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Health Forum Online    The Psychologist's Source for C.E. Credits Online

Translating Self-affirmation Interventions into Clinical Settings

by Rebecca Ferrer, PhD 3 CE Credits

Self-affirmation – a process by which individuals reflect on cherished personal values and how they fulfill or embody such values – has been shown to be an effective therapeutic intervention. For example, self-affirmation has been demonstrated to be particularly effective in reducing defensiveness to risk-related health communications. This is an important set of findings, because reduced defensiveness to such messages translates into increased disease risk perceptions and self-efficacy for preventive behaviors, as well as intentions to engage in preventive behavior, actual behavior change at extended follow-up, and improved behavior-related biological outcomes (e.g., reduced BMI). Self-affirmation has also been widely successful in reducing anxiety related to threatening academic testing situations, thereby improving performance. These robust effects of self-affirmation suggest that it could be a potent intervention for improving behavioral outcomes in a variety of clinical settings. This online course provides an empirical overview of the literature linking self-affirmation to positive outcomes relevant to clinical care. Different methods of encouraging self-affirmation in patients are addressed, providing a roadmap for implementing self-affirmation interventions within the therapeutic context. In addition, the course discusses situations in which self-affirmation may be particularly effective in motivating behavior change, as well as those in which self-affirmation may be less promising.


Continuing education for this online course is offered through the following approvals:


  • HealthForum is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. HealthForum maintains responsibility for this program and its content.
  • HealthForum (ACE Provider #1156) is approved as a provider for social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) www.aswb.org, through the Approved Continuing Education (ACE) Program. HealthForum maintains responsibility for the program. ASWB Approval Period: (6/20/2017 to 6/20/2020). Social workers should contact their regulatory board to determine course approval for continuing education credits. Social workers participating in this course will receive 3 Clinical continuing education clock hours.
  • HealthForum has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 6216.  Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. HealthForum is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs.


Course Sections/Outline:

  • Introduction/Relevance
  • Self-affirmation Theory: The Basic Underlying Mechanisms
  • Potential Clinical Applications of Self-affirmation
  • Facilitating Self-affirmation in a Clinical Setting
  • Spontaneous Self-affirmation
  • Clinical Limitations and Considerations
  • References

Learning Objectives:

After completing this course, health professionals will be able to:
  • Describe the theory of self-affirmation and its 2 important underlying mechanisms.
  • Identify 8 psychological symptoms/issues for which self-affirmation may be particularly effective (e.g., performance anxiety, depression/anxiety, changes in health-related regimens) and the evidence to support this.
  • Integrate at least 5 standard self-affirmation techniques into clinical practice to strengthen self-integrity and reduce psychological distress.