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Cyber Intimacy and Cyber Solitude with Sherry Turkle

 

Parenting Skills: Bonus Session – NP0019

Consider the enormous psychological and cultural impact of today’s digital technologies on children, adolescents, parents, and society in this enlightening address with renowned MIT psychologist Sherry Turkle. You’ll discover that our smartphones, laptops, tablets, social media sites, and other electronic gadgets have a deeper impact on us as individuals, families, and society at large than we might have previously realized.

After you hear this presentation, please take a few minutes to comment about what you found most interesting or relevant, to ask any questions you have of the presenter or your colleagues, or to share any experiences. What were the most important or interesting takeaways from this series for you, professionally or personally? As always, if you ever have any technical questions, please feel free to email support@psychotherapynetworker.org and our Support Team will help you.

06.20.2012   Posted In: NP0019 Parenting Skills: All You Need to Help Families Today   By Psychotherapy Networker
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Psychotherapy as Craft

 

Learning from Master Therapists How to Resolve the Toughest Clinical Dilemmas

Recently, I read a paper by psychiatrist and pioneering trauma researcher Judith Herman in which she makes the case that, rather than a scientific or technical procedure, psychotherapy is primarily a craft. Crafts, she wrote, “are strongly embedded in the practicalities of daily life, and as such are constantly subject to empirical (though unsystematic) tests of utility. They preserve a highly complex body of knowledge and skill, resisting reductive standardization. They are taught relationally, through a long apprenticeship which fosters discipline, high standards for performance, and an ethic of care. Within their disciplined forms, crafts permit wide scope for individual imagination and creativity.”

SushiNot long afterward, I saw a movie, that exemplifies as no other film I can remember what Herman was writing about—though the subject wasn’t a therapist. The documentary, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, follows the life and work of Jiro, an 85-year-old Japanese Sushi Master. Considered by many to be the best sushi chef in the world, he's the proprietor of a ten-seat restaurant located in a Tokyo subway station—the first restaurant of its kind to ever be awarded a three-star Michelin review. The movie captures Jiro’s lifelong devotion to his work, his meticulous attention to detail, his unsparing self discipline, and the never-ending pursuit of what he knows he can never achieve: some sort of transcendent, other-worldly sushi-apotheosis. “Even at my age, in my work,” he says, “I haven’t reached perfection.” But like every great craftsperson, he’ll spend his life trying.

Jiro kept coming to mind as I interviewed a series of noted therapists for our upcoming webcast series, The 6 Biggest Challenges Therapists Face. All of these practitioners are, in their own way, master craftspeople, with highly evolved skills in working with particularly difficult clients and resolving clinical dilemmas. Wendy Behary describes in fascinating detail exactly how she gets through to unpleasant, often quite aggressive narcissistic clients—frequently regarded with reason as “impossible” to treat. John Norcross shows us how he changes his own therapy style to fit different kinds of clients, making the obvious—but often overlooked—point that one-size therapy certainly doesn't fit all clients. Clifton Mitchell explains to us, in a way that can be both painful and hilarious, the common mistakes therapists make that actually increase client resistance, and then gives us play-by-play suggestions for avoiding and dismantling it.

For me, the whole experience of making these webcasts has been a revelation. Sitting at my computer, not only do I get to have a late-life career as a kind of poor man’s Charlie Rose (actually more like Charlie Rose crossed with Wayne of “Wayne’s World”), but I also get to experience something like genuine personal tutorial/therapy sessions with these master practitioners. Sometimes the pretend “therapy session” feels quite a lot like the real thing. In an interview with Dick Schwartz, originator of Internal Family Systems Therapy, I got to tap into my own inner borderline while role-playing a client, and gained a felt sense of how deeply reassuring and empowering Dick’s way of working with a client’s discordant inner parts can be.

