ENQUIRY
The Relationship Between Media Multitasking and Executive Function in Early Adolescents

The Relationship Between Media Multitasking and Executive Function in Early Adolescents

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The increasing prevalence of media multitasking among adolescents is concerning because it may be negatively related to goal-directed behavior. This study investigated the relationship between media multitasking and executive function in 523 early adolescents (aged 11-15; 48% girls).

The three central components of executive functions (i.e., working memory, shifting, and inhibition) were measured using self-reports and standardized performance-based tasks (Digit Span, Eriksen Flankers task, Dots–Triangles task). Findings show that adolescents who media multitask more frequently reported having more problems in the three domains of executive function in their everyday lives.

Media multitasking was not related to the performance on the Digit Span and Dots–Triangles task. Adolescents who media multitasked more frequently tended to be better in ignoring irrelevant distractions in the Eriksen Flankers task. Overall, results suggest that media multitasking is negatively related to executive function in everyday life.

To read the full article: http://jea.sagepub.com/content/early/2014/02/17/0272431614523133.abstract

Written by Lisa van der Heijden, Clinical Psychologist, Susanne E. Baumgartner and Wouter D. Weeda.

If you are interested to know and learn more therapy for children/adolescents, contact me at Promises Healthcare on +65 6397 7309 or email lisa@promises.com.sg.

Strategies to stick to your New Year’s Resolution

Strategies to stick to your New Year’s Resolution

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Have you ever wondered why it’s so tough to stick to your new year’s resolutions? According to Statistics Brain Research Institute, only 9.2% of Americans feel like they have achieved their resolutions in the past year. Here are some strategies from psychologist and behaviour change expert, Dr Paul Marciano, and the American Psychological Association to help you with sticking to your resolutions this year.

  1. Set realistic resolutions

Most of us are guilty of making impractical resolutions that we can’t keep. For example, we aim to exercise more regularly, from barely going to the gym once a week, to aiming for seven days.  Instead of setting unrealistic resolutions, you can try starting with something that’s small, practical and within your abilities. Rather than aiming for seven days of exercise, you could start with three or four. Josh Klapow, an Alabama-based clinical psychologist says, “It is far better to succeed at a smaller, more manageable resolution than to fail at a larger, loftier one.”

  1. Have patience

Bad habits develop over time. Similarly, it also takes time to substitute bad habits for good ones.  When making resolutions, we often overestimate ourselves and try to re-evaluate our lives.  We have to accept that development is rarely consistent and aim to change one behaviour at a time. Hence, having the patience to work through on resolution at a time will help you stick to them.

  1. Talk about your goals

Having support from your social group is vital. Sharing your goals with friends and family increases the chances of success. Rather than trying to achieve your goal alone, you could join a fitness class at a gym, join a support group to quit smoking, or even just have someone to check in on your progress (accountability partner). Having social support and people to share successes and failures will make the process less daunting.

  1. Be resilient

Resilience is vital in achieving your resolutions. When you slip-up and get discouraged, it is important to remember that it’s impossible to achieve perfection. Just because you were busy and didn’t manage to go for your gym classes doesn’t mean that you have failed and should give up your goal to be fit. What is critical is to bounce back from your mistakes and continue to work towards your goal. According to founder of MoneyCrashers, Andrew Schrage, it is useful to set targets throughout the year, so that you can keep yourself in check and your momentum going.

  1. Get support

When you’re feeling overpowered when trying to achieve your resolutions, it is important to remember people who can listen and care for you. Seeking professional help can reinforce your resilience and manage stress stemming from your resolution. For example, a psychologist can suggest ways for you to fine-tune your goals to make them more achievable.

  1. Make your resolutions more precise

Dr. Marciano recommends setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART) goals. Instead of just setting a goal to lose weight, you should be more specific and aim for a particular weight or body-fat percentage goal, or allocate a time every day to go for a run.

