Cyberbullying: Legal Means for Kids?

A Canadian teen recently pursued her cyberbullies in this case:

http://www.lawnow.org/bench-press-children-and-cyber-bullying/?utm_source=LawNow+New+Issue+List&utm_campaign=29bb3ab1c2-LawNow_eNews8_16_2012&utm_medium=email

Posted in Adolescence, Bullying, Relationships | Leave a comment

Bullying and Cyberbullying: Are Depressed People Prejudiced Against Themselves?

People who are discriminated against often feel depressed.  But what if the oppressor and victim are the same person?

New research comparing depression and prejudice might hold a key to reducing both!

The human brain is wired to treat ‘our people’ differently that ‘those people.’  That is why it is shockingly easy to create hurtful stereotypes about ‘them,’ be they another ethnic group, another social group, or just people who don’t like that painting over there.  Our brains quickly jump to negative conclusions about people who, for whatever reason, don’t seem like us.

Prejudice may be natural and easy to cultivate, but it is not healthy.  And most bullies point out something about their victim that makes them inferior.  “You’re stupid, you’re ugly, you’re fat, you’re a no-good _____ (add racial slur here), no one likes you, I hate you.”  Victims, especially if they cannot disagree with their bully (either to themselves or out loud), are at risk of depression and stigma.

Bullies in schools and neighbourhoods (not online) are typically socially dominant people who aren’t, themselves, bullied.  Online, it’s a different story.  Most cyber-bullies are actually victims of bullying themselves, either in the “real world” or the virtual, online world. The victim becomes the oppressor. The internal depression becomes a new target’s depression.

Being a victim of prejudice is one pathway to depression.

Oppressors (people who act with prejudiced or negative stereotypes) are also at risk of depression, if they suddenly find themselves a member of ‘that group’ they despise or belittle.  Healthy people who develop a chronic illness may feel depressed because they think sick people are feeble and damaged.  A popular child who thinks that ‘loners’ are ‘losers’ may be devastated when, suddenly, their social group disowns them.  A teenager who suddenly realizes they are gay or lesbian may despise themselves for being a ‘[homosexual].’  A worker despairs when they lose their job because now they are ‘one of those lazy, stupid unemployed welfare cheats.’  Sure, ‘those people are somehow defective’ sounds pretty bland and maybe even somehow satisfying until YOU are all of a sudden ‘one of them.’

Being a bully whose tables have suddenly turned is another pathway to depression.

Someone who is depressed may be saying the same things, but about themselves.  They are both the source and the target of their own prejudice.  “I hate you.  You are a loser.  You’re unloveable.”  Like most oppressors, they feel guilty about hating someone.  But like most victims, they lack faith in themselves and feel worthless.

Teaching people to dispute prejudice can prevent depression.

We all have prejudiced thoughts – it’s how we’re wired.  Trying to pretend we don’t or somehow suppress them doesn’t work.  Learning to dispute them and test all-or-nothing statements do.  It prevents kids from developing harmful stereotypes.  It shows adults that harmful stereotypes are inaccurate.  This has two wonderful effects:

1. If ‘all those people’ are just like ‘most people’ (with strengths and foibles), there’s no basis for prejudice –> no ammunition for bullying or discrimination.  Exposure to other groups also helps, because people realize that ‘those people’ really aren’t all the same and have positive qualities.  Clint Eastwood’s movie Gran Torino demonstrates this beautifully.  He is a hardened war veteran who spits out racial slurs like rapid fire from a rifle.  But, when he gets to know his Asian neighbour, he realizes they aren’t ‘just a bunch of [you-know-whats].’

2. If people don’t hold harmful stereotypes about various groups, when they find themselves a part of that group (e.g., elderly, obese, gay, lesbian, divorced, ill), they are less likely to get depressed.  They won’t be their own source of put-downs, so they can’t be their own target, either.

Is the solution to bullying to tell people “stop that?”  It certainly sends a message that it won’t be tolerated.  But it is likely about as helpful as telling a depressed person to “cheer up.”  It doesn’t really address the problem; it just labels it.  Setting a good example and equipping parents and kids to rise above their prejudices stand a better chance.

