Jennifer Van Gorp

Jennifer Van Gorp

April 05, 2023

Upcoming Events

Thank you for your interest in attending our events! 100% of the proceeds from these events directly supports pro bono and sliding scale services at UCEBT.  Further, UCEBT is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. UCEBT maintains responsibility for this program and its content. UCEBT trainings also provide CE credit through NASW-UT, UAMFT, and UMHCA

 

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March 10, 2023

Past Events

We've hosted 31 Continuing Education events since 2020! The net profits from our events go directly towards supporting pro bono and sliding scale services at UCEBT. Thank you for supporting UCEBT as we continue to provide exceptional clinical care and disseminate quality standards via training, research, and provision of expert consultation.

Click on the title to watch the recording:

We have a new 12-week virtual group starting April 6, 2023! This group uses the evidence-based therapy approach Skills Training in Affect and Interpersonal Regulation (STAIR) for individuals currently experiencing distress from trauma. Taught by Cristina Chévere-Rivera, Psy.D. and Stephanie Taylor, Ph.D., this group is geared toward adults who are currently in therapy or who are transitioning out of therapy. REGISTER HERE.

At the end of these 12-weeks, you will have:

  • Enhanced coping skills to navigate distress and regulate difficult emotions. 
  • The skills to make decisions based on important values instead of being emotionally driven.  
  • Healthy ways of relating across social, professional, and personal contexts. 

Through this group, you will also learn:

  • How to have increased emotional awareness. 
  • How the interconnection of body, thoughts, and behaviors can impact your life.
  • What self-compassion is and how you can use it to help yourself in challenging situations.

REGISTER HERE

This virtual group meets every Thursday for 12-weeks and begins on Thursday, April 6th from 4:00 - 5:30 p.m. MST. The cost is $65/weekly session.

Here's the link to the webpage: https://www.ucebt.com/emotional-pain

We sat down with one of UCEBT's couples specialists, Dr. Stephanie Taylor, to ask about conflict in relationships. What's it all about? Why is it important? How can it be managed? Read along in part 3 of this three part series to see what Dr. Taylor says about the role of conflict in relationships. 

Continuing on from the previous post, here are the remaining two of the four types of conflict:

#3. Contempt

This is a big one. This is a single best predictor of divorce. Contempt is almost like a form of disrespect. It is different than criticism. It's almost like criticism from a high horse. There's a feeling of superiority. You're coming at it in a little bit of a condescending way, talking down to your partner as if you're smarter, cleaner, and more punctual and more capable in some way. And it can often include name calling, too. 

So, for example,”Geez, why are you so needy that everything you do has to be acknowledged in some way?” 

If not contempt, what are these successful partners doing?

Successful partners are coming at it from a place of respect and being proud of those we love. It's creating a culture of appreciation within the relationship, saying thank you for the small things or acknowledging them in some way. “Thank you for taking out the trash”. “Thank you for helping the kids with their homework.” “I listened to you reading to the kids last night, and that was really great.”

It's communicating affection, respect, and it's something that partners might need to work on. Being able to create that, you've got to shift your perspective. You've got to build a different habit of mind.

Instead of scanning the environment for things to criticize, you, then start to pay attention for things you can appreciate. And that shift can be monumental. And I mean that not just in a romantic relationship. There's a lot of research behind shifting that into parent-child interactions. That can be huge when you start to look for things to appreciate as opposed to things to be upset over. 

#4. Stonewalling

This is emotional withdrawal from conflict. 

Normally, when two people are talking, the listener gives some obvious signs. They're listening, they're looking at the speaker, they have open body language. Facial expressions are reactive and relevant, maybe some grunts or noises that in response, these are all signals to make us feel like we're being listened to. 

The Stonewall does not do this. They've shut down internally. You can see that externally with their body language: they might have their arms folded over them protectively, physically turning away from the speaker, avoiding eye contact. No signs of acknowledgement. Nothing. And guess what that ends up doing to the speaker? It makes them want to speak even louder.

They might come on stronger. They're going to be a little bit more aggressive because it doesn't feel like they're being listened to or heard, which is just going to then create this bad cycle of shutting down even more. And pretty soon you've got a full-blown war in the kitchen. 

