Archive

for May, 2014

Stopping the “die-hard” smoker

Posted on May 30, 2014 in Uncategorized - 0 comments - 0

By Clinical Psychologist, Dr Matthew Evans 

smoking

Tomorrow, 31st May is World No Tobacco Day, so we’ve taken the opportunity to interview Dr Evans about how you can help loved ones take the right steps towards quitting once and for all. 

I was listening to a discussion on a radio show the other day about taxing cigarettes. One person on radio was arguing against these taxes as she believed it denied people the right to make choices about their behaviour.

On the one hand, I can understand that she might feel frustrated by what could be seen as over-involvement by the government in people’s personal decisions. On the other hand, I can understand the government’s concern about needing to reduce smoking and it harmful effects in Australia. About 20% of Australian males and 16% of Australian females smoke. Smoking is one of the most important preventable causes of sickness and death, and taxing tobacco products has been found to be the most cost effective way to reduce smoking (Australian Bureau of Statistics; 2011-2012).

Over the years of working with patients at the thoracic medicine clinic at a major teaching hospital, I have seen similar disagreements to that which I heard on radio happening in the families of people who have lung disease and continue to smoke. Well-meaning family members often try hard to convince their loved one to stop smoking, and in return the person who is smoking can feel their rights to make decisions are being violated and that they are being judged. Everyone feels frustrated and generally there is no reduction in smoking. Overall, no one ends up winning.

Similarly, health professionals, knowing the benefits of not smoking and unsure of how to get people to stop, confront smokers with negative health messages of the dire consequences of smoking that are rarely effective in changing people’s behaviour. Who hasn’t heard that smoking is bad for your health? Merely repeating that message isn’t likely to work. Here are a few tips to help those who are finding it hard to help a person who smokes to stop smoking or cut back.

Ask not tell (avoid the “righting reflex” or trying to persuade)

The “righting reflex” is a desire to correct something/someone that you think is heading down the wrong path. It involves offering advice, tips or information to someone in order to try to persuade them to do what YOU think THEY should do. Although well-intentioned, it can cause the receiver to feel that their autonomy is threatened and therefore they become defensive. Importantly, trying to persuade someone to change can often actually reduce the chance that they will. Usually, it is better to ask questions first, find out where someone is at, and then help them explore the options of what they should do. People are much more likely to follow through with a plan that they have come up with themselves. If you think some information might be useful ask for permission to share first.

Empathise with the person’s experiences

Empathy helps people feel heard and understood. It helps people to feel that you are on their side and with them through their struggles. When done well, it opens people’s ears to what you have to say. When missing or done badly, you can lose any legitimacy to comment. Why would you listen to advice given by someone who doesn’t listen nor understand the problem in the first place?

Distinguish between “not wanting” and “not feeling able”

Often people will give lots of seemingly tenuous reasons why they won’t stop smoking. Often this masks their real reasons for not trying to stop – they don’t believe they can. It helps maintain someone’s self-esteem to believe that they are choosing not to change rather than being unable to change. Smoking is highly addictive and can be a very difficult behaviour to change. Often, smokers have had several unsuccessful prior attempts at quitting or are aware of other people’s struggles. Finding out if they have tried to give up before and if so what have they tried can help someone who smokes feel like you are genuinely wanting to help rather than just being judgemental or critical.

Know some facts about effective ways to stop smoking and build confidence

Related to the point above, when talking to people who smokes, the most common information provided is why they should stop smoking. The idea presumably is that people will feel anxious and do something about their smoking. This will only work if the person believes they can do something about it. If they don’t believe they can change, a state called “learned helplessness” can occur, which, in terms of smoking, means that people who smoke either accept the health risks or become desensitised to the health messages because there’s no point worrying about things you can’t avoid.

A better approach in such cases is to increase the person’s sense that they can change their smoking behaviour if they want to. This can involve highlighting any successes they have had as well as providing information about effective treatments. For example, it has been found that people are three times more likely to successfully give up smoking if they receive psychological support in giving up smoking in comparison to trying to just try to stop by themselves and five times more likely if they combine psychological support and pharmacological treatments (Laniado-Laborium, 2010).

Do not pursue the issue if you get a negative response

Sometimes even with the best communication skills in the world you may get a negative response, in which case leave it for the time being. If the negative response is mild or just involves not recognising a problem it might be worth just enquiring gently about concerns in a couple of months in case things have changed. Attempts to repeatedly bring up the issue that cause annoyance or frustration should be avoided as it can prevent people from acknowledging problems rather than be helpful.

Know where to get help

Often people need additional help to quit smoking or cut down. Knowing what services are available can really help. Some services that can be useful are:

Psychological treatments, such as cognitive behavioural therapy.