Source article: Cox, Abramson, Devine, & Hollon. (2012). Stereotypes, prejudice, and depression: The integrated perspective. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 7(5), 427-449.

 

 

Posted in Bullying, depression, Mental Health, prejudice, Relationships, Uncategorized, Well-being | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

What does it mean to have ADHD or a learning disability?

Join me at LD Edmonton’s parent support night this September for an information session and Q-&-A about how ADHD / LD translate into real life and school.

Wednesday, 12 September from 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Fulton Place School – 10310 – 56 Street, Edmonton

Child care $2 per child for the evening.

It’s the first of LD Edmonton’s monthly series – see http://ldedmonton.ca/programs-and-services or the printable/faxable Parent Support Night Flyer for more info.

 

 

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Money doesn’t buy happiness. . . and shopping doesn’t help either!

David Geffen, the famous billionaire who built the Virgin brand (phones, music, air travel), once said, “people who think money buys happiness have never had a lot of money.”  Indeed, people are happiest when they strive for meaningful goals, even if they don’t make very much money.  Taking care of yourself & your family is one of the best paths to happiness.

A recent bit of research might partly explain why even shopping for upscale things could ruin your day.    Fifty people viewed pictures of Shopping out of your financial "league" might do more harm than good.either luxury products or ordinary items.  Those who saw the fancy, expensive consumer goods then felt more depressed, anxious, and less self-satisfied.  They also wanted to spend time alone instead of socially.

Also, just using words associated with luxury and buying put people in a spending and competitive mood.  How do they know?  Another group categorized various products.    Those who thought it was a consumer survey and shown enticing words like “wealthy,” “image,” and “success” were much faster and less interested in cooperating with others.  They were more selfish, less interested in helping to solve a water shortage, and distrustful of others.

So, the next time you deck yourself or your children out with the big-name labels, pause a moment.  Are you promoting happiness, self-satisfaction, and kindness or depression, dissatisfaction, and selfish isolation?  Even shopping for them might cost you in ways that money can’t fix.  You might buy things you can’t afford to kill that yucky feeling of inadequacy as you stand next to that $2000 handbag or $90,000 SUV.  That short-lived “yah!  I got it!” glow will fade fast, leaving you with a perpetual reminder of dissatisfaction.

Article full-text: Cuing Consumerism : Situational Materialism Undermines Personal and Social Well-Being

For other ways to build happiness, drop us a line!

 

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Coming to Terms with Chronic Illness: Diabetes & Beyond

ARCH is offering a 6-week series dedicated to life with diabetes.  More info: diabetes/archpsychological.com.  Anyone struggling to manage diabetes has likely heard plenty about what to eat, what to do, what not to do, and why aren’t you doing that?  We aim to look beyond the how & when of diabetes management & focus, instead, on the person instead of the disease.

Of course, the growing need among the diabetic community is one reason we developed this opportunity.  If I may, I’d like to share glimpses of another motivation: my experience with chronic illness.

First off, I’m an “arthritic,” not a “diabetic.”  However, as our series will show, the type of diagnosis is not very important.  It’s learning to live with the inconvenience, fear, pain, heartbreak, and, yes, unexpected kindnesses and lessons that go along with.  I started having problems nearly 10 years ago, so I’m a little ways along in my journey.  How I think of my health and how this fits into the rest of my life (at times, how it’s consumed my life!) affected not only the disease itself but the rest of me, too.

Health care providers will tell you that, once you learn to manage the symptoms of your illness, “you’ll be fine.  You can live a normal life.”  Confession 1:  It sure doesn’t feel that way!  Having something for THE REST OF YOUR LIFE loomed large, especially in that early slice of time where they weren’t even sure what it was I had.  The implications – real & imagined – of what my problem meant for me, work, hobbies, what I wanted out of life were so big that I didn’t even want to think about it.  Too scary.  And, am I going to dread brushing my teeth or turning off faucets for the next 60 years?  (That magazine ad with circular saw blades on a shower tap really struck a chord!)  Oh, & thanks, body, for letting me down at the most inconvenient times!

