Monday, May 12, 2014

Mark Allison MFT Video introduction

A video introduction to psychotherapy with Mark Allison

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

How To Fight Fairly

LA Couples Therapy Presents a workshop on conflict resolution skills for couples.

The "How to Fight Fairly" workshop will teach you a deeper level of understanding about how fights happen,
the tools to communicate fairly and effectively,
and how to come out of your fight with a stronger understanding of each other.
To find out more click on LA Couples Link below.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

How Do People Change

Mark Allison discusses how people make lasting changes in their lives.  A short discussion about  Interpersonal neurobiology approach to change. 

How Do People Change

Mark Allison -

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Five Techniques for Avoiding Short-Sighted Decision-Making

Posted on by Mark Allison

Five Techniques for Avoiding Short-Sighted Decision-Making

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How to make decisions that are in your long-term interests without succumbing to short-term temptation.
We all have two people inside us. One is a party animal. He wants to get as much pleasure as he can right now. He wants to eat, drink, have sex and generally be merry.
The other is the boring guy. The kind who saves for a rainy day, eats healthily, never drinks too much, does the ‘right thing’ and probably irons his underpants as well.
We’ll call the first guy ‘Want’ and the second guy ‘Should’. The mental battle between Want and Should has been going on since most of us can remember. Maybe your Should guy usually wins the battle, or maybe your Want guy still runs amok every now and then.
These five techniques give you more ammunition in the battle between Want and Should, all based on solid psychological research (from Milkman et al., 2008):

1. Make the choice in advance

One of the best ways to fox the Want guy is to make the decision in advance. When we make decisions in advance it’s Should that’s in charge. Whatever area of life, whether it’s financial, dietary, work or any other, if you make the decision in advance, you’re likely to cut down on detrimental outcomes.

2. Compare similar options

Studies find that when people choose things without comparing the options their Want guy easily gets out of control. Without comparisons it’s easier for the Want guy to justify the bad decision. By comparing options, though, research finds that people are better able to make the choice that is in their long-term interests.

3. Avoid decisions under pressure

Spur-of-the-moment decisions are what the Want guy loves. When we make decisions under pressure, our basic desires are in charge. Try to avoid making decisions under pressure so that you can consider what you should do. When we give ourselves time to think, we’re much more likely to reach the right decision.

4. Make one-shot decisions

All sorts of weird things start happening when we imagine the choice we are making right now as one in a series. Often not good things. You see the Want guy is clever. He knows we love to lie to ourselves to get what we want. We tell ourselves things like: “I’ll have that cake now, then I’ll eat healthily for the rest of the week”.
No. No ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ and no tortuous logic to get what we want. Shut the Want guy down by making one-shot decisions. Am I going to be good or bad, right here, right now?

5. Use commitment devices

We can stop ourselves acting on impulse by committing ourselves to a course of action that is in our long-term interests. Commitment devices allow us to take the choice away from the Want guy.
Here are some methods people use to pre-commit to long-term interests:
  • Only buy ‘bad’ foods in small packet.
  • Sign up to the gym for a whole year.
  • Put money into a piggy bank that has to be smashed to get the money out. Grown-up equivalents include investment vehicles that lock money away.
Commitment devices are best when they are tailored to your own psychological preferences and circumstances. For example, if you’re well-off then a year’s gym membership might not be enough commitment to make you exercise. Or, if you don’t care about eating six small packets of a ‘bad’ food, one after the other, then this technique won’t work either.
You’ll have to discover what type of commitment device works for you. Whatever it is, make sure it’s solid or the Want guy will come and get you!
Image credit: Willem van de Kerkhof

Monday, May 23, 2011

10 Psychological Effects of Nonsexual Touch

10 Psychological Effects of Nonsexual Touch

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Psychological research on how a simple (nonsexual) touch can increase compliance, helping behaviour, attraction, and signal power.
To get around in the world, we mainly rely on our eyes and ears. Touch is a sense that's often forgotten.
But touch is also vital in the way we understand and experience the world. Even the lightest touch on the upper arm can influence the way we think. To prove it, here are 10 psychological effects which show just how powerful nonsexual touch can be.

