Overcoming the Stigma of Mental Illness

Overcoming the Stigma of Mental Illness

According to a report published in the Psychological Science in the Public Interest, despite the availability of effective evidence-based treatment, about 40 percent of individuals with serious mental illness do not receive care, and many who begin an intervention do not complete it (Corrigan et al., 2015).

“The prejudice and discrimination of mental illness is as disabling as the illness itself. It undermines people attaining their personal goals and dissuades them from pursuing effective treatments,” explains Patrick W. Corrigan of the Illinois Institute of Technology (Corrigan, 2015).

Stigma, notes Corrigan, is seen not just in the attitudes we hold toward those with mental illness, but also in the policies that affect them – from poor funding for research and services compared to other illnesses to “widespread, inaccurate, and sensational media depictions that link mental illness with violence” (Corrigan, 2015).

Public stigma, as witnessed in the pervasive stereotypes we hold toward those with mental illness, causes them to drop out of treatment early or avoid it entirely for fear of being categorized as violent, unpredictable, or dangerous.

Stigma also influences the structures designed to offer care to the mentally ill. The fact that mental health is not covered by insurance to the same extent as medical care, and the fact that mental illness research is not funded at the same levels as medial research are just two examples, notes Corrigan (Corrigan, 2015).

What Corrigan’s report advocates for is that we approach mental illness differently. By addressing stigma through showing another face of mental illness – the personal stories of recovery, hope, and humanity of those with mental illness – we take a step toward overcoming the most insidious – and often overlooked – barrier to care.

In time, Corrigan hopes, stigma will also be addressed on a larger level – through enhanced support systems, public policy, and actual systems of care – and will no longer be a reason that those who need mental health care will avoid it.

Related Online Continuing Education (CE) Course:

stigma of mental illnessOvercoming the Stigma of Mental Illness is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that explores the stigmas around mental illness and provides effective strategies to overcome them.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines mental illness stigma as “a range of negative attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors about mental and substance use disorders.” Mental health and substance use disorders are prevalent and among the most highly stigmatized health conditions in the United States, and they remain barriers to full participation in society in areas as basic as education, housing, and employment.

This course will explore the stigmas surrounding mental illness and provide effective strategies clinicians can use to create a therapeutic environment where clients can evaluate their attitudes, beliefs, and fears about mental illness, and ultimately find ways to overcome them. We will explore the ways in which mental illness stigmas shape our beliefs, decisions, and lives. We will then look at specific stigmas about mental illness, from the fear of being seen as crazy to the fear of losing cognitive function and the ways in which we seek to avoid these fears. We will then look at targeted strategies that, you, the clinician, can use to create a therapeutic alliance where change and healing can overcome the client’s fears. Lastly, we will look at the specific exercises you can use in session with your clients to help them address and overcome their biases and stigmas about mental illness. Course #21-24 | 2018 | 35 pages | 15 posttest questions

Course Directions

Our online courses provide instant access to the course materials and CE test. Successful completion of the online CE test (80% required to pass, 3 chances to take) and course evaluation are required to earn a certificate of completion. Click here to learn more. Have a question? Contact us. We’re here to help!

Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. We are approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners; and are CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

Target Audience: PsychologistsCounselorsSocial WorkersMarriage & Family Therapist (MFTs)Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs)Occupational Therapists (OTs)Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs)School Psychologists, and Teachers

Earn CE Wherever YOU Love to Be!

Healthy Living Improves Executive Function

Healthy Living Improves Executive Function

Living a healthy lifestyle will likely help you live longer. But new research suggests living a healthier lifestyle could also increase executive function, which is the ability to exert self-control, set and meet goals, resist temptation, and solve problems.

If you stop and think about it, it makes sense. Resisting donuts and opting for kale, after all, takes a fair amount of self-control – as does getting up early to exercise.

Over time, suggests researchers, these behaviors reinforce one another in a sort of positive feedback loop.

Using data collected from 4,555 adults through the English Longitudinal Study of Aging, researchers analyzed the relationship between physical activity and executive function, adjusting for other variables such as age, gender, education, wealth and illness, and found evidence that the relationship between the two is bidirectional (Allan et al., 2016).

Specifically, individuals with poor executive function showed subsequent decreases in their rates of participation in physical activity and older adults who engaged in sports and other physical activities tended to retain high levels of executive function over time (Allen et al., 2016).

While this study focused on physical activity and its relationship to executive function, the researchers noted that a positive feedback loop between executive function and eating nutritious foods is quite plausible. Similarly, it is likely that negative feedback loops also exist, where unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking or drinking too much alcohol will be both a result of and a predictor of declining executive function (Allan et al., 2016).

This might help explain why executive function typically declines with age, as older people may become more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors like remaining sedentary and less likely to maintain healthy but effortful behaviors like taking prescribed medication regularly.

The up side, however, is that the longer one can maintain high executive function, the longer and more easily that person can stave off behavior that will be detrimental to their health. Dr. Julia Allan explains, “People who make a change to their health behavior, like participating in physical activity, eating less processed food, or consuming more fruits and vegetables, can see an improvement in their brain function over time and increase their chances of remaining healthy as they age” (Allan, 2016).

With the world’s population of elderly folks to hit 1.5 billion by 2050, the connection between executive function – and specifically how it is mediated by and helps to mediate our health – could have major implications.

Related Online Continuing Education (CE) Courses:

Executive Functioning in AdultsExecutive Functioning in Adults is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that provides strategies to help adults overcome executive functioning deficits.

As human beings, we have a built-in capacity to accomplish goals and meet challenges through the use of high-level cognitive functions called “executive functioning” skills. These are the skills that help us to decide which activities and tasks we will pay attention to and which ones we will choose to ignore or postpone.

