Saturday, October 15, 2016

Assumption University Graduate School of Psychology Mental Health Awareness Day 2016 "Psychological First Aid"

Assumption University Graduate School of Psychology and Assumption University Counseling Services held the annual World Mental Health Day at the University's Bangna Campus on the 13th of October 2016. The goal of this event is to spread awareness on the importance of mental health and help reduce stigma so that people can have access to mental health care as soon as possible and be able to improve their lives.

This year's theme "Psychological First Aid" is very timely in connection to the various crisis and challenges we face in our world today. And although going through difficult as well as confusing times is but very common in our lives, this should not hinder us from living  our lives to the fullest. Mental health care is important because it helps us make better choices and supports us become resilient in times of crisis.

As school counselors we are also aware that one of the most challenging part of a person's life is going through the demands and pressure of being a student in keeping up with the University's expectations and standards. And although a great number of students are coping well with these demands and have maintain a positive outlook in life, others need support specially with learning how to adapt positive coping skills.

Thus, giving importance to the mental health of the students is important so that they can be guided through self discovery and become aware of their strength as individuals and be able to positively cope with the challenges they face.

The annual Mental Health Awareness Day provided an opportunity for students and non-student participants a chance to an open conversation about mental health. And the school psychologist together with the interns provided information on the common mental health problems such as anxiety, stress, positive psychology as well as other issues students face in their daily life.

Different types of psychology testing were also available such as the Career Interest Survey, Right/Left Brain Dominance Test, the VAK Learning Style Self-Assessment Questionnaire, and the Cohen Perceived Stress.

The counseling psychologist and the interns also provided information on the test results and invited the students and participants to visit the school counseling center to talk more regarding their concerns and the benefits of mental health care.

The event turn out to be a success and a huge number of students came and took the psychological test and also participated in an interactive dialogue with the counselors.

The event was also graced and honored by the presence of  Bro. Dr. Bancha Saenghiran, President-Rector of Assumption University of Thailand. Bro. Bancha shared his insights about life and also inspirational thoughts for a better life.

The event was made possible because of the support and leadership of the graduate school of psychology students, faculty and staff, Assumption University Suvarnabhumi Campus staff and the Assumption University Counseling Center Services interns.

Lastly, a peaceful and balance life is possible. And know that help is always available. It is very important that you seek professional mental health care and know that there is dignity in reaching out for help. Let me encourage you to talk to your psychotherapist or counselors about your concerns and learn more about the importance of mental health in your life.

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Psychology of Internet: Friend or Foe

Have you ever thought a life without the internet? Well, to some it would be a very comforting thing to think about or to others a tragic phenomenon we can't even dare think about. It seems that nowadays, our online life has become vital to our existence and the more we deny its dominance, the more we become reliant to it like we need air to live.

The Internet is the new frontier human kind has yet to explore and its influence has been increasing in our lives and has evidently change our society and the way we live. Prof. Yair Amichai-Hamburger, director of research center and computer psychology dubbed it as the 'Internet Revolution' which he compared to the 'Industrial Revolution' of the 19th Century. Our use of the internet is becoming vast and growing and there have been so much literature written about its effect in our lives bad or good.

With the emergence of social media, online communities, activities and learning, we have become more involved and spend more time on internet presence than we usually do. And although some have presented the void of actual human interaction and the lack of authenticity, communication has become extensive more so limitless that it has bridged the gap across boundaries and culture.

So, why do some of us prefer to use the internet? Gila Kurts on the study of The Internet And It's Psychological Context" presented four factors which differentiate internet  from actual face to face interaction.

Greater Anonymity - Online presence allow people to easily maintain a mysterious facade. And this gives them freedom to express themselves freely and detached them from social norms. This  also makes them express sincerity than they would normally do on a face to face interaction. But apparently anonymity has also given way to too much freedom to hurt and bash people in just a click away (but my thoughts regarding this issue will be discussed separately).

