Before I begin I want to say that there will be numerous people that disagree with me and that’s totally ok. I love psychology, obviously, but there are numerous issues in the field today overall that I have felt are prevalent in psychology and that I think need discussing.
The first thing that I feel is important to highlight is the emphasis and focus given only to empirical literature in psychology.
No, we need empirical lit, don’t get me wrong. We need research backing in everything we do. As a psychologist, you are also a scientist and must use empirically backed information. Furthermore, this isn’t an attempt by me to say that we should stop the process of empirical literature, not by any means.
I want to ensure I am being clear and that my point is not misconstrued here.
My question is though, do we focus on empirical literature too much in psychology, to the detriment of other mediums of communicating psychological information and findings?
I am a great believer in psychologists and those working in the mental health profession being more in the public awareness and in public domains. One of the main questions I ask here is, are psychologists not focusing enough on where the public is?
I’ve spoken about this a lot recently, and it was actually one of the things that led me to create GetPsyched in the first place.
We as psychologists, trainees and mental health practitioners, need to be in the mainstream where the people are.
The public doesn’t read empirical literature often. Yes, they feel the impact of it when psychologists utilise empirical principles, but they don’t absorb the content directly. We need psychologists to be on social media, on YouTube, on blogs, in the mainstream where people actually absorb content on a regular basis.
For example, name one publically recognisable psychologist. Name a recent study in psychology that grabbed the public attention. It’s difficult, nearly impossible, to see where psychology is branching from vital empirical literature and communicating it to the masses, where it needs to be absorbed and understood. We need psychologists to be in mediums where their work and what they do is recognised and appreciated.
Processes of getting published, and the value this has for professionals
This kind of leads me to my next point
The actual process of getting published is very challenging, again rightly so. This means that we get the most robust literature into the field of psychology, we need to be scrupulous and challenging of the literature we accept.
There is something to be said about the difficulty that students and new researchers have in getting published as a result though, but this isn’t necessarily something I would directly change.
What I do think is an issue is how psychology researchers are given value based on the number of publications they have to their name.
Now, you might not think this is such an issue, but I do.
Researchers based at universities are often ranked based on the number of publications they get.
This can at times have consequences where researchers break up pieces of research in order to publish multiple articles and not just one big one…again you might not think it’s a big deal.
However, the fact that this goes on speaks to the motives behind this valuable empirical literature.
It’s often not a case of getting their best work out there, sometimes it is of course, but other times its to boost the name and the credibility of the individual and that doesn’t sit well with me.
What’s more, is that the pull to publish more work can at times lead to shoddy results. Now, this is in part why it’s so important to have a critical eye in psychology, but I do not think we address this enough.
It’s not uncommon for researchers to manipulate data to their favour and in ways that give outputs that they want. It might be to get more funding, it might be to boost their position as a researcher, either way, it’s not ok.
I don’t want you leaving thinking I hate empirical literature, I in no way do. In truth, I believe in developing more empirical literature. The research backing I have as counselling psychology is based in empirically backed considerations. This is something I would never change. I believe in the scrupulous nature of publishing research also. However, the points I have discussed here are ones I feel need addressed.
Unequal appreciation of different branches
For me, this is a big one.
In the UK we have a disparity between different branches of psychology.
Let me make this clear from the beginning.
No one branch of psychology is more important or valuable than another!
If you are a doctor in applied psychology then you are equal to all other applied psychologists, clinical, educational, counselling, health, sports and exercise. We don’t fully appreciate that often in this country.
I’m going to try and take bias out of this as much as I can as I am a counselling psychologist in training. However, the way we look at clinical psychology and its hierarchical nature isn’t ok. Every now again on twitter ill voice this…it often doesn’t go down well.
People still see clinical as superior…it’s not.
In the UK we think it is, often because the training is fully funded, with a £26,000 a year salary attached.
Again, I’ve had some Twitter discussions about how this isn’t ok also.
However, the NHS and here in the UK have given clinical this hierarchical nature. I work with some people who are counselling psychologists and counselling psychologists in training that are not allowed to work with borderline personality disorders, it’s left to the clinical psychologists.
This isn’t right, it has no research backing, and it is against the egalitarian nature of all applied psychologies.
Counselling psychologists can work with a client diagnosed with BPD just as well as any other. One of the only ways this is going to change is with the funding situation.
Challenges with the direct route for undergrads
My next issue with psychology right now is the route and options for undergraduate psychology students. A very small percentage of undergraduates in psychology pursue a career in the field.
In large I think much of this has to do with not enough information or development of direct routes into careers in psychology.
If psychology is going to see developments in people coming through the ranks then I really think initiatives like apprenticeships, internship and opportunities for experience need to be provided by universities.
Non-accredited counsellors and therapists
This is an area that might not be directly attributed to psychology itself, but it is something psychology can stand up for and that will help it in its development I feel.
There are so many non-accredited ‘therapists’ and ‘counsellors’ out there. I have spoken to many and even worked with some in the past. The fact that an individual can legally call themselves counsellor or a therapist is discrediting to the therapeutic industry, and psychology as a whole.
