3 Mistakes that Sabotage EPPP Success  

Prioritizing EPPP studying over vital health habits such as sleep can be too easy. How many nights have you stayed awake studying and, furthermore, went to bed immediately after an EPPP study session?

You might relate to the following scenario.

Joe is preparing for the EPPP. He works long hours at his internship and is often exhausted by the time he gets home. He is committed to passing the EPPP and studies when he can. Joe sometimes attempts to wake up a few hours early to sneak in a study session before going to his internship. Last night Joe studied in bed late into the night and went to sleep right after putting his study materials on the floor next to him. He snoozed his alarm and woke up just in time to be on schedule for his internship.

In this scenario, Joe’s retention of the EPPP material he studied, as well as his quality of sleep, will be negatively affected. He made three common mistakes.   Continue reading

Four Ways Mindfulness Can Help Regulate Your Emotion

Mindfulness—moment by moment non-judgmental awareness of the body and its sensations—has been associated with better emotional management and self-regulation. (For a definition of mindfulness, see our earlier article ‘The Three B’s of Mindfulness: Breath, Body and Brain‘.) Here is just a smattering of the emerging academic research on the relationship between mindfulness and emotional maturity:

  • Shauna L. Shapiro, Gary E. Schwartz, and Ginny Bonner, “Effects of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on Medical and Premedical Students,” Journal of Behavioral Medicine 21, no. 6 (December 1, 1998): 581–99, doi:10.1023/A:1018700829825.
  • Ortner, C. N., Kilner, S. J., & Zelazo, P. D. (2007). Mindfulness meditation and reduced emotional interference on a cognitive task. Motivation and Emotion, 31(4), 271–283.
  • Metz, S. M., Frank, J. L., Reibel, D., Cantrell, T., Sanders, R., & Broderick, P. C. (2013). The effectiveness of the learning to BREATHE program on adolescent emotion regulation. Research in Human Development, 10(3), 252–272.
  • Schonert-Reichl, K. A., Oberle, E., Lawlor, M. S., Abbott, D., Thomson, K., Oberlander, T. F., & Diamond, A. (2015). Enhancing cognitive and social–emotional development through a simple-to-administer mindfulness-based school program for elementary school children: A randomized controlled trial. Developmental Psychology, 51(1), 52-66.

But exactly how does mindfulness help with emotional regulation and maturity?

First of all, mindfulness can help us better to manage our emotional states simply by calming us down. Research shows that when mindfulness is practiced in the context of meditative breathing (i.e., spending time taking deep breaths, bringing your entire attention to the present-moment sensation of breathing), it helps to slow down the heart-rate and underscore feelings of safety, and thus to shift the brain away from the types of fight-flight-freeze responses that hijack the higher cognitive functions. (For more about this, see our earlier article “The Power of Positive Breathing.”) When we are calm, we are able to think clearer, and thus not be as subject to emotional impulses.

Secondly, the skills that mindfulness helps us to develop – skills like attentional control, self-awareness and meta-cognition – all involve the same mental muscles involved in emotional maturity and self-regulation.

A third way that mindfulness can help with emotional self-regulation is to increase the gap between stimulus and response. Research shows that emotions are often experienced first in the body before they are recognized by the conscious mind. (See our earlier post “The Emotional Body” for evidence of this.) For example, resentment may be felt in a tightening of the neck; fear may be felt in a speeding up of the heart-rate; anxiety may be experienced as an increase in the rhythm of one’s breathing. Because of this link between emotion and physiology, achieving moment-by-moment awareness of the body and its sensations (mindfulness) can give a person advanced warning about ways their emotions are being triggered. This advanced warning gives us time to engage in emotional self-monitoring and ask ourselves what the healthiest response actually is, instead of waiting until our emotions overwhelm us and we simply react. As Viktor Frankl observed in his classic Man’s Search for Meaning, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

A fourth way mindfulness can help regulate emotions was suggested by Dr. Ron Siegel’s in his video “The Science of Mindfulness” below. Dr. Siegel, who is Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School, explains that often our approach to emotional discomfort is to do things that make us feel happier, and thus to decrease the intensity of discomfort and pain. Mindfulness works the other way round, by increasing our ability to bear with discomfort, both on the physical and emotional level. When our capacity to bear with emotional discomfort is enlarged, we are less likely to react to our emotions or to let them control us.

