When Being Too Helpful Can Backfire

When Being Too Helpful Can Backfire

When prospective clients call on the phone to ask about your services, some will also tell you a little about their problem. At this point, you may want to listen empathetically. But do not ask probing questions.

After speaking with you for a few minutes, a prospective client may make an appointment and then ask for suggestions on how to cope with their situation until they get in to see you. Resist the urge to give advice.

Why should you not be helpful? Isn’t that just good customer service? Being helpful is good customer service. However, in our business we need to be careful – for risk management reasons – not to engage in diagnostic or therapeutic services until we have the person’s informed consent.

Simply asking questions or giving general advice might erroneously communicate to someone that you have established a professional relationship with them. Most of the time that will be inconsequential; however, in rare cases, it could backfire. Here’s a hypothetical example:

Mrs. V, who is seeking help for her rebellious teenage daughter, calls you in desperation. “You’ve come highly recommended,” she says anxiously, “and I’d like to get her in as soon as possible.”

After checking your calendar, you offer her an appointment for early next week. “Thank you!” she exclaims. “I’ll be there. But can I ask one quick question first? My daughter is grounded for two weeks, but she has a gymnastics competition this weekend. Should we make an exception for that?”

Since you’re not busy, you figure it won’t hurt to spend a few minutes helping Mrs. V with this decision. It’s also an opportunity to establish rapport and to impress her with your expertise. So you ask a couple of questions about her daughter and about the family. Her story sounds like many you’ve heard, and you advise her to keep her daughter home from the gymnastics tournament.

The following Monday, Mrs. V calls to cancel her appointment because her daughter is in the hospital after cutting herself. She also threatens to sue you for malpractice and to report you to your licensing board.

Mrs. V may or may not prevail in a lawsuit or licensing board complaint. However, it is apparent that she did assume, from the way you communicated, that she was already in a professional relationship with you. Even though she had not yet met you in person, you were behaving like a treating psychologist, simply by asking probing diagnostic questions and giving specific advice.

The APA ethics code is silent on exactly when a therapeutic relationship begins. According to experienced ethics instructor Dan Taube JD, PhD, who serves as risk management consultant for The Trust, a professional relationship can be assumed simply from the behavior and intent of both parties. Moreover, intent need not be stated; it can be inferred in the absence of informed consent – as was the case in the hypothetical example of Mrs. V.

There are also good business reasons for not being too helpful at the inquiry stage. Ethical and risk-management considerations aside, giving advice to prospective clients may make them less likely to schedule an appointment right away, especially if they are ambivalent about starting therapy.

People are more motivated to take immediate action when pain or discomfort is involved. Therefore, if your symptom-focused advice to an ambivalent prospective client takes the edge off their distress, it’s quite possible that instead of making an appointment immediately, they promise to call back later. By the time “later” comes around, they may have forgotten your name.

What about giving advice in public education writing and speaking?

Taube recommends against giving specific advice, not only when talking to prospective clients, but also in nonclinical situations, such as presentations to community groups, interviews with news media and written articles for the public.

This does not imply that we should avoid speaking to or writing for public audiences. To the contrary, we have a professional obligation to provide the public with science-based information of general interest.

Section 5.04 of the APA ethics code outlines criteria for providing information to the public, but it does not prohibit nor discourage giving general tips or advice. When psychologists provide public advice or comment via print, internet, or other electronic transmission, they take precautions to ensure that statements:

  • Are based on their professional knowledge, training, or experience in accord with appropriate psychological literature and practice
  • Are otherwise consistent with this Ethics Code; and
  • Do not indicate that a professional relationship has been established with the recipient.

APA’s “Psychology Help Center” (apa.org/helpcenter) has some good examples of how to give general practical tips that are not likely to be interpreted as treatment. In addition, many psychologists add a disclaimer to their public education articles that the information provided is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as a substitute for professional services.

When giving talks to community groups, or when being interviewed by a news reporter, you can give general advice about typical ways to approach a given problem. Depending on the situation, you might qualify your statement by saying something like, “Many people find it helpful to…although it may not work for everyone.” A general rule of thumb is to avoid the word you and its variants when answering “What should I do?” questions.

