Education Psychology University

The Process of Change – A New Way to Psychotherapy

Register now for the study program at the University of Basel

Have you ever wondered if there is a psychotherapy that integrates the best interventions from different schools of psychotherapy, applies them in a context- and situation-specific way, and is scientifically validated to be effective? Then perhaps process-based psychotherapy might just be something for you.

What is “process-based psychotherapy”?

Process-based psychotherapy addresses the question of how to initiate and support change processes in a context-specific manner using evidence-based interventions to help clients achieve lasting resolution of mental health problems, reduce symptoms and disorders, and improve quality of life and functioning. The therapeutic conversation and the therapeutic relationship serve as the foundation for promoting and supporting change processes in an evidence-based, moment-to-moment manner.

Process-based psychotherapy is the further development of disorder- or method-specific approaches, focusing on the mechanisms of action of clinically-relevant changes from research and practice. Accordingly, attention is directed to the psychological processes that promote flexibility in human behaviour across the board.

What exactly helps this person in their life context to achieve and maintain change?

In the therapeutic process, this is to be worked out, clarified, and implemented emotionally, cognitively, reflectively, motivationally, and behaviorally in contact with the clients, also taking into account physiological, social, cultural and societal conditions. Process-based psychotherapy thus involves a conceptual paradigm shift towards the central psychological mechanisms and processing that influence the behaviour and experience of clients both within and outside of psychotherapy.

So, what exactly do you learn in “process-based psychotherapy”?

First, we learn the theoretical and conceptual background of process-based psychotherapy, as well as the scientific foundations that are central to the therapeutic stance and approach. This includes, for example, behavioral analysis or psychiatric diagnostics but also practical matters such as dealing with digital possibilities, insurance issues and administration.

In the second part, effective strategies, and interventions for influencing basic and central processes of human experience and behavior are taught, which can be applied across disorders and problems. Process-relevant interventions from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), mindfulness-based therapy (MBT), compassion-focused therapy (CFT), and others are taught and practiced.

Further, we will learn specific contexts of applicability based on different populations: Psychotherapy across the lifespan (children, adolescents, adults, aging) and in different settings (individual, couple, family, group) and with different minorities (migration, LGBTQIA*). Somatic influencing factors (e.g., addictive substances, food, exercise) and the importance of critical life events (e.g., adaptation processes after serious illness, loss, separation, death, unfulfilled childbearing, job loss, and others) on mental health will also be included.

The program is complemented on one hand by workshops, which take place regularly and parallel to the modules. These workshops offer topics from research and clinical practice and are taught in the form of lectures and group work. On the other hand, the participants’ own clinical work, supervision and self-experience are, of course, a central part of the advanced studies.

Interested? Register now!

The Master of Advanced Studies in Process-Based Psychotherapy is aimed at psychologists with a master’s degree in psychology or physicians with a state examination/master’s degree in human medicine who are seeking a federally recognized specialist title in psychotherapy. You’ll find more info at the website of the University of Basel or you can directly register for online information events via Google Forms. The registration window for 2023 is open as of now.

Article Psychology

Music And The Brain: Is The Mozart Effect Real?

Can you become smarter by listening to Mozart’s music?

The Mozart Effect is a theory which states that listening to Mozart’s music can improve your intelligence, more specifically your spatial reasoning skills. It originated from a research study conducted by Rauscher, Shaw, and Ky, and administered on 36 college students in 1993, where they were subjected to three listening settings followed by a series of tests. One listening condition consisted of listening to Mozart’s double piano sonata K448, the other to relaxation audios, and finally a period of silence. They were then asked to solve one of three standard tests of abstract spatial reasoning. It has been concluded that the participants’ IQ increased by 8 – 9 points for the spatial part of the Stanford-Binet IQ test. The effect, however, only lasted for 10-15 minutes after listening to Mozart (Rauscher et al 1993). 

The claim became popular after the New York Times published an article about how listening to Mozart’s classical music makes children’s general IQ higher, which created a huge misconception about the study and created a mini-industry where families rushed to buy Mozart CDs in order to make their children smarter and better at school. In 1998, the misconception was further taken to a political level when Georgia’s governor Zell Miller launched a program, with a budget of $105,000 yearly, to distribute classical music CDs to every new born baby in his state (Holden 1998). This shows how easy misconceptions can reproduce and be shared as facts by the media and the general public, so it is important to stay vigilant on the sources of the information we read and share. 

To dive deeper into how true the Mozart Effect claim is, we need to discuss other experiments and their attempt at replicating the study. In 1996, a British study that was conducted on 8000 children showed that the effect is not directly related to Mozart’s classical songs, but to whichever type of music the person prefers. The study is known as “the Blur effect” due to the fact that the participants scored better on the spatial tasks when they listened to their preferred songs of Blur compared to when they listened to Mozart. This shows that the positive improvements enjoyed after listening to music have little to do with the music itself, and so much with the listener’s preferences and the feelings evoked from the act (Schellenberg and Hallam 2005). 

As a conclusion, listening to Mozart’s double piano sonata K448 will most likely have no effect on your general intelligence. However, listening to your favourite songs is shown to produce positive effects in terms of attention and alertness, and that is due to the positive emotions you would experience through the music, which in turn leads to a better performance, especially in visual-spatial reasoning tasks. 


Hetland L. 2000. Listening to music enhances spatial-temporal reasoning: Evidence for the “Mozart effect.” The Journal of Aesthetic Education, 34(3/4), 105–148.

Holden C. 1998. Mozart for Georgia newborns. Science 279 (5352): 663.

Rauscher FH, Shaw GL and Ky, KN. 1993. Music and spatial task performance. Nature, 365: 611.

Schellenberg, E.G., & Hallam, S. (2005). “Music listening and cognitive abilities in 10 and 11 year olds: The Blur effect”


wilob AG – Freie Plätze in der Eidg. anerkannten Psychotherapieausbildung

Start: 18. August 2022

Was wir bieten:

  • bekannte Dozent:innen
  • wunderschöne Räume
  • super Preis-, Leistungsverhältnis
  • sehr praxisorientiert und neben Job & Familie gut machbar!

Mehr zu diesem spannenden Angebot findest du unter folgender Webseite:

Psychotherapie Weiterbildung 22-26 – wilob AG

Oder hier in der Programmbroschüre:

Erfahre mehr über wilob AG auf Youtube:


Slowly Forgetting: ALF

Illustration by Shaumya Sankar

If you’re a student of psychology, then you’ve probably heard of HM, or Henry Molaison. He’s the person behind one of the most famous case studies in cognitive psychology, who lost his ability to form new memories after brain surgery. Memory research is one of the areas of psychology where case studies continue to offer significant opportunities for advancing the field. A contemporary example is the phenomenon known as accelerated long-term forgetting (ALF), which was first discussed in the form of a case report. A patient had suffered brain hypoxia, meaning that he had been depleted of oxygen for a period of time, causing brain damage. After this episode, his anterograde memory, that is his ability to create new memories and then recall them,  was deeply changed. 

Initial testing revealed an almost perfect retention of information at short delay intervals. However, when the time between learning and recalling grew larger, it was clear he was forgetting things at a pathological rate (De Renzi & Lucchelli, 1993). In short, ALF Patients show fast decay of recently learned information, but only after a long period of time. In clinical practice, most standardized memory tests focus on episodic memory. They measure performance using verbal and figural recall or recognition tasks. Recall is usually tested after a delay of approximately 20-30 minutes. This is not long enough to detect ALF. The pathological forgetting usually does not become apparent until approximately 24 hours (Savage et al., 2019). 

Most cases of ALF are reported in relation with different forms of epilepsy, but ALF has also been associated with other diseases. For example, in a study by Weston and colleagues (2018), it is suggested that ALF may be an early, presymptomatic feature of Alzheimer’s disease. It also occurs in individuals with transient ischemic attacks (a sort of ministroke), or after severe traumatic brain injury. 

Studies suggest that ALF is most likely an impairment of memory consolidation, rather than memory encoding (Hoefeijzers et al., 2013). Memory consolidation, or the stabilization of a memory after its encoding,  occurs over days and weeks (Chambers, 2017). The standard model of consolidation (Squire & Alvarez, 1995) assumes two phases of consolidation, which Mayes and colleagues (2003) also refer to as “fast” and “slow” consolidation. In the first, early phase of consolidation, the medial temporal lobe (MTL) with structures such as the hippocampus is considered central. As you might remember, HM had large parts of both his hippocampus removed. Within this model, we can assume that he was not able to start the early phase of consolidation.  

In the second, later phase of consolidation, memories are reorganized to be supported by the neocortex and eventually become independent of the MTL.
For this reason, research on ALF examining prolonged retrieval delays may be useful in gaining insight into the processes that are important for successful maintenance of information in long-term memory (Butler et al., 2019). 

In terms of the structures involved the hippocampus has a central role in both encoding and retrieval of information (Atherton et al., 2019). Some studies have found an association between ALF and hippocampal abnormalities. That being said, the picture is more complicated than trouble in the hippocampus = ALF. While hippocampal volume correlates with forgetting over short periods of time, meaning that smaller hippocampuses are associated with more forgetting, there is no such relationship in the brains of ALF in patients with memory loss brought on by epilepsy. Thus, it  seems that hippocampal dysfunction alone is not sufficient to explain ALF (Helmstaedter et al., 2019). Indeed., ALF has been found predominantly in tasks involving word lists and visual designs. Both types of stimuli affect item memory, which is supported by extra-hippocampal regions (Ranganath & Ritchey, 2012), underlining how this problem stretches beyond the hippocampus. This has stimulated research into the relevance of extrahippocampal regions (Mameniškienė et al., 2020). 

ALF continues to be an elusive diagnosis, but as research continues, we get a better understanding of how our brain shapes the inner workings of our memory. In the same vein, it’s important not to forget the patients. By continuing research, we can hope to one day be able to provide a better diagnosis, and who knows, maybe even treatment? A first step would be to implement more sophisticated tests for memory, going beyond the current 20-30 minutes recall delay. 


Atherton, K. E., Filippini, N., Zeman, A., Nobre, A. C., & Butler, C. R. (2019). Encoding-related brain activity and accelerated forgetting in transient epileptic amnesia. Cortex; a journal devoted to the study of the nervous system and behavior, 110, 127–140.

Butler, C., Gilboa, A., & Miller, L. (2019). Accelerated long-term forgetting. Cortex; a journal devoted to the study of the nervous system and behavior, 110, 1–4.

Chambers A. M. (2017). The role of sleep in cognitive processing: focusing on memory consolidation. Wiley interdisciplinary reviews. Cognitive science, 8(3), 10.1002/wcs.1433.

De Renzi, E., & Lucchelli, F. (1993). Dense retrograde amnesia, intact learning capability and abnormal forgetting rate: A consolidation deficit? Cortex: A Journal Devoted to the Study of the Nervous System and Behavior, 29(3), 449–466.

Helmstaedter, C., Winter, B., Melzer, N., Lohmann, H., & Witt, J. A. (2019). Accelerated long-term forgetting in focal epilepsies with special consideration given to patients with diagnosed and suspected limbic encephalitis. Cortex; a journal devoted to the study of the nervous system and behavior, 110, 58–68.

Hoefeijzers, S., Dewar, M., Della Sala, S., Zeman, A., & Butler, C. (2013). Accelerated long- term forgetting in transient epileptic amnesia: an acquisition or consolidation deficit?. Neuropsychologia, 51(8), 1549–1555.

Mameniškienė, R., Puteikis, K., Jasionis, A., & Jatužis, D. (2020). A Review of Accelerated Long-Term Forgetting in Epilepsy. Brain sciences, 10(12), 945.

Mayes, A. R., Isaac, C. L., Holdstock, J. S., Cariga, P., Gummer, A., & Roberts, N. (2003). Long-term amnesia: A review and detailed illustrative case study. Cortex: A Journal Devoted to the Study of the Nervous System and Behavior, 39(4-5), 567–603. 9452(08)70855-4

Ricci, M., Mohamed, A., Savage, G., & Miller, L. A. (2015). Disruption of learning and long-term retention of prose passages in patients with focal epilepsy. Epilepsy & behavior : E&B, 51, 104– 111.

Ranganath, C., & Ritchey, M. (2012). Two cortical systems for memory-guided behaviour. Nature reviews. Neuroscience, 13(10), 713–726.

Squire, L. R., & Alvarez, P. (1995). Retrograde amnesia and memory consolidation: a neurobiological perspective. Current opinion in neurobiology, 5(2), 169–177.

news student life

Choosing a master’s: speaking with Niels

Niels Kempkens

University of Fribourg

Master of Science in Clinical and Health Psychology

What made you choose this particular option?

During the exchange year in my bachelor’s, I discovered the bilingual study offers of the University of Fribourg. To me, the possibility to study in several languages (French, German and sometimes English) at the same time was perfect both on a personal level as well as well as an academic one. What brought me to clinical psychology was the opportunity of working in a one-to-one setting, where you can feel that your work has a real positive impact. Knowing that what I’m doing has a purpose is really important to me. Finally, the approaches taught in Fribourg are mostly client-centered and cognitive behavioral. I think that anyone considering a master’s in clinical psychology should take this into account when choosing where to pursue their degree. Ideally, you identify with the approaches taught—which is my case in Fribourg. (As a side note, the same holds in psychotherapy: therapists who are convinced by their approach also tend to be more successful!)

How do you feel about your choice today?

I’m very happy with my training in research methods. We even had an optional class dedicated to meta-analysis. I had very engaging and interesting classes in neighboring fields such as epidemiology and Applied Behavior Analysis. Last but not least, the psychology department in Fribourg being quite small, this meant I enjoyed close follow-up from my thesis supervisor. I never felt like just a number on a list. However, it also means that the selection of classes is not as big as what you could maybe find in larger universities. Sometimes I found my options a bit limited when filling in the last credits of my program. All in all, I’m very pleased with what I’ve learned, and the skills I’ve acquired during my studies here, doing hands on work, such as practicing structured clinical interviews.

What are some future career options that you consider?

I’m currently I’m aiming to do a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and enroll in a post-graduate program to become a psychotherapist. I could also picture myself working with in a public institution in the field of health promotion. I believe the methodological and clinical skills I’ve picked up in Fribourg will help me follow that path.  

Thank you for your time Niels! That’s all for this season! Good luck to all future master’s students out there!


Choosing a master’s: speaking with Daniel

What made you choose this particular option?

I was always interested in life sciences, and I even did a year of medicine before starting psychology. During my bachelor’s in psychology, at the University of Geneva, I tried to have a very interdisciplinary approach. When I started thinking about what master’s degree I wanted to pursue, I knew I was interested in research, and so I hesitated between a degree in neurosciences, and one oriented towards basic research in psychology.

The neuroscience degree is very hands on, with a majority of the credits coming from research work and internships. However, I find it a bit lacking in the theoretical department. The psychology degree on the other hand had lot’s of interesting classes, but there was less room for research. I couldn’t choose, so I ended up signing up for both programs.

How do you feel about your choice today?

The master’s in neuroscience is an interdisciplinary program, open to people with a background in biology, psychology, medicine, and other related fields. That being said, having a bachelor’s in psychology, I find that a lot of the theory classes are a bit redundant.

The research side is very engaging. Laboratory internships is a central part of the program. If the team you join doesn’t have a good structure ready to welcome you, you’re in for a rough start. A lot of knowledge is learned informally, so how it plays out varies a lot from person to person, and from lab to lab.

As said before, there isn’t that many opportunities to choose classes based on your own areas of interest. Personally, I’m very happy I chose to enrol in a psychology master’s degree as well. Without the classes from this program, there is a lot of knowledge that I wouldn’t have had going before starting my career. That could have turned into a weakness later on. At the end of the line, I think my neuroscience program is a very flexible. However, with this comes the personal responsibility to fill any potential gaps.

What are some future career options that you consider?

I definitely want to go into the world of research and pursue an academic career. I know some people use their neuroscience background to find jobs in applied research, working in the industry.

Personally, I’m interested in sexual neuroscience, with a fundamental research approach on humans. But this is a very little-known field, and consequently with very little funding. Maybe I’ll start by making some compromises and work in the field of affective sciences at the beginning of my career. It’s just as exciting and is a highly developed field here in Geneva.

Thank you for your time Daniel! If you want to learn more about what possibilities are out there, check out are interviews with Sandro, who’s studying personality and social psychology at the University of Bern, and Vanessa, who’s pursuing a degree in Business psychology at the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland.

Next time, we’ll be back at in the Mittelland, or plateau suisse if you prefer, to speak with Niels Kempkens, who’s about to wrap up a degree in clinical and health psychology at the University of Fribourg.

student life

Choosing a master’s: speaking with Vanessa

Vanessa Schär

University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland

Master’s degree in Business Psychology

What made you choose this particular option? 

In my Matura thesis, I had already taken an interest in the homo economicus and analyzed whether this conception of man is still up to date. For me, human behavior in an economic context is extremely exciting, because we are presented with consumer decisions every day.

Before I decided on a field of study, I took a RIASEC test at the career counseling center. I scored full marks for a career in the field of psychology. My career counselor advised me to follow that path, and I choose to go with that piece of advice.

I then started looking for a specific program, and I sat down to learn more about the different career possibilities in psychology. During my search, I came across a new bachelor’s degree in Business Psychology, offered by the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland. The courses combined everything that interested me. I liked it so much that at the end of my bachelor’s I decided to pursue a master’s in the same field.

To this day, I have no regrets about my choice and can only recommend studying business psychology!

How do you feel about your choice today? 

I absolutely love it. My academic education has enabled me to enter the field of behavioral economics consulting. I am also finishing my master’s degree. I am extremely happy with my academic and professional decisions and highly recommend it.

What are some future career options that you consider?

After my studies, I would like to start working full time for my current employer, elaboratum, a consulting firm. I am really looking forward to it, and I’m already involved in many exciting projects and look forward to going to work every day.

My co-students from the master’s program work in related fields. Some have moved into marketing, others are user-experience researchers, product managers, market researchers and many other professional fields where the perspective offered by someone with a background in psychology is welcome.

Thank you for your time Vanessa! If you haven’t already had the chance take a look at our other texts about choosing a master’s degree. Maybe you’re not too sure where to start? Or maybe you would like to learn more about what it’s like for those who have already made their choice? Stay tuned as we keep talking to master’s students, helping you get a clearer picture of what your options are!


Choosing a master’s: speaking with Sandro

The spring semester is upon us , and that means a new year of Bachelor’s students are preparing to choose their Master’s program. It’s a hard choice indeed, and in many ways it’s the first serious step towards choosing a specific career, closing some doors, and opening others.

In earlier posts we’ve given some general tips about how to approach this decision.

In this series we will take a closer look at some of the options, by speaking with students doing a master’s in one of the many disciplines of psychology. In this first installment, we’ll be speaking with Sandro Jenni, head of psyCH!


Sandro Jenni

University of Bern

Master of psychology with two main areas

  1. Personality, Differential Psychology and Diagnostics
  2. Social Psychology and Social Neuroscience

What made you choose this particular option? 

I picked my two specializations because they offered me the opportunity to follow a really broad Master’s program. I’m interested in so many areas of psychology, so when I was approaching the end of my Bachelor’s  I found it difficult to choose just one area to focus on. I ended up reasoning that the two fields I chose in many ways provide the basis for a lot of other areas in psychology that I’m also interested in, that might be closer to applied psychology.
Before I made my choice, I read through the  descriptions of the classes in all the specializations that were offered. I highly recommend doing that. It provides you with a pretty clear picture of what you will learn in each program instead of just asking yourself on a superficial level whether a field is a good match for you. As I researched the different options, I realized that most of the questions I was interested in during my Bachelor’s were closely related to the two specializations I ended up choosing, and so I knew what to pick.

How do you feel about your choice today? 

Today, I’m a bit more than halfway through my Master’s, and I feel like I made the right decision . I enjoyed the classes so far and learned so many things that I always wanted to know.

What are some future career options that you consider? 

Haha, that’s a hard one! Thinking about potential career options, I have to admit that one challenge of a broad Master’s program is that there is no  obvious next step after graduation. Of course, this is also an opportunity, I have so many options!
Today, I feel pulled in many directions. To give you an idea, I am considering doing a PhD in one of the fields related to my Master’s.
I could also imagine pursuing a job in the fields of organizational, environmental or political psychology, working as a consultant, doing field research or holding workshops. In the same vein I can picture myself doing stuff like test construction and validation, or even working for the Swiss Federal Office of Statistics. 

Finally, I think about working as a mediator, focusing on conflict resolution in NGO’s or for the government. It’s good that I still have some time left to decide! 

Thank you for your time Sandro!
We’ll keep exploring the different master’s programs out there! In our next blog post, we’ll be speaking to Vannessa Schär. She is pursuing a master’s degree in business psychology at the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland!
Stay tuned


Binge-watching, a new pathological concern

Illustration by Shaumya Sankar

Binge-watching can be defined as a bulimic or “burst” viewing of several episodes of a TV series simultaneously. In the literature, it is often defined as watching more than two episodes of a tv series in one setting (Steins-Loeber et al., 2020). What characterizes binge-watching from other types of TV series viewing is specifically the word binge, which refers to something excessive, in this case, the excessive consumption of TV series.

Binge-watching is a new phenomenon whose appearance is closely related to the increasingly easy access to various online streaming services such as Netflix. Because of its various negative consequences observed through the years, such as; loss of control, neglect of essential tasks and duties, sleep problems, reduced social contacts, and unhealthy eating, binge-watching has been considered to share some problematic characteristics with substance-related or behavioral addictions, earning itself a place as  a new addictive behavior (Steins-Loeber et al., 2020).

However, even though it seems to have an uncanny amount of things in common with the more familiar types of addiction, it is important to acknowledge the differences between addictive behaviors and binge-watching. While there are certainly pathological aspects, or behaviors that can have important negative aspects, a more nuanced appreciation is necessary to avoid overly pathologizing view of a rather common activity.  (Steins-Loeber et al., 2020).  Researchers have named some characteristics that can help differentiate between pathological and non-pathological binge-watching. One of them is the fact that many cases of over-involvement in TV series are transitory. In other words, the behavior is closely linked to the context or the events that occur in a person’s life. Many people go through periods of binge-watching, but then return to a more normal state of affairs. 

Secondly, most cases of binge-watching have a relatively low impact on daily life, largely due to the transitory nature of the phenomenon, as we just discussed. Finally, when asked, people also report a positive opinion of binge-watching as it allows them to escape the present and to relax for some time. This last point might bring our thoughts to classic models of substance abuse, but the important difference is that going on a week long alcohol binge holds countless potential dangers for both you and the people around you, a week of watching too much TV in response to a difficult period (say right before exams!) holds little consequences beyond that immediate period of time. While maybe not the ideal, it’s far from the traditional problematic coping-strategies. 

In sum, that’s why we can’t label all episodes of binge-watching as a behavioral cousin of  classical pathological addictive disorders, despite them having quite a few things in common. 


Steins-Loeber, S., Reiter, T., Averbeck, H., Harbarth, L., & Brand, M. (2020). Binge-Watching Behaviour : The Role of Impulsivity and Depressive Symptoms. European Addiction Research, 26(3), 141‑150.

Flayelle M, Maurage P, Billieux J. Toward a qualitative understanding of binge-watching behaviors: A focus group approach. J Behav Addict. 2017 Dec; 6(4): 457–71

Post, T. J. (s. d.). One more episode, please? : Why we can’t stop binge-watching on Netflix. The Jakarta Post. Consulté 4 février 2022, à l’adresse 

The pros and cons of binge-watching. (2017, février 27). Den of Geek.


SBAP – Support and services for students and young professionals

Who or what is SBAP?
The Swiss Professional Association for Applied Psychology

What does the SBAP offer?
SBAP fights for the concerns of psychologists and psychotherapists on a political level and offers a variety of services such as further education (emergency psychology, coaching in ADHD and autism spectrum disorder, etc.).

What is the benefit for me as a student or young professional to be part of the SBAP?
At the moment, three areas are being developed and expanded from which you can benefit as a member.

The first area is personal support. A pool of SBAP members – mentors – from various areas of the psychological world provide answers to individual questions from students and young professionals.

  • The second area includes workshops, trainings and company visits that are tailored to students and young professionals. As a member, you receive discounts, and all interested parties can take part.

Upcoming courses:

  • Company Visit: SRK, Ambulatorium für Folter- und Kriegsopfer
  • Company Visit: JVA Pöschwies
  • Continuing education: Begleitung von Gewaltopfern
  • Workshop: Unbewusste Voreingenommenheit im Gesundheitswesen
  • Workshop: Achtsamkeit

You’ll find all our whole range of courses by following this link!

  • The third area is online support, with an online platform for students and young professionals. It is a platform with FAQs on studies and career entry, portraits of psychologists from various fields as well as further information on further education and employers.

Who can become a SBAP member?
Psychologists from the start of their studies until retirement.

Would you like to get to know the SBAP? Then sign up now for a trial membership. For the first year you pay only 50% of the student rate (CHF 50.- instead of CHF 100.-) and still benefit from all advantages. Send us an e-mail with the subject “Schnuppern 22” and your details (surname, first name, address). For further information, please contact the office (

BTW. You’ll find us at the Mad Pride in Bern this year, come and join us!

We look forward to hearing from you and are happy to answer any questions you may have. The SBAP team (

Facts news

Losing yourself: Dissociative Identity Disorder

Illustration by Shaumya Sankar

Have you ever felt like you couldn’t recognize yourself? For some people this goes so far that it turns into a pathological state, usually referred to as a dissociative identity disorder. 

In the DSM-5 (American Psychiatric Association 2013), dissociative identity disorder (DID) is described as a disruption of identity characterized by two or more distinct personality states or an experience of possession. This definition might seem a bit intimidating, so let me try explaining it in a less medical manner. 

Firstly, what is a dissociative condition? It is a state that most people have experienced at least a dozen times in their lives: when we read a book we love, play a video game, watch a movie or even when you can not find something you just held in your hand. It’s the moments we get so lost in our own minds that for a second we forget what we were doing. 

What separates this state that we have all experienced from a full on disorder is above all the quantitative aspect. Where we usually remember where we left that thing a few minutes later, they spend entire hours in this dissociative state, and later they don’t remember it at all. 

There are different types of dissociative disorders, with different particularities to the dissociative states. What makes DID stand out, is the fact that when people suffering from DID dissociate, they usually tend to act like a completely different person, having completely different habits, gestures and even referring to themselves with different names. Patients harbor two or more personalities, with cases up to a 100 (DSM-IV, 1994) different alters being on record, and in some cases, these personalities can communicate with one another (Howell 2011; Keys 1981). However, it is a very rare disorder affecting between 0.01% and 1% of the population.

