Viewing entries tagged
mental health

Tobey's Picks

Tobey's Picks



Many of us have been told that “communication is key” in a romantic relationship. But what does that really mean? How do we learn to communicate effectively, and avoid hurting each other in the process? The Gottman Institute has done years of research examining how couples communicate. They have highlighted four particularly negative communication styles, leading to less connection and more painful interactions. These are called the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse, which refer to: Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness and Stonewalling. Check out this detailed blog post from the Gottman Institute that helps to clarify what each of these factors look like, so that you and your partner can better communicate on issues big and small!

Food Psych Podcast

There are so many great podcasts to listen to, but some have that special combination of being fascinating, helpful and empowering. Food Psych is a weekly podcast hosted by intuitive eating dietitian Christy Harrison. Each week. Christy interviews various guests on their relationship with food, their body, how diet culture has shaped their view of themselves, and how they have broken free of their unhealthy relationships with food and their bodies to live a more fulfilling life. She digs deep into the ways in which diet culture has both shaped our understanding of how to eat and sold us the false notion that diets are the answer to our struggles. She strongly promotes body acceptance, and backs it up with good data that shows that health is not about size or weight. Christy also has tons of resources on her website, and courses that help get into the particularly challenging parts of intuitive eating and body acceptance. Check it out and see what you think!


Disordered eating might be more common than we think, but that doesn’t mean it’s something to overlook. The attached article emphasizes that disordered eating may look like a normal range of eating, making it easy for family and friends to miss important cues that suggest a loved one is struggling. However, missing these cues may delay diagnosis, leading to lost opportunities for effective treatments before the disorder takes over more space in their lives. Check out this article for some tips on what to look for and how to be helpful: Recognizing Eating Disorders in Time to Help.


So much of what we see online in relation to eating disorders involves visuals of what certain eating disorders look like (i.e. someone with a very low weight suffering from anorexia). These images highlight the dangers of these disorders (while only capturing a fraction what it looks like to suffer from an eating disorder), but do little to help individuals already suffering from these difficulties. An eating disorder treatment center in Denver, Colorado has begun a campaign to focus more directly on recovery, as opposed to images connected with the active stages of the disorder. This campaign involves writing letters about an individual’s personal recovery journey, demonstrating for those still suffering that recovery is possible! It also helps shed light on the genuine struggle and complexity of overcoming an eating disorder, but the ultimate freedom that comes with recovery. Check out the campaign here:


More and more, I’m noticing that there are certain really important ideas discussed online so regularly that they are starting to simply be seen as “buzz words”. For instance, we often see the terms ‘self-care’, ‘self-compassion’, ‘mindfulness’, etc. used in ways that make it difficult for someone to understand what the terms mean and how to best incorporate them into their lives. These terms represent big ideas and the more instruction we can receive on these topics, the more likely we are to make subtle, but meaningful changes in ourselves. The following article breaks down the main components of self-compassion therapy, and then provides many concrete tools and exercises to begin practicing this new way of relating to yourself: 16 Compassion Focused Therapy Training Exercises and Worksheets.


Recently, I’ve noticed that I’ve been recommending the same book to clients…over, and over. One might believe that it’s because it’s the first book that comes to mind, or because I’m in the habit of reading only a few books a year (which all might be true!), but the more accurate reason is that I’ve realized that this book seems to be relevant for so many individuals that I work with. The book I’m referring to is called “The Happiness Trap”, by Russ Harris. It is based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and is an easy to digest, relatable, and research supported book that helps individuals better notice and distance from their unhelpful thought patterns, while moving towards actions that align with their values. Plus, it has countless examples and exercises that you can (and ideally will!) use to practice these very helpful tools. The first chapter is available for free online, so check it out and see if you think it could help direct you towards a more helpful and meaningful way of thinking and acting: The Happiness Trap - Introduction and Chapter One.


We have all fallen victim to the never-ending chase for happiness, the ongoing desire to attain a steady level of contentment and joy that so often feels just outside of our grip. Interestingly, the more one searches for happiness outside of themselves, the more steep the slope may seem. This is largely due to the fact that happiness is a feeling, which means it’s an internal state that comes from within! The more we are searching for happiness “out there” the less we’re giving ourselves a chance to acknowledge what we can do within ourselves to move closer towards those positive feelings. The following article, a brief summary of the book by the same name by John Izzo, highlights the five ways that our own mindset gets in the way of our happiness: Some tips for banishing the five thieves of happiness.


