Opinion

Latimer: Avoiding life’s negative twists

Have you ever wondered if there were some simple steps you could take to feel happier?

Did you wish there was some good advice out there to help you get past the negative feelings that can hold you back?

A new course designed with some of these simple yet important things in mind is coming to Kelowna next week.

Living Life to the Full is an eight-week program that started in the UK and is now being run by the Canadian Mental Health Association here in Canada.

The course helps participants learn to identify and challenge negative thoughts, become more active and build confidence.

Based on classic cognitive behaviour therapy, the program helps people identify five areas affecting mental health: thoughts, feelings, physical symptoms, behaviours, activities and the environment in which we live. Next comes practical ways to effect change.

Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is known to be effective for those dealing with many mental health symptoms including depression, phobias, panic attacks, eating disorders, obsessions and anxiety.

But the skills used within CBT are also useful for the general public —who couldn’t use a little extra insight into why we feel the way we do?

This form of therapy is also very effective for other every day problems such as sleeplessness, inactivity, excessive worry or lack of confidence.

Living Life to the Full has been proven effective in four randomized, controlled studies.

A pilot program run in Canada also proved very successful with 85 percent of participants rating the course as useful to very useful and 91 percent saying they would recommend it to family and friends.

Broken into eight 90-minute sessions, the course deals with a different topic each week and participants plan for how they will handle that situation between sessions.

At each class, the previous week’s plan is reviewed and lessons gleaned for going forward.

I think this program has some excellent skills to teach to just about anyone and could be especially helpful for those looking to make a positive change in their lives.

While this kind of life skills training may not be all that is needed in cases of serious mental illness, it can certainly be a great place to start or a complimentary tactic in addition to medical help when necessary.

Living Life to the Full began in Kelowna on Nov. 5 at Okanagan College. It runs Monday evenings for eight weeks from 6:30 to 8 p.m. and the cost is $190.

Space is still available. For more information or to register, email cscentral@okanagan.bc.ca, call 250-862-5480 or visit www.llttf.ca.

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