Posts in Mental Health
8 Ways Cognitive Behavior Therapy Can Change Your Life or: How I Learned to Take One Photograph a Day for One Year

I love photography. It allows me to explore the world in a very different way from psychology.

However, for the past few years I’ve felt stuck. My photos all began to look the same. The composition was fine, but I didn't feel an emotional connection to my work. I realized that I needed to make big changes in my life in order to grow as a photographer.

One of my friends suggested I start a Project 365. The goal of the project is to create 1 photo every day for a year. Not only does this project challenge you to experiment with photography, it also helps you to become more aware of yourself and your surroundings.

From February 1st, 2010 through January 31st, 2011, I embarked on my own Project 365. What follows is an overview of how I used 8 strategies from cognitive behavior therapy to successfully take 365 photographs. The strategies I used were:

  1. Take an honest appraisal of your life.
  2. Create motivation.
  3. Educate yourself.
  4. Set clear and manageable goals.
  5. Track your behavior.
  6. Think realistically.
  7. Use friends and family.
  8. Capitalize on setbacks.

These strategies can be used by anyone who wants to make big changes in their life (e.g. learning to cook, training for a marathon, quitting smoking, overcoming phobias, changing careers, conquering procrastination, etc.).

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A Beginner’s Guide to Treating Trichotillomania: Separating Science from Pseudoscience

Note: This article is written in honor of the National Trichotillomania Awareness Week. To learn more about Trichotillomania, visit the Trichotillomania Learning Center.

I often tell my colleagues that trichotillomania (hair pulling disorder) represents the wild west of psychological disorders. Unfortunately, it remains one of the least researched and most misunderstood disorders in the DSM. Additionally, there is a lot of pseudoscience, snake oil, and plain old quackery on the internet about the best way to treat it.

In this article, I will highlight what we do know about scientifically supported treatments for trichotillomania. As a disclaimer, this is only an introduction to treating trichotillomania and is not intended to formally train clinicians. Lastly, I will not be reviewing medical treatments for trichotillomania (you can learn more about those here).

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Trichotillomania & Hair Pulling: It’s More than Just Stress!

You’ve probably heard the saying, “I’m so stressed I just want to pull my hair out!” This leads most people to think trichotillomania (soon to be renamed as hair pulling disorder) is a rare disorder involving stress and anxiety. This perception of hair pulling is based more on pop culture than reality. Researchers now know that trichotillomania is far more common than once thought and is uniquely different from anxiety disorders.

While estimates vary, about 1 in 50 or 2% of the general population has trichotillomania. This makes the disorder more common than Schizophrenia and Bipolar Depression. Unlike anxiety disorders (e.g. panic disorder, social anxiety, PTSD) where the main symptoms are stress and fear, trichotillomania has a far more complex and heterogeneous set of symptoms.

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