Legally no one can call themselves a psychologist if they do not have a doctorate. However, literally, anyone can call themselves a therapist, counsellor or psychotherapist.
A lot of the time counselling psychologists actually call themselves therapists and this can blur the lines even further.
In part, this is a job for governing bodies here in the UK such as the BACP to develop guidelines of accreditation.
Challenges in developing clinical experience for students
When I did a bit of market research for this topic, the challenges for developing clinical experience for psychology student came out as a big concern.
Students seem more and more frustrated in psychology with the difficulties in gaining clinical experience
However, I can empathise with the challenges and frustrations experienced by undergraduates. In part, I feel that the view that psychology is often seen as a route to multiple careers not a career in psychology is a major contributing factor.
In many ways, this connects to one of my previous points. Psychology must do better in informing undergraduate students about the opportunities that are available in psychology.
We must do more to encourage students to pursue careers in psychology!
Performance levels can increase with the use of a positive mindset as it facilitates direction and focus. The relationship between mental preparation and positive psychology becomes important and there is evidence of its use in business, education and sport.
It should, therefore, come as no surprise that the use of positive psychology should form part of teacher training and induction programmes. Given the contention that psychology plays an integral role within teaching, it would be purposeful to argue of its merit for teachers in classroom settings.
One key concept that resonates closely with teaching is emotion and its impact during the academic year. Teachers invariably elicit a range of emotions that have the potential to impact students and colleagues.
Therefore, teachers need to understand the complexity of emotions and regulate these accordingly. Effective emotional regulation could lead to more effective and facilitated performance levels. The regulation of emotion can be understood through the theory of emotional intelligence (Goleman, 2004; Mayer & Savoley, 1990).
In examining the nature of emotional intelligence and its importance within teaching, this chapter advocates its value for teachers. Through the use of grounded theory, teachers will be supported to facilitate strategies to enhance and increase emotional intelligence levels for themselves to be used within their professional practice. This chapter will be split into the following sections:
Outline the definition and conceptual space of emotional intelligence
Identify research avenues that promote the efficacy of emotional intelligence
Facilitate the purpose of emotional intelligence in teaching with the use of the Daniel Goleman (2004) model
Definition of emotional intelligence and conceptual space
Emotional intelligence has been defined as ‘the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotion, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions’ (Salovey & Mayer, 1990, p. 189). A closer inspection of this definition clearly aligns to the work of a teacher.
For example, teachers will be in constant dialogue with their emotions in both favourable and unfavourable situations. A favourable situation may surmount to success during a teaching observation. An unfavourable situation may surmount to an inability to cope with stress and pressures of time management. Based on these situations teachers should be in a position to understand their own feelings and emotions these have on students and colleagues.
The framework of emotional intelligence provides opportunities for teachers to engineer their own thinking and support students and colleagues that they work alongside. It has been outlined by Mayer & Salovey (1990) that people who exhibit higher levels of emotional intelligence are more likely to control their emotions and regulate these appropriately in order to support others.
It is postulated that teachers who are in control of their own emotions will demonstrate positive body language and display effective verbal expressions. Therefore, it is proposed that teachers should employ emotional intelligence to identify their own feelings and that of students and colleagues in accordance with the situation. In consideration of this suggestion, it would be purposeful to evidence previous research that has utilised emotional intelligence in different fields.
Identify research that promotes the efficacy of emotional intelligence in different fields
Extensive research has been carried out on emotional intelligence within the last 30 years (Goleman, 2004; Petrides, Furnham, & Frederickson, 2004; Salovey & Mayer, 1990).
The effectiveness of emotional intelligence has been largely evidenced through meta-analysis research carried out by (Van Rooy & Viswesvaran, 2004). Based on the meta-analysis results it would be prudent to examine how emotional intelligence can influence teachers with evidence from other sectors.
The business sector can demonstrate possible relationships that co-exist within teaching. One would expect teachers and business leaders to lead with a clear philosophy, demonstrate competency and control.
Further, both the business and education sectors share common goals that demand results and success. Arguably, one could resonate that business leaders and teachers who think ahead and act on impulse are likely to direct performers to change strategy and action plans.
Research by Freedman (2010) highlights that leaders with higher levels of emotional intelligence are more likely to achieve greater sales, productivity, profitability, and customer loyalty. In substantiating this evidence further, Freedman (2010) highlights a number of research explorations related to business that identify how awareness, self-management of emotions, motivation, empathy and social skills contribute to greater effectiveness in business.
Arguably, aspects highlighted in the research by Freedman (2010) give credence to their utility and purpose within teaching. Recently, Turner and Baker (2014) have also outlined how sports psychology can support the business sector to utilize transferable skills to increase performance levels.
The education sector is another area that resonates closely to emotional intelligence and teaching. For example, one key characteristic for educators and teaching relates to guidance and support to foster learner development and progress in delivering success.
To supplement this further, practitioners within education deliver excellence to their students to provide a pathway for future success with facilitated learning. A key determinant within education and teaching is motivation, which compromises both intrinsic and extrinsic values.