By Pauline Wallin, PhD

This article is an excerpt from the online continuing education (CE) course:

Therapy Tidbits - May/June 2018Therapy Tidbits – May/June 2018 is a 1-hour online continuing education (CE) course comprised of select articles from the May/June 2018 issue of The National Psychologist, a private, independent bi-monthly newspaper intended to keep mental health professionals informed about practice issues. The articles included in this course are:

  • New Prepayment Audits Strike Fear in Medicare Providers– Describes the difficulties practitioners are facing with when audited and explains the new method of auditing, ‘Targeted Probe and Education’
  • APA Council Approves Reorganization – Describes the upcoming changes as the American Psychological Association Practice Organization is reorganized.
  • Jail Opens Mental Treatment Unit – A brief look at how a Virginia City Jail is taking initiatives to support inmates’ mental health.
  • APA Practice Guidelines Raise Questions – Identifies concerns for the newly proposed sets of practice guidelines.
  • What is Obamacare Anyway? – An overview of Obamacare to date.
  • When Being Too Helpful Can Backfire – Discusses the difference between ‘good customer service’ and a therapeutic relationship.
  • MedPAC’s Latest Lead Balloon – An overview of the conflict surrounding the proposed change from Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) to the “Voluntary Value Program” (VVP).
  • What Have We Learned from 30 years of School Shootings?– Highlights the use of amphetamine-based drugs and lack of quality mental health care as factors in school shootings.
  • How to Handle Conflicts of Ethics and the Law – Provides examples of times when the Ethics Code conflicts with the law and offers strategies to resolve these conflicts.
  • Psychologists Should Study Uses of Marijuana – Discusses the importance of seriously considering medical marijuana as a viable treatment for patients.

Course #11-20  | 2018 |  20 pages |  10 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!

Motivation in Weight Loss

Motivation in Weight Loss

While we may find it hard to relate to the loss of motivation a 200 million dollar a year contract player might experience after his first year, we can probably all relate to the motivation needed when we want to lose weight.

Recruiting participants for a 16-week weight loss intervention, researchers at the University of Kentucky and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill examined what many of us will recognize as two types of motivation we have likely used on ourselves to lose weight.

Autonomous motivation, otherwise known as intrinsic motivation, describes our desire to lose weight for personal reasons, such as feeling better, performing better, and becoming healthier. On the other hand, sometimes we are pressured by those around us to lose weight, or feel guilty if we don’t lose weight – which is described as extrinsic or controlled motivation.

To measure the 2 types of motivation, researchers used a Treatment Self-Regulation Questionnaire and measured participants’ motivation for weight loss at baseline and at 4, 8, 12, and 16 weeks. Study participants were then asked to record their food intake, exercise, and body weight through an online self-monitoring system weekly throughout the study.

So who fared better, those with high levels of autonomous motivation, or high levels of controlled motivation? While the researchers found that the majority of participants had a significant increase in autonomous and controlled motivation between baseline and 4 weeks, the group that went on to achieve a 5% weight loss sustained their autonomous motivation between 4 and 16 weeks, while the group that was less successful experienced a significant decrease in autonomous and controlled motivation over time (Webber et al., 2010).

Interestingly, autonomous motivation at 4 weeks was found to be a significant predictor of adherence to self-monitoring and weight loss, as the authors found a positive correlation between weight loss at 4 weeks and higher levels of autonomous motivation especially when compared to participants who had higher levels of controlled motivation. Furthermore, it seemed the self-monitoring and autonomous motivation worked in a positive feedback loop where the more participants monitored their behavior, the more motivated they became, and the more weight they lost (Webber et al., 2010).

Lead author, Kate Webber explains, “It appears that the time period between 4 and 8 weeks may be an important window for weight control programs to consider using techniques designed to enhance autonomous motivation, including giving more intense support or different types of interventions, such as activities to enhance autonomous motivation or contact from a weight-loss counselor in the form of e-mails, phone calls, or face-to-face meetings. These findings suggest that building motivation may be an effective means of promoting adherence and weight loss” (Webber, 2010).

Another study found that intrinsic motivation also helps promote an important part of any weight loss routine – maintaining an exercise routine.

Click here to learn more.

Motivation: Igniting the Process of Change

MotivationMotivation: Igniting the Process of Change is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that explores how we can tap into, ignite, and harness our motivation to create lasting change.