Most people hate taking pills & getting needles.  Many will take pills for a week if something crops up or a daily vitamin – but if you miss it, oh well.  Confession 2: It’s easy to resent being dependent on what most people avoid if they can.  And, after the gazillionth time, it’s even harder to remember!

After a few months, I started to think of my illness as “the world’s worst houseguest.”  It shows up unexpectedly and without invitation, stays way too long, creates inconvenience in the weirdest & least expected ways, and, even if you spend all your energy trying to get rid of it – it won’t go away.  You try being nice – still there.  You try getting angry – still there.  You try nothing – still there.  You try following what the doctor said – still there.  You rebel & do the opposite – still there.  You tire of bargaining with every little choice – should I avoid that or just enjoy myself (or get it done) & pay for it later?

Chronic illness is nearly invisible.  People can’t see what’s wrong with you & assume that, since you haven’t mentioned it in months that you’re all better or you’re managing well.  They don’t see the cover-ups, slogging through a day because you haven’t slept all night, the frustration at things you used to be able to do.  People who are “really sick” get to stay in bed & rest.  They are forgiven & comforted.  They aren’t told to “get over it” or “get on with life” or “shut up” when they voice discomfort.

Sounds pretty depressing, eh?  In the midst of all this, there were oases of comfort & the gift of getting my priorities straight.  At the oddest time, the last person you’d expect would notice a grimace and offer a pillow to sit on (I guess I wasn’t hiding it as well as I thought!).  And, trite but true: adversity builds character.  You learn not to “sweat the small stuff” and “count your blessings.”  You learn not to waste your time with people who reek of negativity.  You learn some good jokes to put others at ease about your “little secret.”  You lose the nagging feeling that you’re “old before your time” and a “sick-y” to   re-emerge as “just one of many human beings (with a health condition).”

When I think about my health now, I actually figure I’m in reasonably healthy – bizarre!  And, for the most part, I’m pain-free.  Pain-free.  Pain-free.  Pain free!  (That is so amazing to be able to say!)  It was a brutal journey, but – oddly enough – I wouldn’t trade it.  Can you imagine?  There was a time when I couldn’t either.

My hope is we can “walk beside you” for a while on your journey with diabetes.  (And I don’t mind waiting while you check your levels after exercising – just kidding.)  Maybe my walk isn’t just like yours.  But, in sharing your experience and looking at your health in a new way, you might find an oasis, too.

More information on the diabetes series “Are you managing diabetes or is diabetes managing you?” at diabetes.archpsychological.org.

 

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ADHD in the News: BC study finds “December babies” (especially girls) more likely to be diagnosed & treated

As reported first in Monday’s national news, a newly released UBC study headed by Robert Morrow has uncovered some interesting observations about the diagnosis and treatment of childhood ADHD.  Nearly 940,000 children aged 6 to 12 were studied.

A main conclusion is that children born in December might, due to immaturity, be at higher risk of misdiagnosis.  As you may have already heard, “December babies” were 39% more likely to be diagnosed and 48% more likely to receive treatment.  This was even more pronounced for girls, who were 70% more likely to be diagnosed than their January counterparts in the same grade.  The study included a massive number of BC schoolchildren aged 6 to 12 – nearly 940,000 of them.

At least for boys, the rates of diagnosis (close to 7%, varies slightly by month of birth) are in line with the DSM-IV (the big book of labels physicians, psychiatrists, and psychologists use to define different conditions).  Girls have always been harder to pin down as far as ADHD goes.  They often present as “social butterflies” and aren’t usually as disruptive as boys.  Their rate of diagnosis in the study hovers around 2%.  The now-infamous “December babies” are diagnosed at 7.4% for boys (1.7% more than their January counterparts) and 2.7% for girls (1.1% more than their January counterparts).

Per 100 children, this means only 2 more boys & only 1 more girl.