To supplement the facilitative nature of motivation it is suggestive that practitioners utilize a mixture of strategies. Arguably, teachers require an inner self-drive to enthuse those that they are providing opportunities to succeed. The demonstration of communication is also important to teaching.
Within teaching, it is suggested that coaches regulate their emotions by employing strategies to remain in control during intense situations. A closer examination of emotional intelligence, therefore, is suggestive that teaching demonstrates alignment with emotional regulation. In making this assumption it would be ideal to propose the impact of emotional intelligence and teaching efficacy.
One could argue that there is a close alignment between emotional intelligence and teaching characteristics including game strategy, technique and character development. Research evidence of Thelwell et al. (2006) has considered the relationship between emotional intelligence and coaching efficacy to determine coaching relationships.
Thewell et al. (2006) identified the characteristics of coaching efficacy aligned closely with emotional intelligence. The key emphasis of the research outlined that coaches whose levels of emotional intelligence were high were likely to support performers more effectively.
The evidence presented above demonstrates co-existence and effectiveness of emotional intelligence within the business, education and sports sectors. In consideration of this, it has become pertinent to assess the potential relationship between emotional intelligence and teaching to enable opportunities to apply transferable skills within the applied practice.
In consideration of this, the purpose of the next section is to apply emotional intelligence to teaching. It is proposed that emotional intelligence will allow teachers opportunities to increase the self-awareness of practices. Through self-awareness, a teacher could self-regulate their emotions and support students with motivation.
Further, it is proposed that building empathy and addressing relationship management skills would facilitate effective teaching practices.
Propose the Daniel Goleman (2004) model of emotional intelligence and associate its link to teaching
The Daniel Goleman (2004) model of emotional intelligence contains five aspects that align closely with teaching practices. Given the flexibility of this model, it provides opportunities for teachers to employ it through an interchangeable process.
Therefore, an explanation of each aspect of the model and its influence to improve performance levels will be provided. To utilize this influence an emphasis on promoting the use of activities that could help increase emotional intelligence will be offered.
One of the central tenants of the Goleman (2004) model is self-awareness, which is defined as ‘the ability to recognize and understand your moods, emotions, and drives, as well as their effect on others,’ (Goleman, 2004, p. 88). Self-awareness is an integral process as it provides a platform from which a core basis of the emotional intelligence paradigm is built.
Arguably, to demonstrate and facilitate high-quality teaching one could postulate teachers acquire increased levels of self-awareness. Teachers who exhibit high levels of self-awareness better understand their own emotions and regulate these accordingly.
Further, teachers that exhibit increased levels of self-awareness are more likely to assess and evaluate their own sessions and employ self-reflection. Therefore, teachers who are self-aware of their ability to communicate during lessons are most likely to engineer appropriate responses from students. Indeed, teachers who increase their own self-awareness levels are most likely to help facilitate and guide students and colleagues to increase attainment levels.
The process of increasing self-awareness could be formed from facilitative techniques and strategies. In raising self-awareness levels we are educating young and upcoming teachers and those who have been in the profession for a long time the art of understanding their own behaviour and to regulate emotive patterns.
Given the important context of self-awareness and its relationship with effective performance, it is proposed that teachers utilise the process of identification. Through the process of identification, it is hoped that teachers build their own levels of self-awareness.
One example of raising self-awareness is through the process of identifying emotions and their impact during successful and unsuccessful situations within classroom practice, as demonstrated by the worksheet below.
Worksheet 1: Positive and Negative Cycle
It is recommended that teachers focus on thought processes, body language and expressions displayed to outline their emotions during positive and negative cycles. Teachers should compare and contrast various emotions to increase self-awareness levels.
To facilitate levels of self-awareness, it is recommended that teachers implement the use of reflective practice (Knowles, 2007). Reflective practice is pertinent for teaching as it enables an opportunity to identify own strengths and areas to improve.
In application, it is proposed that once emotions have been identified and a period of reflection takes place, opportunities emerge for teachers to implement strategies to facilitate applied practice. Through the use of positive and negative cycles, it is further recommended that teachers utilize the practice of assessing their emotions on a consistent basis.
2) Self-Management of Emotions
The second aspect of the Goleman (2004) model is the self-management of emotions, which is defined as ‘the ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses and moods; the tendency to suspend judgment to think before acting’ (Goleman, 2004, p. 88).
Managing own emotion(s) is important because it offers a sense of control and the ability to think logically. Further, managing own emotions enable teachers to facilitate directive actions. Given the varied role of teachers, it is unsurprising that they will exhibit a continuum of emotions from the students they teach.
Therefore, teachers should employ strategies to facilitate and self-manage emotion. Research by Thelwell et al. (2006) identified that effective coaches arguably are those that can regulate their own emotions. In other words, coaches who fail to regulate their own emotions will not be successful in controlling those of their players.
Good coaches are more likely to be in control of their emotions and regulate these during appropriate situations on a consistent basis. There is indeed an opportunity to assess how this research can apply to teaching practices. Good teachers that have control of the situation are more likely to deal with issues with effective self-awareness. This can apply to all teachers irrespective of experience.