QUITline for general advice and counselling.

Seeing your GP for information about pharmacological treatments.

MattE250x250For more information on Matt and the team at Psychology Consultants, visit www.psychologyconsultants.com.au

References:

Laniado-Laborim, R (2010). Smoking cessation intervention: an evidence-based approach.

Postgrad Medicine, 122(2):74-82

WHO report on Global Tobacco Epidemic (2013)

Bureau of statistics webpage. http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4125.0main+features3320Jan%202013

Please follow and like us:
Read more

Stopping the "die-hard" smoker

Posted on May 30, 2014 in Uncategorized - 0 comments - 0

By Clinical Psychologist, Dr Matthew Evans 

smoking

Tomorrow, 31st May is World No Tobacco Day, so we’ve taken the opportunity to interview Dr Evans about how you can help loved ones take the right steps towards quitting once and for all. 

I was listening to a discussion on a radio show the other day about taxing cigarettes. One person on radio was arguing against these taxes as she believed it denied people the right to make choices about their behaviour.

On the one hand, I can understand that she might feel frustrated by what could be seen as over-involvement by the government in people’s personal decisions. On the other hand, I can understand the government’s concern about needing to reduce smoking and it harmful effects in Australia. About 20% of Australian males and 16% of Australian females smoke. Smoking is one of the most important preventable causes of sickness and death, and taxing tobacco products has been found to be the most cost effective way to reduce smoking (Australian Bureau of Statistics; 2011-2012).

Over the years of working with patients at the thoracic medicine clinic at a major teaching hospital, I have seen similar disagreements to that which I heard on radio happening in the families of people who have lung disease and continue to smoke. Well-meaning family members often try hard to convince their loved one to stop smoking, and in return the person who is smoking can feel their rights to make decisions are being violated and that they are being judged. Everyone feels frustrated and generally there is no reduction in smoking. Overall, no one ends up winning.

Similarly, health professionals, knowing the benefits of not smoking and unsure of how to get people to stop, confront smokers with negative health messages of the dire consequences of smoking that are rarely effective in changing people’s behaviour. Who hasn’t heard that smoking is bad for your health? Merely repeating that message isn’t likely to work. Here are a few tips to help those who are finding it hard to help a person who smokes to stop smoking or cut back.

Ask not tell (avoid the “righting reflex” or trying to persuade)

The “righting reflex” is a desire to correct something/someone that you think is heading down the wrong path. It involves offering advice, tips or information to someone in order to try to persuade them to do what YOU think THEY should do. Although well-intentioned, it can cause the receiver to feel that their autonomy is threatened and therefore they become defensive. Importantly, trying to persuade someone to change can often actually reduce the chance that they will. Usually, it is better to ask questions first, find out where someone is at, and then help them explore the options of what they should do. People are much more likely to follow through with a plan that they have come up with themselves. If you think some information might be useful ask for permission to share first.

Empathise with the person’s experiences

Empathy helps people feel heard and understood. It helps people to feel that you are on their side and with them through their struggles. When done well, it opens people’s ears to what you have to say. When missing or done badly, you can lose any legitimacy to comment. Why would you listen to advice given by someone who doesn’t listen nor understand the problem in the first place?

Distinguish between “not wanting” and “not feeling able”

Often people will give lots of seemingly tenuous reasons why they won’t stop smoking. Often this masks their real reasons for not trying to stop – they don’t believe they can. It helps maintain someone’s self-esteem to believe that they are choosing not to change rather than being unable to change. Smoking is highly addictive and can be a very difficult behaviour to change. Often, smokers have had several unsuccessful prior attempts at quitting or are aware of other people’s struggles. Finding out if they have tried to give up before and if so what have they tried can help someone who smokes feel like you are genuinely wanting to help rather than just being judgemental or critical.

Know some facts about effective ways to stop smoking and build confidence

Related to the point above, when talking to people who smokes, the most common information provided is why they should stop smoking. The idea presumably is that people will feel anxious and do something about their smoking. This will only work if the person believes they can do something about it. If they don’t believe they can change, a state called “learned helplessness” can occur, which, in terms of smoking, means that people who smoke either accept the health risks or become desensitised to the health messages because there’s no point worrying about things you can’t avoid.

A better approach in such cases is to increase the person’s sense that they can change their smoking behaviour if they want to. This can involve highlighting any successes they have had as well as providing information about effective treatments. For example, it has been found that people are three times more likely to successfully give up smoking if they receive psychological support in giving up smoking in comparison to trying to just try to stop by themselves and five times more likely if they combine psychological support and pharmacological treatments (Laniado-Laborium, 2010).

