Psychology Web Sites: A Top Ten List

[This week, April 2008, I added another really interesting set of links on depression. I think it’s really worth checking out, here.]

I recently received an email from a colleague with this list of great psychology resources on the internet. I thought I’d pass it on:

The new issue of The Clinical Psychologist (APA Div. 12, vol. 60, #2, p. 7) includes the results of a survey to identify the top 10 psychology web sites: “Top 10 Psychology Websites” by Simon Rego, the APA Division of Clinical Psychology Internet Section Editor.

Dr. Rego posted a message on a number of psychology internet lists “asking members to send me their favorite ‘go to’ websites for information and resources in psychology…”

The results appear below. [Depression links here.] Here is the section of the article reporting the results:

Coming in first place was a site managed by Kenneth S. Pope, Ph.D. The site provides free full-text articles and other resources on assessment, therapy, forensics, etc.

Placing second was the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Home Page. This site provides information from the Federal agency that conducts and supports research on mental illnesses

Finishing third was the official website of the American Psychological Association

In fourth was a site managed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. The site claims to be the Internet’s largest and oldest mental health social network created and run by mental health professionals to guarantee reliable, trusted information and support communities to consumers, for over 12 years.

In fifth place was WebMD, “the leading source for trustworthy and timely health and medical news and information.” The site provides credible health information, supportive community, and educational services by blending award-winning expertise in content, community services, expert commentary, and medical review

Coming in sixth place was the Anxiety Disorders Association of America website. This site offers complete information on anxiety, as well as a special section on teen anxiety

Seventh place went to the Academy of Cognitive Therapy, a site that offers information about cognitive therapy, how to become certified as a cognitive therapist, training in cognitive therapy

In eighth place was the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) website, which provides CEU, CME, and other educational opportunities; journals for research and clinical practice in behavioral therapy and cognitivebehavioral therapy; and referrals for those seeking psychological therapy

In ninth place was the Obsessive Compulsive Foundation (OCF) website. The OCF is an international not-for-profit organization composed of people with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and related disorders, their families, friends, professionals and other concerned individuals

Finally, sneaking in at number ten was Wikipedia, “the biggest multilingual free-content encyclopedia on the Internet. Over two million articles and still growing.”

And finally, a really interesting list of depression links, including informational sites as well as testimonials blogs from people suffering from depression. Not to be missed.

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Prescription Privileges for Psychologists

Prescribing psychotropic medications is in the works. Consider how much drug companies stand to benefit. Even the American Medical Association cannot stand in the way of this juggernaut — profit — it can only delay the inevitable and the consequences.

Today, the New York Times ran a piece on the recent trend of a few states requiring drug companies to disclose their largest recipients of gifts. The results show that psychiatrists are the largest recipients of donations. You can read the article here.

Those doctors that received drug company gifts were more likely to prescribe drugs in general, but specifically the new class of atypical antipsychotics. They were also more likely to prescribe those drugs to children, even though the use of those drugs with children has not yet been approved by the Federal Drug Administration.

What does this have to do with psychologists? Well, if psychologists start prescribing psychotropic medications, we too, will become subject to the gifts of drug companies, unless stringent measures are put in place. It’s a topic that deserves more attention.

Kalea Chapman, Psy.D.

Attachment Research: What’s New in Psychology?

Well, perhaps not so new. Attachment research has been done for quite some time, but the findings and applications have been broadening. Attachment is generally refers to the early bond one forms with mother (or another caretaker) during infancy.

Early research, much of it psychoanalytic, tended to focus on pathology. But one’s style of attachment (e.g., secure, avoidant, disorganized) is not written in stone after that period. It has been found that adopted children can develop healthy attachments even if one was not formed in infancy.

Recent research has been more empirical, using videotapes and observations of mother-infant interactions that can be analyzed frame-by-frame, and then coded.

Within couples, it has been suggested that one partner’s ability to attach can have healing effects on the other’s.

