Category Archives: Vision of Wellness Program

8 TIPS to Help Clients Do Homework

Posted June 6, 2018

 

Dr. Lane P.: Hi, I’m Dr. Lane Pederson. One of the most common questions I get from participants in my seminars is, How do I get clients to do homework? In this short video, I’m going to share with you eight tips that I find to be very effective.

Dr. Lane P.: Now, the first one is simply changing the name. I often times say the word “homework” when I talk to other therapists, but I rarely use that word when I’m working with clients. Instead, I might say, “Let’s do a task.” or “Let’s do an experiment.” Sounds kind of fun. Or I might simply say, “Let’s do our skill practice.” Sometimes, just changing the name can make all the difference. I’ve met so many clients who are just simply allergic to the word “homework”.

Dr. Lane P.: The second tip is really important. At the beginning of therapy, I always want to orient and educate my client about why homework is important to them. Why do they need to practice these skills, or why do they need to practice what we learned in session between sessions? An analogy I like to use is: To not practice between session is a lot like going to a personal trainer and talking about exercising but not actually exercising between those sessions. You’re just not going to reach your goals. It really is about plugging into what’s important to clients. Where do they want to be in life? What does recovery look like? What do they want to accomplish? You explicitly make that connection between skill practice and what it is that they desire, what they want.

Dr. Lane P.: The next idea is to always include clients in coming up with ideas for skills practice or tasks, or experiments. A lot of times, we therapists think that we need to generate all of the ideas, but our ideas for what might be helpful in terms of homework might not resonate with some of our clients. So, instead of doing homework to clients, I like to think about doing homework with clients and spending some time with having them come up with what they think would be helpful to do between sessions.

Dr. Lane P.: Which leads us to the next tip, which is: if you want clients to do homework or tasks or experiments between sessions, it’s good to initiate that skills practice in session. So for example, if I want a client to practice guided imagery, we’re going to practice guided imagery in session. If it’s important for a client to fill out an application before the next session, I might have the client just start to fill out the first parts of the application in the session with me. There’s something about breaking the ice in session with homework that gets clients motivated to complete and to finish it between sessions outside of our time together.

Dr. Lane P.: The next idea is to take one problem or opportunity and play it off of another. So for example, let’s say that you have a client who would like to walk to get some self care exercise in and the client also would like to socialize more to decrease isolation. You can set it up so if you don’t do one, you need to definitely commit to doing the other, so in this case, if the client didn’t go for the walk, he or she would definitely need to call a friend or to get out and socialize in one way or another. It’s a strategy that works really well.

Dr. Lane P.: Related to this strategy is another one which is simply making it a game. So, if you have a dichotomous choice like doing a fun activity versus taking care of a task at home, more of a responsibility, you can simply flip a coin. Heads you do one, tales you do the other. Or if you and the client have brainstormed lots of ideas, simply draw a cards. So, one skills practice might be associated with hearts, another one with clubs, another one with spades, and so on.

Dr. Lane P.: The seventh tip that I have is using the Premack principle. The Premack principle means that you make performing a high probability behavior contingent on performing the low probability behavior first. We sometimes call this grandma’s rule. Grandma’s rule is this. When you eat your vegetables, then you can go out and play. So with the Premack principle, let’s say I have a client who turns on the television every night. He or she really loves to watch evening television. I might say, “I want you to do your skills practice and then you can turn on the television.” Of course, many of us naturally do this Premack principle. You know, I need to return my emails and then I can surf the internet. It’s such a great strategy because the reinforcement is built-in.

Dr. Lane P.: And now, for the very last tip … and this one I think is the heaviest hitter. It is so important to simply schedule it. A lot of clients don’t complete their homework simply because they haven’t thought about where and when they’re going to complete it.

Dr. Lane P.: There was a study that happened many years ago and in this study, there was one group of people who agreed to do a task. They were committed to doing it. The second group of people were also committed, but that group also determined when and where they were going to complete the task. They completed it 80% more of the time. Hey, think about you or me. A lot of us don’t complete what would be important to do in life simply because we don’t write it down, we don’t commit to it in the schedule. So, taking a little bit of time to schedule homework is going to make all of the difference for your clients.

Dr. Lane P.: I hope these eight tips help you out a lot and, more importantly, help out your clients.

Dr. Lane P.: Thank you for joining me.

 

10 Days to a 10-Minute Meditation Practice

Posted March 23, 2017

Pain 1Developing a Meditation Practice Can Seem Impossible…Until You Discover How Doable It Can Be! Taken from Dr. Lane Pederson’s new second edition of The Expanded Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Training Manual, these free handouts explain a step-wise and doable method for bringing a brief meditation practice to your and your clients’ lives. Start today!

Click HERE to view the handouts.

Mindfulness Exercises

Posted March 16, 2017

DBT Manual 2Mindfulness is one of the pillars of DBT and has become increasingly important across contemporary therapies. Yet many therapists are at a loss for examples to suggest and use with their clients. Taken from Dr. Lane Pederson’s new second edition of The Expanded Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Training Manual, enjoy this free handout you can use with any client looking for mindfulness exercises…and remember, mindfulness is not what you’re doing, but how you are attending to what you’re doing!