But how does mindfulness help us bear with emotional discomfort? In the video below (from 32:00 to 39:40) Dr. Siegel shows that mindfulness enables us to develop the cognitive muscles by which we can observe, as if from the outside, the parts that make up emotion. Every emotion is basically a body sensation and a thought. By practicing brain-based mindfulness (moment-by-moment non-judgmental aware of our cognitions), we can notice our thoughts coming and passing, but we don’t have to get drawn up into the thought stream either by fighting them or personalizing them. Instead, we can keep our attention at the sensory level. By being attentive to what is happening at the sensory level, we can notice our body’s sensations, including the sensations created by emotions, but we can treat these sensations in the same way that someone who is meditating might treat a fly or an inch: by objectively observing them but not getting caught up. Thus, when we notice the physiological correlates of emotion as they are experienced in the body, instead of letting these conditions dictate our behavior (i.e., giving into the emotion), and instead of fighting against them (thinking, “Oh my gosh, why am I feeling this!”), we can simply observe and be present with the feeling.

Further Reading

EPPP Licensure Exam Prep: How to Fulfill Your Positive Expectations!

Beliefs and Results

“Expect good results, and you’ll get them. Believe in yourself, and you can achieve anything….”

Do these statements sound familiar? A common mantra of the self-help industry is that all it takes to accomplish something is believing you can.

But do expectations, in and of themselves, actually produce results? Does the mere fact you strongly desire to accomplish something ensure that you actually will? Think of a time in your life when you were excited to attend some enjoyable event, only to have everything go wrong there. It never even occurred to you that it would be anything but a great time, but for whatever reason it wasn’t.  However, you eventually excepted it and moved on.

Continue reading

How Procrastinators Function   

Tim Urban, author of the blog Wait But Why and self-proclaimed procrastinator, shares his insight on the brain function of procrastinators. Urban tells the tale of his 90-page senior thesis which he had a year to complete. Urban instead completed the thesis in 2 days by pulling two all-nighters.

How is it that he had the stamina and motivation to pull two all-nighters but did not have the motivation to use the year he was given? Writing a 90-page thesis over the course of one year seems much more pleasant than writing it in two days at the cost of sleep.

With gregarious disposition and insightful wit, Urban depicts the brain of a procrastinator.

See his full talk below.


Can You Pass the EPPP Without Grit?

Grit is the passion that drives us to press through our short-term goals, like passing the EPPP, so that we can achieve our long-term goals, like becoming a psychologist. It has been said that grit is all you need when it comes to accomplishment. Though John Wayne may disagree, when it comes to achieving goals, it takes more than just true grit.

Psychology Today’s Michelle McQuaid points out why grit isn’t everything.

She explains that

“without the strengths of curiosity, optimism, social intelligence and self-control grit can lead you in jobs you aren’t suited for, stuck on ideas that will never work and in relationships you should have let go of.”

Continue reading

The Dangers of Digital Addiction and Information Overload: How I Discovered that Silence is Good for my Brain

I still remember the night that convinced me I finally needed to join the twenty-first century.

I had just finished a long day helping as a judge for a debate tournament. By the time I finally headed home it was dark. Or at least, I thought I was headed home. However, the further I drove, the less I recognized of my surroundings. As the road progressed further and further up into the mountains, I remembered my young children waiting at a friends’ house for me to collect them. Finally, the road abruptly ended. Literally, it just ended. I had no choice but to turn around and start over.

At about midnight I finally pulled into the drive-way of my friends’ house to collect my tired children. I determined never to let myself get lost again: I would finally invest in a GPS.

Continue reading

Surviving EPPP Prep When You Don’t Have Time

With spring comes schedule-filling activities that can distract you from EPPP prep.

Perhaps you’re thinking of your next vacation or RSVPing to graduations and weddings – events that aren’t quite in full swing yet but will fill the calendar before you know it.

Here are two rules of thumb when it comes to surviving EPPP preparation with a crowded schedule. We’ve touched on these strategies before in posts more specific to holidays  and weddings. There are two main points I highlight here in regards to a generally crowded schedule. Continue reading

It Really is All About Attitude

Last year I received an invitation to speak at a conference for professionals in the caring professions. The conference was attended by doctors, nurses, counsellors, psychologists, psychiatrists, dentists, hospital and army chaplains, missionaries, marriage and family therapists, surgeons and students. The topic that the conference organizers had asked me to speak on was “Gratitude During Times of Suffering” and my marching orders were simple: explain how it’s possible to remain thankful in the midst of suffering.

