Do you often feel blue? Stressed? Upset? BYU’s Comprehensive Clinic is putting together four new groups to help students and the general public cope with their emotional struggles:
Divorce Adjustment Group
This group is a place for those who are divorced to process feelings concerning that event. This could include residual emotions about the divorce as well as feelings about dating and the possibility of remarriage. The group will be held weekly from 7-8 p.m. on Thursdays. Please call the Clinic (801-422-7759) to schedule an intake for this group.26
This group is for women with perfectionistic tendencies who are looking for a safe space to both share and process their experiences with others, and learn skills to help them withstand the pressures surrounding them to fit a “perfect ideal.” The group will be held weekly from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on Wednesdays. Please call the Clinic (801-422-7759) to schedule an intake for this group. As soon as there are enough participants, the group leaders will contact those interested in participating with the date of the first meeting.
Sexual Assault Group
This group is for women who have experienced sexual assault and related trauma. The group will provide an opportunity for them to process residual emotions from their assault experiences and seek healing in the company of fellow survivors. Two separate groups will meet weekly—one on Tuesdays and one on Thursdays, both at 7:00 p.m. Please call the Clinic (801-422-7759) to schedule an intake for this group.
Ethnic Minority Support Group
This process group is a unique opportunity for individuals from diverse ethnic, racial, and cultural backgrounds to come together to discuss what it means to be a person of color and a student in Utah Valley. Topics discussed may include coping with racism/colorism stress, dating and relationships, navigating micro-aggressions, representation in media, politics, etc., and more. This will be held Thursdays at 7:00 p.m.
“We’ve arrived; we’ve made it to the Promised Land!” said Director Dean Barley in reference to BYU’s newly remodeled Comprehensive Clinic. Opened in the 70’s, the clinic was recently updated to allow for increased patient comfort and more space for students to work. Furthermore, a new assistant director was hired, David Fawcett, who will help move the clinic technologically forward in the hopes that it will be cutting edge and better able to serve the community.
The much-needed remodel had been a goal for decades; limited space made it hard for students to work and sparse therapy rooms sometimes made the work difficult. Specific changes that were made include:
Accent walls, whiteboards, and TVs in rooms
Soundproof therapy rooms
A mothers’ lounge
Increased storage and moving shelves
A play therapy room with a plethora of toys, a castle, and a sand table
“It’s great, [I] love it,” a student working at the clinic said. “It’s good to be back, now I have a space.”
What is the Clinic?
The BYU Comprehensive Clinic offers counseling services to members of the public in the Utah County community. It is a research and training facility where counseling is provided by graduate student interns under the close supervision of experienced faculty who are licensed therapists. In addition to therapy, the clinic offers various psychological assessment. In 2016, 1,191 people were helped at the clinic; this was higher than average, as the clinic sees 900-1,100 people a year. More than 100 therapists are employed there and oversee a multitude of graduate students. They supervise their therapy and teach them the skills they need to be successful at their work.
LDS Family Services and the Communication Disorders Department are housed in the clinic. In addition, BYU recently acquired the old seminary building adjacent to the clinic; they will host psychology students there.
Future of the Clinic
“It’s a brave new frontier,” said Dr. Barley in reference to the future of the clinic. He and Dr. Fawcett will use technology to supplement their therapeutic process so as to improve it and the flow of the treatment. To him, the remodeled clinic is truly “a dream come true.”
“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found.” –Buddha
Post by Olivia Thompson, Psychology undergraduate student
The concept of self-compassion emerged primarily from Buddhist psychology and grew out of the more well-known work on mindfulness. Self-compassion entails having kindness and understanding toward ourselves and has numerous mental health benefits, emerging as a valuable construct in the positive psychology realm.
What is self-compassion the way it’s studied by psychologists? To understand self-compassion, one must first understand compassion. Compassion is the desire to ease suffering in another person or another living thing. Compassion does not keep its distance from suffering (like pity does), but approaches it, does not fear or resist it, and desires to alleviate it. The mandate we have to “bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light” (Mosiah 18:8) is a commandment to have compassion in this way. However, sometimes we are not quick to include ourselves in the reach of our compassion. With self-compassion, we give ourselves the loving kindness we might more instinctively give to a good friend. Self-compassion means to bear witness to our own pain and to respond with kindness and nonjudgmental understanding.
Researchers argue that self-compassion is actually one of the most natural things in the world because wanting to be free from suffering is something we strive for consistently. However, we also have the tendency to resist painful experiences and emotions as the fight-or-flight response is applied to emotional dangers. A commonly cited equation among self-compassion enthusiasts is that pain x resistance = suffering. Self-compassion is about turning toward our emotional pain and being open to it.
Self-compassion can also be understood in terms of its components: self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness. In 2003, Kristen Neff developed the most widely-used measure of self-compassion, the Self-Compassion Scale, which uses as its six subscales these components and their negative counterparts:
Self-kindness, the opposite of which is self-criticism, includes not judging or blaming ourselves when things go wrong, as well as being understanding toward personal shortcomings.
Common humanity, the opposite of which is isolation, entails viewing our difficulties as part of the human experience and our suffering as something all people experience.
Mindfulness, the opposite of which is over-identification with our thoughts, means holding emotions in perspective, or taking a balanced view of a situation.
There are also a few things that self-compassion is not.
First, self-compassion is not selfish. It doesn’t close us off from others but brings us closer to the rest of humanity. It is also not selfish because demeaning our suffering by comparing it to others’ can mean avoiding our own pain, which decreases our ability to care for others.
Second, self-compassion is not self-esteem. Self-esteem is contingent; it is based on self-evaluation and has comparison at its root, while self-compassion is not dependent on any quality in us or in others.
