Friday, 30 March 2012

How to be a happy shopper – part 1

With the budget recently announced and spring fast approaching, along with that inherent urge to spring clean our lives, many of us would like to get on top of our spending. Below are some helpful hints on how to better spend your money and keep happy.

Small and often rather than large and seldom It’s true, you can have too much of a good thing. So, lots of small pleasures rather than fewer large ones give us more pleasure and in turn, make us happier. Think about it. Eating twice as much cake in one sitting might seem better, but it certainly doesn’t give us twice the pleasure. Also, savouring the small things makes us happier than expecting too much from life.

Avoid comparison shopping
You’d think that comparing products and services would be a good idea to ensure we get the best deal for our money. However, when comparing similar products we tend to perceive greater differences between them and believe the enjoyment we will derive from the faster, bigger, better product will be far greater than it actually is. So it seems making comparisons and agonising between models is not advisable as it can force us to spend more than we want or can afford yet make little difference to our happiness in the long run.

For more tips on how to better spend your money, look out for our next blog.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Raising a healthy, happy child – part 2

Following on from our previous blog on how to raise a healthy, happy child here are some further tips that may help.

Let it be – it is important to encourage children to explore their surroundings through the medium of play. Your child may seem as is if they are just going up the slide at the playground the wrong way but they are, in fact, developing important socialisation, thinking, and problem solving skills.

Observe – young children and babies aren’t able to communicate directly and we often have to interpret what they want or mean. Play affords children the opportunity to act out their emotions and by reflecting these as parents, our child is helped to understand their feelings.

Understand – there are stages in every child’s life such as 'the terrible twos' which can be particularly demanding. Although it may seem like they are purposely disrespecting us and trying to wind us up, we must understand they do not have the ability to reason as we do, and are simply exploring and learning about their world. Being aware of this age appropriate behaviour, makes it easier to deal with.

Explain – we are all too quick to say ‘because I said so’ when our child asks us why we did something. Explaining our actions, however, teaches our child about cause and effect and helps them make better decisions as adults. It also helps build language skills, in addition to trust and respect.

Here at First Psychology we offer family therapy and therapy for children and young people, as well as adults. If you would like to book an initial session with one of our experienced practitioners, please contact your local First Psychology Centre on:

Edinburgh: 0131-668-1440,
Glasgow: 0141-404-5411,
Borders: 01896-800-400,

Friday, 23 March 2012

Raising a healthy, happy child – part 1

We may not realise it but the way we parent our child can set the tone of our child’s future relationships. The parenting style we adopt nurtures our child’s temperament and it is our interaction with this temperament that largely determines our child’s relationships with their siblings, friends, partners and even employers.

Obviously, we want to be the best parent we can and connect with our children by spending as much quality time with them as possible. Yet the demands of modern life, such as work, make this increasingly difficult.

Here are some tips:

Tune in – from the moment we give birth, we have to figure out what our child wants and feels as they are unable to tell us themselves. Matching our parenting style to the needs and temperament of our child, in a collaborative rather than controlling way, can make us more in tune with them. For example, we understand what their babbled words mean and what makes them squeal with delight. By doing this, our child will feel like they are heard.

Make a fuss – showing our child affection such as hugs and kisses, as well as holding and rocking them, singing and talking, all strengthen the parent-child bond. Indeed, the more we nurture our children and care for them in early life, the more secure, independent, loved and trusting they will feel in later life.

Security is the key – this need for security is demonstrated clearly by your baby when they crawl away and then turn back to check that you’re still there. Children, of any age, need to feel safe and secure and they acquire this when they know that we’re always there for them and they can count on us.

Create routine – most people like to know what’s going to happen next and children are no exception. Making plans and filling our child in on them makes them feel included, respected, and more involved.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

The problem child

When a child is playing up, new research suggests that we should look to the parents for clues as to why.

According to a study of middle and high school students, conducted by the University of New Hampshire, controlling parents are more likely to raise disrespectful and delinquent children than those who gain their child’s respect and trust. This trust and obligation to do what they are told relies on whether the child considers their parent to be a legitimate authority figure which, in turn, is determined by the parenting style they adopt.

