusion might work and then read what the site suggests as an explanation.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Pick two illusions and summarize the explanations for why/how they work, linking them back to your course or text if it contains a section on Sensation and Perception.
  2. Do we expect to find individual differences in how people perceive illusions? Why or why not?
  3. Are there any illusions that have effects that vary with the age of the perceiver?

References (Read Further):

This site: provides references to journal articles discussing the illusions they show.

Posted by & filed under Adult Development and Aging, Basic Cognitive Functions In Aging: Information Processing Attention Memory, Development of the Self, Health Psychology, Successful Aging, Uncategorized, Work Retirement Leisure Patterns.

Description: Have you heard anyone say that it is how old they feel that matters not how old they are? Well while you might have thought that was just wishful thinking on the part of an older person this study suggests that it also impact work performance and satisfaction and a company’s bottom line.

Source: British Psychological Society Research Digest: Companies are more successful when their employees feel young for their age (Alex Fradera)

Date: May 15, 2015

Employee Age

Photo Credit: British Psychological Society

Links: Article Link —

Past research has shown that younger employees are more likely than older employees to make significant contributions to their companies. This study, however, suggests a re-think of that finding. They asked employees how old they felt and it turns out their performance within their companies was more strongly liked to how old they felt rather than how old they actually were. “Young at heart” employees performed as well as chronologically younger employees suggesting that age related performance on the job is related to subjective rather than chronological age among older employees. Given that the proportion of the workforce that is “older” is increasing companies could do well to pay attention to the suggestions provided by the study authors about how to manage their employees subjective age (assuming, of course, that the re4sults of this study are supported by additional research as single studies are usually not sufficient grounds for changing corporate or government policy).

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Describe the subjective age effect found in this study. Why might it work the way it seems to?
  2. What might companies do to help their older employees become more effective?
  3. What might individual employees do as they age to maintain their work performance?

References (Read Further):

Kunze, F., Raes, A., & Bruch, H. (2015). It Matters How Old You Feel: Antecedents and Performance Consequences of Average Relative Subjective Age in Organizations. Journal of Applied Psychology DOI: 10.1037/a0038909

McEvoy, G. M., & Cascio, W. F. (1989). Cumulative evidence of the relationship between employee age and job performance. Journal of applied psychology, 74(1), 11.

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Chronic Illness, Clinical Health Psychology, Consciousness, Health and Prevention In Aging, Health Psychology, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Intervention: Children Adolescents, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Managing Pain, Pain-General, Psychological Intervention, Social Psychology, Treatment of Psychological Disorders, Uncategorized.

Description: We may assume that physical symptoms need to be treated with medication but we also know that disorders like depression are very treatable with forms of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. The conditions discussed in this article all show signs of positive change when treated with one or another form of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Of course our brains are involved in all of them but the treatment results may surprise you.

Source: Scientific American: 6 Syndromes with Surprising Psychotherapy Solutions

Date: April 9, 2015

Surprising Psychotherapy

Photo Credit: Scientific American

Links: Article Link —

So what sorts of disorders are treatable (or at least positively influenced by) forms of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)? Well how about headaches, insomnia, Fibromyalgia, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Female Sexual Dysfunction, and Infertility. The links between stress, tension and other physical issues are beginning to be better understood and are leading to a broader array of treatments or combinations of treatments.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How is the effectiveness of CBT assessed in the studies discussed in the article (if you cannot find the study you would like to review search for a similar one)?
  2. Are these effects simply due to the management of stress or is there more going on?
  3. Are there other disorders or conditions or problems that may be amenable to CBT treatment?

References (Read Further):

Rodriguez, Torsi and Stern, Victoria (2015) Six syndromes with surprising psychotherapy solutions Scientific American Mind; May/Jun2015, Vol. 26 Issue 3, p13-13, 1p

Day, M.A. et al (2014) Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy for the Treatment of Headache Pain: A pilot Study. The clinical journal of pain, 30(2), 152-161.

Mitchell, M. D., Gehrman, P., Perlis, M., & Umscheid, C. A. (2012). Comparative effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia: a systematic review. BMC family practice, 13(1), 40.

Posted by & filed under Neuroscience, Nutrition Weight Management, Physiology, Sensation-Perception, Sensory-Perceptual Development, Uncategorized.

Description: So how does airplane food taste? Yes, well now for a more important question: IS the fact that airplane food does not taste as good as we might hope due entirely to the food we are served (when we are lucky to get anything at all on a plane)? According to research discussed in this article it’s not all the fault of the food.

Source: BBC Future: Why does food taste different on planes?