Now that we have a general idea of what DID is, the next question is of course, what leads people to dissociate? How do you end up like this? The most cited cause of dissociative identity disorder is trauma. It is believed that in the case of a deep traumatic event, people develop different personalities as a coping mechanism, in order for the person not to experience the full impact of the occurrence. The most common events behind DID are sexual assault and childhood abuse. (Wiginton 2021, Edelstein 2015)

How is DID detected? What are the diagnostic criteria? The most known symptom, and perhaps the most obvious one, is memory loss (also known as amnesia). In the majority of cases, people who dissociate do not remember long passages of time, in the DSM-5 this is described as “recurrent gaps in the recall of everyday events, important personal information, and/or traumatic events that are inconsistent with ordinary forgetting”. Due to this amnesia, they will also have a blurred sense of their personality and a sense of being detached from themselves and their emotions. Moreover, the DSM-5 states that the disturbance should not be a normal part of a broadly accepted religious practice or attributable to any physiological effects of a substance (American Psychiatric Association 2013). Usually, DID is also accompanied by other mental health problems like depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.

One of the most frequent questions when it comes to dissociative identity disorder is treatment related: is there a cure? There does not exist a specific pharmacological treatment for DID. Even though there is medication that treats some of the symptoms that are likely to occur, such as depression or anxiety, the most effective treatment is psychotherapy(Brand, B., & Loewenstein, R. J. 2010). In this case, the therapy should be focused on identifying and working on the past trauma, managing the behavioral changes and merging the separate identities into a single one. In some cases, hypnotherapy is also recommended. This is a form of guided meditation that helps recover repressed memories. However, a definitive cure does not exist, the above-mentioned treatments are mainly able to reduce the symptoms. Nonetheless, people do learn to have more control over their behavior and live with their difficulties. Therefore, having a secure support system is very important for people suffering from DID.


Brand, B., & Loewenstein, R. J. (2010). Dissociative disorders: An overview of assessment, phenomenology, and treatment. Psychiatric Times, 27(10), 62-69.

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Dissociative Disorders. In Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.).

Keys, Daniel. 1981. The Minds of Billy Milligan. Random House.

Howell, F. Elizabeth. n.d. Understanding and Treating Dissociative Identity Disorder: A Relational Approach. Routledge. n.d. “Alters in Dissociative Identity Disorder (MPD) and DDNOS.”

Cleveland Clinic medical professional. 2021. “Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder).” Cleveland Clinic (blog). May 25, 2021.

Dorahy, Martin J, Bethany L Brand, and Vedat Şar. 2014. “Dissociative Identity Disorder: An Empirical Overview” 48 (5): 402–17.

Mayo Clinic Staff. 2017. “Dissociative Disorders.” Mayo Clinic (blog). November 17, 2017., Keri. 2021. “What Is Dissociation?” WebMD (blog). June 28, 2021.

Facts psyCH aktuell student life

The Official psyCH Study Tips!

Illustration by Shaumya Sankar

The exam period is upon us once again, and if you’re like us, you probably don’t mind a little break from studying. Why not use your pause for something useful, like reading a few suggestions on how to make the most of the time you have left to prepare for your exams? 

Now before we dive into this, I want to make a small disclaimer. I wrote The Official psyCH Study Tips! in the title because it sounded better, but I have to be honest with you, Kristian’s Personal Tongue-in-cheek Suggestions for Students Approaching an Exam, is closer to what I’m actually doing here. In essence, everyone has their own preferences, strengths and weaknesses when it comes to learning. I for one am almost unable to remember anything I hear. To compensate, I take notes all the time. Talking to my mother, or talking to my thesis advisor, it makes no difference. If it’s not spelled out in letters, it’s gone in 5 minutes. I even have to check my ID to remember my age every now and then. Sometimes I wonder how I even made it beyond my bachelor’s, but I digress. All I’m trying to say is that these suggestions seemed to have worked for me, so maybe they can work for you. Let’s get into it! 

  1. Make a study plan

You don’t learn from just sitting in the library, you learn from studying. At first glance this seems so obvious that it’s bordering on a truism, and yet it’s easily forgotten. Only time spent actually working is valuable to you when preparing for your exams. The first step towards minimising the gap between library-time and effective-work-time is to get organised. Draw up an overview of all the hours at your disposal, and assign specific tasks to each timeslot. 

Don’t just put general things like “studying”  (then you’re going to end up like me, writing blog posts when you should be writing summaries). Be as specific as possible, for example: 10h-12h: Social Psychology: Write summaries of chapter 3-4. Specify what, when and where, with a concrete goal in mind, so you know how far you’ve advanced. Above all, be realistic in your goals, you can always adjust them later if you’ve misjudged your capabilities.

Now before you start drawing up 14 hour days, have a look at the next suggestion 

  1. Stick to your usual schedule!

Imagine for a moment you’re preparing for a sprinting competition. You need to run 60 metres as fast as possible. 

This is basically what an exam is. You can argue that exams are far from the best way to assess you abilities (I’m sure there is some psychological model explaining the different phases of despair when facing an upcoming exam, trying to argue against the importance of exams is probably the first one) and you may be right, but the fact of the matter remains: you have been assigned a very short period to show all you’ve learned during the last semester. 

Now back to the race. How would you prepare for a sprint ? Would you spend three weeks running as many marathons as you can, and then show up on race day with a few cans of red bull, hoping that you make it to the finish line?  

It sounds ridiculous when put like this, and yet this is what plenty of students do each exam period, and they keep doing it year after year. 

In concrete terms, this means that when preparing your schedule, you use short intervals, just as if you were trying to increase your cardiovascular fitness. For me that means at maximum two hours for each task, longer then that and I’m bored to death long before the end. Even more importantly: pace yourself. Despite what many students seem to think, you don’t get a medal for sitting in the library until 2 in the morning. You don’t get a medal for doing good on your exam either (unless you do VERY good, but you’re reading this instead of studying, so we both know that’s not going to happen), but good grades are always helpful, and being exhausted on the third day of your study period because you worked for 14 hours yesterday is not going to get you anywhere. 

Try to stick to your usual schedule as much as reasonably possible. Only hours spent working effectively count towards your exam, so make sure the hours you spend in the library enter into that category. When the sun has settled, and you’re so hungry and tired that you keep confusing b’s with d’s, it’s time to head home. 

  1. Exercise!

Some Roman guy once wrote “Mens in sana in corpore sano”, which translates to “a healthy mind in a healthy body”. You’ve probably heard this before, but I’m going to help you understand what it means for your exam preparation. The exam period is not a good time to stop exercising!  That being said, make sure you do something fun, like playing football, climbing or whatever you like ( I personally hate football). Despite what the behaviourist wants you to believe, you’re not actually a rat (even though you might smell like one). Running in a wheel or pushing buttons up and down are not fun ways for humans to exercise. Pursue physical activity during your exam period for the fun of it, not just to move. Your grades will improve. 

  1. Talk to other students about the material 

As you get closer to the exams you have a better grip on the materials. Now it’s time to clear any misconceptions from your mind, and above all, do some active rehearsal. Find the smartest girl or guy in your class or friend group, and ask them to study with you. Ask each other questions, exchange summaries, discuss what parts you find the most interesting, and tie it to something from your everyday life. 

For example, if you’re revising evolutionary psychology you can talk about how you can’t seem to find anyone willing to reproduce with you, or if you’re studying social psychology, talk about how the the Dunning-Kruger effect relates to your personal experience at university!

 So there you go. I hope these suggestions help you, and if they didn’t, then you’re probably doing it wrong 😉

Good luck with your exams!


Choosing a master’s : a few tips

Illustration by Shaumy Sankar

As a student in the sixth semester of my bachelors the decision for a master’s major is getting more and more important. And I know from many of my fellow students that most uf us have not yet made a decision about our future master’s degree program. In the following blog post I would like to share some inspirations on how to choose the right master’s degree program. 

Make some general considerations first

Take time for reflection and thoughts about the future. For example: Was there a course during the bachelor’s program that gained your interest in particular, and that you want to deepen? Or maybe you’re looking to try something new? Career considerations are also part of the picture: are you more interested in theory and research or in practice? Where do you want to work later? 

To get an overview, it might be helpful for you to think about what you definitely don’t want to do. If you feel overwhelmed, starting with what you definitely don’t want to do is sometimes easier. Important is: try not to limit yourself to something. If for some reason you’re unsatisfied with your choice, it will be easier for you to reorient yourself if you at least have a Plan B.

The key is to get an idea about what your future job might look like.

Your university’s master’s information day is a good place to start to learn about the different programs available.
Browse through the different departments on the university’s website and gather information based on their study programs. Which study program arouses your interest the most?

Gaining insight into a certain field or profession requires some personal initiative. Different universities offer opportunities for career insights on a regular basis. How these are done differs from university to university. Every year, the University of Bern invites psychologists to talk about their jobs and career paths, offering students a unique inside view of their field of choice. Both the University of Geneva and the University of Fribourg offer courses essentially providing the same service. Chances are, your university offers something similar. Even if you’re not in the related programs, you’re almost certain to be welcomed by the course instructor if you ask to audit the sessions that you’re interested in! 

Once you have an idea about what field you want to know more about, I would suggest trying to organize a trial day. A good place to start is to ask one of your lecturers if they know of any institutions or companies working in the area you want to learn more about. Another possibility is to directly contact a place you would be interested in working, for example a private practice, a clinic or a rehabilitation center. When contacting them, spend some time finding the right person. Don’t email the head of the hospital, but maybe the head of the department you want to visit, preferably a psychologist, or someone with an academic background similar to yours. Send them an email, and don’t forget to call them if you don’t have an answer within a week or two! Emails are easily ignored or forgotten, but if you get to talk to them, they will have to give you some thought. The worst thing that happens is that they tell you no. Don’t take it personally, and try again somewhere else. If it was easy, it wouldn’t be worth doing!   

Ask for a mini-internship, for example one day of observing their daily work, and attach your CV. Speaking from personal experience, I was able to visit various neuropsychological institutions for a few days and observe the daily work of interns as well as trained psychologists. Not only did I get a clearer idea about the field, but I was also able to make some contacts that might come in handy later. If you are interested in research, your best bet is to contact the head of the lab directly. Depending on the size of the research team, they might have someone designated as intern responsable. You will be able to tell from their website. Lab’s work closely with the rest of the university, and can certainly be expected to accommodate you for a day or two.  

Finally, psyCH offers several opportunities to get in touch with people from all areas of psychology. Our official internship platform, psyPra is a good place to look for internship opportunities. Click here to have a look!

That being said, personal contact is always the best way to go! Show up to the next psyKo, and speak to professionals in the field! Countless internships started out as casual conversations between conference attendees.  Click here to read more about this year’s conference!

Don’t be afraid to take your time! 

If you are unsure between two fields then use your time to gain some experience! You can do internships in both fields during a gap year and make your decision based on your experiences.  

Inform yourself through people in the field 

Read job ads in psychology, for example on FSP’s website, and see what appeals to you the most. You could also view career biographies of role models, for example via Linkedin. Psychoscope is published by the FSP every month, and gives insight into the workday of psychologist’s from all over Switzerland!  

Finally and most important, talk to the right people. Exchange ideas with fellow students and with master’s students. And especially talk to people in the field for example during trial days or internships.

Last but not least: Don’t worry. You can always change location, reallocate your credits, or completely change your master’s degree program. Sometimes, despite careful research, a study program just isn’t what you thought it would be. The worst thing that could happen is that you end up trying something else, and that not really so bad is it?

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A coffee break with Emma Broggini, co-founder of the ZETA Movement

« No great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness“ 

 -Aristotle, 384-322 BCE 

The representation of mental illness and the way society treats it has changed significantly throughout the years.  Findings of 7000 year-old skulls, with holes in them, assumed to have been drilled with the goal of releasing evil spirits, believed to be the cause of mental illness (Stanwell-Smith, 2019). People with mental illnesses were considered as possessed, or even worse, as otherworldly. The treatment they were given was even more inhumane like cold baths and lobotomy (Stanwell-Smith, 2019).

But, with time and progress, research and diagnosis – pioneers in psychiatry such as Philipe Pinel fought to abolish the negative stigma of mental illness, and for a more humane treatment (Corrigan & Bink, 2016).

Slowly but surely, people with mental illness started to be considered as real individuals, capable of both contributing to, and to be a part of society.

It goes without saying that the negative stigma has still not been entirely erased from the public consciousness. History still casts long shadows into the present,  and psychopathology is still associated with violence and dangerous behavior. This has consequences for the social and professional integration of those suffering from mental disorders. As a result, people do not seek help or even seek to avoid hospitalization, (Overton & Medina, 2008). « We can say that mental illness is like a two-edged sword. On one side, there are the symptoms, the distress and the disability that withhold people from pursuing their personal goals. On the other, there is stigma: the social injustice many people labeled mentally ill experience »  (Corrigan & Bink, 2016).

This matter also influences the young generations. It is still taboo to talk about mental health problems. The ZETA Movement was created precisely in order to fight against the stigmatization and silence facing the young generations regarding the topic of mental health in Switzerland.

Read on for a short interview with one of the founders of the ZETA Movement, Emma Broggini!

Emma Broggini, co-founder of the ZETA Movement

As the co-founder of this project, how would you describe the ZETA Movement ?

I would say that the ZETA Movement is a group of young people who have decided to actively do something for mental health awareness. We recognize that mental health is a very important and relevant topic in our society that is too often stigmatized. We decided to engage with the issue and break the cycle of stigma.

What are the goals you want to reach with your project ?

I think the first goal we have is to start the conversation on mental health issues, because we are convinced that to talk about it is the first step towards a society that is more tolerant and understanding regarding mental health. We do this by creating safe spaces in which this type of conversation can take place. The more we talk about it, the less taboos and prejudices we will have about the topic. 

Are you satisfied with the results of the ZETA Movement so far ?

Absolutely! I would even say that I’m way more than satisfied. I am surprised, and definitely proud of all our achievements and the milestones we’ve reached. Not only in terms of the number of people that are joining our movement, but also because of the recognition that we receive. That being said, I think that the most important success and achievement we have had, is that people and young people in particular are benefitting from the ZETA Movement, meaning that they can find a safe space to talk about mental health.

What is the ZETA Movement doing to fight the two-sided problem of stigmatization faced by people with mental health issues ?  

The ZETA Movement is trying to act on both sides of the problem. On one hand we are telling people that they are not alone in whatever they’re going through, and that they can find help. And on the other hand we are providing safe spaces where the stigmatization you find in society is absent, and you can just talk, listen and be yourself with whatever bagage you have regarding mental health issues. 

Thank you so much for your time, is there anything which you would like to add ?

 Yes, one of our biggest projects is training young Ambassadors. They are young people who have experienced mental health issues in their lives, and go to various locations where there are young people, like schools, associations and youth centers, to talk about their experiences. We just started opening for new applications. We would be very happy if anyone reading this post would like to apply and contribute.  
Click here to apply!

References :

Corrigan, P. W., & Bink, A. B. (2016). The Stigma of Mental Illness. In Encyclopedia of Mental Health (p. 230234). Elsevier.

Overton, S. L., & Medina, S. L. (2008). The Stigma of Mental Illness. Journal of Counseling & Development, 86(2), 143151.

Stanwell-Smith, R. (2019). Mad, bad and dangerous to know? History and mental health. Perspectives in Public Health, 139(3), 110.

news psyCH aktuell

A few words with Raphael Carl, Head of psyKo22

Raphael Carl, Head of psyKo22

Hey Ralph! We’re all excited to hear about the next psyKo, but first, tell us a bit about yourself! 

Hey! I’m currently finishing the last year of my bachelor’s, at the university of  Bern, where I’m doing a major in psychology, and minoring in computer science. I have experience working in a wide range of organisations and events, from the Samaritans association in Bern, to organising the high school christmas ball. 

So how did you end up as the Head of psyKo21? 

I’m tempted to say, purely by chance! All the way back in 2019 I was working in the library of UniBern, and found myself standing in front of a wall plastered with leaflets and invitations to various associations. An announcement calling for people to join the psyKo team stood out, and I ended up contacting Yara Delegado, landing the position of co-head of psyKo19. 

As you all know, the conference got canceled, for reasons that are all too familiar to us by now. And so, I ended up moving to the head of communications mandate, in the psyCH mother organisation. After a year in psyCH I felt pulled towards psyKo again. Seeing that the Head of psyKo position was open, I decided to go for it! 

I really have the feeling that with my experience working in different organisations, I’ll be able to build a solid and well-documented foundation for future organisers to build upon. It’s way easier to get started when you have a little guidance, and don’t have to do everything from scratch. 

So I’ve heard this year’s theme is the future of Psychology. What does this mean to you? 

The future of psychology is obviously a rather large theme, and that is partially why we chose it! We’re still booking speakers, workshops and infotables, but our current focus is on technology. Among the confirmed speakers are Thomas Berger, winner of the Marcel Benoist prize, who will talk about the possibilities offered by online therapy. We’re working to include speakers from fields such as sentiment analysis, and other areas putting modern technology at the service of psychology. We also hope to have representatives from the newly founded ALPS foundation present the new frontiers discovered in psychedelic studies! 

Awesome! So when and where is psyKo22 going to happen ? 

So the location is the Lucerne Youth Hostel, meaning we’re going to be close to the city, and right in the middle of Switzerland! 

The current date is in the beginning of April, but as you all know, the COVID situation is rather unpredictable, and constantly subject to change. It’s hard to plan with new variants and measures popping out here and there at an unpredictable pace. That being said, the current dates are 01.04 till 03.04, and registration will open soon! PsyKo22 will happen, and it will be an in-person event!   

PsyKo is so much more than a weekend for participants to learn about new areas of psychology. It’s also a possibility to meet and connect with students from all over Switzerland, making new friends and sharing knowledge. That means that we would rather postpone the event than have it be an online happening. 

Sounds great! Anything else you want to tell our readers?

Yes! If you want to get involved, do not hesitate to contact me on

And to everyone else: see you at psyKo22!


What does a neuropsychologist do? – Interview with Martina Studer

How would you explain your job to someone who has no clue about neuropsychology?

I see patients who have just suffered a brain injury, for example strokes, traumatic brain injuries or after brain tumor operations. Most of them show various cognitive deficits, e.g. problems with attention, memory or executive functions. We apply neuropsychological tests and compare the performance of the patient to a matched healthy control group (same age, gender and education level) to diagnose possible acquired cognitive impairments. With this information and with our clinical impression determine the focus of the therapy. 

Regarding therapy, we have two approaches: First, restoration which means to exercise a function, and second, compensation which means helping yourself with compensating strategies. For certain functions like attentional impairments or executive dysfunctions, we do exercises to train and to improve them. For example, if a patient has a reduced alertness (basic reaction time), we do exercises where the patient has to react as quickly as possible. Research results imply to train at the custom-fitted performance level of the patient, to challenge the patient at his level. For certain areas, however, restoration approaches are less suitable and compensation strategies must be learned instead. Memory impairments are treated by compenstaion strategies like mnemonic bridges, diaries, smartphone reminders or lists. 

Could you tell me a bit about your educational background? How did you end up studying psychology?

I had finished teacher trainings college in Lucerne to become a primary school teacher, and I started teaching. The school where I worked motivated me to go further, and I decided to become a school psychologist. This brought me to study psychology in Bern. At the beginning of university, I hardly ever thought that I will become a neuropsychologist or to do a PhD.

During my master’s, I attended a lecture on neuropsychology. That was definitely a key moment. Besides, developmental psychology was also one of my favorite subjects. I specialized in Neuro- and Developmental Psychology which aroused my interest in pediatric neuropsychology. So I did an internship as pediatric neuropsychologist at the Children’s University Hospital of the Inselspital. 

After completing my master degree, I got a fabulous job offer from the Children’s Hospital as pediatric neuropsychologist. Because I also got a lot of interest in doing science, I decided to start a PhD at the same time. That was really a dream and very busy time! After my PhD, I did a Post-doc at the University of Berkeley in California and returned to Bern to complete my clinical education as clinical neuropsychologist in the University Hospital of Neurology. Today, I still combine clinical work and research – I think that’s a great privilege – although, this sometimes involves night shifts (laughs).

So you didn’t set out with the goal of getting a PhD in neuropsychology? 

No, not at all. My parents are not academics and a lot of things were foreign to me – if you have family members who work in a certain field, you probably have earlier opportunities for insights or more precise ideas of how a job would look like. Internships have proven to be particularly helpful to me. They allowed me to make new contacts and to gain insights into various fields. 

Do you remember a particularly interesting or impressive experience during your studies, an internship or at work?

Yes, certainly! Especially people who fully stand up for what they do and really have a lot of expertise in it. 

What do you like the most about your work? Is there anything you wish you knew before you got into the field?

I really enjoy working with patients. Some of them are people I would never meet in my private life. Furthermore, I see patients directly after a brain injury. Many of them stay with us for several weeks why I get to know them and see their progress. I find it very nice to accompany these people. There are many different patients – sometimes also very severely impaired people and it is amazing to observe how they improve, from a severely disoriented status at the beginning to average cognitive profiles.  

And it’s an interesting field especially because many questions are still unanswered, there is a lot of therapy options that could still be tried. 

What rather…not negative… but what you should know is that there are fewer positions and that you are quite specialized. You can’t change jobs that easily. I like to compare that with medical doctors who have better possibilities to change their workplace. 

But it is for example possible to change from children to adults neuropsychology. I started in the children’s area and then changed to adults. The clinical images are different. For instance I have never seen pediatric patients with a visual hemispatial neglect or a severe amnesia – impairments I see now quite regularly in my everyday life as adult neuropsychologist.

It would also be possible to do an additional title in psychotherapy. In our ward we do diagnostics and therapy. However, if you want to do outpatient neuropsychological therapy, you need this specialisation as well. And of course, this increases the range of patients you can work with. 

What opportunities are there for someone with a fresh master’s in neuropsychology?

Unfortunately, the possibilities are quite limited. But more and more clinical neuropsychological residency positions are being created for students with a fresh Masters’ Degree. Besides that, there is to possibility to start in a normal neuropsychology position. Furthermore, you can start a  PhD which is often very theoretical and different from what you do as a clinical neuropsychologist.  There are also very few clinical PhD Positions. In general, I recommend to think it through whether you will start doing a PhD – you have to enjoy scientific work and be able to accept setbacks.

 Do you have any advice for someone who is interested in becoming a neuropsychologist?

Do an internship as early as possible! Internships are usually offered at larger institutions. Don’t get discouraged if you get a no at first. Keep going! Just trust that you will eventually make it. 

Other possibilities would be to write a bachelor’s thesis or master’s thesis on neuropsychology, and to attend neuropsychology seminars. Also build up a network with people in the field. Once you have your foot in the door – you are more or less inside. 

Facts news psyCH aktuell

On the shoulders of giants: speaking with the founder of psyCH

How did you end up founding psyCH?
All the way back in 2002 the Fachschaftsvorstand in Bern sent an e-mail to all students inviting them to some Psychology Student Congress in Turkey. Like everyone else I first ignored the e-mail. The acronym EFPSA (European Federation of Psychology Students) sounded too scary.

Then there was another e-mail saying something like “so far nobody wants to go, but it’s a unique chance”. I remember telling my friend Sven Gross during a break “why is nobody going there, it sounds great”. He asked me “Why aren’t we going?”. And so we ended up going.

That decision changed our lives completely.  I met the girl who is now my wife at the congress. We’re expecting our third child! 
Needless to say it was a crazy experience, so eye opening! We soon realized that Switzerland was not yet a member of EFPSA, in part because there was no Swiss national organisation for psychology students.
We immediately decided to found psyCH to solve that problem.
On the way home from Turkey, Sven and I had the first brainstorming session for the new organization.

What were your initial goals?
The goal was EFPSA membership, everything else came later.

How many members were there in the beginning?
Sven and I found Miriam Lörtscher in Bern, with whom we set out the general plan. Then we went recruiting in Fribourg, Zürich and Basel and found highly motivated people there. If I remember correctly, those were the people that were present when we officially founded the organization in the dome room of the Uni Bern main building.

When did you start to understand the scope of your achievement?
I felt really proud when psyCH joined EFPSA in 2004 and I felt very proud when we were personally invited to the 10 year psyCH anniversary in 2013. We tried to create something that would stand the test of time, but we also knew that keeping such organizations alive wasn’t easy. I’m very happy to see that psyCH is alive and well  today, almost 20 years later.

What are your thoughts on the current state of psyCH?
I follow as much as I can, it’s cool to see that many things like the psyPra and the always highly successful psyKo still exist! I guess some things changed, and I’m sure some things were improved over the years. I’m no longer familiar with the organisational structure of psyCH, but the mere fact that it’s still around certainly means something. Overall I’m very happy to see that psyCH still exists.

Any words of advice for the current psyCH team?
No, I’m sure I’d have a lot to say if somebody asked me something specific. But the fact that psyCH is still around shows that capable people are in charge, and no advice is needed!

How has your role in psyCH shaped your life ?
It has completely changed my life on many levels. Founding psyCH gave me a great deal of self-confidence and self-efficacy and in the process I got the chance to hone my leadership skills. I don’t think I would be an entrepreneur today if it wasn’t for this journey. And of course, I live in Estonia now and I am married to the Secretary Treasurer of EFPSA in 2001-2002.

What is your favourite memory from when you were a part of psyCH?
There are just too many to list them all here, but surely it’s something to do with an EFPSA Congress. Maybe something like this picture of our delegation at the cultural evening at the EFPSA Congress 2004 in Kopaonik, Serbia.

psyCH aktuell

psyKo21 is over. Here is our takeaway!

Johanna Blanc
Student Lecturer : Psychedelic Assisted Therapy
Infotable Host: PALA

What brought you to this year’s conference?

At first, the conference topic, Healthy Mind, Healthy Body, sparked my interest. As I read about the event, I realised it would be a great chance for me to talk about a subject I find very interesting, namely psychedelic therapy! I had registered for last year’s conference but as it was cancelled because of COVID. I was so happy that I could attend this time. This was my first time at psyKo and I’m really glad I got to attend before I finish my master’s.

What did you enjoy the most?

I really appreciated the fact that we were psychology students from all over Switzerland. We all have different interests and perspectives, and have so much to learn from each other. Secondly, I really enjoyed the Help to get Help workshop. Through it, I was introduced to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. It was a great way to approach the subject. The workshop gave us an occasion to explore both theory and practice through role playing exercises with the other participants!

Did you make any new friends?

I was lucky to meet a lot of new people. Some even turned out to be from my own university! We’ve been in online classes together, but I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that they’re not really the best place to get to know the other students. In particular compared to psyKo, where I felt that everyone was very open to meet people and learn from each other.

Léonore Guiet
Workshop Host: “Emotional regulation for a healthier life”.

What brought you to this year’s conference?