If I may talk statistics for a bit here (oh! horror!  Bear with me – I’ll make it worth your while!), with a sample of nearly a million children, this is a “significant” effect.  In stats-speak, all that means is that there is a reliably big gap between groups.  So, even though we are talking about 3 extra kids out of 100, when you multiply that by nearly 1 million, it doesn’t mean “holy cow, look at all the kids,” it means “the number-crunching is sound – there is a reliable difference between January & December rates.”  Basically, any time you measure 1 million of anything, you are bound to find “statistically significant differences” because number-crunching loves lots of data.  (See, was that so bad?)

As far as our December babies go, this could mean two other things: boys are under-treated and girls might be under-diagnosed.

So, in this group of children, girls with a diagnosis were much more likely to receive relief from their symptoms (about 0.6 percent were deprived of treatment).  1.4% of boys, on the other hand, were deprived of treatment.

Other estimates of prevalence (how often we find a certain condition) are closer to 4% for girls.  Thus, we might be missing more of them.  Girls with carefully diagnosed ADHD are at higher risk for mood and anxiety disorders, anti-social behaviour, substance abuse, and eating disorders.  That they are not receiving relief for their ADHD symptoms may worsen the problem.

What to do?

1. As always, careful assessment is key.  If you want to try intervention, see your physician.  If you want to know the truth, see a psychologist.  Many other things can masquerade as ADHD: depression, the effects of mistreatment, verbal memory problems, learning disability, boredom, and more.  Because ADHD is so widely known, people, teachers, and parents might be quick to jump to this conclusion (just yesterday, I diagnosed a boy with Asperger’s – his mother’s first suspicion was that he might be ADHD).  Children with a bona fide diagnosis of ADHD are also very likely to have another difficulty (the most likely being learning disabilities or oppositional behaviour).  As mentioned in a previous post (ADHD or LD?), a poor verbal memory can come across to others as lack of attention.  That the problem is present across settings is one very pertinent observation.

2. I would argue that the “stigma” of ADHD is lessening.  Kids are used to it; it’s the grown-ups that seem to worry more about it.  What’s worse, in my opinion, is the stigma surrounding medication.  Much of the scare-mongering is downright false.  It is not an easy “cop out” solution & it won’t fix misbehaviour.  But depriving a child of effective treatment for ADHD heightens their risk for school drop-out, street drug use, poor academic and vocational outcomes, and feeling like a failure.  There are some ways to manage the child’s environment but the time and effort poured into these just don’t translate into improvement in the kids’ outcomes.

It is clear that many children are over-diagnosed with ADHD & receive medication they don’t need.  This is certainly something we need to fix.  However, at the same time, the under-diagnosis and failure to treat other kids who really do have ADHD is just as tragic.

To sum up, the December babies’ rate of diagnosis is closer to what we think the true rates of ADHD are.  Are they being over-diagnosed or better detected?  Girls – they are more likely to receive treatment for their condition – maybe they are the lucky ones?

Do let me know what you think.

The original news release from UBC: http://www.publicaffairs.ubc.ca/2012/03/05/younger-children-in-the-classroom-likely-over-diagnosed-with-adhd-ubc-research/

The original academic paper in the Canadian Medical Association Journal: http://www.cmaj.ca/content/early/2012/03/05/cmaj.111619?cited-by=yes&legid=cmaj;cmaj.111619v1

 

Posted in ADHD, assessment, diagnosis | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Bullying and Cyberbullying: Alberta Education hones its definitions

Alberta Education recently announced an updated Education Act (now in second reading).  Although critics claim that “not much has changed,” the ministry aims to target bullying and cyberbullying.

The new Act names the 3rd week in November as Bullying Awareness Week.  The Act specifies the creation of a bullying policy to define bullying and cyberbullying – both broadly (an ‘overarching’ definition) and narrowly (naming certain types of bullying, e.g., homophobic or online comments).  This aims to standardize expectations and responses across schools so students experience similar expectations anywhere they learn.  The Act also gives schools licence to respond to bullying off school property and outside of school hours.

So, although the new Act defines bullying broadly and names a few specific responses, the forthcoming bullying policy will be where the rubber really meets the road.

So Alberta Education is joining the chorus of ‘don’t bully.’  But I wonder if the focus on ‘what not to do’ is really the answer?  “Don’t bully, don’t tolerate bullying, don’t do this, don’t do that.  And if you do, we can punish you more harshly than before.”  Why not build in what works to curb bullying and encourage what to do as well?

