Online Dating: Blessing or Curse?

me4by Katie ten Hagen

Let’s talk about dating. And by dating, I mean: online dating.

Online dating is both loved and reviled. Sites like Tinder and OKCupid make meeting new people easier than ever. But sifting through thousands of matches, starting and abandoning conversations like half-written novels, and repeatedly ditching bad first dates, can be draining.  Many yearn for a return to “simpler” days, and want to meet someone the “old fashioned way,” no matter how nostalgia-based and romanticized this yearning may be.

But still, these sites are still thriving. Those who are exhausted from the search for love keep going back, time and time again. What makes us do this? Why do we put ourselves through the heartbreak and stress again and again?

heart-1990963_1920There’s no simple answer other than that this is how the world is evolving. We shop for everything on the internet, from food to clothes to things to do. So why not love as well?  There is undeniable appeal to being able to “preview” a person before really trying them out. Why waste a night on a bad date if you can establish from a profile or a few sentences of conversation that there’s no possibility? Even sites like Tinder, where a match is based simply on mutual physical appeal, allow for quick weeding-out based on preliminary conversation.

Some may claim online dating is just a game, or a cure for boredom. People may join simply to peruse, with no intention of starting a relationship or even meeting someone. I had a friend who joined Tinder solely to talk to people about their dogs. (This was a bit disingenuous; she was in a happy, committed relationship, and the people she was “matching” with were presumably looking for slightly more than for her to just ask “what kind of dog is that?” But to be fair, her profile did clearly (and only) state “I swipe for dogs.”)

But online dating sites aren’t just for millennials. In fact, the main characteristics that people are looking for on dating sites don’t seem to vary by age. One study, (Menkin, Robles, Wiley, & Gonzaga, 2015) of users ranging from 20-95 on eHarmony, “found that users consistently valued communication and characteristics such as personality or kindness more than sexual attraction.” The researchers also found that “there was little evidence that older users valued companionship more,” and that older users valued sexual appeal just as highly as younger users.  This finding is echoed in the work of Nancy Schlossberg, whose LifeTools books Retire Smart, Retire Happy: Finding Your True Path in Life, and Revitalizing Retirement: Reshaping Your Identity, Relationships, and Purpose examine themes of “positive aging.”  Her forthcoming book, Too Young to Be Old: Love, Learn, Work, and Play as You Age (to be released in April, 2017), tackles the world of online dating for retirees head-on.

At the same time, Menkin et al. cautioned that their results were “similar to the finding that across the life span, people generally want to experience more low-arousal positive emotions (such as the warmth and comfort companionship provides) compared to high-arousal positive emotions (such as the excitement associated with sexual attraction).” This came as a surprise to me when I first read it, but makes sense upon reflection; plenty of people like to flirt with no intention of anything more.

Perhaps this explains people like my friend, who only swipe for dogs.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

 

References

Menkin, J. A., Robles, T. F., Wiley, J. F., & Gonzaga, G. C. (2015). Online dating across the life span: Users’ relationship goals. Psychology and Aging, 30(4), 987-993. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0039722

 

August Releases from APA Books!

 

affirmative counselingAffirmative Counseling and Psychological Practice With Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Clients

Edited by Anneliese A. Singh and lore m. dickey

Fewer than 30% of psychologists report familiarity with transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) clients’ needs, which indicates a large gap in knowledge, skill, and competence in this area of practice. This timely volume provides mental health practitioners with theory-driven strategies for affirmative practice with TGNC clients of different ages, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and religious backgrounds. Affirmative care entails a collaborative, client-guided partnership in which clinicians advocate for the client’s needs. Chapters cover an array of complex issues, including ethical and legal concerns, working with trauma survivors, and interdisciplinary care.

 

Conducting a Culturally Informed Neuropsychological Evaluationneuropsych assessment

by Daryl Fujii

When conducting a neuropsychological evaluation, the clinician must develop a contextual knowledge base to fully understand a client’s current functioning. Doing so can be especially challenging when the client’s cultural background differs from that of the evaluator. This book helps neuropsychologists enhance their cultural competency, avoid biased assessments, and optimize outcomes for culturally different clients. The author describes strategies for improving communication, selecting valid tests, interpreting results, estimating premorbid functioning, working with translators, and making effective treatment recommendations.