1. Touch for money

A well-timed touch can encourage other people to return a lost item. In one experiment, users of a phone booth who were touched were more likely to return a lost dime to an experimenter (Kleinke, 1977). The action was no more than a light touch on the arm.
People will do more than that though; people will give a bigger tip to a waitress who has touched them (Crusco & Wetzel, 1984).
(Stop giggling at the back there!)

2. Touch for help

People are also more likely to provide help when touched. In one study, strangers who were touched lightly on the arm were more likely to help an experimenter pick up things they had dropped (Gueguen, 2003). The percentage of people who helped went up from 63% to 90%.

3. Touch for compliance

The power of a light touch on the upper arm often extends more broadly to compliance.
In a study by Willis and Hamm (1980), participants were asked to sign a petition. While 55% of those not touched agreed to sign it, this went up to 81% of those participants touched once on the upper arm. A second study asked people to fill in a questionnaire. The same touch increased compliance from 40% to 70%.

4. Touch twice for more compliance

And you can increase compliance with a second light touch on the arm.
Vaidis and Halimi-Falkowicz (2008) tried this out when asking people in the street to complete a questionnaire. Those touched twice were more likely to complete the questionnaire than those touched once. The effects were strongest when men were touched by a female surveyor.

5. Or, touch for a fight!

However, the acceptability of touch, especially between men, depends a lot on culture.
When Dolinski (2010) carried out a compliance experiment in Poland, he got quite different results for men and women. In Poland men asked to do the experimenter a favour reacted badly to a light touch on the arm. This seemed to be related to higher levels of homophobia. Women, however, still reacted positively to touch.

6. Touch to sell your car

Unlike Poland, France has a contact culture and touching is acceptable between two men. So French researchers Erceau and Gueguen (2007) approached random men at a second-hand car market. Half were touched lightly on the arm for 1 second, the other half weren't.
Afterwards those who had been touched rated the seller as more sincere, friendly, honest, agreeable and kind. Not bad for a 1-second touch. We can safely assume the results would have been quite different in Poland!

7. Touch for a date

You won't be surprised to hear that men show more interest in a woman who has lightly touched them. But here's the research anyway: Gueguen (2010) found men easily misinterpreted a light nonsexual touch on the arm as a show of sexual interest.
Perhaps more surprisingly women also responded well to a light touch on the arm when being asked for their phone number by a man in the street (Gueguen, 2007). This may be because women associated a light 1 or 2-second touch with greater dominance. (Bear in mind, though, that this research was in France again!)

8. Touch for power

Touch communicates something vital about power relationships. Henley (1973) observed people in a major city as they went about their daily business. The people who tended to touch others (versus those being touched) were usually higher status. Generally we regard people who touch others as having more power in society (Summerhayes & Suchner, 1978).

9. Touch to communicate

Touch comes in many different forms and can communicate a variety of different emotions. Just how much can be communicated through touch alone is demonstrated by one remarkable study by Hertenstein et al. (2006).
Using only a touch on the forearm, participants in this study tried to communicate 12 separate emotions to another person. The receiver, despite not being able to see the toucher, or the touch itself, were pretty accurate for anger, fear, disgust, love, gratitude and sympathy. Accuracy ranged from 48% to 83%.
To put it in context, that is as good as we can do when we can see someone's face.

10. Massage for maths

So, if you can do all that with a touch, imagine what you could do with a massage!
Well, one study has found that it can boost your maths skills (Field, 1996). Compared with a control group, participants who received massages twice a week for 5 weeks were not only more relaxed but also did better on a maths test. Once again, witness the incredible power of touch.

Boring disclaimer

All of these studies rely on the touch being appropriate. Being touched can have quite different meanings depending on situation, culture and gender. Generally the touch referred to is a light touch on the upper arm—the safest place to touch someone you don't know.
Also, research has identified a small proportion of people—both men and women—who don't like to be touched at all during everyday social interactions. These people are not likely to respond positively in any of these situations.
Image credit: Julian Coutinho