  1. Track your development

Reflecting on your starting point and the developments you have made creates feedback loops. This allows you to track improvements during your endeavour and it will be an incentive to continue. It also enables you to reflect and adjust your strategies accordingly when you’re declining or when you’re not improving as much.

  1. Set aside time for your goals

Allocate time for your resolutions and make them a priority by putting them on your schedule. This way, you won’t have the excuse of not being able to find the time to complete something. If you’re trying to get fit, block out certain hours of the day to complete your run or schedule certain fitness classes into your calendar. Treating your fitness classes or runs as though they are scheduled appointments can help you stick to them.

At Promises Healthcare, we are committed to help you through your journey to recovery. Discover a new life and find renewed hope. If you or someone you know needs mental health support, please contact our clinic on: +65 6397 7309 or email: clinic@promises.com.sg for inquiries and consultations.

 

Myth Busting Mental Health – Self-Harm

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Although society has made some headway in reducing the stigma and misinformation about general mental health issues, the public’s understanding of self-harm remains decades behind. Let’s debunk some common myths about adolescent self-harm.

Myth: ‘Self-harm means cutting right? Only emos and goths do that.’

Self-harm refers to a range of behaviours that are purposely inflicted to cause damage to the body. It can include cutting, but also refers to scratching, picking at wounds, burning, pinching, hitting, head banging, and minor overdosing. Self-harm can also be in the form of excessive risk-taking that is above and beyond typical adolescent risk-taking.

It is a misconception that only ’emos’ and ‘goths’ self-harm. Although self-harm can be part of adolescent subculture experimentation, it is more often a sign that a teenager is experiencing unmanageable distress. Self-harm becomes a way of coping with distress that provides temporary relief from emotional pain.

Myth: ‘Self-harm is all about attention-seeking. If a person was really depressed enough to cut themselves then they would probably just commit suicide.’

Self-harm is not about attention-seeking. It is often a secretive and private behaviour. For a teenager, self-harm is a way of coping with unmanageable distress, and can be a medium to communicate that distress to others. Self-harm should never be dismissed as attention-seeking.

A person who cuts themselves is not necessarily suicidal. Cutting behaviour can be suicidal, non-suicidal, or a mix of both. It is important to remember that suicide risk is not static. A teenager who displays non-suicidal self-harm can become suicidal at another point in time.

Any teen who self-harms should undergo a thorough and comprehensive suicide risk assessment by a registered mental health professional. Their suicide risk should be closely monitored and assessed at regular intervals.

Myth: ‘I can punish my teen so that they stop self-harming. That will solve the problem.’

Punishing a teen for self-harming does not solve the problem. Cutting is a symptom of a deeper issue – unmanageable distress. Stopping the cutting via punishment may actually worsen their distress, especially if the teen lacks healthy and effective coping strategies.

Here are some suggestions for what you can do instead of punishing your teen:

  • Be an active listener
  • Validating their feelings
  • Be emotionally and physically present for them
  • Engage in joint problem solving

Always seek advice from a registered mental health professional if you suspect that your teen may be self-harming.

Written by Leeran Gold, Psychologist in our Forensic Service.

At Promises Healthcare, we are committed to helping you through your journey to recovery. Discover a new life and find renewed hope. If you or someone you know needs mental health support, please contact our clinic on: +65 6397 7309 or email: clinic@promises.com.sg for inquiries and consultations.

For after-hours crisis support contact your local mental health service or emergency services.

In Singapore: IMH 24-hour helpline +65 6389 2222, Ambulance 995.

‘What is Forensic Psychology?’

‘What is Forensic Psychology?’

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Forensic psychology is as interesting as it sounds. People often imagine forensic psychologists running around in bullet proof vests catching criminals and solving crimes (think ‘Elizabeth Keen’ – forensic psychologist/FBI agent from hit television show Blacklist). Although real world forensic psychologists are more likely to be sitting behind a desk, there is still excitement, adventure, and risk in our daily lives.

What is forensic psychology?