So it's really important when you notice that to immediately shift gears, whether that's taking a break from each other, whether that's trying to come at your partner with a little bit more affection and trying to help decrease that physiological arousal, whatever that looks like.

The Gottmans suggest taking a break that shouldn't be less than 30 minutes, but it shouldn't be more than 24 hours. And they also strongly recommend not thinking about the fight during that time. So kind of just complete distraction, avoidance and then coming back and trying again. 

I think it's also interesting that a lot of Gottman therapists will have their couples hooked up to some type of biofeedback where they can measure the physiological response of when their heart rates go over 100 beats per minute. They usually set as an alarm and that can help the other partner start to recognize when that's happening. 

How do you build more love into the relationship?

Get an idea of your partner's internal world, moving into sharing fondness and admiration, where you can express appreciation and respect, really trying to strengthen those bonds. Turning toward not away. I think it's human nature when you sense distance to create more distance as a protective piece, but really being able to do the opposite of that. 

Having courage to turn inward. Looking at the positive perspective. Making sure you're an advocate for your partner and helping enable them to do what it is they see as their life's purpose, and then be able to create shared meaning together. 

We sat down with one of UCEBT's couples specialists, Dr. Stephanie Taylor, to ask about conflict in relationships. What's it all about? Why is it important? How can it be managed? Read along in part 2 of this three part series to see what Dr. Taylor says about the role of conflict in relationships.

Is the goal just to eliminate negativity?

The goal in therapy with our couples is not to eliminate the negativity. It's tempting to declare war on negativity, but negativity can be very productive in relationships. Those are the things that sort of highlight stuff that doesn't work for a partner. It can be very informative. You hurt your partner's feelings; you learn something. You talk about how to do that better next time. 

The goal here is not to have a relationship where there isn't any negativity because one, that's an impossible goal setting up for failure. And two, it's the negativity that counts. We just want to make it less. We want to make it more manageable, and we want to make it a bit more constructive. 

Think about that cycle within relationships: you have a disagreement that creates temporary distance and then when you're able to repair things, that brings the partners back together in a meaningful way. So there is a lot of growth in this cycle or this process that typically happens with this dance that partners get into.

As long as it's handled with softness, with some grace, you don't want to get rid of the anger or the sadness. We want to look at all emotions as helpful. 

So what exactly is “negativity” in relationships?

Gottman was curious if all negative aspects are created equally. And the answer is no. There are some negative pieces that are much more corrosive and damaging to relationships. 

In fact, they found four types of negativity, especially present in those couples that were headed towards divorce. And they really do tend to show up a lot when a couple is in conflict. 

With these four pieces, they found that successful couples who are able to have a problem, are able to separate that problem from themselves and from the relationship. And if anything, it becomes its own entity. This problem is almost a threat to the relationship as a whole. The unsuccessful couples are not able to separate that.

#1. Criticism

You can kind of think of criticism as a way of complaining that suggests there is something wrong with your partner. Your partner is defective in some way and there is a constructive way to complain in relationships and it does not involve criticism. 

Successful partners, they're still complaining, but they're talking about themselves, what they need, they're not attacking. So, for example, you have a partner that comes home and you've spent all afternoon cleaning and the partner didn't notice. So you say something like, “Hello, look at all this work that I did. You didn't even notice. I need some kind of acknowledgement. Otherwise, I end up feeling pretty underappreciated.” So that's me talking about myself, what I feel, what I need. 

Criticism, on the other hand, would be: “You come home from work, you look around, you don't say anything about what I've been doing all afternoon. What is wrong with you?” Any time you're hearing that, what is wrong with you statement, that is the epitome of criticism. It's basically pointing out a symptom of your partner's defect. So we want to stay away from that. 

#2. Defensiveness

If you feel like you're being attacked, you're going to want to kind of ward off that attack and you're going to get a little bit defensive. And what they found is there are two types of defensiveness behaviors: There's righteous indignation and innocent victim. 

Righteous indignation would be attacking back. You meet a complaint with a counter complaint. “Well, you didn't notice that time. I cleaned the house all afternoon three and a half months ago.” 