As many people have read or heard, Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, lost her husband suddenly two years ago. She has spoken openly about the grief that comes with loss, and the different coping skills that she and her children have found helpful in moving through this grief. In the article below, Sheryl talks about how to build resilience in children, even when they have experienced such a tremendous loss. Her writing expands on research by Dr. Adam Grant, a professor who researches resilience during adversity, and describes many key elements that can help contribute to children’s overall resilience no matter what obstacles lie in their path - Sheryl Sandberg: How to Build Resilient Kids, Even After a Loss.


More attention is being paid to the importance of making space for our emotions, and learning how to express ourselves effectively. It appears, however, that there continues to be a stigma surrounding which emotions are considered appropriate for each gender.

Research and theory have suggested that various parental, cultural, and societal influences contribute to a divergence in emotional expression between genders (Fisher, 2000). Ultimately, gender stereotypes suggest that it is more appropriate for girls to express their difficulties with sadness, fear, and worry, whereas boys are meant to express their pain with anger. This expectation, however, leads boys and men to not have access to proper tools to express the range of human emotions. Read on to learn more about suggested tools to encourage boys to become comfortable with all of their emotions: 10 Tips on Helping Teen Boys Express Their Feelings.


So much of our culture is focused on one shared goal – the pursuit of happiness! Though happiness seems desirable, making happiness our ultimate goal may lead us to feel especially discouraged when confronted with life’s normal ups and downs, as well as the objective difficulties that all individuals confront at various times in their lives. Further, researcher finds that even once a person achieves a goal that they associate with being happy, they eventually grow accustomed to the change and its novelty and positive impact on mood diminishes (Macini, Bonanno, & Clark, 2011). The following blog explores the importance of pursing a life that includes all emotions, with a goal of being “whole” and not just happy: “Positive thinking” has turned happiness into a duty and a burden, says a Danish psychologist.


We often find ourselves stuck in a situation where we can’t seem to let go of an upsetting or frustrating event. We catch ourselves becoming distracted during the day when ruminating about these events, which removes us from the present moment and robs of us our ability to enjoy what is right in front of us.  So why do we keep our minds stuck on these moments? Sometimes we think that if we let something go, we’re saying that we’re okay with what happened. The truth is that letting go simply allows you to live more freely regardless of what’s happened. Research supports this notion that accepting our situation as it is, and letting go of negative experiences in our mind, allows us to feel more connected and present in our daily life (Ciarrochi, Bilich, & Godsel, 2010). The following article explores this notion further and highlights why it’s so helpful to sometimes let go of that which is no longer serving us: The Cost of Holding On.


I often find myself caught up in thoughts about “I’ll be happy when…”. The following article highlights that the search for happiness prevents us from being in the present moment, and can leave us stuck in a cycle of always looking ahead for what will make us happy in the future. We also tend to believe that one thing will bring us happiness, but once we achieve it, we realize that the joy is fleeting and we’re already onto the next thing. This phenomenon is further explored in the following article, which is based on research that highlights the difficulty of our never-ending search for happiness: Why You Shouldn't Want to Always Be Happy.


How should parents talk about weight with their children? Understandably, parents want their kids to be physically healthy, but it’s important to consider the mental health impact of sending the wrong message. A recent study shows that even passing comments can have a long-term negative impact on a daughter’s self-esteem (Wansink, Latimer, Pope, 2016). This article discusses the negative impact of commenting on a child’s weight, and alternatives on how to best support a healthy lifestyle for the entire family.


We all have the thought that if only we could be more outgoing, more conscientious, more organized, etc., our lives would improve. We also have the tendency to think that those desires are enough to actually lead to change. For example, if I say I’ll be more on time, in the future I’ll hopefully be more on time. However, that’s not quite how change works. Research suggests that we need concrete, attainable goals in order to see changes (Hudson & Fraley, 2015). Read on to develop a better understanding of personality and our ability to see real changes in ourselves: Can Personality Be Changed?

Brent's Picks

Brent's Picks


My search for a pick this month led me to several TED talks that were interesting; but I rarely found speakers as touching and authentic as Brené Brown. She only gets into the topic of shame around the halfway point (so skip ahead to 9:45 if you are in a hurry), but the introduction is worth the wait. Often thought of as an emotion that isolates, shame is ironically universal. Brown clues us in on how looking at shame may bring us back to connection. Who cares? Well, a recent study showed that in 174 children, shame predicts depressive symptoms, internalizing issues, and social anxiety later in life (Mills, et al., 2015)…It’s time to listen.

This is Water, by David Foster Wallace

This short videogram is an excerpt of a commencement address that Wallace gave to Kenyon College’s 2005 graduating class. Bear with me on this one, it’s sometimes cheesy music may turn some of you off. But the underlying message is very touchingly and amusingly delivered: that our choice in how we relate to events has a huge impact on how we experience these events. Although Wallace was a writer, not a psychologist or researcher, his underlying message rings true with acceptance and commitment therapy’s underlying premise that much of human suffering evolves from an unruly use of the problem-solving mode of mind (Hayes, Strosahl, & Wilson, 2012).