Some time ago, I participated at the psyCH’s trainer school, so I wanted to host a workshop. This proved a great opportunity for me to contribute to the conference by hosting a workshop. I also wanted to seize the opportunity to meet new people and learn more about psychology.

What did you enjoy the most?

I was a supporting staff member during the conference, and so I ended up not attending as many lectures and workshops as I would have liked to. However, I must say that the Saturday evening with the party and the concert were both very very good! That being said, I really liked being useful and helping out with the conference for the whole weekend, while still having some time for meeting new people. In the end, I’d say it’s more of a mix of everything that I really enjoyed.

Did you make any new friends?

YES ! I was actually saying to someone during the weekend that I find this type of event so great because we meet people who are there to learn more about a field you’re also interested in. The mix of opportunities for learning and socializing are really the perfect combination for meeting new interesting people.

Audrey Wampler
Infotable Host: ZETA Movement

What brought you to this year’s conference?

I’ve always wanted to come to the psyKo, but I knew no one there, and so was under the impression that it was mostly an event for german speaking Swiss. Luckily, I was wrong, all languages are represented at the conference! A big plus this year was that I had the opportunity to come and host an infotable event on the student association I’m involved in, the ZETA Movement. We ended up being a few people coming to represent the association, and this provided the final impetus to get going!

What did you enjoy the most?

I loved to listen to the different lectures, and participate in a variety of workshops. I especially liked the workshops on acceptance and commitment therapy, Help to get Help, and ACTivate your psychological flexibility skills.

Did you make any new friends?

Of course! I met other students from all parts of Switzerland. This was really great, and we shared lots of nice moments during the weekend! The speed-friending Friday night turned out to be a really funny way to get in touch with the other participants!

We’re always trying to improve psyKo. If you attended, please take a moment to give us some feedback by following this link
This will help us greatly when preparing for next year’s event.

Does this sound like something you would like to be a part of? There are so many ways to contribute. Hold a workshop, or give a student lecture about something you’re passionate about!

Get in touch with Raphi on, to discuss how you may contribute to psyKo22!

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Less than 24 hours until PsyKo21 !

Yara Delgado, Head of Psyko

So Yara, tell us a little about yourself! How did you end up here?

I grew up on the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador. We moved to Switzerland when I was about 11 years old. In 2019 I obtained my bachelor’s in psychology from the University of Zurich, and I am currently working towards a master’s in social and clinical psychology.

How long have you been in PsyCH/ the PsyKo team? 

I first joined PsyCH in 2019 after attending that year’s PsyKo on a whim! During the conference I visited the PsyCH infotables and only then did I realize that they were the people that had put together the entire conference. I got so excited that I ended up signing up as head of PsyKo 2020. As you know PsyKo2020 got canceled, but by then I had put so much energy into the project, so I decided to stay for another year to see it to the end. In fact, this year’s conference will be the first PsyKo under my leadership. 

What made you apply for this position? Most people might prefer to dip their toes before jumping head-on into such a large responsibility! 

I love to create stuff, to see my ideas materialize, so I knew I had to do something to be a part of this great organization. Looking at the list of available mandates, I realized I’m not cut out for some of the other important jobs, such as contacting sponsors, or creating online content, but the leader mandate seemed like a natural choice, fitting both my level of ambition and personal disposition. 

I think I might have been a bit hesitant if I knew how much work I have had to put into this, but I have learned so much, and gotten to know so many great people through PsyCH. Of course, there have been times where I wondered if I was up for the task, but the motivation to see the event take place has always outweighed any doubts that I’ve harbored. 

What do you feel has been the hardest part about this year’s conference?

In one word: COVID: After last year’s conference got canceled, a majority of the team ended up moving on towards new projects. I decided to stay on for a new mandate, and I was left building up everything from scratch again, without even knowing if this year’s conference would take place. It was a rough start for sure.

We had to keep on postponing this year’s event, with each change of date causing us to lose steam. Luckily we’ve been able to rally the team, and push on all the way up the conference. Also having to run the organisation almost entirely online has definitely made team cohesion harder. It’s tough to build up that feeling of being in the same boat when you’ve never met in real life. 

What are you the most happy with regarding this year’s conference?

Above all, I’m just so happy to know that PsyKo21 is actually going to take place. To see the fruit of my labors, and know for certain that my work has not been futile. I’ve put countless hours of work into this, and it’s incredibly satisfying to know that I’ve contributed to make this unique and exciting event come to life. Seeing that many psychology students together, and knowing that I’m offering them the same great experience I had when I attended my first PsyKo is just indescribable. 

Sounds great! I’m attending my first PsyKo this weekend, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. Any words of advice to those among us attending our first PsyKo?  

Come with an open mind, and remember to enjoy yourself! We offer a lot of academic content, but don’t forget that this is also a unique opportunity to meet other students from all over Switzerland! These are people you wouldn’t meet otherwise, and there is so much to learn from them! Seize the occasion to gather some new perspectives. You’ll be sure to learn something you’d never hear in class!  


Only 2 days left until PsyKo21!

Let’s first take a step back to appreciate the work that has been put into making this year’s conference come to life. 

The PsyKo21 is organized by the PsyKo team, a subgroup of PsyCH consisting of about 10 students from all over Switzerland. We’ve been working hard towards PsyKo21 ever since last year’s conference was canceled for reasons you can probably guess yourself.
PsyKo21 was originally scheduled for the beginning of 2021, but due to covid-measures we’ve kept on postponing, hoping to hit a date that would allow our event to take place.
Turns out that ended up being October! It’s been a long wait, but we’re so happy to see that our patience paid off, and that we’re finally able to share the fruit of our labors with you!

That being said, the event has also profited from this delay to grow and mature, and we are very proud to offer the participants such a variety of perspectives as we gather in Les Diablerets to explore this year’s topic :  Healthy Mind, Healthy Body – What Health means to Psychology. 


Early registration starts at 14h00. During this afternoon, visitor’s can choose between several workshops on topics such as healthy communications in the aftermath of a conflict, how to get help for mental health issues and exploration of the connection between mind and body. 

A welcome apéro will precede the opening lecture. Afterward we’ll all have dinner together before some social activities mark the end of the first day.


By far the most important day of the conference, Saturday will start with some exciting lectures held by student’s like you and me!
A lot of different areas related to health and psychology will be presented. Personally I’m looking forward to hear Johanna Blanc’s talk on Psychedelic assisted psychotherapy, but I’m sure that all students will find a lecture on something that interests them. Topics range from Alice de Marco’s lecture on Transgender people’s mental health, till Giorgia Mano’s discussion of the effect Instagram influencers have on teenagers health habits. 

Before lunch, a new set of workshops take place, this time systemic therapy and integration of body, mind and soul will be on the schedule! 

The serious part of the day will be rounded off by my area of responsibility : the infotables. After a short introduction of each organisations, participants will get the chance to mingle with representatives from some of the most important organisations for psychologists in Switzerland, such as the all important FSP. Other major names present are the Swiss Association for Applied Psychology (SBAP/APSPA) and the Swiss Society for Health Psychology (SSGPsy/SSPsys). Student projects and startups such as PALA and BeWell will also be there, so make sure you are there too! 

PsyKo is also very much a social event!

With all this academic content, it’s important to remember that PsyKo is also very much a social event! Workshops and lectures are separated by plenty of breaks to give you the chance to meet other students and grow your network!

In tune with this, the last happening of the day will be a party hosted by PsyCH, with the aptly named music group Express Therapy providing the entertainment! If you haven’t made any friends by Saturday evening, now is the time to hit the dance floor and meet people!


The finaly day of the conference is less packed. Workshops on Mind-Body therapy and Psychological flexibility take place in the morning, and the closing lecture at 13h00 marks the end of the congress. 

We’re looking forward to meeting you there!

Tomorrow we’ll talk to Yara Delgado, the mastermind behind PsyKo21, to hear her thoughts on this year’s congress. Stay tuned!

For a detailed overview of the conference program, please consult the conference booklet.

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Introducing This Year’s Blog Team!

Kristian Beichmann
Blog Editor
Originally from Norway, I obtained my bachelor’s in psychology  from the University of Geneva in 2020. I am currently studying clinical and health psychology at the University of Fribourg. I joined PsyCH last year as member of the PsyKo21 sponsoring team, and now I’m looking forward to continue my work in PsyCH as the PsyCH blog editor! My main areas of interest are clinical psychology, psychiatry and psychedelic studies, and I’m looking forward to learn and share more about these areas during the coming year. 

Johanna Henry
Blog Writer
I am currently doing a master’s in Social and Intercultural Psychology at the University of Lausanne. I joined psyCH a few years ago, first as a psyKo team member, then as an editor and promotion coordinator and now it is my second year as a blog writer. I’m mostly interested in environmental psychology, LGBTIQ+ studies and psychedelic science. My objective is to write about unusual and/or unknown topics that we don’t commonly discuss in class. 

Lionella Bragoi
Blog Writer
Born and raised in the Republic of Moldova, I am currently pursuing my bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of Lausanne. This is my first year as a blog writer at PsyCH. I am mostly fascinated by clinical psychology and psychiatry. These are the subjects I hope to write and learn more about during my mandate. 

Naomi Gyger
Blog Writer
I am currently finishing my bachelor’s degree in Berne with a minor in neuroscience and sports. Next to my studies, I’m working as a neuropsychological research assistant at the Inselspital Berne. So as you might suspect I have a strong interest in neuroscience and neuropsychology. That’s why I’m planning to pursue a master’s in neuropsychology. I joined PsyCH just this year as a blog writer and I am very excited to start writing!


Have you ever heard of parasomnias?

Parasomnias are undesirable experiences that occur during the transition from wakefulness to sleep, during sleep, or upon awakening from sleep. A parasomnia can result from an unstable state of consciousness in which certain areas of the brain are asleep and others are awake. There are two types of parasomnias: those that occur during the non-rapid eye movement (NREM) phases of sleep and those that occur during the rapid eye movement (REM) phase of sleep. (Cai & Price, 2021). In this article, the focus is specifically directed toward NREM parasomnias in children.

Sleepwalking is a common NREM parasomnia in childhood that usually disappears in adolescence but may persist or reappear again in adulthood (Petit et al., 2015). In the third edition of the International Classification of Sleep Disorders, sleepwalking is defined as a complex behavior that is usually triggered during partial arousal from slow-wave sleep (American Academy of Sleep Medicine [AASM], 2014). During sleepwalking, the individual barely responds to questions, may perform inappropriate complex activities such as climbing out of a window, and shows amnesia and confusion after waking up (AASM, 2014; Cai & Price, 2021). Sleep terror is an early childhood NREM parasomnia and consists also of partial arousal from slow-wave sleep, often accompanied by a cry or a continuous scream, accompanied by manifestations of intense fear in the behavioral and autonomic nervous system (AASM, 2014). For most children, these sleep disturbances are relatively harmless but, in some cases, there is a high risk of injury, not to mention the disruption of the parent’s sleep (Petit et al., 2015).

These two parasomnias have many features in common, including a relative insensitivity to external stimuli during sleep and mental confusion after waking up (AASM, 2014). Both types of episodes occur mainly during slow-wave sleep and their onset is prompted by the same factors, including fever or high temperature (Larsen, Dooley, & Gordon, 2004), medication (Pressman, 2007), sleep deprivation (Zadra, Pilon, & Montplaisir, 2008), noise (Pilon, Montplaisir, & Zadra, 2008) and sleep-related respiratory events (Guilleminault, Palombini, Pelayo, & Chervin, 2003). Treatment is also the same for both disorders, with scheduled waking recommended for children (Petit et al., 2015). 

There is an assumption that these parasomnias represent different phenotypic expressions of the same underlying disorder rather than different pathologies (Petit et al., 2015). A convincing argument for this view is the common occurrence of these parasomnias within families. In a small sample it was shown that 96% of people with sleep terrors and about 80% of sleepwalkers have at least one family member affected by sleep terrors, sleepwalking or both (Kales et al., 1980).

Bibliography :
  • American Academy of Sleep Medicine. (2014). International classification of sleep disorders (3rd ed.). Darien, IL: American Academy of Sleep Medicine. 
  • Cai, A., & Price, R. S. (2021). 80 – Parasomnias. In B. L. Cucchiara & R. S. Price (Eds.), Decision-Making in Adult Neurology (pp. 164-165). Elsevier.
  • Guilleminault, C., Palombini, L., Pelayo, R., & Chervin, R. D. (2003). Sleepwalking and sleep terrors in prepubertal children: what triggers them? Pediatrics, 111(1), e17-25. doi:10.1542/peds.111.1.e17
  • Kales, A., Soldatos, C. R., Bixler, E. O., Ladda, R. L., Charney, D. S., Weber, G., & Schweitzer, P. K. (1980). Hereditary factors in sleepwalking and night terrors. The British Journal of Psychiatry: The Journal of Mental Science, 137, 111–118. doi:10.1192/bjp.137.2.111
  • Larsen, C. H., Dooley, J., & Gordon, K. (2004). Fever-associated confusional arousal. European Journal of Pediatrics, 163(11), 696–697. doi:10.1007/s00431-004-1531-9
  • Petit, D., Pennestri, M.-H., Paquet, J., Desautels, A., Zadra, A., Vitaro, F., … Montplaisir, J. (2015). Childhood Sleepwalking and Sleep Terrors: A Longitudinal Study of Prevalence and Familial Aggregation. JAMA Pediatrics, 169(7), 653–658. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.127
  • Pilon, M., Montplaisir, J., & Zadra, A. (2008). Precipitating factors of somnambulism: impact of sleep deprivation and forced arousals. Neurology, 70(24), 2284–2290. doi:10.1212/01.wnl.0000304082.49839.86
  • Pressman, M. R. (2007). Factors that predispose, prime and precipitate NREM parasomnias in adults: clinical and forensic implications. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 11(1), 5–30; discussion 31-33. doi:10.1016/j.smrv.2006.06.003
  • Zadra, A., Pilon, M., & Montplaisir, J. (2008). Polysomnographic diagnosis of sleepwalking: effects of sleep deprivation. Annals of Neurology, 63(4), 513–519. doi:10.1002/ana.21339

Author : Alexander Ariu


Dorsch Psychologie-Lexikon

Oft auf der Suche nach Begriffen aus der Psychologie? Dann haben wir genau das Richtige: Unser Dorsch Psychologie-Lexikon! Das Referenzwerk stellt seit 100 Jahren eine kontinuierlich aktualisierte und fundierte Quelle psychologischen Wissens dar.

Den DORSCH gibt es übrigens auch als Online-Portal:

Author : Hogrefe


Are virtual emotions real ?

It’s been some years now that Internet takes a huge place in our life. It was, and still is, a wonderful tool that allows us to be in touch with our friends and family who live far from us. The industry of social media developed very fast and so well that today, we can not live without it. Our social media represents our personality, or I better say, it represents what we want other people to think about our personality. It started with Facebook, followed by many others including dating apps. Cyberspace is considered as an uncertain space for our identities and this is why we create the “identity game” (Gassey, 2019) which is influenced by many factors. On social media, we look for social connections indeed, but for other things as well. For example, the reactions others may have toward our feed pushes us to explore ourselves. In order to avoid cognitive dissonance in the way we present ourselves and what others think we’re always in readjustment. The biggest challenge that we have to deal with is the impossibility to validate the information we see. It depends on us whether or not we believe what we read.

When it comes to emotions felt through social media, lots of questions take place. Is what I feel relevant or even real ? Is everything made in my head ? We are 80% sure that we express ourselves clearly while discussing with someone and yet there’s only a 50% chance that she or he understands our tone (Gassey, 2019). This unique fact shows the importance of non-verbal behaviour in our communication. While communicating online, our imagination plays a huge role to reduce as much as possible the uncertainty that we deal with. It reveals our need to orient ourselves through the different relations we may create online.

The fact of attributing the power of emotional evocation to devices of objects creates therefore a valid form of presence for our brain (Gassey, 2019). The best example for this is the well-known “emoji”; we infer different emotions to different emojis which help us to understand what the other wants to say. In addition, “emojis” can be interpreted as signs of proximity by some. However, we forget that interpretations differ for each one of us. Some may use emojis very often and others tend to use them very rarely. While on one hand making emotion more valid, emojis can lead to misunderstandings on the other hand.

In conclusion, virtual emotions are mostly perceived subjectively as real, well-founded and even rational (Gassey, 2019). Yet we have to keep in mind that most of the time they are based on uncertain or even false, biased or manipulated information and nothing can replace the authenticity of the face-to-face conversation.

Bibliography :
  • Gassey, O. (2019, Printemps). Introduction à la sociologie des pratiques sociales en ligne
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  • Brake, T. (2017, juillet 12). Understanding virtual emotional intelligence.

Author : Ardiana Dacaj


Lucid Dreaming and Motor Learning

A lucid dream is a phenomenon of sleep where the dreamer is aware of the current state and thus can influence the dream events. One can consciously wake up or influence the actions, or passively observe the events with this awareness. What makes lucid dreaming special is that what is experienced in the dream feels very real. However, not all people can enjoy this by any means. According to Schredl and Erlacher (2011), about 20 percent of the population experiences such dreams more frequently and only one to two percent have lucid dreams regularly. It is possible to learn lucid dreaming, but it is often not easy. 

Prof. Dr. Erlacher is investigating motor learning in lucid dreams at the University of Bern. Existing studies show that motor learning is possible in lucid dreams (Erlacher, 2005). In other words, athletes can train and optimize their movements while sleeping, but only in lucid dreams, where they can control the dream events. Athletes can train especially technique-related aspects well, while muscle mass and endurance cannot be influenced. This makes it possible to train physically demanding sports such as skateboarding or snowboarding in dreams and thus to prepare them anticipatorily for the waking state or to perfect movements through repetition in dreams. 

Motor learning in lucid dreaming is reminiscent of mental training, where sequences of movements can be trained in the imagination while awake. However, the difference is that mental training is an imaginational experience and lucid dreaming is a phenomenal experience (LaBerge et al., 2018). Moreover, lucid dreams are clearer and more vivid than mental training.  

One advantage of training in lucid dreams is, that there is no risk of injury. Especially for martial artists training in sleep is a worthwhile method to try new things without the risk of getting hurt. On the other hand, lucid dreaming is difficult to learn and needs a lot of practice. Erlacher (2011) has conducted studies on a wide range of athletes and asked them whether they train using lucid dreaming. 5% of athletes say that they use this method to train and 77% of them think lucid dream training has improved their sports performance. Studies show that the effects of lucid dream training tend to be greater than mental training as well as similar improvement to physical training (Schädlich et al., 2017).  To make better use of lucid dreams, Erlacher is also researching methods by which lucid dreams can be induced from the outside, for example by a researcher in the sleep lab. But this must be trained and also requires patience, endurance and motivation. And so training in dreams, like almost everything in sports, is often hard work.

Bibliography :
  • Erlacher, Daniel. Motorisches Lernen im luziden Traum: Phänomenologische und experimentelle Betrachtungen. Universität Heidelberg, 2005, doi:10.11588/heidok.00005896.
  • Erlacher, D. (2019). Sport und Schlaf: Angewandte Schlafforschung für die Sportwissenschaft. Springer-Verlag.
  • Schredl, M., & Erlacher, D. (2011). Frequency of lucid dreaming in a representative German sample. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 112, 104–108.
  • Erlacher, D. (2010). Anleitung zum Klarträumen – Die nächtliche Traumwelt selbst gestalten. Norderstedt: Books on Demand. 
  • LaBerge, S., Baird, B., & Zimbardo, P. G. (2018). Smooth tracking of visual targets distinguishes lucid REM sleep dreaming and waking perception from imagination. Nature Communications, 9, 3298. 
    Schädlich, M., & Erlacher, D. (2018). Practicing sports in lucid dreams – characteristics, effects, and practical implications. Current Issues in Sport Science, 3(7).
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  • Wiedmer, J. (2021). Lucid Dreams and Motor Learning, made with

The epitome of genius and madness?

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc5 3. Bc4 Bc5. What for some people seems to be a random combination of letters and numbers is the logical development of six pieces on 64 squares for others. Some of you might even see the pictorial representations of this scenery and recognize the many advantages and disadvantages that it has to offer. And perhaps one is already planning further. 4. c3 Nf6? 4. b4 Bxb4? 4. Nc3 Nf6? I’m talking of course about chess. A game with origins that date back over 700 years. A game that played a crucial role in the cold war and perhaps stands for something similar like Albert Einstein in our society, the epitome of genius. But Einstein was more than just the genius par excellence who revolutionized the laws of physics. Einstein was also this wacky short guy with messed up white hair who married his cousin. He was also some kind of crazy. The connection of genius and madness is deeply rooted in our minds and at least in chess this doesn’t seem to be entirely wrong either. There is a long list of chess grandmasters who struggled with some kind of mental illness. The first world champion, Wilhelm Steinitz, was convinced that he could move chess pieces using electromagnetic currents. He died on August 12, 1900 in a psychiatric ward. Paul Morphy felt persecuted and insinuated that his brother-in-law wanted to poison him. And the legend of the chess miracle Bobby Fischer also ends in the seclusion of society. So, it is no coincidence that the protagonist of the successful Netflix series “The queen’s gambit” is portrayed as a genius on the chessboard but with far-reaching psychological problems. But can chess really lead to insanity?

One can easily see from where this assumption comes from, chess is a nerve-wracking thing! You sit across from each other for hours, trying to comprehend your opponent’s plans and find the right moment for the decisive attack. But you have to be careful, every move can lead to victory or misery. And since computers are able to calculate in every situation the best possible move, the awareness of this has risen. The goal is clear; every player wants to find the perfect next move. The cognitive theory of perfectionism sees this claim as a possible cause for excessive mistake rumination, for example over a lost game, rumination in general and social comparison. This can lead to stress that has a negative impact on our health (Flett, Nepon & Hewitt, 2016). But not only thinking about chess can cause stress. The physiological reaction while playing a game suggests a stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system. Troubat, Fargeas-Gluck, Tulppo and Dugué (2009) studied the heart and respiratory rate of 20 male chess players and found a significant change during the game. Now all these facts tell us how chess could possibly influence our health and well-being, but this isn’t a necessity. The personality of elite man chess players doesn’t even differ from the population norm. Only the skill correlates with introversion. Stronger male players are more introverted, while there was found the opposite pattern in female players. In contrast to their male counterpart, female elite players are more satisfied with life, have fewer physical complaints and higher achievement motivation in comparison with the female population norm (Vollstädt-Klein, Grimm, Kirsch & Bilalić, 2010). And the connection between genius and madness is untenable in chess too. There is indeed some kind of connection between chess and intelligence. Burgoyne et al. (2016) found significant correlations between chess skills and fluid reasoning, comprehension-knowledge, short-term memory and processing speed. But this doesn’t mean a skilled chess player with high scores in these areas has to develop a mental disorder. In fact, a low IQ is associated with mental disorders, not a high one (Mortensen, Sørensen, Jensen, Reinisch & Mednick, 2005).

So, don’t let a Netflix series spoil your enjoyment of chess with the fear of going crazy. In the end, the important part for your mental wellbeing is with which attitude you play, not if you do it. Perhaps settle down in a park where all the old folks play, take your time for a little chat between the moves and don’t take your mistakes too seriously. Or in other words, after 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc5 3. Bc4 Bc5., the “Italian Game”, go for d3, the “Giuoco Pianissimo”.

  • Burgoyne, A. P., Sala, G., Gobet, F., Macnamara, B. N., Campitelli, G., & Hambrick, D. Z. (2016). The relationship between cognitive ability and chess skill: A comprehensive meta-analysis. Intelligence, 59, 72-83.
  • Mortensen, E. L., Sørensen, H. J., Jensen, H. H., Reinisch, J. M., & Mednick, S. A. (2005). IQ and mental disorder in young men. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 187(5), 407-415.
  • Flett, G. L., Nepon, T., & Hewitt, P. L. (2016). Perfectionism, worry, and rumination in health and mental health: A review and a conceptual framework for a cognitive theory of perfectionism. Perfectionism, health, and well-being (pp. 121-155). Springer, Cham. 
  • Troubat, N., Fargeas-Gluck, M. A., Tulppo, M., & Dugué, B. (2009). The stress of chess players as a model to study the effects of psychological stimuli on physiological responses: an example of substrate oxidation and heart rate variability in man. European journal of applied physiology, 105(3), 343-349. 
  • Vollstädt-Klein, S., Grimm, O., Kirsch, P., & Bilalić, M. (2010). Personality of elite male and female chess players and its relation to chess skill. Learning and Individual Differences, 20(5), 517-521. 
  • Psychology Random Researches (2021, January 24). Can chess lead to insanity? [Video]. YouTube. 
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  • Cortez, V., (2006). Schach. Retrieved from:

Author : Max Frutiger


Mindfulness-based therapy for chronic pain

Mindfulness-based therapy for chronic pain

Chronic pain is a common, disabling complaint affecting approximately 20-30% of the adult population in Western countries and is often associated with high rates of comorbid depressive symptoms. While current therapeutic approaches, including analgesics and opioids, can provide significant improvements, the most effective medications only reduce pain by 30-40% in less than 50% of the patients. In addition, surgical techniques such as implantation of artificial spinal discs offer limited pain reduction in only a subset of patients. This has led to the proposal of various psychological treatments for chronic pain (Chiesa & Serretti, 2011).

Over the last three decades, mindfulness-based interventions have become increasingly important in the treatment of chronic pain (Reiner, Tibi, & Lipsitz, 2013). Mindfulness focuses on detached observation of a constantly changing field of objects, which means observing perceptions, emotions and cognitions, without judgement and attempts to change or control them (Kabat-Zinn, Lipworth, & Burney, 1985). A substantial body of research supports the benefits of mindfulness-based interventions for chronic pain patients. However, much of this research primarily addresses global distress, functional capacity and quality of life (Reiner et al., 2013).

Although mindfulness-based interventions are far from being uniform, they are characterized by three core features. The first is to observe the reality of the present moment by focusing attention on objective features of the momentary situation or experience. The second is to focus attention on a single aspect of consciousness and accept it as it is, without judgement, action or preoccupation with its implications. The third is to remain open to whatever is in focus at the moment, without holding on to any particular point of view or outcome. These three characteristics have also been described in terms of a two-component model, where one component involves attention to the present moment and the second component involves an attitude of acceptance and openness (Kabat-Zinn et al., 1985).

