CEUnits Blog

Nurturing Mental Health in the Digital Age: Essential Courses for Mental Health Professionals

May 25th, 2023

The surge in social media use among youth and its impact on mental health has become a growing concern.

When asked about the impact of social media on their body image, 46% of adolescents aged 13-17 said social media makes them feel worse, 40% said it makes them feel neither better nor worse, and only 14% said it makes them feel better. Additionally, 64% of adolescents are “often” or “sometimes” exposed to hate-based content through social media.

As mental health professionals, it is crucial to stay informed and equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to address the effects of social media on youth mental health. In response to the recent advisory issued by the Surgeon General, this article recommends essential courses that mental health professionals can take to enhance their understanding and ability to support young individuals in navigating the challenges posed by social media.

1. Ethics and Risk Management Social Media and the Internet

The presence of the Internet and social media in therapists’ and clients’ lives requires clinicians to think through ethical implications for clinical practice and training. This course presents an ethical framework for clinicians to consider. In addition, numerous clinical situations are presented for clinicians to think through for their own practice.

2. Cyberbullying Consequences: Identification, Prevention and Response

Cyberbullying can be defined as willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones and other electronic devices. It has become increasingly common as the digital sphere has expanded, especially among teenagers.

3. Treatment of Depression in Children and Adolescents: A Systematic Review

Depressive disorders can affect long-term mental and physical health functioning among children and adolescents, including increased risk of suicide.

Cultivating Cultural Competence in Healthcare: A Guide to Continuing Education for Multicultural Practice

May 25th, 2023

In today’s diverse and multicultural society, healthcare professionals must develop cultural competence to provide effective and equitable care to patients from different backgrounds. Cultural competence encompasses understanding, appreciating, and adapting to the unique needs, beliefs, and values of diverse individuals and communities. Continuing education plays a crucial role in nurturing cultural competence skills among healthcare professionals. This article explores the significance of cultural competence in healthcare and highlights the importance of continuing education in fostering this essential competency.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2020, approximately 61% of the U.S. population consists of racial and ethnic minorities, highlighting the increasing diversity within the country. This demographic shift underscores the importance of cultural competence in healthcare to effectively address the unique needs and provide equitable care to a diverse patient population.

Cultural competency goes beyond acknowledging cultural differences to include the ability to recognize and respect diverse cultural identities, communicate effectively across cultural boundaries, and deliver culturally appropriate care. Gain insights into addressing cultural beliefs, health disparities, and social determinants of health that impact patient outcomes.

Benefits of Cultural Competence

Explore the wide-ranging benefits of cultural competence for both patients and healthcare professionals. Discover how healthcare providers who understand and respect patients’ cultural backgrounds can build trust, enhance communication, and improve patient satisfaction. Uncover how cultural competence helps reduce health disparities and inequities by tailoring care to individual needs and achieving better health outcomes for diverse populations.

Role of Continuing Education

Recognize the pivotal role of continuing education programs in equipping healthcare professionals with the necessary knowledge and skills to provide culturally competent care. Discover how these programs offer opportunities for professionals to develop cultural humility, engage in self-reflection, and address personal biases. Gain insights into the education provided on cultural norms, practices, healthcare beliefs, and effective communication strategies for diverse ethnic, racial, religious, and socio-economic groups. Understand how continuing education fosters intercultural communication skills and promotes strategies for engaging effectively with diverse patient populations.

Key Components of Cultural Competence Training

Discover the essential components covered in cultural competence training within continuing education programs. Learn about cultural awareness and sensitivity, cultural knowledge and understanding, communication and language skills, adaptation of care to align with cultural beliefs, and collaborative care approaches involving interdisciplinary teamwork and patient involvement in decision-making processes.

Implementing Culturally Competent Care

Understand the importance of aligning supportive organizational policies and practices with cultural competence training. Explore strategies for fostering a diverse and inclusive work environment, providing language interpretation resources, and integrating cultural competence training into professional development plans.

Cultural competence is a critical skill for healthcare professionals striving to provide patient-centered and equitable care in diverse societies. Continuing education programs play a vital role in cultivating cultural competence by equipping healthcare professionals with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to understand and address the unique needs of diverse patient populations. By prioritizing continuing education focused on cultural competence health care providers can foster an inclusive and responsive healthcare system that meets the diverse needs of individuals and communities.

Domestic violence in the United States

April 24th, 2023

Domestic violence is a complex issue that affects people of all genders, races, ethnicities, religions, and socioeconomic statuses. However, certain populations are disproportionately affected, including women of color, immigrants, and LGBTQ+ individuals. For example, Black women experience domestic violence at a rate of 2.5 times higher than White women, and 40-50% of transgender individuals experience domestic violence in their lifetime. These disparities highlight the need for a comprehensive and intersectional approach to addressing domestic violence.