 

 

Mindfulness-Based Therapy for Insomniainsomnia

by Jason C. Ong

Insomnia is a pervasive issue for many adults that is difficult to remedy with existing treatments. This clinical guide presents mindfulness based therapy for insomnia (MBTI)—an innovative group intervention that can reduce insomnia symptoms. Combining principles from mindfulness meditation and cognitive behavioral therapy, MBTI helps participants create meaningful, long-term changes in their thoughts and behaviors about sleep. This book reviews new research on MBTI and teaches mental health professionals how to integrate it into their own practices.

 

 

 

psych 101 half Psychology 101½

The Unspoken Rules for Success in Academia, SECOND EDITION

by Robert J. Sternberg

In this second edition of his popular Psychology 101½, eminent psychologist Robert J. Sternberg updates and extends a trove of wisdom gleaned from decades of experience in various academic settings and leadership positions. In his signature straightforward, intellectually honest, and pragmatic style, he imparts life lessons for building a successful and gratifying career. This revision features lessons in five basic categories: identity and integrity, interpersonal relationships, institutions and academia, problems and tasks, and job and career. Recent developments in the field are covered, and new questions at the end of each lesson prompt reader self-reflection. Valuable to academic psychologists at any level, this book will be especially prized by graduate students, post-doctorates, and early-career professors.

 

young eyewitnessThe Young Eyewitness

How Well Do Children and Adolescents Describe and Identify Perpetrators?

by Joanna Pozzulo

This book summarizes the research on how well children can describe an event and perpetrator (which is a recall task) and how well they can identify the perpetrator in person or in photographs (which is a recognition task). Joanna Pozzulo shows that although children may be less advanced in these skills than adults, they nonetheless can provide invaluable evidence. She interprets the research in light of developmental theories and notes practical implications for forensic investigations. In particular, the chapters highlight interviewing techniques to facilitate accurate recall and lineup techniques to facilitate accurate recognition. This book is an essential resource for all forensic investigators.

 

transcendent mindTranscendent Mind

Rethinking the Science of Consciousness                         

by Imants Barušs and Julia Mossbridge

Everyone knows that consciousness resides in the brain. Or does it? In this book, Imants Barušs and Julia Mossbridge utilize findings from quantum mechanics, special relativity, philosophy, and paranormal psychology to build a rigorous, scientific investigation into the origins and nature of human consciousness. Along the way, they examine the scientific literature on concepts such as mediumship, out-of-body and near-death experiences, telekinesis, “apparent” vs. “deep time,” and mind-to-mind communication, and introduce eye-opening ideas about our shared reality. The result is a revelatory tour of the “post-materialist” world—and a roadmap for consciousness research in the twenty-first century.

 

Anneliese Singh and lore dickey: On Trans-Affirmative Counseling and Psychological Practice

This is the latest in a series of interviews with APA Books authors. For this interview, David Becker, an APA Books Development Editor, talked with Anneliese Singh of the University of Georgia and lore dickey of Northern Arizona University.

Note: The opinions expressed in this interview are those of the authors and should not be taken to represent the official views or policies of the American Psychological Association.

Anneliese Singh

Anneliese A. Singh, PhD, is an Associate Professor at the University of Georgia and co-founder of the Georgia Safe Schools Coalition and Trans Resilience Project. Her work is centered on studying and strengthening the resilience of TGNC people, particularly TGNC youth and people of color.

 

lore dickey

lore m. dickey, PhD, is an Assistant Professor and Doctoral Training Director in the Department of Educational Psychology at Northern Arizona University. His research focuses on understanding the transgender experience, which includes studying sexual identity development and nonsuicidal self-injury.

 

Together, Drs. Singh and dickey cochaired the APA task force that developed the Guidelines for Psychological Practice With Transgender and Gender Nonconforming People. The goal of these guidelines is to enhance psychologists’ cultural competence and help them provide trans-affirmative care, which is characterized by awareness, respect, and support of TGNC people’s identities and life experiences. Their latest book, Affirmative Counseling and Psychological Practice With Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Clients, expands on those guidelines, offering helpful advice and strategies for providing trans-affirmative care to TGNC clients.

