Smucker, Mervin

Mervin Smucker is an internationally recognized psychologist renowned for his innovative training seminars and workshops on how to treat trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder with imagery rescripting.

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Mervin Smucker. Common cognitive distortions or errors that contribute to the onset of mood disorders (14. September 2017)

 

According to Beck’s Model of cognitive therapy, individuals are prone to mood disorders (e.g., anxiety, depression) that frequently stem from habitual errors in thinking and negatively-biased thought patterns that create and maintain their distressing affect. Typical cognitive distortions identified by Beck are as follows:

 

Dichotomous Thinking – seeing things in black or white categories with no middle ground (e.g., competent-incompetent, good-bad, loveable-unloveable).

 

Overgeneralization – seeing a single negative event as a never-ending pattern of failure or defeat and gneralizing this to other unrelated situations.

 

Selective Abstraction – focusing on a single negative detail and dwelling on it, while ignoring other more salient features of the situation.

 

Magnifying the negative and minimizing the positive – minimizing or discounting your  positive experiences and magnifying your negative experiences or shortcomings.

 

Arbitary Inference – seeing things as negative whether or not they are factual based:

 

 

n  Mind-Reading – e.g., assuming that someone is responding negatively to you without checking out your assumption

 

 

n  Fortune Telling Error – expecting things to turn out badly in the future without allowing for the possibility they may be neutral or positive

 

Personalization – relating negative events to onseself even when there is no logicl basis for such a connection.

 

Emotional reasoniong – assuming that negative feelings result from the fact that things are negative (e.g., assuming that if you feel bad, then the world or things must be really negative).

 

Mervin Smucker

 

Mervin Smucker. Technique for Responding Rationally to Upsetting, Negative Thoughts (18. August 2017)

 

Improving a person’s negative mood state is directly linked to correcting twisted, distorted, negatively-biased thoughts that dominate such moods. Learning to respond rationally to negative thoughts is thought to be key as one endeavors to become a happier and more contented person. The following cognitive technique is a frequently-used method of countering negative thinking (See Beck et. al., 1979):

 

  1. What is the evidence?

 

n  What evidence do I have to support my thoughts?

n  What evidence can I find to challenge them?

 

  1. What alternative views or interpretations might exist?

 

n  How might I view this situation if I were feeling more positive about myself?

n  How might someone else in my shoes view/respond to this situation?

 

  1. What is the effect of my interpretation?

 

n  Does it help me, or hinder me, from getting what I want? How?

n  What would be the effect of looking at things less negatively?

 

4.       Then check for possible thinking errors:

n  Am I engaging in all-or-nothing thinking?

n  Am I condemning myself as a person on the basis of a single event?

n  Am I exaggerating my weaknesses and minimizing my strengths?

n  Am I personalizing something which has little or nothing to do with me?

n  Am I expecting myself to be flawless or perfect?

n  Am I using a double standard? How would I view someone else in a similar situation?

n  Am I catastrophizing or overestimating the probabilitiy of disaster?

n  Am I exaggerating the importance of events?

n  Am I fretting about the way that I think things should be rather than accepting and dealing with things as they come?

n  Am I assuming that I can do nothing to effect or change my situation?

n  Am I making negative predictions about the future rather than planning or strategizing how I might experiment with it?

 

  1. What action can I take?

 

n  What can I do to influence or change my situation?

n  Am I overlooking possible solutions to problems or assuming things won’t work before I try them?

n  What can I do to test out the validity of my rational response(s)?
  

 

Dr. Mervin Smucker is an international trauma consultant and author of numerous articles and books on trauma and cognitive-behavioural therapy interventions.

 

Mervin Smucker. What are panic attacks? What causes them?

 

Panic attacks consist of sudden episodes of intense fear, apprehension, or impending doom that are associated with a wide range of distressing physical sensations.

 

Symptoms include:

 

        shortness of breath / feeling of being smothered

        heart palpitations / racing heart rate

        chest pain

        choking

        dizziness

        tingling in the hands and feet

        trembling, shaking

        sweating

        choking, nausea

        hot and cold flashes

        feelings of unreality

 

The unexpected and intense nature of these sensations often leads patients to think they are in danger of some physical or mental disaster, such as:

        fainting

        dying

        having a heart attack

        suffocating

        losing control

        having a nervous breakdown

        going crazy

        going blind

 

What Causes Panic Attacks?

Panic attacks result from a complex interaction of body processes, thoughts and emotions.