Executive skills allow us to organize our thinking and behavior over extended periods of time and override immediate demands in favor of longer-term goals. These skills are critical in planning and organizing activities, sustaining attention, and persisting until a task is completed. Individuals who do not have well developed executive functioning skills tend to have difficulty starting and attending to tasks, redirecting themselves when a plan is not working, and exercising emotional control and flexibility. This course offers a wide variety of strategies to help adults overcome such difficulties and function more effectively. Course #31-08 | 2018 | 61 pages | 20 posttest questions

Executive Functioning: Teaching Children Organizational SkillsExecutive Functioning: Teaching Children Organizational Skills is a 4-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that will enumerate and illustrate multiple strategies and tools for helping children overcome executive functioning deficits and improve their self-esteem and organizational abilities.

Executive functioning skills represent a key set of mental assets that help connect past experience with present action. They are fundamental to performing activities such as planning, organizing, strategizing, paying attention to and remembering details, and managing time and space. Conversely, executive functioning deficits can significantly disrupt an individual’s ability to perform even simple tasks effectively. Although children with executive functioning difficulties may be at a disadvantage at home and at school, adults can employ many different strategies to help them succeed. Included are techniques for planning and prioritizing, managing emotions, improving communication, developing stress tolerance, building time management skills, increasing sustained attention, and boosting working memory. Course #40-42 | 2017 | 76 pages | 25 posttest questions

Alzheimer’s Disease: A Practical GuideAlzheimer’s Disease: A Practical Guide is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that offers healthcare professionals a basic foundation in Alzheimer’s disease prevention, diagnosis, and risk management.

This course will present practical information to aid healthcare professionals as they interact with clients who are diagnosed with any of the many types of dementia. We will review what is normal in the aging process, and what is not; diagnostic criteria for Alzheimer’s disease; testing cognition and gene testing; risk factors; and clinical research. We will then discuss the struggle caregivers face and provide strategies for how best to support them.

The next section will provide practical guidance for caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease, including daily care activities, keeping the person safe, and unwanted behaviors. Next we will review prevention and compensation strategies to help people protect their cognitive health as they age, including modifiable risk factors that have the potential to reduce the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease. A final section on protecting our elders from scams and how to find reputable resources for information is included. Course #31-12 | 2018 | 56 pages | 20 posttest questions

Course Directions

Our online courses provide instant access to the course materials and CE test. Successful completion of the online CE test (80% required to pass, 3 chances to take) and course evaluation are required to earn a certificate of completion. Click here to learn more. Have a question? Contact us. We’re here to help!

Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. We are approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners; and are CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

Target Audience: PsychologistsCounselorsSocial WorkersMarriage & Family Therapist (MFTs)Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs)Occupational Therapists (OTs)Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs)School Psychologists, and Teachers

Earn CE Wherever YOU Love to Be!

How to Get Kids Talking

How to Get Kids TalkingThe competent use of language can increase young clients’ self-esteem, motivate them to learn, engage their willing cooperation, defuse power struggles, and teach conflict resolution skills, but the question is: How do we get kids talking?

One suggestion is to use their own language.

Conducting experiments to explore the language gap between rich and poor children that emerges during infancy, Anne Fernald, a psychology professor at Stanford University, identified one likely cause: infants who heard more child-directed speech developed greater efficiency in language processing and learned new words more quickly (Fernald et al., 2015).

Using special technology to make all-day recordings of low-SES Spanish-learning children in their home environments, Fernald and her colleagues found that exposure to child-directed speech – as opposed to overheard speech – sharpened infants’ language processing skills, with cascading benefits for vocabulary learning (Fernald et al., 2015).

Fernald’s work has led to the creation of a parent-education intervention study with low-income Spanish-speaking mothers in East San Jose, California, funded by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. This new program, called ¡Habla conmigo! (Talk with Me!), teaches Latina mothers how they can support their infants’ early brain development and helps them learn new strategies for engaging verbally with their children. Although they only have data from 32 families so far, the preliminary results are promising. Mothers in the ¡Habla conmigo! program are communicating more and using higher quality language with their 18-month-olds compared to mothers in a control group (Fernald et al., 2015).

“What’s most exciting,” said Fernald, “is that by 24 months the children of more engaged moms are developing bigger vocabularies and processing spoken language more efficiently. Our goal is to help parents understand that by starting in infancy, they can play a role in changing their children’s life trajectories” (Fernald, 2015).

Related Online Continuing Education (CE) Courses:

Improving Communication with Your Young ClientsImproving Communication with Your Young Clients is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that teaches communication skills for use with young clients and their families.

Healthy professional and personal relationships rely heavily on effective and respectful communication skills. Professionals can benefit from enhancing their repertoire of communication techniques to improve the quality of relationships with families and children who have communication skills deficits. The competent use of language can increase young clients’ self-esteem, motivate them to learn, engage their willing cooperation, defuse power struggles, and teach conflict resolution skills.

The purpose of this course is to teach clinicians effective and practical communication and conversational skills to use in the classroom and in one-on-one situations with young clients and their families. Using these strategies, participants will be better prepared to manage difficult situations and conversations. Course #31-06 | 2018 | 59 pages | 20 posttest questions

Improving Social Skills in Children & AdolescentsImproving Social Skills in Children & Adolescents is a 4-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that discusses the social skills children and adolescents will need to develop to be successful in school and beyond. It will demonstrate the challenges and difficulties that arise from a deficit of these crucial skills, as well as the benefits and advantages that can come about with well-developed social skills.

This course will also provide practical tools that teachers and therapists can employ to guide children to overcome their difficulties in the social realm and gain social competence. While there are hundreds of important social skills for students to learn, we can organize them into skill areas to make it easier to identify and determine appropriate interventions. This course is divided into 10 chapters, each detailing various aspects of social skills that children, teens, and adults must master to have normative, healthy relationships with the people they encounter every day. This course provides tools and suggestions that, with practice and support, can assist them in managing their social skills deficits to function in society and nurture relationships with the peers and adults in their lives. Course #40-40 | 2016 | 62 pages | 35 posttest questions

Supportive Communication for the Child with Special NeedsSupportive Communication for the Child with Special Needs is a 1-hour audio continuing education (CE/CEU) course that provides practical tips for helping parents to communicate with their child who has special needs.

