Learning Resilience at a Young Age

No matter the age, a person’s emotions can be pulled down by small disappointments being made to feel like disasters. With CBT, people are able to identify errors in thought, and learn to avoid ‘disastrous’ outcomes. People can learn to avoid irrational thoughts, and by aligning thoughts with reality, they are better able to think in a clear, healthy way about every day situations. It has shown that it could be particularly useful to start teaching these thought techniques at a young age.

With ‘resilience training,’ fifth, sixth and seventh graders, at New York City’s KIPP Infinity Charter School in West Harlem, learn about self-talk, the things you tell yourself, and how they effect your emotions regarding what is happening in negative situations. What they are learning is not the act of blindly creating positive thoughts, but reality based positive thinking, helping kids to step back and assess a situation before reacting.

Empirical evidence shows that two years later, students who had gone through this resilience training had fewer incidents of depressive and negative thinking than students who had not gone through the training.

To learn more about this emotional training for children, go to:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122526518&ps=cprs

Veterans with TBI and Suicidality

NewStudy-Graphic-72x72_edited-3Previous research has shown that, in recent years, there has been an increased rate of suicide in soldiers returning from war.  In addition, as many as 15-23% of returning soldiers have incurred traumatic brain injuries (TBI). A new study published in Rehabilitation Psychology aimed to identify risk and protective factors for suicide ideation or suicidal behavior among veterans who have experienced TBI.

Thirteen suicidal veterans in a TBI clinic completed 30 to 60 minute interviews that included structured questionnaires regarding suicidality, methods of coping/seeking support, and military service. Researchers identified a post-injury loss of sense of self, cognitive deficits secondary to TBI, and psychiatric and emotional difficulties as precipitating factors for suicide ideation or suicidal behavior. Social support, a sense of purpose and hopefulness, religion or spirituality, and mental health treatment were identified as protective factors.

This study helps to identify those precipitating factors that practitioners should target when working with a similar population. The authors note that concepts associated with perceived burdensomeness and thwarted belonging can be targeted using cognitive and behavioral strategies along with techniques that encourage the client to re-conceptualize his or her worth and meaning to others.

Reference:

Brenner, L. A., Homaifar, B. Y., Adler, L. E., Wolfman, J. H., & Kemp, J. (2009). Suicidality and veterans with a history of traumatic brain injury: Precipitating events, protective factors, and prevention strategies. Rehabilitation Psychology, 54, 390-397.

New Research Makes Important Steps in the Study of Emotion Generation

NewStudy-Graphic-72x72_edited-3Past research has shown that the interaction of bottom-up and top-down processes is what leads to the development of emotions. Until recently, there have not been studies that look at bottom-up and top-down processes respectively. Neuroscientists have put their greatest focus on bottom-up processes’ involvement in perception, learning, and memory, but failed to focus on top-down processes. Because of this, there has not been a true understanding of how these processes, bottom-up and top-down, individually affect the brain activities involved in emotion.

A new study published by The Association for Psychological Science does just this. Using fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging), researchers studied whether common or distinct neural systems were involved in generating negative emotional responses via bottom-up versus top-down processing. They did this by showing participants aversive images for bottom-up trials, and neutral images which participants were asked to interpret in aversive ways for top-down trials.

Fundamentally, this study showed how there could be many possible appraisal processes that the brain goes through, and helped to define what mechanisms underlie the relevant forms of emotion dysregulation.

Ochsner, K. N., Ray, R. R., Hughes, B., McRae, K, Cooper, J. C., Weber, J, Gabrieli, J. D. E., & Gross, J. J. (2009). Bottom-up and top-down processes in emotion generation. The Association for Psychological Science, 20, 1322-1331.