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Professor emeritus Diane Gehart recently delivered a TedX talk at Queens University in Canada that raised many issues within the field of mental health. (Photo by StockRocket, iStock)

Media Contact: Kaley Block or Carmen Ramos Chandler, (818) 677-2130 or carmen.chandler@csun.edu

With the stigma around mental health shifting, conversations about therapy are becoming increasingly popular. However, those who seek mental health counseling know finding a therapist or an ideal therapy approach isn’t always easy. 

Diane Gehart, professor emerita in California State University, Northridge’s Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling, recently delivered a Tedx talk at Queens University in Canada. In presenting her unifying psychotherapy framework, the professor raised many issues within the field of mental health. 

“Mental health is a field that needs to really think outside of its old traditional boxes,” said Gehart. “There’s no ill intent of anyone, there’s just a knowledge explosion. We ended up with all these different therapists developing theories, so the unifying framework I’m developing synthesizes hundreds of different theories into a single framework for doing.”

In her talk, Gehart offers a two-pronged solution to address the issues. Half of the solution is a unifying framework, and the other half includes steps that your average person can take to improve their own mental health and development that could make mental health care more accessible. 

“I was realizing the audience that might benefit from hearing about this unifying framework the most is just the general public,” she said. “I wanted to make the discussion accessible to the average person, so they can begin to lay their own foundation for greater mental health. So, I asked myself: How do you make this theoretical concept real, practical and actionable to a student or an audience member?” 

When presenting solutions that impact a general audience, Gehart talked about building micro-habits, a practice which includes transforming goals into one- or five-minute daily habits that create a momentum moving forward. 

Gerhart also discussed what she calls ‘the five pillars of wellness’ with the hope that the audience will leave with practical steps to take. These pillars include healthy eating, healthy sleep patterns, regular exercise, supportive relationships and a set of tools for managing your stress.

Additionally, Gehart said she hopes to further expand on her unifying framework with creation and development of ‘hybrid interventions in mental health,’ which are pre-recorded interventions that people can access in order to develop a stronger sense of psychoeducation. 

“We’re helping people really learn how to utilize tools like meditation or intervention that manage negative self-talk,” said Gehart. “All of these teachings can be pre-recorded, creating online courses for the average person, and allowing them to take charge of their own mental health. The idea is that this mini lecture supplements face-to-face psychotherapy, allowing the individual to come to a session prepared to talk about what they’ve learned and how it can be used or applied in their own lives.

“Well-trained mental health professionals are taught in cutting-edge and evidence-informed practices,” she said. “This unifying framework is really an evidence informed practice, it is cutting edge, and so I think it represents what all faculty are doing. We’re breaking new ground, creating new theoretical constructs and moving the field forward. We’re supposed to be pioneers in our discipline, and so this is probably my biggest example of pioneering work.” 

To learn more about the CSUN Department of Education Psychology and Counseling, visit https://www.csun.edu/eisner-education/educational-psychology-counseling.

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Media Contact: kaley.block.788@my.csun.edu or Carmen Ramos Chandler carmen.chandler@csun.edu (818) 677-2130

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