The past thirty years has seen tons of research about kids who bully and kids who get bullied.  Bullies tend to have inflated self-esteem – as the old saying goes – they are “too big for their britches.”  Thus, they are very offended when someone gets in their way and think that putting someone else down will elevate them.  Demonizing the bully doesn’t often help – kids (especially boys) ‘bad’ tend to strive to prove just how bad they can be.

Bullied kids who tend to be socially unskilled and unassertive.  But kids with even just one friend or champion to step in and say, “hey, leave my friend alone.  You’re mean and that’s wrong,” can side-step the hold bullies have over them.  Having an ally speaks volumes to one of the most primal of human intuitions.  Encouraging our kids to act – in a simple but powerful way – shows them more than just ‘how not to ____.’  How about “be a friend” awareness week?

Rather than dwelling on the awfulness of something we are trying to lessen (and, therefore, giving it more air time?), why not shift the focus from “don’t or else” to building relationships and social competence?  Not only will this counter bad behaviour, it will foster other happy side-effects.  Bullied kids & bystanders would be the ones running the show, instead of letting the bully set the tone.

I declare the 2nd week of November “Be a Friend Awareness Week.”  :)

A summary of the changes to the Act is available here:  http://education.alberta.ca/department/policy/education-act/faq/whatchanged.aspx

The new Education Act in full-text .pdf:  http://www.assembly.ab.ca/ISYS/LADDAR_files/docs/bills/bill/legislature_27/session_5/20120207_bill-002.pdf  (Use cntl+f to jump to “bully” throughout the document)

Posted in Bullying, learning | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Porn: Good or Bad? A Psychological Perspective

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My job requires me to be extremely open-minded and non-judgmental. As such, I have adopted the mantra of “to each their own”, holding firm to the understanding that a person’s right to choose for themselves trumps any value I may hold. This is the openness that generally guides my practice.

In the years since I’ve started counselling, there is one thing that, in spite of this openness I have formed a strong opinion about… pornography. While working in the University of Alberta Student Counselling Services, I encountered this issue a lot. At first, I remained neutral on the subject. I curbed any feminist or moral objections and operated from the position that using porn was considered normal, and in many ways healthy sexual behaviour. I trusted that my clients were capable of making decisions for themselves and held firmly to my position of non-judgment. This position became harder to hold as time went on.

Throughout my nearly two years at Student Counselling Services, it became clear that porn is a problem… a really big problem. The problems I’m talking about aren’t related to morality, feminism, or societal issues- those issues receive enough attention and I’m not qualified or interested in speaking to those arguments. The problems I noted, were psychological in nature. What I observed were healthy young adults – intelligent, ambitious, and capable – finding themselves consumed by pornography. I talked to these students, many of whom had normal upbringings, with intact families and strong support systems, and I saw how they suffered. I listened as they talked about how they couldn’t complete their schoolwork because they were distracted, or how their relationships were suffering because of their inability to experience intimacy without manufactured titillation, and how they felt hollow and disconnected from themselves and the people they cared about. I also noticed how unaware they were to the origins of these problems; how few of them were able to trace their difficulties to the source…their porn habit.

I didn’t know a lot about it, so I did some research and I stumbled upon a book by Pamela Paul, called “Pornified”. The book is an objective, qualitative examination of “how pornography is transforming our lives, our relationships, and our families,” but despite not taking a position on the issue, it shares an abundance of research and anecdotes that outline the deleterious impact pornography can have. This was a particularly illuminating read and I began to understand the implications of my observations.

But why is it bad? Why is it a problem? Well, it’s not a simple answer, but I’ll do my best to explain. First and foremost, it distorts perceptions of sexuality. Admittedly, the feminist in me is frustrated with the portrayals of women in porn – always hypersexualized, up for anything, with anyone, overly made up, offering exaggerated pleasure responses to what most certainly is not a pleasurable experience for them. But it is more than a feminist issue – it’s a psychological issue and the question is: “What do we learn from porn?”