Lastly, self-compassion is not passiveness. The number one reason that people are self-critical is that they think they need it to motivate themselves, that too much self-kindness will lead to laziness. However, research has shown that the opposite is true.
Research on the topic of self-compassion has increased dramatically in recent years. Some topics currently being researched in relation to self-compassion are body image and eating disorders, caregiving and burnout, and health and athletics. Self-compassion has also been found to be successful in alleviating depression, with negative cognitive style, including rumination, shame, avoidance, self-criticism, and irrational beliefs, being the mediator in this relationship. Worry has also been found to at least partially mediate the relationship between self-compassion and anxiety.
Dr. Jared Warren, associate professor in the department of psychology at BYU, began teaching a class on positive psychology in the fall of 2014 and has recently put together a research team to study self-compassion and other positive psychology topics including growth habits, interconnectedness, flow experiences, and mindfulness. He and his research team are excited to include BYU in the circle of researchers exploring cutting-edge positive psychology topics.
To apply self-compassion in your own life, try to:
Notice the great compassion that others have for you, including parents, mentors, or deity figures. Learn how to treat yourself from the way that person treats you. Or, notice the compassion you easily have for a close friend or loved one. Harness and observe that feeling, and then replace that close friend with yourself.
Practice informal mindfulness in everyday life. Be a nonjudgmental observer of the present moment. Try to refrain from making quick value judgements. Periodically take a few conscious, deep breaths.
Learn to label your emotions – this helps them be seen as just emotions; it gives enough distance to not be drowning in the feeling.
Repeat self-compassion phrases to yourself throughout the day such as “May I be happy,” “May I live with ease,” “May I love myself just as I am,” or “May I be free from suffering.” Feel the warmth of loving intention.
Simply take a moment and be kind to yourself, however that looks for you! There’s no wrong way to be self-compassionate. You might say things like “Self, I’m so sorry you’re hurting. Sometimes it’s difficult to be a person, isn’t it? You’re dealing with some really hard stuff, and I validate that. But I also know your great capacity to overcome!”
If you have interests in formally developing self-compassion, you may want to look in to loving-kindness (or metta) meditation. Guided loving-kindness meditations can be found online, including at www.self-compassion.org.
Note: This is a guest post from Dr. Jonathan Sandberg, a professor in FHSS’sSchool of Family Life. Professor Sandberg is involved in the Marriage and Family Therapy Programs at BYU, a Certified Emotionally Focused Supervisor with the Ottawa Couple and Family Institute, and a licensed marriage and family therapist in Utah.
I once heard from a young person something very insightful, a comment like this: “I guess I am just in love with the feeling of being in love.” Yes, feeling deep love from and for another person is a sublime experience. But, it is about the deep, serene, and settled sense of safety and security that comes with mature romantic love I write about today. That type of safety within a couple relationship has a name; it is called “attachment security”. The concept of secure or insecure attachment actually has its roots in parent-child research. John Bowlby (1), and later others (2), proposed that when a child feels a parent is accessible (“I can find you”) and responsive (“you reach out to me and comfort me when I call”), a secure attachment can develop. Accessibility and responsiveness become key attachment behaviors.
Other researchers have since proposed that a similar process occurs within a romantic relationship (3), namely, when a partner can consistently reach out for and find love and reassurance from her/his spouse, a secure bond of attachment is created. Sue Johnson has described this bonding as engagement (4,5). Accessibility, responsiveness, and engagement are three key attachment behaviors, and when present in a relationship, couples are more likely to feel satisfied and stable in their relationship, as well as communicate more effectively (6).
How then can a couple promote these key attachment behaviors in their relationship. Permit me to suggest a few do’s and don’ts.
Attachment Do’s and Don’ts
To be more accessible,
answer her/his phone calls
schedule and follow through on plans to spend face-to-face time (not facetime) together
place work, church service, or children above the marriage
give too large a portion of your time to hobbies
To be more responsive,
put down or put away all electronic devices when together with your spouse—this appears to be the primary impediment to responsiveness in modern marriages
develop good listening skills (look at your partner when s/he is talking to you, validate, etc.)
ignore or dismiss your partner or her/his feelings
give the silent treatment
To be more engaged:
be warm and reassuring when your partner is in distress
express your commitment to and confidence in your spouse
criticize or give advice when your partner reaches out to you
take over her/his problem, which conveys a message that you think they are not competent
We can all take small steps to increase our accessibility and responsiveness to and engagement with our spouses. These steps can make a difference in our marriage. If you are interested in learning more about attachment and how to create security and safety in your relationship, I suggest you read one or both of Dr. Sue Johnson’s books which are listed below.
What are your thoughts on these do’s and don’ts? What has worked for you in creating attachment security?
1.Bowlby, J. (1969). Attachment and loss: Vol. 1. Attachment. New York, NY: Basic Books.
Ainsworth, M. D. S. (1973). The development of infant-mother attachment (pp. 1-94). In B. M. Caldwell & H. N. Ricciuti (eds.), Review of child development research (Vol. 3). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Feeney, J. A. (2008). Adult romantic attachment: Developments in the study of couple relationships (pp. 456-481). In J. Cassidy & P. R. Shaver (eds.), Handbook of Attachment: Theory, research, and clinical applications. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
Johnson, Susan. (2008). Hold Me Tight. Little Brown, NY.
Johnson, Susan. (2013). Love Sense. Little Brown, NY.
Sandberg, J. G., Busby, D. M., Johnson, S. M., & Yoshida, K. (2012). The brief accessibility, responsiveness, and engagement (BARE) scale: A tool for measuring attachment behavior in couple relationships. Family Process, 51(4), 512-526.