Motivation today is one of the most coveted traits, thought to underlie our business success, athletic prowess, and even weight loss. But just how do we motivate ourselves? How do we ignite and harness our own motivation to achieve our goals? How do we call upon our motivation when we need it the most? And how do we keep motivation alive to create the lives we want? This course will explore these questions, and many more.

We will begin with a discussion about why clinicians need to know this information and how this information can be helpful in working with clients. Next, we will look at the research behind motivation, decipher between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, and explore the roots of what keeps us motivated now, and over time.

Lastly, we will learn the powerful skills needed to create a spark – that is to teach your clients to ignite and harness their own motivation to face fears, make decisions, take action, and create lasting change. Exercises you can use with clients are included. Course #31-03 | 2018 | 46 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!

The Stigma of Mental Illness

stigma of mental illness

We don’t stigmatize people with diseases like breast cancer because we know, for the most part, they are biological. So naturally, the thought goes if we endorse the idea that mental illness is also biological, we wont hold negative beliefs about those who suffer from it.

Yet according to a new study done by researchers at Baylor University, this theory doesn’t really work out so well in real life. Analyzing data from the 2006 General Social Survey administered by the University of Chicago, researchers presented a random sample of 1,147 respondents with a survey that included theoretical situations involving individuals suffering from symptoms of depression, schizophrenia or alcoholism.

Respondents then completed six items from the General Social Survey about how likely they thought it was that certain factors had caused the mental health problem. Those factors included:

  • Bad character
  • A chemical imbalance in the brain
  • The way he or she was raised
  • Stressful circumstances in his or her life
  • A genetic or inherited problem
  • God’s will

Lastly, to measure the stigma of mental illness, respondents were asked how willing they would be to have a person like the one in the vignette (1) move next door; (2) start working closely with them on a job; (3) marry into their family; (4) spend an evening socializing with them; (5) become their friend; or (6) move into a newly established group home in their neighborhoods for people in that condition.

For depression and schizophrenia, the most common combination of viewpoints was that they are caused by chemical imbalance, stressful life circumstances and genetic abnormality – about 23 percent for the depressed person and 25 percent for the schizophrenic (Andersson & Harkness, 2018).

However, for the alcoholic, the results were much different. The most common combination of beliefs about causes included bad character, chemical imbalance, the way one was raised, stress and genetic abnormality — held by 27 percent of respondents (Andersson & Harkness, 2018).

Andersson explains, “One specific piece of advice is clear for combatting stigma toward depression or alcoholism: Bad character or personal weakness needs to be absolved explicitly for biological explanations to reduce stigma effectively” Andersson, 2018).

Andersson also noted that individuals who endorse biological beliefs that mental illness is ‘a disease like any other’ also tend to endorse other, non-biological beliefs, making the overall effect of biological beliefs quite convoluted and sometimes negative (Andersson, 2018).

Although many in the mental health community – including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – see the shift in views toward genetic or chemical causes as encouraging, mental illness unfortunately still draws negative social reactions. And those social reactions often contribute to the resistance of those who suffer from mental illness to seek treatment.

Understanding how subtle – yet widely held beliefs – influence the mentally ill is the first step toward reducing the stigma that acts as a barrier to treatment. However, there are also several steps that clinicians themselves can take to help those seeking mental health overcome feelings of being stigmatized.

Click here to learn more.

Related Online Continuing Education (CE) Course:

Overcoming the 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 the stigma of mental illness 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

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!

Therapy Tidbits – May/June 2018

The latest edition of our Therapy Tidbits series is now available:

Therapy Tidbits - May/June 2018Therapy Tidbits – May/June 2018 is a 1-hour online continuing education (CE) course comprised of select articles from the May/June 2018 issue of The National Psychologist, a private, independent bi-monthly newspaper intended to keep mental health professionals informed about practice issues. The articles included in this course are:

