Ways to get Kids to Listen….

Children who have been diagnosed with ADHD and other types of mental health issues cause parents to really turn on their patience button. These kids need special attention time and care. Some of the ways parents can help listen to their children and help children listen to you are listed below.
1. Listen to your kids….
Parents know their children better than anyone else therefore listen to them. Their verbal and non-verbal language tells you what is going on with them.
Do not force your children into situation just because you feel they “should” be doing certain things. Therefore if they are uncomfortable in groups do not force them into group activities. Forcing children sometimes into what you the parents “expects” does more harm to the child.
Look at the signs and help them to navigate around situations and circumstances that are uncomfortable.
2. Be a Reliable Parent…
Do what you say. Often times parents make threats or promises that they do not follow through on or keep. This creates instability and cause the child not to trust what you say. Therefore when you say “I am going to the shop to come back, I will be a few minutes” Do not go out for four hours.
3. Be Honest with your child….
Asking your children to tell little white lies like “If Sarah calls tell her I am not home” or ” Do not tell your dad I bought these shoes today” causes problems because you are essentially teaching your children to lie by building up on little white lies.
4. Be Accurate
Sometimes parents can be motivated fear. Parents are afraid that their children will get hurt and sometimes we tell them all sorts of things, presenting them as facts in order to get your children to comply. E.g. “You will fall if you go any higher on the swing”, “If you eat too many sweets your teeth will fall out”.
When children find our these ‘facts’ are untrue and a way to control, parents will be less sought for advice. That though, can be very dangerous when they then turn to peers for advice in their teenage years. Be wary of the difference between giving advice and facts. Parents should give their opinion and discuss their children’s point of view then come to a consensus.
5. Be Playful with your kid…..
Playing with your kids can greatly improved communication. Sometimes as parents we get so caught up in the adult world that we forget that in order to connect and communicate with our kids we ourselves have to come down to their world. Playing side by side activities and allowing them to direct play encourages them. You can listen and learn what is going on with your child through their play and playing with them.
6. Be Positive instead of negative…..so less “No’s”
Sometimes we need to find how to rephrase our speech so that it comes out positive instead of negative or a downright “no”. This can assist in how your day children respond to you and also shows them that you are listening and trying to help them.
For example, if your child wants a toy and you can’t afford it, rather than say an outright no you could say, ‘Sure, let’s put it on the wish list and work out ways we can buy it’. Do you have anything you can sell or trade? What about a second-hand one? Let’s work out ways we can save up for it’.
Showing them you are always on their side, trying to find ways to help them, will strengthen their trust in you and set you up as partners rather than adversaries.
7. ‘No’ is an acceptable answer in some situations….
When we approach things in generally a positive way the times we do have to say a downright “NO” will cause children to respond and listen. Our “NO” has to be firm and assertive and not a tool we use all the time since it becomes less effective when overused.
Also as parents we should be able to accept “NO” from our children from time to time. We cannot tell them no and not also respect that they are entitled to tell us no in some situations.
8. Be informative.
The above guidelines are to assist in providing information, advice and to encourage feedback from your children rather than demands or orders. The guidelines will help you to help them in listening to you. However, they might not always comply with your request, just as you do with them, they may say no but suggest acceptable alternatives to you both.
These techniques seeks to help to produce a reasoning, thoughtful, free-thinking child that has a strong connection with his/her parents.

Create Your Own Happiness

How can we create our own happiness? People sometimes walk around so unhappy with themselves and what they do with their lives. I have been doing some reading and research and came up with five little ways to start finding happiness in your life.

1. Find meaning in your work.

We spend several hours working everyday yet we filled unfulfilled by these hours. To change this we must focus on how to make a difference and make sure our interactions with our co-works are meaningful. Many people are not passionate about what they do for work but only view it as a means of income.

Studies have shown“contributing to the health of patients and the smooth functioning of the hospital” — were happier than hospital workers who performed the very same tasks but didn’t see meaning. According to Ben-Shahar, there’s been similar findings with engineers, restaurant workers and hairdressers.

Therefore enjoy what you do choose the professions that interest you the most and you feel excited about, sometimes this may not start of with a great income but can build over time and at the end of the day makes you feel more fulfilled and happy.

2. Be positive.

Choose to find the positive out of a situation instead of the negative. As humans we tend to dwell on the negative aspects of situations and life. Even in a messed up situation looking for the positive aspect no matter how small can really help in your happy bank.