To self-manage emotions, the worksheet below is designed to allow opportunities for teachers to facilitate their own emotions. It is proposed that teachers facilitate opportunities to identify both positive and negative emotions within their own professional practice.
The self-management process worksheet is designed for teachers to examine and assess reaction to both positive and negative emotion outcomes. It is hoped that teachers can through identified interpretation and raised self-awareness regulate and self-manage emotions within a reflective process.
Within the professional practice, teachers are sometimes asked about the distance their students have travelled. This worksheet should actually support teachers to realise the distance they have travelled when managing their emotions during negative and positive situations.
Worksheet 2: The Self-Management Process
The third aspect of the Goleman (2004) model relates to empathy, which is having the ability to understand students and work colleagues and their needs but also finding the balance with own requirements. Therefore, a teacher who demonstrates empathy with their students or colleagues would understand needs and emotions more effectively.
Empathy is an important aspect and teachers should look at facilitating as many opportunities to support students. Through the use of empathy, it would be useful for students to know that peers are responsive to their needs and requirements. Building empathy in teaching is important because teachers with higher empathy levels are able to better understand players.
Benefits of empathy
Opportunities to increase empathy levels
1) A better understanding of colleagues and students
1) Peer observation with fellow teachers
2) Demonstrates opportunities to support other colleagues
2) Video/visual recording of oneself and other teachers
3) Allows the implementation of strategies at an early intervention stage
3) Maintain a reflective log or journal to write down how you deal with situations
4) Associates with the ability to assess body language
4) Use mirror images – to see yourself in reflection so you can ask questions of your body language, expression or emotions
5) Associates with the ability to assess expressions
5) Have regular scenario building meetings to examine empathy levels
6) Associates with the ability to assess emotions
6) Associate with practitioners from different backgrounds and teaching specialisms to increase transferable skills
The worksheet on empathy is designed for teachers to better understand their working practices. In proposal, it is suggestive that teachers identify peers that they work with and assess how they relate to working under pressure.
To facilitate this activity, it is proposed that teachers identify two colleagues (present or from previous experience) and assesses their empathy levels and emotion when working under pressure.
Having considered this process, teachers should seek to understand their behaviour and how they would react to similar situations. This approach provides opportunities for teachers to examine their own levels of empathy in given situations.
Worksheet 3: Empathy
Individual 1 (Positive Teacher)
(Working under pressure)
Individual 2 (Negative Teacher)
(Working under pressure)
(Working under pressure)
The fourth aspect of the Goleman (2004) model is motivation, which is defined as the inner self-drive to achieve goals. Teachers should be in control of their motivation to engineer motivational responses from students. A popular strategy employed in education is the use of goal setting.
It has been demonstrated that when goal setting is employed effectively it increases motivational qualities (Locke & Latham, 1990). To make sure that goal setting is applied and effective it is highly recommended that teachers employ goal setting that includes process and performance goals.
Goal setting provides opportunities for teachers to direct focus to increase motivational properties of their own working practices and students. Given the value of goal setting, it is proposed that it should be employed by teachers to enhance emotional intelligence and motivation.
To provide opportunities to increase motivation levels the goal setting matrix has been designed to support teachers. The goal-setting matrix enables teachers to design purposeful interventions to enhance performance levels.
To elicit short-term gains, it is proposed that teachers utilize the matrix on a three-week period. This short period will allow teachers opportunities to provide individual feedback. It is recommended that teachers introduce mental, technical, physical and nutritional goals to facilitate performance levels.
Further, this matrix will enable teachers to focus on integral aspects relative to performance levels.
Worksheet 4: Goal Setting
5) Relationship Management
The final aspect of the Goleman (2004) model is relationship management, which is the consequence of developing skills and strategies in managing others. Good relationships allow an opportunity for effective team unity and group cohesion.
Arguably, effective group cohesion increases the likelihood of success. Developing effective relationships with peers and students is important as they can exhibit an array of different personality traits.
The management of relationships is important given the varied role of teachers that resonate from continuous professional development, teaching and learning, assessment and report writing.
The following strategies are recommended for teachers to implement within their professional practice to facilitate relationship management:
Setting ground rules that inform students of roles and responsibilities
Develop teaching practices that enable students to combine and build group dynamics through lessons and tutorials
Incorporate methods into tutorials to support students in developing task and social cohesion
Process avenues that foster intrinsic and extrinsic motivation
The Relationship Management Model
Teachers should consider the model above to demonstrate the importance of effective relationship management. Effective relationship management skills should enable teachers to coerce students to engineer associated group cohesion. Therefore, teachers should be implicit in developing practices that form effective group cohesion.
Building effective group cohesion enables teams to impact performance levels more effectively than those who have ineffective group practices. It is recommended that teachers should also implement the following strategies:
Foster effective relationships through engagement and reflective practice to enable teachers and students to develop self-awareness.
Implement varied training methods to encourage students to facilitate problem-solving skills.
Teachers are encouraged to implement transferable skills from other educational domains to elicit different behaviours but also allow engagement within own practices.
Allow opportunities for students to engage with performance and social related activities to develop effective group building exercises to increase cohesion levels.