We learn that sex is supposed to be over the top exciting. We learn that men are supposed to be able to have sex for a very long time and have very large penises. And we learn that women are easily pleased and exist for pleasure and immediate satisfaction. In short, porn (as well as mainstream media) sets unrealistic expectations. I’ve heard many clients lament how awkward and painful their first sexual encounters were – a far cry from the pleasured writhing’s of the porn star. I’ve heard women express frustration, blaming themselves, feeling inadequate or flawed for not enjoying sex or for not being “better at it”. I’ve talked to men who are shocked, confused, and disheartened that their skills aren’t sufficient or who are angry that their girlfriends aren’t quite as willing to experiment, as they would like. I’ve heard men and women alike express deep insecurity at not being bigger or better or skinnier or sexier.

This distorted view of sexuality also leads to bad sex. I’ve heard A LOT of people talk about “faking it”, offering dramatized groans in order to match a manufactured expectation of what sexual pleasure looks like, in lieu of working together to legitimately find it. I’ve heard complaints of disgust with sex, or sadness, embarrassment, guilt, and shame, all because of the misinformation we are fed through porn.

Porn is also destructive to a person’s natural sexual response. We are, by nature, sexual beings and as such, we are designed to want sex and respond to titillation. Porn is stimulating. The way cocaine is stimulating. It sets a new precedent for arousal that is hard to duplicate in real life situations, giving it the power to make real life sex feel uneventful or even boring. In this way, porn is also very addictive.

I’ve often heard clients talk about porn as an obsession – but it’s more than that, it’s an addiction. Watching porn causes the release of dopamine (“the happy neurotransmitter”) in the brain’s substantia nigra and the nucleus accumbens (the reward center of the brain associated with addictive behaviour). I’m not a neuroscientist and I don’t profess to be an expert on the details, but from what I gather, the brain literally rewires as it “pathologically pursues rewards”. Porn becomes an obsession and compulsion, and physiologically, it becomes a “need”. In this way, the addiction principle of tolerance also applies.

In my office I’ve had many conversations about tolerance. I remember one client who came to counselling because she had lost interest in having sex with her boyfriend. After several months of trying to help her figure out what to do with the relationship, I learned that she had a significant problem with porn. It turns out that this sweet girl, in a committed relationship with a loving and patient partner, had progressed to watching porn and masturbating about four times a day. What was once quite stimulating for her, she no longer found enticing, and so she upped the ante. She found more “hard core” porn to watch, increased the dose, and started having sex with strangers. In short, normal sex wasn’t working for her anymore. Sex had been paired with “illicit” and “dangerous” in her mind, and she had to continually seek new thrills in order to find even a small amount of satisfaction; the same as a person who drinks daily develops a tolerance to alcohol. She had lost the ability to enjoy sex, but she had also lost much more.

In the pursuit of simple, natural pleasures, she lost herself. We often talked about how “gross” she felt and she regularly used the words “guilty” and “shameful” to describe her feelings. She felt “hollow”, “worthless”, and “out of control”. Sadly, this is a common reaction and it has an unfortunate ripple effect that means more than low self-esteem. It also limits the ability to connect with others.

I personally feel that one of the biggest problems with porn comes down to the impact it has on relationships. First of all, porn is generally a solo sport – it is an inherently lonely activity. We all know the cliché of the middle-aged man who spends his evenings alone, downloading porn on the computer instead of going on dates. Or the woman in a relationship that chooses to satisfy her needs with porn, rather than having sex with a committed partner. Or the family man who spends his evenings alone in his study, ignoring his children and alienating his wife. But there’s more to the problem then people masturbating in private. There’s also the fact that porn is a time consuming hobby and as mentioned above, it can be an obsession. It becomes the lens through which one sees the world – everything relates back to porn and pornoholics are continually distracted and distant, obsessed with accessing their next dose of stimulation.