3. Use “pleasure boosters” in your day.

Taking some time to meditate for a few minutes on something that is positive. This can lift your mood and help you feel happier and energised and generally more creative. Some good “pleasure boosters” include closing your eyes listening to a Classical Music for 5 minutes, picturing the person your love, reading an uplifting piece of material, imagining a serene place that you might be planning to go on vacation. 

4. Embrace silence.

We are constantly moving in our day filling every moment with sound and business that we fail to take time off in silence. Silence can help us be more at one with our environment, find focus within ourselves and helps us be more creative. Find a way to embrace a little silence everyday.

5. Don’t dwell in difficult situations…See the challenge.

View difficult situations as challenges and opportunity rather than getting stressed out over difficult situations. Viewing challenges make us energized to find solutions and be creative in finding the solutions.
6. Work on more than one project at a time. At least three.

When we work on only one project and it does not turn out how we planned, it can cause us to become an emotional wreck. Our self-esteem would take a beating because things did not turn out how we planned. Working on more than one project really helps with keeping our emotions and self-esteem positive because if one fails there are others that are going well to make us still feel like we are doing a good job. A good way of doing this is by maintaining a hobby or doing something that you are passionate about along with other things going on in one’s life. 

Back to School Tips

The kids are heading back to school and it can be quite challenging for parents and children to make the adjustment of school routines, worries about academics, fitting in with peers in school and bullying are some of the concerns. Here are some little reminders to get ready for the new academic year.

1. Ease into school routines

Parents, especially those with younger children, can help their kids prepare for school by getting them on sleep, meals, homework, play and extra curricular schedules that are in sync with the school day.

A rested child is generally in a better mood, more motivated and rest improves memory.

2. Academic refreshers

A couple weeks before school starts back give your child short school like assignments from some of their new books or even some revision from their old books. If you send kids to school without a little revision it is harder for them to get back into the groove of academics.

3.  Get to the root of back-to-school jitters

Most school-aged children look forward to the first day back, but for those who are anxious, figuring out why can help. If children are worried about seeing friends again, arrange some get-togethers with friends before school starts. If the child fears having a new teacher or being in a new classroom, schedule a classroom visit before the school year.

Look out for avoidance behaviors, like crying, clinging or complaining of feeling sick to their stomach and asking to stay home.

4.  Bullying

July/ August might have been a reprieve for children who have been bullied at school. Bullying tends to decrease in schools where adults are responsive. Parents should help their children identify trusted adults at school who can help, including teachers, administrators, janitors, counselors or other staff.

Cyberbullying usually happens when kids are at home. Parents must encourage children to say when something on Facebook or email hurts their feelings or causes embarrassment.

5.  Pressure to fit in

Parents of adolescents, especially those entering secondary school, might see some behavior changes as children try to fit in with peers.

Keep having conversations with adolescents about their values and who they are. Make time for family activities like riding bikes or playing football. Parents should have “check in” talks with their adolescents often to make sure everything is going well in school.

6.  Cell phones, computers

Before the school year begins is also a good time to remind kids of the lasting repercussions of sharing photos, video, texting and other forms of social media electronically. Parents also should get familiar with these tools since they will have to monitor their kids use of these tools.

Similarly, remind teens that email is not private and to think twice before firing off disgruntled emails about teachers from the school library computers.

Meditation: How to start?

One of my dear friends quizzed me the other day about mediating. He was interested in starting meditating so that he could keep focus on positivity and be focussed throughout his day. Some insight I gave was that meditation really does not require one to make big life changes. All that is really needed is a few minutes of your day and some quiet space indoors or outdoors.

1.Firstly view meditation as a simple relaxation technique.

Meditation is an opportunity to release the things that stresses you and irritates you about your day. This is time where you can find peace of mind.

Meditation is sitting with your eyes closed focussed on relaxing. You can start with three to five minutes a day and work yourself up to 20 minutes a day.
Even if you spend the first three or so minutes distracted and restless the fact that you are taking some time to relax is the important part of the exercise.

2.Take some time to find your style.

Some people like to use mantras like peace, love, God etc. repeating it as they close their eyes. 

Finding a comfortable place it sit and sitting up helps keep you alert. You can take several deep breaths, trying to intentionally relaxing your body by tensing and relaxing your muscles. After you feel relaxed, on your next inhalation, breathe normally and repeat the word “peace” either aloud or silently. Then repeat the word as you exhale.