 

What is affirmative counseling and psychological practice with transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) clients? How does it differ from other common approaches with these populations?

Anneliese: This is a great question that often comes up for mental health practitioners. They may want to do the “right thing” when working with trans people, but are not quite sure how to do that—so lore and I defined affirming transgender counseling and psychological practice in the Introduction to our book as practice that is culturally relevant and responsive to TGNC clients and their multiple social identities, addresses the influence of social inequities on the lives of TGNC clients, enhances TGNC client resilience and coping, advocates to reduce systemic barriers to TGNC mental and physical health, and leverages TGNC client strengths. (Singh & dickey, 2017, p. 4)

We wanted to define it so that the roles of psychologists involve being social change agents who make sure the settings and societies in which they work are trans-affirmative, as well as emphasizing the importance of supporting the development of trans resilience and affirming all the social identities that trans people have (e.g., race/ethnicity, class, disability, spirituality/religion).

What are the most common errors that mental health practitioners make, or misconceptions they might have, when working with TGNC clients?

lore: There are several errors that a mental health provider might make. The first is assuming that a person has a binary gender identity. The second is making the assumption that a person wants medical treatment, especially gender affirmation surgeries. Another mistake is using the wrong name or pronoun. When this happens, the provider should admit the mistake. This signals to the client that the provider realizes they used the wrong name or pronoun, and takes the pressure off of the client as they do not need to correct the provider.

Some TGNC people might be reluctant to enter into therapy for fear of being pathologized or misunderstood. What can a mental health practitioner do to create a safe and welcoming environment for an anxious TGNC client in the first session?

Anneliese: Yes—this is a very common experience trans people have due to the history that the counseling and psychological field has had of pathologizing trans identities. From diagnosis and gatekeeping (e.g., writing referral letters for hormones and requiring excessive control over the transition process) to experiencing discrimination within counseling sessions and the challenges of accessing mental healthcare (e.g., lack of insurance, finding a trans-affirmative provider), many trans people are anxious about what they may experience with a provider. Trans communities are very strong and connected, so there are often also stories of bad experiences with mental health providers that may be known within the community as well. The best thing a mental health practitioner can do is to get out into the community, participate in community events, learn from trans community organizers and activists about what is most needed in their communities and the common issues they face. The key here is to learn much as you can about how to create safe and welcoming environments.

Next, during the first client contact, explain the approach to trans-affirmative counseling you use and any other considerations a client should be aware of that you require (e.g., number of sessions). During my first contact with clients who need a letter of referral for hormones, I emphasize that my counseling approach is to assist them in accessing the care that they want, and one session is usually enough for just a letter; however, they may want to engage in more sessions to support them during their medical and social transition, and that is something we can talk about along the way. I also emphasize that my role is to advocate for them along the way, and that exploring internalized trans-negativity and multiple identities from an empowerment perspective are important aspects of how I work with clients. It is also important for me to tell clients why I am asking certain questions, instead of just gathering typical assessment data. Because the community has experienced so much trauma, this approach is critical to developing an atmosphere of trust and to build rapport. From the first contact, I also share my own

gender pronouns and name that I want people to use when referring to me. I do this with cisgender clients too.

You chose the photos that are featured on the book’s cover because they are TGNC affirming, and you have noted that media portrayals of TGNC people can often be inaccurate or pathologizing. What portrayals did you want to avoid, and why are they problematic? Are there any particularly prevalent tropes or stereotypes that you have noticed?

lore: As with most anything the media uses to tell a story, they prefer the most sensational images—that is what sells papers. The images that don’t tell the sensational stories are ones that show trans people who have ordinary lives. When the only images you see of trans people are those of White people—this is a problem. When trans woman are hypersexualized—this is a problem. When nonbinary individuals are reported to be confused about their identity—this a problem. When the only news you see about trans men are images of a pregnant person—this is a problem. We worked with a renowned photographer to find images that portray “everyday” trans people.

Both of you cochaired the task force that developed APA’s Guidelines for Psychological Practice With Transgender and Gender Nonconforming People. What was that experience like, and how did it influence your book?