Parenting a child with special needs comes with many challenges. Parents are often under pressure, not knowing what to expect or how to react and manage the behaviors their child may present. Children who have supportive and caring parents who understand their needs generally experience better outcomes, both in school and in general. In their desire to help, parents frequently look to their child’s school-based professionals for ideas on how to communicate and connect with their child. It is imperative that speech-language pathologists and other helping professionals like counselors and occupational therapists have practical ideas and skills in order to help parents do this. This course will discuss multiple practical ways to help parents communicate and connect with their child who has special needs, thereby gaining the competence they need to improve their child’s chances for success. A course handout with slides that flow with the audio file is included. Course #11-15 | 2018 | 58 minute audio | 10 posttest questions

Course Directions

Our online courses provide instant access to the course materials and CE test. Successful completion of the online CE test (80% required to pass, 3 chances to take) and course evaluation are required to earn a certificate of completion. Click here to learn more. Have a question? Contact us. We’re here to help!

Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. We are approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners; and are CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

Target Audience: PsychologistsCounselorsSocial WorkersMarriage & Family Therapist (MFTs)Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs)Occupational Therapists (OTs)Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs)School Psychologists, and Teachers

Earn CE Wherever YOU Love to Be!

Better Prediction of Suicide Risk

Better Prediction of Suicide Risk

In the aftermath of a horrific event like a suicide, we all ask the same question: What could we have done to prevent it?

Yet for some, that is the wrong question. For researchers at Kaiser Permanente, what we should be asking is how we can better predict suicide risk.

In one of the largest studies to date – involving seven large health systems serving a combined population of 8 million people in nine states, and examining almost 20 million visits by nearly 3 million people age 13 or older, including about 10.3 million mental health specialty visits and about 9.7 million primary care visits with mental health diagnoses – the researchers combined a variety of information from the past five years of people’s electronic health records and answers to questionnaires, taken from five Kaiser Permanente regions.

Not only were they able to more accurately predict suicide risk than before, they found that in the 90 days following an office visit, suicide attempts and deaths among patients whose visits were in the highest 1 percent of predicted risk were 200 times more common than among those in the bottom half of predicted risk; patients with mental health specialty visits who had risk scores in the top 5 percent accounted for 43 percent of suicide attempts and 48 percent of suicide deaths; patients with primary care visits who had scores in the top 5 percent accounted for 48 percent of suicide attempts and 43 percent of suicide deaths (Simon et al., 2018).

The researchers also found that the strongest predictors of future suicide attempts included prior suicide attempts, mental health and substance use diagnoses, medical diagnoses, psychiatric medications dispensed, inpatient or emergency room care, and scores on a standardized depression questionnaire (Simon et al., 2018).

“We demonstrated that we can use electronic health record data in combination with other tools to accurately identify people at high risk for suicide attempt or suicide death,” explained Gregory E. Simon, MD, MPH, a Kaiser Permanente psychiatrist in Washington and a senior investigator at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (Simon, 2018).

Better prediction of suicide risk, says Simon, is the foundation of suicide prevention. When better informed, health care providers and health systems can make better decisions, such as how often to follow up with patients, refer them for intensive treatment, reach out to them after missed or canceled appointments – and whether to help them create a personal safety plan and counsel them about reducing access to means of self-harm.

Related Online Continuing Education (CE) Courses:

Suicide PreventionSuicide Prevention: Evidence-Based Strategies is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE) course that reviews evidence-based research and offers strategies for screening, assessment, treatment, and prevention of suicide in both adolescents and adults.

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. In 2015, 44,193 people killed themselves. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes, “Suicide is a serious but preventable public health problem that can have lasting harmful effects on individuals, families, and communities.” People who attempt suicide but do not die face potentially serious injury or disability, depending on the method used in the attempt. Depression and other mental health issues follow the suicide attempt.

Family, friends, and coworkers are negatively affected by suicide. Shock, anger, guilt, and depression arise in the wake of this violent event. Even the community as a whole is affected by the loss of a productive member of society, lost wages not spent at local businesses, and medical costs. The CDC estimates that suicides result in over 44 billion dollars in work loss and medical costs.

Prevention is key: reducing risk factors and promoting resilience. This course will provide a review of evidence-based studies so that healthcare professionals are informed on this complex subject. Information from the suicide prevention technical package from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be provided. Included also are strategies for screening and assessment, prevention considerations, methods of treatment, and resources for choosing evidence-based suicide prevention programs. Course #30-97 | 2018 | 61 pages | 20 posttest questions

The Suicide SurvivorThe Suicide Survivor is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE) course that provides an understanding and means of helping the people who have lost loved ones to suicide.

One of the most difficult and complex emotional adjustments many individuals will ever face is the challenging and often lengthy process of dealing with the suicide of a family member or other loved one. These people are called suicide survivors; the family members and close friends who have experienced the death of a family member or loved one by suicide.

Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence because nearly 45,000 people die by suicide each year in the United States alone. Estimates are that an average of six individuals experience major life disruption as a consequence of every suicide. The cascade of emotions that follow can be both unexpected and overwhelming, and many of the survivors who most need assistance in the form of supportive counseling do not receive it.