The innocent victim would be a little bit more like a whining approach: “I did notice. I thought it was obvious. I appreciated it.” 

How do partners in successful relationships handle criticism or complaints?

The alternative to defensiveness is listening and accepting responsibility. And I think this last piece might be particularly challenging. Accepting responsibility is not necessarily saying “I'm wrong. You're right.” You can accept responsibility over something very small; that can go a long way in a partnership. So, for example, the partner comes home and says, “You know, you're right. I was in my head over things that were happening at work. I was not paying attention to the house when I walked in. I absolutely appreciate the time you spent cleaning.” 

Read on for Part 3 of 3 on the role of conflict in relationships.

We sat down with one of UCEBT's couples specialists, Dr. Stephanie Taylor, to ask about conflict in relationships. What's it all about? Why is it important? How can it be managed? Read along in part 1 of this three part series to see what Dr. Taylor says about the role of conflict in relationships.

Dr. Taylor: I would like to get started with a couple of disclaimers about this. I'll just be going over a couple of things based on the Gottman method. But this is not a substitute for couples therapy. And nothing that I talk about today is meant to be used in relationships where there are severe cases of infidelity or affairs happening, substance abuse, domestic violence. And in fact, most of the Gottman method isn't really used for these types of issues. 

So why the Gottman method? 

I like the fact that there is a lot of evidence that supports this approach. And I think the most interesting thing to me about this is it comes from John Gottman himself.

He's pulling through lots of different modalities, a lot of different research studies. But he also did his own research and then together with his wife, formed it into an actual therapy. 

I think my first introduction to the Gottman method was a long time ago reading a book by Malcolm Gladwell. It was called Blink. It introduced some crazy information about the research that John Gottman was doing. And I remember I had very little exposure to the field of psychology or even research and just being completely blown away by some of those stats.

So as I've gotten into things more professionally and wanting to work with couples, it was the Gottman method, 100%. I've always been fascinated with it. 

Gottman really did some crazy research. He did longitudinal research where he studied couples for decades. And then he did some pretty intense observational studies as well. His research lab was actually made to resemble a bed and breakfast. So he'd invite these couples to come in. There are cameras all over. Lots of different things were being measured, including physiologically looking at things in the camera like microexpressions, body language, even tonality of voice was being analyzed. And they were looking at not just how couples respond in everyday interactions, but also what it's like when there is conflict, when they are having these fights. And what they found and what they were really trying to understand is what creates a successful relationship as opposed to an unsuccessful relationship.

What are some the stats from Gottman’s research?

They actually found they were able to predict which couples would stay together and which couples would get a divorce with over 90% accuracy. That's enormous accuracy. And then even just after 15 minutes of observing a couple interacting typically over an area of continued disagreement, they could predict if that relationship would last with 85% accuracy. And then, of course, with the longitudinal piece following these couples around for more than a decade, they could not only predict if, but when a couple would get divorced. So obviously, someone who's interested in evidence-based treatments and the research behind everything that I do, I was just blown away by these numbers. 

What are the predictors that go into successful versus unsuccessful relationships?

They found two key components of what they shifted their research towards. The first one is “positivity ratio”, and then the second one is the “Four Horsemen”. I'm going to break these down. The positivity ratio is the amount of positivity versus negativity that goes into these.

So positivity could be asking about interest, asking questions, being empathetic, showing affection. Negativity would be criticism, hostility, anger, the amount of hurt feelings happening and interactions. 

What they found was that in successful relationships when there was a conflict, there was a 5 to 1 positive to negative ratio. And so basically, if you do something that hurts your partner's feelings, then you have to make up for it with five positive things. And I think you can see that equation is not at all balanced. So the negativity carries a lot more weight; it has a lot more ability to inflict damage and pain, and the positive things have to sort of heal or bring a couple closer together. 

What about the couples whose relationships ended so unsuccessfully? Those couples had a 0.8 to 1 positive to negative. So we've got slightly more negativity with couples who were headed towards divorce or breakup. This is with couples who are in conflict. They were curious about what that looks like just in everyday interaction. 