Authoritative parents who are demanding and controlling but warm and receptive to their childs’ wishes, as opposed to authoritarian parents who do not listen to these needs, are less likely to engage in delinquent behaviour. Authoritative parenting therefore appears to be the most effective approach as adolescents seem more willing to follow the rules and accept their parents' attempts to socialise them.

Even at an early age, it seems toddlers are more likely to act out and become easily upset if the parent angers easily and over reacts. Researchers at Oregon State University found that children who exhibited greater increases in negative emotionality also had the highest levels of problem behaviour, suggesting that negative emotion has its own development process which affects the child’s behaviour later on in life.

Parents of young children therefore, should set an example to their child by regulating their own reactions and emotions as this will help the child modify their own behaviour and impact on their child’s development.

If you or your child are experiencing problems and you would like to book an initial session with one of our experienced practitioners, please contact your local First Psychology Centre on:
Edinburgh: 0131-668-1440, 
Glasgow: 0141-404-5411,
Borders: 01896-800-400,

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Motherly love

As we celebrate Mother’s Day in the UK tomorrow (18 March), new research published in the Journal of Psychological Science, reveals the benefits of motherly love not only in childhood, but also in middle age.

Although children raised in lower socioeconomic families frequently have higher rates of chronic illness in adulthood than their same-age counterparts, it seems that nurturing mothers have a positive impact on their child’s physical health later in life.

Numerous studies have revealed money and access to health care play a very small role in overall health of offspring. However, parents' level of education is a much better indicator of their child’s physical and psychological health in middle age.

This longitudinal study found the stresses of childhood could leave a biological residue that showed up in midlife, but confirmed that adults who had nurturing mothers in childhood fared better in physical health in midlife. Surprisingly however, nurturing fathers did not contribute to better health which has been attributed to the generational differences of fathers reviewed in this study, who were perhaps less involved in their child’s upbringing.

Researchers suggest a combination of empathy, the teaching of coping strategies or support for enrichment may explain the ability of lower socioeconomic status children to escape these health vulnerabilities. They also believe that susceptible families should be taught parenting skills to not only show concern for their children’s welfare, but also demonstrate how to cope with stress and engage in healthy behaviours such as good diet and exercise.

First Psychology runs local counselling and psychology centres in the following locations:
Edinburgh: 0131-668-1440,
Glasgow: 0141-404-5411, 
Borders: 01896-800-400,

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Are men and women really that different?

It has often been said that men are from Mars and women are from Venus, but are we really that different?

According to researchers at a University in Turin, Italy who examined personality tests from 10,000 people, using methods which they believe to be more accurate than previous measures, there are indeed large differences in personality for men and women. Although researchers did not stipulate what these differences were, they tested participants using 15 personality scales which measured traits such as warmth, sensitivity, and perfectionism.

Aside from personality though, are there other ways in which we differ?

Indeed, women are reported to be at higher risk of developing dementia but men are more likely to develop mild memory loss than women, according to the journal Neurology. Interestingly though, researchers at the University of Montreal have found that if an experience was unpleasant or emotionally provocative a women’s memory of it is less likely to be as accurate as that of a man.

A study published in the Journal of Pain also found women are more likely to report more intense pain than men for virtually all disease categories, including migraine and sinusitis.

Furthermore, men are more affected by the presence of the opposite sex it seems. Researchers from Sheffield Hallam University and the University of Amsterdam and Oxford have suggested that the number of kind and selfless acts performed by men corresponded to the attractiveness of ladies nearby whereas the behaviour of women in the reversed scenario remained the same.

Contact us
Here at First Psychology we appreciate that everyone is an individual and we tailor our approach to meet your needs. If you would like to book an initial session with one of our male or female experienced practitioners, please contact your local First Psychology centre on: 

Edinburgh: 0131-668-1440,
Glasgow: 0141-404-5411, 

Friday, 9 March 2012

Mental Health and Men

Following on from our blog about women, it only seemed fair to give men their turn in the spotlight by focusing on how gender affects our desire to seek psychological help.

Recently, the media reported a story about a couple who had raised their child as ‘gender neutral’ for five years to enable his ‘real personality’ to shine through and prevent their child being influenced by society’s prejudices and preconceptions. Some would see this as an extreme measure, but do they have a point?