Diminution of Physical Appearance - People are often judged by their physical appearance. It is a determinant of how others will perceive us. However in an online environment, being physically appraised by others have become the least factor and this has provided a different basis for interaction.

Greater Control Over Time and Place - For me online interaction has given another meaning on the phrase "sleep on it". You may have done this quite often every time you are talking about a delicate issue or something you don't want to address right away. So instead of blurting out something that you may regret later, you can stay on seen mode and give it time to process that way it is less impulsive than face to face. This may also mean that online presence can be done anytime and anywhere at your convenience.

Finding Similar Others - For introvert people like me, the internet has become a friendly place to find "your people". These are people who shares the same interest and goals. The 1971 Maslow's hierarchy of needs significantly presented the need to belong which is essential to our well-being. So finding people that resonates your own lifestyle is healthy to the self-esteem.

So is internet our friend or foe? Well, whatever it ensures and how relevant it is in our lives, we can't deny the fact that internet has now become  part of our lives. This is the internet era, and to the words of Stephen Hawking, "we are all now connected by the internet, like neurons in a giant brain."

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Social Anxiety Series Part II: Breathing and How to Regulate It

There are a number of techniques and treatment to help us cope with social anxiety. For instance, breathing is very important, obviously, it keeps us alive. However, if our breathing becomes uncontrolled it could lead to physiological changes in our body that may increase anxiety. So the key is to monitor your breathing rate and pattern.

Like for example, you are in a social situation and suddenly you feel dizzy, your vision becomes blurred and you experience light headedness. This may be a result of over breathing which cause an oxygen reduction in some parts of the brain.

Accordingly, over breathing for a longer period of time may make you lose energy and makes you feel exhausted. And that is why when you experience anxiety, you feel dizzy, you experience hot flashes or sweat because when you feel anxious, you started to breathe fast.

So how do we regulate our breathing? There are two kinds of breathing, one is chest breathing and the other is stomach breathing. So the way to determine how you are breathing is to put your hand on your collar bone and the other hand on your stomach and take a deep breathe. If your stomach expands with less collar bone movement, you are breathing through your nose which is a good sign that your breathing is helpful. However if there is more chest movement, it means that you are breathing through your mouth, and this kind of breathing is usually related to  anxiety.

How you breathe is the key so here are ways to help you control your breathing.

1. You can sit comfortably on a chair with your legs apart or you can do a yoga sitting position on the floor. Make sure that you are comfortable in your position.

2. When your shoulders, chest and jaws are relaxed, slowly breathe in through your nose.

3. Relax and breathe in and expand your waist so your stomach inflates. (you can place your dominant hand over your stomach to check if it inflates when you breathe in.)

4. Breathe naturally. Avoid deep breathing.

5. Breathe out through your mouth and release the air from your chest.

6. Maintain breathing low and slow and focus on the movement of your stomach.

You can use this technique whenever you feel symptoms of anxiety to positively cope with it. However, it may take a while to get use to it.  So practice until it becomes your second nature. Till next time and I hope you find this post helpful.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Social Anxiety Series Part 1: How to Identify Unhealthy Thinking Styles

It is sad that anxiety is keeping you from doing things you would have love to do.
It is common to feel shy and anxious in social situations.  For most people they would overcome these uncomfortable reactions and would proceed to accomplished the task and go through with it. But others cope with it by avoiding the situation which would distract their daily lives and hinder them from doing the things they want to do.

Take note though that social anxiety is not being able to feel all the emotional, mental and physiological discomfort but the number of times you avoid social situations because you don't want to experience the way it makes you feel . You suddenly began to hide from anyone or stay away from situations because  even the thought of it makes you feel anxious, makes your heart beats faster, makes your palms sweaty, your breathing becomes irregular and you become light headed and feel like fainting. These reactions would make it impossible for you to function effectively.