Domestic violence not only has a significant impact on the individuals directly involved but also on their families and communities. Children who witness domestic violence can experience long-term emotional, behavioral, and cognitive problems. An estimated 15.5 million children are exposed to domestic violence each year, making it a public health concern that extends beyond the individual.

In addition to the human toll, domestic violence has significant economic impacts. The cost of domestic violence is estimated to be $8.3 billion per year in medical costs and lost productivity. This is a significant economic burden that affects individuals, businesses, and society as a whole.

Social workers play a critical role in addressing domestic violence. They work with individuals, families, and communities to provide support, education, and resources to survivors of domestic violence. Social workers also work to prevent domestic violence by addressing the underlying factors that contribute to its occurrence, such as poverty, lack of education, and substance abuse.

It is essential for social workers to have a comprehensive understanding of domestic violence to provide effective support to survivors and work towards preventing domestic violence in the future. This includes understanding the dynamics of domestic violence, risk factors, and the impact of domestic violence on individuals, families, and communities.

Social workers should also be aware of the resources available to survivors, including hotlines, shelters, and counseling services. Additionally, social workers can work with policymakers and community organizations to advocate for policies and programs that support survivors of domestic violence and prevent its occurrence.

In conclusion, domestic violence is a significant issue in the United States with far-reaching impacts on individuals, families, and communities. Social workers play a critical role in addressing domestic violence by providing support, education, and resources to survivors and working towards preventing domestic violence in the future. By understanding the scope of the issue, social workers can provide effective support to survivors and work towards a safer, healthier future for all individuals and communities impacted by domestic violence.

*The statistics featured in this article are sourced from National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. (n.d.). Domestic violence facts. https://ncadv.org/statistics

Embrace failure and keep learning

April 24th, 2023

Mistakes are a part of life, and no one is immune to them. In fact, making mistakes is an essential part of the learning process. As healthcare professionals, we must learn from our mistakes to improve our practice continually. Further training and education are essential in growing our knowledge and improving our practice.

Firstly, it is important to understand that mistakes happen. Healthcare is a complex and ever-changing field, and it is impossible to know everything. Therefore, when we make mistakes, it is crucial to acknowledge them, learn from them, and move forward. In doing so, we can avoid repeating the same mistakes and improve our overall practice.

Furthermore, mistakes provide an opportunity for growth and self-reflection. When we make a mistake, we must take the time to analyze what went wrong, why it happened, and how we can prevent it from happening again. This process of self-reflection allows us to identify areas where we need further training and education.

Education and training are crucial in improving our practice. Healthcare is a field that is constantly evolving, and as such, healthcare professionals must continue to learn and adapt. Continuing education courses, workshops, and conferences provide an opportunity for healthcare professionals to stay up-to-date with the latest advancements in their field.

In addition to continuing education, healthcare professionals should seek out mentorship and guidance from experienced colleagues. Mentors can provide invaluable insight and guidance on how to handle difficult situations and avoid common mistakes. They can also help healthcare professionals identify areas where they need further education and training.

Finally, healthcare professionals must maintain a growth mindset. A growth mindset is the belief that one’s abilities and intelligence can be developed through dedication and hard work. By embracing a growth mindset, healthcare professionals can view mistakes as an opportunity for growth and learning. This mindset encourages healthcare professionals to seek out new challenges, take risks, and learn from their mistakes.

Mistakes are a natural part of the learning process, and healthcare professionals must learn from them to improve their practice continually. Further training and education are essential in growing our knowledge and improving our practice. By acknowledging our mistakes, seeking out mentorship and guidance, and embracing a growth mindset, healthcare professionals can continue to learn and adapt to the ever-changing field of healthcare.

10 New Ways Social Workers Can Improve Their Daily Routine

April 24th, 2023

Social workers play an essential role in improving the lives of others, but it’s also crucial for them to prioritize self-care and personal growth. Here are ten new ways social workers can improve their day:

  1. Start your day with mindfulness: Taking a few minutes each morning to practice mindfulness can help you approach the day with a calm and focused mindset. Consider practicing deep breathing or meditation to help clear your mind and set a positive tone for the day ahead.
  2. Connect with colleagues: Social work can be a demanding and isolating profession, so it’s important to connect with colleagues for support and camaraderie. Consider organizing a virtual coffee chat or attending a networking event to build connections and foster community.
  3. Take a brain break: Research shows that taking short breaks throughout the day can improve productivity and focus. Consider taking a quick walk or stretching break to refresh your mind and prevent burnout.
  4. Learn something new: Continuing education is an essential part of professional development in social work. Consider signing up for a webinar or workshop to learn new skills or gain fresh perspectives on your work.
  5. Prioritize self-care: Social work can be emotionally taxing, so it’s crucial to prioritize self-care to prevent burnout. Consider scheduling regular massage or therapy sessions, practicing self-compassion, or incorporating activities you enjoy into your daily routine.
  6. Set boundaries: As social workers, it’s easy to fall into the trap of taking on too much and neglecting our own needs. Consider setting clear boundaries with clients and colleagues to prioritize your own well-being and avoid burnout.
  7. Take advantage of technology: Technology can be a powerful tool for social workers, allowing for improved communication and collaboration with clients and colleagues. Consider exploring new apps or software to streamline your work and improve efficiency. Check out online study options.
  8. Practice gratitude: Gratitude can help shift our mindset from focusing on challenges to appreciating what we have. Consider starting a gratitude journal or taking a moment each day to reflect on what you’re thankful for.
  9. Get outside: Spending time in nature can have numerous mental and physical health benefits. Consider taking a walk or engaging in outdoor activities during your breaks or after work to improve your mood and reduce stress.
  10. Embrace creativity: Social work requires creativity and innovation, and incorporating creative activities into your daily routine can help foster these skills. Consider engaging in a creative activity, such as writing, drawing, or music, to boost your mood and improve your mental flexibility.

Incorporating these ten new ways into your daily routine can help improve your mood, boost your productivity, and foster personal and professional growth. As a social worker, prioritizing self-care and personal growth can help you better serve your clients and make a positive impact in the world.

Parkinson’s disease and mental health

March 27th, 2023

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects the nervous system, causing tremors, stiffness, and difficulty with movement. While the physical symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are well-known, the mental health effects of the disease are often overlooked. Parkinson’s disease can have a significant impact on a person’s mental health, affecting their mood, cognitive abilities, and overall quality of life.

Depression is one of the most common mental health issues associated with Parkinson’s disease. Studies have shown that people with Parkinson’s disease are twice as likely to experience depression as those without the disease. The reasons for this are complex, but it’s believed that changes in brain chemistry and the psychological impact of the disease can both play a role.

The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can also make it challenging to stay active and engaged with social activities, which can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation. This can further exacerbate feelings of depression and anxiety, making it even more challenging to manage the disease effectively.

In addition to depression, people with Parkinson’s disease may also experience anxiety, apathy, and cognitive decline. Anxiety is often related to the unpredictability of the disease and the challenges it can present in daily life. Apathy, or a lack of interest or motivation, is another common symptom that can make it difficult for people with Parkinson’s disease to engage in activities they once enjoyed. Cognitive decline, which can include difficulties with memory and thinking, can also occur as the disease progresses.

The mental health effects of Parkinson’s disease can have a significant impact on a person’s overall quality of life. However, there are steps that can be taken to help manage these symptoms. One of the most important is to work closely with a healthcare team that includes a neurologist, a mental health professional, and a support network of family and friends.

There are also a variety of treatments available for depression and anxiety in people with Parkinson’s disease. These may include medications, psychotherapy, and support groups. In addition, staying physically active and engaged in social activities can also help improve mental health outcomes.

It’s important to remember that mental health is an essential aspect of overall health, and people with Parkinson’s disease should prioritize their mental health just as they do their physical health. This may mean taking steps to reduce stress, practicing self-care activities like meditation or yoga, and seeking professional help when needed.

Mental health professionals can play a critical role in treating the mental health effects of Parkinson’s disease. They can provide a safe and supportive environment for people with Parkinson’s disease to discuss their feelings and develop coping strategies to manage their symptoms. They can also work with healthcare providers to develop personalized treatment plans that address both the physical and mental aspects of the disease. By addressing the mental health needs of people with Parkinson’s disease, mental health professionals can help improve their overall quality of life and ensure that they receive the comprehensive care they need to manage their condition effectively.

What is Feedback Informed Therapy?

February 13th, 2023

Feedback-Informed Therapy (FIT) is a relatively new and innovative approach to psychotherapy that emphasizes the importance of using feedback from clients to guide the therapeutic process.

FIT is based on the idea that the best way to improve psychotherapy is by incorporating the perspectives of clients into the treatment process. This approach has gained popularity in recent years due to its emphasis on accountability and effectiveness, and its ability to improve therapy outcomes. FIT is a client-centered approach that encourages clients to take an active role in their own therapy by providing feedback on their experiences during sessions. This feedback is used to inform the therapist about what is and isn’t working in therapy, and to make adjustments to the treatment plan as needed.