If you’re a visual person, focus on an image as you’re meditating, such as watching ocean waves go in and out.

The goal is to pick a practice that makes you feel a sense of relaxation and peacefulness.

3. Schedule your meditation.

Schedule your meditation practice and commit to it. Some people think they might be too busy but three minutes can definitely make a big difference in a person’s life.
4. Do not resist and fight your thoughts.

Many people get upset when their thoughts wander to things they might not expect.

Acknowledge your busy brain and let your thoughts flow. The mission of meditation is to introduce a more positive way of thinking.

Starting with short mediations times are easier because it is a great deal harder to meditate for 15 minutes than it is for 5 minutes.

5. Reprogram your thoughts.
Negative thoughts can make it hard to mediate. In order to reprogramme your thoughts it is good practice to use positive and self affirming phrases. Repeating these phrases can help. These phrases can also be used any time one does not feel so positive.

Some of these might include;

  • I love who I am.
  • I love the people in my life.
  • I am strong.
  • I am healthy.
  • I am beautiful.
  • I am well.


Sadness and Depression

Over the course of the last few months I have found that there are a number of people and specifically young people who have been displaying signs and symptoms of depression and sadness.

Here are 10 questions to ask yourself to help determine if your sadness could be depression. If you have any concern about your mental health, always check with a professional.

  1. Do you have unexpected, intense sadness that lasts longer than a few days at a time?
  2. Are you experiencing thoughts of suicide? 
  3. Are you fatigued or lacking in energy?
  4. Do you have feelings of hopelessness? 
  5. Are you using alcohol or drugs to manage your mood?
  6. Have your eating patterns changed? 
  7. Have you lost interest in activities you used to enjoy? 
  8. Do you feel worthless or guilty? 
  9. Are you losing your temper or fighting more than you used to?
  10. Are you becoming more irritable? 

Please note that these questions do not give a diagnosis of depression but can raise a red flag for you to see a mental health professional to determine if the sadness you feel is usual for you life circumstance at this time.


Adapted from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/your-life/2012/08/is-it-sadness-or-depression-10-questions-to-ask-yourself/

Spotting Sexual Abuse

Last week I had the pleasure of doing a workshop designed at spotting sexual abuse and abusers. This workshop was entitled Protecting God’s Children and was put on by the Archdiocesan Family Life Commission.

Facts About Sexual Abuse

  • Most abuse takes place by people the child knows and trusts and is seldom done by strangers.
  • Most sexual abusers are heterosexuals.
  • Children seldom lie about sexual abuse.
  • Priests abuse children for the same reasons as any other sexual abusers and not because of celibacy.

Warning Signs of a sexual abuse in children;

  • Changes in behaviour, child becomes withdrawn, mood swings, anxiety.
  • Child may become aggressive for no reason.
  • Loss of appetite, weight loss or weight gain.
  • Stop taking time for proper hygiene practices.
  • Sudden decline in school performance.
  • Problems sleeping.
  • Unusual interest in sexual matters that are not age appropriate. Regressive behaviour, bed wetting, thumb sucking, etc.

Signs of sexual abusers;

  • They use grooming process to earn the child’s trust. Giving of inappropriate gifts, using a “good guy” approach.
  • They use physical contact. The abuser may touch the child often and inappropriately, each time testing the boundaries of the child.
  • The use of psychology. Befriending the child, giving pro villages the parents may not give.
  • Community – many time abusers are very integrated into the community and is well known by everyone including parents.

Why Don’t Children Tell?

  • They were threatened or bribed by the abuser to keep the abuse a secret.
  • Fear that they will be taken away from their family.
  • Are afraid no one will believe them.
  • The abuser promised gifts or rewards for keeping the secret.
  • Blame themselves or believe the abuse is punishment for being “bad”.
  • Feel too ashamed or embarrassed to tell.
  • Worry about getting into trouble or getting a loved one into trouble.

How do we protect our children?

  • Controlled access – be very careful who has access to the child and for how long.
  • Monitor all programmes – even programmes put on by the church. Drop in unannounced, make sure the events are not in secluded areas and do background checks on persons carrying out programmes with your children.
  • Be aware – listen to what your children tell you, believe what they tell you, be alert to changes in their behaviour.
  • Communicate your concerns – Talk to the person involved and highlight behaviours you are uncomfortable with, talk to a direct supervisor.