There are currently several mindfulness-based interventions that have been shown to be beneficial for pain disorders. The most researched among them are Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR; Reiner et al., 2013). Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) was originally developed to improve the self-management of chronic pain patients (Kabat-Zinn et al., 1985). MBSR is based on the rationale that mindfulness practice leads to a spontaneous decoupling of the sensory component of pain from the emotional and cognitive components, thus reducing the level of distress caused by pain. In MBSR, individuals learn the principles of mindfulness through various techniques, for example, practicing yoga and various meditations such as body scan meditation or breathing meditation (Kabat-Zinn et al., 1985). A meta-analysis that examined the effects of MBSR in adults with chronic conditions (including chronic pain) concludes that there is evidence of the effectiveness of MBSR in reducing stress and impairment in this population (Bohlmeijer, Prenger, Taal, & Cuijpers, 2010). ACT is also offered for chronic pain as well as a variety for other psychological problems (Reiner et al., 2013). The acceptance method combines mindfulness practice with work on personal values, behaviour commitment and behaviour change strategies to help patients live more fulfilling lives (McCracken, Carson, Eccleston, & Keefe, 2004).

Bibliography :
  • Bohlmeijer, E., Prenger, R., Taal, E., & Cuijpers, P. (2010). The effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction therapy on mental health of adults with a chronic medical disease: a meta-analysis. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 68(6), 539–544. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2009.10.005
  • Chiesa, A., & Serretti, A. (2011). Mindfulness-based interventions for chronic pain: a systematic review of the evidence. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (New York, N.Y.), 17(1), 83–93. doi: 10.1089/acm.2009.0546
  • Kabat-Zinn, J., Lipworth, L., & Burney, R. (1985). The clinical use of mindfulness meditation for the self-regulation of chronic pain. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 8(2), 163–190. doi: 10.1007/BF00845519
  • McCracken, L. M., Carson, J. W., Eccleston, C., & Keefe, F. J. (2004). Acceptance and change in the context of chronic pain. Pain, 109(1–2), 4–7. doi: 10.1016/j.pain.2004.02.006Reiner, K., Tibi, L., & Lipsitz, J. D. (2013). Do mindfulness-based interventions reduce pain intensity? A critical review of the literature. Pain Medicine (Malden, Mass.), 14(2), 230–242. doi: 10.1111/pme.12006
Featured image :

Author : Alexander Ariu

sponsored student life

Is there a treatment for that?

Have you ever looked for a therapist or has anyone ever asked you to recommend one? If so, you likely asked yourself which type of therapy would be good for the person in need of help.

Finding an answer to this important question is not easy. Treating a mental health condition is not a one-size fits all approach. Patients with the same mental health diagnosis can be heterogeneous with regard to underlaying disease mechanisms, etiological factors, course and response to treatment. This means that “symptoms” of the same diagnostic category can have very different functions and histories. Psychotherapy should be viewed and practiced while considering the patient’s unique context. And it should be flexible enough to be dynamically guided by theoretical and empirically testable principles and procedures throughout the therapy.

This is where a process-based approach to therapy comes in. Process-based therapy (PBT) puts processes rather than packages at center stage. Processes are not static, mechanical “techniques”. They refer to the modifiable elements of treatment, that help a particular patient in a particular situation resolving problems and increasing well-being. PBT represents a shift in perspective on human suffering and the process of behavior change. The new MAS in PBT offered by the University of Basel is dedicated to cultivate this shift in perspective for the new generation of psychotherapists. So doing, it trains clinical psychologists to handle the complexity, individuality and context-sensitivity of human behavior in the service of helping their patients live better lives.

Apply now for a start of your psychotherapy training in fall 2021 or 2022 and get more information here:

Authors : Dr. Elisa Haller, Prof. Dr. Andrew Gloster & Victoria Block, M.Sc.

student life


A few posts back on the blog, we decided to talk about the flow experience, which is basically the experience of being fully engaged with a task and being in a state of deep concentration. This experience was notably associated with increased well being. The contrary to this appears to be mind-wandering, an activity that I know a lot of my fellow students are very familiar with during those zoom classes.

Mind-Wandering refers to those moments where our minds stray from the here and now to  go towards internal thoughts, that are unrelated to the events that are going on around us. We can also refer to this as “stimulus-independent thought” (Killingsworth & Gilbert, 2010), and it occurs when our cognitive and attentional resources for the external world are low. The capacity we have to wander allows us plan, learn and reason, but it may also have a negative effect on our emotional state. Indeed, mind-wandering has been often linked to unhappiness. For example, Killingsworth and Gilbert (2010) conducted a study that used an iPhone application which sent notifications throughout the day to participants who then had to answer three questions. These questions were : “ How are you feeling right now ? What are you doing right now ? and are you thinking about something other than what you’re currently doing ?” (Killingsworth & Gilbert, 2010). The mains results showed that people tended to mind-wander a lot, but most importantly, that they reported being less happy when they were mind-wandering compared to when they were not. This happened even though most people tended to wander to pleasant thoughts (42% of the samples) (Killingsworth & Gilbert, 2010).

If mind-wandering is linked to unhappiness, it would be important to consider what kind of thoughts people have during this state. This is important because the effect of having past-focused thoughts is different from having future-focused thoughts. In fact, healthy individuals show a reduction of positive mood as well as increased cortisol levels and depressive symptoms while having past-focused thoughts. On the contrary, when people wander towards the future, they experience an increase in positive mood and a lower stress response (Hoffmann, Banzhaf, Kanske, Bermpohl & Singer, 2016). A study aimed to investigate where the mind of clinical depressed people wanders, took into account whether the thoughts they had were past, future, self or other related as well as their valence (Hoffmann et al., 2016). This study found that patients with major depression tended to mind-wander more than healthy individuals and that they experienced more self and past related thoughts that had a negative valence (Hoffmann et al., 2016). These findings are relevant because they show the importance of identifying the content of the thoughts while the mind is wandering. More importantly, it also shows the advantages of mindfulness-based therapies in treating depression, since the goal of these therapies is to train the capacity of being in the here and now.

Bibliography :
  • Hoffmann, F., Banzhaf, C., Kanske, P., Bermpohl, F., & Singer, T. (2016). Where the depressed mind wanders : Self-generated thought patterns as assessed through experience sampling as a state marker of depression. Journal of Affective Disorders, 198, 127‑134.
  • Killingsworth, M. A., & Gilbert, D. T. (2010). A Wandering Mind Is an Unhappy Mind. Science, 330(6006), 932.
Featured image :

Author : Paula Morales


Folie a deux

“Folie a deux” or “Shared Psychotic Disorder” is a rare type of mental illness in which a person who does not have a primary mental health disorder comes to believe the delusion of a close person with a psychotic or delusional disorder. For example, a wife might come to believe her husband’s delusions even though she is otherwise mentally healthy. 

Shared Psychotic Disorder develops in the context of a relationship in which one person influences the other. The psychotic symptoms develop in the course of a close long-term relationship with a person who already had a psychotic disorder. These relationships can for example be between family members, couples, sisters and in rare cases can even include more than two individuals. The person with a preexisting disorder is called the primary case (Inducer) and the other person is called the secondary case (Inductee or Recipient).

The symptoms of shared psychotic disorder depend on the diagnosis of the primary person with the disorder. The secondary person develops hallucinations or delusions gradually over time and is usually not aware of these changes. Neither the person with the primary mental illness nor the person who develops the same delusions has insight into the problem. Therefore, the first person does not realize that they are making the other person sick. They assume that they are simply showing the truth to the second person.

In general, both individuals behave paranoid, fearful, and distrustful of others. They react very defensive and angry if their shared delusions are questioned. The delusions themselves are usually persecutory. With the separation of the primary and the secondary person, the developed delusions from the secondary person seem to disappear.

 But what causes this extraordinary disorder? There are several possible risk factors for “Shared Psychotic Disorder”:

  • Social isolation of the primary and secondary person from the outside world
  • High levels of chronic stress or the occurrence of stressful life events
  • A dominant primary person and submissive secondary person 
  • A close connection between the primary and secondary person; usually a long-term relationship with attachment (e.g., family members, couples, sisters, etc.)
  • A secondary person with a neurotic, dependent, or passive personality style or someone who struggles with judgment/critical thinking
  • A secondary person with another mental illness such as depression, schizophrenia, or dementia
  • An untreated disorder (e.g., delusional disorder, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder) in the primary individual
  • An age difference between the primary and secondary person
  • A secondary person who is dependent on the primary due to being disabled (e.g., physically or mentally)

To get a better impression of the Shared Psychotic disorder I show you a case described by Mohamed in which an 8-year-old girl was admitted to a psychiatric center. The girl had acute psychosis with agitation, confusion, paranoid delusions, and hallucinations. The girl reported that her neighbors broke into her house, raped her, and injected her with drugs and rat poison. She also stated hearing the neighbors’ voices and additionally suffered from insomnia, and has trouble falling asleep. The girl had no history of psychiatric or medical illness according to her family and her primary care physician. Examinations showed that the 8-year-old had no physical signs of needlesticks or rape, and her mental status was normal except for the paranoid content of her thoughts. When attempts were made to contact the mother, it was discovered that the mother had checked herself into the same psychiatric clinic. The mother reported to her psychiatrist about the same atrocities committed by the neighbors as her daughter. In her records, it was found that the mother had been to the emergency department several times before and reported similar symptoms. The mother always refused psychiatric assessment or treatment. 

After a full assessment, it was revealed that there were no signs of genital trauma and any kind of drugs. The daughter was diagnosed with Shared Psychotic Disorder and the mother was diagnosed with Psychotic Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. 

After the diagnosis, the daughter was separated from her mother and was able to recover quickly. The daughter was left in the care of a family friend. The mother went for treatment and was able to see her daughter under supervision.

Bibliography :
  • Abu-Salha, M. (1998). Folie á Deux: Two Case Reports. Jefferson Journal of Psychiatry, 14(1).
Featured image :
  • Canva. (n.d.).

The many faces of hallucination

Are you wondering about this strange picture I chose for this week’s blog? Well, you should because this picture isn’t less than a magical artifact, capable to let whole camels disappear. Just close your left eye, focus on the target with your right and move towards your screen. And Hocuspocus and Abrakadabra the camel is nada! Did you see it disappear? I hope so because this means your optic nerve leaving your eyeball creates an area where photoreceptors are absent. This results in a blind spot which is perfectly normal. But the interesting part is not that this exists, it’s the psychological reaction to this anatomical problem. It’s the filling in of this blind spot with visuals of the surrounding so we don’t even notice it in our daily life (Durgin, Tripathy & Levi, 1995). So, the reason we don’t see a void stain when we close an eye is that our brain creates an unreal image without the presence of an external stimulus. It’s hallucinating.

When talking about hallucinations most people think about psychedelics like LSD or Psilocybin. But these drug-induced states are just a small part of a much bigger picture. Hallucinations can occur without any external substances involved. In mental illnesses like schizophrenia, patients report hallucinations in various sensory systems. They can be olfactory, visual, tactile, auditory, or gustatory and the patients often experience them in more than just one sensory system (Goodwin & Rosenthal, 1971). On one hand, this makes sense because all our sensory areas in the cortex are neuronal strongly connected but on the other hand, it also seems that patients have individual connectivity patterns which would explain predominant hallucinations in one sense, most of the time visual or auditorial (Amad et al., 2014). But also, an imbalance in neurotransmitters, mostly dopamine and serotonin, seem to play a major role in schizophrenia. An imbalance that is known to cause hallucinations in other diseases like Parkinson’s syndrome (Stahl, 2016). All of these just mentioned hallucinations have a clinical background even though healthy people are just as capable of producing these illusions. All you have to do is to skip sleep for some nights (Waters, Chiu, Atkinson & Blom, 2018). Sleep and hallucinations seem to be related anyway in some kind of way and I’m not talking about your ordinary dreams. Those affected by sleep paralysis, which by the way would deserve an article on his own, report about vivid hallucinations of mostly frightening creatures like ghosts and shadow creatures. They are often seen by the sleeping person in the same room as they are, sometimes even touching them or sitting on top of their victim (Cheyne, Rueffer & Newby-Clark, 1999). Interestingly, a possible cause in the serotonin system is also discussed here, as is the case with hallucinations in schizophrenia (Jalal, 2018). But one does not need an unusual amount of a neurotransmitter to perceive things that aren’t really there. Sometimes the lack of a sensory information also causes hallucinations, as seen in the Charles Bonnet syndrome. Mostly elderly, visually impaired people see colorful pictures of people, faces and animals while being completely aware that these images are not real. And even if these scenes are mostly perceived as very entertaining and not threatening at all, there is often a fear of the associated stereotype. Those affected are afraid of being labeled as mentally unfit even though their cognitive function is faultless (Menon, Rahman, Menon & Dutton, 2003).

The list goes on and on. Sensual deprivation and sensual overload, prescription and unprescribed drugs, mentally ill and sane, young and old, hallucinations are omnipresent! And while there are still many unanswered questions about how they arise, we can already learn a lot from them about perception in general. Why we see our world the way we do. And most importantly, how individual this view is.

Bibliography :
  • Amad, A., Cachia, A., Gorwood, P., Pins, D., Delmaire, C., Rolland, B., & Jardri, R. (2014). The multimodal connectivity of the hippocampal complex in auditory and visual hallucinations. Molecular psychiatry, 19(2), 184-191.
  • Cheyne, J. A., Rueffer, S. D., & Newby-Clark, I. R. (1999). Hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations during sleep paralysis: neurological and cultural construction of the night-mare. Consciousness and cognition, 8(3), 319-337.
  • Durgin, F. H., Tripathy, S. P., & Levi, D. M. (1995). On the Filling in of the Visual Blind Spot: Some Rules of Thumb. Perception, 24(7), 827–840.
  • Goodwin, D. W., & Rosenthal, R. (1971). Clinical significance of hallucinations in psychiatric disorders: a study of 116 hallucinatory patients. Archives of General Psychiatry, 24(1), 76-80.
  • Jalal, B. (2018). The neuropharmacology of sleep paralysis hallucinations: serotonin 2A activation and a novel therapeutic drug. Psychopharmacology, 235(11), 3083-3091.
  • Menon, G. J., Rahman, I., Menon, S. J., & Dutton, G. N. (2003). Complex visual hallucinations in the visually impaired: the Charles Bonnet Syndrome. Survey of ophthalmology, 48(1), 58-72.
  • Stahl, S. (2016). Parkinson’s disease psychosis as a serotonin-dopamine imbalance syndrome. CNS Spectrums, 21(5), 355-359. doi:10.1017/S1092852916000602
  • Waters, F., Chiu, V., Atkinson, A., & Blom, J. D. (2018). Severe sleep deprivation causes hallucinations and a gradual progression toward psychosis with increasing time awake. Frontiers in psychiatry, 9, 303.
Featured image :
  • Joachim Herz Stiftung. (2021). Experiment zum Blinden Fleck. Retrieved from:

Author : Max Frutiger


What is Tourette Syndrome?

Tourette’s syndrome is a neuropsychiatric disorder that manifests itself in so-called tics. Tics are spontaneous movements, sounds, or utterances of words that occur without the intention of the affected person. The movements often occur repeatedly in the same way but are not rhythmic and can occur individually or in series. Tourette’s usually begins in childhood, more rarely in adolescence. Younger children in particular often go through a phase with tics that disappear on their own after a few months.  If complex vocal and multiple motor tics occur in combination, one speaks of Tourette’s syndrome (APA, 2013).

The causes of Tourette’s syndrome have only been rudimentarily researched to date. It is assumed that it is largely genetically predisposed (Pauls, 2003). The development of Tourette syndrome is attributed to a disorder in the neurotransmitter metabolism of the brain. In particular, the neurotransmitter dopamine is the focus of research. Studies have shown that the number of dopamine receptors in the brains of patients with Tourette syndrome is increased (TGD, 2021). However, a disturbed serotonin, norepinephrine, glutamine, and opioid metabolism and the interactions between these substances also seem to play a role (TGD, 2021). The disorders manifest themselves primarily in the so-called basal ganglia. They regulate which impulses a person translates into actions and which do not. In order to develop this, additional triggers in the environment must be present. These include, for example, negative factors during pregnancy and birth, such as smoking and psychosocial stress during pregnancy, prematurity, and oxygen deprivation at birth (TGD, 2021).

The psychological suffering of those affected is high in some cases due to the prominent, uncontrollable symptoms – especially in Tourette’s syndrome. The complexity of some tic disorders sometimes causes great astonishment and also anger or rejection among those around them (family members, friends, teachers; Hoekstra, Steenhuis, Kallenberg, & Minderaa, 2004; Khalifa & Von Knorring, 2006). Many non-affected persons cannot imagine that these actions and vocalizations are involuntary and disease-related. Some people feel also provoked by the tics; especially if it involves coprolalia/copropraxia. Coprolalia is a complex vocal tic in which affected individuals express obscenities in single words or sometimes entire sentences. Copropraxia is the same but for motor tics in which, for example, the middle finger is often shown. Therefore, justified fear due to the tics and also feelings of shame are very common in children and adolescents with chronic tic disorders or Tourette syndrome (Freeman et al., 2009; Kobierska, Sitek, Gocyła, & Janik, 2014). On the other hand, many affected individuals are well integrated socially, as long as the symptomatology is not too pronounced (Freeman et al., 2009).

Often, the affected children do not even notice their tics at first. It is usually the parents or educators who become aware of these behavioral characteristics. They often feel disturbed, worry, and consider whether parenting mistakes were behind it, even if the children’s development is going well (Khalifa & Von Knorring, 2006). For most of those affected, the symptoms improve after puberty or even disappear completely. Others have tics throughout their lives. Boys are affected four times as often as girls (Leckman et al., 1998). It is estimated that about one percent of people develop Tourette syndrome (Robertson, 2008).

Bibliography :
  • Freeman, R. D., Zinner, S. H., Müller‐Vahl, K. R., Fast, D. K., Burd, L. J., Kano, Y., … Stern, J. S. (2009). Coprophenomena in Tourette syndrome. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 51(3), 218–227. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8749.2008.03135.x
  • Hoekstra, P. J., Steenhuis, M. P., Kallenberg, C. G., & Minderaa, R. B. (2004). Association of small life events with self reports of tic severity in pediatric and adult tic disorder patients: a prospective longitudinal study. The Journal of clinical psychiatry, 65(3), 426.
  • Khalifa, N., & Von Knorring, A. L. (2006). Psychopathology in a Swedish population of school children with tic disorders. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 45(11), 1346-1353.
  • Kobierska, M., Sitek, M., Gocyła, K., & Janik, P. (2014). Coprolalia and copropraxia in patients with Gilles de la Tourette syndrome. Neurologia I Neurochirurgia Polska, 48(1), 1–7. doi: 10.1016/j.pjnns.2013.03.001
  • Leckman, J. F., Zhang, H., Vitale, A., Lahnin, F., Lynch, K., Bondi, C., … Peterson, B. S. (1998). Course of tic severity in Tourette syndrome: the first two decades. Pediatrics, 102(1 Pt 1), 14–19. doi: 10.1542/peds.102.1.14
  • Pauls, D. L. (2003). An update on the genetics of Gilles de la Tourette syndrome. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 55(1), 7–12. doi: 10.1016/S0022-3999(02)00586-X
  • Robertson, M. M. (2008). The prevalence and epidemiology of Gilles de la Tourette syndrome: Part 1: The epidemiological and prevalence studies. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 65(5), 461–472. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2008.03.006
Featured image :
  • MondoMedia. (2011, March 10). Dick Figures – Role Playas (Ep #9) [Video]. YouTube.

Author : Alexander Ariu


The gender gap in Psychology

There is a stricken fact that people notice when they enter a room full of psychology students: most of them are female. As a student yourself, if you’re a heterosexual female, you may have doubts about whether you’re going to find the love of your life in that room or not. On the opposite side, if you’re one of the three to ten men in the class, you’ll most likely be excited about this gender gap. All jokes and love interests aside, psychology is a field in which about 70% of master’s and doctoral students are female (National Science Foundation, 2016). Despite this over-representation of females in the classes, only a third of the professors are females and when women do decide to make a career in experimental psychology, they’re less published and cited than their male counterparts (Odic & Wojcik, 2020). 

A study analyzing records from 125 high-impact, peer-reviewed psychology journals, with the goal of determining how men and women contribute to research in psychology, showed that females are less cited and published than their male colleagues (Odic & Wojcik, 2020). The authors were also interested in testing whether these gaps persist across factors such as authorship position and subdiscipline as well as in studying the evolution of these patterns between 2003 and 2019. Firstly, they found that this publication gap is pervasive but not identical across subfields. For example, Developmental and Health psychology show a smaller publication gap than Neurosciences. Furthermore, if this publication gap is more or less important across different fields in psychology, it is not the case for the citation gap. Indeed, publications by male researchers receive more citations than those made by females independently of the field (Odic & Wojcik, 2020). The authors do not have an explanation for this but there is a hypothesis that the gap may be explained by the fact that men could tend to self-cite more than women (Larivière et al., 2013). Lastly, this publication gap seems to be evolving towards a more equal situation where women are better represented in some subdisciplines. This is not by any means perfect but it shows that psychology is not a stagnated science dominated by men and that on the contrary, women are now strongly represented in psychology faculties and early career positions (Odic & Wojcik, 2020). Even though these findings are interested, the authors accentuate the importance of conducting further research to explain why this gap exists and which are the factors contributing to its perpetration. They consider that the gaps may, for example, be explained by the hiring rates for men and women and journal policies.  In conclusion, there is a gender publication and citation gap that favors men and future research should be done in order to investigate which social, cultural and contextual factors contribute to these gaps.

Bibliography :
  • Larivière, V., Ni, C., Gingras, Y., Cronin, B., & Sugimoto, C. R. (2013). Bibliometrics: Global gender disparities in science. Nature, 504, 211– 213.
  • National Science Foundation. (2016). Survey of earned doctorates (NSF No. 18–304). Retrieved from 18304/ 
  • Odic, D., & Wojcik, E. H. (2020). The publication gender gap in psychology. American Psychologist, 75(1), 92–103.
Featuring image :
  • Stancikatie, A. (2020). We Need to Close the Gender Data Gap By Including Women in Our Algorithms [Illustration]. TIME. Retrived from :

Author : Paula Morales

sponsored student life

SBAP – Support and services for students and young professionals

Who or what is SBAP ?

The Swiss Professional Association for Applied Psychology

What does the SBAP offer ?

SBAP fights for the concerns of psychologists on a political level and offers a variety of services such as further education (emergency psychology, coaching in ADHD and autism spectrum disorder, etc.).

What is the benefit for me as a student or young professional to be part of the SBAP ?

At the moment, three areas are being developed and expanded from which you can benefit as a member.

  • The first area is personal support. A pool of SBAP members from various areas of the psychological world provide answers to individual questions from students and young professionals.
  • The second area includes workshops, trainings and company visits that are tailored to students and young professionals. As a member, you receive discounts, and all interested parties can take part.
    • Unfortunately, the company visits had to be cancelled this year due to Covid-19 and will not be resumed until 2022.
    • Online Webinars 2021:
      • Job application workshop (April 2021)
      • Opportunities and Diversity in the psychological World of Work (October 2021)
  • The third area is online support, which is still in progress. In the internal members’ area there will be a platform with FAQs on studies and career entry, portraits of psychologists from various fields as well as further information on further education and employers.

Who can become a SBAP member ?

Psychologists from studies until retirement.

Would you like to get to know the SBAP? Then sign up now for a trial membership. For the first year you pay only 50% of the student rate (CHF 50.- instead of CHF 100.-) and still benefit from all advantages. Send us an e-mail with the subject “Schnuppern 21” and your details (surname, first name, address). For further information, please contact the office (

We look forward to hearing from you and are happy to answer any questions you may have. The SBAP team (

Author : The SBAP team



When a friend showed me his new song a couple of years ago, I couldn’t stop wondering about the strange title; “Hikikomori”. If I had listened to the first verse instead, I might had guessed the meaning behind it. “Screaming but you can’t hear ‘em. No TV shows will be appealing. Four walls, no doors, one ceiling. The hikikomori feeling.” (Naj, 2018). He was telling his listeners about the mysterious circumstances under which an increasing number of the population in Japan live their daily life. 

The Japanese term “hikikomori”, which describes a person, originates from the verb hikikomoru. It contains the term “to pull back” (hiku) and “to seclude oneself” (komoru) as a description of the behavior shown by the hikikomoris. These mostly young men withdraw themselves physically and psychologically from society by locking themselves into their room for at least six months, avoiding as much direct human contact as possible. Even if this behavior intersects with other mental illnesses such as schizophrenia or social phobia, in this case at least a part of the trigger seems to be rooted in our modern way of life. Often hikikomoris feel under pressure by a society where performance means everything. They drop out of school or quit work to spend their time alone at home reducing all activities outside to the absolute minimum. This ranges from 2-3 interactions with others outside per week to less than one per week. Here comes another key-factor of our modern world into play, the internet. In these times where nearly all our needs can be satisfied online, what is the reason to go out? We interact with others in chats or games, find sexual satisfaction in pornography and order food online. Financially, they are often supported through their parents who are worried and ashamed of their children. Especially in a country with a collectivist culture like japan, being or supporting a hikikomori comes along with a strong stigma. So, it is not surprising that hikikomori and their families need support to deliver them from their suffering. In Japan there are various forms like “meeting spaces” for hikikomoris, telephone consultation and job-placement support, mainly organized through community support centers and mental health welfare centers. (Kato, Kanba & Teo, 2019)

Now, hikokomoru was most of the time seen as a Japanese phenomenon bound to the mentality and culture of the country but in the last decade, more and more similar cases all over the world were reported (Kato et al., 2012). And just recently an employee of a psychiatric youth institution told me about hikikomori like behavior of some patients. I personally think we as a society should be aware of this problem our modern way of life can cause. Because out there in the anonymous world of delivery services and apartment blocks, there may be living someone who has withdrawn himself into seclusion and could use help.

Bibliography :
  • Naj, (2018). Hikikomori. Retrived Ferbuary 10, 2021, from
  • Kato, T. A., Kanba, S., & Teo, A. R. (2019). Hikikomori: Multidimensional understanding, assessment, and future international perspectives. Psychiatry and clinical neurosciences73(8), 427-440.
  • Kato, T. A., Tateno, M., Shinfuku, N., Fujisawa, D., Teo, A. R., Sartorius, N., & Kanba, S. (2012). Does the ‘hikikomori’syndrome of social withdrawal exist outside Japan? A preliminary international investigation. Social psychiatry and psychiatric epidemiology47(7), 1061-1075.
Featured image :
  • G., Genaro. (2019). Hikikomori, un disagio da contrastare. Retrieved from:

Author : Max Frutiger

student life

Ghost Students

These past months have been a huge work in terms of adaptation. Between closure and reopening of schools, the program kept on going and exams still took place. How would we stop education?