These are the common signs of Social Anxiety 

  • Palpitations - your heart beats so fast in social situations or when you are doing an act.
  • Shaking and your  breathing  becomes short and you feel like choking.
  • You feel the tightness in your chest and it makes you want to vomit.
  • Hot flashes and you feel like you are going to faint
  • Numbness and your throat and mouth becomes dry
  • Blushing and may feel hypersensitive to criticism and what others thinks
  • Avoid social contact and reluctant to involve in social situation in fear of doing or saying something wrong.
  • Avoid social performance.
There is a general assumption that people and situation cause the way we feel. We have the tendency to think that the way we feel is based on the what people do and what certain situations we are in. But there is what we call a thinking-feeling connection which means that our thoughts actually influenced the way we feel. There are different kinds of automatic thoughts;  Neutral thoughtI will make a presentation in the class today.”   Positive thoughtI can do it.” And the Negative thoughtI am going to fail and everyone will laugh at me.” These negative thoughts will often lead to feelings of anxiety and cause you to suffer emotionally. This is what we also call “unhealthy thinking styles” these thoughts often becomes a default thinking mechanism which makes it impossible for us to process “healthy” thinking. 

Accordingly, our thoughts create different emotions, so it is important to recognize what you are telling yourself or what were you thinking and how it makes you feel before or during an action. 

There are different kinds of unhealthy thinking styles for example:

·         The Mental Filter - this is when you only think of one situation that could happen and ignore any other possible outcome.

·         The Shouding and Musting - These are not always unhealthy thinking. But if you find yourselves making unreasonable efforts to achieve the expectations you make to yourselves and others, this will cause pressure and anxiety.

·         Jumping to Conclusions – this is where we assume or make prediction about the worst that can happen. For example: I am going to fail, people will laugh at me. I am going to say something stupid, people will not talk to me and think I am weird, and a lot more.

·         Overgeneralization - this is when you gather all negative assumptions and apply it to your present and future situations.  For instance, if you tell yourself ‘I will never be good at…, I will always fail, or everyone will think I am not smart enough… 

·         Personalization – this is when you blame yourself every time something bad happens or you think will happen.

·         Labeling – this is when you identify and behave yourself according to the global notion that categorizes or classifies people. For example, when you say ‘I am a shy person, I will never do well in a crowd, I am not a good public speaker or I am always the clumsy one. These types of unhealthy thinking will somehow create a self-fulfilling prophecy which often leads to anxiety and stop you from making progress.

·         Catastrophizing – this is where the “blow out of proportion” phrase comes in. It is when you think that something bad, awful or embarrassing will happen before the action actually happens. This will lead to fear and anxiety and will often lead to avoidance.

·         Emotional Reasoning – this is when your perception of the situation is based on how you feel towards it. For instance, when the only proof something bad is going to happen is because you feel bad about it or when you make a conclusion that it is true base on your emotions and feelings. For example, when you tell yourself  I feel like I am going to make a mistake , I feel that my skills are not good enough…etc.

·         Black and White Thinking – This is when you think that you can either passed or fail. And there is nothing else you can do about it.

·         Magnification and Minimization – This is when you compare you performance based on the thought that others are great and your performance doesn’t matter. You have the tendency to magnify the accomplishments of other people and then you think less of yourself.

So, how do we identify "unhealthy" thinking styles and what can we do about it.

#1 Identify your feelings - Do you feel tense, anxious, panicky, uneasy, nervous, scared, exited, calm, euphoric? and the list goes on. In this case, common feelings associated with social anxiety are only mentioned.

#2 Identify your automatic thoughts – it is common for people to have "unhealthy" thinking style and a lot of them have overcome it by adapting positive coping skills. These are examples of unhealthy thoughts  "I am going to fail", "people are going to think I am stupid", "I will look foolish" , "I have always failed, so why is this different"  and so on.

#3 Remember thoughts are not feelings – you may say “I feel nervous” when you are actually thinking 'people will laugh at me if you make a mistake.' Also, you are probably thinking that people are expecting you to perform well therefore, you feel anxious or tense. Often times it is difficult to determine feeling from thinking. The key is to identify what you tell yourself and how you feel about it.