These tips are very handy and is the start of the process for recognising sexual abusers but I feel that we as a Caribbean people have to develop our own check-list. Our culture is different from the American culture therefore the classification for detecting a sexual abuser may be somewhat different for our unique society. Although this is a very good start for parents who are unaware we will have to do more research into the Caribbean profile of a sexual abuser.


Psychology Of Fraud: Why Good People Do Bad Things

I saw this article and I really liked it so I thought I would share it on my blog. The actual article can be found on http://www.npr.org/2012/05/01/151764534/psychology-of-fraud-why-good-people-do-bad-things

Psychology Of Fraud: Why Good People Do Bad Things

No Alternative Text

Illustrations by Adam Cole/NPR

text size A A A

May 1, 2012

Enron, Worldcom, Bernie Madoff, the subprime mortgage crisis.
Over the past decade or so, news stories about unethical behavior have been a regular feature on TV, a long, discouraging parade of misdeeds marching across our screens. And in the face of these scandals, psychologists and economists have been slowly reworking how they think about the cause of unethical behavior.
In general, when we think about bad behavior, we think about it being tied to character: Bad people do bad things. But that model, researchers say, is profoundly inadequate.
Which brings us to the story of Toby Groves.

Chapter 1

Toby grew up on a farm in Ohio. As a kid, the idea that he was a person of strong moral character was very important to him. Then one Sunday in 1986, when Toby was around 20, he went home for a visit with his family, and he had an experience that made the need to be good dramatically more pressing.

Toby Groves origin story.

Twenty-two years after Toby made that promise to his father, he found himself standing in front of the exact same judge who had sentenced his brother, being sentenced for the exact same crime: fraud.
And not just any fraud — a massive bank fraud involving millions of dollars that drove several companies out of business and resulted in the loss of about a hundred jobs.
In 2008, Toby went to prison, where he says he spent two years staring at a ceiling, trying to understand what had happened.
Was he a bad character? Was it genetic? “Those were things that haunted me every second of every day,” Toby says. “I just couldn’t grasp it.”
This very basic question — what causes unethical behavior? — has been getting a fair amount of attention from researchers recently, particularly those interested in how our brains process information when we make decisions.
And what these these researchers have concluded is that most of us are capable of behaving in profoundly unethical ways. And not only are we capable of it — without realizing it, we do it all the time.

Chapter 2

Consider the case of Toby Groves.
In the early 1990s, a couple of years after graduating from college, Toby decided to start his own mortgage loan company — and that promise to his father was on his mind.


So Toby decided to lie.
He told the bank that he was making $350,000, when in reality he was making nowhere near that.
This is the first lie Toby told — the unethical act that opened the door to all the other unethical acts. So, what was going on in his head at the time?
“There wasn’t much of a thought process,” he says. “I felt like, at that point, that was a small price to pay and almost like a cost of doing business. You know, things are going to happen, and I just needed to do whatever I needed to do to fix that. It wasn’t like … I didn’t think that I was going to be losing money forever or anything like that.”
Consider that for a moment.
Here is a man who stood with his heartbroken father and pledged to behave ethically. Anyone involved in the mortgage business knows that it is both unethical and illegal to lie on a mortgage application.
How could that promise be so easily broken?

The Promise Flashback 2Chapter 3

To understand, says Ann Tenbrunsel, a researcher at Notre Dame who studies unethical behavior, you have to consider what this looks like from Toby’s perspective.
There is, she says, a common misperception that at moments like this, when people face an ethical decision, they clearly understand the choice that they are making.
“We assume that they can see the ethics and are consciously choosing not to behave ethically,” Tenbrunsel says.
This, generally speaking, is the basis of our disapproval: They knew. They chose to do wrong.
But Tenbrunsel says that we are frequently blind to the ethics of a situation.
Over the past couple of decades, psychologists have documented many different ways that our minds fail to see what is directly in front of us. They’ve come up with a concept called “bounded ethicality”: That’s the notion that cognitively, our ability to behave ethically is seriously limited, because we don’t always see the ethical big picture.
One small example: the way a decision is framed. “The way that a decision is presented to me,” says Tenbrunsel, “very much changes the way in which I view that decision, and then eventually, the decision it is that I reach.”
Essentially, Tenbrunsel argues, certain cognitive frames make us blind to the fact that we are confronting an ethical problem at all.
Tenbrunsel told us about a recent experiment that illustrates the problem. She got together two groups of people and told one to think about a business decision. The other group was instructed to think about an ethical decision. Those asked to consider a business decision generated one mental checklist; those asked to think of an ethical decision generated a different mental checklist.
Tenbrunsel next had her subjects do an unrelated task to distract them. Then she presented them with an opportunity to cheat.
Those cognitively primed to think about business behaved radically different from those who were not — no matter who they were, or what their moral upbringing had been.
“If you’re thinking about a business decision, you are significantly more likely to lie than if you were thinking from an ethical frame,” Tenbrunsel says.
According to Tenbrunsel, the business frame cognitively activates one set of goals — to be competent, to be successful; the ethics frame triggers other goals. And once you’re in, say, a business frame, you become really focused on meeting those goals, and other goals can completely fade from view.