Date: January 15, 2015

Airline Food

Photo Credit: Getty Images–

Links: Article Link —

Related Video link —

So food is just food and taste is just taste? Well maybe not. It seems that our sensory perceptions of food vary depending upon where we are and the nature of our surrounding environment when we eat it. Being at altitude on a plane with the dry air, the sounds of the engines, and the lower air pressure may actually affect our taste receptors (for swee5t and salt but not for umami). So have a look at the article and see what affects air travel has on our food tastes.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What sorts of things related to air travel affect our taste receptors and what are the changes?
  2. What effects on taste have been demonstrated on the ground in Psychology labs?
  3. Are there things airlines could do to offset the potentially negative effects of air flight on our taste buds?

References (Read Further):

Woods, A.T. et al (2011) Effect of background noise on food perception. Food Quality and Preference, 22(1), 42-47.

Charles Spence, University of Oxford:

Posted by & filed under Attitude Formation Change, Clinical Health Psychology, Group Processes, Motivation-Emotion, Persuasion, Social Influence, Social Perception, Social Psychology, Stress: Coping Reducing, Uncategorized.

Description: Natural disasters such as the 7.8 earthquake in Nepal recently are devastating; producing pain, hardship and a great deal of stress. This is, of course, most true for Nepalese people at home or abroad, worrying about friends and relatives but also for others hearing about, seeing the effects of, thinking about and empathically resonating with the people in and around Kathmandu. A psychologist, Sandra Wartski reflects on all of these in a blog post about the event and her relationship to and feeling about the earthquake and its aftermath.

Source: Nepal’s earthquake: reflections, resources and resilience – Your Mind Your Body – Sandra Wartski

Date: May 5, 2015


Photo Credit:


The stress and strains that follow as a result of a natural disaster such as a major earthquake are immense. Their effects are felt not just by the local survivors but also by others who hear about and empathically resonate with the ordeal of those close to the epicenter of the quake. In her blog, psychologist Sandra Wartski provides links to a number of good resources for thinking about our own and others thoughts and feeling when reflecting on such natural disasters – from managing your own feelings to understanding how others may react and how to talk with children about such world events Dr. Wartski gives us a lot to think about.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How might people here in North American (or anyone outside of Nepal) be effected by the earthquake (and its consequences) in Nepal?
  2. What can people do if they are finding themselves overwhelmed ort immobilized by news and related coverage of natural disasters such as the earthquake in Nepal?
  3. What should parents do in relation to their children’s exposure to or questions arising from media coverage of natural disasters or other world events like the earthquake in Nepal?

References (Read Further):

The National Child Trauma Stress Network, Tips for Parents on Media Coverage of the Earthquake,

The National Child Trauma Stress Network, Parent Guidelines for Helping Children after an Earthquake,

American Psychological Association, Managing your distress about the earthquake from afar –

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Anxiety OC PTSD, Clinical Psychology, Health and Prevention In Aging, Health Psychology, Intervention: Adults-Couples, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, Psychological Disorders, Psychological Health, Treatment of Psychological Disorders, Uncategorized.

Description: Can communication mediums such as text messaging be used to increase the effectiveness of treatments for disorders like depression? This article and other sources linked below describes studies that suggest that this may be true.

Source: The ShrinkRap: Can your I-Phone prevent a relapse of depression?

Date: April 28, 2015

CBT to go

Photo Credit: iSTock Photo:


An important (the central) part of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy involves working with people to help them change their thoughts or self-statements and to move them in more positive directions; challenging their self-defeating beliefs and thought processes. Text messages, short though they may be, can provide specific thoughts and encouragements that people can use during or after their more traditional face-to-face therapeutic encounters to sustain or bolster their changing thought/belief patterns. Sounds good? Well it may well be but, of course, we need to see some data from well-designed studies supporting their effectiveness. The study linked above and other studies cited below or linked through the second linked article above suggest there may be support for such claims.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How might text messaging be used as part of (or as a follow-up to) a Cognitive Behavioural Treatment approach to depression?
  2. If such approaches are effective why might it be that they work (what do they add to the therapeutic relationship?
  3. Are there any ethical issues that may arise if text messaging is used as part of or even as the only means of intervention with depressed individuals (or with other mental health issues)?

References (Read Further):

Kok, G., Burger, H., Riper, H., Cuijpers, P., Dekker, J., van Marwijk, H., & Bockting, C. L. (2015). The Three-Month Effect of Mobile Internet-Based Cognitive Therapy on the Course of Depressive Symptoms in Remitted Recurrently Depressed Patients: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial. Psychotherapy and psychosomatics, 84(2), 90-99.

Joo, N. S., & Kim, B. T. (2007). Mobile phone short message service messaging for behaviour modification in a community-based weight control programme in Korea. Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, 13(8), 416-420.

