How does a psychologist make a clinical diagnosis?

Psychology in Your Life

The intention for this post is to introduce you to one aspect of the diagnostic process — specifically: differential diagnosis.

And ultimately to help you understand that psychological assessment is a complex, worthwhile process.

Dr. Andrea Dinardo

What’s normal 🆚 clinical?

To answer that question, I would like to invite you into my clinical psychology class. 

Specifically, when I teach the concept of “Differential Diagnosis” using the STATE versus TRAIT anxiety distinction. 

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STATE 🆚 TRAIT ANXIETY

Misdiagnosis

People often believe they have generalized anxiety or panic disorder, when in fact, what they are experiencing is an acute reaction to a short-lived, stressful circumstance.

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Differential Diagnosis

For example, STATE anxiety involves temporary and situational symptoms to stress inducing events (public speaking, midterms, first dates) universal to all of us. 

In contrast, TRAIT anxiety has more lasting, debilitating, and pervasive symptoms (eg., impacts all aspects of an individual’s life) independent of external events.

Psychology on Campus

For additional insights into the diagnostic process, including how I teach this concept in the liberal arts program, check out my latest video:

Reflection Questions

1. How is understanding the state 🆚 trait distinction applicable and/or helpful in your daily life?

2. Have you ever jumped to the conclusion about yourself or someone else regarding a diagnosis, only to discover later that the condition was temporary?

3. What psychology topics and ideas would you like to learn more about?

Dr. D 📕❤️

DrAndreaDinardo.com

My philosophy of teaching.

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I have one intention in mind when I walk into a classroom:

 How can I warm up the room? 🔥

“Enthusiasm is contagious.”

In this short video I share the thoughts that go through my mind as I walk into a classroom and meet my psychology students for the first time. I also discuss the specifics of how I connect with and encourage students each new day.

What goes through your mind when you walk into a room?

Visit my YouTube Channel for more fun and uplifting videos.

Failure as FEEDBACK | The Drive Magazine.

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There are two ways of looking at failure.

Failure as FEEDBACK.

Failure as PUNISHMENT.

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One energizes.

The other paralyzes.

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WHY FAILURE IS NECESSARY

I believe that failure is essential for success, at work and in our personal lives.

Failure lights our way to what we’re ultimately meant to do. Especially when we embrace it and consciously invite it into our lives. Pushing us past our comfort zones. Having the courage to take risks beyond our current circumstances.

Failure shows us what we’re good at, and equally what we are not skilled at. And how if we perceive failure as information (versus punishment) we will move on much more quickly to what we were born to do.

THE DRIVE MAGAZINE

I believe so strongly in the benefits of failure that I “pitched” failure as feedback to the editors of The Drive Magazine. And they said yes!

So here it is: A video overview of the February issue and links to the online edition of the magazine.

🔝  Psychology YouTube Channel 🔝

MAGAZINE edition
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of The DRIVE Magazine.

ONLINE edition
My psychology article “Failure as FEEDBACK” is also available online: https://www.thedrivemagazine.com/posts/failure-as-feedback

Related: Lean into loneliness | The Drive Magazine

What’s my life purpose?

Who am I? Why was I born?

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So many people in this world are struggling with what to do with their lives.

An existential struggle that did not exist 100 years ago when jobs were more clearly defined.

Which is why it is essential to explore life purpose in many different ways.

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PURPOSE 🆚 JOB

We must not confuse life purpose with occupation.

My occupation = Psychology Professor.

My life purpose is to lift people up and help them feel better.

Something I can do on weekends, at work, with friends, in my community, and well into my retirement years.

Our occupation transpires 9-5. Our life purpose unfolds 24/7.

Life Purpose Discussions – Everywhere!

The topic of finding one’s life purpose was an active discussion on social media (see screen shot below) and in psychology class (link to video) this week.

Social Media: What’s my gift?

This is how I walked a fellow instagrammer through the process of (re)discovering their life purpose:
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HUMAN BEING 🆚 HUMAN DOING

Life purpose is a way of being.

A way of living and giving.

It is all encompassing.

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Who we are is our life purpose.