This course will provide information and helping strategies for health professionals who work with individuals who are struggling with both “normal” grief and complicated grief, sometimes described as “persistent complex bereavement disorder.” Also discussed are myths about coping with grief, the progression through the grief of suicide, stigmas associated with suicide, assessing for religious help, theories of grief, role of the therapist, needs of suicide survivors, and, finally, moving on. Course #21-26 | 2018 | 40 pages | 15 posttest questions

Course Directions

Our online courses provide instant access to the course materials (PDF download) and CE test. Successful completion of the online CE test (80% required to pass, 3 chances to take) and course evaluation are required to earn a certificate of completion. Click here to learn more. Have a question? Contact us. We’re here to help!

Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. We are approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners; and are CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

Target Audience: PsychologistsCounselorsSocial WorkersMarriage & Family Therapist (MFTs)Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs)Occupational Therapists (OTs)Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs)School Psychologists, and Teachers

Earn CE Wherever YOU Love to Be!

The Suicide Survivor – New CE Course

New Online CE Course @pdresources.org

The Suicide SurvivorThe Suicide Survivor is a new 2-hour online continuing education (CE) course that provides an understanding and means of helping the people who have lost loved ones to suicide.

One of the most difficult and complex emotional adjustments many individuals will ever face is the challenging and often lengthy process of dealing with the suicide of a family member or other loved one. These people are called suicide survivors; the family members and close friends who have experienced the death of a family member or loved one by suicide.

Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence because nearly 45,000 people die by suicide each year in the United States alone. Estimates are that an average of six individuals experience major life disruption as a consequence of every suicide. The cascade of emotions that follow can be both unexpected and overwhelming, and many of the survivors who most need assistance in the form of supportive counseling do not receive it.

This course will provide information and helping strategies for health professionals who work with individuals who are struggling with both “normal” grief and complicated grief, sometimes described as “persistent complex bereavement disorder.” Also discussed are myths about coping with grief, the progression through the grief of suicide, stigmas associated with suicide, assessing for religious help, theories of grief, role of the therapist, needs of suicide survivors, and, finally, moving on. Course #21-26 | 2018 | 40 pages | 15 posttest questions

Click here to learn more.

Course Directions:
This online course provides instant access to the course materials (PDF download) and CE test. After enrolling, click on My Account and scroll down to My Active Courses. From here you’ll see links to download/print the course materials and take the CE test (you can print the test to mark your answers on it while reading the course document).Successful completion of the online CE test (80% required to pass, 3 chances to take) and course evaluation are required to earn a certificate of completion. Click here to learn more. Have a question? Contact us. We’re here to help!
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About the Authors:
Robert Gauger, DMin, has served as a full-time minister for over 30 years. He was a parish minister for 27 years, and has also been a hospital chaplain in Jacksonville, Florida. Currently he is a hospice chaplain. Bob holds a Masters degree from Southern Seminary (KY) and a Doctorate Degree from Regent University (VA) with honors. His own personal experiences of depression and stress in ministry have drawn a special interest and focus on the topic in his life, as have his experiences with family suicidal attempts. Bob enjoys playing the trombone and through the years has played with many professional orchestras.
Leo Christie, PhD, LMFT, is a Florida-licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a doctorate in Marriage and Family Therapy from Florida State University. Past President of the Florida Council on Family Relations, Dr. Christie is currently CEO of Professional Development Resources, a nonprofit corporation whose mission is to deliver continuing education credit courses to healthcare professionals throughout the United States. He has more than 20 years’ experience in private practice with a specialty in child behavior disorders and as an instructor for over 500 live continuing education seminars for healthcare professionals.
CE Information:
Professional Development Resources is approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC ACEP #5590); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB Provider #1046, ACE Program); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA Provider #3159); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR Provider #PR001); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy (#BAP346), Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635), Dietetics & Nutrition (#50-1635), and Occupational Therapy Practice (#34); the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed mental health counselors (#MHC-0135); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501); the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678); and is CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

Using Humor to Find Happiness

Happiness

It’s easy to get stuck on the numbers on the scale when we want to lose weight, but numbers do not tell the whole story: It’s much more than weight we need to lose.

We need to lose self-recrimination. We need to lose self-shaming. We need to lose our attachment to weight as the single measure of self-worth.

But just how do we do that?

One way, say researchers from the University of Granada Mind, Brain and Behavior Research Center, is to use a little humor.

Individuals who frequently use self-deprecating humor – aimed at gaining the approval of others through self-mockery – say Jorge Torres Marín and his team, exhibit greater levels of psychological well-being (Marín et al., 2018).

Moreover, Marín notes that a greater tendency to employ self-deprecating humor is indicative of high scores in psychological well-being dimensions such as happiness and, to a lesser extent, sociability (Marín et al., 2018).

While the effects of self-deprecating humor on well-being may differ depending on where the research takes place, and be influenced by cultural norms, Marín suggests that new studies focus on analyzing potential cultural differences in the use of this kind of humor.

The psychology of humor, however, fits within a well-founded, accurate theoretical body of knowledge that allows for different behavioral tendencies related to the everyday use of humor to be explored – such as the affiliative use of humor, which is aimed at strengthening social relationships, or self-enhancing humor, which entails maintaining a humorous outlook in potentially stressful and adverse situations.

While these types of humor have consistently been linked to indicators of positive psychological well-being such as happiness, satisfaction with life, and hope, Marín and his team maintain that their data revealed the existence of a curvilinear relationship between prosocial humor and personality dimensions such as kindness and honesty (Marín et al., 2018).

Eliminating self-defeating behaviors isn’t easy, however, the process is made much easier when we can laugh a little – at ourselves.

