Monday, October 13, 2014

Out of the Darkness 2014 Columbus Walk

The OPA/COPA walking team, consisting of Dr. Beth McCreary and her daughters, Dr. Catherine Malkin, Dr. Jim Shaw, and Dr. Mary Lewis with her daughter. 

Thanks to all who donated and supported the OPA/COPA walking team for the Out of the Darkness Suicide Prevention walk yesterday. It was an amazing day, the weather could not have been more perfect and there was a large crowd. 

Thank  you to Catherine Malkin, Beth McCreary, Jim Shaw, Nicolette Howells, Kathryn Leugers, and the Jeff Shriver family for signing up to walk! The OPA/COPA team raised $1650, which was 82.5% of our goal of $2000.

The entire Columbus walk raised $71,191 out of their $90,000 goal -- with numerous donations yet to be counted. 

It is not too late to still donate! Even a $5 tax-deductible donation could make a difference and save someone's life. Think of how powerful a statement it would be if every OPA psychologist donated $5 to the mission of suicide prevention -- we could easily raise close to $10,000 ourselves. 

You have until the end of the year to contribute to our team and support us even though the walk is over at this link:

Thursday, July 10, 2014

5 Ways To Boost Clients' Life Satisfaction by Using Their Religious Values

by guest blogger, Tara Luchkiw, M.A.

Numerous research studies have demonstrated that there is a positive relationship between religiousness and psychological well-being (Koenig, 2001). People who report having strong religious belief and engaging in frequent religious behaviors often report higher levels of satisfaction with life and lower levels of anxiety and depression than those who report infrequent attendance at worship services, sporadic private prayer practices, and doubts in their beliefs. Several researchers have proposed a number of reasons why religious behavior might be related to greater well-being. Likely explanations include the provision of social support, establishment of meaning in life, engagement in healthy lifestyle choices, promotion of positive religious coping styles, and facilitation of positive affect, all of which are believed to be endorsed by and facilitated through religion (Ellison, Boardman, Williams, & Jackson, 2001; Ellison & Levin, 1998; George, Larson, Koenig, & McCullough, 2000; Seybold & Hill, 2001). Addressing these components in treatment can assist your clients with engaging in value-driven behaviors. 

Many clients look to their religious faith to give them strength and hope as they work through various psychological difficulties. For these clients, integrating their personal beliefs into treatment may lead to better treatment outcomes. For example, in a review of studies examining religion and mental health, depression in patients treated with religious interventions was resolved more quickly than in patients treated with a secular intervention or no intervention in five out of eight clinical trials (Koenig & Larson, 2001). The following are five ways you can engage your clients’ religious values in treatment.

1. Encourage your clients to get more involved in activities at their place of worship or to attend services more regularly. Religious involvement provides access and opportunities to create social networks with people who share similar values, morals, interests, and activities. A large social support network could provide emotional and tangible assistance that may promote better mental health among religious persons. Consider suggesting church-based activities as behavioral activation targets.

2. Encourage your clients to establish a daily practice that includes private prayer or devotional activities. Religious belief provides a view of the world that gives experiences meaning, which yields a sense of purpose, direction in life, and peace of mind for the believer. One study found that participants reported having a greater sense of meaning in life and greater well-being on days that they engaged in religious behaviors (Steger & Frazier, 2005). The findings from this study also suggest that religious individuals feel greater well-being because they derive meaning in life from their religious activities. Consider implementing mindfulness meditations in the form of private religious devotional practices.

3. Focus on client beliefs that prescribe healthy lifestyles. Many religious faiths teach members to respect and care for their bodies. They teach, for example, that the body is the temple of God, or that life and health are gifts that are deserving of gratitude and responsible stewardship. Consider using such client values to guide treatment goals for engaging in increased healthy behaviors.

4. Explore religious coping techniques. Clients may reference their religious beliefs in various ways in attempt to cope with difficult life situations. Some forms of religious coping may be healthy and adaptive, whereas others may be negative and maladaptive. Consider exploring with a client the ways he or she uses religious beliefs to cope, and whether the clients’ current coping patterns are effective.

5. Focus on aspects of religious faith that promote positive emotional experiences, such as hope, gratitude, grace, and forgiveness. Some religious clients may struggle with intense experiences of guilt, shame, or fear of divine punishment. These are areas the client may wish to discuss with a religious leader. In such a case, a referral to a pastor, priest, rabbi, etc. may be appropriate.