With each practitioner in this series, I felt I was truly experiencing the ways very different therapists think and work. It was like getting a close-up look at a master potter or cabinet maker slowly, painstakingly, with great concentration and prowess, turn a piece of raw shapeless clay or plain wood boards into a work of art—you’re fascinated, awed, and enlightened all at once.

The whole point of our Networker webcast series is to help therapists break out of our usual mode of operating, opening windows into the minds of gifted people who work and think much differently than we do. It’s truly rare to have such an opportunity to get such candid, immediate access to what master therapists really do in their consulting rooms. Putting aside the impressive-sounding theories and showmanship of the typical workshop presentation, these interviews offer us all a chance to realize anew just how subtle and richly varied the skills that distinguish the most accomplished practitioners of our therapeutic craft.

The 6 Most Challenging Issues in Therapy
...And How Therapists Can Overcome Them

Starts Thursday, June 21st

Click here for full course details.

Other resources you might find helpful:

Articles
Wendy Behary
The Art of Empathic Confrontation
http://www.psychotherapynetworker.org/CEcourses/audio/handouts/A914/A914_the_art_of_empathic_confrontation.pdf

Janina Fisher
Breaking Free
http://www.psychotherapynetworker.org/component/content/article/301-2011-marchapril/1263-case-study

Richard Schwartz
When Meditation Isn’t Enough
http://www.psychotherapynetworker.org/magazine/recentissues/2011-septoct/item/1518-when-meditation-isnt-enough

Videos
Wendy Behary
Treating the Narcissistic Client
http://www.psychotherapynetworker.org/blog-communities/NetExchange/viewpost/1435_Treating_the_Narcissistic_Client

John Norcross
Customizing Mental Health Treatment
http://www.psychotherapynetworker.org/blog-communities/NP0021/viewpost/1431_Customizing_Mental_Health_Treatment

06.19.2012   Posted In: NETWORKER EXCHANGE   By Psychotherapy Networker
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    Defusing Male Shame with David Wexler

     

    Men in Therapy: NP0020 - Session 3

    Discover why men avoid emotional confrontations because of their inherent fear of shame. David Wexler, who specializes in the treatment of relationships in conflict, describes how to develop a therapeutic relationship based on straightforward guidance and “guy talk,” rather than ambiguous “therapy-speak.”

    After you hear this presentation, please take a few minutes to comment about what you found most interesting or relevant, to ask any questions you have of the presenter or your colleagues, or to share any experiences. As always, if you ever have any technical questions, please feel free to email support@psychotherapynetworker.org and our Support Team will help you.

    06.19.2012   Posted In: NP0020 Men in Therapy: What Clinicians Need to Know   By Psychotherapy Networker
    7
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    Treating Clients with Borderline Personality Disorder

     

    Experience Internal Family Systems Therapy with Richard Schwartz

    Get a taste of what it’s like to work with clients who have Borderline Personality Disorder, and see for yourself what Internal Family Systems Therapy looks like in this clip from our upcoming streaming-video webcast series, "The 6 Most Challenging Issues in Therapy."


    In this presentation, Richard Schwartz, the founder of Internal Family Systems Therapy, discusses the experience of working with clients who have Borderline Personality Disorder and how therapists can approach such clients with a sense of hopefulness and collaboration. This clip below, a role-play between Richard Schwartz and Rich Simon, illustrates a scenario between a therapist using the Internal Family Systems treatment of working with inner “parts” and a client who’s never worked in this way before.



    Richard Schwartz, Ph.D., is director of the Center for Self Leadership and the originator of the Internal Family Systems model. His books include Internal Family Systems Therapy and, most recently, You Are the One You’ve Been Waiting For.


    The 6 Most Challenging Issues in Therapy
    ...And How Therapists Can Overcome Them

    Starts Thursday, June 21st

    Click here for full course details.