Related Online Continuing Education (CE) Courses:

Finding Happiness: Positive Interventions in TherapyFinding Happiness: Positive Interventions in Therapy is a 4-hour online continuing education (CE) course that explores the concept of happiness, from common myths to the overriding factors that directly increase our feelings of contentment. We will start with a discussion on why you, the clinician, need to know about happiness and how this information can help in your work with clients. We will then uncover mistakes we make when trying to attain happiness and look carefully at the actions we take and the beliefs that do not just obfuscate our happiness efforts, but often leave us less happy. Next, we will explore the ways in which our mindset influences our feelings of happiness and the many ways we can fundamentally change our levels of well-being, not just immediately, but for many years to come. The final section of this course contains exercises you can use with clients to cultivate and sustain a lifelong habit of happiness. Course #40-45 | 2018 | 57 pages | 25 posttest questions

Beyond Calories & Exercise: Eliminating Self-Defeating BehaviorsBeyond Calories & Exercise: Eliminating Self-Defeating Behaviors is a 5-hour online continuing education (CE) course that “walks” readers through the process of replacing their self-defeating weight issues with healthy, positive, and productive life-style behaviors. It moves beyond the “burn more calories than you consume” concept to encompass the emotional aspects of eating and of gaining and losing weight. Through 16 included exercises, you will learn how to identify your self-defeating behaviors (SDBs), analyze and understand them, and then replace them with life-giving actions that lead to permanent behavioral change. Course #50-10 | 2013 | 49 pages | 35 posttest questions

The Use of Humor in TherapyThe Use of Humor in Therapy is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE) course that reviews the risks and benefits of using humor in therapy and the relevant historical controversies of this proposal. Should therapists and counselors use humor as a therapeutic technique? If so, should they be formally trained in those procedures before their implementation? The paucity of rigorous empirical research on the effectiveness of this form of clinical intervention is exceeded only by the absence of any training for those practitioners interested in applying humor techniques. In this course a representative sample of its many advocates’ recommendations to incorporate humor in the practice of psychological therapies is reviewed. Therapeutic humor is defined, the role of therapists’ personal qualities is discussed, and possible reasons for the profession’s past resistance to promoting humor in therapy are described. Research perspectives for the evaluation of humor training are presented with illustrative examples of important empirical questions still needing to be answered. Closeout Course #21-02 | 2015 | 24 pages | 14 posttest questions

Course Directions

Our online courses provide instant access to the course materials (PDF download) and CE test. Successful completion of the online CE test (80% required to pass, 3 chances to take) and course evaluation are required to earn a certificate of completion. Click here to learn more. Have a question? Contact us. We’re here to help!

Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. We are approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners; and are CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

Target Audience: PsychologistsCounselorsSocial WorkersMarriage & Family Therapist (MFTs)Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs)Occupational Therapists (OTs)Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs)School Psychologists, and Teachers

Earn CE Wherever YOU Love to Be!

How Do We Motivate Children to Learn?

How Do We Motivate Children to Learn?

Left unchecked, challenges such as learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, behavior disorders, and executive functioning deficits can cause children to develop the idea that they are not capable of success in school, precipitating a downward spiral of poor self-esteem and – eventually – school failure.

So how do we avoid this outcome and motivate children to learn?

One way, is to employ a little empathy.

According to the Finnish First Steps study currently ongoing at the University of Eastern Finland, the University of Jyväskylä and the University of Turku, empathetic teachers enhance children’s motivation and academic skills, such as reading, writing and arithmetic skills and create a positive atmosphere that safeguards and increases children’s motivation for learning (Siekkinen et al., 2015).

“We are currently studying to what extent the teacher-pupil relationship in the upper comprehensive school, i.e. in grades 7-9, can be linked to Finland’s excellent reading scores in the Programme for International Student Assessment, PISA,” explains Martti Siekkinen of the University of Eastern Finland (Siekkinen, 2015).

Siekkinen goes on to say that the first years of the lower comprehensive school, i.e. grades 1-3, are a critical period during which the child needs to have a safe relationship with his or her teacher. The teacher’s empathetic attitude not only protects children’s image of themselves as learners, but also against social exclusion by their fellow pupils (Siekkinen et al., 2015).

Previous research has also shown that the interaction between the teacher and the pupil is more important for learning outcomes than structural factors such as educational materials and class sizes. Furthermore, earlier studies have found the teacher-pupil interaction to be a significant factor during the early school years – and one that plays an important role in later years, when the academic challenges become greater and the protective teacher-pupil interaction can be less intensive.

While empathy is just one way to motivate children to learn, laying the groundwork for a child’s attitude toward learning is an indispensable process with effects that ripple outward – and surpass present outcomes.

Related Online Continuing Education (CE) Courses:

Motivating Children to LearnMotivating Children to Learn is a 4-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that provides strategies and activities to help children overcome their academic and social challenges.

This course describes the various challenges that can sidetrack children in their developmental and educational processes, leaving them with a sense of discouragement and helplessness. Such challenges include learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, behavior disorders, and executive functioning deficits. Left unchecked, these difficulties can cause children to develop the idea that they are not capable of success in school, precipitating a downward spiral of poor self-esteem and – eventually – school failure.

The good news is that much better outcomes can result when parents, teachers, and therapists engage children in strategies and activities that help them overcome their discouragement and develop their innate intelligence and strengths, resulting in a growth mindset and a love of learning. Detailed in this course are multiple strategies and techniques that can lead to these positive outcomes. Course #40-44 | 2018 | 77 pages | 25 posttest questions

School Refusal Behavior: Children Who Can’t or Won’t Go to SchoolSchool Refusal Behavior: Children Who Can’t or Won’t Go to School is a 4-hour online continuing education (CE) course that breaks down the distinction between truancy and school refusal and examines a number of psychological disorders that may be causing – or comorbid with – school refusal.
 
School refusal is a problem that is stressful for children, for their families, and for school personnel. Failing to attend school has significant long and short-term effects on children’s social, emotional, and educational development. School refusal is often the result of, or associated with, comorbid disorders such as anxiety or depression. Careful assessment, treatment planning, interventions, and management of school refusal are critical to attainment of the goal of a successful return to school as quickly as possible. Interventions may include educational support, cognitive therapy, behavior modification, parent/teacher interventions, and pharmacotherapy.
 
