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I offer talks and workshops for organizations and the public on a variety of psychological topics. Whether it's a speaker for a fundraiser, a keynote for a conference, a trainer for a corporate wellness retreat, a weekend intensive, or a guest presenter for a seminar series, I may have something that would match your requirements.

The list below is not exhaustive; it is just a sample of the programs I have offered. Contact me to initiate a discussion about the type of presentation you might like.

All presentations are prepared or adjusted to suit the needs of the participants. Here is a sample listing of the programs available (click on each for further information).

Want a talk tailored to your own group’s needs?
Email me at paterson@changeways.com and we can discuss your requirements. If I am unable to help, I can often direct you to someone who would make an excellent speaker for your group.

How to be Miserable: Strategies You Already Use

What if you wanted to be miserable rather than happy? Based on the book of the same name, this humour-filled talk (or short workshop) invites participants to consider what they might do if their goal was to feel worse rather than better - a journey that incorporates current research on both depression and happiness. Click here to learn more.

Misery for Two: How to Foul Up a Perfectly Good Relationship

How do you sustain a satisfying relationship? This is a question we’ve all asked at one point or another - but we’ve avoided asking the opposite: What if we wanted to sabotage it instead? Answering that question may reveal much of what we’re already doing - and point the way to the opposite. A talk based on ideas from the popular Misery books about the ways we sabotage our own happiness. Contact me to learn more.

Exercise and Mood: The Evidence

“Get some exercise, it’ll be good for you.” Well fine, but will it? This talk looks at the surprisingly powerful evidence for exercise as a treatment for depression and anxiety, and provides concrete tips to make the most of what some believe is the most powerful psychological intervention yet developed. Contact me to learn more.

Too Perfect: The Nature of OCD

Obsessive compulsive disorder can seem bizarre at first look, but it’s actually an extremely common problem that arises naturally from the interaction between anxiety and human psychology. This talk describes its form, development, and management - including when it’s time to seek outside help. Contact me to learn more.

Achieving Your Vision: Goal Setting in Real Life

We are unlikely to arrive at our destination unless we know what it is. But how do you create a life vision, and what elements are important? This talk reviews both the envisioning process and the week-to-week goal-setting that can get us there. Suitable for a talk or up to a full-day workshop. Click here to learn more.

How to Buy Happiness

People say that you can’t buy happiness. But poor financial decision-making can absolutely buy you misery, suggesting that life satisfaction can be affected by how we use money. This talk provides specific advice about how to use money for emotional gain. Click here to learn more.

OverLoad: Unpacking the Overstuffed Life

“I’m too busy!” Time stress is one of the primary causes of burnout and anxiety. How do you juggle multiple responsibilities and still find time for yourself? By carefully examining input rates, output strategy, and throughput timing, we can get more done, feel more relaxed, and have more time for ourselves. Click here to learn more.

Toxic Optimism: How Sunny Attitudes Produce Bad Outcomes

Pessimism gets a bad rap, but optimism gets too much praise. Excessive and inappropriate optimism is the cause of much addiction, criminality, business failure, burnout, and more. This talk looks at the downsides of unrealistic optimism and ways to detect it in action. Click here to learn more.

Asserting Yourself: Setting Effective Boundaries

Learn about assertive communication from the guy who literally wrote the book. In a single talk or a short series, this presentation provides specific strategies for controlling your own steps in the dance in any relationship - and doing so in a way that brings about effective change rather than hostile confrontation. Click here to learn more.

The Parent Trap: Helping Your Young Adult Achieve Independence

When a young adult is overly dependent on parents for financial or practical support, a power struggle often develops - one that serves mainly to grind progress to a halt. This talk discusses what parents can do to support their young adult’s capacity and development. Contact me to learn more.

How Therapy Works

Psychotherapy is a bit of a mystery to many. How can talking with someone else produce change in your life? This talk looks at the actual process of therapy, how it works, and when to seek it out. Strategies for making the most of therapy and sources of self-guided care options are also discussed. Contact me to learn more.

Failed States: Is There REALLY A Mental Health Crisis?

