What’s So Great About The Great Outdoors? – Mat Duerden, PHD


“Spending time outdoors has been linked to a variety of positive outcomes, from improved mental functioning and increased levels of physical activity, to decreased levels of ADHD symptoms and stress among children.”

When it comes to outdoor recreation, Utah is among the top in the nation. You can engage in almost any type of outdoor activity possible, from mountain biking and canyoneering, to bird watching and geo caching. With multiple national forests, monuments, and parks within only a couple of hours drive, we have limited excuses not to get outside throughout the year. The variety of outdoor space and activities means ample recreation opportunities for novices, experts, and everyone in between.

Unfortunately, actually taking the time to get outside is often an exception rather than the norm. Research suggests many of us, especially adolescents and children, are spending less time outside than previous generations. The reasons for this decline are multifaceted and include things like the draw of digital media in its many forms, lack of knowledge of where to go and what to do, living over-scheduled lives, fear of strangers, and even the comfort of air-conditioning.

While it may be easier to plop down on the couch and stream the latest episode of whatever we are currently binge watching than it is to drive to a local canyon for a quick hike, or even spend a couple of minutes walking through a local park, the benefits of spending even a small amount of time outside far outweigh the momentary satisfaction of watching even the funniest YouTube #fail videos.

A diverse array of research studies over the last 20 years paint a convincing picture of the benefits gained from getting outside. Spending time outdoors has been linked to…(read more)

Originally published on Utah Valley Health and Wellness

5 Sneaky Effects of Pornography – Erin Rackham – Provo CCF

Comp pic

Though there is still some debate among researchers about the effects of pornography use on individuals, research has consistently shown that regularly viewing pornography can have negative effects on relationships—particularly if one’s partner disapproves of said pornography use. Sometimes, negative effects sneak up on a user and shape the way he or she views the world, without them even realizing it. Many of the following experiences hold true for both men and women who regularly view pornography, but for simplicity, we will focus mainly on the effects on men:

  1. Physical sexual dysfunction.

Since pornography is most frequently a solo sexual experience, when it comes time to engage in relational sexual experiences many men struggle to perform optimally due to the desensitization pornography has caused. There are many reports of pornography-induced sexual dysfunction which often leads to emotional problems and tension in relationships.

  1. Women may be portrayed as objects.

Since the majority of pornography portrays men as dominant or sexually coercive and shows that women enjoy this dynamic, pornography users tend to believe that this is realistically what they can expect sex to be like with their partner. Unfortunately, this sends the message to women that they should act like objects who aren’t supposed to feel pain, whose desires don’t matter, and who should have strong positive emotional responses whenever a man wants them to—regardless of how they really feel.

  1. Lowered satisfaction with sex… (read more)

Originally published on Utah Valley Health and Wellness

Spirituality and Therapy: The Three Domains of Spiritual Health – Daniel Colver

23292_PRAYERWhether you consider yourself agnostic, Buddhist, Hindu, Latter-Day Saint, atheist, Evangelical Christian, Catholic, or, as journalist A.J. Jacobs humorously defined himself, “Jewish in the same way the Olive Garden is an Italian restaurant,” this article is for you.

In the previous article of this series we (1) recognized the resurgence of spirituality in the realm of psychotherapy and healthcare, (2) identified a pragmatic need for trained psychotherapists in areas of spiritual and religious competencies, and (3) provided basic tips on how to find a licensed clinician to help work through issues of faith in a therapeutic setting. This article will help provide clarity for the term “spiritual health when setting goals, as well as provide some initial recommendations on how to enhance your spiritual health.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations (UN) have recognized the significance spirituality plays in overall health and wellness going as far as to state, “Health ultimately depends on the ability to manage successfully the interaction between the physical, spiritual, biological and economic/social environment.” (Protection and Promotion of Human Health, Chapter 6.3). However, the question remains, how are we to define spiritual health?

I personally appreciate Dhar, Chaturvedi, & Nandan’s (2011) definition of spiritual health:

Spiritual health is a state of being where an individual is able to deal with day-to-day life in a manner which leads to the realization of one’s full potential, meaning and purpose of life, and happiness from within… Spiritual health is a state of health reflected through three domains- Self-Evolution, Self-Actualization and Transcendence.” …(read more)

Originally published by Utah Valley Health and Wellness

When You’re Accustomed to Privilege, Equality Feels Like Oppression by Chris Boeskool

equality is not oppression

I’ve never been punched in the face. Not in an actual fight, at least. I’m not much of a fighter, I suppose… more of an “arguer.” I don’t think I’m “scared” to get into a fight, necessarily — there have been many times I have put myself in situations where a physical fight could easily have happened.

