Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and addiction are two very different challenges that are sometimes experienced at the same time. People are often curious about the ways that these two struggles overlap.  There are actually several ways that PTSD and substance use go together. Substances as a solution People who have PTSD struggle with anxiety and fear, isolation, and sleep difficulties.  Substance use can, understandably, seem like a solution. Using alcohol might help someone who feels on guard all the time to be able to relax.  Benzodiazepines or marijuana might be used to help individuals who suffer from trauma to fall asleep.  People with PTSD may use substances to avoid thoughts, feelings, or memories associated with the traumatic event. Research suggests Read more

How Self-Compassion Helps with Anxiety

November 2, 2016

Kaylin Jones, Ph.D.

Anxiety can be a loud voice in your head telling you that something bad is going to happen.   Your heart rate starts to quicken, your thoughts speed up, and you feel a knot in your stomach. At times, you might feel disconnected from yourself or the world around you. Moments in which you are experiencing anxiety can be quite uncomfortable. They can also be an opportunity to practice relating to yourself with self-compassion. What is Self-Compassion? Self-compassion has three parts: Self-kindness (instead of self-judgment) Self-kindness involves opening up to your experience in the present moment, whether feelings of joy or sadness, and acknowledging your experience with warmth and love. Common humanity (instead of isolation) Self-compassion includes an acknowledgement that suffering is Read more

Self-Help for Anxiety in an International Sample

October 6, 2016

Brian Thompson Ph.D.

Since I saw him present on some preliminary results at a conference 6 years ago, I’ve been following with interest University of Albany – SUNY professor John Forsyth’s, PhD, research on his self-help book, The Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety. (The Workbook was recently published in a 2nd edition but the research is on the 1st edition.) The Workbook is based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) principles, and it is designed to treat a wide range of anxiety-related problems (it’s “transdiagnostic”). Self-help books have great potential to help people who don’t have access to or don’t want to pursue psychotherapy. Unfortunately, self-help books are rarely based on well-researched treatments, let alone studied themselves as standalone treatment. Dr. Forsyth Read more

Article: My Secret Life as a Skin Picker

May 4, 2016

Brian Thompson Ph.D.

One of the problems I specialize in working with is repetitive skin picking (also known as excoriation or dermatillomania). People struggling with this problem experience intense urges to pick at blemishes or perceived imperfections in their skin. They may spend a few minutes to several hours (e.g., 8 hours or more) picking at many places on their body. The result is usually scabs, bleeding, and scarring—and everyone I’ve worked with experiences intense shame, guilt, and embarrassment immediately after they stop actively picking.   Many struggle to hide their picking for years without realizing that there’s a name for their condition—that other people struggle with similar problems. Even fewer are aware there is treatment. Unfortunately, few therapists are trained in what Read more

There’s no shortage of self-help books on the market. There is, however, a paucity of research on whether those self-help books are actually helpful to the people who use them. In an ideal world, every self-help book would be submitted to scientific scrutiny to determine if people actually benefit from using them. Unfortunately, this happens only rarely. Even a self-help book that is based on well-researched cognitive behavioral principles and written by leaders in the field is not guaranteed to be effective.  For example, one recent study found that college students with greater rumination exhibited more depressive symptoms after using Greenberger & Padesky’s Mind over Mood, a well-respected cognitive behavioral self-help book for depression. These findings suggest that evidence-based psychotherapy Read more