The main emphasis of this chapter was to highlight the benefit of sports psychology and in particular emotional intelligence within teaching. Through enhancing, levels of self-awareness teachers should be in a position to make applied practice more effective.
In addition, teachers who increase their own self-awareness levels will facilitate effective self-regulation and emotional control. Enhanced levels of emotional intelligence would also enable the formation of increased motivation and regulated empathy.
The rubric of emotional intelligence also allows teachers to develop effective relationship management to increase group dynamics. In summary, the evidence clearly stipulates the benefits of increased emotional intelligence to enhance performance levels.
Goleman, D. (2004). What Makes a Leader? Harvard Business Review, 82(1), 82-91.
Knowles, Z., Gilbourne, D., & Tomlinson, V. (2007). Reflections on the application of reflective practice for supervision in applied sport psychology. SPORT PSYCHOL, 21(1), 109-122.
Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (1990). A theory of goal setting and task performance. Englewood Cliffs, NJ:Prentice-Hall.
Petrides, K. V., Furnham, A., & Frederickson, N. (2004). Emotional intelligence. The Psychologist, 17, 574-577.
Salovey, P. & Mayer, J. D. (1990). Emotional intelligence. Imagination, Cognition, and Personality, 9, 185-211.
Thelwell, R., Lane, A. M., Weston, N. J. V., & Greenlees, I. A. (2008). Examining relationships between emotional intelligence and coaching efficacy. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 6, 224-235. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1612197X.2008.9671863
Turner, M., & Baker, J. (2014) What Business Can Learn from Sport Psychology: Ten Lessons for Peak Professional Performance. Amazon.
Van Rooy, D., & Viswesvaran, C. (2004). Emotional intelligence: A meta-analytic investigation of predictive validity and nomological net. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 65, 71-95.
I love reading, and there is nothing I love more than a good psychology book.
I developed this reading list based off of some of my favourite books over the past few years.
If you are a psychology student, graduate, qualified psychologist, therapist or simply just interested in the topic of psychology then there will be a book in here for you, or maybe two, or maybe all of them!
Check out my reviews of all 20 books and simply click on the name of the book to be taken straight to a link to purchase it!
Blackbox thinking really came at the right time for me.
I had just started my doctorate in counselling psychology and was struggling to come to terms with a failed assignment.
This book really opened my eyes to the power and true purpose of failure.
Blackbox Thinking looks at different professional industries in our society and tries to teach lessons of industries that refuse to learn from failure, those that do and the differences in those industries as a result.
If you want to gain a better understanding of what failure is all about, the purpose and power of what failure can do for us, then this book is a must read!
Carl Rogers is one of the greatest pioneers of psychotherapy and psychology!
His work created a new age of therapeutic work during times of psychodynamic and behaviourist principles.
With a focus on the client as an individual, in their subjective world, Rogers’ work was revolutionary.
This book really encapsulates his ideology and philosophy better than any other.
What’s more, is that you don’t need to be a therapist to really appreciate and gain benefit from his work and knowledge
A new appreciation of the individual, empathy, unconditional positive regard and congruence, an appreciation of the principles in this book and enhance the life of any reader, from any background and profession.
The book, unsurprisingly so, introduces the concept of ‘flow’.
Flow is a state that if reached, it is argued, can enrich the lives of people, and is the key to true happiness.
combination of a number of things such as minimising some of the challenges we catastrophise in life, as well as learning from our failures encapsulates what flow is about, however, it includes so much more.
This book is a bit of a classic in psychology and I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would.
Backed with real sound empirical principles this book is one for the people looking to introduce a new concept in their lives to experience some more happiness in 2019!
Thinking fast and slow can be a challenging read I will not deny it
However, this is in the GetPsyched Reading List 2019 because of how thought-provoking it is.
If you can get past the challenges you might experience in reading it, this book talks in great detail about the two different parts of our decision making brain, the logic behind them and how it rules everything we do.
How rational we think we are when we are reactive compared to when we are considered and think situations through thoroughly, is very different from reality.
Similar to his other work, Yalom in the Gift of Therapy talks about his personal experiences and process of becoming the establish therapist he is today.
He goes into brutal detail about his trials and successes, something I rarely come across form professional therapists talking about their work.
The lessons he has learned and is willing to relay to the reader are so so valuable.
I really believe this book is not only a must read for therapists and trainees, but for anyone wishing to develop empathic and interpersonal skills with a desire to communicate and relate to others better.
This is one of those books that I just love picking up every now and again.
It’s by no means a self-discovery or intellectual based book but it is so so fun to read and actually gives more detail than I thought it would at first.
If like me you are interested in the basic principles of psychology but have limited time or resources to remind your self of some of the experiments that established these principles…then this is the book for you.
It gives wonderful illustrations and descriptions of the most famous studies in psychologies history.
It’s so easy to read and a really nice break from some of the harder texts I read often.
This book also looks at some of the ethical and legal issues some of these studies raised as well as their findings and how they still influence our lives and understand of psychology today. A really brilliant book!
Very similar to Pavlov’s Dogs and Other Experiments, the Psychology Book is one of those books I love to big up and just have a scan through.