Broadly, forensic psychology is the intersection of psychology and the law. This can include the practical application of clinical psychology in forensic settings. Forensic psychologists have specialised training in mental health and the law.

What settings do forensic psychologists work in?

Forensic psychologists work in a broad range of settings. The most common settings include;

  • Prisons
  • Courts
  • Inpatient mental health facilities
  • Government mental health departments
  • Private practice
  • Universities

Who does a forensic psychologist work with?

Forensic psychologists can work with both offenders and victims of crime, as well as those who are at risk of becoming offenders. People of any age, background, gender, ethnicity, race, and religion may become involved in the legal and/or mental health systems and therefore come under the scope of a forensic psychologist.

Forensic psychologists usually work with other professionals involved in the legal and mental health systems too. This can include legal professionals, law enforcement, government departments, prison staff, medical professionals, academics, and community organisations.

What does a day in the life of a forensic psychologist look like?

A day in the life of a forensic psychologist looks very different depending on the setting they work in. Here are the common functions of a forensic psychologist across most settings:

  • Forensic mental health assessment – this could be in a custodial setting (such as a remand center) or a private setting (such as a clinic taking referrals). The psychologist will assess a person to see whether they have a mental health concern, how it is linked to their legal issue, and make recommendations for treatment.
  • Forensic risk assessment – this can also be across a wide range of settings, but may be more common in a court setting, or inpatient mental health setting. The psychologist will assess a person’s risk of reoffending (violence, sex, stalking etc.) as well as their suicide risk, and make recommendations for risk management and reduction.
  • Court appearances – forensic psychologists working in any setting will often attend court to answer questions about reports they have written about a particular client. They may be asked to make recommendations to the court for the treatment and sentencing of an offender. Forensic psychologists are also asked to make recommendations to determine whether someone is ready for release from prison. Some forensic psychologists who have many years experience and specialisation in a particular niche become expert witnesses for the courts.
  • Group therapy – this can be in any setting. A forensic psychologist will conduct group therapy for a range of presenting problems. Common issues might be sex offender group therapy, violent offender group therapy, domestic violence group therapy, and group therapy for addiction recovery. The focus of group therapy is usually identifying the underlying causes for offending behaviour, and creating relapse prevention plans to reduce a person’s risk of reoffending.
  • Individual therapy – this can also be in any setting. A forensic psychologist can conduct individual therapy for a broad range of presenting problems. Individual therapy usually focuses on treating the underlying mental health problem that may be contributing to a person’s risk of reoffending. It can also include preparing a person for transition into or out of prison or inpatient settings, skill building, and motivating offenders to change.
  • Paperwork – we do spend a great deal of time writing case notes, scoring assessment measures, reading through collateral information, and writing reports.
  • Other things can include teaching, research, workshops, training, and consultancy.

Written by Leeran Gold, Psychologist in our Forensic Service.

At Promises Healthcare, we are committed to helping you through your journey to recovery. Discover a new life and find renewed hope. If you or someone you know needs mental health support, please contact our clinic on: +65 6397 7309 or email: clinic@promises.com.sg for inquiries and consultations.

Hong Kong Murder Trial – Understanding ‘Diminished Responsibility’

Hong Kong Murder Trial – Understanding ‘Diminished Responsibility’

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As harrowing details of the British banker murder trial emerge, the media have shone a spotlight on his mental health and use of the ‘diminished responsibility’ defence. Here is a short introduction to the concept of ‘diminished responsibility’ and the role that forensic mental health experts may play in this trial written by Leeran Gold, Psychologist in our Forensic Service.

To read more:https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/hong-kong-murder-trial-understanding-diminished-leeran-gold?trk=hp-feed-article-title-publish

At Promises Healthcare, we are committed to helping you through your journey to recovery. Discover a new life, away from addiction and find renewed hope. Please contact our clinic on: +65 6397 7309 or email: clinic@promises.com.sg for inquiries and consultations.