But the most significant problem is that porn removes the need of finding real connection with other human beings. We are hard wired to want sex – it’s in our nature and it serves an important evolutionary purpose. The desire for sex stimulates us to reach out for other people, to form a connection or a relationship in order to meet these needs. Porn has a different end. Porn objectifies people, erasing their humanity. It trains its viewers to separate the act of sex from the participants, removing the humanness from a primal human activity – making sex solely about gratification and not about a human connection. And then there’s the sadness. A person, who feels worthless and shameful, will have a difficult time accepting love from others. A part of them shuts down and closes off to the people in their life,continually trying to sate a need synthetically, while abandoning or losing their ability to really connect. This is where the biggest problem lies. Sex is not intimacy- although it can be intimate. Porn is never intimate.

I would like to be clear, this article is not a war cry of condemnation for the porn industry, nor is it designed to make the reader feel guilty, shameful, or defensive regarding their personal views on porn. Like I said, I am not coming from a political or religious perspective and I understand that porn might not be this destructive for everyone and that some find a comfortable and moderate usage. I might even believe that it could have a reasonable and possibly positive place in people’s lives. That being said, I have never seen it. What I have seen is people badly hurt by pornography.

Tami-lee Duncan, M.Ed., Registered Psychologist

tami.duncan@archpsychological.com

http://www.archpsychological.com/tami_duncan.htm

Posted in Addictions, Mental Health, Pornography, Relationships, Sex | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Is it ADHD or LD? – Update

A recent national opinion poll shows that most Canadians are confident about psychologists’ abilities.  However, only 44% of Canadians are aware of psychology’s role in diagnosis, assessment, and management of learning disabilities.

Of course, from my chair (as a psychologist), our role seems obvious, because we are the only profession with the proper tools to find specific learning problems (e.g., measures of academic potential, intelligence, memory, etc.).  (We can differentiate between, say, ADHD and LD.  Maybe it’s not ADHD – those symptoms might mask something else.  Or, the hype about ADHD may lead some to see it where it doesn’t exist.)

By the same token, I think that my profession is missing something – why are we such a mystery to people?  As a group, we tend to want to help any way we can, yet often shrug when faced with the facts – most people don’t know how we can help.  Any feedback would be appreciated!  Please leave your candid comments.

As I mentioned in my last post on ADHD/LD, I urge psychologists to go beyond the simple identification of an LD.  Look deeper: what is driving the LD?  Is it a difference in memory?  Phonological awareness?  Is part of the public’s confusion about psychology because the quality of our mysterious reports varies so greatly?

Those lengthy and technical psychoeducational reports are often confusing and some, unfortunately, list many numbers but don’t contain much direction.  Confused by your child’s assessment?  Want a second opinion?  Want to know why it says what it does?  Want to know more about the nature of your child’s learning differences?

Give us a ring.  We will review your child’s report and:

* provide in-depth analysis & interpretation of existing data,

* flesh out recommendations that will make a difference to your child,

* help you communicate your needs & concerns to the school, and,

* targeted follow-up testing to clarify those results – discovering what drives a gap between potential & achievement is key to effective accommodations.

We also conduct ADHD / LD & vocational interest assessments for adults or students heading into post-secondary.

Parents – ADHD & LD have a heavy genetic component.  Ever wonder if you learn like your child?  Ever wonder why your job performance differs from your pal’s?  Why you get bored with your job fast?  Why certain types of information just won’t stick?  We can find out & show you work-arounds to boost your confidence & pride.  Heck, you might even get a raise!

Posted in Adolescence, assessment, learning | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Teen Self-harm: Upcoming Community Presentations

We have received a wonderful response to our posting about teen self-harm.  It was our hope that sharing this information would be a help and a comfort to anyone wanting to learn more.

I will be sharing similar information in person at two upcoming dates for teachers in Sherwood Park and social workers from across Alberta:

1. Elk Island Public School’s Professional Development Day – Fri 2 March 2012

2. The Alberta College of Social Workers’ annual Conference – 22 through 24 March 2012.  My all-day session (#34 in the conference programme) is on Saturday the 24th.  More info: http://www.acsw.ab.ca/social_workers/members_services_activities/acsw_annual_conference/2012_annual_conference

If you are an EIPS teacher or Alberta social worker, I look forward to the chance to meet you.  Bring lots of questions & case examples!  Feel free to call with anything more pressing.

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