Do not pursue the issue if you get a negative response

Sometimes even with the best communication skills in the world you may get a negative response, in which case leave it for the time being. If the negative response is mild or just involves not recognising a problem it might be worth just enquiring gently about concerns in a couple of months in case things have changed. Attempts to repeatedly bring up the issue that cause annoyance or frustration should be avoided as it can prevent people from acknowledging problems rather than be helpful.

Know where to get help

Often people need additional help to quit smoking or cut down. Knowing what services are available can really help. Some services that can be useful are:

Psychological treatments, such as cognitive behavioural therapy.

QUITline for general advice and counselling.

Seeing your GP for information about pharmacological treatments.

MattE250x250For more information on Matt and the team at Psychology Consultants, visit www.psychologyconsultants.com.au

References:

Laniado-Laborim, R (2010). Smoking cessation intervention: an evidence-based approach.

Postgrad Medicine, 122(2):74-82

WHO report on Global Tobacco Epidemic (2013)

Bureau of statistics webpage. http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4125.0main+features3320Jan%202013

Please follow and like us:
Read more

Music, Tune Into Your Emotions

Posted on May 27, 2014 in Mental Health Topics - 0

By Clinical Psychology Registrar, Dr James Kirby 

There will be days when I am driving home from work feeling pretty exhausted, tired, stressed, and also anxious about some of the work I still have not completed but was supposed to have done. Typically, when I am driving my car I have the radio playing in the background, but I often don’t give it that much attention. But yesterday a song was played that really got my attention, it was a song by Australian artist Dan Sultan called ‘The Same Man’. I don’t really remember the lyrics, but the beat and rhythm of the song really ‘picked me up’. Whilst listening to the song, I noticed it really improved my mood, for some reason I was nodding my head, it made me feel a lot more upbeat, positive, and less stressed. It is only a 4-minute song, but listening to that song was in many ways transformational for my mood.

This scenario is not uncommon, indeed, we can all relate to the power of a song to influence mood. Movies exploit the power of music constantly, the soundtracks of movies can really enhance the emotional tone the director is trying to convey in a scene. One of my favourite directors, Quentin Tarantino does it to glorious effect in the movie Pulp Fiction, and Stephen Spielberg was a master employing the music theme song to the movie Jaws. That music used when the shark is circling the boat in Jaws is simply chilling and builds suspense wonderfully. The question is, would the suspense in that scene in Jaws still be provoked to such a high level without the music? Try watching that scene from Jaws on mute, it just doesn’t have the same emotional impact.

What is encouraging for us is that we can use music to help regulate our emotions. What I mean is, at different times of the day, in different circumstances, we can use music to alter how we are feeling. This might mean you want to use music to fully explore the emotional state you are currently in, you might want to use music to get you out of a sad place, you might want to use music to bring on a sense of relaxation, or you can use music to give you the extra energy you need to get to the gym and do a work out.

Dr Genevieve Dingle from the University of Queensland is doing some cutting edge research examining how music can be used to help regulate our emotions with teenagers. The program is called, Tuned In Teens, and it was designed to help young people identify, name, tolerate and modify their emotions strategically, using music as the tool. When examining the Tuned In Teens program, it is more than just listening to a song to make you happy. Music is explored in terms of the effect it can have on our bodily sensations, the visual imagery it can bring, and how we make sense of the lyrics. The program is currently being evaluated with teenagers, however, the program was found to be helpful in a previous study by Dingle and her colleague Carly Fay with young adults aged 18-25 years. Music can be a very helpful way to help regulate mood, as some people find it hard verbalise how they are feeling and what they are thinking. Therefore, music can be a way to break through that verbal barrier. That is the hope of Dr Dingle and colleagues with helping teenagers regulate their moods in their current study at The University of Queensland.

The knowledge that music can influence our mood is of course not new, but it is surprising how little we use music strategically to help us with mood. In many ways, the benefits we can derive from music is under utilised and often can be left to chance. However, below are some simple ways you can use music to help regulate how you are feeling.

  1. When you notice a song playing that impacts your emotional state, try to identify what emotional state you were experiencing before the song and where the song took your emotional state. Also write down the song so you can use it later.
  2.  Create multiple playlists to help regulate your mood for different emotional states. For example create a playlist to help improve your mood from being stressed to happy. Create a playlist to help you relax when you are feeling anxious. Create a playlist for when you feel like you have no energy but need to get up and move.
  3. When listening to a piece of music try and notice what body sensations you are experiencing, does it give you a sense of calmness, a ‘chill’ or does it make you want to move?
  4. When listening to music try and think about what visual images come to mind?