  • New Prepayment Audits Strike Fear in Medicare Providers– Describes the difficulties practitioners are facing with when audited and explains the new method of auditing, ‘Targeted Probe and Education’
  • APA Council Approves Reorganization – Describes the upcoming changes as the American Psychological Association Practice Organization is reorganized.
  • Jail Opens Mental Treatment Unit – A brief look at how a Virginia City Jail is taking initiatives to support inmates’ mental health.
  • APA Practice Guidelines Raise Questions – Identifies concerns for the newly proposed sets of practice guidelines.
  • What is Obamacare Anyway? – An overview of Obamacare to date.
  • When Being Too Helpful Can Backfire – Discusses the difference between ‘good customer service’ and a therapeutic relationship.
  • MedPAC’s Latest Lead Balloon – An overview of the conflict surrounding the proposed change from Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) to the “Voluntary Value Program” (VVP).
  • What Have We Learned from 30 years of School Shootings?– Highlights the use of amphetamine-based drugs and lack of quality mental health care as factors in school shootings.
  • How to Handle Conflicts of Ethics and the Law – Provides examples of times when the Ethics Code conflicts with the law and offers strategies to resolve these conflicts.
  • Psychologists Should Study Uses of Marijuana – Discusses the importance of seriously considering medical marijuana as a viable treatment for patients.

Course #11-20  | 2018 |  20 pages |  10 posttest questions

Course Directions

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!

Why Licensure Matters

Why Licensure Matters

Dogs are cute, but would you want to see one driving? Well, okay, I might! :) There’s a reason why we have to learn how to drive before we can get a license to. This concept also applies to healthcare professionals. We have to train (through years of college) and prove we are capable (through testing and certification) before we can gain licensure and help the people we did all this for.

For licensed dietitians in Florida, things have been a bit up in the air. Recently, a movement has challenged the way dietitians are licensed – arguing that, in fact, they shouldn’t be licensed at all. Florida, they say, should be what is called a “title state.” Like other states, such as California, this would allow people to practice as “nutritionists” without being licensed as dietitians. And for those in the field – especially those who have spent years and thousands of dollars on their education – this has brought up a very salient point – licensure matters, not just for dietitians, but for all health professionals.

Standards of Care

For many us of, standards of care are an expectation. We don’t think much about the ingredients in the vitamins we choose, the safety of airlines we fly on, or whether the pediatrician we take our children to is qualified. We simply expect it.

We expect that when we buy 1000 mg. of Vitamin C, that it’s what we are getting. We expect that what the personal trainer we just hired – a purportedly qualified health professional – knows what he’s saying when he talks about our diet.

But here’s an example of why we need to do more than expect: A man in recovery from a kidney transplant due to renal failure decides he is going to join a gym and begin regaining his fitness. Upon seeing his muscular atrophy, the personal trainer prescribes him a diet of 300g of protein daily. Within a few days of following this diet, the man begins to feel weak, sluggish, and lightheaded. When he sees his doctor, he learns that his kidney has been rejected and he is back in renal failure due to the extremely high protein diet.

This is why standards of care matter – because they give consumers protection about what they are getting. When you hire a personal trainer who is only qualified to give you fitness advice, that is what you get – and nothing more. When you hire a marriage counselor to help improve your relationship with your spouse, you have the assurance that this professional is trained to work with couples like you, and is truly qualified to help you. When you ask this same professional about your son’s addiction problems, you would expect that they would refer you to another professional trained in addiction. When we remove licensure requirements, what we get is blurry lines, unqualified “professionals,” and an “anything goes” philosophy, that ultimately, consumers pay the price for.

Code of Ethics

Like standards of care, we often take ethics for granted. But here is why they become indispensable for health professionals – because the client is in a vulnerable position. In a typical health professional-client relationship, it is the health professional that is often seen as the expert, and the one who has the power in the relationship. It’s the doctor that tells you what to do about X condition, the psychotherapist who has the knowledge about why you are feeling the way you are, and the psychiatrist that knows what to prescribe to make you feel better. In each of these situations, it is the code of ethics that guides each professional’s decisions. It’s the reason that the doctor who sees that you have an auto detailing business doesn’t ask you to detail his car. It’s reason that the marriage counselor doesn’t suggest that you divorce your spouse and start dating her cousin. And it’s the reason that the psychiatrist doesn’t prescribe more of an addictive medication than you need.

Health professionals don’t have to follow the code of ethics, yet if they don’t, there a repercussions. Suspensions can be rendered, fines can be imposed, and yes, licenses can be lost. Incidentally, the largest category of ethical violations for marriage and family counselors is the category of sexual violations with clients.