    06.15.2012   Posted In: NETWORKER EXCHANGE   By Psychotherapy Networker
    3
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    Parenting with the Brain in Mind with Dan Siegel

     

    Parenting Skills: Session 7 – NP0019

    Explore with renowned clinician Dan Siegel how applying the latest advances in the neuroscience of child development to clinical practice can have practical implications for parents and families. You’ll discover how therapists can help parents raise calmer, happier children by teaching kids to think and listen before reacting, shifting their emotional states through physical activities, and paying attention to their left brain story-telling.

    After you hear this presentation, please take a few minutes to comment about what you found most interesting or relevant, to ask any questions you have of the presenter or your colleagues, or to share any experiences. As always, if you ever have any technical questions, please feel free to email support@psychotherapynetworker.org and our Support Team will help you.


    06.13.2012   Posted In: NP0019 Parenting Skills: All You Need to Help Families Today   By Psychotherapy Networker
    7
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    When Therapy Stalls: A master therapist discusses what to do, what not to do, and a practical approach that works

     

    How to Handle the Issue of Progress Before it Becomes a Therapy Crisis

    Don’t wait till you get bored. Don’t wait till drastic action seems to be the only option. Act as soon as you sense that a client’s progress is leveling off or slipping backwards.


    See how Bill Doherty’s simple, proactive approach can lead to positive developments when a therapy starts to stall.



    This clip on how to put the topic of progress on the agenda in a session is from our upcoming streaming-video webcast series, "The 6 Most Challenging Issues in Therapy ...And How Therapists can Overcome Them."


    Another resource that you might find helpful in dealing with challenging cases is his article on "Treating the Mixed-Agenda Couple."


    William Doherty, Ph.D., is a professor and director of the Citizen Professional Center at the University of Minnesota. He's the author or coauthor of 12 books on families and family therapy, including Take Back Your Marriage, Take Back Your Kids, and Family Therapy, with Susan McDaniel.


    The 6 Most Challenging Issues in Therapy
    ...And How Therapists Can Overcome Them

    Starts Thursday, June 21st

    Click here for full course details.

    06.12.2012   Posted In: NETWORKER EXCHANGE   By Psychotherapy Networker
    1
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    Men and Sexuality: Challenging the Myths with Esther Perel

     

    Men in Therapy: NP0020 - Session 4

    Explore the poorly understood world of male sexuality by challenging some of the pervasive myths about men and their “nonrelational” attitude toward sex. Esther Perel, author of Mating in Captivity and specialist in sexuality and couples relationships, ascribes practical tools for helping men examine their own sexual blueprint.

    After you hear this presentation, please take a few minutes to comment about what you found most interesting or relevant, to ask any questions you have of the presenter or your colleagues, or to share any experiences. As always, if you ever have any technical questions, please feel free to email support@psychotherapynetworker.org and our Support Team will help you.

    06.12.2012   Posted In: NP0020 Men in Therapy: What Clinicians Need to Know   By Psychotherapy Networker
    22
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    Challenging the Myths about Men and Sexuality

     

    How and When to Discuss Sexuality with Male Clients

    Explore the myths and realities of male sexuality with Esther Perel and better understand practical tools for effectively helping men with relational and sexual issues. In this clip from our streaming-video webcast series, "Men in Therapy: What Clinicians Need to Know," she discusses how to bring up sexuality when working with male clients, when she feels it’s important to discuss it as part of therapy, and shares some examples of questions she might ask men in session.



    Esther Perel, M.A., L.M.F.T., is a master trainer, therapist workshop leader and speaker and an acknowledged international authority on couples, culture and sexuality. The author of the international bestseller Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence she's an AASECT approved sex therapist practicing in New York where she's on the faculty at Columbia University and at the Ackerman Institute. She’s the recipient of the 2009 book award from the Society for Sex Therapy and Research.


    Engaging Men In Therapy:
    Everything Clinicians Need to Know

    Starts Tuesday, June 5th

    Click here for full course details.