This course will break down the distinction between truancy and school refusal and will examine a number of psychological disorders that may be causing – or comorbid with – school refusal, including separation anxiety, generalized anxiety, social phobia, panic attacks, major depression, dysthymia, ADHD, and oppositional defiant disorder. Completing the course will assist you in performing a functional analysis of school refusal to determine the motivation and particular reinforcement systems that support the behavior. Specific intervention strategies will be reviewed, with a focus on tailoring and adapting standard approaches to specific situations. Participants will be given the opportunity to review several case studies and develop a sample intervention plan for cases of school refusal. Course #40-29 | 2011 | 49 pages | 30 posttest questions
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Improving Social Skills in Children & AdolescentsImproving Social Skills in Children & Adolescents is a 4-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that discusses the social skills children and adolescents will need to develop to be successful in school and beyond. It will demonstrate the challenges and difficulties that arise from a deficit of these crucial skills, as well as the benefits and advantages that can come about with well-developed social skills.
This course will also provide practical tools that teachers and therapists can employ to guide children to overcome their difficulties in the social realm and gain social competence. While there are hundreds of important social skills for students to learn, we can organize them into skill areas to make it easier to identify and determine appropriate interventions. This course is divided into 10 chapters, each detailing various aspects of social skills that children, teens, and adults must master to have normative, healthy relationships with the people they encounter every day. This course provides tools and suggestions that, with practice and support, can assist them in managing their social skills deficits to function in society and nurture relationships with the peers and adults in their lives. Course #40-40 | 2016 | 62 pages | 35 posttest questions

Course Directions

Our online courses provide instant access to the course materials (PDF download) and CE test. Successful completion of the online CE test (80% required to pass, 3 chances to take) and course evaluation are required to earn a certificate of completion. Click here to learn more. Have a question? Contact us. We’re here to help!

Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. We are approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners; and are CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

Target Audience: PsychologistsCounselorsSocial WorkersMarriage & Family Therapist (MFTs)Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs)Occupational Therapists (OTs)Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs)School Psychologists, and Teachers

Earn CE Wherever YOU Love to Be!

When Trauma Becomes Public

When Trauma Becomes Public

Of course, we all hope that we will make it through this life unscathed. And yet, a part of us also knows it’s impossible. Perhaps, at least we can hope that when life takes a turn for the worse, it won’t become public news. But what happens when it does?

Pam Ramsden from the University of Bradford explains, “Social media has enabled violent stories and graphic images to be watched by the public in unedited horrific detail. Watching these events and feeling the anguish of those directly experiencing them may impact our daily lives” (Ramsden, 2015).

Recruiting 189 participants (with a mean age of 37) Ramsden had them first complete several inventories: a PTSD clinical assessment, a personality questionnaire, a vicarious trauma assessment, and a questionnaire concerning different violent news events on social media and the internet – including the 9/11 Twin Tower attacks, school shooting and suicide bombings.

While 22 percent of the participants were significantly affected by viewing the events – and scored high on measures of PTSD even though none had previous trauma or were present at the traumatic events – the relationship between viewing violent media images and PTSD was clear: those who reported viewing more violent media images of the events had higher levels of PTSD (Ramsden, 2015).

Ramsden concludes, “It’s quite worrying that nearly a quarter of those who viewed the images scored high on clinical measures of PTSD” (Ramsden, 2015).

The takeaway, as Ramsden notes, is that with increased access to social media, and increased broadcasting of violent events, we need to be aware of the risks of viewing these images – and maybe consider pausing before we read about the next traumatic event.

Related Online Continuing Education (CE) Course:

Psychological Effects of Media ExposurePsychological Effects of Media Exposure is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that explores the psychological effects that media exposure has on both the witnesses and victims of traumatic events.

This course will explore why we are so drawn to traumatic events and how media portrayals of these events influence our thoughts, conclusions, and assumptions about them. It will then discuss how the intersection of trauma and media has evolved to provide a place for celebrity-like attention, political agendas, corporate positioning, and even the repackaging, marketing, and selling of grief.

Lastly, the course will look at the interventions and exercises clinicians can use to help their clients understand the effects of trauma becoming public, how to protect themselves, and most importantly, how to recover from traumatic experience – even when it becomes public. Course #21-23 | 2018 | 44 pages | 15 posttest questions

Course Directions

Our online courses provide instant access to the course materials (PDF download) and CE test. Successful completion of the online CE test (80% required to pass, 3 chances to take) and course evaluation are required to earn a certificate of completion. Click here to learn more. Have a question? Contact us. We’re here to help!

Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. We are approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners; and are CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

Target Audience: PsychologistsCounselorsSocial WorkersMarriage & Family Therapist (MFTs)Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs)Occupational Therapists (OTs)Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs)School Psychologists, and Teachers

Earn CE Wherever YOU Love to Be!

4 New Findings on Autism in Children

autism

Autism used to come with certain images of antisocial, even violent behavior and ideas of pure genius locked in mental isolation. Early research was incomplete and inconsistent, leading to shocking conclusions which are now debunked, such as the idea that autism was a result of a parenting failure. Thankfully, since the 1970s it has been accepted that autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a problem of neurodevelopment and that appropriate interventions lead to improvements and better quality of life for the impacted families. Joint efforts of private and government funding on ASD research bring new findings.

1. Early Signs of Autism

The most common problem of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder is finding an appropriate way to communicate with their family. Since autism tends to run in families, another study focused on baby siblings of such families in order to observe any differences between them and non-autistic children. In the second year of infants’ lives, the researchers correlated the overgrowths of babies’ brains to the severity of autism symptoms. The bigger the overgrowth, the more severe the symptoms were in children. This study relied heavily on the well-known fact among psychologists that not looking at people’s eyes and mouth is an early sign of autism in children who would later develop it. Now the scientists also confirmed that such behavior is inscribed in the genes and puts more emphasis on early social interventions.