Establishment of a Regulatory Agency

Standards of care and codes of ethics are just two reasons why licensure matters, however, without establishing a regulatory agency, they don’t hold much weight.

Standards of care are created through a licensing body which, after much deliberation and study of the field of practice and the client needs therein, determine what is considered a standard for practice in that particular field. Similarly, it is this same regulatory agency that, when ethical violations are made, can be reported to.

So let me give you another example. A “nutritionist” working at a residential fitness camp is told by one of her clients that she is having trouble sleeping. Knowing that this is a concern for the client who is attempting to work out up to eight hours a day in an effort to lose weight, the nutritionist asks one of her other clients to give this client some of her Ambien (a prescription sleep medication) to help her sleep. Let’s say that the client who receives the medication had a negative reaction to it. Who is liable? In a case like this, it depends on the state. In a title state, where nutritionists can practice without license, there is no regulatory agency to report her to. So then the liability falls upon the client who dispensed the Ambien. And while she shouldn’t have given out her prescription medication (there are both federal and state laws that make using or sharing prescription drugs illegal), she was under the care of a nutritionist, and likely expected that this professional would not have asked her to do something illegal.

Practicing without ramifications isn’t only dangerous, it’s unethical, because, ultimately, as in cases like this, it is the client, and not the professional, who pays the price.

Achieving licensure for health professionals is a rite of passage – one that grants entrance into a world where hard earned knowledge, skills, and abilities can be used in the most honorable of ways – to help others in need. And licensure keeps health professionals accountable to practice to the best of their ability, not extend beyond their level of competence, and comply with the standards of care, code of ethics, and rules of a regulatory agency that was created to protect their profession, and the people it serves. Ultimately, licensure isn’t just about those who practice, it is about those who receive care – and it helps us all.

By Claire Dorotik-Nana, LMFT

Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. We provide accredited, online continuing education courses for licensed healthcare professionals for the purposes of expanding their education and improving patient care.

The purpose of continuing education is to assure high standards of practice by requiring licensees to participate in on‑going educational activities. Through these experiences, licensees increase their competence and ensure they are providing evidence-based care to their patients/clients.

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!

Overcoming the Stigma of Mental Illness

New Online CE Course @pdresources.org

Overcoming the Stigma of Mental IllnessOvercoming the Stigma of Mental Illness is a new 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

Click here to learn more.

Course Directions

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!

Re-Thinking Motivation

Re-Thinking Motivation

Self-control, or specifically, willpower, has been dubbed a limited resource. The more we use it to complete one task, the less we have for the next one, and by the end of the day, willpower may be so drained that those impulses we seek to resist don’t have much of a chance.

But what about the things we are motivated to do? Interestingly, a new study done by researchers at University of Toronto shows that self-control may be highly influenced by how motivated we are.

As Dan Randles, a postdoctoral fellow in Professor Michael Inzlicht’s lab at U of T Scarborough notes, most studies on self-control depletion have been done in the lab, and some, including studies on glucose, may not translate so easily to real life conditions.

Working with Iain Harlow, Vice President of Science at the adaptive learning company Cerego, Randles and Inzlicht gathered data from more than 16,000 students who completed voluntary learning and review exercises over several months using Cerego’s adaptive learning platform. The researchers found that people experience worsened ability while doing a single difficult memory task, and that their performance begins to decline around the 30-minute mark with a notable drop in performance around 50 minutes.

However, the researchers found no evidence that ability to complete the task decreased throughout the day, and in fact found that motivation to complete it actually increased (Harlow et al., 2018).

One explanation for this, Randles notes, could be that we have several longer-term goals to achieve and that we’re sensitive to putting in enough effort to complete them all. So too much effort in one task may rob other important goals (Randles, 2018).

This may be just one of the ways that we mistake the role – and the determinants – of motivation. And because motivation plays a central role in our lives – often moving toward our goals – understanding motivation and the forces that act upon it becomes imminently important for clinicians who work to help clients reach their goals.