    06.08.2012   Posted In: NETWORKER EXCHANGE   By Psychotherapy Networker
    2
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    Learning to Drive Left: Breaking Out of Our Therapeutic Comfort Zone

     

    How We Can Solve Our Most Challenging Cases

    The desire to keep growing and improve our skills is a good part of what brought many of us into this demanding profession.  But once we’ve acquired some experience and achieved a certain level of competence, we may begin to fall into a routine, just repeating ourselves over and over again. After all, getting to the next level—transcending our own current performance—often requires us to leave our normal comfort zone, not something many of us relish doing. Nevertheless, getting to that next level of mastery doesn’t just improve our performance—it can make us feel renewed as human beings.

    Let me give you an example from my after-hours life as a pick-up basketball player.  I’ve been playing basketball for clBasketballose to 50 years now—thousands of hours dribbling, running up and down basketball courts, working on my jump shot, pushing and shoving complete strangers. For a 63 year-old considerably beyond the usual age for a viable basketball career, I’m not a bad player. But over the last few years, I noticed that I was just repeating my old tricks, doing the same things I know how to do, over and over again. I still loved basketball, but there was getting to be a certain sameness about my game. I felt stale.

    Last year at this time, I got inspired watching the Dallas Mavericks, one of the oldest teams in the NBA with a roster of geriatric 30-somethings, win the league championship. I was drawn to try for my own basketball breakthrough and see if I could get out of my benign rut.  I found myself a coach—a 25-year-old named Andrew who loved basketball even more than I do and seemed to have studied everything there is to know about the game. Since then, he’s become my basketball guru and taskmaster. Every week, I have a session with Andrew, who keeps pushing me to expand my game, after which I take notes and practice what I’ve learned. Andrew’s very nice, but very tough. Instead of telling me how great I am at stuff I already know how to do well, he relentlessly points out the limits of my game, and then shows me how I can improve.

    A few weeks ago, for example, after observing how predictable my offensive repertoire was, he announced, “You always drive right, never left. You gotta expand your game.”  As a right-handed person, I naturally tend to dribble with my right hand, make jump shots to my right, pass to my right, and so on. So he started pushing me to focus on dribbling with my left hand, driving to my left, and hitting left-hand lay-ups. It felt unnatural, awkward, hard to do, but I practiced the moves he showed me again and again and again. One day, after a couple of weeks of this, I found myself playing one-on-one with a familiar rival who had the annoying habit of beating me. I was determined that, regardless of how awkward it felt, I’d make myself drive left. Quite familiar with my right-wing basketball tendencies, my opponent kept overplaying me to move to my right. Instead, I kept hitting left-handed lay-up after lay-up and won easily. But not only did I feel the fleeting joy of victory, I had that incomparable sense of suddenly discovering a new self, not bounded by my old limitations. It was thrilling.

    As therapists, we all face situations and cases that tap into our particular limitations, make us feel frustrated and incompetent. We all tend to get into our ruts, avoid certain kinds of clients, or feel off-balance and uncomfortable in the face of clinical challenges that press our particular buttons. And in a sense, the presenters in our upcoming webcast series The 6 Biggest Challenges Therapists Face are like Andrew. They recognize what keeps us limited in our effectiveness and how routinized our practices can become. But, like Andrew, they have highly practical suggestions—offered in the context of very vivid case examples—for helping us get beyond our limitations.

    Without Andrew, I’d still be avoiding what I didn’t feel fully competent doing. But he’s opened up a whole new range of choices for me on the basketball court. I hope you discover some new choices for yourself in our new webcast series and up the level of skill and excitement of your “game” in your consulting room. 

    06.08.2012   Posted In: NETWORKER EXCHANGE   By Rich Simon
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    Treating the Narcissistic Client

     

    How to Maintain Compassion While Achieving Leverage

    Discover how to effectively treat narcissistic clients with Wendy Behary by learning how to use tactical confrontation, cognitive restructuring, behavioral therapy and skills training, experiential psychotherapy, and more. In this clip from our upcoming streaming-video webcast series, "The 6 Most Challenging Issues in Therapy ...And How Therapists Can Overcome Them," she describes what it’s like to work with a typical narcissistic client in the first session, and the process she undergoes to successfully relate to these kinds of clients.