Tenbrunsel listened to Toby’s story, and she argues that one way to understand Toby’s initial choice to lie on his loan application is to consider the cognitive frame he was using.
“His sole focus was on making the best business decision,” she says, which made him blind to the ethics.
Obviously we’ll never know what was actually going through Toby’s mind, and the point of raising this possibility is not to excuse Toby’s bad behavior, but simply to demonstrate in a small way the very uncomfortable argument that these researchers are making:
That people can be genuinely unaware that they’re making a profoundly unethical decision.
It’s not that they’re evil — it’s that they don’t see. 
And if we want to attack fraud, we have to understand that a lot of fraud is unintentional. 

Chapter 4

Tenbrunsel’s argument that we are often blind to the ethical dimensions of a situation might explain part of Toby’s story, his first unethical act. But a bigger puzzle remains: How did Toby’s fraud spread? How did a lie on a mortgage application balloon into a $7 million fraud?
According to Toby, in the weeks after his initial lie, he discovered more losses at his company — huge losses. Toby had already mortgaged his house. He didn’t have any more money, but he needed to save his business.
The easiest way for him to cover the mounting losses, he reasoned, was to get more loans. So Toby decided to do something that is much harder to understand than lying on a mortgage application: He took out a series of entirely false loans — loans on houses that didn’t exist.
Creating false loans is not an easy process. You have to manufacture from thin air borrowers and homes and the paperwork to go with them.
Toby was CEO of his company, but this was outside of his skill set. He needed help — people on his staff who knew how loan documents should look and how to fake them.
And so, one by one, Toby says, he pulled employees into a room.


“Maybe that was the most shocking thing,” Toby says. “Everyone said, ‘OK, we’re in trouble, we need to solve this. I’ll help you. You know, I’ll try to have that for you tomorrow.’ “
According to Toby, no one said no.
Most of the people who helped Toby would not talk to us because they didn’t want to expose themselves to legal repercussions.
Of the four people at his company Toby told us about, we were able to speak about the fraud with only one — a woman on staff named Monique McDowell. She was involved in fabricating documents, and her description of what happened and how it happened completely conforms to Toby’s description.
If you accept what they’re saying as true, then that raises a troubling scenario, because we expect people to protest when they’re asked to do wrong. But Toby’s employees didn’t. What’s even more troubling is that according to Toby, it wasn’t just his employees: “I mean, we had to have assistance from other companies to pull this off,” he says.
To make it look like a real person closed on a real house, Toby needed a title company to sign off on the fake documents his staff had generated. And so after he got his staff onboard, Toby says he made some calls and basically made the same pitch he’d given his employees.
“It was, ‘Here is what happened. Here is the only way I know to fix it, and if you help me, great. If you won’t, I understand.’ Nobody said, ‘Maybe we’ll think about this. … Within a few minutes [it was], ‘Yes, I’ll help you.’ “
So here we have people outside his company, agreeing to do things completely illegal and wrong.
Again, we contacted several of the title companies. No one would speak to us, but it’s clear from the legal cases that title companies were involved. One title company president ended up in jail because of his dealings with Toby; another agreed to a legal resolution.
So how could it be that easy? 

