CBT: Managing the emotional situation of cancer patients

Patients diagnosed with cancer tend to feel emotional and overwhelmed with fears about how the illness would affect their lives and that of their families. There is a feeling of disbelief paired with other negative emotions such as depression, anxiety, helplessness, and so many uncertainties which affect their everyday routines and relationships with other people. Medical and psychological experts, together with loved ones, help these patients cope with the illness emotionally and physically to improve their quality of life.

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Most cancer patients undergo medical treatments like CT scans, MRIs, and chemo infusion. There are also some who undergo the treatment and visit psychotherapists to manage emotional stress. Because cancer patients feel anxious about their health, they usually have difficulty in sleeping and sometimes experience the pain and side effects of medical treatment.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is often associated with treatments that change the way patients feel, think, and deal with their physical and medical problems. CBT helps reduce the anxiety and improves sleeping conditions through different exercises that relax the mind and the body, such as deep breathing and meditation.

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Psychologists also provide counseling interventions where they help patients release their worries and emotional pain through a one-on-one conversation. This way, psychologists are able to determine and discover how their patients are coping with their situation. Experts are also exploring different ways on how to incorporate cognitive behavior therapy through mobile technology like developing an app with video lessons on breathing and relaxation techniques. More breakthroughs from this segment of behavioral wellness are expected to take place in the near future.

Paul Gabrinetti is an alumnus of the University of Southern California, where he received his doctorate in counseling psychology. Read more about his field here.



An overview of behavior modification: Definition, techniques, and significance

Behavior modification consists of strategies that aim to reinforce desired behavior and eliminate or change undesirable ones. Behavior management techniques are used in the classroom, therapy sessions, and in other psychological settings. The concept blossomed from the theories of classical conditioning by Ivan Pavlov and operant conditioning by B.F. Skinner, the “Father of Behaviorism.”

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Appropriate application of the techniques can yield positive results. Behavior modification techniques are widely used to treat disabilities such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, oppositional defiant disorder, and other issues like phobias. However, teachers and therapists should keep in mind that not all students and patients will respond positively to these strategies. Treating a person’s mental illness and other disabilities should not follow the “one size fits all” principle. Professionals should get to know the person to determine what techniques and treatments are best for the patient.

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Paul Gabrinetti taught behavior modification techniques as a part of an experimental project through California State University Northridge. He is working as a core faculty professor at the Pacifica Graduate Institute in California. For more articles on psychology, visit this blog.

Who Was The Real Carl Jung?

Almost every college major who paid attention in class, who took up Psychology 101, knows a thing or two about the Jungian approach to psychology, or analytical psychology as it is called. But who is Carl Jung, really? Who was he before becoming world-renowned?

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Carl Gustav Jung was born in Switzerland on July 26, 1875. As an only child, there was a feeling of isolation and loneliness that hung over him. He spent his early years observing the much older people around him. His mother checked herself in to a psychiatric institution when Jung was three.

Jung did not follow in his father’s footsteps to become a protestant pastor. Instead, he left for the University of Basel, where he became fascinated with sciences and philosophy. He later on chose to take up medicine.

Carl Jung moved from the University of Basel to the University of Zurich where he earned his MD. It was in Zurich where he met Eugene Bleuler at the Burgholzli Asylum. Bleuler, who was avant-garde in his theories of psychology at the time, would soon become Jung’s mentor. It was Bleuler who would later on be responsible for what psychologists today know as the classical studies of mental illnesses.

It was in Burgholzli Asylum that Carl Jung learned and formulated the groundwork of what was to be analytical psychology. Through his observations, he came up with the term “complex,” which refers to human emotions.

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Paul Gabrinetti has a doctorate in counseling psychology. He was also on the board of directors in the Los Angeles-based CG Jung Institute. To learn more about Gabrinetti and the Jungian approach, read his blogs here.

Developing Mental Strength Through Analytic Psychology

Analytic psychology is based on the ideas formulated by Carl Jung. The Jungian school of thought is somewhat similar to the Freudian approach, in that it stressed the importance of the inner psyche, but differed in several distinct ways. Understanding this nuance is important for both mental health practitioners and patients. Any form of treatment, be it physical or mental, should be taken with a basic overview of how the plans are made and the underlying foundations for its strategies.


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All schools of psychotherapy aim to develop mental strength or what others would call enlightenment, peace of mind or the highest form of transcendence. Each field will have their specific term for it, but the main essence of psychology is becoming mentally strong to counter the inevitable challenges one will experience. Different schools of psychology, thus, only differ in the specific action plans to battle daily challenges.

Those who prefer Jungian psychology appreciate the importance of the unconscious. It is believed that all actions are influenced by hidden areas of a person’s psyche. Carl Jung divided the psyche into three different components: the conscious, personal unconscious, and the collective unconscious. How these three factors interrelate vary per individual as each person experiences and perceives life differently. It creates an infinite number of possible Jungian conditions.

Developing mental strength in Jungian psychology, therefore, is founded on understanding how these three factors affect a specific individual. Psychologists trained under the Jungian school of thought typically try to design a relationship chart that shows how these factors manifested themselves. The patient will then be assigned a treatment plan that will address the entire issue at once (it is rare for analytic psychology treatments only to tackle one factor at a time). Patients are expected to be able to practice their own self-assessment and strength-training once they become mentally stronger.


