For this project you are going to be conducting your own self-evaluation and coping skills training program. (With luck, this will prevent you from ever being one of our case studies for abnormal psych.) You will be your own subject and you must document your efforts and progress as outlined below. You will then submit this paper/project anytime this quarter, but your absolute latest deadline is Wednesday, December 10. We will accept these projects at any time during the quarter (hard copies delivered in person only please – no e-mails, mailboxes, under doors, or other electronic or “fly-by” submissions) but we will NOT accept them for any credit after December 10th (by the end of class – not later)
I would very strongly suggest doing this project early and getting it out of the way. To get full credit you will need to take the project seriously and write in a thoughtful and organized manner. Doing “just enough” will not get you full credit on this assignment. There is no guideline on how long this should be, as I have never assigned it before. It should be typed and be organized and easy to read. Follow the directions and submit your best work – you determine the length and remember that there are high performing and perfectionistic, motivated students in the class that your work will be “compared” to during the grading process.
For the purposes of this assignment, let’s assume that you are a psychologist who is treating a “patient” (the patient is you) for stress. You do not have any diagnosis, you are just stressed and your mom/bf/gf/spouse/employer/etc sent you in for help. You will be writing in the “third person” – for example, instead of saying “I do not cope well with stress”, you will say “Mike reports that he does not cope well with stress”. This is to get you used to writing as if you were a therapist writing about a client.
Please, as you write, remember that this assignment is NOT confidential, although the only people who will read this info are my TA’s or myself. Feel free to be honest, but don’t feel compelled to disclose sensitive or painful information – we don’t want to traumatize you with this project! If you want to include sensitive things, please mark your paper “to be graded by Prof. Lewis” and I will be the only one who reads it. Please do not make stuff up – the goal of the project is to be honest and self-reflective. Lying or making stuff up just annoys us and does not help you at all and it often results in a bad grade. I can’t think of any way you can cheat on this project, but if you are inclined in that direction, don’t do it – we will fail you and that would be bad.
Please take note- you can NOT pass this course without doing this project. So if I were you, to reduce your stress, I would probably do the project RIGHT AWAY and turn it in – get it done/finished and stop having it to worry about! Remember, there are no projects accepted after Dec. 10th (by the end of class) and if you forget to turn it in before then, and then miss that date, you will fail the course. There are so many things that can happen that can make it impossible for you to be at class or print your assignment on December 10th and if you waited until the last minute you will be a very, very unhappy camper. We will NOT give you leeway for ANY REASON AT ALL – not even death or disability or bombs falling or volcanoes erupting. No stress, just reality ?
Read chapter 4 about stress related disorders and watch the online discussion posted by me on UCI replay on stress. I also go over this project in that online video (which may not be posted until week 2).
Go to at least two of the following websites and take a stress test – make sure to take two different kinds – some sites have the same Holmes/Rehe version of this test…. Document the results you get (there’s a test in your book also you could use). You are welcome to add in other tests of resiliency or coping skills or anxiety or whatever, but you MUST take at least two stress tests. (and you must take them NOW, don’t use old data)
Make sure you have your computer’s firewall and virus protection on, as I have no idea if these websites are safe or not!!!
I think that our counseling center also has a link to a stress test – might want to check
Write an “intake” that discusses the stressors in your life, the ways you normally cope with these, the symptoms that you get from too much stress, your family history of stress coping, your personal history of stress coping – both good and bad, etc. Include medical issues that might be related to stress (weight gain, back pain, headaches, sleep problems, etc). Include your substance abuse “coping” strategies (honestly, how much do you drink/use and do you use to cope with stress or does it maybe cause stress because it leaves you fuzzy and makes you make bad decisions?????) Write about your overall personality type – do you tend to be anxious or super calm? Do you tend to be perfectionistic or kind of lazy/tend to procrastinate? Are you motivated and driven (type A) or laid back? Do you set goals and accomplish them. Do you generally make good decisions and problem solve well? The goal is to write a complete picture of your stressors and general coping styles as well as any symptoms or consequences to your stress level or coping style. School and work might be stressors and you might have additional stress such as not doing well on tests, or taking on too much, or being in too many organizations/activities. Do a good assessment of your current level of stress. Include mental/cognitive style and issues – do you tend to be a negative or catastrophic thinker or utilize other dysfunctional cognitive styles? Do you have poor self-confidence, poor peer groups, poor coping styles, too much alcohol, poor time management, etc/ Be sure to include your protective factors such as a good social life, great job, good parents/family, good relationship, etc.
If your family was not good at coping with stress, or maybe they have had a lot of trauma/stress note this also – family history is an important indication of your own tendencies.
If you have any trauma in your past, it is a good idea to include some info about this also – for example, if you were in a major auto accident and took 2 years to recover, or maybe you had a career-ending knee injury in soccer, or your dad left the family suddenly when you were 10, you were born premature and spent months in the hospital, your brother spent months in the hospital, your grandparents all passed away within a year or maybe you lost a best friend to some illness or something, stuff like that…. This is your personal history that shows your tendency to be more susceptible to stress.
Use concepts and terms from the book to show that you have actually read the chapter and know what you are talking about.
There is an example “intake” online for your review. Please be sure to look at that and note how detailed it is.
Again, acting as if you are the therapist, create a “treatment” plan for yourself that identifies problem areas of stress and stress coping and creates a plan for implementing new coping strategies. Write out what new coping strategies would be suggested – be detailed and realistic (you are not suddenly going to stop eating all sugar and give up all alcohol – be healthy and realistic about what you can, or even should, accomplish!) Use concepts from the book, but most importantly go to APA.ORG (specifically http://apa.org/topics/stress/index.aspx) and also MINDTOOLS.COM and play around on that website under the “stress” section. You will get many ideas from their articles. No need to cite this, but please do use these websites (you can go to others also, just make sure they are legitimate sites and not random ones)
Make sure that you include (with lots of detail) at least TWO mental strategies, TWO physical strategies, and TWO other strategies – so six different strategies AT A MINIMUM. Don’t say you have no stress and so don’t need to use any better strategies – we know this is not true (and if you do believe that, then look up “denial”…..) Be detailed, don’t just say “exercise” or “time management” – be specific and detailed about how/when/where/etc. The more specifically you write this up, the better.
Document a bit of progress – discuss whether you tried a relaxation technique and it helped, or maybe you started exercises and felt better. Discuss the coping strategies you implemented and how they helped or did not help. You only need to document three or four things here, but feel free to discuss more. (those who do this project in a “more” manner, tend to get full points).
That’s it – you’re done. If you want to , you can include a “plan for the future” to keep you on track with your new and improved stress coping skills.
PLEASE NOTE: IF YOU HAND THIS PAPER IN AT THE LAST MINUTE, YOU WILL ALREADY BE INVALIDATING THE ENTIRE ASSIGNMENT AND WILL VERY LIKELY GET A POOR GRADE AS A RESULT. PLEASE USE GOOD TIME MANAGEMENT AND DO THE PROJECT EARLY, COMPREHENSIVELY AND IN AN ORGANIZED AND EASY TO FOLLOW FORMAT. REMEMBER, YOU CAN NOT PASS THE CLASS WITHOUT DOING THIS ASSIGNMENT.
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