Assessing attachment. Questionnaires used to assess attachment have found a high correlation between a mother’s attachment style and her child’s attachment style years later. Since attachment style can have great impact on relationships, and relationships tend to influence happiness, this has tremendous clinical implications.

Kalea Chapman, Psy.D.

Curious About Psychotherapy?

Your questions. People have many questions about psychotherapy. The purpose of this blog is to answer some of those questions.

Being an informed consumer. For good reason, consumers of psychotherapy, like consumers of any service, want to be adequately informed about what they are getting into.

Submit a question. So read on. If you have a question, just leave it in the comment section of any post. I’ll respond as soon as I am able.

Kalea Chapman, Psy.D.

What is a Psy.D.?

Doctorates in Psychology
A Psy.D. is a doctorate in psychology. The emphasis is on clinical practice, as opposed to research. In many university psychology programs one way they screen applicants is by something like this statement: “If you are interested in becoming a therapist then this is not the right program for you. Please don’t waste your time or ours by applying to this program.” In other words, their focus is on the research side.

Two Training Models: Vail and Boulder
This poses a dilemma for those that want to pursue doctoral-level training in psychology. One of the options is going to a professional school. The professional schools tend to focus more on the clinical side, that is, working with clients/patients/human beings. So there are two basic models for training in psychology: the Vail model and the Boulder model.

Professional Degrees

Another way to think of a Psy.D. is that it’s a professional degree — like an M.D., D.D.S., J.D., etc. Generally you don’t go to someone with a Ph.D. in medicine for treatment. Nor a dentist with a Ph.D. in dentistry. Nor a lawyer with a Ph.D. in law. These people and these degrees exist, but they are academic degrees. Generally, they are for those that teach or do research in the field.

That said, this is not exactly the case in psychology. Plenty of Ph.D. therapists do psychotherapy.

Kalea Chapman, Psy.D.

Five Fears About Psychotherapy

  1. The therapist is going to make me talk about my whole life history. Some will. But most are very curious to know where you are now, and what brings you into their office at this particular moment. Of course, therapists are generally very interested to hear about the various forces that came to shape the person in front of them.
  2. Don’t therapists think that you want to sleep with your mother? Not so much any more. That was a working hypothesis in the early 20th century. Psychoanalysis has changed quite a bit since then. That’s a whole other topic.
  3. What if my therapist thinks I’m crazy. I can only speak for myself. I’ve seen a lot of people who were quite unhappy, even disturbed. What is crazy? Are you crazy if you are depressed? Anxious? Hearing voices? In each of these cases the person coming for help is suffering. I focus on alleviating that suffering.
  4. If I see a therapist it might destroy my relationship. Really? Sometimes couples come to therapy because one party is very ambivalent about the relationship. Sometimes they are just having difficulty communicating about a particular area. A good relationship will often be enhanced by couples therapy.
  5. Is what I say really confidential? I take confidentiality very seriously, as do the vast majority of therapists. If you are suicidal or homicidal all mental health professionals are mandated to get you help or make a report to the police and anyone else that might be in harm’s way. This is not the same as feeling hopeless or feeling tremendous ill-will toward someone. A good therapist will help you explore these feelings.

Kalea Chapman, Psy.D.

Depressed — How Would I Know if I Am?

[See here, for a more recent set of links relating to being depressed.]

You might not know at all. In other words, some people are depressed without even knowing it. People show depression in different ways, depending on their biochemistry, age, upbringing, cultural background. With some people it is obvious, with others less so. Yet it is a serious problem. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), by 2020 depression will be the second cause of disability worldwide. It is currently ranked fourth.

What separates depression from feeling blue? If some unhappy circumstance comes our way, your boyfriend dumps you, you lose your job or miss out on a promotion, or you suffer the death of a loved one — we become unhappy. All of these are understandable sources of regret, sorrow, and lament. In some cases, they might trigger depression. But they are not depression. It is a natural part of life to go through bereavement. To have regrets. To feel sad. But when that sadness becomes a part of everything we do, and keeps us from enjoying life, it may, in fact, be depression.

