Art making can reduce levels of stress hormone cortisol

In a recent pilot study, researchers at Drexel University explored the effects of making art on participants' cortisol levels. Cortisol is one of the hormones in our bodies most commonly used as a biomarker for stress. The researchers found that after 45 minutes of free creative self-expressive art-making, a statistically significant lowering of cortisol levels could be detected in participants' saliva. Participants also provided written accounts of the experience, indicating that they found the art-making session to be relaxing, enjoyable, helpful for learning about new aspects of themselves, and freeing from constraints. Some commented how they noticed an evolving process of initial stru

How to fix a broken heart

Is it even possible to fix a broken heart? If you're suffering the sleepless nights, panic attacks, obsessive thoughts, self-recriminations, and downright misery that can come with the end of a relationship, you may not think so. But psychologist Guy Winch believes there are things we can do to make the process of healing easier. In this heart-warming TED talk, Guy highlights the unhelpful ways our thinking can lead us into deeper misery, and offers tools and encouragement to take active steps to make the road to moving on less bumpy. Image: Broken Heart Chalk 1 (ArtByRetta, Flickr.com, Creative Commons)

Depression is a social ill, not an individual flaw

It seems to me that a big part of the value in talking therapies - either instead of or alongside anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds - is the chance for circumstances that are painful, difficult, and soul-destroying to be validated as real, and naturally likely to lead to depressed and anxious feelings. There's really pretty much nothing worse than believing that our pain is our own fault. That despite poverty, lack of meaningful employment, loneliness, bullying, abuse, we should be able to be cheerful. And if we aren't, we're failing. To not be happy is not to fail. To not be happy is to be human. Video: Johann Hari - The best science says depression is a social ill, not an individual f

Supporting your child to grieve

One of the toughest situations you might face as a parent is the death of your child’s other parent. Alongside coping with your own feelings about the death - which, depending on your relationship with the person who died may be very complicated - you want to do your best to help and support your children with their grief. However are you to know how to do that? In this brief, compassionate discussion, two women explore their experiences as children who lost a parent, and who later became parents who lost a partner; and how they made use of their own experience of childhood bereavement to guide them to offer their own children a healthier way to grieve. (15 min). One to One: Childhood Bereav

What do clients find helpful and harmful?

Over the years, a lot of research has been done into what is effective and what isn't in various kinds of counselling and psychotherapy. Early on in my training, I was writing a paper about mutuality in therapy, and quickly discovered that the vast majority of research had been done by asking therapists about what happens in therapy. Until quite recently, it was unusual for researchers to ask clients about their experience. I'm delighted that this bias has started to be redressed - not least because there is some evidence that what therapists think are their finest moments may mean little to their clients; and what clients value most may be overlooked by their therapists. For a fascinati

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