Music is a wonderful and powerful tool. However, in order to derive its benefits the key is to use it. Make that playlist on your smart phone, create a CD for your car, or put some songs on your computer. The more you make it easily accessible, the more likely it is you will use it. Right now I am feeling pretty happy that I have finished writing this blog, so to help fully explore and enjoy this feeling I am going to start listening to ‘In your light” by Gotye. It’s one song that always makes me feel happy.

 

Please follow and like us:
Read more

Music, Tune into your Emotions

Posted on May 27, 2014 in Uncategorized - 0 comments - 0

By Clinical Psychology Registrar, Dr James Kirby

musictherapy

There will be days when I am driving home from work feeling pretty exhausted, tired, stressed, and also anxious about some of the work I still have not completed. Typically, when I am driving my car I have the radio playing in the background, but I often don’t give it that much attention. But yesterday a song was played that really got my attention, it was a song by Australian artist Dan Sultan called ‘The Same Man’. I don’t really remember the lyrics, but the beat and rhythm of the song really ‘picked me up’. Whilst listening to the song, I noticed it really improved my mood, for some reason I was nodding my head, it made me feel a lot more upbeat, positive, and less stressed. It is only a 4-minute song, but listening to that song was in many ways transformational for my mood.

This scenario is not uncommon, indeed, we can all relate to the power of a song to influence mood. Movies exploit the power of music constantly, the soundtracks of movies can really enhance the emotional tone the director is trying to convey in a scene. One of my favourite directors, Quentin Tarantino does it to glorious effect in the movie Pulp Fiction, and Stephen Spielberg was a master employing the music theme song to the movie Jaws. That music used when the shark is circling the boat in Jaws is simply chilling and builds suspense wonderfully. The question is, would the suspense in that scene in Jaws still be provoked to such a high level without the music? Try watching that scene from Jaws on mute, it just doesn’t have the same emotional impact.

What is encouraging for us is that we can use music to help regulate our emotions. What I mean is, at different times of the day, in different circumstances, we can use music to alter how we are feeling. This might mean you want to use music to fully explore the emotional state you are currently in, you might want to use music to get you out of a sad place, you might want to use music to bring on a sense of relaxation, or you can use music to give you the extra energy you need to get to the gym and do a work out.

Dr Genevieve Dingle from the University of Queensland is doing some cutting edge research examining how music can be used to help regulate our emotions with teenagers. The program is called, Tuned In Teens, and it was designed to help young people identify, name, tolerate and modify their emotions strategically, using music as the tool. When examining the Tuned In Teens program, it is more than just listening to a song to make you happy. Music is explored in terms of the effect it can have on our bodily sensations, the visual imagery it can bring, and how we make sense of the lyrics. The program is currently being evaluated with teenagers, however, the program was found to be helpful in a previous study by Dingle and her colleague Carly Fay with young adults aged 18-25 years. Music can be a very helpful way to help regulate mood, as some people find it hard verbalise how they are feeling and what they are thinking. Therefore, music can be a way to break through that verbal barrier. That is the hope of Dr Dingle and colleagues with helping teenagers regulate their moods in their current study at The University of Queensland.

The knowledge that music can influence our mood is of course not new, but it is surprising how little we use music strategically to help us with mood. In many ways, the benefits we can derive from music is under utilised and often can be left to chance. However, below are some simple ways you can use music to help regulate how you are feeling.

  1. When you notice a song playing that impacts your emotional state, try to identify what emotional state you were experiencing before the song and where the song took your emotional state. Also write down the song so you can use it later.
  2. Create multiple playlists to help regulate your mood for different emotional states. For example create a playlist to help improve your mood from being stressed to happy. Create a playlist to help you relax when you are feeling anxious. Create a playlist for when you feel like you have no energy but need to get up and move.
  3. When listening to a piece of music try and notice what body sensations you are experiencing, does it give you a sense of calmness, a ‘chill’ or does it make you want to move?
  4. When listening to music try and think about what visual images come to mind?

Music is a wonderful and powerful tool. However, in order to derive its benefits the key is to use it. Make that playlist on your smart phone, create a CD for your car, or put some songs on your computer. The more you make it easily accessible, the more likely it is you will use it. Right now I am feeling pretty happy that I have finished writing this blog, so to help fully explore and enjoy this feeling I am going to start listening to ‘In your light” by Gotye. It’s one song that always makes me feel happy.

Dr James Kirby

Dr James Kirby

For more information on James and our team of Psychologists visit www.psychologyconsultants.com.au

 

 

Please follow and like us:
Read more
Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)