    Wendy Behary, L.C.S.W., the founder and director of The Cognitive Therapy Center of New Jersey and of The New Jersey Institute for Schema Therapy, is the author of Disarming the Narcissist: Surviving and Thriving with the Self-Absorbed.


    The 6 Most Challenging Issues in Therapy
    ...And How Therapists Can Overcome Them

    Starts Thursday, June 21st

    Click here for full course details.

    06.06.2012   Posted In: NETWORKER EXCHANGE   By Psychotherapy Networker
    7
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    The Kids Skills Approach with Ben Furman

     

    Parenting Skills: Session 6 – NP0019

    Teach parents a new way to praise and encourage their children while getting them to comply and overcome difficulties by shifting the focus from “problems” to helping kids gain meaningful new skills. In this approach, parents will take on the role of guides and cheerleaders and children will gain confidence in themselves. Ben Furman, psychiatrist and trainer of solution-focused psychotherapy, will explore this method and take you through case studies.

    After you hear this presentation, please take a few minutes to comment about what you found most interesting or relevant, to ask any questions you have of the presenter or your colleagues, or to share any experiences. As always, if you ever have any technical questions, please feel free to email support@psychotherapynetworker.org and our Support Team will help you.

    06.06.2012   Posted In: NP0019 Parenting Skills: All You Need to Help Families Today   By Psychotherapy Networker
    6
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    NP0018, Smarter Therapist, Bonus, Don Meichenbaum

     

    Don Meichenbaum, the founder of Cognitive Behavioral Modification, will lead you in this Bonus Session, “What Expert Therapists Do” on learning how to master the core tasks of psychotherapy and how to enhance your practice and expertise using web-based training procedures. Discover how to use new computer technology as an adjunctive tool in the psychotherapeutic relationship to improve your outcome and better help your clients. 

    We encourage you to take a few minutes after this session to comment on what you’ve learned from this presentation, and from the course as a whole. What was most striking or most relevant to you? What questions do you have? As always, if you ever have any technical issues, just email support@psychotherapynetworker.org for help!
     

    06.04.2012   Posted In: NP0018 Becoming a Smarter Therapist   By Psychotherapy Networker
    0
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    Customizing Mental Health Treatment

     

    The Six Most Important Characteristics to Recognize in Clients

    Discover with John Norcross how to pinpoint six personal characteristics that’ll allow you to customize mental health treatment for individual clients so the therapy has the best possible outcome. In this clip from our upcoming streaming-video webcast series, "The 6 Most Challenging Issues in Therapy ...And How Therapists Can Overcome Them," he’ll delve into one such characteristic—reactance—and explain why recognizing and understanding this characteristic is significant to figuring out the most effective treatment methods.



    John Norcross, professor of psychology and distinguished university fellow at the University of Scranton, is a clinical psychologist, and editor of the Journal of Clinical Psychology: In Session. He’s the author, coauthor, and editor of many books and publications, including most recently Insider’s Guide to Graduate Programs in Clinical and Counseling Psychology and Psychotherapy Relationships That Work.


    The 6 Most Challenging Issues in Therapy
    ...And How Therapists Can Overcome Them

    Starts Thursday, June 21st

    Click here for full course details.

    06.01.2012   Posted In: NP0021 The 6 Most Challenging Issues in Therapy   By Psychotherapy Networker
    1
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    Overprotective Parenting with Michael Ungar

     

    Parenting Skills: NP0019 – Session 5

    Explore the effects that overprotective parenting can have on children with Michael Ungar, director of the Resilience Research Center and author of 11 books for therapists and children. Discover how parents can best offer children opportunities to experience risk and responsibility while ensuring their safety and give them boundaries without suffocating them, increasing their anxiety, or reinforcing their need for rebellion.