Like all other aspects of diversity, religious belief and behavior is an important domain in which psychologists should seek to develop competence. Individuals may express their faith differently from other members in the same religious category or denomination. Thus it is important to discuss each client’s religious values from his or her perspective. It is not necessarily the case that a treatment provider must share the same religious beliefs and values as the client, however it is essential that the provider approach a client’s faith with sensitivity and respect. Doing so with a competent integration of religious activities in treatment has the potential to enhance client well-being and overall treatment outcomes.

* * * * * 
Tara K. Luchkiw, M.A. is a doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology program at the University of Mississippi. She is currently working on her dissertation and will be applying for her predoctoral internship in Fall 2014.

Full reference citations available upon request

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Mental Health and Aging: Managing Loss

 I'm Blogging for Mental Health. 

Aging can be daunting.  We often experience considerable loss as we get older.  Some losses might be observable, such as a loss of mobility or significantly diminished cognitive functioning.  Some losses may be less obvious, such as the loss of independence one feels when he or she cannot do all of the things that he or she could once do.  While depression is not be a normal part of growing older, the life changes and losses that older adults experience could lead to one feeling depressed.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, depression is more prevalent in individuals who suffer from other illnesses or who have limited functioning (    

Some symptoms associated with depression are:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness
  • A loss of interest in things that one used to enjoy 
  •  Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Appetite changes or changes in weight
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping 
  •  Fatigue or low energy 
  •  Problems concentrating   
  •  Recurrent thoughts of death or suicidal ideation

Notably, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, “In 2010, the highest suicide rate (18.6) was among people 45 to 64 years old.  The second highest rate (17.6) occurred in those 85 years and older” ( 

Fortunately, there is effective treatment for depression, and older adults can benefit from this treatment.  Participating in psychotherapy, taking antidepressant medication, or utilizing a combination of both treatment modalities can lead to symptom reduction.  However, older adults might not realize that they are suffering from depression.  Furthermore, they might be opposed to receiving mental health treatment because they think that those who receive such treatment are crazy, and they do not need such treatment.  Therefore, it is important to approach this subject with older adults gently.   

For family members and friends of older adults, recognizing the symptoms of depression is just the first step.  Letting them know that while we, as younger persons cannot truly understand what they are going through because we have not done so, we can appreciate the changes and challenges that one experiences as he or she ages.  It is important to discuss the changes and losses that our older adult relatives and friends have and to validate their feelings.  Explaining that depression is a type of illness like other illnesses that they might be experiencing could lead older adults to be more accepting of mental health treatment.  

Other ways to help with low mood can include:
  • Exercise
  • Healthy diet
  • Socialization
  • Active lifestyle
  • Meditation
  • Volunteering

Caring for an older adult can be stressful and lead to depression, if one does not have adequate resources to cope.  Therefore, in addition to paying careful attention to the older adult for which one is caring, it is important for the caregiver to be aware of any symptoms of depression he or she may be experiencing and seek treatment for these symptoms. 

National Institute of Mental Health:

Medline Plus:

The Voice of Women 40+

Guest Blogger: Michele Evans, Ph.D.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

28th Ohio Undergraduate Psychology Research Conference

Dr. David G. Myers, Keynote Speaker
The Ohio Undergraduate Psychology Research Conference (OUPRC) website is available for you to register yourself and your students to attend OUPRC on Saturday, April 26.  All information (including registration and abstract submission) can be found at:

Please make sure that you register each individual SEPARATELY, and that if an abstract is submitted for a presenter, each presenter is also REGISTERED.  There are separate links for each.  (Abstract submission does not qualify as registration).  Faculty in attendance should also register, and all registrants should make a lunch choice so that we can plan accordingly.

Complete information about the schedule for the day, the keynote speaker, and maps to campus can all be found at the registration site.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Walks in Columbus April 2014

Saturday, 4/13 at 12:30pm: National Eating Disorders Awareness Walk (Fred Beekman Park)

Saturday, 4/26 at 9am: Race to Eliminate Sexual Violence (Wolfe Park in Bexley)

Saturday, 4/26 at 8:30am: Walk to Cure Arthritis (Columbus Zoo)