Remember, John Gottman had this elaborate lab, you know, bed and breakfast couples are just doing couple of things. And they noticed that in those successful relationships, there was a 20 to 1 positive to negative ratio just in everyday interaction. They were able to create this enormously rich climate of warmth and humor, affection, attention, intimacy, empathy, fun. I mean, there were some very clear differences in how these couples are interacting, not engaged in conflict. 

Read on for Part 2 of 3 on the role of conflict in relationships.

Psychodynamic psychotherapy is an evidence-based treatment that emerged from the psychoanalytic scholarship, which began with Sigmund Freud. While most textbooks on psychotherapy mention Freud, they do not include the evolution of psychodynamic thought and this can lead interested clinicians to think that they cannot implement psychodynamic interventions in their practice.  Nicholas Schollars, Psy.D. will present 5 myths about psychodynamic psychotherapy, and 5 ways psychodynamic therapy can be implemented in a modern healthcare system. 

Everyone who registers will be emailed the recording and presentation slides within one week following the event.

Register here to attend for free, without CE credit [non-CEU].

Register here to receive live CE credit for $40 [CEU].*

*All net profits will support pro bono and sliding scale services at UCEBT.

Date: Friday, March 3, 2023
Time: 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. MST
Location: Virtual, via Zoom
Cost: $40.00* for Live CE credit or FREE to attend without CE credit
CE: 2.0 CE credit hours pending approval by UPA, NASW-UT, UAMFT, and UMHCA.

Home-Study Option: If you want to receive asynchronous CE credit for this event, register for the free, [non-CEU] version of this title. Then, within 2 weeks following the event, we'll email you the information for purchasing the home-study version of this presentation for only $20.

November 23, 2022

Holiday Mental Health

Our Trauma, Stress, Resilience team has compiled a list of some of their favorite resources for mental health during the holidays! This list is being updated and contributed to on an ongoing basis. 

Articles:

Feeling Lonely During the Holidays? You’re Not Alone

Books:

The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living (The Happiness Institute Series) by Meik Wiking -- Why are Danes the happiest people in the world? The answer, says Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, is Hygge. Loosely translated, Hygge―pronounced Hoo-ga―is a sense of comfort, togetherness, and well-being. "Hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience," Wiking explains. "It is about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe." Hygge is the sensation you get when you’re cuddled up on a sofa, in cozy socks under a soft throw, during a storm. It’s that feeling when you’re sharing comfort food and easy conversation with loved ones at a candlelit table. It is the warmth of morning light shining just right on a crisp blue-sky day. The Little Book of Hygge introduces you to this cornerstone of Danish life, and offers advice and ideas on incorporating it into your own life.

Meditations:

Soften Soothe Allow with Chris Germer, Ph.D. Dr. Germer is a clinical psychologist, meditation practitioner, author, and teacher of mindfulness and compassion in psychotherapy and everyday life. He is also Co-developer of the Mindful Self-Compassion training program, along with Kristin Neff.

Postcasts:

Holiday Survival Tips and Tricks -- "It’s that time of year again — the holidays are upon us! We all want that to mean family, parties, and good cheer. But what if that isn’t working out for you? What if you have trouble getting along with your family or you have trouble navigating drinking at holiday parties? Join us as Dr. Nicole Washington helps us out with some quick hints and tips for surviving the holiday season"

Breathing Exercises:

Focused Breathing -- This exercise is taken from the evidence-based therapy approach Skills Training in Affect and Interpersonal Regulation (STAIR) for individuals currently experiencing distress from trauma. 

Mindful Breathing -- This script is taken from the article Whole Health for Pain and Suffering: An Integrative Approach written by Shilagh Mirgain, PhD, for UW Cultivating Well-Being: A Neuroscientific Approach.

The Utah Center for Evidence Based Treatment (UCEBT) is fully committed to conducting all activities in strict conformance with the American Psychological Association's Ethical Principles of Psychologists.  

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One critical part of UCEBT’s mission is to improve the quality of mental health care by disseminating quality standards via training, research, and provision of expert consultation.   

To that end, UCEBT’s Continuing Education events strive to abide by the codes of ethics and rules of conduct of the professional organizations that allow us to approve and sponsor our continuing education events. 

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