Chapter 5

Typically when we hear about large frauds, we assume the perpetrators were driven by financial incentives. But psychologists and economists say financial incentives don’t fully explain it. They’re interested in another possible explanation: Human beings commit fraud because human beings likeeach other.
We like to help each other, especially people we identify with. And when we are helping people, we really don’t see what we are doing as unethical.
Lamar Pierce, an associate professor at Washington University in St. Louis, points to the case of emissions testers. Emissions testers are supposed to test whether or not your car is too polluting to stay on the road. If it is, they’re supposed to fail you. But in many cases, emissions testers lie.
“Somewhere between 20 percent and 50 percent of cars that should fail are passed — are illicitlypassed,” Pierce says.
Financial incentives can explain some of that cheating. But Pierce and psychologist Francesca Gino of Harvard Business School say that doesn’t fully capture it.
They collected hundreds of thousands of records and were actually able to track the patterns of individual inspectors, carefully monitoring those they approved and those they denied. And here is what they found:
If you pull up in a fancy car — say, a BMW or Ferrari — and your car is polluting the air, you are likely to fail. But pull up in a Honda Civic, and you have a much better chance of passing.


“We know from a lot of research that when we feel empathy towards others, we want to help them out,” says Gino.
Emissions testers — who make a modest salary — see a Civic and identify, they feel empathetic.
Essentially, Gino and Pierce are arguing that these testers commit fraud not because they are greedy, but because they are nice.
“And most people don’t see the harm in this,” says Pierce. “That is the problem.”
Pierce argues that cognitively, emissions testers can’t appreciate the consequences of their fraud, the costs of the decision that they are making in the moment. The cost is abstract: the global environment. They are literally being asked to weigh the costs to the global environment against the benefits of passing someone who is right there who needs help. We are not cognitively designed to do that.
“I’ve never talked to a mortgage broker who thought, ‘When I help someone get into a loan by falsifying their income, I deeply consider whether or not I would destabilize the world economy,’ ” says Pierce. “You are helping someone who is real.”
Gino and Pierce argue that Toby’s staff was faced with the same kind of decision: future abstract consequences, or help out the very real person in front of them.
And so without focusing on the ethics of what they were doing, they helped out a person who was not focusing on the ethics, either. And together they perpetrated a $7 million fraud.

Chapter 6

As for Toby, he says that maintaining the giant lie he’d created was exhausting day in and day out.


So in 2006, when two FBI agents showed up at his office, he quickly confessed everything. He says he was relieved.
Two years later, he was standing in front of the same judge who had sentenced his brother. A short time after that, he was in jail, grateful that his father wasn’t alive to see him, wondering how he ended up where he did.
“The last thing in the world that I wanted to do in my life would be to break that promise to my father,” he says. “It haunts me.”

The Promise Flashback 1

Now if these psychologists and economists are right, if we are all capable of behaving profoundly unethically without realizing it, then our workplaces and regulations are poorly organized. They’re not designed to take into account the cognitively flawed human beings that we are. They don’t attempt to structure things around our weaknesses.
Some concrete proposals to do that are on the table. For example, we know that auditors develop relationships with clients after years of working together, and we know that those relationships can corrupt their audits without them even realizing it. So there is a proposal to force businesses to switch auditors every couple of years to address that problem.
Another suggestion: A sentence should be placed at the beginning of every business contract that explicitly says that lying on this contract is unethical and illegal, because that kind of statement would get people into the proper cognitive frame.
And there are other proposals, of course.
Or, we could just keep saying what we’ve always said — that right is right, and wrong is wrong, and people should know the difference.
Web story produced and edited by Maria Godoy; on-air story edited by Planet Money and Anne Gudenkauf.

Caribbean Psychology Association

I had the pleasure of attending the Trinidad and Tobago Association of Psychologist retreat this weekend. Many points stood out to me and started my own thought process as to the future and development of psychology in the Caribbean.
The perennial problem continues to be that we as a Caribbean people cannot unite. We fail to see that united we will be more of a force in the world.  United we would just be better.

 The unfortunate result of this disunity for the discipline of Psychology in the Caribbean is quite sad since we have to rely on the instruments for testing, literature and research from the U.S., U. K. and every other first world country. The literature etc. from these places have little cultural relevance to our unique and dynamic society yet we still rely on all their material. 

We have many bright, intellectual and hard working Psychologist all over the Caribbean so doesn’t it make sense for us to have a Caribbean Psychological Association where we can work on literature, research and testing instruments that are our own and relevant to our culture? What are my colleagues in the Caribbean thoughts on this matter?

The Chair

As a psychologist many times we forget what sitting in that “dreaded” chair feels like. There are some of us who never sat in the chair at all!! In my case, I had to experience this when I was studying for my masters. Though therapy was mandatory, I used the opportunity for my self development and growth and looked at my issues. I really tried to face them. I did my best to be honest about my emotional skeletons.