Yet, the impact that the lockdown has on students is very considerable. When for some it is way better to study from home, for some others it is a nightmare. Closed in a 15m2 room, all alone, having to motivate yourself to study every day with no interaction can be very heavy with time. The difficulty is emphasized for the students who just began their first year of university. Indeed, the start of studies itself is a very big step in one’s life and feeling all alone can be very dangerous for the continuation of the studies. In France, the situation of students is not very considerate (#Étudiantsfantomes, 2021) and due to the suicides of several students (Nouveau suicide étudiant. La politique du gouvernement est criminelle !, s. d.) they decided to mobilize together to be seen and to protest against the situation. Thus, they created a hashtag named ghoststudents (#etudiantsfantomes) to collect testimonies in which they express how they feel towards the home studying, their impression of not being considered as part of society and not being supported. The main reason for this hashtag is to raise awareness and connect students together in order to feel less alone in their difficulties. There are some accounts on Instagram under the name @anxietudessuperieures (higher studies anxiety) in France and Belgium and there is also one for the French-speaking part of Switzerland.

Claire, a student at the University of Bern, manages the account for the French part of Switzerland ( I asked her a few questions on her motivations to hold such a platform and here are her answers:

  • What prompted you to follow the French movement?

“This period is very tough for every student and me included. When talking with some friends I could realize that I wasn’t the only one suffering and just the fact of knowing that gave me a little comfort. Besides that, frustration began to grow more and more with months passing by because my university worked less and less on listening to student’s difficulties and adapting the right conditions to lessons, exams and access to its infrastructures (our libraries closed during our exam session!) So, when I saw that the French launched a movement to break the silence around the conditions of students, I told myself let’s try and see if it will work in French-speaking Switzerland. As I suspected, the problem is not limited to France only…”

  • Did you have any specific expectation when you launched this account?

“No, I only thought that if I could make a student feel less alone with this account then all the work would have been worth everything. And according to the feedback I already received this goal is largely achieved and this is awesome.”

  • Do you plan to evolve or stick to the testimonies?

“For now as the account is still in growth and I have exams, I will keep going with posting testimonies for a while but I have some other ideas to add to them as for example a Discord platform to exchange, an open letter to Universities to ask more recognition and support and why not a demonstration (let’s be ambitious!).”

  • Is there any form of exchange or collaboration between you and other countries?

“I exchanged at the beginning of the account with France and Belgium to have some tips but now I mainly exchange with Swiss pages who respond to my stories like groupement of students, meme pages and mental health promotion association such as”

Apart from collecting testimonies, the platform talks about mental health subjects that we often mix nowadays. Generalized anxiety, stress, depression, burn-out are all put in the same bag and yet they are not the same and the response you need to give each one differs.

Now, you know where to go if you feel alone and isolated due to your studies, seek help, your emotions are valid, we are not robots.

Bibliography :
  • #Étudiantsfantomes : Le malaise des étudiants face à un confinement qui dure. (2021, janvier 13). France 24.étudiantsfantomes-le-malaise-des-étudiants-face-à-un-confinement-qui-dure
  • Nouveau suicide étudiant. La politique du gouvernement est criminelle ! (s. d.). Révolution Permanente. Consulté 29 janvier 2021, à l’adresse
  • Instagram account :
Featured image :

Caz. H., [@henri_caz], (2121, January 15). N°15: Prisonné.


White privilege

Whether we like it or not, 2020 was a year characterized by events that challenged us as individuals and societies in ways that we didn’t believe possible. Indeed, leaving aside COVID-19 and its huge impact on our daily lives, we also experienced several events that pushed us to question our ways of living and our understanding of socio-economic and environmental issues. Therefore, it seems to me that values such as equality, solidarity and fairness were something that became central in a lot of discussions. Consequently, 2020 was the year where, thanks to some globally supported social movements, things that were acceptable before by the largest number were no longer tolerable in a time where companionship was needed. 

For instance, we cannot talk about last year’s social movements without mentioning the series of police brutality protests that took place in America and around the world. The terrible events leading to these protests highlighted a major injustice in our societies, the one based on race. During the protests, we watched in horror as the series of violence and oppression inflicted on African American people unfolded before us. And with the realization that a group of people was oppressed, came the realization that others have it much easier. 

These protests and social movements around the world represented a wakeup call for a lot of White people, who benefit every day from the privileges that come along with belonging to this group. People’s responses to this were very different, some seeing it as proof that they had the responsibility to educate themselves and to support in any way they can the fight against racism, while others were tempted to give a more simplistic and defensive response, one that could take many forms but that was always along the lines of “BUT I have a hard time too”. For example, a study made by Phillips and Lowery (2015) shows that White people who were asked to read a text informing them that they are advantaged in different domains, report more hardships than Whites who did not read it. This kind of response is due to the fact that White people were confronted with evidence that their group benefited from privilege, which can be uncomfortable. According to the authors, “claiming personal life hardships may help Whites manage the threatening possibility that they benefit from privilege” (Cooley, Brown-Iannuzzi & Cottrell, 2019). The reason why this is threatening is because we function in societies that predominantly believe that personal qualities determine life outcomes. Therefore, it may be difficult to recognize that one benefits from privileges because on some level it diminishes the legitimacy of people’s achievements. In this case, claiming hardship allows individuals to deny that factors such as systemic racial privilege helped them, without completely denying that their group as a whole benefits from it. This has important consequences, because if people think that they have not personally benefited from privilege, they would be prone to think that they should not endure personal costs associated with policies created to reduce inequity (Lowery, Knowles, & Unzueta, 2007). 

However, informing people about their privilege can also have positive consequences. For instance, a study made by Cooley, Brown-Iannuzzi and Cottrell (2019) showed that informing white people about their privilege can increase the perceived racism in violent encounters between the police and black men, regardless of political ideology. Alternatively, without this information, White social liberals perceived significantly more racism than social conservatives. These results are important because in order to change, we first have to acknowledge the existence and the gravity of racism. 

These findings offer perspectives about the effects of educating White people about their privilege. It also raises questions about the right way of doing without activating the need to deny the issue. One thing is certain, this will always be an uncomfortable subject, but it is also one that we have to address in order to grow as fairer societies and simply because it is our own responsibility.

Bibliography :
  • Cooley, E., Brown-Iannuzzi, J., & Cottrell, D. J. (2019). Liberals perceive more racism than conservatives when police shoot Black men—But, reading about White privilege increases perceived racism, and shifts attributions of guilt, regardless of political ideology. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 85, 103885.
  • Lowery, B.S., Chow, R.M., Knowles, E.D., & Unzueta, M.M. (2012). Paying for positive group-image: How perceptions of inequity affect responses to redistributive social policies. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 102, 323–336. 
  • Taylor Phillips, L., & Lowery, B. S. (2015). The hard-knock life? Whites claim hardships in response to racial inequity. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 61, 12-18.
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Author : Paula Morales


Hypnagogia – The strange place between two worlds

Have you ever wondered how the molecular structure of benzene was discovered? Or what was the source of Salvador Dali’s creativity? Since you are visiting the website of the umbrella association of swiss psychology students I assume you’re more interested in psychology than chemistry or art, so probably not. But I’m going to tell you this ordinary story anyways because it is more connected to the depths of human consciousness than you might think. 

Since the mid 19th century, the German chemist August Kekulé has been concerned with molecular structures, particularly in organic chemistry. Today he is considered the father of the structural formula that enables every chemist to quickly recognize how the molecule of a substance is built up. But one particular molecule gave him a headache. The structure of benzene remained a mystery to him, until one day he fell asleep on top of a Londoner bus. In a dozing state he saw dancing atoms spinning in a circle. But when the conductor’s call tore him out of his dreams, he couldn’t do anything with this vision. It was not until the winter of 1861 when he fell asleep again in front of the fireplace that he realized that benzene had to be arranged in the form of a ring. Half awake, half asleep, he saw again these dancing atoms but this time also a Ouroboros, a snake biting his own tail (Anders, 2003).

Around a hundred years later, an eccentric enchants the art world. Salvador Dali’s drawings show grotesque faces and people, geometric figures like waves and circles and all of this in strange landscapes. Surrealism is celebrated around the world for its sheer inexhaustible creativity. And to make sure that his creativity doesn’t suddenly wane, the Spaniard has developed a technique that guarantees him new inspiration. During “slumber with a key”, as he called the technology, you sit down on an armchair with a heavy key between the index finger and thumb of your left hand. An inverted plate is placed under the armrest beforehand so that the key is directly above it when the arm is placed on the armrest. Now comes a phase of relaxation. The user makes himself comfortable in his armchair and surrenders to sleep. Coupled with it is muscle paralysis, which makes it impossible to hold on to the key. It falls directly on the plate and makes a loud noise. The person who has just fallen asleep returns to the waking world. Thoughts and images that were experienced in this state of consciousness must now be recorded immediately before they fade. It is not known how many and which works of art Dalis were created using this technique. The urgent recommendation on his part to colleagues to use this intellectual resource suggests that it was part of a routine of the Spaniard (Nielsen, 1992).

You may have already experienced the phenomenon that these two stories connect with each other. Hypnagogia, as it is known, is an altered state of consciousness that occurs during the transition from the waking state of consciousness to sleep and differs from dreams, which are often associated with the REM phases, in the short duration and the fact that the person does not perceive himself as acting or asleep. Acoustic, kinesthetic and optical hallucinations often occur during the hypnagogic state. They express themselves by hearing senseless sentences or melodies, seeing colors and flashes of light or feeling floating (Dittrich, 1996). A topic that receives little attention in comparison to dreams or waking consciousness, even though it would deserve it if one considered the prominent followers of this state. So next time when you start dozing off, you may want to draw your attention to the breathtaking scenery that opens up to you. Who knows, it might even make you a famous chemist or artist.

Bibliography :
  • Anders, R. (2003). Wolkenlesen. Über hypnagoge Halluzinationen, automatisches Schreiben und andere Inspirationsquellen. Greifswald: Wiecker Bote.
  • Dittrich, A. (1996). Ätiologie – Unabhängige Strukturen veränderter Wachbewusstseinszustände. Ergebnisse empirischer Untersuchungen über Halluzinogene I. und II. Ordnung, sensorische Deprivation, hypnagoge Zustände, hypnotische Verfahren sowie Reizüberflutung. Berlin: Verlag für Wissenschaft und Bildung. 
  • Nielsen, T. A. (1992). A self-observational study of spontaneous hypnagogic imagery using the upright napping procedure. Imagination, Cognition and Personality11(4), 353-366.
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  • Salvador Dali. (1937). Le Sommeil. Retrieved from:

Author : Max Frutiger

current directions

What hinders your New Year’s resolutions?

It’s that time of the year again where many are thinking about their New Year’s resolutions. Especially in the current time during the Corona crisis, choices for health behaviors are particularly prominent. Although good resolutions are made, they are often not put into action. But why is that?

A hurdle that can get in the way of achieving healthy resolutions are compensatory health beliefs (CHBs). These are beliefs that an unhealthy behavior can later be compensated by a healthy behavior (Rabia et al., 2006). For example, “It is okay if I eat this snack now because I am going to workout later”. Some findings show that individuals with stronger compensatory health beliefs engage in more unhealthy behavior such as drinking alcohol (Matley & Davies, 2018), smoking cigarettes (Radtke et al., 2012), and have a high-calorie intake (Kronick et al., 2011). The compensatory health beliefs can become problematic when they are used as justification to perform the unhealthy behavior nevertheless the compensatory behavior is not exhibited. The accompanying cognitive bias is not perceived and thus one can justify unhealthy behaviors without performing the compensation. 

A study by Amrein et al. (2021) investigated the relationship between CHBs and unhealthy snack consumption in daily life. Subjects were required to provide information about their snack consumption several times a day, state and trait CHBs related to compensation with subsequent eating behaviors and physical activity. The results of the study show that compensatory health beliefs are important for unhealthy snack consumption in daily life.  That means if you have stronger beliefs about compensating for the snack later, you’re more likely to eat an unhealthy snack.  

Of course, such compensatory health beliefs occur not only in the context of unhealthy eating behaviors, but also take place in other areas. But how can you counteract these beliefs? A good strategy for achieving any type of goal is If-Then plans. Typically, goals are described as an end product such as “I want to quit smoking.” If-Then plans, on the other hand, capture predetermined responses when a particular situation occurs. For example, “When I feel the urge to smoke a cigarette, I will eat a chewing gum instead.” Deciding such things in advance reduces the demands on your willpower.

With these mechanisms in mind, it might be helpful to frame your New Year’s resolutions as If-Then plans to reach (or at least increase the chance of reaching) your desired goals.

Bibliography :
  • Amrein, M. A., Scholz, U., & Inauen, J. (2021). Compensatory health beliefs and unhealthy snack consumption in daily life. Appetite, 157, 104996.
  • Kronick, I., Auerbach, R. P., Stich, C., & Knäuper, B. (2011). Compensatory beliefs and intentions contribute to the prediction of caloric intake in dieters. Appetite, 57(2), 435–438.
  • Matley, F. A. I., & Davies, E. L. (2018). Resisting temptation: Alcohol specific self-efficacy mediates the impacts of compensatory health beliefs and behaviours on alcohol consumption. Psychology, Health & Medicine, 23(3), 259–269.
  • Rabia, M., Knäuper, B., & Miquelon, P. (2006). The eternal quest for optimal balance between maximizing pleasure and minimizing harm: The compensatory health beliefs model. British Journal of Health Psychology, 11(1), 139–153.
  • Radtke, T., Scholz, U., Keller, R., & Hornung, R. (2012). Smoking is ok as long as I eat healthily: Compensatory Health Beliefs and their role for intentions and smoking within the Health Action Process Approach. Psychology & Health, 27(sup2), 91–107.
Featured image :
  • Hands Holding a 2021 Calendar by Olya Kobruseva (no date available)

Author : Jessica Wiedmer


What does Christmas have to do with psychology ?

Most people are probably already in the preparations, some are taking their time just before closing time on the 24th, but everyone is aware of it: Christmas! Mulled wine, fairy lights, advent candles, the same films every year, and maybe let’s hope for snow. Just those wonderful, heart-warming holidays that you can (or have to) spend comfortably with your family. But what is actually behind it? What really happens to us at Christmas?

For a little introduction to the psychology of Christmas, here are some psychological proofs about Christmas.

The annual recurring December question is: What should I get as a gift? Psychology’s answer is not money! Giving and receiving gifts is very important for our relationships, and a gift can have a lot of influence. The perfect gift should be respectful and loving, and at the same time, it should adequately reflect the intimacy and closeness of the relationship between the two people. All of this is not represented by money. So, give it some thought – What do you want for your gift to say to the person you are giving it to (Burgoyne & Routh, 1990)?

Now we come to the wrapping of the gifts. In fact, how the gift is wrapped has an effect on our attitude towards the gift. This effect comes from the fact that the wrapping induces a positive mood, which is then transferred to the contents of the wrapping (Howard, 1992). So put a lot of effort into the wrapping.

Decorating your house for Christmas makes a nice impression. According to a US study, people whose houses are decorated are considered friendlier than owners of undecorated houses. Moreover, these people were also assumed to be more sociable, even though this was not the case (Werner, Peterson-Lewis, & Brown, 1989). So, a tip to all homeowners: If things are not going well in the neighborhood, just decorate a little and things will work out.

Imagine the smell of biscuits and Christmas music. What does that do with us? At least in shops, it makes us think everything is better. And what’s most important: the combination of both! Nice music but a bad smell does not convince us much. We want the total package of nice things (Spangenberg, Grohmann, & Sprott, 2005).

For those of you who like to put on a little weight over Christmas, don’t panic. On average, people only gain half a kilo (Andersson & Rössner, 1992). Those who are now thinking, “But if I gain half a kilo every year, then it will always be more!” can immediately be reassured. In spring we automatically consume more energy, so that the fat deposits are reduced (to a certain extent; Zahorska-Markiewicz, 1980). So, dig in and enjoy.

Yes, Christmas is a great thing (at least most of the time). And with these facts, there were certainly a few tips to help you get through the holidays happy and relaxed. Finally, we from psyCH would like to wish you a Merry Christmas !

Bibliography :
  • Andersson, I., & Rössner, S. (1992). The Christmas factor in obesity therapy. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders: Journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity, 16(12), 1013–1015.
  • Burgoyne, C. B., & Routh, D. A. (1991). Constraints on the use of money as a gift at Christmas: the role of status and intimacy∗. Journal of Economic Psychology, 12(1), 47–69. doi: 10.1016/0167-4870(91)90043-S
  • Howard, D. J. (1992). Gift-Wrapping Effects on Product Attitudes: A Mood-Biasing Explanation. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 1(3), 197–223. doi:
  • Spangenberg, E. R., Grohmann, B., & Sprott, D. E. (2005). It’s beginning to smell (and sound) a lot like Christmas: the interactive effects of ambient scent and music in a retail setting. Journal of Business Research, 58(11), 1583–1589. doi: 10.1016/j.jbusres.2004.09.005
  • Werner, C. M., Peterson-Lewis, S., & Brown, B. B. (1989). Inferences about homeowners’ sociability: Impact of christmas decorations and other cues. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 9(4), 279–296. doi: 10.1016/S0272-4944(89)80010-6
  • Zahorska-Markiewicz, B. (1980). Thermic effect of food and exercise in obesity. European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology, 44(3), 231–235. doi: 10.1007/BF00421622
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Author : Alexander Ariu


Your brain and gratitude

We can agree that almost each of us holds a diary once in life. In adult life, it can seem childish to keep journaling our thoughts and emotions, but it could help us in so many ways. For example, it allows us to think more clearly, to know oneself better, to reduce the amount of stress we feel toward something or a specific situation. It can also stop us from ruminating because putting emotions into words forces us to analyze everything around them and the most important: slow down our mind (83 Benefits of Journaling for Depression, Anxiety, and Stress, s. d.).

My focus on this article will be specifically on the emotion of gratitude, a very common one yet very underrated. Gratitude is one of the most complicated emotions in our society and because we link it to religion, we can feel indebted towards something or someone and everyone knows that this feeling isn’t a very good one (Singh, 2018).

However, studies show that the expression of gratitude through journaling or voice recording can have a huge number of benefits on different aspects of our well-being. It can help us sleep better (Wood et al., 2009), reduce stress and anxiety (Wood et al., 2008), lower symptoms of depression (Liang et al., 2020) and even reduce the risk of heart disease (Neighmond, 2015) according to the professor Paul Mills. A lot of studies are being conducted in the field of Positive Psychology and more particularly around gratitude. We now know that feeling grateful towards something has a more realistic (physical) impact on our brain and behaviour than what we previously thought. 

This year isolated us for a long time and thus our tendency to overthink and ruminate upon our “before Corona” life and uncertainty about our future could sometimes be very heavy and make us feel down for several days. That is why I suggest you try this by yourself and see if it works for you. If you are a writing person you can write down in a journal two or three things you are thankful for during your day. Another idea can be to share your gratitudes with a friend through a call or simply by messaging them. The fact of writing every day can feel heavy or exhausting for some of us and it can slide to the negative aspect of gratitude (guilt and shame). If it is being forced, feel free to listen to yourself and manage it according to your preferences.

  • 83 Benefits of Journaling for Depression, Anxiety, and Stress. (s. d.). Retrived on 18th december 2020 from
  • Liang, H., Chen, C., Li, F., Wu, S., Wang, L., Zheng, X., & Zeng, B. (2020). Mediating effects of peace of mind and rumination on the relationship between gratitude and depression among Chinese university students. Current Psychology, 39(4), 1430‑1437.
  • Singh, M. (2018, december 24). If You Feel Thankful, Write It Down. It’s Good For Your Health. NPR.Org.
  • Wood, A. M., Joseph, S., Lloyd, J., & Atkins, S. (2009). Gratitude influences sleep through the mechanism of pre-sleep cognitions. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 66(1), 43‑48.
  • Wood, A. M., Maltby, J., Gillett, R., Linley, P. A., & Joseph, S. (2008). The role of gratitude in the development of social support, stress, and depression : Two longitudinal studies. Journal of Research in Personality, 42(4), 854‑871.
Featured image :
  • An Attitude of Gratitude. (2018, mai 30). Valleys Steps.

Author : Ardiana Dacaj

current directions

The thing with time

During the night the first snow of the season fell over Bern and Mariah Carey is slowly creeping up the charts. Without a doubt, we are heading towards Christmas. Or is Christmas getting closer? That corresponds to the question Claudia Hammond (2012) asks the readers in her book “Time Warped”. If the meeting on Wednesday must be moved two days forward, when is the meeting? There are two different but equally correct answers to this question. It depends on a person’s view of the future and the perception of time itself. If you arrive in the office on Monday for the scheduled meeting, you see time in a permanent flow. Therefore, the future is an event which moves towards you. If you find yourself at the office on Friday, you perceive yourself in motion through a stationary timeline. You are moving towards the future. This thought experiment is just one example of how different we deal with the concept of “time”.

Our understanding of time is shaped by many aspects. On the one hand, culture plays an important role in how we imagine time. In our western Society time is often visualized as a line with past events on the left end, the present in the middle, and future events on the right end. This picture is also used in the English language. We look forward to something in the future and look back at past events that are behind us. These horizontal metaphors are also used in Mandarin. But unlike in the English language, there are also a lot of vertical metaphors in Mandarin, such as “shàng (‘‘up”) and xià (‘‘down”) who are used to talk about the order of events. Earlier events are “up”, and later events are said to be “down”. This may be the reason or origin of the fact that Mandarin speakers are more likely to visualize time as a vertical line with the past on top and the future on the bottom (Boroditsky, Fuhrman & McCormick, 2011).

But we not only visualize and talk about time in different ways, our perception of time also differs depending on the person. Children with ADHD perceive time differently than children without ADHD. They are less able to estimate how much time has really passed and answer a 12-second reproduction task earlier than their peers. Even if this is only the case in the millisecond range and more studies are needed, it seems that the time for children with ADHD is passing faster (Smith, Taylor, Warner Rogers, Newman, & Rubia, 2002). On the other hand, depressed people experience exactly the opposite. Even though they are able to accurately estimate the time, they seem to experience a slow passage of time on an individual level (Thönes, & Oberfeld, 2015).

One last aspect we should consider is the situation. People who survived a life-threatening event often report that time seems to have moved in slow motion. Could it be that such an intensely emotional moment enables us to speed up our inner clock and act faster than we normally do? Stetson, Matthew and Eagleman (2007) thought it was time to find an answer to this question and threw some people off a 31-meter tower. So, if you think this one time you participated in a study was bad, think again. Sadly, their dedication did not pay off. They found no evidence of increased temporal resolution even though participants retrospectively estimated their own fall to last 36% longer than others’ falls. They suggest that time-slowing is a function of recollection, not perception.

In summary, one can say that time is something very individual. We experience it differently, depending on where we were raised, who we are and in which situation we are currently in. And even if we might not be able to slow it down, we can still use it smartly. For example, by getting the Christmas presents early this year. Because in the end it doesn’t matter if Christmas is getting closer or we are heading towards it, you will have to get them anyway.

Bibliography :
  • Hammond, C. (2012). Time wrapped: unlocking the mysteries of time perception. New York: Harper Collins.
  • Boroditsky, L., Fuhrman, O., & McCormick, K. (2011). Do English and Mandarin speakers think about time differently?. Cognition118(1), 123-129.
  • Smith, A., Taylor, E., Warner Rogers, J., Newman, S., & Rubia, K. (2002). Evidence for a pure time perception deficit in children with ADHD. Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, 43(4), 529-542.
  • Stetson, C., Fiesta, M. P., & Eagleman, D. M. (2007). Does time really slow down during a frightening event?. PloS one, 2(12), e1295.
  • Thönes, S., & Oberfeld, D. (2015). Time perception in depression: A meta-analysis. Journal of Affective Disorders, 175, 359-372.
Featured image :
  • Kia Abell. (2004). Clock. Retrieved from:

Author : Max Frutiger

current directions news

An interview with an applied psychology graduate

In this week’s blog post we decided to take a break from COVID and from the more formal articles to offer you an insight into a relatively less known field in psychology. So, I sat with my friend Alexia Gaillard, who recently finished her master in applied psychology at Geneva’s University, to discuss about what she does and what led her to choose this master. I hope this can give you some clues that would help you out in the difficult task of choosing a master amongst all the interesting options out there. 

P: Hi Alex, first I would like to thank you for accepting this socially distant safe interview to talk a bit about your field and your motivations for following this path. Maybe I would like to start by asking you to tell us a little bit about your educational background… 

A: Sure, I started in post-obligatory business school, at the time I didn’t really know what I wanted to do so I thought that maybe with that I could end up somewhere. Then during the last year, I had to do an internship that helped me realize that it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I wanted to do something a bit more meaningful and interesting so I decided to change. I went to an event at UNIGE where they presented me a profile of a psychology student and almost everything in that profile resonated with me. 

P: Do you remember what the profile sounded like? 

A: I just remember two words, which were organized and curious. And that is something with which I identify. 

P: So, it was kind of a natural choice for you. 

A: Yeah, I didn’t have to do a lot of thinking and the courses seemed so interesting that I didn’t even consider the other faculties. 

P: It’s so interesting that the two words that you remember are organized and curious… it’s something that is so linked to the master you chose three years after. 

A: Yeah that’s right… I don’t know, if I had to describe myself I would say organized and curious, maybe that’s why I remember it the most. I guess I also wanted to do psychology out of a desire to understand why people do certain things. I also had trouble being in social groups and the choice came from a motivation to further understand the dynamics and maybe feel more comfortable around others.  

P: It’s funny because it’s quite narcissistic but I feel like it is the case for many psychologists to choose psychology in order to understand themselves first. So, at that point what was the representation you had of a psychologist? 

A: Well, I think I had the stereotyped idea of a person with paper notes sited in front of a patient/client who’s sitting on a couch hoping for some advice (which was such a reductionist and wrong idea). But of course, this representation changed towards an image of a scientist too. At first I didn’t think that psychology was that scientific. 

P: Yeah, I had the same feeling. Then you go to uni and realize that you have to take statistics classes, learn all about the scientific methodology and even conduct research. 

A: Yeah, I liked that kind of stability that the scientific method offers to psychologists. 

P: So, when you finished your bachelor did you have a clear idea of what master you wanted to choose? 

A: I knew that I wanted to choose the social orientation because those were the courses I enjoyed the most and the ones where I felt that I was the most engaged with. You know, the interesting thing about those classes was the fact that when you go around your life, interacting as any human being and watching others interact, you can experience the dynamics and everything you learnt in class. I also knew I wanted to do research. 

P: Definitely. So let’s get into the difficult task of defining applied psychology… what would you say it is? 

A: Well, the world applied says it all. You take the knowledge that comes from research, from fundamental psychology and you apply those findings to the problem you want to solve. Let’s say, you start by defining a problem, for example, smoking behavior. You do your literature research on this behavior from A to Z and then you search for alternative solutions based on the behavior changing techniques that come precisely from research. 

