Random Act of Kindness at Queen’s


Random Act of Kindness at Queen's

I found this note from a fellow student in the girls bathroom at Queen’s University. This makes me realize that many people around me can be feeling lonely and out of place without being obvious about his/her emotions. Sometimes emotions and mental health can impact an individual, but he or she does not know what to do or how to get help. It is still hard for individual’s to admit if they have a mental condition or problem, especially with the consistent stigmas so prevalent in mental health.

What makes me upset is that this individual felt the need to reach for help through a post-it note in the bathroom. We need to help make our university environment more open to communication regarding mental health. The lovely individual who left this note in response shows that there are people out there in our own community that DO understand and DO want to provide support. We all need to take a stand and perform random acts of kindness like this. Perhaps the girl who wrote a response helped put a smile on the girl’s face who was seeking for help. At least now she knows she is not alone, whatever her condition or mental state.


Rethinking our Senses: The Emotichair

For my emerging technology project in OT 842, I discuss an emerging technology that allows individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing (HOH) to experience sound as a vibration through the skin.

Ryerson University have completed a research initiative exploring ways of making sound and music more accessible to all people, regardless of hearing ability.

When individuals who are deaf or HOH want to listen to music, they “feel” vibrations. They do this by placing their hands on the speakers or a musical instrument and allowing the vibrations to move through their body. However, many of the frequencies and details of the music are masked, as often the lower frequency vibrations dominate the higher frequency vibrations. Because of this, the deaf or HOH population do not get to experience the intricacies and details of the musical vibrations.

As a response, researchers at Ryerson have created the emoti-chair which allows the user to  feel all the different frequencies and vibrations of the song. This is an attempt to turn our body into a hearing organ.

Take a look at my handout for further detail and possible application of The Emotichair to OT practice




Lab 8: Emotional Regulation and Sensory Skills


This weeks lab we have different stations with different types of sensory stimulation. Our sensory modalities include five senses: vision, hearing, touch, taste and smell. This lab included all five. Examples of touch stimulation in lab included a head massager, play dough, stress ball; sound stimulation included instruments; smell stimulation included peppermint perfume, rose perfume, vanilla perfume; and taste stimulation included pretzels as well as sour and sweet candies.

Sensory Skills (Brown & Stoffel, 2011)
Sensory integration is the processes involved in organizing multiple sensations from the environment. Some individuals may be hyperresponsive or hyporesponsive that their conditions interfere with daily life. Conditions with sensory processing disorders in children include attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorder and learning disabilities.

During lab we were provided worksheets that discussed how sensory modalities can act calming or alerting. Take a look at the sheets below.

(Edgelow, 2013) – Taken from Lab 8.


(Edgelow, 2013) – Taken from lab 8

We live with different emotions everyday and sometimes they can interfere with our performance in day to day activities. However, for some people are not able to manage their emotional states which is when emotional dysregulation can become a problem. This condition can become draining and exhausting for the individual as well as for those involved in the individual’s life.

Brown and Stoffel (2011) define emotion dysregulation as emotional responses that are not adaptive to a particular situation…and involves an emotional experience that interferes with goal oriented activity. In addition, these individuals may experience impairment in modulation of emotions and intense feelings remain for a longer than usual period of time (Brown & Stoffel, 2011). Conditions that may be common with emotional dysregulation include borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder, disruptive behaviour disorder or those with substance abuse (Brown & Stoffel, 2011).

What can an OT do? (Brown & Stoffel, 2011)
Dialectic Behaviour Therapy (cognitive behavioural treatment which combines psychotherapy with psychosocial skills training). Note that psychotherapy performed by someone trained in another disciplined unless the OT has specialized in psychotherapy.
 Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
– Recommend:
 Anger management programs: anger is one of the most common and problematic disturbances associated with emotional dysregulation

REST program for infant irritability: for infants, lack of response to soothing and difficulty modulating crying (3 or more hours a day, 3 or more days a week for at least 3 weeks) suggest emotional dysregulation. The program would target both the parent and infant and REST interventions include regulation (protection from overstimulation), entertainment, structure and repetition and touch. The parent is also provided with support and empathy.


Brown, C. and Stoffel, V. (2011). Occupational therapy in mental health: a vision for
participation. Philadelphia: FA Davis Company. Chapters 20 and 24.

Edgelow, M. (2013, May). Lab 8- Emotion regulation & Sensory Skills. OT 845 psychoemotional determinants of occupation. Lecture conducted from Queen’s University, Kingston, ON.