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Paul Gabrinetti is a certified clinical psychologist trained under Carl Jung’s school of thought. Learn more by following this Twitter account.

May Is Mental Health Month: Four Ways To Help

To raise awareness of mental illness, to educate people about its effects, and to help remove the stigma surrounding it, organizations such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and Mental Health America run awareness campaigns every year in May. The following are four ways people can support the cause:

1. Take the pledge
The NAMI website asks individuals and companies to signify their commitment to learn more about mental illness, see people for themselves and not for their illnesses, and take action on mental health issues by signing the Stigma-free Pledge. Signing and sharing the pledge take less than a minute but go a long way towards promoting awareness and challenging stereotypes surrounding mental illnesses and the people who have them.

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2. Share personal stories of living with mental illness
Various mental health organizations have created their own hashtags to be used throughout social media to spread awareness. Mental Health America asks participants in its May campaign to share their personal stories of living with mental illness on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and to tag their posts with “#mentalhealthfeelslike.”

NAMI asks individuals who wish to help spread awareness to use the hashtags “#StigmaFree,” “#MentalHealthMonth,” and “#Act4MentalHealth.”

3. Encourage local leaders to participate
People can deflect negative attitudes towards mental illnesses at the community level by speaking to their local leaders, such as their mayors, and encouraging them to recognize May as Mental Health Month via an official proclamation.

4. Walk for mental health
NAMI organizations advocate the adoption of public policy for the benefit of individuals with mental illness, and the provision of support and education to individuals with mental illnesses and their families. Those who are interested in the cause can raise both awareness and funds for NAMI projects by going on a NAMIWalk. NAMI’s charity walk program has raised over $4.8 m

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illion in the past 13 years.

Simply taking part in the national conversation about mental health and taking action from the grassroots level up can further a national understanding of the scourge that afflicts many people today.

Paul Gabrinetti, PhD is an analytical psychologist. For more articles on mental health and psychology, subscribe to this blog.

Jungian Archetypes: The Shadow, The Anima, The Animus, and The Persona

In his book, “The Structure of the Psyche,” Carl Gustav Jung, a renowned psychiatrist and founder of analytical psychology, explained that “all the most powerful ideas in history go back to archetypes.” These archetypes, he said, define the thoughts and actions of a person. They are innate, universal, and hereditary.
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Based on his concept of the unconscious mind (a process in the mind that occurs automatically), archetypes, in Jungian psychology, are derived from highly developed elements of the “collective unconscious,” which is a structure of the unconscious mind shared among beings of the same kind.

There are four major Jungian archetypes:

The shadow. Often appearing in the form of dreams or visions, the shadow comprises of “repressed ideas, weaknesses, desires, instincts and shortcomings.”

The anima and the animus. This represents one’s “true self” as opposed to the image people present others in their waking life.

The persona. This refers to the aspect of someone’s character according to how he or she wishes to present himself or herself to the world.

Archetypes, according to Jung, are not static nor are they fixed. Apart from these, other archetypes may be related.

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Paul Gabrinetti is a Jungian analyst who received his certification from the CG Jung Institute in Los Angeles, California. Read more articles on Jungian archetypes here.

Adolescent Depression: Recognizing the Signs

It’s common for teenagers to be occasionally unhappy or irritable. Adolescence is a time of many major physical, psychological, and social changes, and teenagers often have a difficult time dealing with these.

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As a result, it is often difficult for parents to differentiate normal teenage “highs and lows” from adolescent depression. For example, teenagers with depression don’t always isolate themselves or appear sad, and symptoms of depression that are common among adults are typically less apparent in teenagers.

For many teenagers, depression manifests itself as irritability, anger, and aggression. The following are other symptoms of adolescent depression that parents and caregivers of teenagers should watch out for:

  • Worsening academic performance
  • Diminished interest in formerly pleasurable activities
  • Issues with authority
  • Changes in sleeping habits (either too much sleep, or too little)
  • Substance abuse
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Withdrawal from friends and loved ones
  • Frequent headaches, stomachaches, and other physical complaints that have no apparent cause
  • Reckless behavior
  • Evidence of self-harm, such as scars, burns, and bruises
  • Violence
  • Criminal behavior, such as shoplifting and driving under the influence
  • Thoughts and talk of suicid

If a teenager appears to have one or more of the aforementioned symptoms, parents or caregivers should offer help and provide him or her with an open, non-judgmental environment in which they can talk about the teenager’s feelings and what he or she is going through. It is imperative for parents or caregivers of a depressed teenager to seek advice from a mental health professional right away. A mental health professional can help by making a diagnosis, and by helping formulate a treatment plan that could involve medication, therapy, or other methods.

Depression is a serious mental illness and is not something that depressed teenagers will simply outgrow. If left untreated, the symptoms can worsen and can eventually lead to suicide. However, with the right professional treatment, teenagers can prevent or minimize future depressive episodes and get their lives back on track.

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Prior to becoming a core faculty professor in Clinical Psychology at the Pacifica Graduate Institute in Carpinteria, California, Paul Gabrinetti, PhD consulted for the Department of Probation on children’s services. For more discussions on adolescent depression, follow this Twitter account.