If the function of a culture is to produce the greatest happiness for the greatest number, we seem to be failing. How is it that in extremely wealthy societies the rates of mental illness continue to rise - and can the field of mental health address the problem? Contact me to learn more.

How to be Miserable in Your 20s: Keys to a Better Life

Early adulthood is challenging for all of us. How do you build a satisfying and sustainable life? There are major challenges to face and major pitfalls to avoid. This talk, based on the book of the same name, presents a roadmap through the minefield of the 20s - and is suitable for older teens (and parents) as well. Contact me to learn more.

Anxiety Gone Wild: When is it a Disorder?

Anxiety is not a mental disorder - it is an essential aspect of being human. But it can get out of control and severely impact our lives, at which point help and focussed attention may be indicated. This talk describes the most common manifestations of anxiety gone wild: Social phobia, panic attacks, agoraphobia, obsessive compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety, and post-traumatic symptoms. Contact me to learn more.

StressLess: Managing Stress in Real Life

The stress response is designed to boost short-term coping with physical threats - but it gets activated in situations where it does more harm than good. This presentation - a single talk or an in-depth series - provides participants with a better understanding of stress and concrete practices to reduce its harmful impact in our lives. Click here to learn more.

Out of the Blue: Understanding Depression and its Management

By some estimates, clinical depression is the single most common cause of disability in the developed world, but most people’s understanding of it is hazy at best. This talk - or series - defines depression and describes effective self-management strategies, resources, and recommendations for care. Good for HR staff and managers - and everyone else. Click here to learn more.

The Four Pillars of Happiness

The past 30 years has seen an explosion of interest in the determinants of extreme life satisfaction - and it turns out that many of these are controllable skills that anyone can put into practice. This talk emphasizes four primary strategies to boost mood. Click here to learn more.

Emotional Forecasting: How Life Decisions Go Wrong

Every day we make hundreds of decisions, and most of them are based on hedonic forecasting: Our beliefs about how we will feel in the future. Oddly, human beings are systematically terrible at making these predictions, with the result that we become architects of our own unhappiness. This talk may change the way you think about your life - and provides a much-needed corrective strategy. Contact me to learn more.

Letting Go: The Essential Life Skill

Much of popular psychology is about controlling our destiny, seizing life by the horns, and making things happen. But what can seem like defeat can actually open us to new possibilities. Being able to let things go is a vital part of creating a balanced life. Contact me to learn more.

Affirmations for Real Life

Every day our social media feeds are clogged with inspirational memes that are tempting to believe, but are simply untrue. No, everyone does not love you. And no, your instincts are not always right. This humour-filled talk replaces sunny nonsense with reality-based affirmations that provide better guidance: Passion isn’t required. Everyone is a mixed bag. The perfect is the enemy of the good. And more. Contact me to learn more.

Failure to Launch: What is it and How Does it Happen?

Young adults are finding it increasingly difficult to make the leap from dependent adolescence to independent adulthood. In extreme cases they may be virtually housebound, unable or unwilling to move forward with work, education, relationships, or finances. How does this happen, and how can therapy help? Contact me to learn more.

How to Raise a Miserable Kid

All parents want their children to have happy, successful lives - but what can they do to help bring that about? One strategy is to look closely at what they would do if they were aiming for misery instead - and discover how their best intentions may be leading things astray. A talk that provides specific strategies to provide children with the resilience they need. Contact me to learn more.

Slippage: The Gap Between Perception and Reality

Cognitive therapists examine the subtle distortions that get in the way of a balanced perception of the world outside. This talk entertainingly reveals some of the ways that human psychology contributes to a misperception of the world, from visual illusions to the Monty Hall Problem to predictive heuristics. Has anyone ever said that you don’t live in the real world? If so, they were right. Click here to learn more.

Sexual Orientation 101

With components matched to the needs and interests of the group in question (potentially including marriage, coming out, antidiscrimination legislation, rights history, terminology, and more), this set of topics discusses the nature of sexual orientation and the gay experience. Past audiences have included LGBTQ populations, religious groups, corporate diversity initiatives, foster parents, educators, and physicians. Click here to learn more.


Suite 718
2525 Willow Street
Vancouver, BC V5Z 3N8
Tel: (604) 871-0490


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