Mental Notes

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Cold days, warm memories

Cold days, warm memories

Reflecting back to the Camp War Eagle Parent runs this past summer. Pease join us next year — the run starts at 6:00 am outside of the Auburn University Student Center in front of Starbucks.

For the past 19 years, Dr. Doug Hankes has led a three-mile running tour of campus with other Auburn University faculty and staff members during each of the Camp War Eagle sessions. Find more information here and join us next summer.

Finals Week – SCS and Stress Relief in the RBD

Finals Week – SCS and Stress Relief in the RBD

Finals week: running on no sleep, drinking what seemed like gallons of coffee, and basically living at RBD library. Recall the stress of taking up to six exams in less than a week? Not so fun. If only you had some brain food, a chance to pet your worries away with Dr. Moose and create a custom-made stress ball at your new home away from home for the week. That would be nice, huh? Well, it is current Auburn University students’ reality… at least for the day.

SCS stress event at the RDB library. Students talk with Dr. Moose.
For the past 6 years, Student Counseling Services (SCS) and Health Promotion and Wellness Services, in collaboration with the RBD library, have offered a final exams week stress reduction event. Students could come by and grab a free snack, make their own stress ball, create animal balloons, play games, chat with a counselor and visit with Dr. Moose.

Stress will eventually pass and there are ways to decrease its impact like
  • journaling stressful thoughts,
  • deep breathing,
  • visualization, and
  • seeking support from others

according to Dr. Brandy Smith, Staff Psychologist at SCS.

For many, this is the busiest time of year with classroom deadlines, gift shopping and final exams. So take some time to relax and reflect on what’s most important in your life, the work will get done – it always does.

SCS Fall stress event at the RDB library

What are your most effective relaxation strategies? What helped you survive final exams? Share them! Want to see and experience it in person? Come by RBD during final exams week Fall 2016.

Thanks to our partners and sponsors: Ralph Draughon Library (RBD), Tigertown Kroger, Caribou Coffee and Panera Bread.

Emotional Rescue

Emotional Rescue

Auburn Magazine: Emotional Rescue, winter issue
Auburn Magazine
featured Auburn University’s Student Counseling Services and Canine Performance Sciences with Dr. Moose in the nationally award winning (Gold Award, CASE, 2016) winter issue. Creative director Shannon Bryant-Hankes, story written by Alec Harvey and photography by Jeff Etheridge. Click here to read the magazine online.

Goal Orientations

Goal Orientations

In 1984, John Nicholls, published a seminal work that would go on to be frequently cited by researchers in sport, educational, and organizational psychology (His work moved forward after his death through the efforts of his student, Joan Duda).  The premise is neatly packaged, and the accessibility in understanding his theory of achievement motivation has made the study of goal orientations a burgeoning enterprise in the classroom, boardroom, and on the athletic field/arena floor.   Goal orientations are part of an individual personal philosophy regarding the approach or avoidance of certain tasks based on the value of either self-improvement or the attainment of outcomes.  Here is a description of the two types, task and ego.Task/Mastery Orientation

  • focus on self-improvement
  • success is based on that type of improvement
  • learning is more important than the outcomes of the learning
  • Curious about tasks, desire to ‘get tasks done right’
  • Will often take on moderately difficult tasks

Ego/Outcome Orientation

  • focus on proving ability to others, rather than to the self
  • success is based on outcome attainment (high grades/rankings vs others)
  • outcomes matter more than learning the material (find the easy way to get the outcome)
  • Not curious about tasks, desire to ‘get the grade’ regardless of how well the task is done
  • Will often take on easy tasks to prove mastery

So which orientation is best for academic performance enhancement?  If you perceive your ability in classes to be high, use a combination of both.  That is, focus on mastery each task while using motivators such as grades to provide extra motivation.  However, if you receive your ability in classes to be low, focus on a task orientation to slowly build your confidence (because outcomes can often be out of your control).  Research has shown that people are more likely to believe themselves to be more competent in their endeavors, have higher self-esteem, enjoy their endeavors more, and persist longer in those endeavors when they have a task orientation (Atkins, Johnson, Force, & Petrie, 2015).  Thus, focus on the task orientation, and once you feel good about your performance in your classes, go for high outcomes!

Here’s a short article with more information about goal orientations:

http://www.isetl.org/ijtlhe/pdf/IJTLHE11.pdf

Until the next entry, here’s to reaching your PEAK!

We have LIFTOFF

We have LIFTOFF

Auburn Student Counseling Services (SCS) is proud to debut its newest endeavor to better serve Auburn University students!  We are unveiling our PEAK clinic, which stands for Performance Enhancement in Academics and Knowledge (PEAK).  The main mission of PEAK is to help students perform at their–well, peak–by providing performance enhancement skills that are typically reserved for performers in elite endeavors, such as athletics, business management, and the performing arts.  Skill-building in areas such as emotional management, attentional focus, goal-setting, mental imagery, relaxation skills, mental rehearsal, and pre-performance routine planning are often used by elite performers to help them gain the mental toughness necessary to perform at a high level.  Similar performance pressures exist for students, so PEAK is here to provide the student community resources to help them improve academic performance.