FIT emphasizes the importance of establishing a therapeutic alliance, in which the therapist and client work together as partners to achieve the client’s goals. One of the key benefits of FIT is that it encourages therapist accountability.By incorporating client feedback into the therapeutic process, therapists are held accountable for the effectiveness of their treatment and are encouraged to continuously evaluate and improve their practice. This helps to ensure that clients receive the best possible care and that therapists are providing treatments that are tailored to their clients’ specific needs.

According to Scott D. Miller, a leading expert in the field of psychotherapy, “Feedback-Informed Therapy is a game-changer in the field of psychotherapy. It has the potential to dramatically improve therapy outcomes and make psychotherapy more client-centered and effective.” Miller’s quote highlights the importance of FIT and its ability to bring about positive change in the field of psychotherapy.

Feedback-Informed Therapy is a new and innovative approach to psychotherapy that emphasizes the importance of using client feedback to guide the therapeutic process. This approach helps to ensure that clients receive the best possible care and that therapists are providing treatments that are tailored to their clients’ specific needs. FIT is a client-centered approach that encourages clients to take an active role in their own therapy and provides a structure for therapists to continuously evaluate and improve their practice. By incorporating client feedback into the therapeutic process, FIT has the potential to dramatically improve therapy outcomes and make psychotherapy more client-centered and effective.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Vs Schema Therapy

February 13th, 2023

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Schema Therapy are two popular forms of psychotherapy that aim to help individuals improve their mental health. Both techniques have been widely researched and have demonstrated efficacy in treating various mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, and personality disorders. However, while they share similarities, they also have distinct differences that make them unique in their approach to treatment.

How long does CBT versus Schema Therapy take?

CBT is a short-term, goal-oriented form of therapy that is based on the premise that our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are interrelated and can impact each other in significant ways. CBT focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and beliefs that contribute to psychological distress and maladaptive behaviors. Through CBT, individuals learn to challenge and reframe negative thoughts and beliefs in order to develop a more positive outlook on life and improve their mental health. CBT sessions typically involve discussing current problems and setting goals for improvement, as well as teaching coping strategies and behavioral techniques to help manage difficult emotions and situations.

In contrast, Schema Therapy is a long-term form of therapy that is based on the idea that our early life experiences shape our personality and can lead to the development of “schemas” or negative coping patterns. Schemas are thought to be deeply ingrained patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that are triggered by specific situations and lead to emotional distress and maladaptive behaviors. Schema Therapy aims to help individuals identify and change these schemas in order to improve their overall mental health. This is done through a combination of talking therapy, behavioral techniques, and imaginative techniques such as role-playing and visualization exercises.

One key difference between CBT and Schema Therapy is the length of treatment. CBT is typically a short-term form of therapy that lasts anywhere from 6 to 20 sessions, while Schema Therapy is a longer-term form of therapy that can last up to two years or more. This difference in treatment length reflects the difference in the underlying theories of the two approaches. CBT assumes that negative thought patterns and beliefs can be changed relatively quickly, while Schema Therapy assumes that deep-seated schemas developed over a lifetime will take longer to change.

Schema Therapy is gaining in popularity

According to a publication by the Schema Therapy Society, “Schema therapy has been gaining increasing recognition as a highly effective evidence-based treatment for a range of mental health problems, including personality disorders, anxiety, and depression.”

It’s increasing popularity is seeing many CBT therapists retrain in aspects like imagery rescripting.

Different approaches

Another important difference between CBT and Schema Therapy is the focus of treatment. CBT is more focused on the present and helps individuals manage their current difficulties, while Schema Therapy is more focused on the past and helps individuals understand and change their negative schemas. Schema Therapy is often described as a “whole-person” approach to treatment, as it takes into account the individual’s entire life history and personality, while CBT is more focused on specific problems and symptoms.

In terms of effectiveness, both CBT and Schema Therapy have been shown to be effective in treating a range of mental health conditions. However, research suggests that Schema Therapy may be more effective for individuals with more severe or chronic psychological difficulties, such as personality disorders. CBT has been found to be effective for treating a range of conditions, including anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder, and is often recommended as a first-line treatment for these conditions.


Stress: Coming Home to Homeostasis

March 16th, 2022

Stress is a physiological and psychological process that helps us manage our day-to-day lives. For most of us, the stress response is a defense mechanism that helps us to deal with multiple daily threats. After the threat, or the perceived threat, has passed, our hormones rebalance and we feel relaxed and safe. We return to a state of homeostasis. Our ability to easily return to homeostasis depends on our resilience.