Now I’ve never been particularly good at being thankful when things are going wrong. If I have trouble sleeping, I grumble the next day. If I don’t have enough money to buy something I want, I whine and complain to whoever will listen. If I have a physical injury, everyone in my circle of friends is sure to know about it. So expecting me to give a talk on how to be grateful during times of suffering is kind of like asking ask John Wayne to dance Swan Lake, or asking Justin Bieber to sing the part for Count Almaviva in The Marriage of Figaro. 

Continue reading

Use Online Study Tools to Achieve EPPP Success

Few would doubt that note taking with a pen and paper is less popular in this age of technology. Many students bring laptops to class and you are probably using online tools to study for your EPPP.

Are the trends of online learning and laptop note taking impairing our retention?

The Association for Psychological Science (APS) explored an experiment in Ink on Paper: Some Notes on Note Taking conducted by psychological scientists Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer, the former of Princeton and the latter of UCLA. The two psychological scientists wanted to know how note taking on a laptop affected cognitive processing and learning. Continue reading

Life After the EPPP: What Psychology Careers Are Available?

In our earlier post, ‘10 Steps for Becoming a Licensed Psychologist’, we looked at the steps involved in becoming a licensed psychologist.

In this post I want to address what happens on the other side of licensure. What are the practical benefits of passing your EPPP and becoming licensed? What type of career paths are open to licensed psychologist?

Sometimes people suppose that the only thing psychologists do is offer psychotherapy to clients. But a working as a psychotherapist is only one of a variety of psychology careers available.

Some psychologists pursue careers in academia, working as college professors or researchers. Others psychology careers can be found in industry, sport, entertainment or business. Many of these careers do not even require licensure, but simply a degree in psychology.

On their website, the American Psychological Association recognizes fifteen specialties in professional psychology. Let’s consider some of the most common.

Sports Psychologists

A sports psychologist  might explore how psychology affects sports strategy. He or she might also work with athletes on the mental and emotional aspects of training. Areas of interest to sports psychologist include the psychology of motivation, visualization, confidence, self-talk, mindfulness and relaxation.

All of the NFL teams have a sports psychologist on the payroll. Our earlier post ‘Develop a High Performance Mindset’ explored some of the insights of Michael Gervais, a psychologist who works for the Seattle Seahawks.

Industrial Psychologists

Industrial psychologists (also known as occupational or organizational psychologists) work in both white color and blue color professions helping businesses prevent and troubleshoot problems. This can include helping office workers get along better, finding ways to increase employee wellbeing, discovering ways to optimize work-force performance, analyzing the relationship between humans and machines in factory contexts, plus much more.


As already mentioned, some psychologists pursue careers as researchers. Psychology researchers usually work within a university or laboratory context, and could study such things as social psychology, neuropsychology, perceptual psychology, evolutionary psychology, marketing and countless other topics.

Other Jobs Psychologists Are Doing

Here are some others jobs that a degree in psychology can help prepare a person to perform:

  • Clinical psychologist
  • Counselling psychologist
  • Educational psychologist
  • Forensic psychologist
  • Further education teacher
  • Health psychologist
  • High intensity therapist
  • Occupational psychologist
  • Primary care graduate mental health worker
  • Psychological wellbeing practitioner
  • Sport and exercise psychologist
  • Jobs where your degree would be useful include:
  • Actuarial analyst
  • Advertising account planner
  • Advice worker
  • Careers adviser
  • Counsellor
  • Data analyst
  • Forensic accountant
  • Human resources officer
  • Market researcher
  • Physician associate
  • Play therapist
  • Psychotherapist

Within each of these psychology careers there are an almost endless amount of specialties. For example, a clinical psychologists might specialize in working with a certain age group, such as children teens or adults. Others might specialize in helping people who suffer from a particular disorder. A market researcher might specialize in food, or aroma, or clothing.

In addition to work as professional psychologist, a degree in psychology may also qualify a person to enter into other fields where a degree in psychology may be perceived as an asset. Many different jobs require someone who understands human behavior, emotion, and thought processes.