P: I see. So, what are some of the fields you can work on being an applied psychologist? 

A: We can work on environmental, health, education and societal issues. The idea is to create intervention programs that are aimed at changing behavior. For example, recently we talk a lot about fast fashion and how consumerism behavior contributes to environmental issues and how we can create interventions to make people change that in order to adopt a more environmentally friendly behavior. To do this, it is important to know how conscious the population your intervention is aimed is about the problem. Because of course, the intervention will be much different for a person who doesn’t acknowledge the problem at all compared to someone who knows that their behavior is bad but doesn’t know how to change it. Our task is to investigate all these factors and create an intervention according to the issue, to the population and to the means you have to create this intervention. After this, the most important part in this process is to evaluate the impact of our intervention, what worked, what didn’t work and what can be done to make it better. The strength of applied psychology interventions compared to others is that it is evidenced-based, we don’t start with an intervention that “seems like a good idea” because the likelihood of it not working is much higher. 

P: Thank you Alex for your time and for sharing your experience with us. 

Featured image :
  • 27 Social Psychology Dissertation Topics for Academic Resea, A., No Comment. Retrieved from :

Author : Paula Morales


Things you did not know about sleep

People spend a third of their time sleeping. While some go through life with the philosophy “sleep is for the weak”, science knows how important good sleep is for your health. There are some things in our everyday behavior, which affect our sleep, but conversely, sleep also affects various areas in our life. In the following, I would like to present to you some facts about sleep you may not have known yet.


Everyone knows that caffeine can help you wake up in the morning or make you more alert. But there are at least two other hidden aspects of caffeine most people do not know. Do you know how long caffeine stays in your system? If you drink a cup of coffee around 2 pm, 50% of the caffeine will still be in your system after about five to six hours. It could be that almost a quarter of that caffeine is still in your brain at midnight. As a result, it can make it harder for you to fall asleep. But not only this, caffeine also affects your brain during sleep. It turns out that caffeine can actually decrease the amount of deep, non-rapid eye movement sleep, which is important for restorative, deep sleep. As a consequence, it could be that you wake up the next morning and you do not feel refreshed, you do not feel restored by your sleep. 


It is often mistakenly thought that alcohol can be a sleeping aid. However, this is not the case. Alcohol can be problematic for sleep in three different ways. First, alcohol is considered a sedative. But sedation is not the same as sleep. In deep sleep, the brain is active and many brain cells fire and go silent together at the same time. This way, brain waves are generated. When you are sedated, none of this takes place. Sedation is a case where we are simply switching off the firing of the brain cells. This causes all the positive aspects of sleep to be lost. Furthermore, alcohol can actually trigger and activate the fight or flight branch of the nervous system during sleep. This causes you to wake up throughout the night, even if you may not notice it. As a result, you will not feel refreshed in the morning. Lastly, alcohol can block your rapid-eye-movement sleep. This kind of sleep is important for your emotional and mental health. 


Sleep is critical for learning and making new memories. Sleep makes your brain ready to absorb new information. But not only before, but also after learning, we need sleep. This is especially important for the consolidation of what has been learned. While we sleep, the same neurons are activated that were activated during the learning process. Thus, sleep is actually replaying and scoring those memories into a new circuit within the brain, strengthening that memory representation. This process is called replay. The final way in which sleep is beneficial for memory is integration and association. Sleep does not just simply strengthen individual memories; sleep will cleverly interconnect new memories together. 


Lack of sleep makes us emotionally irrational and hyperactive. Studies show that the amygdala, which is the brain structure important for emotion, is almost 60% more responsive in sleep-deprived individuals than usual.  This is due to the communication between the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala. Normally, there is good communication between the two. In sleep-deprived people, however, this connection is significantly worse. As a consequence, the amygdala is responding far more sensitively due to a lack of sleep. What is more, sleep can help you soothe difficult emotional experiences. And so, perhaps it is not time that heals all wounds, it is the time during sleep that provides that form of emotional convalescence.


There is a very intimate association between our sleep health and our immune health. Individuals sleeping less than seven hours per night are three times more likely to become infected by the rhinovirus, otherwise known as the common cold. That is because during sleep at night, the production of immune factors is stimulated. Furthermore, the body actually increases its sensitivity to those immune factors. Thus, your immune system is more robust after a good night of sleep.

Featured image:
  • Wiedmer, J., (2020). Good Night.

Author : Jessica Wiedmer

current directions news

Why the arranging model is more important than ever in times of Covid-19

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and its measures, maintaining mental health is becoming increasingly difficult for many people (FSP, 2020). We know from various studies that quarantine has a negative effect on a person’s mental state. In a review, Brooks et al. (2020) have reported the negative psychological effects of quarantine, including anxiety, sadness, nervousness, anger, and post-traumatic stress symptoms. During a quarantine, people can manifest a variety of stressors such as fear of infection, boredom, frustration, insufficient care, stigmatization, and financial loss. These stressors can cause long-term effects such as mental disorders (Brooks et al., 2020). According to the WHO, quarantine and its effect on humans could lead to higher levels of loneliness, harmful alcohol and drug consumption, depression, and it is expected that self-harm or suicidal behavior will also increase (WHO, 2020).

According to a press release of the FSP, 1300 psychologists report in a survey about an increased demand from patients since summer 2020 (FSP, 2020). More than 70% of the patients were rejected due to a lack of therapeutic capacity. Due to the corona pandemic, 31% of the participants suffered from new mental illnesses, with some of the participants already carrying a pre-existing mental burden before the corona pandemic. Furthermore, psychologists reported that 47% of their existing clients reported that corona and the nation wide lockdown worsened their symptoms (FSP, 2020). In the field of mental health, there have been barriers to care in Switzerland for quite some time (Stettler, Stocker, Gardiol, Bischof, & Künzli, 2013; Stocker et al., 2016). According to the FSP, patients often have to wait up to six months for ambulatory treatment, which is a considerable amount of waiting time while being in a position of need (FSP, 2020). 

For this reason, the barriers to ambulatory psychotherapy must be reduced as quickly as possible. Until now, ambulatory psychotherapy by psychological psychotherapists has only been reimbursed by the basic insurance as soon as they are employed under a psychiatric doctor. This is the so-called delegation model, which greatly limits the number of psychotherapy places available and leads to long waiting periods (FSP, 2020). Therefore, the critical delegation model should be replaced by the arranging model. The purpose of this model is to enable psychotherapy to be carried out by self-employed psychotherapists in the future, where the costs are also covered by the basic insurance. However, the assignment of patients to a therapist should be made on the instructions of a medical doctor. The regulation change, which is necessary for the introduction of the arranging model, has been available since summer 2019. The consultation process has been completed since October 2019, and the Health Commissions of the Council of States and National Council also support the change. It is now up to the Federal Council to ensure that, in the near future, all people have rapid access to psychotherapeutic services financed by the basic insurance (FSP, 2020).  

Bibliography :
  • Brooks, S. K., Webster, R. K., Smith, L. E., Woodland, L., Wessely, S., Greenberg, N., & Rubin, G. J. (2020). The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it: rapid review of the evidence. The Lancet, 395(10227), 912–920. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30460-8
  • Föderation der Schweizer Psychologinnen und Psychologen [FSP] (2020). Covid und die Psyche – Mehr Anfragen bei Psychologen seit dem Sommer. Retrieved November 11, 2020, from 
  • World Health Organization [WHO] (2020). Mental health and COVID-19. Retrieved November 11, 2020, from 
Featured image :
  • Standing Jake (n.d). How to address business growth barriers. Retrieved November 12, 2020, from

Author : Alexander Ariu

current directions

Physical touch and social distancing

We thought that Corona was gone during the summer but here we are, having a second wave. We have to social distance again and some of us have to self-quarantine. The psychological damages during the first lockdown were not well-known and most of us had difficulties to deal with it. Yet that we know what it is to love from afar it can either feel more bearable or a contrary can be perceived as a second “punishment”.

In this article, I want to discuss the power of physical touch and what it implies to be deprived of it. 

To illustrate I will present a study that was conducted by Harlow in 1958 (Harlow’s Classic Studies, 2018). At that time the study’s purpose was to discover more about the parenting bond, especially between mother and infant. 

I must warn that this kind of study is now considered as unethical and would not be reproducible.

Harlow isolated several baby monkeys directly after birth to see if they craved their mother only to be fed or if there was something more than just a primary need. Behaviorists tended to affirm that they needed their mother only for food issues and resumed the relation with the notion of stimulus-response. 

The psychologist first isolated the baby monkeys and created two false “mum-monkeys”. On one side there was a “wire mother” who provided only food and on the other side there was a “cloth mother” (see fig. 1). When released, the monkeys went to the “wire mother” to be fed and immediately after went to the “cloth mother” and stayed by it during the eighteen hours left. The searchers wanted to take the experience further and see which of the two monkey mums the baby would choose in a fearful situation.  They put the baby in the cage where the two mums were and scared it with a constructed robot that made a lot of noise. The baby monkey immediately ran to the “cloth mother” to seek comfort. 

Figure 1. “Cloth mother” and “wire mother” © 2020 Jane Gerhard

I intentionally chose this study to illustrate the need of physical touch. There is a huge amount of studies which prove that we need physical touch in our social construction and well-being. So, what I am telling is that we are not monkeys but we need physical touch to feel good and develop well. The social distancing we endure these days can really low our well being if we feel isolated mentally.

However, we can still manage to somehow “replace” the physical touch (not at 100% but enough). The chemical hormon delivered in our brain during a touch is oxytocin (Pierrehumbert, 2003), the so-called “happy hormone”. Luckily for us, we also produce this hormone when we give or receive compliments, eat something good, dance or do little attention for someone we love. So go bake that cake you saw on Instagram and write a letter to someone you love. 

Featured image :
  • Weill Cornell Medicine. (2020). ‘Social distancing:’ What does it mean, and how do we do it? Retrieved from :
Bibliography :
  • Harlow H. F., Dodsworth R. O., & Harlow M. K. (1965). Total social isolation in monkeys. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Retrieved from
  • Harlow’s Classic Studies Revealed the Importance of Maternal Contact. (2018). The Association for Psychological Science. Retrieved from
  • Pierrehumbert, B. (2003). Amour et attachement. Spirale, no 28(4), 31-48.
  • G. J., (2020) Untitled.

Author : Ardiana Dacaj

student life

Learning by dreaming

Every good student knows that he should learn complex theories for his exams by repeating them constantly over several months, even though a glimpse in the overcrowded libraries one night before the exams proves that most of us don’t actually do that. But who am I to judge right? Learning, as we students know it, is often boring and exhausting. First, you have to fight to get a spot in the library, then you have to successfully ignore all the coffee-break requests from your buddies and by the time you start getting productive, it is already time for your lunch. One could now argue that you can start working after your lunch break, but as we all know you’ll get sleepy after eating so you take a nap. And after a nap you need a coffee. And after your coffee-break at 4 o’clock there is barely any reason to open your laptop for two more lousy hours. This scene describes a typical problem faced by students all around the world. But what if I told you that there are other ways to learn?

You don’t have to sit at a table for hours to learn. Most athletes learn while doing the exact opposite. Through repeated execution of movements they gain knowledge and control over their bodies. This is the so-called physical practice (PP). Although it is the most common way for athletes to learn and improve their skills it is not the only way. Mental Practice (MP) is also a well-established part of the training of athletes. They visualize a certain situation and the related movement before they actually move (Suinn, 1997). Or how Jack Niklaus, one of the most successful golfers, would put it: «I never hit a shot, not even in practice, without having a very sharp, in-focus picture of it in my head» (Niklaus, 1974, p. 79). Since this kind of practice works without any physical movement you can do it anywhere and anytime, even in your dreams! Well, provided that you have control over them which is exactly the definition of lucid dreams. In this rare condition which occurs mostly in the REM-Phase of sleep, you know that you are dreaming. Not only does this allow you to move freely through the landscape of your subconscious, but you can also influence it. This basically means that you can go to bed and when you’re getting lucid, create your individual learning environment and start practicing. In 2016 Stumbrys, Erlacher and Schredl compared the outcome of this lucid dream practice (LDP) with PP, MP and a control group in a field experiment. 68 individuals were asked to memorize a sequence of five numbers by pressing four keys on a computer keyboard as quickly and accurately as possible. After that, they went to bed and all participants, except for the control group, trained this task in different ways during the night. The MP group by visualizing, the PP group by performing and the LDP group by dreaming. The morning after, they repeated this task and the results were compared to the data from last evening. And indeed, they all made significant progress compared to the control group. 

Learning by dreaming? This is literally a dream come true, right? Well there are a few points to consider before you hop in your bed to learn for the next exams. First of all, even though it seems possible to learn lucid dreaming, only 5% of the population has at least one lucid dream per week (Schredl & Erlacher, 2011). Secondly, there were no significant differences between the groups which indicates that LDP is not superior to the other forms of practice. And thirdly, you can only recreate something in your dreams if you have a memory of it. So, there is really no way around it, at some point you have to sit down and learn these psychological theories before you can recall them in your dreams. 

So, what is the conclusion on LDP? It is a unique technique to learn and improve skills while sleeping. Particularly people who want to practice under special circumstances have the possibility to create a perfect learning environment without putting others or yourself at risk (e.g. surgeons, athletes etc.). Nevertheless, I doubt that you’ll pass next semester without some old-fashioned learning session in your local library. But now you have at least a good excuse for your next visit at the sleep room in the university. When your colleagues give you a judging look because you leave the table to take a nap, just tell them you will continue learning in your dreams.

Bibliography :
  • Niklaus, J. (1974). Golf my way. New York: Simon & Schuster. 
  • Schredl, M., & Erlacher, D. (2011). Frequency of lucid dreaming in a representative German sample. Perceptual and motor skills112(1), 104-108.
  • Stumbrys, T., Erlacher, D., & Schredl, M. (2016). Effectiveness of motor practice in lucid dreams: A comparison with physical and mental practice. Journal of Sports Sciences, 34(1), 27-34.
  • Suinn, R. M. (1997). Mental practice in sport psychology: where have we been, where do we go?. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice4(3), 189-207.
Featured image :
  • Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, (2004, December 12). Fat man and little boy. Giphy.

Author : Max Frutiger

current directions

Flow experience and how it can affect our well being

Perhaps one of the most troubling questions you can ask someone is if they’re happy. More often than not, the person feels the obligation to say yes. It is obvious that the question regarding our general well-being and happiness is not an easy one to answer and can’t be reduced to a yes or no, so I decided to give you a glimpse into some literature related to this. 

For quite some time now, psychologists have been tasked with studying and observing how different people respond to life’s events. How can some go through live so weightlessly and untroubled, while others have difficulty finding a reason to wake up in the morning. Most of us try to live our life striving for happiness, whatever that represents for each person. So, all possible socio-economic factors controlled, how can some achieve it easily while others have such a hard time. Well, it seems like part of the answer can be found in our personality type. 

Flow experience refers to an experience of deep absorption, engagement and enjoyment (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990). It is characterized, among others, by a state of complete concentration, an increased sense of control and a loss of self-awareness (Csikszentmihalyi, 1997). According to the literature on flow experience, some people are more prone to experience it during their daily activities, which in turn is associated with higher levels of well-being. We can then ask ourselves why there is such a difference. According to several theorists, some people possess certain personal attributes that encourage the experience of flow. These include curiosity, persistence, low self-centeredness, enjoyment of challenges, attentional control and others (Tse, Nakamura & Csikszentmihalyi, 2020). A profile that corresponds to these attributes was coined under the term of autotelic personality (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990). A recent study that measured autotelic personality, proneness to experiencing flow and well-being found a positive effect of autotelic personality on well-being (Tse, Nakamura & Csikszentmihalyi, 2020). What’s even more interesting is the fact that this relationship was mediated by the proneness to experiencing flow. If that’s so, why then don’t we engage more often in activities that facilitate the flow experience? Simple answer: we’re lazy. Indeed, another study showed that because flow activities require more effort than passive activities, people are simply not interested – despite knowing that the flow activities might lead to more happiness (Schiffer & Roberts, 2017). 

In conclusion, there seems to be some people who have the attributes to engage in a deeper level with their daily activities and who make the effort to become involved in more difficult tasks that lead to the so-known flow experience. I hope I succeeded in getting you interested in the topic and I hope you have a lot of flow experiences from now on – or at least now you know the term for that state when you’re playing music or writing your essay.

  • Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow. New York, NY: Harper and Row. 
  • Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1997). Finding flow: The psychology of engagement with everyday life. New York, NY: Basic Books. 
  • Schiffer, L. P., & Roberts, T.-A. (2017). The paradox of happiness: Why are we not doing what we know makes us happy? The Journal of Positive Psychology, 13(3), 252-259.
  • Tse, D. C. K., Nakamura, J., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2020). Living well by “flowing’ well : The indirect effect of autotelic personality on well-being through flow experience. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 1-12.
Featured image:
  • Johnson. S., [@samjsn], (2020, August 8). August.

Author: Paula Morales

current directions Facts

Why are some people left-handed?

Have you ever wondered why left-handed people are so rare? Everyone knows that right-handed people are more frequent than left-handed people. You may have heard different theories about how the handedness is determined, but you probably never heard of a theory explaining why left-handed people are so rare. Daniel M. Abram found a way to explain the small number of left-handed people with a mathematical model.

Only one out of ten people is left-handed. The fascinating thing is that this ratio has remained steady for the last 500’000 years. Until today, it is not exactly clear what determines the handedness. One thing we know, however, is that the handedness is nothing you can choose, it is given. Many different theories try to explain this. The observation that left-handed parents tend to have left-handed children more often than right-handed parents, can be explained either by the influence of genes or the environment. Studies with identical twins show that both genes and the environment influence handedness, since identical twins do not have the same dominant hand more often than other siblings do.

This implies that there must be a reason in evolution responsible for the small number of left-handed people. Daniel M. Abrams proposed a mathematical model, which suggests that the ratio of competitive and cooperative pressure is responsible for the small number of left-handed people. 

The advantages of left-handed people are most obvious when facing an opponent in combat or competitive sports. Because there are usually very few left-handed people, most athletes are used to train with right-handed people. When right-handed and left-handed people meet, the left-handed person will be better prepared than a right-handed opponent. Daniel M. Abrams showed that 50% of professional baseball players are left-handed. The imbalance, in the beginning, leads to an advantage for left-handed players. This is called the fighting hypothesis and is an example of negative frequency-dependent selection. The rarer a trait, the more valuable it is. But according to the rules of evolution, a group that has an advantage should grow until the advantage disappears. If all humans did was fight, natural selection would lead to more left-handed people. The number of left-handed people would grow until there would be so many of them that it would not be rare anymore and therefore left-handedness would not be an advantage anymore. Thus, in a purely competitive world, the ratio between left and right-handed people would be 50/50. 

However, human evolution is not only driven by competition but also by cooperation. Cooperative pressure pushes the handedness in the other direction. In golf, where performance does not depend on the opponent, only 4 percent of the top players are left-handed. The reason for this is a phenomenon called “tool sharing”. Many products and tools are made for right-handed people, as they also make up the majority of our society. Left-handed players are worse at using these tools. For this reason, left-handed people would be less successful in a purely cooperative world until they would no longer exist. 

To summarize, according to Abram’s mathematical theory, the stable number of left-handed people is seen as an equilibrium created by competitive and cooperative effects. 

  • Abrams, D., (2015, February). Daniel Abrams : Why are some people left-handed ? Retrieved from
Featured image:
  • Wiedmer, J., (2020). Handmade.

Author : Jessica Wiedmer

news psyCH aktuell

What is the “Kick-off Event” of psyCH and what happens there?

You may have heard of psyCH before or at least you have seen some posters or flyers in the corridors of your school. psyCH is a student organization consisting of future psychologists from different disciplines. The goal of psyCH is to promote the interests of psychology students and to unite different psychology circles to create a large national and international network of students. This is mainly intended to serve the networking of different students and professional associations. Besides the annual psyKO and the operation of psyPra, we have other events, such as the kick-off event.

The kick-off event took place in mid-August in Basel, where most of the psyCH members from the 2020/21 mandate met for the first time. This event was about getting to know all new and old members first, but also about some organization. From the schedule of the Kick-off Event, we started with a short overview of “What is psyCH?’”. For example, we got some interesting information about the vision and mission of psyCH which you can find on our website under the “About us” section. We also set some goals for 2021, for example, we want to join forces with other (local or national) student associations for common projects and we want to increase our online and offline visibility, so that we can refer to different events like the psyKo and the psyCH Trainers School.

After the organizational part, we participated in a short but amusing team building program where we shared some stories about ourselves. The activity was very relaxing and it allowed everyone to come together and laugh warmly. It certainly made the day nicer. The lunch was also quite nice because as we all know, food connects people in conversation.

After that, we worked a little bit in our so-called, “Buddy-working session”. During this time, we met with various buddies (our Heads of different disciplines), where we had to clarify some organizational points for the mandate 2020/2021. The Buddy-working session resulted in a nice and large output of information, which each member presented briefly. Finally, the kick-off event concluded in a picture, which can be seen above. In this picture, you can find the course and the goals for psyCH in this and next year.  

We hope this article gave you an understanding of our Kick-off event. Anyway, the experience was very cool, and everybody had the change to participate in the organization and vote anonymously for certain decisions. All in all, The communication was very open, and it was well organized.

Featured image:
  • Weber, A-S., (2020). Kick-off event 2020.

Author : Alexander Ariu

psyCH aktuell student life

An experience at the Trainers’ School

Roxane is a student who is currently doing her Master degree in health Psychology in Lausanne. She took part in the Trainers’ School of this summer and here is her story.

“I confess that even though I had enthusiastically enrolled in PsyCh trainers’ school on the advice of a friend, I remember arriving in Därstetten, far from home and a bit stressed. Indeed, I was a bit afraid of not having the knowledge and skills to achieve this week of training.

In spite of this, I was still looking forward to learning how to give training and to getting more familiar with original training techniques, which could go beyond the rigid and formal framework of academic presentations. I wanted to stimulate my creativity and develop my skills in managing group dynamics and oral presentation.  It was with this slight apprehension and these expectations that I walked through the door of this large chalet in Därstetten. 

It’s been already a few weeks since I attended this training, and I can truly confirm that it was sensational, so enriching, so dense but so interactive and constructive. Very quickly I forgot my fears and I felt really comfortable and integrated.

During this week I had the opportunity to attend, day after day, lessons about adult learning and oral presentation skills. I also learned progressively how to structure a training, how to define the different stages of reflection that participants should go through, how to set goals, to identify the participant’s needs and to adjust the content of a training according to each person’s experience and expectations. I learned how to give constructive feedback, enriching debriefings, how to facilitate and moderate group discussions.

I learned how to give training, but not from the point of view of a teacher who would know everything and students who would know nothing. One of the things I liked the most during the PsyCH trainer’s School 2020 was the philosophy behind the trainings. The fact that knowledge is built together, and that we are not there as experts. Everyone is an expert and everyone brings something to the training.  It is this idea of participation that I really appreciated. It was lively, it was rich.

I also got familiar with a multitude of equally creative methods to transmit content, to make this transmission dynamic and interactive. To link it with our life experiences so that it is imprinted in our memory for much more longer.

The trainers did an amazing job throughout the week to pass on what they knew and so that we could apply it as much as possible. One thing I also loved was the benevolence that reigned throughout all the week, this solidarity, this complicity. Everyone contributed to create a safe space, where everything was possible and every attempt was constructive and allowed us to learn. I learned in one week so much more, so much better! I will be able to apply all this knowledge, both in my academic cursus and in my everyday life.

For all these reasons, I recommend the experience of participating in the PsyCh trainer’s school. It will allow you to develop original and creative presentation techniques and skills. To transmit knowledge and content in a dynamic and participative way. This experience will also allow you to become part of a team, a family, and create very strong connections. I definitely recommend it.”

Featured image :
  • Pauli, E., (2020). Trainers’ School 2020.

Author : Ardiana Dacaj

current directions

Why do we dream?

What is a dream?

Dreams include thoughts, images, and emotions that are experienced during sleep. They can range in between extremely emotional to very fleeting, vague, or confusing. Some dreams are pleasant, while others are sad or frightening. Sometimes dreams tend to have a clear story, while many others tend to make no sense at all (Cherry, 2020). There are many unknowns about dreaming and sleeping. What scientists know is that almost everyone dreams every time they sleep, for about two hours a night in total, whether or not they remember it when they wake up (NINDS, 2019). The most vivid dreams occur during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, and these are the dreams we are most likely to remember. We also dream during non-rapid eye movement (non-REM), but it is known that these dreams are less frequently remembered (De Gennaro et al., 2011). In general, the dream content is collected from the subjective memories of the dreamer upon awakening. Increasingly, objective measures are also used for observation. For example, researchers in one study created a rudimentary dream content map that was able to trace people’s dreams in real-time using a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) pattern, which was confirmed by the dreamers’ reports after waking up (Horikawa, Tamaki, Miyawaki, & Kamitani, 2013).

But apart from what is contained in a particular dream, the question arises as to why we dream at all.

Why do we dream?

The question of why we dream has fascinated various experts for thousands of years. Despite scientific studies on the function of dreams, there is still no clear response to why we have dreams. Although much about dreaming remains uncertain, many experts have developed theories to explain the purpose of dreaming and new empirical studies are also providing greater clarity. Some of the better-known dream theories state that the function of dreaming is to express our deepest desires, process emotions, consolidate memories, and gain practice in dealing with potential dangers (Cherry, 2020). Many claim that we dream from a combination of these and other factors rather than sticking to one singular theory. Moreover, while many researchers believe that dreams are essential for emotional, mental, and physical well-being, some scientists believe that dreams serve no useful purpose at all (Ruby, 2011).

  • Cherry, K. (2020). Why do we dream?. verywellmind. Retrieved July 22, 2020, from
  • De Gennaro, L., Cipolli, C., Cherubini, A., Assogna, F., Cacciari, C., Marzano, C., . . . Spalletta, G. (2011). Amygdala and hippocampus volumetry and diffusivity in relation to dreaming. Human Brain Mapping, 32(9), 1458-1470. doi:10.1002/hbm.21120
  • Horikawa, T., Tamaki, M., Miyawaki, Y., & Kamitani, Y. (2013). Neural Decoding of Visual Imagery During Sleep. Science, 340(6132), 639-642. doi:10.1126/science.1234330
  • National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (2019). Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep. Retrieved July 22, 2020, from
  • Ruby, P. (2011). Experimental Research on Dreaming: State of the Art and Neuropsychoanalytic Perspectives. Frontiers in Psychology, 2(286). doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00286


Author: Alexander Ariu

psyCH aktuell

Introducing EFPSA

If you have never heard of EFPSA, then the time has come. This article will briefly introduce EFPSA, list their goals and show you the range of events and services they have on offer for psychology students like you.