Its nothing heavy and in truth was actually given to me as a bit of a joke.
It’s honestly brilliant though.
It’s a book that makes some of the most challenging and difficult to absorb concepts and principles in psychology easy to digest.
With awesome illustrations and key facts about studies, research, psychologists and experiments, it is everything you need in order to learn the most valuable points of some of the key principles to psychology.
I love studying. Prior to my seven-year
psychology degree, I started three other degrees. I love learning, I love
researching, I love growing, but mostly, I love writing. The sense of
achievement that follows looking at a finished document that didn’t exist
before provides me with such satisfaction.
I grieved after completing my degree, over the end of that part of my life.
Such was the loss, I wandered aimlessly,
wondering how to fill my days. How to fill the gap in the joy, calm and sense
of achievement that writing had fulfilled.
Before, I had sat in my favourite chair in the sun and listened to the tap tap of the keys and I turned my thoughts into pages and pages of my thesis. I sipped tea and felt the warmth on my skin and worked at my all-consuming task. I hadn’t ever predicted the ritual would leave such a gaping hole in my life and my wellbeing.
Soon after finishing my degree, I returned to writing for other reasons.
Diagnosed with breast cancer, I began journaling in the form of letters to my grandmother, my nan, who had died four years earlier. I found I could connect with her throughout my time of need by putting pen to paper and in doing so, her answers to my questions and the love and support I knew she would have given revealed themselves, loudly and clearly. Comfort.
Cancer treatment, hair, breasts, ovaries all came and went and soon I felt well enough to search for meaning in all that had just happened in my life. What if, as a psychologist, one who had worked extensively with cancer patients, I had a message to share that might alleviate someone else’s burden of illness just a little? I knew I had something to share, something of value, and decided to write a book.
I joined a writing class and in three years my breast cancer memoir, A Hole in my Genes, was complete. Revisiting my old friend, the writing process, brought me stunning mindful calm and a sense of achievement like no other, in the form of meaning for my cancer experience.
However, with the words ‘The End’ came another grieving period, my all-consuming ritual ended once again. It had been a catharsis. It assisted with my processing of facing my mortality. It had allowed me to express a myriad of emotions safely, yet fully. Writing had saved my life.
Fast forward a matter of weeks and the urge to write, to create, to express myself tugged at my thoughts ever so strongly and I knew I need a new writing project.
A coffee, a dog walk, and some tossing around of ideas with a photographer friend one afternoon saw the birth of The Psychology of It.
As psychologists, psycho-education is one of our most valuable and most utilised tools.
When our clients can understand the what,
why, when and how of a disorder, or a reaction, an emotion, a behaviour, they
are more than half-way towards knowing how to choose the most effective coping
tools to manage their situation.
Therapy is an interesting beast and I know for myself at least, I go through phases of using particular interventions,particular stories and metaphors and I certainly have my go-to examples thattend to help most people understand a variety of topics.
I noticed that I would find myself repeating the same information, using the same analogies, drawing the same diagrams over, and over again, day in and day out, wishing a resource existed, using my language, to direct my clients to.
Of course, there are amazing resources online but mostly they specialised in certain areas, were too science-y, too self-help-y, or were generally too ‘something’ that my clients wouldn’t read.
Enter Stage Left, The Psychology of It.
The Psychology of It website is where it all began. I adore writing in many different formats and so created a website with five different categories. As a psychologist, the evidence-based research and science is key to efficacious work. We are scientist-practitioners and are always evaluating the work we do with our clients, as well as keeping up-to-date with the latest best practice principles. A lot of the time however, this information is only available in research journals and not easy tounderstand for the general community.
So, I began with a section called Analyse This, where we were able to interpret the more scientific information in a user-friendly way. There are descriptions of different disorders as well as information about different treatment modalities, and articles that describe why certain human experiences are so.
In the name of being user-friendly, I wanted a quick reference guide to a number of easy-to-learn coping tools that people could access and easily understand. These are the tools I’m teaching my clients every single day and so to have an article I can print out for them, or direct them too after a session to reinforce the skill they have learned that day, is invaluable. Those articles are found in The Coping Toolkit.
I also wanted a space to write about personal opinions and experiences. The main aim of The Psychology of It is to normalise human experiences, reduce the stigma and highlight the similarities we have as human beings, as opposed to always focussing on the differences. I didn’t always want to have to be scientific about things and noticed that a lot of people are more likely to read information if it’s presented in a more personal format. This is where Up Close & Personal came in.
Another main aim for The Psychology of It is to connect us all, human to human, again by highlighting the similarities we experience as humans. Conversations on the Couch does that beautifully by introducing people from all walks of life and ‘interviewing’ them, using the same set of questions that explore their personal life experiences and opinions, identifying their unique outlooks but also highlighting their commonalities with others. This section helps us feel as though we’re not the ‘only one’. In fact, Fraser has his own Conversation on the Couch up on the website. You can find it here.
Finally, I realised there might have to be a ‘miscellaneous’ category which I named New Things. Whether it be new resources, new experiences, new people, it’s a section where almost anything fits.
