Published in psycho.philica.com
This is an instructional, personal-growth technique used to teach students and clients about psychological processes, and how to apply them. This technique is called the Password Personal Upgrade and it utilized a mind-computer analogy and the language of technology to teach a cognitive-behavioral self-counseling techniques. Students were instructed to create a mental Password - a mnemonic device used to cognitively label an unwanted habit or thought pattern. Passwords were used to self-monitor and remind students of their behavioral goals, and were then combined with mental Apps that included healthy self-talk, healthy substitute behaviors, social skills, stress-reduction and other strategies for improved well-being. This so-called mental technology engaged student interest, and is a novel way to inspire learning and self-discovery.
PASSWORD PERSONAL UPGRADE is a useful teaching and personal growth method using a mind-computer analogy to illustrate mental processes. With this technique, a mental “password” is a cognitive mnemonic device used to monitor personal habits and remind us of healthy actions, thoughts and moods. Psychology instructors often employ “computer models” to illustrate theories of mental functioning. Both brains and computers perform some similar tasks, such as storing, coding and retrieving data. The “information processing” approach in Psychology is helpful to explain memory and problem solving. Taking the mind-computer analogy a step further, since computer systems “learn” in the sense that they are programmed and upgraded, it is also fair to say that life experience has “programmed” us and our individual habits. Anything learned can also be unlearned, so the Password Personal Upgrade presents personal growth as an “upgrade of one’s inner programs”.
We all have personal habits – and we can visualize these as learned “programs” running in one’s psyche. These habits are referred to as “auto-pilot programs” because they represent reflexive, automatic thoughts, moods and motivations that run below the surface (in the subconscious).
First, users were instructed to create a mental “Password”. This mnemonic device was used to cognitively label an unwanted habit or thought pattern. Unwanted habits, from worrying to procrastinating to over-eating to smoking, were labelled by users who each created their unique, individual Password. Mental Passwords helped students' self-awareness to monitor their autopilot habits, remind them of their goals, create negative impressions of bad habits to avoid, or were deeply personal phrases representing how an unwanted habit was acquired. Users were told the Password would help them access and reboot their “Operating System”, act as reminders to assist in monitoring personal habits, as well as cognitive memory-aides for achieving their behavioral and social goals.
Next, users were instructed to attach mental “Apps” (short for applications) to their unique Password. Apps represent healthy actions and self-talk, mood control techniques, and social skills. Throughout training, this method of using Apps was referred to as “mental technology to debug and upgrade your inner software”. Apps became healthy replacement thoughts, moods and behaviors, new communication strategies and relationship-building skills. Several types of Apps were introduced:
"Mental Apps" change unwanted thoughts and promote positive thinking.
"Action Apps" are behavioral actions and rewards to promote healthy behaviors.
"Energy Apps" are skills for time management, goal, setting, and prioritizing.
"Social Apps” are communication skills to improve relationships and social networks,
“Mood Apps” are stress reduction techniques to help modulate emotions.
Mental Passwords were combined with a series of different Apps depending on the type of problem or challenge. Most students used several Apps, for example, combining Mental Apps (positive self-talk) with Action Apps (a change in behavior) to overcome a personal challenge. Readings consisted of case examples documenting how others created mental “Passwords” and “Apps” to help themselves to cope with a variety of difficult situations. This technique engages users by using the language of technology to apply a wide range of psychology self-counseling principles for personal growth.
One view in academia is that instructors today must compete for students’ attention with the flood of available technology. An alternative framework, as demonstrated with the current “Password Personal Upgrade” technique, is to instead embrace the language of technology to teach today's tech-savvy students to better understand and apply psychology. Using familiar modern terms such as “Password” and “App” to refer to mental processes was appealing to students, and served as a helpful springboard for learning. Psychology courses typically survey information-processing and cognitive theories. Yet instructors often overlook the opportunity to guide students to apply psychology to themselves to build life-skills while at the same time learning key scientific principles and theories. Teaching about personal growth in this way engaged student interest, providing a novel way to inspire learning and self-discovery.
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Pickens, J. (2015). Password Personal Upgrade - Cognitive-Behavioral Teaching Method.. PHILICA.COM Article number 486.