Taking a revolutionary approach to everyday mental health, Associate Professor of Psychology Jamie Bodenlos and her colleague Dara G. Friedman-Wheeler of Goucher College argue that cognitive behavior strategies commonly used for managing psychological disorders can help individuals become more effective activists. Their research titled “On Becoming an Activist: Tips from Cognitive Behavior Therapy” is the first to apply this strategy to public service and will appear in the June edition of The Behavior Therapist.
“A lot of what we do as activists can be emotionally draining and, in the short-term, not very reinforcing,” explains Bodenlos, who collaborated with Friedman-Wheeler on a 2015 article on research methods with undergraduate students. “We discuss ways to regulate emotions through this process.”
Bodenlos and Friedman-Wheeler explore how changes to one’s efficiency, self-perception and attitude can alleviate feelings of anxiety and stress associated with social and political issues, in addition to increasing one’s impact in public service. “We both were recently involved in grassroots political activism and were discussing how our training in clinical psychology has helped us be more effective activists. We wanted to find a way to share these tools with others,” explains Bodenlos, who spoke recently at the Syracuse March for Science and Climate Change March. “It’s a unique application of this type of therapy.”
This is Bodenlos’ 24th publication since joining the faculty in 2009. An expert on the ties between psychological conditions and weight gain or loss, Bodenlos earned her Ph.D. from Louisiana State University, her M.A. from Western Carolina University and her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.
“We cannot, in good conscience, passively wait for others to make the world a better place,” Bodenlos and Friedman-Wheeler write. “The reality is that there are many ways to make a difference — but sometimes we can get a little stuck.”