Recently I had the opportunity of being a client again. YES, YES i sat in the “dreaded” chair!!! It wasn’t fun!!! I know exactly how it feels sitting in front a therapist because here I was sitting in front of a stranger telling them the intimate details of my life. Then all of a sudden I was scared and uncomfortable…I wanted to look good for the therapist… I felt afraid to tell the person my business… I wanted to get far away from the room… I wanted to tell them my issues because I was seeking help… I was talking a lot and all over… I felt confused and talking confused… hard questions were being asked… I had to be truthful… the questions made me think… I don’t want to think… I knew the answers but I needed to hear them from someone else… I wanted coping skills but yet I thought I was coping well… but I wasn’t. Then I was crying and felt sad then I felt happy and somewhere in there angry. Sounds familiar?

At the end of it though I felt comfortable and settled and I was able to open up and be honest because I wanted the assistance for my self development. The session went wonderfully well and I felt good at the end of it. I had some home work and things to think long and hard about, but it was good.

Sitting in that chair reminded me of my clients and how hard it can be sometimes to start trusting and talking to a stranger about intimate details of their lives. Trusting that I will be able to help them cope and figure what to do, what is the next step, what they have to work on, their fears, weaknesses and more. Looking at ourselves sometimes is the hardest thing to do because we have to admit and face that we have fears and weaknesses. We are our own harshest critic. When you realise your weaknesses, you can work on them. Somehow people are afraid of this process because they are comfortable with how they are handling their weaknesses even though it might be very unhealthy. Humans we are creatures of habit even though change is inevitable.

In the daily life of being a mental health professional it is necessary to sit in that “dreaded” chair if you really want to be emotionally stable and mentally healthy to deal with clients. Personally, I think it is really important for us mental health professionals to be in a mentally healthy place before assisting our clients. If we are a mess how can we EVER help clients?

The journey to self discovery is ongoing and never over. Sometimes a case might hit on issues we have bottled up within ourselves. Therefore it is always good to go back to that “dreaded” chair and be the client. Not only to remind us of how a client feels, but to also remind us that we too need to talk and sort out our issues no matter how small.

Don’t think this is just limited to mental health professionals. If the shoe fits you wear it! Are you giving advice to others clients, team members etc. and then not taking that advice? Worse yet are u getting frustrated with others and forgetting what it is like to be in that “dreaded” chair?

Self development and discovery…this is my journey now and I am very happy to be doing it so that when I sit in front of my clients they are getting the best of me and what I have to offer in the mental health profession….So I encourage my colleagues to take a seat in the chair and be reminded of what the clients feel in our sessions….and for the clients out there some of us understand how scary going into therapy can be but we also understand how tremendously beneficial it can be…


2012 Here it is…

I have spent some time reflecting on the last year of my professional life and I really marvel at how much it has changed. Professionally I am in the process of building my name, my practice, my profession. One of the greatest things I have learnt in the last year though is patience.

Being a mental health professional means that I should be able to practice what I preach…but that is the one thing that is the hardest to do! Patience…patience to know that some of the ventures I am involved in is in the stage of evolution therefore things do not happen as fast as we want them to…Patience to know that the supreme being has a plan that we do not always see or understand…Patience to believe that the best is yet to come…Patience to know and believe when it comes there will be great rewards….My lesson for last year and in this year to come is and will continue to be patience.
Another big aspect that I struggled with in the last year is finding balance. Sometimes as mental health professionals we give of ourselves so much that we forget to take the time to take care of ourselves. This is certainly something I struggle with and have been taking the time to ensure that I am mentally healthy. For me being mentally healthy is also taking the journey to find and understand myself, my strengths and weaknesses, and letting others help me when I am struggling.
Over the years of studying and practicing psychology, I have always tried to use what I learn on me first. I have always tried to find balance. It still is a difficult process because facing my weaknesses is one of the hardest things to do, because I have to admit that I need help when I want to just help everyone.
I took a different perspective at writing this blog because sometimes psychologist forget to let others know that we are human and go through the same process like everyone else and we too have to admit when we need assistance, sometimes our inability to ask for help causes us more distress and makes us even more unhealthy than others. I certainly have areas of my life that I need to work on so my famous line “I’m no guru” is even more interestingly true. The only difference is that on a daily basis I try to handle all my problems, obstacles, challenges etc. in a healthy balanced way. Cheers to 2012, and for me the lesson is Patience! What is your lesson for 2012?