Another predictor seemed to be an increased cerebrospinal fluid in the brains of babies who later developed autism. As a follow up to an earlier study, Mark Shen confirmed that the amount of cerebrospinal fluid is an early biomarker of ASD. It is unclear whether this symptom has anything to do with inflammation or if it is genetic, so further research is needed.

2. ASD Related Genetic Mutations

The ongoing struggle that genetic engineers face is to pinpoint the exact genes which are responsible for autism spectrum disorder and whose mutations affect the developing brains of children. Using the method of whole-genome sequencing of families with ASD, researchers recently managed to identify 18 new possible genes to blame. A related study took a look at 16,000 international participants and noticed a transcription factor in certain genes which has a role in neural changes. Not surprising, these are the same ones related to social skills. Moreover, the researchers identified a strong genetic overlapping with troubling regions of the gene in cases of schizophrenia.

3. Long-Term Benefits of Early Parental Intervention

A study by pediatric psychiatrist Jonathan Green focused on younger siblings of families with a higher risk of autism spectrum disorder. Participating parents videotaped interactions with their toddlers at home and revised them with professionals to gain advice on how to adapt their behavior, in order to better communicate with their children. The children who participated ended up having better IQ and social skills, like maintaining eye contact and also greater social responsiveness. The targeted participants were very young, up to 3 years of age, and provided important data on how brains of affected children respond better to empathic than directive parental guidance. The researchers hope to complete further studies with more children in order to confirm their findings.

4. Research into Medication

All these findings confirm the importance of neuroimaging, neuropsychological tests and genetic research with all autistic individuals and their families. Further clinical research could compare the findings with study results of other neurodevelopment disorders in hopes of noticing any similarities or patterns. Finally, while most autistic children have some more or less severe communication problems such as speaking impairments, the most commonly researched medications are those for externalizing behaviors such as irritability and aggression. It may sound disheartening but there are no known cures for any neuropsychiatric diseases, so the goal of medication is only to improve the quality of life of those impacted.

Conclusion

No two cases of autism are the same, hence the name autism spectrum disorder. It therefore makes sense that there isn’t a single cure, rather each child needs to be examined individually and have specifically targeted interventions, with an absolute must of parental and family involvement. However, the continuing funding into research does give hope that families at risk will be able to notice early predictors and learn to cope with the newfound situation appropriately.

About the Author

Rachel Fink is a mom of 7 and contributor at Parenting Pod. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Science and Engineering and enjoys to share her expertise and experience on a variety of topics.

Related Online Continuing Education (CE/CEU) Courses:

Applied Behavior Analysis for AutismApplied Behavior Analysis for Autism is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that provides evidence-based behavioral interventions for the minimally verbal child with autism. The prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) currently seems to be holding steady at one in 68 children (or 1.46 percent). The communication challenges of these children are widely known and require specialized early interventions to overcome them.

This course presents evidence-based strategies that can enable students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and others who are verbally limited, to become more effective communicators. The focus will be on the minimally verbal child, the child who has a very small repertoire of spoken words or fixed phrases that are used communicatively. Included are: an overview of autism spectrum disorder, an introduction to the science of applied behavior analysis, the use of manding in communication training, techniques for direct instruction programming, and inter-professional collaboration strategies. Major points are illustrated throughout by case studies from actual practice. Course #21-15 | 2017 | 43 pages | 15 posttest questions

Autism Spectrum DisorderAutism Spectrum Disorder: Evidence-Based Screening and Assessment is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that summarizes proven approaches to screening, assessing and diagnosing ASD in children and young adults. Epidemiological studies indicate a progressively rising prevalence trend in the number of individuals identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) over the past decade. Yet, compared with general population estimates, children and youth with mild to moderate symptoms of ASD remain an underidentified and underserved population in our schools and communities. The DSM-5 conceptualizations of autism require professionals in clinical, school, and private practice settings to update their knowledge about the spectrum. In addition, professionals should be prepared to recognize the presence of risk factors and/or early warning signs of ASD and be familiar with screening and assessment tools in order to ensure that individuals with ASD are being identified and provided with the appropriate programs and services. The objectives of this course are to identify DSM-5 diagnostic changes in the ASD diagnostic criteria, summarize the empirically-based screening and assessment methodology in ASD, and describe a comprehensive developmental approach for assessing children, adolescents, and young adults with ASD. Course #30-94 | 2017 | 49 pages | 20 posttest questions

Autism: The New Spectrum of Diagnostics, Treatment & NutritionAutism: The New Spectrum of Diagnostics, Treatment & Nutrition is a 4-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that reviews diagnostic changes in autism as well as treatment options and nutrition interventions – both theoretical and applied. The first section traces the history of the diagnostic concept of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), culminating in the revised criteria of the 2013 version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the DSM-5, with specific focus on the shift from five subtypes to a single spectrum diagnosis. It also aims to provide epidemiological prevalence estimates, identify factors that may play a role in causing ASD, and list the components of a core assessment battery. It also includes brief descriptions of some of the major intervention models that have some empirical support. Section two describes common GI problems and feeding difficulties in autism, exploring the empirical data and/or lack thereof regarding any links between GI disorders and autism. Sections on feeding difficulties offer interventions and behavior change techniques. A final section on nutritional considerations discusses evaluation of nutritional status, supplementation, and dietary modifications with an objective look at the science and theory behind a variety of nutrition interventions. Other theoretical interventions are also reviewed. Course #40-41 | 2017 | 62 pages | 25 posttest questions

Course Directions

Our online courses provide instant access to the course materials (PDF download) and CE test. Successful completion of the online CE test (80% required to pass, 3 chances to take) and course evaluation are required to earn a certificate of completion. Click here to learn more. Have a question? Contact us. We’re here to help!

Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. We are approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners; and are CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

Target Audience: PsychologistsCounselorsSocial WorkersMarriage & Family Therapist (MFTs)Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs)Occupational Therapists (OTs)Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs)School Psychologists, and Teachers

Earn CE Wherever YOU Love to Be!

Rethinking Grief

Grief

Grief, say researchers, deserves a second look.

While we commonly associate the condition with obvious losses, the course of grief does not always follow a pattern or predictable timeline, as we might think.

Sometimes grief is complicated, and sometimes it is prolonged. For this reason, the diagnosis of persistent complex bereavement disorder (PCBD), was recently added as a condition for further study in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5).

Also referred to as prolonged grief disorder or complicated grief, PCBD is associated with long-term intense distress and suffering. It affects about seven to 15 percent of those grieving the loss of a loved one, and is typically diagnosed when persistent and severe grief continues beyond twelve months after the death of a loved one, resulting in functional impairment.

In looking to assess these criteria, Dr. Stephen Cozza and his team examined responses of study participants from USU’s National Military Family Bereavement Study, which is examining the impact of military service member death on family members. Participants included surviving family members of military members who died, by any cause, since Sept. 11, 2001.

What the researchers found should have us all reconsidering grief: even with the proposed DSM-5 criteria for PCBD, the individual’s actual experiences of clinically impairing grief were not accurately captured (Cozza et al., 2016).

What Dr. Cozza suggests is that when assessing grief, and a diagnosis of PCBD, symptoms such as prolonged distress and disability associated with the death of a loved one, persistent yearning or sorrow, and preoccupation with the deceased should be considered.

However, where a diagnosis of PCBD requires that six of twelve additional symptom criteria be required as currently proposed by DSM-5, we should be requiring a much less stringent criteria – such as meeting only one criteria. Further, the researchers encourage clinicians to remain vigilant to suicidal thinking, which is prevalent in those with persistent and impairing grief.

“It is imperative for clinicians to have reliable criteria to accurately identify and diagnose those individuals suffering from prolonged and impairing grief,” notes Dr. Cozza.

Related Online Continuing Education (CE) Courses:

Grief: The Reaction to LossGrief: The Reaction to Loss is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that teaches healthcare professionals how to recognize and respond to grief.

Grief is the reaction to loss, and any kind of loss can trigger grief. People grieve for the loss of someone they love, but they also grieve for the loss of independence, usefulness, cognitive functioning, and physical abilities. Grief is also a lifelong process: a journey rather than a disease that is cured. It changes over time to deal with different kinds of losses. It is an experience that is intellectual, physical, spiritual, and emotional. It is affected by the person’s culture, support system, religious beliefs, and a host of other factors.

Grief is often not recognized by healthcare professionals, in patients or themselves. This course will teach healthcare professionals to recognize grief, as well as how to respond appropriately to the grieving person. The progression of aging and dying will be discussed in order to normalize the process, one of the most important aspects of working with a grieving person. Screening guidelines for depression, suicide risk, and grief are included, as are treatment strategies for anticipatory and complicated grief. A final section on compassion fatigue, burnout, and secondary stress includes strategies for professional self-care. Course #21-25 | 2018 | 35 pages | 15 posttest questions

Caregiver Help: Depression and GriefCaregiver Help: Depression and Grief is a 2-hour online video-based continuing education (CE/CEU) course that addresses caregiver depression and grief and provides strategies to help the caregiver cope.

The emotional stress of caring for persons who are aging, chronically ill or disabled can be debilitating for family members as well as professional caregivers. This course addresses caregiver depression and grief and provides a three-step process that can help develop an attitude of creative indifference toward the people, situations and events that cause emotional stress. It offers suggestions for dealing with preparatory grief, an experience shared by families and professionals as they cope with the stress of caring for someone who will never get well. In the process, it also explains the differences between reactionary depression and clinical depression. By gaining insights into the process of losing someone over an extended period of time, the mental health professional will be in a better position to understand the caregiver’s experience with depression and grief and provide both empathy and strategies for implementing a self-care plan. This course includes downloadable worksheets that you can use (on a limited basis) in your clinical practice. The course video is split into 3 segments for your convenience. Closeout course #20-92 | 2014 | 20 posttest questions

The Grieving SelfThe Grieving Self is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE) course that looks at stories of the bereaved to determine the major issues to address to reconnect those who grieve to a stable sense of self.
The annual number of deaths reported in the United States in the early part of this century was 2.4 million, about four per minute. This course looks at the stories of a few of those who are recently bereaved to determine the major issues for those who grieve: aloneness, loss of self, social connections, anniversaries and holidays, self and others’ expectations, the need to continue living, ambivalence of recovery, grief dreams, medical problems. Studies are reviewed which indicate some researchers’ conclusions as to: 1) Gender differences between men and women who grieve; there are important questions regarding the recruitment of subjects and the data gathering process for gender differences research. 2) And, who among the grief survivors are best served by counseling and psychotherapy. This author, while agreeing with much of the research, challenges the belief that the emotional loneliness suffered by the bereaved is the single, major dynamic of the bereaved, and can only be alleviated through passage of time. It is felt that an effort to reconnect those who grieve to a stable sense of self can help the bereaved regain better function and reduce the length of the time they are consigned to painfully distressing lives. Course #30-49 | 2010 | 34 pages | 20 posttest questions

Course Directions

Our online courses provide instant access to the course materials (PDF download) and CE test. Successful completion of the online CE test (80% required to pass, 3 chances to take) and course evaluation are required to earn a certificate of completion. Click here to learn more. Have a question? Contact us. We’re here to help!

Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. We are approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners; and are CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

Target Audience: PsychologistsCounselorsSocial WorkersMarriage & Family Therapist (MFTs)Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs)Occupational Therapists (OTs)Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs)School Psychologists, and Teachers

Earn CE Wherever YOU Love to Be!