Related Online Continuing Education (CE) Courses:

MotivationMotivation: Igniting the Process of Change is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that explores how we can tap into, ignite, and harness our motivation to create lasting change. Motivation today is one of the most coveted traits, thought to underlie our business success, athletic prowess, and even weight loss. But just how do we motivate ourselves? How do we ignite and harness our own motivation to achieve our goals? How do we call upon our motivation when we need it the most? And how do we keep motivation alive to create the lives we want? This course will explore these questions, and many more. We will begin with a discussion about why clinicians need to know this information and how this information can be helpful in working with clients. Next, we will look at the research behind motivation, decipher between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, and explore the roots of what keeps us motivated now, and over time. Lastly, we will learn the powerful skills needed to create a spark – that is to teach your clients to ignite and harness their own motivation to face fears, make decisions, take action, and create lasting change. Exercises you can use with clients are included. Course #31-03 | 2018 | 46 pages | 20 posttest questions

Motivating Children to Learn

Motivating 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

In the Zone: Finding Flow Through Positive PsychologyIn the Zone: Finding Flow Through Positive Psychology is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE) course that offers a how-to guide on incorporating flow into everyday life. According to the CDC, four out of ten people have not discovered a satisfying life purpose. Further, the APA reports that most people suffer from moderate to high levels of stress, and according to SAMSHA, adult prescription medication abuse (primarily to counteract attention deficit disorders) is one of the most concerning health problems today. And while clinicians now have a host of resources to mitigate distress and reduce symptomatology, the question remains: how do clinicians move clients beyond baseline levels of functioning to a state of fulfillment imbued with a satisfying life purpose? The answer may lie in a universal condition with unexpected benefits… This course will explore the concept of flow, also known as optimal performance, which is a condition we are all capable of, yet seldom cultivate. When in flow we experience a profound and dramatic shift in the way we experience ourselves, our capabilities, and the world around us. Our focus sharpens, our strengths are heightened, we feel an intense sense of euphoria and connection to the world around us, and we often realize capabilities we didn’t know were possible. For clients, flow doesn’t just help them become more capable, it dramatically improves their lives – teaching them not just to expect more from themselves, but how to cultivate the very conditions that make expecting more possible. This course, packed with exercises, tips, and tools, will demonstrate just how flow can be incorporated into your everyday life, and used to help your clients move from simply surviving to a life that harnesses and builds upon their own unique potential to thrive. Course 21-11 | 2016 | 30 pages | 15 posttest questions

Course Directions

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 Aging Becomes a Challenge

When Aging Becomes a Challenge

They are supposed to be your golden years. Your work is done, your finances are in order, and now you can enjoy your life. However, for many people, reaching retirement age brings many new physical and psychological issues.

In a paper published in June in the journal Aging, scientists from the institute’s Medical Informatics and Systems Division found that spontaneous mutations occur in our bodies constantly, but the rate of change differed dramatically among various people.

These changes are often associated with diseases such as diabetes, kidney failure, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and Alzheimer’s disease, and are linked to exposure to various environmental stressors (Bavarva et al., 2014).

“We observed that certain portions of our genome age 100 times faster than others. Microsatellites, once considered ‘junk DNA,’ are known to be associated with many diseases. They change much faster than individual DNA bases (known as single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs), so it is important that future studies look at this very dynamic part of the human genome,” explains Harold Garner, a professor of biological sciences and computer science at Virginia Tech and a professor of medicine at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute (Garner, 2014).

Things are not as simple as we once thought, and aging doesn’t seem to follow any sort of predictable pattern. Nor are the changes simply physical.

According to a longitudinal study of men and women ranging in age from 25 to 104, self-esteem rises steadily as people age but starts declining around the time of retirement.

Self-esteem, which is related to better health, less criminal behavior, lower levels of depression and, overall, greater success in life was found to be lowest among young adults but increased throughout adulthood, peaking at age 60, before it started to decline (Orth et al., 2016).

Further, on average, women had lower self-esteem than did men throughout most of adulthood, but self-esteem levels converged as men and women reached their 80s and 90s. Blacks and whites had similar self-esteem levels throughout young adulthood and middle age. In old age, average self-esteem among blacks dropped much more sharply than self-esteem among whites – even after controlling for differences in income and health (Orth et al., 2016).

Even more interesting was the finding that people of all ages in satisfying and supportive relationships tend to have higher self-esteem, however, despite maintaining higher self-esteem throughout their lives, people in happy relationships experienced the same drop in self-esteem during old age as people in unhappy relationships. Explains Kali H. Trzesniewski, PhD, of the University of Western Ontario, “Although they enter old age with higher self-esteem and continue to have higher self-esteem as they age, they decline in self-esteem to the same extent as people in unhappy relationships” (Trzesniewski, 2016).