#4 Identify feelings from thoughts – doing an exercise on making a connection between your thoughts and feeling can be helpful. You can write a journal about different situations where you usually feel tense or anxious, what are the statements (unhealthy thinking) you often tell yourself and then determine how it makes you feel.   For example, you are going to make a class presentation (situation). Then you tell yourself, “My teacher is very strict, I am going to make mistakes and fail (unhealthy thinking) you feel anxious, nervous and scared (feelings) then your heart started to beat fast, you start to sweat and feel like you are going to faint (physiological reaction).

#5 Create alternative thoughts – once you identify the cycle, go back to what you tell yourself/ unhealthy thinking and replace it with positive alternative thoughts.

For example you can tell yourself…
  • This is my first time, when I am done, I would be happy I did what I can.
  • I feel anxious but I will focus on my performance, the feelings I have now will be gone once I am done.
  • I will do what I have to do and whatever that result is, there is always something I can do about it if not, I can let go and move on.
  • What I feel right now is part of the process, once I get used to it, the feelings will slowly go away.
  • I am focus on what I can do at the moment.
So those are the tips you can do on your way to overcome social anxiety. Please stay tune for more coping strategies and techniques. If you have any questions or suggestions please feel free to leave a comment or send me a message.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

How To Overcome Test Anxiety

Settling in for the new school year can be challenging. Aside from adjusting to new professors and thinking about how to even pass every requirement, taking the test can be one of the difficult task one has to complete. Test Anxiety is one of the common issues a student encounters and it is one of the academic dilemma students face every school year.

Most often students complain that they don't have much time, apparently the "too many things to do too little time" is the oratorical statement when it comes to school and time management. However, students can best benefit from time management, study skills and helpful techniques to create a low anxiety stress resistance academic lifestyle.


  1.  Prioritize - Identify your goals and your engagements and rank them base on their importance.
  2. Work on a system - Develop a 24 hours time tracking system so you have a full view of what your    daily task will look like.
  3. Study Priority List - Create a weekly study priority list base on your test timetable . Mark down chapters that you need to study and set your timing when you are most efficient. Study the topics you find difficult to the ones that you find easier.
  4. The "Hit List" - Create a list of daily study task so you can tick it off once you complete them.
  5. Divide your task into chunks so you don't get overwhelm and by dividing it into steps you will find it easier to accomplish it.
  6. Create a yearly Calendar and note down all the test you need to take and the requirements you need to comply so you have an overall idea of what to accomplished first.
  7. Create a Weekly Study log which includes the specific date you need to take the exam or complete a requirement and prioritize them in your study time table. 
  8. Time Limit -  set a time limit when you study. That way you don't find yourself lingering around instead of focusing on the task you need to do.
  9. Do not procrastinate.


  1. Organize your school materials that way you don't waste your time looking for them when you instead needed to study. Organize school handouts or syllabus in specific folders and tag them, if you must so that it is convenient for you to retrieve it.
  2. Set up a study space where you most feel efficient and productive. Stay away from the things that distracts you and take only what you need to help you study. 
  3. Put your phone on stealth mode and turn off you social media tabs if you need to.
  4. Refresh yourself before you start to study and make sure you hydrate yourself every so often.
  5. Use study tools to help you achieve productivity. Use highlighters to emphasize important details and use the dictionary to check the words you are not familiar with.
  6. Do not memorize information. Read and understand what it means and how it applies to your daily life, the community, or other people's lives. If you are a visual person, you can draw mind maps or illustrate them in the best way beneficial to you.
  7. Use social media to connect with other people and ask them what they think about the topic that you are studying. But make sure you don't linger too much and find yourself doing things not totally related to what you are studying. So again, focus.
  8. Highlight the phrases or concepts you don't understand and formulate questions you can ask your teacher to clarify it and get another view point.
  9. Ask yourself how relevant is the topic to you and why not.
  10. Relax, take a deep breath, take a short walk and begin again.


Here are example of positive self talk excerpt from Saint Louis University Student Success Center to replace the negative talk you often tell yourself.