 

All human beings have a built-in alarm system (emergency response system), which equips us to cope rapidly with danger.  The alarm system enables us to carry out a “fight or flight” reaction (e.g., freezing to avoid detention by an enemy, taking rapid flight from a dangerous situation, fighting decisively against an enemy) all without rational planning or analysis.  Nature prompts us to pay attention to threat, where we automatically disrupt our usual activities until “all is clear.”

 

Mervin Smucker

Mervin Smucker (2015). Existential Frustration and Noögenic Neuroses in Logotherapy.


Frankl describes three general types of existential frustration: (1) Frustration with existence itself, (2) frustration with the meaning of human existence, (3) frustration with finding concrete meaning to one’s own personal existence.  Existential frustration, according to Frankl, can lead to noögenic neuroses (from the Greek noös, or mind) which have their origin in the meaning dimension of human existence. Noögenic neuroses as such are neither pathogenic nor pathological; they emerge from existential problems and frustrations rather than from conflicts between drives and instincts. In short, an individual’s concern or despair over the perceived worthlessness of his or her life is viewed by Frankl as existential distress rather than as a psychological disorder

 

Summarized from Frankl, Viktor (1984). Man’s Search for Meaning: An Introduction to Logotherapy.]


Mervin Smucker

Mervin Smucker (2013). Historical Roots of the Clinical Application of Imagery within a Therapeutic Context.

The application of imagery within a therapeutic context is rooted in the latter part of the 19th century in Europe, dating back to the work of Janet and Charcot at the Salpêtrière in Paris. Pierre Janet was the first to study dissociation and the psychological processes involved in transforming traumatic experiences into psychopathology, a work which he published in l’automatisme psychologique (1889). He went on to use imagery techniques to help traumatized patients activate and transform their upsetting images into coping images, a technique he referred to as substitution d’images (imagery substitution). Imagery techniques were later also employed by Freud, C.G. Jung and Binet to help patients decrease their emotional attachment to their traumas. Jung (1960), in particular, viewed mental imagery as a creative process of the psyche for attaining greater individual, interpersonal, and spiritual integration and coined the term active imagination to denote that images – when we focus on them – take on a symbolic life of their own and become enriched by details according to their own logic. Today, an increasing number of CBT and psychodynamic therapists employ imagery-focused interventions to alleviate depressive, anxious, and PTSD symptoms.

 

Dr. Mervin Smucker is an international trauma consultant and author of numerous articles and books on trauma and cognitive-behavioural therapy interventions.

 

Mervin Smucker

Fri

07

Aug

2015

A critique of the current psychotherapy outcome studies relating to the treatment of trauma and posttraumatic stress (Mervin Smucker 2015)

Significant advances have been made in the last 20 years in the assessment and treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  Trauma outcome studies have consistently found the most effective PTSD treatments to be cognitive and exposure-based therapies that focus on emotional processing of the trauma material.  Yet, in spite of this broad empirical support, CBT failures and high dropout rates continue to exist with this population. Recent estimates indicate that drop-out rates in CBT randomized clinical trials are as high as 43%, that up to 58% of trauma patients who complete CBT are still diagnosed with PTSD at post-treatment (Tarrier, 1999), and that only 28% of patients in “real world” CBT clinical practices are successful completers of exposure therapy (Zayfert, et. al., 2005).  A deficiency in the trauma literature has been a failure to: (1) systematically examine, understand, and explain CBT failures with PTSD, and (2) offer guidelines on how to proceed when the empirically-supported CBT interventions being applied are ineffective.  As such, practicing CBT clinicians have been little in the way of constructive guidelines on how to address PTSD treatment roadblocks and failures when they arise.

3 Comments

Tue

27

Jan

2015

Historical Development of Cognitive Therapy (Mervin Smucker 2015)

Cognitive therapy originally evolved from a series of clinical investigations of depression conducted by A.T. Beck in the 1950s and 1960s. Originally trained as a psychoanalyst, Beck attempted to scientifically validate the Freudian conept of depression as the need to suffer inverted hostility or anger turned inward. When a series of clinical studies failed to demonstrate this he concluded from his clinical data that depressed patients did not seek failure, but instead had difficulty recognizing success when it occurred and were preoccupied with their perceived negative personal attributes. The negative themes that emerged in their self-descriptions were often inaccurate and inappropriate to the situation and reflected numerous errors in thinking that were not random in nature, but tended to be predictable in that they reflected a negative bias of their views towards themselves, their world, and their future, which Beck ultimately referred to as the cognitive triad.
These findings led Beck to abandon the psychoanalytic theory of depression and to develop a reformulation of the psychopathology of depression and the other neurotic disorders.