Watts, S., Mackenzie, A., Thomas, C., Griskaitis, A., Mewton, L., Williams, A., & Andrews, G. (2013). CBT for depression: a pilot RCT comparing mobile phone vs. computer. BMC psychiatry, 13(1), 49.

Aguilera, Adrian Text messaging as an adjunct to CBT in low-income populations: A usability and feasibility pilot study,

Boschen, M. J., & Casey, L. M. (2008). The use of mobile telephones as adjuncts to cognitive behavioral psychotherapy. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 39(5), 546.

Posted by & filed under Child Development, Consciousness, Disorders of Childhood, Intervention: Children Adolescents, Intervention: Children and Adolescents, Uncategorized.

Description: There may be a reciprocal relationship between sleep disorders in toddlers and psychological problems both concurrently and in the future. The research discussed in this article suggests that causality may go both ways with sleep issues giving rise to psychological problems and vice verse. The relationship is likely complex and other factors may be involved in causing both of these conditions. Sorting them out and designing appropriate developmental intervention strategies are very important.

Source: The ShrinkRap: Children’s sleep and Mental Health are Related

Date: May 7, 2015

Toddlers sleep and mental health

Photo Credit: The ShrinkRap


Parents will tell you that a sleepless night caused by a sleepless child is nerve racking. Somewhere in the neighbourhood of 20 to 40% of young children have some difficulties sleeping but the questions of how many of them may have some form of sleep disorder and how many of them either have co-occurring mental health issues or may go on to develop mental health issues is very difficult to address. The researchers who conducted the study discussed in this article started with 1000 4 year olds and followed them up after 2 years (gathering additional data for 800 of the original sample). The researchers conducted detailed diagnostic interviews with the children’s parents (rather than just sending them questionnaires) and as such were confident they gathered clearer data about children’s sleep issues and related mental health problems.

Insomnia in 4-year-olds was related to increases in the risk for symptoms of anxiety, depression, ADHD and behavioural problems when they were six years old. But as well, children who show symptoms of anxiety, depression, ADHD and behavioural disturbances as four-year-olds have a greater risk of developing insomnia as six-year-olds. While not clear on whether there is a typical pattern of causation in these areas the authors of the research article suggest that early treatment of both sleep issues and mental health matters will reduce the number and seriousness of later developmental outcomes for preschoolers.
Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is the relationship (are the relationships) between sleep issues and psychological problems among preschoolers?
  2. What does this study suggest that parents and child psychologists ought to do with regards to both of these issues?
  3. What sorts of study or studies should be done next to make the relationship(s) between these issues and related issues and problems clearer?

References (Read Further):

Steinsbekk, S., & Wichstrøm, L. (2015). Stability of Sleep Disorders From Preschool to First Grade and Their Bidirectional Relationship with Psychiatric Symptoms. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 36(4), 243-251.

Posted by & filed under Genetics: The Biological Context of Development, Legal Ethical Issues, Neuroscience, Uncategorized.

Description: This podcast looks at the ethical issues arising from a Chinese research study that involved manipulating the DNA of human embryos. As our research techniques in this area improve ethical issues such as this will become more and more prominent.

Source: CBC Radio: The Current – Study “Editing” Human DNA Divides Scientists

Date: May 8, 2015

editing human dna the current may 8 2015

Photo Credit: CBC Radio: The Current – Website:

Podcast Link:

Article Link:

Typically when we talk about the Nature side of the Nature/Nurture issue in Psychology we assume that the Nature side is fixed post conception and that it is the Nurture side where we have whatever opportunities as might be available for intervention. A Chinese study recently described an effort to change the human germ line by trying to influence the expression of a particular gene within a number of human embryos. There are a large number of ethical issues that arise from consideration of this sort of intervention. The podcast addresses questions like, should we be doing this sort of thing at all (working on techniques for producing GMO humans), if so should we have limits on what can be done, and should we consider differences between fixing “simple” single gene issues and perhaps “enhancing” embryos prior to implantation.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are the potential benefits of the sort of genetic manipulation described in the Chinese research article in question? What are the potential costs (undesirable consequences)? What is the “yuck factor”?
  2. What sorts of regulations (if any) might we consider for this type of research?
  3. Several scientific journals have stated that they would not publish such research. What are some of the arguments for and against that position?

References (Read Further):

Liang, P. et al. (2015) CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene editing in human cells Protein Cell .

Lanphier, E. et al. (2015) Don’t edit the human germ line, Nature 519, 410–411.

Baltimore, D. et al. (2015) A prudent path forward for genomic engineering and germline gene modification Science 348, 36–38.