Since the 19th century, men have been pressured by the ‘boy code’. According to author William Pollack, this is the outdated assumptions, models, and rules that society has developed about boys and men. This concept of manliness affects how men perceive themselves, cope with challenges, and behave.

From a young age, boys are taught to fit into the male gender role constructed by society. They wear blue clothes, their parents often tend to them less and they are encouraged to be sporty and play rough and tumble.

As men, they're expected to be strong, aggressive, assertive, controlling, unfeeling and capable of handling problems on their own. This explains why men are far less likely than women to seek help for medical problems. It forces them to hide their true feelings for fear of social marginalisation. This in turn, can lead to feelings of loneliness, depression and in severe cases, suicide. Indeed, three quarters of suicides in the UK are committed by men.

It is therefore important we learn the ‘language’ of men and become aware of the potentially detrimental effects that society has on their behaviour. Everyone, regardless of gender, should be encouraged to share their feelings to receive feedback and support and human closeness. Doing so does not demonstrate human weakness, but human necessity.

Here at First Psychology we understand men may be different to women in what they want and need from therapy. If you would like to book an initial session with one of our experienced practitioners, male or female, please contact your local First Psychology centre on: 

Edinburgh: 0131-668-1440,
Glasgow: 0141-404-5411,

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Celebrating the achievements of women

On 8 March, thousands of events are being held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate their achievements as part of International Women’s Day.

Over the last millennia, there has been a significant change in behaviour and attitude towards women’s equality and emancipation in both women and society in general. There are more women in the boardroom, greater equal rights, and an increase of women as positive role models in every aspect of life. Yet, women are still not paid as much as men, are under-represented in business and politics, and their education and health, globally, is worse than that of men.

However, there have been great improvements. Way back when who would have thought we’d have female prime ministers or that girls would be accepted into university let alone that women would have a family and work and enjoy it.

Indeed, a recent study conducted by a female associate professor of women/gender studies at the University of Louisville found most employed mothers would work even if they didn't have to as they recognised the benefits they, and their children gained from employment. Most women regardless of their class, race/ethnicity, marital status or income level stated they would chose to work (at least part time) even if it wasn’t necessary. Both married and single mothers believed they gained self-confidence and more fulfilment from working than parenting alone, which is why they chose to go to work.

Most mothers who enjoyed their careers (including high-powered professionals) purposely sought out jobs in which employers did not demand they worked unreasonable hours so that they could remain connected to their children. Although some women in this study did express feelings of guilt about going to work, most felt that it made them more fulfilled people and, in turn, better mothers.

However, this study highlights there may still be some way to go before men and women are truly equal. Researchers found mothers still undertook about twice as much childcare and housework as their male partners.

First Psychology has counselling and psychology centres in:

Edinburgh: 0131-668-1440,
Glasgow: 0141-404-5411,
Aberdeen: 01224-452848,
Borders: 01896-800-400,

Friday, 2 March 2012

The stress factory

One of the biggest stresses of modern day life is work and identifying what causes your stress puts you in a better position to manage it more effectively.

Here are four common causes of stress in the workplace:

Job ambiguity – poorly defined jobs with no procedures in place and ambiguous goals can lead to stress as it leaves us unsure of what we’re supposed to do and why we’re doing it.

Favouritism and inequality – unfair treatment at work can be a major source of stress. Often promotion, raises and other perks, which should be given to recognise and reward good performance, are based on favouritism and seniority. This is demotivating and leaves us wondering why we bother.

Politics and power – some organisations are inherently stressful because in order to get ahead they expect us to play the game and many of us just don’t want to. These organisations are often run by political game players who overlook hard working employees for power hungry individuals, and exist because of the above.

Punitive and bullying managers – bullying in the workplace is a major stressor.

Managing stress in a healthy way involves changing the situation itself or the way you react to it. These changes known as the four A’s involve avoiding the stressful situation or altering it, adapting the way you think about it or just accepting it.

In extreme cases, and if finances permit, it may be possible to avoid the situation by changing jobs. If this is not feasible, it may be worthwhile talking to your boss or HR department to ask for appropriate training as well as a clearly outlined job description. Managers could help alleviate stress by conducting formal appraisals of job performance to reduce favouritism and workplace politics. Leadership with good communication, care for employees and clear goals, without punishment or bullying is also vital in making the organisation a great place to work.