While there are numerous theories as to why self-esteem peaks in middle age and then drops after retirement, such as a change in roles, an empty nest, retirement and obsolete work skills in addition to declining health, not one theory accurately explains the decline. However, through understanding the common physical and psychological challenges that the aging population faces, professionals who treat them can help ensure the highest levels of functioning, and a well-earned retirement.

Related Online Continuing Education (CE) Courses:

Aging: Challenges for CliniciansAging: Challenges for Clinicians is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE) course that provides a review of the aging process, illustrating potential challenges and effective solutions. Americans are living longer and there are proportionately more older adults than in previous generations due to the post-World War II baby boom. Many Americans are now living into their eighties and beyond. In healthcare, the volume of older people may soon outnumber the supply of healthcare professionals trained in geriatrics. Aging presents many challenges for people as they encounter new physical and psychosocial issues. It is vital for healthcare professionals to be familiar with the challenges of aging in order to effectively treat the aging population. This course will provide information on the normal process of aging, and point out problems commonly thought to be normal that require medical or psychological evaluation and treatment. Case examples will illustrate scenarios of aging persons who may be at risk but are not aware there is a problem. Use this information for referral as appropriate to ensure the highest level of functioning for your patients. Course #31-01 | 2017 | 54 pages | 20 posttest questions

Biology of AgingBiology of Aging: Research Today for a Healthier Tomorrow is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that reviews the research on aging and provides insight into where the science is heading. What is aging? Can we live long and live well—and are they the same thing? Is aging in our genes? How does our metabolism relate to aging? Can your immune system still defend you as you age? Since the National Institute on Aging was established in 1974, scientists asking just such questions have learned a great deal about the processes associated with the biology of aging. Technology today supports research that years ago would have seemed possible only in a science fiction novel. This course introduces some key areas of research into the biology of aging. Each area is a part of a larger field of scientific inquiry. You can look at each topic individually, or you can step back to see how they fit together, interwoven to help us better understand aging processes. Research on aging is dynamic, constantly evolving based on new discoveries, and so this course also looks ahead to the future, as today’s research provides the strongest hints of things to come. Closeout course #20-85 | 2012 | 30 pages | 15 posttest questions

Alzheimer’s - Unraveling the MysteryAlzheimer’s – Unraveling the Mystery is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that describes the risk factors, effective steps for prevention, strategies for diagnosing and treating, and the search for new treatments for AD. Alzheimer’s dementia is a growing concern among the aging Baby Boomers; yet, modern science points the way to reducing the risks through maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This course is based on a publication from the National Institute on Aging, which describes healthy brain functioning during the aging process and then contrasts it to the processes of Alzheimer’s disease. Strategies for reducing caregiver stress are also briefly discussed. Closeout Course #30-54 | 2008 | 45 pages | 21 posttest questions

Course Directions

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!

Link Between Screen Time & Suicide

Link Between Screen Time & Suicide

It’s no secret that screen time is increasing exponentially in teenagers, and that it contributes to several mental health issues. New research suggests that screen time should be considered a modern-day risk factor for depression and suicide.

Studying the rise in mental health problems among teens since 2010 that coincides with an increase in ownership of cell phones – by 2015, 92 percent of teens and young adults had a cell phone, along with CDC statistics that show that suicide rate increased 31 percent among teenagers from 2010 to 2015 – Twenge and Joiner found “a concerning relationship between excessive screen time and risk for death by suicide, depression, suicidal ideation and suicidal attempts” (Joiner & Twenge, 2017).

Explains Joiner, “All of those mental health issues are very serious. I think it’s something parents should ponder” (Joiner, 2017).

Specifically, Joiner and Twenge discovered 48 percent of teenagers who spent five or more hours per day on electronic devices reported a suicide-related behavior. That compared to 28 percent of adolescents who spent less than an hour using electronic devices.

Twenge concludes that the results clearly showed that teens who spent more time on the devices were more likely to be unhappy. Those who focused more on non-screen activities like sports and exercise, talking to friends face to face, doing homework and going to church were more likely to be happy.

Joiner and Twenge emphasized their research does not prove that screen time causes depressive symptoms or suicide-related behaviors, but the findings do show a link.