VIEW HANDOUT HERE

5 DBT Skills to Enjoy the Holidays

Posted November 18, 2015

Finding yourself or your clients stressed out and dreading the holidays? While many struggle through the holidays, that doesn’t mean we are powerless to use our skills. Building on our 5 skills to survive the holidays blog, we offer 5 more skills to actually enjoy the season. Here they are:

1. Build Positive Experience (BPE):
BPE starts with being mindful of positive events that are happening all around us. Often we miss opportunities for fun or connection because we are lost in our problems and worries. Time to awaken and take advantage of positives that are possible now. Listen to favorite holiday music, watch time-honored movies, and commit yourself to investing in the season. Make sure to schedule times to get out and about to get-togethers, community functions, services, and other events that pop up during the season. BPE takes investment, planning, follow-through, and sometimes a dose of opposite-to-emotion too!

2. Attend to Relationships (A2R):
A2R is a specialized type of BPE. Relationships are like plants in that they need to be watered or they wither. The holidays are the perfect time to send cards, pictures, or to write a meaningful note or letter. Connect by phone, Skype, or in person if possible. Take extra time to let others know that they matter to you.

3. Contributing:
Surprise a friend, loved one, or co-workers with cookies or another treat. Participate in parties and events in whatever way you can…even your presence is contributing. If you are able, consider volunteering your time with any organization that helps those less fortunate, or take time to set aside and donate items you no longer need. Support an organization like Toys for Tots or volunteer to be a Salvation Army bell ringer. Whenever you can, think about how you can give, which is a true meaning of the season.

4. Self-Soothe:
Get into your senses. The holidays are filled with sights, sounds, smells, and tastes that are pleasing to our senses. Connect mindfully to these moments, and allow yourself to relax into what the holidays have to offer.

5. Participate:
Participate is a core mindfulness skill, and it means fully immersing yourself in what you are doing in the moment. Truly inhabit each experience with your full self, gently letting go of distractions to get back to being with what you are doing and who you are with during this season. Remember that we can participate in stress and misery, or in the many opportunities for joy that the season can offer us.

5 DBT Skills for Surviving the Holidays

Posted November 10, 2015

Holidays can be a time of joy or misery. While we cannot control the world around us, or make reality unfold according to our preferences, we can practice our skills to navigate challenges and focus on what is most important to us…thereby influencing our mood for the better. Create a more stress free holiday season for yourself and others with the following skills. And stay tuned for the next email on 5 skills to not just survive, but to enjoy the holidays!

1. MINDFULNESS
Mindfulness is about paying attention to the present moment, on purpose, with an open heart and nonjudgmental stance. It is about directing what we want to focus on and when based on our wisdom and what will work. During the holidays our minds get hijacked by worries about families, get-togethers, gifts, and balancing the competing pressures of the season. The remedy is to slow down and focus on this moment, taking one thing at a time, and doing exactly what is needed (which might be just being present and not doing a thing!). We can only influence the future through this moment, so live it as effectively as you can. Also remember to take time to practice breathing, imagery, or to simply contemplate the true meaning(s) of the season.

2. OPPOSITE TO EMOTION (O2E)
The holiday season might mean that you have a lot to do. When pressure builds, procrastination and avoidance can grow. Avoidance behaviors get reinforced by what we call negative reinforcement…there is temporary relief that comes with avoiding any activity that causes stress. Step out of this trap by acting opposite to procrastination and avoidance behaviors by doing tasks and activities that need attention…take the first step and throw yourself into it. Also, don’t be afraid to balance this strategy by simplifying and letting go of task and activities that are truly non-essential.

3. PLEASED
The PLEASED skills are all about self-care. Halloween candy is still around, and more holiday goodies are on the way. Unfortunately, many of us cope with stress by indulging in the excesses of the season. It feels good in the moment, but probably works against our larger goals. This is the time to be more mindful of eating healthy, balanced food, getting more movement in our day, and improving the amount and quality of our sleep. We like to think that self-care can wait until January 1, but really the time for it is today. An increase in these skills will help make the holidays more joyful with less stress. We all do better when we feel better!

4. RADICAL ACCEPTANCE
This skill means letting go of fighting reality. When you accept and give up the fight, then you free up your mental and emotional resources to be as effective as you can. Almost by definition, needing to use acceptance means that the situation you are choosing to accept is not your preference and you do not like it. For a greater good you might need to see your in-laws (or your own family), or go to that holiday or office get-together, or make some kind of compromise. Practicing an attitude of acceptance with life’s difficulties is a nice alternative to fighting every battle and making yourself suffer over what is. That is not to say give up and give in. Sometimes we do need to set boundaries or solve a problem…but if you need to do that, you will still be more effective if you start with acceptance.

5. WILLINGNESS
This skill is the opposite of trying to control everything or take a my way or the highway approach to others and life. Being willful limits our options and forces everyone into corners. Maybe it does not have to be your way! When appropriate, learn to let go and go with the flow. Be willing to do whatever is necessary to accomplish a goal or to contribute to a get-together or another person. Let go of your preconceived notions of how you think a situation should be and practice flexibility. Holidays can make us feel out of control, which we sometimes react to by trying to control everything. People who practice willingness learn to bend so they don’t break!

MHS wishes you, your friends and family, and your clients a joyful holiday season!