Many of us associate depression with sadness or unhappiness. Less commonly known is that depression can, especially in children, show itself as irritability. Some express depression in a burst of activity, often followed by a devastating crash. In extreme cases this is called bipolar disorder, what used to be more descriptively known as manic depression. This is a form of major depression that can be crippling. Between the ecstatic highs and punishing lows is a very uncomfortable mix of the two. People in this energetic and depressed state are at a much higher risk for suicide. In a manic episode, a person may hear voices or see things. In the past, people in a manic state were often misdiagnosed as being schizophrenic.

Some people suffer through a kind of “living dead” depression. Everyone around this person knows something is terribly wrong. It is draining to be in a room with such a person. It is even more draining to be that person. These are what we call the vegetative symptoms of depression. It is what it sounds like, feeling like a vegetable. The person experiences a terrible lack of interest in things and people, difficulty getting out of bed in the morning, difficulty with sleep that can take a number of forms — sleeping round the clock, or having trouble getting to sleep, or waking up in the middle of the night.

How do I get treatment?
The good news is that depression is treatable. For some, psychotherapy is very effective in treating depression. For those with more serious depression, medication in conjunction with psychotherapy has been shown to be more effective than either treatment alone. Many different factors are considered in treating depression, your history of depression, family history of depression, severity and frequency of depressive episodes, as well as current life circumstances. But it is important to seek treatment. The current thinking is that untreated depression only worsens in severity, becomes entrenched, more difficult to treat. Treatment can mean the difference between suffering tremendously and getting on with one’s life.

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Kalea Chapman, Psy.D.

Getting Curious About Psychotherapy?

Making that first call is tough. There are so many reasons we are told not to: “I should stand on my own two feet.” Or “Therapy is for crazy people.” Here are a handful of reasons you might want to consider seeking help:

  • You are depressed but are not sure why.
  • You are anxious but are not sure why.
  • You are confused about where your life is going.
  • Your current relationship seems to be going the same way as your previous relationship — and it’s not good.
  • Your family is so in one another’s business that it is hard to know where one person begins and another ends.
  • Your family is detached, and you have many unresolved questions about how you grew up.

Kalea Chapman, Psy.D.

Don’t Know Much About Biology

A few more thoughts on Biological Bases of Behavior.

That’s what they like to call it. But what does that mean? Since being alive is biological, then isn’t all behavior biological. No? Perhaps not.

What the American Psychological Association means when they refer to biological bases of behavior largely has to do with biochemistry. Which is of course strongly associated with genetics. The effects of which, in turn, are difficult to separate from the way we are brought up.

So, biochemistry, pharmacology, biological and neural bases of stress are all components of this. “Interaction of developmental, gender, ethnic, cultural, environmental, and experiential factors with the biological and psychological functioning, with particular reference to lifestyle and lifestyle modification and behavioral health; effects of health on the immune system.” (From the “Information for Candidates” brochure published by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards.)

Kalea Chapman, Psy.D.

Not Seeking Therapy: Top Five Excuses

  1. I should be able to do it on my own. This is such a hurdle in the myth of our individualistic, self-reliant culture. The idea of seeking help is so fraught with stigma. But there comes a time when your friends are politely avoiding certain conversations, and your family’s advice just makes you angry. Interested strangers are hard to come by.
  2. I can’t afford it. There are places with sliding-fee scales. In Pasadena, even.
  3. Therapy is for crazy people. This is another tough one. People are not just worried about what other people think, for some the very idea of starting psychotherapy shakes their ideas about their own sanity. The reality is that therapy often helps to make one feel more sane.
  4. It’s not going to change anything. A partial truth. Therapy may not change your current situation, the stressful things in your life, your dilemmas, will probably still be there. But with diligent work your reaction to them may change considerably.
  5. I don’t want someone interfering with my decision-making. Some therapists give advice. A psychodynamic therapist generally won’t. The idea is that people feel better about themselves when they understand their own minds and make their own decisions. Make sense?

Kalea Chapman, Psy.D.