EFPSA is the European Federation of Psychology Students’ Associations. In short, EFPSA was founded in 1987 and aims to connect Psychology students’ organizations like psyCH from across Europe. At the moment the Federation consists of 32 psychology Member Organisations (psychology students’ associations like psyCH) and one Observer Organisation (Organisations that may join in the future). The involved countries range from Albania, to Finland, to Luxembourg and many more. 

Through its work, EFPSA tries to achieve the following goals:

  • To serve psychology students
  • To contribute to society
  • To improve psychology
  • To link professionals, academics and students 

These goals are at the centre of the events and services that EFPSA offers. Below is a brief list and description of their events:

EFPSA Congress 

The annual congress is a week-long event, where 350-500 psychology students come together and take part in a scientific and a social program. It is a great place to meet other students from across Europe! (The 2021 congress will be held in the Netherlands)

EFPSA Conference

The conference is smaller than the congress and takes place bi-annually. The focus lies on the scientific program. Last year, for example, the conference theme was environmental psychology and took place in the Czech Republic.

EFPSA Research Summer School

The summer school is a 7-day long event, in which you plan and implement a 12-month study within a team supervised by a PhD. After the one-week program, there is the possibility to be invited into a fully structured 12-month research program. 

Further Events are EFPSA Academy, EFPSA Day and Various Trainer Events (Train the Trainers; Train Advanced Trainers; Trainers’ Meeting; Trainers’ Conference). 

Apart from events, EFPSA also offers various services like a Journal of European Psychology Students, Social Impact Initiative and a section on ‘Study and Travel Abroad’. 

For more information on EFPSA, visit their Website:

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Author: Sabrina Sovilla

current directions

Opioids -The silent addiction

As a psychology student working with patients with addiction, I know a lot about the fate of our patients and how their addiction developed throughout their lives. I have always been interested in the turns someone’s life takes to lead them into an addiction, how they can overcome it and where they can find the motivation to do so. There is one story I have heard from some of our heroin-addicted patients and it made me wonder where it comes from. They had a normal and inconspicuous life before they started taking drugs. It all started when they were prescribed, opioid-based pain killers. 

Worldwide, especially in the United States, cases like the one described above exist. The problem is known as the opioid crisis.  In 2016 more than 42’000 people died in the United States alone, due to an overdose based on prescribed opioids. The World Health Organisation announced a public health emergency and programs to combat the epidemic. The problem stems from the 1990s when pharmaceutical companies downplayed the addictive effects of opioid-based pain-killers and sold them in great quantities. The problem isn’t restricted to the United States, Switzerland has also been widely affected. 

One of the side effects of consumption is the development of tolerance toward the opioids. To get the same pain releasing effect each time, the doses have to be taken in higher amounts. However, there is usually a limit on the legal prescription dose and even the highest amounts end up being insufficient in relieving pain. 

  • If you are interested in how the drug functions in the human body and how the tolerance development works, you can find out more here.

The affected people have the option to go through a withdrawal (which is very painful – see video below). Therefore, a lot of patients end up reaching for other opioid-based drugs like heroin. This shift in substances leads to more uncontrolled consumption and overdoses. The development of an opium addiction is a gradual process and most of the patients are not aware of it until it is too late. It can happen to anyone. 

  • If you want to know more about the symptoms and the withdrawal of an opioid addiction, you can check out Travis Rieder’s TED-Talk. He talks about his personal experiences during his opioid withdrawal and explains the stages a lot of patients go through very accurately. 

As a budding psychologist, you might be confronted with the ongoing problem if you are working with addiction or chronic-pain patients. Moreover, if you are working in prevention, this is certainly a subject on which awareness should be raised, for patients as well as society. 


U.S. Department of Health and Human Service. 2020.

Featrured Image


Author: Carla Wüthrich

student life

How do I get an internship in psychology?

Internships offer the opportunity to gain a deeper insight into a sector or a company, to make contacts, to learn about other aspects of one’s own field of study, or to put learned theory into practice.

In order to choose the right internship position, clear ideas should first be developed about which position will help you advance professionally. Interested students need to know which practical experience is desired in a particular sector.

  • If there is a clear desire for a specific job, first experiences in this area can already be gained with a concrete internship. This is an advantage for later applications. Example: Practicing the handling of interviews and questionnaires during an internship at the career guidance office.
  • If your job wish is still unclear, you can use an internship to get a taste of areas that are of interest to you. For example: During a research internship you can try out whether you enjoy your scientific work.
When should I do an internship? 

It is never too early to gain professional experience. It is ideal if you have already completed an internship or several internships during your bachelor’s degree. At this stage, you probably have not really made up your mind and can get a taste of different areas. This makes it easier to find your professional focus later on. In the Master’s program, you should be able to decide on a specific field. 

It is still possible to change even then, but the more intensively you concentrate on one area, the quicker you can get used to it. For example, companies appreciate it very much if you know your way around a field well and have some experience.

Possible practice areas: 
  • Psychiatric and psychosomatic clinics (e.g. UPD, UPK, PUKZ, etc.)
  • Child and youth psychiatric services
  • Universities (research internship, assistant)
  • Research institutions
  • Organizational area (personnel selection and development)
  • Educational guidance centers
  • Career and occupational guidance
  • School Psychology Service
  • Psychotherapeutic Practices
  • Outpatient psychological and psychiatric services
  • Addiction clinics
  • Rehabilitation Clinic
  • (…)
How or where can I find an internship? 

The search for an internship is of course very different for everyone due to individual interests, which is why the search and the approach is always different. Therefore, I will try to mention some points that might help in general.

Network: By network, we mean a pool of friends, relatives, colleagues, seminar instructors, or even lecturers. Through these networks it is possible to collect information from various internship offers from different institutions. Depending on this, you can even learn from the network that an internship will soon be announced and that you can send an unsolicited application before. The bigger the network is, the more information one has available for the potential search for an internship. Exciting information can be obtained from every contact. If one person is not able to help you with your intern search, you can ask the person for another person who can help you. In this way, you might be able to find a person who has a vacant internship place through a recommendation. By the way, this principle also applies to all jobs in general.

Find open internship positions: This link list is a little help. It contains the most important links from my point of view and should give you some ideas on how and where you can search for internships in psychology. It is worth clicking through the pages to find out more.

  • psyPra: There you will find internships in various fields (organizations, clinics, institutions, universities, etc.)
  • Aerzte-Jobs: It helps to find a job for clinical psychologists. From time to time you can find internships in various clinics.
  • Research internships at the UZH: There is a wide range of internships available at the University of Zurich. Of course, all other university institutions also offer research internships. You only have to consult their sites regularly and look out for vacancies in the corridors from time to time.
  • SKJP: Internships in the field of child and youth psychology (school psychology).

I hope I was able to help you with this link list and this article. Of course, there are many more search options on the internet, but I would like to draw your attention to the fact that you can exchange information with others so that you know much more and expand your network. As I said before, the bigger your network is, the bigger your success for a cool internship.

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Author: Alexander Ariu

student life

PhD – A guide on how to find your PhD position

Be clear about your priorities

The most important thing you need to know if you are looking for a PhD position is what you want to be working on in the future. Try to figure out what fascinates you and what skills you want to learn in the next couple of years. This can be rather broad – I knew that I wanted to work with brain imaging data, genetic data and psychiatric disorders. Search for positions accordingly.

Activate all resources

There are many ways to look for a PhD position. The most helpful one in my opinion is to ask people from your current lab and especially your current supervisor. They will know all important groups in the field and write your reference letters. Also talk to the career service centre at your University. They will assist you in writing a good CV and motivation letter. 

Don’t settle for the easiest option

If you like your current lab and think that you will achieve your goals within this group – great! However, doing your PhD in a different lab will give you new perspectives, foster new collaborations, introduce you to new methods, it will look great on your CV and you might get the chance to spend some time abroad. This usually comes with more organisational problems but I think it’s worth it. 

Find a great supervisor

One of the most important people in the life of a PhD student is his/her supervisor. They decide on which projects you will be working on, introduce you to other scientists in the field, help you progress, evaluate your findings and finally recommend you for post-doc positions. If you can, visit the group and talk to lab members in person. This gives you an idea of how you might fit in and a broad approximation of how happy other PhDs are with their supervisor. 

Don’t give up and keep looking

Searching the perfect PhD position can be very frustrating. You will spend a lot of time looking for positions, applying and probably receive several rejections. Don’t get too fussed about it. Some Universities will turn you down and others won’t. This usually does not tell much about your qualifications. 

Reach for the stars

Always be courageous! Everyone questions their competence and qualifications. Try to focus on your potential and highlight your strengths. If you find an interesting PhD position at a prestigious University, which seems out of reach, try anyway. You might be lucky and end up in Cambridge.

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Author: Eva-Maria Stauffer

current directions

Mindfulness in Therapy

You may have heard about mindfulness before, but not be sure what it is. Meditation and mindfulness are used a lot in spiritual contexts but have been adapted to be used in a secular, therapeutic context. Probably the most strongly established form is MBSR (Mindfulness-based stress reduction) as well as MBCT (Mindfulness-based cognitive training) developed by Kabat-Zinn.  Kabat-Zinn was a professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and is the founding father of mindfulness-based stress reduction, which he developed in the 70s. In this article, I am going to introduce what MBSR is, what it can be helpful for, and then introduce some resources to let you try out mindfulness on your own.

What is MBSR/MBCT and how useful is it?

Forms may vary, but the form that I am going to introduce here is the 8-week, group-based, in-person program, which originated at the  University of Massachusetts Medical School. The course focuses on new aspects every week and introduces new forms of practice as well as a space to reflect personal behavioral patterns as well as thought patterns. The practice takes place in a group and in private and consists of exercises like mindful yoga, body scans, mindful eating (raisin exercise), and sitting meditation. According to Kabat Zinn, 7 attitudes are important to cultivate, including non-striving, acceptance and trust. (For more information on the attitudes see: While mindfulness can be beneficial for all, the MBSR and MBCT programs are starting to be applied in clinical settings more and more. They are used for patients suffering from depression, chronic pain, cancer substance abuse, and much more. Nevertheless, when it comes to studies concerning the effectiveness of these therapies, there is a need for more research. Hempel et al. (2014) created an overview of the results found in research so far. Their overview shows, that there seems to be evidence of potential positive effects when using MBSR/MBCT to treat depression, pain and anxiety. However, when it comes to stress, cancer in general and substance use, the results are mixed. In conclusion, while MBSR/MBCT seems to help treat depression and pain patients, more research is required, as there is unclear evidence when it comes to other illnesses like cancer or substance abuse. 


 There are many ways to give mindfulness a shot. You can stroll into your bookstore, where there are many books including theoretical backgrounds as well as guided practices or search the internet. Here are a few digital resources for you to try:

Hopefully, these resources help get you started. Enjoy!


Hempel, S., Taylor, S. L., Marshall, N. J., Miake-Lye, I. M., Beroes, J. M., Shanman, R., … & Shekelle, P. G. (2014). Evidence map of mindfulness. Washington DC: Department of Veterans Affairs, Health Services Research & Development Service.

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Author: Sabrina Sovilla

current directions


Resilience in developmental psychology refers to the ability of children to develop normally despite stressful circumstances and conditions. In general, resilience is the ability of people to react appropriately and flexibly to changing life situations and demands and to master difficult, frustrating and stressful situations without psychological consequences. Individual differences in resilience can then explain why some people do not experience such consequences despite stress, which means that the topic of resilience in the broadest sense can be counted among the topics of positive psychology (Stangl, 2020).

The origins of resilience research go back to the 1950s when the American developmental psychologist Emmy Werner began a study on the Hawaiian island of Kauai in which she observed 698 boys and girls over four decades whose chances of living a successful life were poor because of neglect, poverty, and abuse. Often the marriages of the parents were troubled, no money was available, many parents were addicted to alcohol. But in the end, there was a big surprise, because normally one would have predicted a sad fate for the children, but since this long-term study, it was clear that even if the conditions are bad, some people master their lives well. A third of Kauai’s children grew up into caring, self-confident and capable adults, both in their jobs and in personal relationships. The strong children of Kauai had something that the others did not have. There was at least one loving caregiver to take care of them, whereby the confidant does not necessarily have to be a mother or father, but another caregiver can also fill this role (one significant other). (Werner & Smith, 2001). Werner summarized her findings in three protective factors:

  • A temperament and an average intelligence that has a positive effect on parents/caregivers. In this context, certain energy, robustness and a socially binding nature are also mentioned, because children who possess these qualities receive more positive attention from their parents or caregivers (Werner & Smith, 2001).
  • An emotional bond with the parents or substitute caregivers who encouraged the children to trust and be independent. This also included the children’s conviction that they were responsible for their own successes. This conviction enables adolescents to react actively to adverse circumstances and also to seek out people who can give them advice (Werner & Smith, 2001).
  • The support of society, which provides sustainable values, whereby schools, in particular, have a strong influence on the development of children’s resilience by recognizing and rewarding their skills. This aspect shows the responsibility of society in terms of forming resilient skills in children (Werner & Smith, 2001).
Resilience in everyday life

For the individual, being a resilient person means being able to deal successfully with stressful life events and with the negative consequences of stress. It is crucial not to be discouraged by resistance in life, but to learn from it and integrate these experiences into one’s own life. A basic or basic trust that is formed in childhood is important for this, but the genetic make-up also determines the mental resistance. 

Resilient people often have good relationships with friends and partners and have a positive self-image of themselves. These people have a broader interest, are disciplined, tend to be less catastrophic and also look for positive aspects when faced with negative life events. Persistent negative feelings, long-lasting dissatisfaction, and tension contribute to mental illness, while a positive mood promotes and relaxes creative thinking (Stangl, 2020). Resilience research gives some practical recommendations:

  • Friends and a social life that surround you is crucial.
  • Develop a sense of non-material values.
  • Positive feelings like cheerfulness, humor, fascination, and love can neutralize negative events.
  • Asking yourself whether everything you have taken on in your daily life is still relevant and whether you enjoy doing it. Admittedly, every job or obligation also involves unpleasant activities, although this is only problematic if the negative clearly predominates.

In the opinion of experts, resilience can be learned to a certain extent and can also be increased in adults by solution orientation, promoting optimism, and the assumption of responsibility. Especially in children, resilience factors can be promoted, which a child acquires in interaction with the environment and through the successful accomplishment of age-specific developmental tasks (Stangl, 2020).

Following factors strengthen children and increase their resistance (Fröhlich-Gildhoff & Rönnau-Böse, 2009): 

  • Self-control capability
  • Social skills
  • Positive self-perception
  • Problem-solving competence
  • Conviction of self-efficacy
  • Appropriate management of stress
  • Fröhlich-Gildhoff, K. & Rönnau-Böse, M. (2009). Resilienz. München: Reinhardt. 
  • Stangl, W. (2020). Resilienz. Online Lexikon für Psychologie und Pädagogik. Retrieved March 10, 2020, from
  • Werner, E. E. & Smith, R. S. (2001). Journeys from childhood to midlife: Risk, resilience, and recovery. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
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Author: Alexander Ariu

psyCH aktuell student life

4 Reasons to volunteer in an association

The semester is past the halfway point and the next one around the corner. If you are looking for a new challenge, joining an association might be right for you. The following article lists a few of the reasons some of our members and I joined psyCH and what we have been able to gain from it.

Connecting with others

For me and many others connecting with others was and still is one of the main reasons for joining and being a part of psyCH. Apart from making new friends, it has been a great opportunity to get insight into life at other universities and surpassing the language barriers within Switzerland. 

Insight in different fields of psychology

PsyCH has created ways for me to deepen my knowledge about different areas of psychology. At the psyKo for example, different workshops and lectures let me learn about fields I had never heard of. The same goes for other students I have met through psyCH. Furthermore, as a part of the blog-team writing articles about different topics has the perk of getting to know more about various topics through research. Joining an association is certainly a way to deepen your knowledge on topics that interest you and meeting others who share your passion.

New experiences

Becoming active in an association is a great way to gain new skills and insights. Obviously, these experiences depend on which tasks you are involved in, so the following are about my personal experiences. Being part of the psyKo organization team was challenging but at the same time very rewarding. It was interesting to see how much work goes into a congress behind the scenes and trained my coordination and improvisation skills when faced with challenges. I especially enjoyed having the freedom to turn my ideas into reality. In comparison being part of the blog-team has been an opportunity to work on other skills. There I have been given the chance to work on my writing as well as researching topics that interest me. In conclusion, there are many tasks to be done in associations, so if you are interested, ask around and you are likely to find a task that suits you. 

New opportunities

Associations are a way to immerse yourself in new worlds and find new opportunities that can support you on your way. Before joining I did not know much about psyCH or EFPSA but since I have become a member lots of new doors have been opened. Obviously, many things can also be found on the internet these days but nothing beats a good personal recommendation (which you are sure to get in associations). Two examples of things I have discovered through psyCH are EFPSA and the trainer school. EFPSA is the European Federation of Psychology Students’ Organisations, which organizes a one-week long conference with tons of workshops about psychology every year. Furthermore, it is a gathering of psychology students from across Europe. So far I have not been able to attend the congress but it has been highly recommended by people who have visited it in the past. Apart from EFPSA I was introduced to the trainer school (organized by psyCH), where you learn how to lead trainings on team building, learn more about yourself and much more. 

The above-mentioned points are only a few of the reasons to become involved. If you think psyCH might be right for you, check out our website! We are recruiting new members right now, so maybe you will find a task that is right for you.

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Author: Sabrina Sovilla

current directions

ZETA Movement – young for mental health

To be interested in health psychology means for me to care about mental health in our society. The WHO announced depression as the leading cause of diseases by 2030. In Switzerland, one-fifth of all inhabitants are affected by a mental disorder.

But have you ever heart speaking someone about it in public or even in private conversations?

It is still a big taboo in our society and most people remain silent out of fear to get stigmatized. As it happens with a lot of the global challenges today, people start to talk about it on the internet. It gives them a platform to speak openly about their experiences and to connect with others affected.

Out of this idea of connection, ZETA Movement was created by a group of young people who didn’t want to remain silent about this global issue. It all started at a workshop against stigmatization where the founders of the movement met. They all had direct or indirect experienced what it means to suffer from mental illness and where thereby aware of the social stigma around it. They decided to create a social movement and an open community where members could speak freely about all the issues and challenges, they have experienced with it.

The name ZETA was developed out of the thought that generation Z should be the last generation that is impacted by social stigmatization of mental health issues.

Therefore, ZETA works with the concept of open communication and storytelling. The core idea is to build up a community where “ambassadors” can share their personal experiences with mental health issues. Their goal is to be operative in schools and other youth-related organizations. Furthermore, the associations will focus on the building of a community, the organization of training courses for the ambassadors, and the organization and mediation between ambassadors and authorities.

Like any other social movement, ZETA can just achieve it’s goals if there are young people out there which are interested in being part of a movement and which feel responsible for the mental health of our society. If you have new ideas or inputs, if you are impacted in the topic and you would like to become an ambassador, or if you want to be part of the association, ZETA is happy about every input and new member they can reach to achieve their global goal. There is still a lot to do and help can be needed from everyone so don’t hesitate to get in touch. Rather Either on social media or you can directly contact the board by e-mail.



Instagram: zeta.movement


Author: Carla Wüthrich

current directions

Some psychological perspectives on the corona virus

We assume that during the last days, you have wrestled with a lot of questions, as we probably all did and maybe some of them were highly psychological in their nature. The field of psychology has a lot to say about all kind of areas that are currently making headlines and are relevant for our society, as we are navigating through this exceptional time. That’s why we decided to give you a brief compilation of some interesting content in this respect.

Below, you will find descriptions of some absorbing articles (along with their hyperlinks) about psychology and its contributions for the fight against the current corona virus outbreak. 

The Federation of Swiss Psychologists (FSP) has published an important article about mental health and self-care during quarantine. On their webpage, you will find valuable materials, such as contact details from professional aid providers and practical advice for coping with isolation and anxiety (Note: On the website below the article, you can switch to another language). We also highly recommend you to visit, a special platform for mental health in connection with the corona virus.

Maybe you or someone you know is currently working in home-office and therefore has to deal with quite unusual working-conditions, depending on their experiences with working from home. In order to adjust to this situation, one should particularly look for advice from an occupational psychologist. Here you’ll find an article that provides you exactly that. Also, since all universities are closed for an unforeseeable time, it might be useful for all of us to implement some of these tips in our daily routines, as well.  

As you clicked through the internet, you might have encountered some rare or even strange theories about why the world is now dealing with this global pandemic. Here, too, psychology has a lot to offer, as it attempts to explain why people come up with such a variety of highly alternative and often paradoxical theories about major events, such as the corona virus outbreak. We came across two contributions to this intriguing topic, another article published by FSP, and a radio show aired on SRF 1.

Lastly, we would like to present you some initiatives that allow you to use your particular skills and become active during the current crisis. If you are interested in voluntarily supporting people who are struggling with social isolation or medical workers by providing an open ear to them, click on the links! Also, if you want to help your local hospital, here’s a possibility to do that.

We hope you will find this material as valuable and interesting as we did. The psyCH-team wishes you to stay healthy and we will go on with providing you gripping and useful articles in the upcoming weeks.

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current directions

Personality tests – fraud or meaningful help?

In the context of recruitment procedures, most people have already had to deal with personality tests. Since personality tests have their origin in the diagnostic and therapy of mental disorders there are still prejudices against such procedures. In the USA it has been a common practice to take such tests. Furthermore, in Germany, the decision-making process which a personality test can provide is gratefully accepted by more and more companies. There is a wide range of testing methods available, and so there are some serious and reliable tests as well as several tests that are less useful or not useful at all.

This small blog entry is about giving an overview of personality tests, where they can be used, what kind of tests are available and what you should consider (quality criteria, manipulability …).

Use of personality tests

First of all, it is important to realize that such a screening alone cannot reflect whether a candidate is a suitable candidate for the job. Nor is it possible to capture the entire character. The personality tests merely help to confirm the impression gained from the application and interview and/or to provide additional information. However, assisting in the selection and placement of personnel is by no means the only purpose for which personality profiles can be useful. Personality tests are used in the preparation of an application procedure, in the creation of competency models and requirement profiles. Also, they can be informative in questions of career planning and management development. These tests are also used more often for training (especially team development), coaching and career counseling. In all these applications, personality profiles serve as a basis for feedback processes and/or as a supplement to the basis for decision-making. Additionally, a self-test can be helpful in structuring and supplementing self-image and requirements to illustrate one’s strengths, weaknesses, and potential.

Types of personality tests

A distinction is made between projective and objective personality tests.

Projective tests: Projective test procedures work with ambiguous pictures, abstract patterns or drawings. In such a test the participants should describe what they see. In this way, they project their experiences, feelings, and conflicts into the test material. A well-known projective test is the Rorschach test, in which inkblot images are interpreted individually. This type of personality analysis is unsuitable for personnel management and is rarely used in clinical practice.

Objective tests: Objective personality tests are usually questionnaire-based procedures that are relatively simple to carry out, but the evaluation (with the help of software) is quite complex. These questionnaire procedures consist of questions and statements on which comments must be made.

An example

  • Question: I am often uncertain about my decisions.
  • Answer possibilities: from does not agree at all to agrees exactly (e.g. 1-6)

The personality traits of a test person determined in this way can then be compared with the average values of a norm sample and/or existing requirement profiles.

Quality features

Serious and informative personality tests can be recognized by the following quality criteria.

  • Objectivity: The result must be independent of the test instructor and the test conditions are always the same for all participants.
  • Validity (=expressiveness): How accurate is the test in its statements? A test is valid if it measures exactly the characteristics it is supposed to measure.
  • Reliability (=measurement accuracy): If a test is repeated with the same answers, the same result should be obtained.

If one of these quality criteria is not sufficiently applied, the test can be described as not being of good quality.

Possible factors that could falsify the test
  • Manipulability: Particularly in the area of employee selection, but also all other areas of application, there is always the problem of manipulability of the results by the respondent. This is mainly due to the fact that the questions almost always show which characteristics the answers show and which of them are positively evaluated for the respective purpose. A good test procedure for personality analysis is therefore characterized by the presence of control questions that recognize the logic (inner coherence) of the answering behavior and would indicate possible manipulation.
  • Language problems: Unnecessarily complicated formulations, long sentences, double negations, and passive formulations can lead to linguistic misunderstandings and misinterpretation. A good personality test tries to avoid these traps as much as possible.
  • Social desirability: Most people want to please and thus tend to give answers that are considered positive and desirable. In personality tests, this desire to make a good impression can falsify the results. This type of falsification differs from conscious manipulation in that it is unconscious and unintentional. The impairment due to social desirability can be reduced and controlled with control scales. Such control scales consist of questions about behavior that is rarely found but which is socially desirable (e.g. always washing your hands before eating) and behavior that is common even though it is socially undesirable (e.g. the use of white lies).

Despite these potential sources of mistakes, personality tests can be a practical tool and minimize errors of judgment if they are conducted solidly and seriously. However, it is important to be aware of their limitations and weaknesses and never apply them in isolation or view the results dogmatically.


Dibbern, H. (2016). Persönlichkeitstests – Sinnvolle Hilfe oder Humbug?. Retrieved December 29, 2019,

Author: Alexander Ariu


Dorsch – Lexikon der Psychologie

19., überarb. Aufl. 2020. 2032 S., Gb
CHF 95.00. ISBN 978-3-456-85914-9

Das Standardwerk der Psychologie bietet in ca. 13000 Einzelbeiträgen einen kompakten und verständlichen Überblick über die Entwicklung sowie das Grundlagen- und Anwendungswissen der Psychologie. Über 500 renommierte Expertinnen und Experten präsentieren die Psychologie in ihrer gesamten Breite und Vielfalt. Mit ca. 500 neuen und ca. 900 aktualisierten Beiträgen werden insbesondere aktuelle Weiterentwicklungen aufgegriffen, die mit neuen psychologischen Erkenntnissen, modernen Wissenschaftsstandards und gesellschaftlichen Veränderungen einhergehen.

Das Lexikon bereitet die Inhalte orientiert an 19 Teilgebieten der Psychologie auf: Dies ermöglicht einen strukturierten und informativen Einstieg, und vereinfacht die Orientierung im vielfältigen und faszinierenden Spektrum psychologischer Grundlagen, Begriffe, Konzepte und Anwendungsgebiete. So werden beispielsweise im Themengebiet „Klinische Psychologie und Psychotherapie“ u. a. Formen psychischer Störungen orientiert am Katalog der DSM-5 und ICD-10 durch die Expertinnen und Experten vollständig aufbereitet und in einer umfangreichen Überblickstabelle systematisiert. Im Themengebiet „Psychologische Diagnostik“ werden u. a. über 500 diagnostische Testverfahren geordnet nach Inhaltsthemen präsentiert.