Dr. Mervin Smucker is an international trauma consultant and author of numerous articles and books on trauma and cognitive-behavioural therapy interventions.

Mervin Smucker (2015)

0 Comments

Fri

19

Sep

2014

Therapy Outcome as a Function of Therapist-introjects and Introject Change (Mervin Smucker 2013)

According to psychodynamic theorists, people schematically internalize the treatment that they receive from early caregivers as introjects. The nature of such introjects is manifested in how individuals view and treat themselves today. Introjects are subject to further development and modification across the lifespan.

These theorists further emphasize how the introjects of psychotherapists can have a powerful impact on the outcome of therapy. Strupp & colleagues (Henry, Schacht, & Strupp, 1990) have found direct clinical evidence to indicate that the introjects internalized by therapists have a direct bearing on the ways in which they treat their clients as well as on treatment outcome itself. Specifically, those therapists whose introjects are self-accepting and self-nurturing are more likely to engage their clients acceptingly and supportively. By contrast, therapists with hostile introjects tend to be more critical, blaming and neglectful of their clients. Moreover, clients whose introjects revealed marked improvements at the end of therapy were found to have engaged in therapeutic interactions virtually devoid of „disaffiliative“ (negative, critical, hostile) therapist behaviours. By contrast, those clients showing no positive introject change had their negative introjects reinforced through their therapist’s subtly hostile blaming, controlling and ignoring behaviours.

Dr. Mervin Smucker is an international trauma consultant and author of numerous articles and books on trauma and cognitive-behavioural therapy interventions.

Wed

11

Sep

2013

Mervin Smucker - Depression constructs in adolescents

A 27-item self-report, depression questionnaire administered to a large nonclinical sample of adolescents yielded the following sixdepressive constructs (factors) related to the syndrome of children depression, as measured by the Children’s Depression Inventory and reported in Psychological Assessment (1998, 10, 156-165):

 

Dysphoria – characterized by items that loaded highly on sadness, crying spells, irritability, and loneliness (boys scored signficantly higher on this factor than girls).

 

Social Problems – reflects social difficulties with high loadings on social withdrawal and lack of friendships as well as school dislike and anhedonia (girls scored higher on this factor than boys).

 

Externalizing – is characterized by very high loadings on items relating to misbehavior, disobedience, and aggression (girls scored higher on this factor than boys).

 

Self-Deprecation – reflects a negative, deprecatory view of self with high loadings for items relating to low self-esteem, negative body image, self-hate, and feeling unloved.

 

School Problems – is characterized by two items with high loading on school work difficulty and drop in school performance.

 

Biological Dysregulation – included items that loads highly on sleep disturbance, loss of appetite, and fatigue (adolescent girls scored significantly higher on this factor than boys).

 

Mervin Smucker 2013

Mon

17

Jun

2013

Mervin Smucker - The "restricted" world of Amish children.

Amish children grow up in a restricted world, both geographically and intellectually, which is not conducive to personal achievement or the exploration of ideas. They are taught to be cooperative rather than competitive, peaceful rather than aggressive. Amish children are expected to work hard, and begin to help their parents with daily chores at a very young age. Above all, they must respect the authority of their parents. The following quotation from Lembright & Yamamoto (1965) summarizes the world in which Amish children live:

"The Amish community provides a highly homogeneous and sharply delineated world for children to live and grow in. Everything has its place and everybody knows precisely what he or she is expected to be. The world is more closed than open and there is not much to be confused about . . .  Development into the adult world is continuous and no isolated, artificial fantasy world called childhood is there" (p. 62).

 

Mervin Smucker (2012).

 

The Post-Imagery Rescripting Questionnaire-A by Mervin Smucker

The Post-Imagery Rescripting Questionnaire-A (PIQ-A) is designed to obtain a quick and ongoing cognitive assessment of the abuse victim’s schematic shift from maladaptive abuse-related beliefs to more adaptive abuse-related beliefs in the following areas:

  • from self-perceived powerlessness to self-empowerment vis-à-vis the perpetrator introject,
  • from self-directed anger to perpetrator-directed anger,
  • from self-directed blame to perpetrator-directed blame,
  • from self-hatred to self-acceptance,
  • from an inability to self-nurture to a significantly enhanced ability to self-nurture.

 

Smucker's PIQ-A is administered by the clinician immediately following the completion of an imagery session with all three IRRT phases. The clinician introduces the PIQ-A to the client as follows:

I would like to ask you a few questions about the imagery session we just completed. I will be asking you to rate your response to each item on a 0-100 scale. Do you need a few moments to get reoriented?