For individuals in the U.S. & U.S. territories
In Exercise, Dr. Kate F. Hays demonstrates her approach to using exercise as a therapeutic tool. Physical exercise has been linked to mental health as well as physical health and may be used as another therapeutic tool for helping clients with stress, depression, and low self-esteem.
In this session, Dr. Hays counsels a young woman on her use of exercise, helping her to set realistic exercise goals and overcome a lack of motivation.
Kami reports that she is 50 pounds overweight and that all of her female siblings are overweight. She gained weight after a breakup with her longtime boyfriend. Kami's goals are to be an aerobics instructor and a plus-size model. She has been in therapy since she was 10 years old.
The intersection of exercise and mental health provides an opportunity for clinicians to understand and use the "body–mind" connection in various ways. A strong research base confirms the numerous benefits of physical activity in addressing emotional problems. Thus, the recommendation of exercise can provide an important adjunct to psychotherapy.
Exercise prescription is atheoretical. The particular approach that Dr. Hays uses takes into account issues of motivation, personal exercise history, types of exercise, social and gender issues, and supports for and barriers to change as they are known by and expressed in a particular client. The transtheoretical model provides a framework for understanding clients' levels of readiness for change. A spirit of collaborative empiricism supports incremental change and client self-efficacy.
The initial interview serves a number of functions: the establishment of empathic connection, a preliminary understanding of the client's presenting issues, the induction of hope, and some concrete and direct suggestions, framed as mini-experiments that engage the client's curiosity. An educational component provides tools that the client can use.
The therapist's use of writing during the interview—providing information, methods, and homework suggestions—models the value of record keeping, adds to the client's level of commitment, presents a reference point, provides a different modality for understanding information, and gives a tangible effect and reminder of the interview.
Exercise is a direct, concrete, and behaviorally obvious and measurable activity. The recommendation of exercise, and specifically tailored suggestions about exercise, can be used as a means to symptom resolution (e.g., decreased depression), a mediated method of change (e.g., increased self-esteem and mastery), and an example or metaphor for other types of change.
Kate F. Hays, PhD, practices clinical and sport psychology in her consulting practice The Performing Edge and at sports medicine clinics in Toronto. She lectures widely throughout North America. Dr. Hays is a fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA) and current president of APA's Division 47 (Exercise and Sport Psychology).
Dr. Hays has authored numerous publications, including Working It Out: Using Exercise in Psychotherapy (APA, 1999) and You're On! Consulting for Peak Performance (APA, 2004). Her research and practice interests concern the mental benefits of physical activity and the applications of sport psychology to other aspects of performance psychology.
- Babyak, M. A., Blumenthal, J. A., Herman, S., Khatri, P., Doraiswamy, P. M., Moore, K. A., et al. (2000). Exercise treatment for major depression: Maintenance of therapeutic benefit at 10 months. Psychosomatic Medicine, 62, 633–638.
- Berger, B. G., & Motl, R. (2001). Physical activity and quality of life. In R. N. Singer, H. A. Hausenblas, & C. M. Janelle (Eds.), Handbook of sport psychology (2nd ed., pp. 636–671). New York: Wiley.
- Green, B. S. (1995). Jogging the mind: How to use aerobic exercise as meditation. Dingman's Ferry, PA: Silverlake Press.
- Hays, K. F. (1999). Working it out: Using exercise in psychotherapy. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
- Hays, K. F. (2002). Move your body, tone your mood. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger.
- Hays, K. F., & Brown, C. H., Jr. (2004). You're on! Consulting for peak performance. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
- Johnsgard, K. W. (1989). The exercise prescription for depression and anxiety. New York: Plenum Press.
- Krucoff, C., & Krucoff, M. (2000). Healing moves: How to cure, relieve, and prevent common ailments with exercise. New York: Harmony Books.
- Leith, L. M. (1994). Foundations of exercise and mental health. Morgantown, WV: Fitness Information Technology.
- Marcus, B. H., Bock, B. C., Pinto, B. M., Napolitano, M. A., & Clark, M. M. (2002). Exercise initiation, adoption, and maintenance in adults: Theoretical models and empirical support. In J. L. Van Raalte & B. W. Brewer (Eds.), Exploring sport and exercise psychology (2nd ed., pp. 185–208). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
- Morgan, W. P. (Ed.). (1997). Physical activity and mental health. Washington, DC: Taylor & Francis.
- Sime, W. (2002). Guidelines for clinical application of exercise therapy for mental health case studies. In J. L. Van Raalte & B. W. Brewer (Eds.), Exploring sport and exercise psychology (2nd ed., pp. 225–251). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (1997). Physical activity and sport in the lives of girls: Physical and mental health dimensions from an interdisciplinary approach. Rockville, MD: Author.
- Tkachuk, G. A., & Martin, G. L. (1999). Exercise therapy for patients with psychiatric disorders: Research and clinical implications. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 30, 275–282.
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