Anneliese: Cochairing the APA trans guidelines was an interesting experience! It was important to make sure we added racial/ethnic and gender diversity amongst our 10-person task force, as well as having a variety of disciplines represented within counseling and psychology (e.g., practitioners, researchers). We consulted with a wonderful team of trans community organizers and activists along the way in the development of the text as well. All of these things had an influence on the text, as we wanted it to have a very intersectional and practice-based approach.

In terms of how the text differs from the guidelines, we were restricted in the guidelines development process from highlighting social justice and advocacy as much as we would have liked to do based on our own personal ways of practicing and engaging in research. Therefore, the book is very much informed by research, but it is also informed by the calls to our field that trans community organizers and activists have issued. The role of psychologists as social change agents is much more centralized in the book. We also had a wonderful group of authors—including public health and community perspectives on trans-affirmative counseling.

We hope this book de-mythologizes trans mental healthcare and makes it more accessible for mental health practitioners to get training and see how they can change the world for the better by doing trans-affirmative care.

What still needs to change in the field of psychology in order to fully address the needs of TGNC people?

 lore: This is such an important question. In no particular order: Gender Dysphoria needs to be removed from the DSM and placed in the ICD codes as a medical condition so it is not listed as a mental health diagnosis implying that gender diversity or that gender dysphoria is a disorder. Providers must be sanctioned when they engage in reparative therapy with gender nonconforming clients, and providers must be trained to work with gender diverse people.

References

Singh, A. A., & dickey, l. m. (2017). Introduction. In A. A. Singh & l. m. dickey (Eds.). Affirmative counseling and psychological practice with transgender and gender nonconforming clients (pp. 3–18). http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/14957-001

On Caribbean Psychology

David BeckerBy David Becker

As psychology continues to grow and develop as a field, the importance of considering cultural factors when studying the behaviors and the mental well-being of individuals and communities becomes more and more apparent. To some degree or another, we are all influenced by our cultural heritage. I know for sure that my French Caribbean heritage has had an impact on who I am today.

My mother’s parents emigrated from Martinique to Washington, DC in the 1940s and brought with them elements of French Caribbean culture that have influenced my identity since childhood. However, because my heritage was so prevalent and normalized in my youth, I didn’t begin to fully grasp its uniqueness until I graduated from French immersion school and found myself among non-French-speaking classmates for the first time in the seventh grade. Suddenly I became “exotic,” a curiosity, especially in my high school French classes where I was the only one who spoke with a proper accent, aside from my teacher.

Unlike some, I wasn’t ostracized or treated unfairly because of my cultural roots, but it wasn’t always easy to appreciate my cultural heritage and its origins within the history of the French Caribbean. Some of my early ancestors were people of privilege who killed indigenous Caribs, owned slaves, and committed other acts that have impacted the lives of modern day Caribbean peoples who continue to struggle against the legacies of colonialism, slavery, indentured servitude, and centuries of warfare between rival European powers. Among these ancestors was Guillaume d’Orange, who arrived at Saint-Christophe (now better known as St. Kitts) in 1628. Saint-Christophe was the first Caribbean region settled by the French in 1625, and it was from here that Guillaume made forays to other islands, such as Guadaloupe where he lived for 12 years as an explorer, a warrior, and a planter. Afterwards, he moved to Martinique where he lived until he was killed in the Dutch invasion of Fort-Royal (now Fort-de-France) in 1674. Guillaume d’Orange was one of the pioneers who helped shape the modern French Caribbean, which included the genocide of the indigenous Caribs.

countryside-1200Other ancestors of mine owned sugarcane plantations and slaves, such as Guillaume d’Orange’s more famous descendant, Empress Joséphine, who was born into a plantation family in Martinique. During the transatlantic slave trade, France imported approximately 1,381,000 African slaves to the West Indies, and many of the 217,200 slaves who arrived in Martinique worked on sugar plantations. Although the French revolutionaries abolished slavery in 1794, it was reestablished by Napoleon in 1802 to help fund his campaigns in Europe, and it wasn’t until 1848 that France abolished slavery for good. The freed slaves in Martinique were offered the chance to continue working on the sugarcane plantations for money, which they understandably refused. In response, indentured servants from India started migrating to the French islands and performing this arduous labor. These immigrants brought Indian spices that influenced the local cuisine and resulted in the Colombo spice blend that my family still uses in recipes today. One such recipe is féroce (“ferocious” in English), an avocado dish that is similar to guacamole except that it includes fish and Scotch bonnets—Caribbean peppers so spicy that you dare not touch them with your bare hands. Even sugarcane remains an important part of my family’s cuisine, especially in ti’ ponche (meaning “small punch”), a mixture of Martinican rum, lime, and cane syrup.