As well as the five sections filled with articles by some wonderful guest writers, we also keep a resource list called Stuff We Like. It’s always needing updating so if you have any recommendations, please don’t hesitate to let me know!
In the world of social media, The Psychology of It is linked to a Facebook page with over 3000 followers, and also on Instagram and Twitter. These all allow for further reach for the messages we’d like to spread, reducing the stigma of mental illness, and pushing the barrow for mental health, messages of wellbeing and the importance of self-care.
The Psychology of It is growing and in many ways has taken on a life of its own.
This year, it has also become a clinical practice in south-west Victoria, Australia. This practice allows me to work as the type of clinician I’ve also aspired to be. Many sessions with clients are starting to be conducted outside of the clinic walls where we take the practice of the skills learned in session, into real life. Clients are booking in for mindful walking, running, eating sessions. I’ve also purchased two stand-up paddleboards so that in the warmer months, mindful breathing and grounding sessions can be conducted on our beautiful rivers and ocean. Within the next few weeks, I’ll be undertaking a Trauma-based Yoga for Clinicians workshop and am excited for what doors that may open for me both personally and professionally.
To top it all off, I’m extending the messages of the importance of self-care, well-being and preventative mental health by hosting The Psychology of It’s first international Wellbeing Retreat in Bali, Indonesia. To find out more about that, you can go to http://thepsychologyofit.com.au/retreat.html.
I’m so excited to be combining the science of psychology, with the ancient wisdom of yoga led by my close friend and colleague Peta Jolley, in the stunning heart of Bali. We are looking forward toa week of companionship, learning, personal exploration and growth, not to mention stunning experiences and the most amazing wellness food on the planet. Mindful Tribes have designed such a wonderful boutique experience for us and we’d love for you to join us.
In the meantime, A Hole in my Genes iscurrently at the publisher’s and will be available before the end of the year. I’ll keep you up to date and would love to offer the GetPsyched community a nice big discount.
It’s a term that’s used to help people realise and achieve goals and dreams, but what do we mean exactly by visualisation and what impact can it actually have?
Well, fundamentally visualisation is a cognitive tool used to picture exactly what you want to happen.
In doing so we are creating all aspects of the scenario that we to experience or obtain. Now, I mean everything, so that could be sounds, sights, smells, feelings.
The more realistic the visualisation you take part in and the more it stimulates you, the more impact it will have in you realising and moving closer to what you want to achieve.
Rosabeth Moss Kanter gives a fantastic explanation of what visualisation is and its power:
“A vision is not just a picture of what could be; it is an appeal to our better selves, a call to become something more”
So, with this depiction, we can start to understand that visualisation is an opportunity for us to try and control what we are struggling to control.
It is a tool that helps us create what we want to see and achieve.
This all sounds great, ideal, give me some visualisation!
Well, hold on for a second. What is important when thinking about concepts that talk about how they are the key to success, is to look at the research.
What does psychology say about visualisation?
Well, often in psychological services, visualisation boards are used to help illustrate what the client is seeking.
These external tools can help in keeping the client focussed on visualisation.
Visualisation boards are often used for people that want a better future, a healthier lifestyle and even for those attempting to overcome addiction.
In psychological services, concrete objects are often utilised to help with the process of visualisation.
This is often used with patients with depression to visualise a better future and used to great effect.
These concrete objects can include things such as pictures in wallets for example, or mementoes that the individual carries with them.
Visualisation is also used in psychological and therapeutic services for patients with severe anxiety to create mental holidays to retreat to a calmer environment.
This might sound abstract but it has been shown to have incredible effects.
So, it’s clear then that visualisation techniques can be used to incredible effect in therapeutic and psychological contests but where else is visualisation used?
Where else is visualisation used?
Well the easiest one to appreciate perhaps is in the world of sports
Athletes will spend huge amounts of time visualising good performances.
Recent research has in fact inferred that spending time visualising performances and potential different outcomes and responses in sports settings have as much a role to play in how well an athlete performs the practice itself.
I watched the Winter Olympics earlier in the year and saw bob slay team captains pretending to go through the motions of the full course in their minds.
They would turn in ways that they would expect when they go down the track, all to ensure that they fully utilise the power of visualisation.
Visualisation can also be really effectively utilised in a studying context.
For example, you might visualise exams and coursework that you have due. Visualising what questions, you might get asked and best to answer them are all really powerful ways of utilising visualisation in studying.
The trick here, with regards to anything in visualisation, is to go through the entire process.
Don’t just focus on one questions in an exam or one move on the sports field. Visualise the full thing in its entirety.
That means, from waking up that day, to what you have for breakfast, to walking to school or the gym, to entering the room and sitting down and opening the paper…you get the idea.
The important thing is that you go through as many different scenarios in your head in as much detail as possible.
This way, you teach yourself not to expect anything unpredictable. You also reassure yourself of the different outcomes that could happen and how you might react as a result.
How can you use visualisation to great effect in your everyday life?
Well, you might to create your own visualisation board and keep it somewhere that you will see it every day. Whenever you walk past it, take some time to visualise what it is you desire as you look at the pictures.