We are 1 in 7.5 billion.

What makes us different also makes us indispensable.

The world needs our unique kind of wonderful.

No more waiting. No more searching.

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Our life purpose is now.

A daily mission. Big and small.

Supporting others and sharing our gift.

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We have purpose because we are alive.

Breath by breath. Step by step.

We are the dominos.

I hope you enjoy this video message on life purpose too.


Reflection Questions:

  1. When do you feel most alive and in flow?
  2. How is your life purpose different or the same as your occupation?
  3. If you could do any one thing for the rest of your life, and not worry about money, what would that be?
  4. In what ways did you feel ‘odd‘ or cast out when you were younger, only to realize later in life that your ‘differences‘ were your greatest strengths and sources of happiness?
  5. What unique, one-of-a-kind gift will you share with the world today?

We are all worthy – not because of what we do – but because of who we are. 🌷

From darkness comes light.

“Not until we are lost do we begin to find ourselves.”482817-Strength-through-adversity_banner

No matter what happens today, know that in the end everything works out.

Trust me. I speak from experience.

My smile comes equally from a place of darkness and a place of light.

How would I ever know how good I have it today — if I hadn’t lived a life of challenge and adversity.

And the best part is that I get to revisit my twenties every single day.

A time where many of my life lessons were born.

Listening and learning with my psychology students on campus.

And staying in touch for years to come.

I will always be grateful for the tough times in my life — for this is where my strength lies.

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I believe the same for you.

You are a diamond in the making.

This I know for sure. 💞💎

Related: I’ve never met a strong person with an easy past.

This blog post was written for all the students around the world writing final exams this week. Cheering them on! Encouraging them to not give up. This post is also meant for you – My Fellow Students of Life.

Mind over matter.

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When the going gets tough do you focus on the dream or the sacrifice?

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” Viktor Frankl

Boost your motivation and raise your energy by laser focusing on what is within your control during challenge and adversity — Your Mindset


Related Post: The stories we tell ourselves.

You are a diamond in the making.


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It’s in the middle of a challenge where we need positive energy the most.

So let this be a gentle, encouraging voice reminding you that “You didn’t come this far, to only come this far”.

And that one day it will all make sense.

All the pressure will be worth it.

You are resilient. 

You are strong.

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You are a diamond in the making.

You sparkle.

You shine.

I see it.

And one day you will too. 💎

TEDx Playlist: Diamonds from Pressure

The Drive Magazine Interview.

Happy Monday Everyone!

I am excited to share my interview with The Drive Magazine on positive psychology and stress resilience. Inspired by my TEDx Talk: Thriving Under Pressure.

The 3 C’s of Positive Psychology

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My favourite part of this photo is the story behind it.

When the magazine was arranging the photo shoot, they asked where my favourite place to recharge was in Windsor (Ontario, Canada). I shared that it was a top of Blue Heron Hill overlooking Lake Heron and Lake St. Clair. So you can just imagine the photographer hiking his equipment up the hill, with me tagging along in my wedge high sandals!

But the reward was worth it..
All you can see is blue for days. My favourite colour and place. 💙🍃

I hope this interview encourages you to keep shooting for the stars and believing in your dreams.

Ultimately reminding you that the power within you will always be greater than the challenges around you.

Click on The Drive Magazine to read the full interview.

Ordinary Joys.

Simple pleasures are my favourite.

Hot coffee. Cozy blankets. Birds singing. The sun rising. Fast runs. Slow walks. Long days. Warm hugs. Peaceful silences. BLT sandwiches. Tomato soup. Matinee movies. Buttery popcorn. Ice cold pop. Walking on campus. Smiling in the hallways. Laughing with students. Learning from students. Driving home. Soulful conversations. Dreaming of the future. Reminiscing about the past. Living fully in the moment. Riding bikes. Dancing down the street. Barbeque dinners. Chocolate almonds. Stephen King novels. Hot Tea. Cozy Blankets. Birds Singing… 

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Nothing is more extraordinary than our ordinary joys. For how we live our days is how we live the whole of our lives.


What brings you joy on an ordinary day?