The takeaway, however, is that screen time is just one of the many factors that may contribute to suicide – and one that healthcare professionals should be aware of. By being aware of the many factors that contribute to depression and suicide, as well as the evidence-based strategies that can prevent it, clinicians can better help to reduce the risk factors and promote resilience among our youngsters.

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 | 2017 | 60 pages | 20 posttest questions

Effects of Digital Media on Children’s Development and LearningEffects of Digital Media on Children’s Development and Learning is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that reviews the research on media use and offers guidance for educators and parents to regulate their children’s use of digital devices. Today’s world is filled with smartphones used by people ignoring their surroundings and even texting while driving, which is criminally dangerous. Are there other dangers that may not be as apparent? Media technology (e.g., smart phones, tablets, or laptop computers) have changed the world. Babies and children are affected and research reveals that 46% of children under age one, and up to 59% of eight-year-old children are exposed to cell phones. In England, nearly 80% of senior primary-school staff reportedly are worried about poor social skills or speech problems of children entering school, which they attribute to the use of media devices. Media technology affects family life, children’s readiness for entering school or preschool, and classroom learning. Recent research delineates a developmental progression of understanding information on devices for children between ages 2- 5 years. Younger children may believe false information if it is on a computer. This research is important for understanding technology uses in education. There are also known health risks and possible adverse effects to social-emotional development. Statistics describing the increase of media technology and developing trends in media use are presented along with guidelines and position statements developed to protect children from risks and adverse effects. Course #30-96 | 2017 | 50 pages | 20 posttest questions 

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

Course Directions

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!

Uncovering Happiness

Uncovering Happiness

What does it take to truly be happy? Research has shown that although we may think money will make us happy, the effect has a ceiling. According to research done by Andrew T. Jebb, and colleagues, the ideal income point is $95,000 for life evaluation and $60,000 to $75,000 for emotional well-being (Jebb et al., 2018).

Interestingly, when comparing variation across world regions – based on data from the Gallup World Poll, which is a representative survey sample of more than 1.7 million individuals from 164 countries – Jebb and his team found that the wealthier the region, the more money was needed to reach satiation. Jebb explains, “This could be because evaluations tend to be more influenced by the standards by which individuals compare themselves to other people” (Jebb, 2018).

The study also uncovered an interesting effect: once the threshold was reached, further increases in income tended to be associated with reduced life satisfaction and a lower level of well-being (Jebb et al., 2018).

It seems that when it comes to happiness, money will only get us so far. What matters more, Jebb and his team uncovered, are higher goals, like achieving lifelong dreams, social support, and community.

Further, too much focus on money and material gains leads to engaging in social comparisons, which could, ironically, lower well-being (Jebb et al., 2018).

Pursuing happiness, another study found, also doesn’t lead to happiness. Conducting four studies in which they investigated how the pursuit of happiness as well as the state of being happy influenced people’s perception of time, Aekyoung Kim of Rutgers University in the US and Sam Maglio of the University of Toronto Scarborough in Canada found that pursuing happiness caused the participants to think of time as scarce (Kim & Maglio, 2018).

Specifically, the researchers’ found that a person’s perception of time scarcity is influenced by their pursuit of (often unattainable) happiness. The feeling that time was scarce lessened for participants who maintained that they had attained their goal of being happy to some degree.

“Time seems to vanish amid the pursuit of happiness,” explains Kim, “but only when seen as a goal requiring continued pursuit” (Kim, 2018).

On the other hand, if someone believes they have achieved happiness, they are left with the time to appreciate this, for instance by keeping a gratitude journal. Kim explains, “Because engaging in experiences and savoring the associated feelings requires more time compared with merely, for instance, buying material goods, feeling a lack of time also leads people to prefer material possessions rather than enjoying leisure experiences” (Kim, 2018).

So what’s the takeaway? Happiness can’t be bought, and it can’t be pursued too much. However, we are learning that there are several factors that do contribute strongly to happiness – such as a sense of meaning, positive relationships, feeling engaged, and achieving our goals. For clinicians, what this means is that through understanding what does and does not bring happiness, they can help their clients find happiness today and for years to come.

Related Online Continuing Education (CE) Course:

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

Course Directions

This online course provides 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!