    After you hear this presentation, please take a few minutes to comment about what you found most interesting or relevant, to ask any questions you have of the presenter or your colleagues, or to share any experiences. As always, if you ever have any technical questions, please feel free to email support@psychotherapynetworker.org and our Support Team will help you.

    05.30.2012   Posted In: NP0019 Parenting Skills: All You Need to Help Families Today   By Psychotherapy Networker
    8
    Comments
     

    Men and Intimacy

     

    A Relational Approach to Helping Male Clients

    According to Patrick Dougherty, the biggest problem men have in psychotherapy isn’t that intimacy and the language of emotion is such foreign territory, but that therapists expect so little of them. In this clip from our upcoming streaming-video webcast series, “Men in Therapy: What Clinicians Need to Know,” Patrick explains what he means and how raising the bar for men expands the possibilities for the relational experiences they can have in our consulting rooms.



    Patrick Dougherty has been in private practice for more than 30 years and has been studying Eastern philosophies and practices for the past 20 years. He teaches Qigong and is the author of Qigong in Psychotherapy: You Can Do So Much by Doing So Little and A Whole-Hearted Embrace.


    Engaging Men In Therapy:
    Everything Clinicians Need to Know

    Starts Tuesday, June 5th

    Click here for full course details.

    05.30.2012   Posted In: NP0020 Men in Therapy: What Clinicians Need to Know   By Psychotherapy Networker
    0
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    How to Avoid Client Resistance to Therapy

     

    The Best Approaches to Circumventing Resistance

    Clifton Mitchell, one of the presenters in our upcoming streaming-video webcast series on the six most challenging issues therapists can face in session, focuses on client resistance to therapy. In his presentation, he discusses what client resistance really means and how therapists can intervene.

    This clip provides previews what therapists can do—and what therapists need to find out—in order to create an effective motivator for clients to change.



    Clifton Mitchell is a professor at East Tennessee State University, where he received the Teacher of the Year award in 2002. He’s the author of Effective Techniques for Dealing with Highly Resistant Clients.


    The 6 Most Challenging Issues in Therapy
    ...And How Therapists Can Overcome Them

    Starts Thursday, June 21st

    Click here for full course details.

    05.25.2012   Posted In: NP0021 The 6 Most Challenging Issues in Therapy   By Psychotherapy Networker
    2
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    NP0018, Smarter Therapist, Session 6, William Pinsof

     
    How can therapists bring the science of measuring feedback and tracking change into clinical practice? Learn with William Pinsof how to work collaboratively with clients for assessment, treatment planning, progress tracking, and termination planning. Pinsof, the president of the Family Institute, will discuss how to track client change in specific symptom domains, and how to monitor the therapeutic alliance and, when ruptures occur, how to repair it.

    We invite you to take a few minutes after this session to comment on what you’ve learned from this presentation, and from the entire course. What questions do you have? What was new, or most interesting, or most relevant to you? As always, if you ever have any technical issues, just email support@psychotherapynetworker.org for help!


    05.24.2012   Posted In: NP0018 Becoming a Smarter Therapist   By Psychotherapy Networker
    4
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    The 6 Biggest Challenges Therapists Face

     

    And How to Overcome Them

    Everybody knows that therapy is basically about making people’s pain go away, right? Depression, rage, nagging guilt, obsession, anxiety, fear—these are the dragons that blight clients’ lives. And if the dragons can’t be vanquished outright, then they must be drugged or hypnotized into submission, or reframed into innocuousness. But as straightforward as it sounds, every clinician knows what it’s like to find yourself up against the brick wall of a client’s impervious suffering and seeming refusal to change—no matter how hard you huff or puff, you can’t blow the problem down.