Family Psychoeducation


Family Psychoeducation (FPE), an evidence-based practice, gives consumers and families information about mental illnesses, helps them build social supports, and enhances problem-solving, communication, and coping skills.
This film gives viewers basic information about the Family Psychoeducation (FPE) program, including the following:
* Practice principles;
* Practice philosophy and values;
* Basic rationale for services; and
* How the evidence-based practice has helped consumers and families.

Psychoeducation Articles



Bäuml, J., Froböse, T. & Pitschel-Walz, G. (2006). Psychoeducation: A basic psychotherapeutic intervention for patients with schizophrenia and their families. 32(1), 1-26. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2683741/

This article conducted a randomized multicenter study based in Munich regarding psychoeducation for families and the client. They indicate that psychoeducation should aim to allow patients and their relatives to become empowered to understand and accept the illness and cope with it in a successful manner. The results of their study showed that within a 2-year period psychoeducation programs saw a significant reduction in rehospitalization rates from 58% to 41% and also a shortening of intermittent days spent in hospital from 78 to 39 days. They conclude that psychoeducation should be integrated into mental health programs and made available to all patients suffering from a schizophrenic disorder and their families.

Rene, P. (2002). Teaching approaches and occupational therapy psychoeducation. (17 ed., Vol. 3, pp. 81-95). London: Routledge. Retrieved from http://ot.creighton.edu/community/Occupational_Justice/Padilla 2002 Teaching Approaches and Occupational Therapy Psychoeducation.pdf

This article discusses OT intervention and psychoeducation. It emphasizes three different ways of thinking about teaching which can result in three different objectives. Each has benefits and detriments in its method depending on the circumstance. Below I discuss two approaches I find could be helpful in my future OT practice.

1) Executive approach emphasizes the transmission of information. In this approach the OT is the expert and has the power to decide what information the client needs to know and how they will learn the information.

2) Therapist approach emphasizes the search for personal meaning. This approach emphasizes client agency and client centeredness, which is consistent with OT practice values. This approach is a process of guiding where the client is the expert.

Lab 7: Psychoeducation


In today’s lab we learned about psychoeducation. Psychoeducation is education provided to individuals who live with a psychological disturbance. Education can also be provided to family members and friends in order to help them understand and learn to live with or care for an individual experiencing mental health issues. It is important to consider the family when talking about mental health, as the family is often heavily impacted. The family unit can be impacted emotionally and if they do not find proper ways to cope, they can feel isolated, at a loss and even experience caregiver burnout.
Lab Activity:
In class we were handed fictitious family member names associated with individuals presented on video, who are living with different mental health disturbances. I was a single mother, whose son was living with schizophrenia. Two students in our group acted as OTs trained in psychoeducation and facilitated a discussion with the ‘families’. This simulation was effective as we were able to place ourselves in the shoes of family members who care for and want to support their loved ones with a mental illness. During a therapeutic session like this, the family members are able to provide empathy and also provide support for other family members. In addition, other people in the meeting can share knowledge and ideas regarding how they cope as a family and strategies they use to open up lines of communication with their loved ones.


(Chen & Krupa, 2013)


(Chen & Krupa, 2013)


(Chen & Krupa, 2013)


Chen, S. & Krupa, T. (2013, May). Psychoeducation. OT 845 psychoemotional
determinants of occupation. Lecture conducted from Queen’s University,
Kingston, ON.

Power of our brain in positive- Cognitive re-wiring for wellbeing


Cognitive Behavioural Modification can be used with anyone for changing thought processes, which can impact our mood/affect and happiness. Not only is this information relevant for the mental health population, but it is just as important for the general public to manage daily emotions and wellbeing.

Shawn Achor, a psychologist who specializes in positive psychology, makes a case for cognitive behavioural modification. Throughout this talk he highlights the power of positive thinking and how our brain functions more productively. He indicates that when studying general student mental health in Harvard, the school focused only on the negative (prevalence of depression, eating disorders etc) versus focusing on the positive- Achor argues that this is not an effective as a tool as, “the absence of a disease does not mean health”. From research what they have discovered is that the brain functioning in positive performs significantly better than when it is functioning in negative, neutral or stressed. Our brain in positive increases our Intelligence, creativity and energy levels. In addition, our brain at positive is 31% more productive, 37% better at sales and doctors are faster and accurate in making diagnosis than when  the human brain is functioning at negative neutral or stressed.

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That Achor and his studies have discovered is that we can rewire and train the brain to be more positive and optimistic with only 2 minutes spans in 21 days in row.  Techniques for optimism and positive cognitive modification are listed below:

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