*Editor's note (important 2-in-1 learning experience in this videogram): Despite its important and poignant message, this videogram was almost taken off our site. In Wallace’s attempt not to sugar coat the ways in which we may very automatically and harshly judge certain people and situations, he—perhaps unsuspectingly—propagates fat shaming and offensive stereotypes of overweight individuals. To some of us, these aspects of the video probably go unnoticed, like water. For others who struggle to relate to the thin main characters, this “water” represents something in our culture that is rampant, mindlessly socially accepted, and that perpetuates the problem of obesity—one of the world’s most important health problems. To learn more about obesity and why some people live with it despite efforts to eat well and exercise avidly, check out articles and news on the Canadian Obesity Network. You can also read about why fat shaming is unhelpful in some of our previous picks (Lisa’s pick / Jodie’s pick).

Janie's Picks

Janie's Picks


Art Therapy Myths Busted!

As an art-therapy intern, I can feel a curiosity around me about WHAT is art-therapy. We also hear more and more about art-therapy in newspapers, blogs, community projects, books, interviews, and so on. From this curiosity, questions and myths about the field of art-therapy often arise. Can art-therapists read my mind through my drawings? Is it only for kids? Is it only for artists? Is it art classes? Is it a credible field? This blog entry from Amy Jonhson Maricle, art-therapist (MA), does a good job of addressing those myths and questions about art-therapy. You can also browse her other posts to get some tips on how to get started with your creativity.

"L’art-thérapie, une ressource négligée en santé mentale"

À l’invitation du Musée des beaux Arts de Montréal (MBAM), des projets en partenariat avec le MBAM et le département de thérapies par les arts de l’Université Concordia ont récemment été développés. Le nouveau Pavillon pour la Paix Michal et Renata Hornstein ouvrira ses portes à la fin de 2016 avec des espaces dédiés à l’art-thérapie.  Josée Leclerc (PhD), art-thérapeute, psychothérapeute, professeure et directrice du programme de maîtrise en art-thérapie à Concordia travaille depuis de nombreuses années à la reconnaissance de l’art-thérapie et à l’innovation de projets, tel celui en partenariat avec le MBAM, le programme des troubles alimentaires de l’Institut Douglas et Concordia. Dans une entrevue accordée au journal Le Devoir, elle explique comment l’art-thérapie peut aider à répondre à la grande demande d’aide en santé mentale au Québec et au mieux-être des personnes ou collectivités. Connecte est une clinique novatrice dans son ouverture aux différentes approches et qui voit la combinaison des connaissances et professions comme une force pour répondre le mieux possible aux besoins de chacun et chacune.

Documentaire: L'art fait du bien

L’artiste est souvent définit comme étant une personne privilégiée d’un certain talent naturel. Il peut sembler difficile de se valoriser par notre créativité si nous ne répondons pas aux normes esthétiques établies. Pourtant, chacun de nous possède une créativité unique. Elle nous aide à faire des choix, trouver des solutions, jouer, faire preuve d’ingéniosité, démontrer de la sensibilité, etc. De prendre contact avec cette créativité a permis à plusieurs personnes de voir la vie différemment. Le documentaire l’Art Fait du Bien (réalisé par Jean-Sebastien Ouellette), nous présente des personnes pour qui cette rencontre avec leur créativité les a aidé dans leur cheminement. Certains sont artistes professionnels, d’autres non. De tout âge et de tout horizon, ces personnes ont en commun une bataille souffrante dans laquelle l’art est un allié important. L’une d’entre eux se bat spécifiquement contre l’anorexie et a pu trouver dans la création une source de réconfort et une redécouverte du plaisir (17 min, 43 sec.).

Natsumi's Picks

Natsumi's Picks


This short video talks about why trying to avoid our difficult thoughts and feelings often backfires and keeps us “stuck” in unhelpful patterns of thought, emotion, and behaviour. The video talks about how to better deal with difficult thoughts and feelings in way that allows us to work towards the things that are the most important to us and live a more meaningful life.

 The University of California San Diego Centre for Mindfulness

Mindfulness is both a practice and a particular state of awareness that is associated with a number of psychological benefits including decreased stress and emotional reactivity, decreased symptoms of depression and anxiety, and better focus and working memory. This website provides a large number of free audio guides to support your mindfulness practice. It includes guided meditation and yoga practices.

 The Procrastination Research Group at Carleton University

This website contains lots of useful information including blog posts, podcasts, and other resources as well as self-help tips and suggestions on how to overcome procrastination.