When I was studying for exams, I used to pin my notes and mind maps around my house and when I went to the fridge for milk, there would be some notes there, I would take my time and read them through and visualise how I might use them in a potential question in an exam.
When I went to go out the front door, there would be another page of notes and I would do the same.
I was utilising visualisation to improve my upcoming performances.
Fundamentally guys, visualisation is seriously powerful, it’s not just a generic term thrown around by people who think they know what they are talking about, it has real psychological backing and is a toll that you can use every day to achieve and progress more in whatever you want to do.
Interested in learning more about visualisation? The check out the recent video I did about the psychology of visualisation on my YouTube channel GetPsyched by clicking the link here.
Part of the reason why I love psychology so much is that it’s not just for professors and academics.
Psychological principles can be used by anyone who has a little understanding to great effect.
I once had a psychology tutor who told me that as psychology students, we were at an extreme advantage with regards to studying for classes, assignments and exams.
We already knew what worked and what didn’t work.
We were learning the very techniques and principles that other fields tried to apply to their study patterns and regimes.
Learning new things is one of those concepts that we all wish we could be better at.
We might here new and interesting information, yet struggle to retain it and access it when we need it most.
Psychology and psychological principles can help with this though. There are numerous ways in which psychology can help us learn new things better.
You can find out so much more information on how psychology can help you learn new things better by checking out a video I did on this subject on my YouTube channel GetPsyched. Check out the video by clicking here.
In this article, I am going to give you a number of psychologically backed principles and interventions you can use to learn new things better.
So, let’s get to it.
STATE DEPENDENT RECALL
This basically means you have a place where you learn stuff.
A secluded and quiet location where you do your most profound thinking and learning.
Use this place often and make it your environment to absorb new information.
For me personally, that would be my back bedroom that has a desk in it, I can sit on my office chair and feel comfortable in that environment to give my full attention to what I am learning.
It’s peaceful, has natural light, and is simplistic and minimalistic enough to the point where I won’t get distracted.
What’s more is that when the door is shut, others know that I’m really busy or invested in a task and don’t want to be disturbed.
Put it this way, you’re not going to learn new stuff best if you keep changing the environment, at a bar or watching TV for example.
THE FUNDAMENTAL ATTRIBUTION ERROR
This sound fancy but it basically means holding yourself accountable for your own learning.
If you think others learn stuff better because they are just smarter than you, then your suffering from the fundamental attribution error.
Holding yourself accountable for your learning and thinking about what you can do to improve it will always assist in learning new things.
Now, this is a technique often used in classrooms by teachers.
It basically means extending the amount of time before trying to recall something you have learned.
By increased the time between recall, you improve our ability to learn the new information
You can try this out yourself pretty easily actually. Learn something new and give yourself 5 minutes to then recall it by memory. If you get it then extend that 5 minutes to 30 minutes, then an hour, 6 hours, a day, 3 days and so on.
To the point where you can recall the information over a large amount of time.
By extending the period of time between recalling new information, we stretch our brain and memory continually to the point where it is forced to keep responding to new and challenging circumstances.
As a result, we not only learn new things better, but we also retain them at an improved rate.
This basically means you should try and learn new things via more than one method.
If you simply read something new and leave it at that, then your limiting yourself and your ability to learn and retain new information.
You could try some of the following examples as learning tools that could be used together. Draw a picture of what you are trying to learn, create a mind map, or speak it out to yourself.
By increasing the number of learning tools and format’s, you learn much faster.
THE METHOD OF LOCI
This sounds a bit weird but it’s a form of mnemonics that help you remember new information better.
Used by the ancient Greeks, you remember new information by the location that you place them in in your mind.
In the modern day, people have been able to memorise thousands of pieces of new information via this method.
They didn’t start out like this, but what they do is actually construct full cities in their head and place each piece of new information in different areas, locations and buildings around this city in order to memorise this new and vastly complex information very quickly and effectively.
There are ways that you can use this tool for yourself. For example, remembering items or pieces of information by storing them in different rooms in a house you have created in your mind has been shown to have incredible effects for learning new things.
This is a technique that you really need to try out for yourself!
UNDERSTAND YOUR WORKING MEMORIES CAPACITY
Your working memory, which is your ability to retain different pieces of useful information, has a limit.
This limit usually is capped at around 7 pieces of new information in most circumstances.
By understanding this better, you can schedule your breaks better that we spoke about earlier and retain more accurate new information more effectively and over longer and more sustained periods of time.
UNDERSTAND YOUR METACOGNITION
Firstly, what is metacognition?
Its fundamentally our ability to assess and understand our own skills and learning capabilities.
By understanding your own metacognition you’ll begin to see that you perhaps aren’t taking enough time to learn new information.
Cognitive psychologists have time and time again found that a lack of understanding of metacognition has led to poor retention of new information.
Basically, you need a level of self-awareness for what your needs are when learning new information and how you learn new information best. That way, things should start to make more sense.
So, those are my top tips on how to learn new information better. These tips are really effective but they don’t come overnight. What I suggest is that you give them all a try, see what ones, and what combination, works best for you and practice them a lot!
Al the best with learning all that new info brainiac!!!
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