During the French Caribbean’s postcolonial period, my ancestors continued to immigrate to Martinique from Europe. As the times changed, so did their reasons for migrating: Many of them were educators. Likewise, other people from across Europe, Africa, India, and elsewhere have come to the Caribbean—whether voluntarily or not—for myriad reasons over the centuries, and communities of indigenous peoples still live on the islands today. And just as my family tree intertwines with the history the French Caribbean and influences living generations, so do other individuals, families, and communities find their own identities tied with one or more Caribbean islands.

Understanding the diverse and unique experiences of Caribbean peoples along with the common themes that bind the islands’ histories together is a key goal of Caribbean psychology. But this is no simple task. In their book, Caribbean Psychology: Indigenous Contributions to a Global Discipline, editors Jaipaul Roopnarine and Derek Chadee (2016) argue that “the psychological stories of Caribbean peoples have been missing from the broader intellectual discourses in the psychological sciences” (p. 4). They acknowledge that this lack of cultural representation is a worldwide problem not isolated to just the Caribbean, and they further argue that “psychological principles that are not inclusive of other cultural groups around the world are inherently limited and fail to utilize the two-way flow and integrations of scientific information from the majority to the developed world” (Roopnarine & Chadee, 2016, p. 4). Yet, viewing contemporary Caribbean peoples through a historical lens is not enough. While understanding the impact of slavery, colonialism, etc. is important, Roopnarine and Chadee (2016) note that psychologists must consider “lived experiences and realities” (p. 7). To fully comprehend contemporary Caribbean individuals and communities, psychological theories and practices must therefore emanate from those individuals and communities. This indigenous knowledge will then feed into the bidirectional flow of scientific information, thus benefiting psychology as a whole.

Why do we need a localized Caribbean psychology? The answer is that Caribbean psychology—along with American psychology, French psychology, Chinese psychology, Turkish psychology, Nigerian psychology, etc.—are all pieces of the same, grand puzzle. Each of these pieces is itself a large and complex puzzle made up of many smaller components. Studying the psychology of African Americans, for instance, is crucial to American psychology as a whole. As we strive to put all of these innumerable pieces together, the hope is that we will come closer and closer to understanding ourselves.

Reference

Roopnarine, J. L., & Chadee, D. (2016). Introduction: Caribbean psychology—More than a regional discipline. In J. L. Roopnarine & D. Chadee (Eds.), Caribbean psychology: Indigenous contributions to a global discipline (pp. 3–11). http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/14753-001

William Gunn: The Collaborative Psychotherapist

William B. Gunn, Jr., PhD is a licensed psychologist and family therapist currently practicing in New Hampshire. He is coauthor (with Nancy Breen Ruddy and Dorothy Borresen) of The Collaborative Psychotherapist: Creating Reciprocal Relationships with Medical Professionals, published by APA Books in 2008 as part of its Psychologists in Independent Practice Series.

Gunn, Ruddy, and Borresen provide step-by-step guidance on how psychotherapists can work with their medical colleagues on a routine basis. They interview four veteran therapists and one medical doctor, each of whom provides valuable insight into collaborating successfully.

In a PsycCRITIQUES review of The Collaborative Psychotherapist, Jeffrey E. Barnett wrote, “This book provides a well-articulated rationale in support of the need for collaborative psychotherapy. … [It] is an important contribution that should be read by all practicing psychotherapists.”

Watch Gunn discuss this important work:

A transcript of this video is available.

Note: The opinions expressed in this interview are those of the authors and should not be taken to represent the official views or policies of the American Psychological Association.