I just can’t see myself ever being the guy who throws the first punch, and I’m usually the kind of guy who DE-escalates things with logic or humor. And one of the things about being that sort of person, is that the other sort of guy — the sort who jumps….(read more)

We’re all hiding something. Let’s find the courage to open up by Ash Beckham

Six Signs Your Marriage Could Be In Trouble – by Dr. Triston Morgan

When Julie and Chris (not their real names) entered my office, they were not looking at each other. I could tell they had been in a fight recently, and that it had been a bad one. They told me it started last night when Chris came home late from work and didn’t tell Julie where he had been. When asked about it, Chris became defensive. “Can’t I come home without getting the third degree?! I’ve been working hard all day to support this family!” He told Julie to stop being “such a nag.” Julie shot back a quick remark about his incompetence as a father because he had missed their son’s basketball game, again.

Whether it plays out in marital therapy or in many of your homes, this isn’t an uncommon scenario. What I told Julie and Chris surprised them. I told them the fact that they fought wasn’t the problem. The fact that they argued wasn’t (read more)

Spirituality and Therapy: Bridging the Gap – by Daniel Colver, Spanish Fork CCF

In generations past, issues of faith and spirituality were often deferred to clergy and chaplains.  It could easily be argued that psychology, as a discipline, has maintained a reputation for reducing issues of faith and belief to mere symptoms of other issues, thereby discrediting the significance and importance of the subject matter itself. However, things are changing.  Ironically, as Len Sperry from Florida Atlantic University recognizes, “[Today], more individuals in various cultural contexts are increasingly seeking out psychotherapists and other practitioners, rather than ministers or spiritual guides, to deal with these concerns or foster their spiritual growth and development.” (Sperry, 2014)  This calls for a new breed of psychotherapist.  One who is not only skilled in matters of psychological, emotional, relational, and cognitive health, but also one who understands the various theoretical approaches to religious studies and the ethical implications of such for their clients.

The subject of spirituality has recently experienced a resurgence of supporters within the discipline of psychotherapy.  Mindfulness  techniques have become essential pillars used in such third generation behavioral therapies as dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT).  Integrative health models will often include spiritual health alongside emotional, mental, social, and physical health.  But what exactly does spiritual healthmean?  What place does religion, belief, faith, and spiritual practice have within a therapeutic setting?  And what role can a therapist serve regarding such issues?

Spirituality is such a deeply personal and subjective concept that many mental health clinicians pay little to no attention to it in therapy (except perhaps briefly asking one or two questions while completing a “psychosocial assessment”).  And it’s not their fault. Chances are, such clinicians have had little to no formal education or training on issues of religion, existentialism, or spirituality as a whole.

As a marriage and family therapist by training, I am reminded every session about how my personal experiences, biases, and values affect the therapeutic relationship and overall well-being of my clients.  When I am looking for a therapist to refer colleagues, family members, or friends, I look for the following three qualities:

  • A licensed professional with an appropriate level of education/training to treat the particular issues bringing the client into session.


  • Someone who authentically recognizes the limits of personal biases (we all have them).


  • Someone who empathically collaborates with their clients from a place of acceptance and compassion.

When working on issues of faith in a therapeutic setting, the same applies.  If you are interested in working through issues of faith or spirituality with a therapist, I also recommend the following suggestions: Take your time to find someone you feel comfortable with, and who simultaneously challenges you to grow. Be clear about what you are looking for in therapy.  Perhaps it’s wanting to learn how spirituality paired with therapeutic techniques can bolster resiliency.  Perhaps you are experiencing feelings of shame and perfectionistic tendencies which can be counterproductive to living the life you want to live.  Or perhaps you or a loved one is experiencing a crisis of faith and you need the support from a nonjudgemental, yet knowledgeable, third party.  Whatever your needs, find a therapist who you feel understands your journey and is comfortable exploring such sensitive issues with confidence.
*Please be sure to check in on the next article in this three-part series, where we explore the qualities which help define spiritual health, and five benefits of integrating spirituality with psychotherapy.



originally published by Utah Valley Health and Wellness Magazine

Introducing therapist Kenneth Jeppesen!

Kenneth Jeppesen joined the American Fork Center for Couples and Families in 2015. He is a master at knowing what it takes for couples to be successful in their relationships. Kenneth uses the “Gottman Method” in the counseling room and has presented all across Utah Valley on this topic. This method is based on decades of successful marital research by John Gottman. With skill and precision, Kenneth helps clients apply these findings in a way that produces happiness in relationships.

Kenneth specializes in marriage counseling, depression, anxiety and faith-based crisis counseling.

3 Reasons Why Reflective Listening is Awesome – by Joan Landes

Listening sounds easy. But it’s not. Real listening takes effort and skill.

Listening isn’t passing the time until the speaker runs out of things to say. Or mentally finding fault with the speaker’s argument so you can shoot down their logic. Or waiting for the speaker to take a breath so you can interrupt. These kinds of listening patterns can create a small war!

Therapists use a technique called “reflective listening” that can be useful for everyone. Reflective listening is different from the communication styles you grew up with (unless you are the child of psychotherapists), and is built on four main principles:

  1. Reflective listening is present in the moment. When listening, you don’t let your mind wander. You stay present with the speaker and give her your full attention.
  1. Reflective listening uses aligned body language. A reflective listener takes approximately (read more)