Leserinnen und Leser erhalten mit dem Fachbuch „Dorsch – Lexikon der Psychologie“ einen Zugangscode für die Online-Version des Lexikons: Die Inhalte des DORSCH können so zusätzlich per Computer oder Smartphone eingesehen und genutzt werden. Es besteht auch die Möglichkeit nur die Online-Version des Lexikons zu nutzen. Unter sind die verschiedenen Online-Abo-Modelle ersichtlich.

news psyCH aktuell

psyKo 2020

We regret to inform you that psyKo 2020 must be cancelled due to the latest developments concerning the corona virus and the regulations of the Federal Office of Public Health – your health has priority! Those who have already transferred the money will be refunded the amount as soon as possible. It is expected that next year’s congress will take place under the same motto at the same location.

We regret that this year’s congress will not take place and we hope to welcome you all next year.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at any time. Until then we wish you a good time, take care of yourselves and stay healthy!


Der schweizerische Berufsverband für Angewandte Psychologie

SBAP, der schweizerische Berufsverband für Angewandte Psychologie ist mehr als nur ein Berufsverband. Zusätzlich zu unserem berufspolitischen Engagement bieten wir auch eine Vielzahl an Leistungen und Angebote an. Diese unterstützen unsere Mitglieder vom Studium bis zur Pensionierung. Eines der Angebote, welche für alle Psychologinnen und Psychologen zur Verfügung steht sind unsere Weiter- und Fortbildungen. Wir bieten jedes Jahr eine Vielzahl an Optionen an.

Weiterbildung in Coaching Mit dieser Weiterbildung setzt sich der SBAP für den Bereich Coaching und dessen Qualität ein. Einerseits tut er dies indem in einem Grundmodul aktuelles Wissen und die Förderung der Kompetenzen für das Coaching im Vordergrund stehen. Die Vertiefungsmöglichkeiten liegen im Bereich AD(H)S/ASS oder Work & Life Management. Der Flyer mit weiteren Informationen, findet ihr auf unserer Website.

Weiterbildung in psychologischer Nothilfe Die psychologische Nothilfe umfasst alle Massnahmen, die geeignet sind, die psychische Gesundheit von Betroffenen potenziell traumatisierender Ereignisse und von Einsatzkräften während und unmittelbar nach solchen Ereignissen zu erhalten oder wiederherzustellen. Wer beruflich oder privat mit Unfällen oder belastenden familiären und beruflichen Erlebnissen konfrontiert ist oder mit Menschen zu tun hat, die mit der Diagnose einer schweren Erkrankung fertig werden müssen, kann die hier vermittelte notfallpsychologische Kompetenz einsetzen. Die Weiterbildung vermittelt das aktuelle Wissen und die Kompetenz zur psychologischen Akut- und Krisenintervention in Notfallsituationen und Grossschadenereignissen. Der Flyer mit weiteren Informationen, findet ihr auf unserer Website

Fortbildungen zu verschiedenen aktuellen Themen Jedes Jahr bieten wir verschiedene Kurzfortbildungen zu diversen Themen an. Diese Veranstaltungen finden jeweils abends von 18 bis 20 Uhr (mit einzelnen Ausnahmen) statt. Durch diese erhalten die Teilnehmenden einen guten Einblick in einzelne Fachbereiche oder einen Überblick zu aktuellen Themen.

Alle Weiter- und Fortbildungen des SBAP sind interdisziplinär aufgebaut. Das bedeutet, dass an den Anlässen immer Fachpersonen aus verschiedenen Branchen zusammenkommen. Dies wiederspiegelt auch die Praxis, in der verschiedene Fachpersonen an einem Fall zusammenarbeiten.

Willst du den SBAP, ohne Verpflichtungen, kennen lernen? Dann melde dich jetzt für eine gratis Schnuppermitgliedschaft an. Diese ist für das Jahr 2020 gültig. Weitere Informationen bekommt ihr auf der Geschäftsstelle (

Wir freuen uns auf eure Nachrichten und stehen euch bei Fragen gerne zur Verfügung. Das SBAP-Team (

current directions

Psychology’s role in environmental issues

Climate change, which has been increasingly identified in recent decades, confronts us with one of the greatest challenges of our time. International agreements such as the Paris Climate Conference in 2015 have already taken the first decisive steps towards a more sustainable energy policy. Switzerland has also recognized the need to change its energy policy and has initiated the transition of the energy system with its “Energy Strategy 2050”. However, the success of this energy system transformation depends not only on the development and expansion of new infrastructures and technologies but also on fundamental changes in consumer behavior and decision-making patterns. The potential for such changes is huge: the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences estimate that energy consumption could be reduced by up to 30 percent by 2050 compared with 2010. Behavioral sciences, and psychology, in particular, have the potential to make a major contribution to energy system transformation by providing information on the mechanisms underlying consumer behavior and the factors that favor the behavioral changes needed to reduce energy consumption (Brosch & Mertens, 2017).

Previous approaches to promote more sustainable energy consumption have focused on providing information and financial incentives. For example, the Swiss Federal Office of Energy provides brochures on the subject of energy saving. Additionally, some Swiss cantons support the purchase of energy-efficient vehicles with tax benefits. However, research in behavioral economics and psychology has repeatedly shown that consumers only behave rationally to a limited extent, especially when it comes to complex issues such as climate protection. Therefore, these measures only partially achieve the desired behavioral changes among consumers. In recent years, the effectiveness of so-called “nudging” has therefore been increasingly investigated. These are interventions that, through small changes in the decision-making environment, can lead to more energy-efficient decisions and behaviors without creating financial incentives or restricting consumer choice through prohibitions (Brosch & Mertens, 2017).

An example of such a nudge is the so-called “default effect” (= the tendency to keep the default settings). In one study, two economists show that the careful selection of defaults in the energy sector can also be an extremely effective way of persuading consumers to make more sustainable decisions. As part of the study, around 42,000 households were able to choose between different tariffs of an energy supplier. Each of these tariffs offered the option of purchasing electricity from renewable energy sources for a small additional charge. Consumers who already were pre-selected with this “green” add-on option were ten times more likely to use renewable electricity than consumers who first had to actively choose this option (Brosch & Mertens, 2017).

How can this effect be explained? One explanation is that consumers see the pre-selection of certain options as a standard or recommendation. The two economists offer a further explanation: The conscious decision against a green electricity tariff, which should be preferred from a moral point of view, could be much more difficult for consumers than not to choose this tariff if there are no defaults (Brosch & Mertens, 2017).

In this example, a study of environmental psychological interventions by economists was briefly described. However, economists are not the only ones who deal with environmental psychological interventions. Other professional groups are also involved in such interventions, such as environmental psychologists.

Environmental psychologists deal both with the influences of the environment on humans and with the influences of humans on the environment. In the psychological sense, the environment is regarded as the outer physical-material and sociocultural habitat of humans. Accordingly, this does not only mean the “natural” environment but also, for example, the urban areas (Netzwerk Psychologie und Umwelt, 2019).

Environmental psychological research relates to topics such as the perception, assessment, and design of environments. Thus, environmental psychology provides a crucial contribution to explaining, understanding and predicting environmental human behavior and experience. Environmental psychology is very interdisciplinary, application-oriented and has high relevance for society as a whole due to its broad range of topics (Netzwerk Psychologie und Umwelt, 2019).

Topics for environmental-psychological questions are for example:

  • Environmental perception and assessment
  • Environmental planning, environmental design, participation processes
  • Spatial behavior and mobility
  • Environmental awareness and environmental protection behavior
  • Environmental education and influencing environmentally relevant behavior
  • Mediation in environmental conflicts
  • Evaluation of environmental actions

 (Netzwerk Psychologie und Umwelt, 2019).

  • Brosch, T., & Mertens, S. (2017). Kleine Intervention mit grosser Wirkung – Green Nudges als Feinjustierungen am Anpassungsmechanismus an sozialen Normen. Psychoscope, (3), 10 – 13.
  • Netzwerk Psychologie und Umwelt (2019). Was ist Umweltpsychologie?. Retrieved December 14, 2019, from
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Author: Alexander Ariu

student life

6 Useful tools to prepare you for your exams

Exams are around the corner and it’s time to hit the books. As a psychology student, you have probably learned lots of theories on how to maximize your study success and are aware of the importance of distributed studying and taking breaks. While theories are nice, the following article will introduce some useful tried and proven study tools, to help you get through the coming weeks as smoothly as possible.

1. Quizlet

Quizlet is one of my favorite study tools. It is an App, that lets you create personalized flashcards. The free version gives you access to all of the basic functions, while the premium version lets you take your cards to the next level and add images and diagrams. One of my favorite features is that you can share and co-edit your sets with others. Depending on privacy settings you even have access to cards others have created in the past, which can save you lots of work. The software can be used on laptops or smartphones, making it easy to study on the go or even creating your cards during lectures.


2. Mindjet

Maybe you are not into flashcards and prefer mind maps in order to get a good overview of your classes. Mindjet offers the option to create mind maps digitally. Some create the basic structure before class so that they can add their notes during the lecture. I personally use OneNote for mind maps, because I like drawing them by hand. That, however, requires a laptop with a touch screen. So Mindjet is a good alternative. Mindjet isn’t free but in order to get it inexpensively, you can buy it from your university’s software store. (The same place where you can buy SPSS etc.)


3. Uniboard/Summaries

This section is probably most important for new students. One of the greatest tools to use during your studies are summaries of literature and lectures. These can either be created in study groups or found on different student platforms (different at every Uni, if you do not know the platform used at your university, that’s a great reason to talk to fellow students and possibly make a new friend 😉). Uniboard is a general platform, that has some material on it. While that is one, the most commonly used platform differs between universities, so it is best to find out which one is used at your university.


4. Grammarly

After constantly seeing Grammarly adds on YouTube, I gave in and gave it a try. I was surprised by how useful it was. It is a program you can install and use as an add-on in tools like Word. It corrects grammar and spelling surprisingly accurately. So far, I have only used the free version, which has been enough. The premium version goes even further and gives you advice on your word choice and sentence structure. It is worth giving it a try if you ever need to write something in English.


5. KKarten

Unfortunately, they are not available for all classes and all universities. Nonetheless, when available, the pre-made flashcards are a very useful tool to prepare for exams. They can be a lifesaver when you are low on time or have lots of exams in a short amount of time. The main drawback is the price (37.-) but by buying ones from older students or buying a set with a fellow student they can be made more affordable. Along with the physical cards you receive a code, that lets you use the digital version. The content is created by students and is based on the slides and literature. I usually complete them with my personal notes.

Link: (They can also be bought at the universities book shop

6. Motiviert Studiert

This last tip is not as much a tool, as a platform with many useful tips. The founder creates useful YouTube videos where he focusses on studying effectively rather than constantly (Spoiler: LOTS of repetition and lots of breaks). I found one of his videos during my third year of studies and still learned new things on how to make my studying more efficient. On his website he also has various templates and resources to create study plans etc. If you are in a study crisis I would highly recommend checking out some of his content. (Unfortunately, his content is in German but under downloads there are templates you can adapt to your own language)


Link to website:

Hopefully, you discovered some new useful tools; have a calm exam season (as calm as they get) and good luck on your exams!

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Author: Sabrina Sovilla

psyCH aktuell

Organising the PsyKo – We asked the PsyKo Heads

We asked the PsyKo Heads, who organised the PsyKo 2019 (Selina and Flavio) and our PsyKo Head for the next congress (Yara) some questions about their experience and the challenges of organising such an event.

How did you decide on the topic of the congress? Did you have a personal connection to the topic?

Yara: As a participant of last year`s PsyKo I found it hard to pick my lectures and workshops as the offers were so wide. This is why I decided to pick a topic for this year that is still broad enough to be interesting for many, and trending at the moment. I wrote my bachelor thesis in this area and realized that there is a lot of interest in this field, and not just from psychology. The topic for PsyKo 2020 is “Healthy mind, healthy body –What health means to psychology”.

Who is the perfect participant of the PsyKo?

Selina: Everybody who likes to broaden their network. From my perspective, the most valuable part of the weekend is meeting so many students from all over Switzerland and to have a personal and professional exchange.

Yara: All psychology students. But in my perspective bachelor students can profit even more because the congress allows the participants to have an insight into many different topics, which can help them decide on a path for the future.

What was your experience organising the PsyKo?

Flavio: Organising any event like this one is a huge challenge. Especially in the beginning, when you have to decide from the many possibilities there are. When I look back on it, it was a lot of fun. The motivation grew bigger with every step we took.

Selina: Coordinating the project and the team was a new experience for me. It was very interesting to see how my own leadership style worked with the team, after we built some trust in the team I got used to handing over responsibility to the other members of the team.

Yara: Even though I get support from the PsyKo heads that came before me, the situation is so different each year that, from my perspective, it is still really complicated. During the whole process I have to stay flexible and spontaneous.

What was the biggest challenge to overcome and how did you do it?

Yara: As the team is consisting of students from all over Switzerland, the communication is mostly done by messages and email. In consequence, communication takes a lot of time and energy. I realized I was spending too much time on my phone, and decided to restrict it by giving myself “phone-times“.

Selina: The biggest challenge for me was to have some time off. Taking a break and not answer intermediately had a big impact on the progress of the team. Over the year I improved my time management skills and my prioritisation strategies.

Flavio: The biggest challenge for me was right at the beginning. There were so many options, but not everything was possible and manageable with the budget and the ideas of PsyCH. When we started we wrote a first concept where we defined goals, time objectives, and the size of the team.

What did you learn, both personally and professionally, from organising the PsyKo?

Flavio: I especially learned how to lead a team. It is important to be in communication all the time with the other team members. I as well learned to find solutions in a short amount of time. When you organise such an event you have to face a lot of different problems you never anticipated, and you need to fix them fast.

Selina: It is impressive what you can manage to put together if you focus on it for a year. We started with a broad idea, then we put together a team, and a year later we managed to present this amazing possibility to students to learn and connect. Throughout the process, I could reflect about my working routine, and I learned a lot about both myself and how to work properly in teams, which will be useful for upcoming projects.

What was your motivation behind organising the congress?

Yara: I was a participant of the PsyKo 2019 and I enjoyed it so much. I really wanted to participate in the preparation of such an event for the next year.

Flavio: My motivation was to engage in something next to studying. I wanted to meet people from different fields of psychology and to broaden my experiences with regards to organisation and communication. When I heard about the Co-Head position to organise PsyKo I applied immediately and never regretted that decision.

Selina: I was inspired by Lukas Reichart (ex-VSETH president): “ Who only consumes, does not change anything.” I think such a networking event is essential, especially in the beginning of a professional career. After I participated in the Training school 2018 I knew I wanted to give back to PsyCH. From my work in the association for psychology students in Zurich, I had experience working with professionals to give students the possibility to see ahead into their future working life. This perspective is motivating for myself as well, as it shows me the sense behind my studies. 

Author: Anna-Sophia Weber

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student life

Is Psychology the right choice for you? Find out!

Are you interested in psychology and want to find out if it is the right choice for you? Or are you unsure whether your expectations and skills fit with reality? Maybe you’re already studying psychology are second guessing  your choice and would you like further information.  Then you should check out the Online Self-Assessment Test written by the University of Applied Sciences and Art Northwestern Switzerland and the University of Applied Sciences in Zurich.

Online-Selbsttest Psychologie

The test is structured in three main modules which can be done separately.  At the end of  each      assessment you’ll receive an extensive feedback on your results, including further information and personalised diagrams. Each test takes around 10-40 minutes. You are not obligated to complete the whole module, just fill out the tasks you are interested in.

The module “My interests and expectations” consists of three tests. The test “Expectations” tests, whether your expectations correspond with the reality of the courses you will be taking at the university. At the end of the questionnaire you will receive information on how strongly your expectations correspond with reality. If your expectations are unrealistic, you will be given information for clarification. The next test asks about your interests in different fields of psychology. As a result, you will get a personalised diagram about the psychological fields you are the most interested in. They also provide further information about the different fields like clinical psychology, work psychology, sports psychology etc. The same test is offered, concerning different fields of psychology.

The module “My skills and competences” tests your ability to understand English and German texts, your capability to read statistical diagrams and your skills in “mathematical and language thinking”. This module is useful to help you  gage how prepared you are or whether you should work on certain skills before you start your studies.

The module “Frequently asked questions” is an overview of the study programmes and where you can get help to find more facts. There is also information about employment rates, salaries and the areas psychologists work in.

This assessment should provide basic information about studying psychology and the different fields you can work in later. Furthermore it’s a tool  to prevent future students from starting a degree in a field they are not interested in or one they have unrealistic expectations of. Even I, a real psychology enthusiast, learned new things about the different directions psychology has to offer. Moreover I found out which fields interest me the most (with the surprising outcome that I am more into work psychology than I thought). I think it is worth going through certain tests if you are unsure about your interests or psychology in general. It can help you learn more about yourself, no matter how far along you are in your studies.   

Author: Carla Wüthrich 

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psyCH aktuell

News on PsyKo 2020 and experiences from PsyKo 2019

The registration for the PsyKo 2020 will be open soon but today we are already able to tell you the topic. PsyKo is a congress organized by psychology students for psychology students. You will have the possibility to listen to interesting speakers, participate in trainings and meet students from all over Switzerland. The topic of PsyKo 2020 is “Healthy mind, healthy body – what health means to psychology”.

We asked three students, which attended lasts years PsyKo to tell about their experience:

The PsyKo congress has been an incredible experience: Quite interesting presentations, nice food and amazing new friendships. All in all, I would recommend it to ongoing psychologists. You’ll get to know a lot of people from different parts of Switzerland, you might be introduced to sexology and positive psychology and you will have a lot of fun during social events. (Eileen)

The PsyKo is the perfect opportunity to connect with other students and to learn about the different directions in psychology. I was always looking forward to PsyKo! It is almost like a class trip, only you do not know everybody in advance. But that does not matter at all, at the congress you get in contact so fast and easy. Not only did I meet wonderful people, the PsyKo as well helped me in my career decisions. I decided for example where to do my master after I talked to students from other universities at the PsyKo. As the congress takes place in the middle of the spring term so it was the highlight of my semester: one weekend in the nature, inspiring topics and so many funny moments with people. I can recommend the PsyKo to everybody that is looking for an adventure with many happy people. What stays after the event is definitely the many friendships that started there. I was lucky to participate several times in the PsyKo. Each time I admired the kindness an engagement of the organizing committee. A big thank you to the PsyCH-Team for making this congress happen! (Simona-Victoria) 

Thinking back of PsyKo 2019, I remember all the inspiring people I met and the interesting conversations we had. I felt in good hands from the moment I stepped into the venue until I left. The program offered was insightful and diversified. We had the chance to participate in trainings led by psyCH trainers, workshops with professionals and student lectures. I appreciated it a lot to get this insight into different working areas. On Saturday PsyKo organized a small expo with information tables where professional institutions and associations in the field of psychology introduced themselves and offered an informative platform for networking. As a freshly baked psyCH trainer, I also had the opportunity to lead a training myself which was a great experience for me. The social program was fun and created an enjoyable ambiance during the whole weekend. I enjoyed spending time with so many like-minded people and having the opportunity to exchange thoughts, experiences, and ideas. I remember PsyKo as an enriching event because I gained so much practical knowledge and I felt strongly motivated for my studies afterward. When I participate in other psyCH events now, I always meet familiar faces which is just great. (Christina)

Author: Anna-Sophia Weber

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  • psyCH (2019). psyKo 2019.
current directions

Update coverage of psychotherapeutic care

On 26 June 2019, the Federal Council instructed the Federal Department of Home Affairs (FDHA) to conduct a consultation procedure on the adjustment of the Ordinance on Health Insurance and the Ordinance on Nursing Benefits on the revision of psychological psychotherapy as part of obligatory health insurance (OHI). The consultation draft contains a new regulation on psychological psychotherapy within the framework of the OHI. Psychological psychotherapists who are licensed to perform psychotherapy should be able to provide all psychotherapeutic services independently and on their own account on the basis of a medical prescription. So far, the basic insurance only covers these costs if the service is performed under the supervision of a doctor (BAG, 2019).

Psychotherapists welcome the Federal Council’s proposal to restructure psychological psychotherapy. The amendment helps to eliminate the existing supply problems in rural areas and among children and young people. However, psychotherapists, professional associations and students have concerns about the current proposal. Until October 17th, 2019 (end of the consultation period), comments could be sent electronically to sub-offices of the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) electronically (BAG, 2019). An aspect which is disturbing about the current proposal, for the professional associations FSP and SBAP for example, is that the regulation has issued an order for only fifteen meetings. Hence, a doctor’s appointment would have to be arranged again after only fifteen sessions in order to be prescribed another fifteen sessions. This would be cost-increasing, without creating additional benefit, as well as disadvantaging psychological psychotherapists compared to medical service providers (FSP, 2019). There is also resistance among experts concerning the regulation that a report should now be sent to the doctor of the health insurance company after 30 sessions so that the therapy can be continued. Here the professional associations demand that the previous arrangement of 40 meetings should be maintained, as this has proven to be successful in practice and the limitation of 30 meetings could cause additional work and costs (FSP, 2019).

  • Bundesamt für Gesundheit (BAG) (2019). Änderung KVV und KLV betreffend Neuregelung der psychologischen Psychotherapie und der Zulassungsvoraussetzungen nicht-ärztlicher Leistungserbringer. Retrieved on 27 October 2019.
  • Föderation der Schweizer Psychologinnen und Psychologen (FSP) (2019). Position der FSP zum Verordnungsentwurf zur neuen Psychotherapieregelung. Retrieved on 27 October 2019.

Author: Alexander Ariu

student life

Finally, I am a psychotherapist. But how does it feel at the very beginning?

Two years ago, I earned my master’s degree in psychology and I am finally allowed to pursue the profession of a psychotherapist. But what does it mean to work as an assistant psychologist? What do you learn in the psychotherapy training? How does all of this feel?

These questions have often occupied me and I am sure others have the same difficulties.

At the university you are thought a lot about people. Clinical lectures and seminars in particular deal with a wide variety of disorders, diagnostic instruments and different approaches of psychotherapy. And yet it is something completely different when you’re sitting in front of a client for the first time, conducting an initial consultation, a diagnosis or a psychotherapeutic intervention. “What am I doing here?”, “Am I doing this the right way?” and “Does my client notice that I am still completely inexperienced?”. Such questions came to my mind during my first therapy sessions in my time as an assistant psychologist. Yes, I felt thrown in at the deep end. But isn’t that the case with every career start after graduation? Maybe as a psychotherapist it’s different again because you work so closely with people and their wellbeing is at stake.

After a few months and a higher number of cases there was a certain “routine”. Through structures, more precise considerations on case conception and a larger repertoire of interventions, I was able to gain confidence day by day. Among other things, the psychotherapy training made a proper contribution to this. Exciting seminars ranging from depression to ego-state-therapy gave me inputs that I was often able to try out and implement directly in coming therapy sessions.

Almost every day you are confronted with difficult situations from the clients’ lives. I had to learn to distance myself from them and not take the stories home. It was just as important for me to learn that I could not “save” every client and take responsibility for their lives. These are processes that took time, where the therapeutic self-awareness and supervision were an important support and part of it. My best friend always had an open ear for me in the initial phase. I also managed – mainly through sports – to get a certain distance from work.

In addition to the fact that day-to-day work is not always easy, the profession as a psychotherapist also has some incredibly beautiful facets: situations in which you become aware that a good bond between the client and you as a therapist has developed, when clients regain more self-confidence and show a more functional approach to situations that were previously impossible, when personal goals of the clients are achieved or when a therapy can be completed in which the client reports a fulfilled life with an improved state of mind.

Even though the path is long and there are always difficult moments, I am very happy to be able to carry out the profession of psychotherapist.

Author: Silvio Deplazes

current directions

News in psychology – the good, the bad and the bigly

It’s been almost 8 years since the replication crisis has plunged psychology into a serious scientific crisis. Ironically, by now, one of the most replicable findings in psychology is that only half of the psychological studies can be successfully replicated. While some find themselves either in despair or in denial about this circumstance, I would argue that this is rather a huge opportunity to rethink, renew and complement our methodology. We’re so used to applying alleged gold-standard testing paradigms that originate in the 40ies to the 60ies of the last century that we’ve gone somewhat blind to the new and amazing construction kit that IT and the virtual world are offering us for conducting observations on a completely new scale. The internet has connected the world and allows us to go way beyond the confinements of small-scale brick and mortar lab-based psychology experiments. Taken together that constitutes an option package that allows us to put psychological research on a completely new footing. One, that can provide the evidence we currently still owe, if we only examine WEIRD people in small groups. Now, we can not only conduct field research globally with hundreds of thousands of study participants simultaneously, we can also continuously interact with them and ask them time and again: All we have to do is being bold enough to use the new opportunities and work closely together with all the necessary different professional groups to make this happen.

Yet, two requirements are central for such a web-based world-wide research endeavour to be truly successful:

  1. The whole setup needs to focus on the user experience and benefit of the study subjects. This may well be in the form of “infotainment”, as the typical monetary compensation for tediously boring experimental setups is simply out of question for ultra-large global cohorts.
  2. Collecting psychological and thus personal and highly sensitive data on a global scale needs a failsafe forward-looking data protection policy and guaranteed anonymity.

The first point can be addressed by using psychological instruments in the guise of entertaining computer games and automation of analyses that can provide individually tailored and understandable feedback to everyone taking part. In addition, the interesting research results drawn from such a project should also be made directly accessible to the general public, which made them possible in the first place.

The second point is as much about citizen empowerment as educating them about how their minds work but requires an additional independent institution to guarantee data privacy by system design: The personally identifying data should always be strictly separated from the completely anonymized “content data”. Basically, the complete opposite of Facebook and the likes: It must not be possible to turn your data into a business model without your clear consent or without giving you the lion’s share of the earnings. Advancience is a startup that is based on the COSMOS research project from the University of Basel. We’re a group of scientists that have learned that our research goals that require scaling-up psychological studies are easier to achieve, if we go down the entrepreneurial road. The Healthbank Cooperative is our strategic partner that ensures that the data generators themselves own the data and are always in charge of how their data is being used.

Together we’re building the research basis of the future for social sciences that will be open for all publicly funded scientists to use. Get ready to think big: What would you investigate, if you had a cohort of more than 100 k individuals that you can ask?

Author: Dr. Christian Vogler


Welcome on our blog!

We will inform you about psyCH and their upcoming events, give you some insight into students life, inform you about important political changes or post-graduate opportunities in sponsored content and finally keep you up to date with the hottest research being done in psychology!

Author: Webmaster psyCH