  • "I failed the course last semester, but I can now use my study/math skills to pass this course."
  • "I went blank on the last test, but I now know how to reduce test anxiety."
  • "I know that with hard work, I will pass math."
  • "I prepared for this test and will do the best I can."
  • "I feel good about myself and my abilities. I am not going to worry about that difficult problem. I'm going to use all my test time and check for careless errors. Even if I don't get the grade I want on this test, it is not the end of the world." 
So I hope you find these tips useful. Good luck to a productive school year ahead. For more questions and feedback please comment below or send me a message.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Me Before You Decoded

Recently, I have come across a debate on the movie that has swept our feet into an ecstasy of love, chemistry and romance in its 21st century plot. And while I too gush over the hormone induced thrill of its twist I noticed that there is something missing, and no I am not talking about the morals of assisted suicide or  the rights to decide when to end life no not even going there not at all. But while the cheerful and bubbly Louisa Clark at the found herself going for her dreams, I mourn for the lost hope. Then I wonder, if only and if only mental health have been given a little role will it end differently?

While I can't speak for everybody, it is but understandable that often times the cheapest end to  life for a person that has become angry, moody, bitter and disabled would seem a better option as opposed to preserving a life which would only cost so much more than living a lifestyle of an average person. But what about the person's rights to a positive, productive and encouraging life? or is it ending life the convenient option?

Stephen Hawking once said, "I have noticed even people who claim everything is predestined, and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road." the point taken is, there is always something we can do about it. And this doesn't just include people who are confined to a wheelchair for the rest of their lives but for anyone who succumb to a life threatening experience or the trauma of surviving everyday and the important of mental health care. Living a positive and a life full of hope is still an option and We Can Do Something About it.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Mental Health Awareness 2015: Dignity in Mental Health

The 10th of October was World Mental Health Awareness Day and the Graduate School of Psychology Assumption University of Thailand was happy to take  part along with the student volunteers to raise awareness about the importance of mental health and our responsibility as psychology students and counselors to help decrease stigma about seeking mental health support on this year's theme "Dignity in Mental Health."

In connection to this, we set up a booth at The Assumption University Bangna Campus to raise awareness among the undergraduate students and assist them with free testing and interactive activities.

This year it is also the aim of the world health organization to stop the stigma and that people with mental health condition can be able to live with dignity as well as provide them with sufficient support. The aim is to be able to provide healthcare professionals with appropriate and adequate training to be able to respond to every need.

Every year, the Graduate School of Psychology, Assumption University of Thailand helps create public awareness and reaches out to the younger generation so they can be informed about the importance of mental healthcare and to seek support when needed. 

Qualified volunteers assisted the students as well as some of the staff take free testing on stress, happiness and provided them with information and follow up assistance should there be any questions regarding the result of the test.

There was also a movie presentation about suicide prevention, body image and depression as well as information on how and where to seek help. We also hand out bookmarks with positive affirmation and useful school supplies to serve as positive reinforcements for their participation.

The students also took part in interactive activities such as writing positive affirmation and sharing it on our "what makes you happy" board. They also took part in our survey as well as come by the booth to ask and talk about mental health related issues and how can they, as young people be able to help raise awareness.

We were also graced with the presence of distinguished psychology professors and counselors from the student affairs who also provided us with more information regarding possible collaboration, workshops and symposiums which would benefit the students.

All in all, we are very happy for the positive outcome of the event. The students as well as some of the staff from Assumption University of Thailand Bangna Campus welcome the team with warmth and although the students were busy with their exams, some of them came by to show their support.

The team had a wonderful experience reaching out to the public, providing information about the importance of mental health and by showing that as future counselors we are prepared to take part on the band of mental health professionals help stop stigma and assure that people with mental health condition will be provided with appropriate support and too live with dignity. Job well done team! your effort and service are so much appreciated as well as to our professors and adviser who gave their support to make this event possible. 

“Life is a kaleidoscope. Turn your head a different angle and see it a whole new way.”