People who are well adapted to deal with stress often display high levels of resilience. Resilience is our capacity to recover from stress, adapt to change, and maintain homeostasis even when facing stressors. There are multiple factors that determine resilience, but our lifetime exposure to stress has a big impact. Overexposure to stress can mean we are less well-equipped to deal with it. 

When people experience prolonged periods of stress, it can become harder for the body to find its way home to homeostasis. Prolonged exposure may be caused by socio-economic factors, trauma, and addiction.  


Stress and Addiction: A Vicious Cycle

Stress itself can actually help build resilience. It only becomes problematic when our bodies aren’t able to pull us out of the stress response to reach homeostasis. When we stay in the stress response for too long, we can develop symptoms of acute and chronic stress. 

Both acute and chronic stress are key contributors to addiction. Substance abuse and misuse can also trigger maladaptive tendencies across our brain, body, behavior, and social functioning. This results in a dysregulated physiological state which limits our capacity for homeostasis. For people struggling with addiction, stress can perpetuate a cycle that is hard to escape from. Stress causes an increased dependency on alcohol and certain drugs, and these substances in turn reduce our capacity to deal with stress. This is why stress can so often trigger a relapse for people who are in recovery. 


Building Resilience with Embodied Self Awareness

People struggling with addiction, and those who are in recovery, can develop their resilience by fostering embodied self-awareness. This means they can practice noticing their physiological responses to stress. They come into a relationship with their stress response, meaning they are better placed to work with, rather than against it.

Nkem Ndefo developed the Resilience Toolkit to help people recognize when they are in a stress response. The toolkit is founded on somatic psychology and helps people to build their capacity for homeostasis and resilience. When people feel triggered, stressed, or upset, there are three questions they can ask themselves to help them better understand what stress feels like.

  • What is my stress level now, and how do I know? 
  • What is happening at this moment and how does it feel in my body?
  • Is my stress level helpful?

These questions seek to help people notice what their unique experience of stress is, so they can recognize it when it appears. This means that they can begin to develop means to deal with stress, as it arises. This helps it dissipate quicker, which means the body relearns how to reach homeostasis. It also helps to value the stress response. If we befriend the stress response, we can work with it. That means finding our way easily back to homeostasis.


Rebuilding Family Relationships On The Road to Recovery

March 16th, 2022

Addiction infiltrates families. Relationships with parents, siblings, grandparents, and more, are often damaged. The recovery process is so much harder for people who no longer have the support of their families. 

But the road to recovery can be a way to rebuild familial bonds. And, what better way to rebuild relationships than through the recovery process? It can be the beginning of a new relationship built on mutual respect and trust.

If you work with people in recovery, then here are some tips to share with family members who are ready and able to support their loved ones. 

  • The best thing family members can do is be supportive and helpful. This doesn’t mean being a pushover but doing what they can to support recovery. This might mean driving them to appointments. It might mean helping them to create a schedule for medication. It might mean sharing online meetups, helping to build and create a network of support. Nobody should force anyone to do anything they don’t want to. But if a family member/friend asks for support in the recovery process, it’s important to let them know they have it. It makes the road to recovery much less daunting. It helps them to know they don’t have to do this alone. 
  • Encourage family members to engage with the therapeutic process of recovery. Say hello to family members when they drop off and collect their relation at therapy. Demystify the therapeutic process. You can encourage your client to recruit the support of different family members. You might even invite family members to some sessions, depending on the modality you’re using. 
  • Often, people seeking recovery will try lots of different treatments. Not all of them are going to work. But that doesn’t mean people should be discouraged from trying! Encouraging support is a beautiful way to rebuild relationships. It will help the person in recovery to believe that they can keep trying different options, knowing they will be supported even if it doesn’t work out. 
  • Many situations can be triggering for people in recovery. Being sensitive to their unique needs will help them to stay in control. Family members should avoid inviting the person in recovery to situations where alcohol or drugs are present. Especially during the early stages of recovery. At the same time, it’s important for people to feel safe, capable, and in control around alcohol. Family gatherings can support this, at the right time. Celebrating (soberly) with family who may be drinking can be empowering for people in recovery when they are ready. 
  • Have your client discuss their stress triggers with their family. This will help the family to identify when the person in recovery may be dealing with extra pressure, so they can offer more support. This support might mean making it clear that they’re available if the person needs them. Or, it might be a more active intervention to help manage the stressor. This will help your client feel resourced and may help prevent a relapse.