At this time, there are two main services provided by PEAK:

  1. Executive functions screening: If you suspect that you may have a condition that negatively affects your academic performance, including ADHD, you could participate in a ~2 hour screening program to determine next steps to pursue a diagnosis.  You have to become a client of SCS to participate and it costs $200.  For more information, contact SCS at 334-844-5123.
  2. Brown-bag workshop series: Learn mental toughness skills during a 1 hour drop-in workshop every Thursday at noon, starting Feb 5th!  You do not have to be a client of SCS and meetings are held in the Student Center, room 2109.  Bring your lunch for a nice place to sit during busy Student Center hours!

Bookmark this blog page, because I will be updating the blog with various tips from “people in the know” about performance psychology.  Use this information to reach your PEAK!

Getting the Most out of Counseling

Getting the Most out of Counseling

A common misconception about counseling is that its success depends only on the therapist’s skills, knowledge, and expertise. While this is important, other aspects of the therapy experience and relationship are equally, and often more, important. As a client, there are things you can do to help make your counseling process a positive and productive one. The following tips can give you some ideas about how to get the most out of your counseling experience.

  • Be an informed consumer: Whether counseling is new to you or you’ve been involved for a while, you’ll likely have questions about the process and how it works. You may wonder about your counselor’s background or style as a therapist or why they’ve chosen a specific type of treatment for you. Don’t hesitate to ask these questions to your therapist. Your therapist wants to help you learn about the counseling process, have realistic expectations for it, and understand your role within it. No question is too simple.
  • Keep the work going outside of session: Although the time you spend in session with your therapist is important, it’s only one part of the change process. You spend much more time outside of therapy than you do with your therapist, and it’s important that changes you make generalize to the rest of your life. Your counselor may suggest things to do between meetings (e.g., engaging in self-care, tracking your emotions, keeping a journal), and doing this “homework” can help you maximize the benefits you receive in therapy.
  • Be active and engaged: Therapy works best when it is a collaborative effort between you and your therapist. Your counselor brings to the table knowledge and experience gained through years of training, but you’re still the expert on your own life. You know best about how a certain issue is affecting you, and this knowledge can be an incredible asset for therapy. Coming to session with ideas about specific problems that you’d like to discuss can help your therapist have a better idea of how to help you.
  • Remember that change is good, and it’s also a process: The problems that brought you to counseling likely developed over an extended period of time, maybe throughout your entire life. Because of this, change doesn’t happen overnight. Be patient and compassionate with yourself as you work through your concerns, and know that there may be ups and downs along the way. Every step that you make toward change is a positive one.
Final Exams? No Stress, No Sweat

Final Exams? No Stress, No Sweat

Finals week: running on no sleep, drinking what seemed like gallons of coffee, and basically living at RBD library. Recall the stress of taking up to six exams in less than a week? Not so fun. If only you had a live-in masseuse at your new home away from home for the week. That would be nice, huh? Well it is current Auburn University students’ reality… at least for the day.

For the past three years, Student Counseling Services (SCS) and Health Promotion and Wellness Services have offered a final exams week stress reduction event at the library where students could come by and grab a free snack, make their own stress ball, create animal balloons, play games, chat with a counselor and get a free massage.

Stress will eventually pass and there are ways to decrease its impact like
  • journaling stressful thoughts,
  • deep breathing,
  • visualization, and
  • seeking support from others

according to Dr. Brandy Smith, Staff Psychologist at SCS.

For many, this is the busiest time of year with classroom deadlines, gift shopping, and final exams. So take some time to relax and reflect on what’s most important in your life, the work will get done – it always does.

What are your most effective relaxation strategies? What helped you survive final exams? Share them! Want to see and experience it in person? Come by RBD during final exams week Spring 2103 but don’t fight with the students over who gets the massages.

Academic performance

Academic performance

Academic Performance Enhancement and Support Group is a six-week group meeting during which students will learn mental skills that will help them manage the pressures that come with performing in their classes at a high level. Learn how to be mentally tough by addressing:

  • Commitment/Motivation
  • Emotional Control
  • Focused Attention
  • Use of Imagery and Relaxation
Emotional Transition to College

Emotional Transition to College

What sort of transitions should I expect?
First of all, welcome to the Auburn family! For many students, the transition to college is also the transition of being on one’s own. This transition can be scary, but also very exciting. At Student Counseling Services, we are here to help you manage the transitions so that you can make the most out of this exciting time!