Columnists, Articles

November 6th, 2020

The way we live now

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

The dump or recycling center has long been a hub of social and civic engagement in the town where I have lived for the past 42 years. Recycling bins for every kind of material earn the town hundreds of thousands of dollars every year, and candidates for public office are often on hand to woo voters to the ranks of their supporters. Autumn brings mountains of leaves, the remnants of New England foliage that nature’s alchemy turns into dark, rich topsoil, free for the taking in spring. And every season gives us more books than we can read in a [More]

November 5th, 2020

Practical Practice: Getting people the help they need

By Catherine Robertson Souter

According to a study published in August by the Centers for Disease Control, U.S. adults have reported three times the prevalence of symptoms of anxiety disorder and four times the prevalence of symptoms of depressive disorder compared with the same time period in 2019. Even if the figures cannot be compared directly, as the CDC report points out that the methodology was not identical, the numbers are alarming. One quarter of respondents reported symptoms of anxiety and depression, 13 percent reported an increase in substance use and 11 percent reported an increase in suicidal ideation. Luckily, Americans are also reaching [More]

October 8th, 2020

Could walk and talk therapy become the norm?

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Before we all were forced to slow down, most of us tended to think of spending time in nature as a benefit, something we squeeze in between all our running around. But, as studies have shown, getting outside should be considered more than a luxury. We should think of it as a requirement for both physical health and optimal cognitive function. In fact, one 2019 United Kingdom study shows that a minimum of 120 minutes of outdoor time per week is associated with higher levels of self-reported health and well-being. As the 2020 pandemic churns onward, therapists are looking for [More]

October 7th, 2020

Residential schools adopt safety measures related to pandemic

By Phyllis Hanlon

In March, states across the region ordered the closure of school systems. While public and many private academic institutions shuttered their doors, residential schools were considered “essential services” and were allowed to remain open. Elizabeth Della Russo Becker, executive director of maaps (Massachusetts Association of Approved Private Schools), reported that residential schools serve a diverse population that is more vulnerable to infectious diseases than students in the general population. Becker applauded Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders for the “wise and unique” decisions that helped protect these students. “She understands that these schools have needy and often voiceless populations. [More]

October 6th, 2020

Program for educators teaches social and emotional learning

By Catherine Robertson Souter

The state of Connecticut is looking to take the lead on creating an emotionally strong educational system. The Department of Education has joined forces with stakeholders across the state to pilot a unique program aimed at giving educators the tools they need to cope and to teach coping skills during the pandemic. The program, “Social and Emotional Learning in Times of Uncertainty and Stress: Research-Based Strategies,” is a 10-hour online program for educators that will give instruction in social and emotional learning (SEL). “The course is 10 hours of training in the psychology and neurobiology of trauma and stress resilience,” [More]

September 10th, 2020

A good day out

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

One of our favorite ways to relieve the boredom of pandemic isolation is to take a drive. Most days, almost anywhere will do. A trip to the grocery store or a run to the town dump with our trash, recyclables, and yard waste neatly sorted makes for a satisfying change of scenery, but for a real break, we take to the open road. The Sunday paper gave us a plan for what looked like a fun day trip to Newport, and we earmarked Thursday for our adventure. The week passed in its usual round of daily chores and relaxing diversions [More]

September 9th, 2020

Uncertainty of pandemic leads to further mental health problems

By Eileen Weber

It should be no surprise that after months of shelter-in-place mandates, wearing masks in public, maintaining a six-foot distance from others, and a resurgence in COVID outbreaks in some states, our collective psyche is at the breaking point. Depression, anxiety, and substance abuse have been on the rise in this country, but those issues have become even more apparent during this pandemic. For many people, it has been a mental and emotional roller coaster. Steven Marans, MSW, Ph.D, a professor of psychiatry and director of the Childhood Violent Trauma Center at Yale’s Child Study Center, says the loss of normal [More]

September 9th, 2020

Confiding in others identified as the strongest protection against depression

By New England Psychologist Staff

A new study has found that strong social connections are the strongest protective factor for depression. “Depression is the leading cause of disability world-wide,” said Karmel Choi, Ph.D, an investigator in the department of psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and lead author of the paper. “About one in five people will experience an episode of major depression in their lifetime. If we could prevent depression, we could not only reduce years of suffering, but also improve health and life outcomes.” That led researchers to ask the question: Which modifiable factors in [More]

August 18th, 2020

Running on comet time

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

There’s nothing like the appearance of a bright comet to remind us that beautiful surprises are always possible no matter what else is happening in the world. I had seen four of these celestial visitors over the years, Comets West, Halley, Hyakutake, and Hale-Bopp, and this summer of the corona virus brought the fifth, Comet NEOWISE. In the past four months, NEOWISE increased in brightness as it made its closest approach to the sun and then began to dim as it swung around to the other side and started its return journey to the outer edge of the solar system. [More]

August 18th, 2020

National survey measures pandemic’s emotional impact

By Phyllis Hanlon

After several months of quarantine, psychologists are eager to assess the emotional repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. Three psychologists teamed up to create a scale that evaluated mental health during this crisis and found both expected and some surprising results. Sarah Gray, Psy.D, director of outpatient rehabilitation psychology at Spaulding Rehabilitation in Boston, said, “As a health psychologist, the psychological effects of the pandemic in society and how that affects our patients is of particular interest to me.” Gray is also the founder/director, Integrative Psychology, PC in Arlington, Massachusetts. Gray explained that this national survey was developed “completely in reaction [More]

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