    HelpImageWe inhabit a field that thrives on hearing about brilliant clinical interventions and thrilling new treatment models. But the fact is that many of us regularly struggle with cases that don’t quite pan out the way we hope, not to mention the terrible cases that even years afterward have the power to make us cringe and make us wonder whatever happened to that client after he slinked away or stormed out of our office one last time.

    So we decided to bring together a group of veteran therapists to take a candid look at the kind of cases and clinical situations that regularly take us to the edge of what we know and who we are as people and as would-be healers. Part of what’s fascinating about our upcoming webcast series Overcoming The Six Biggest Challenges Therapists Face is hearing from leaders in our field about what they identify as the challenge that most stands out for them and then asking yourself what your own most daunting clinical challenge happens to be.

    But even more fascinating is the opportunity that this nuts-and-bolts, highly practical series offers to examine exactly how we as therapists often both create and foster resistance in our clients. Each of the interviews in this series goes beyond vague theory and therapeutic bromides to explore the fine points of clinical craft that make the difference between helping difficult clients as opposed to just hitting your head against the wall. Here’s a chance to learn how to make a difference with those cases—and you know which ones they are—that can seem proof against everything you think you know about therapy or human nature.

    For more information about our new webcast series, just click here.
    05.23.2012   Posted In: NP0021 The 6 Most Challenging Issues in Therapy   By Rich Simon
    8
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    How to Stop Bullying with Stan Davis

     

    Parenting Skills: NP0019 – Session 4


    Bullying has fallen more and more into the media spotlight lately. Is it that kids are becoming more aggressive? Or are we just paying more attention to this phenomenon? Is it the new forums available for these kinds of behavior—21st-century technologies that can make it easier to kids to bully? How can therapists, parents, and schools help the child who’s being bullied? Learn with Stan Davis, the co-leader of the Youth Voice Research Project, about how to focus on resilience in the child who’s being bullied and to help strengthen their support communities, in addition to working to stop the bullying behaviors.

    After you hear this presentation, please take a few minutes to comment about what you found most interesting or relevant, to ask any questions you have of the presenter or your colleagues, or to share any experiences. As always, if you ever have any technical questions, please feel free to email support@psychotherapynetworker.org and our Support Team will help you.


    05.23.2012   Posted In: NP0019 Parenting Skills: All You Need to Help Families Today   By Psychotherapy Networker
    3
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    Engaging Men in Therapy

     

    What Clinicians Need to Know

    Some time ago, my wife, Jette (who just happens to be the world’s best couples’ therapist) and I were about to begin one of the several couples weekend workshops we hold every year. As we met the assorted participants in a conference room of a local hotel, it became obvious that, as usual, it was mostly the women who had dragged their mostly unwilling male partners to the weekend. During the first break, one of the men in the group approached Jette during an early break, obviously in real distress.

    “You must change the sign downstairs in the lobby,” he hissed in her ear. The offending sign, there in public for all to see, said, “Couples Therapy—Mayfair Room.” The fact that he was attending a therapy event—a word so obnoxious to him that he could barely spit it out—in his mind, clearly identified him as a total wimp, a low-testosterone failure of a man, a complete loser in the masculinity sweepstakes. God forbid somebody he knew should catch him in such humiliating circumstances—it was akin to marching publicly into a room boldly labeled, “Child Molesters Convention Here.” Male shame strikes again.

    depressedman

    The great secret that most men harbor is how often we feel incompetent, weak, vulnerable, and inadequate, not up to the seemingly impossible task of being a “man” (whatever that means).

    And when we fail, however it looks on the outside, we experience the corrosive, toxic, intolerable feelings of shame. Just the threat of being shamed is so dreadful to us that we will go to any lengths to avoid it—we will yell at or stonewall our wives, get drunk, pick fights, drive our cars like bats out of hell, join a militia, have sex with as many women as possible—do virtually anything to avoid it.

    It seems odd that after nearly 50 years of focusing on gender norms and how they affect women, the inner world of men would still remain as dimly understood as it is, even by psychotherapists. Until recently, a prime obstacle has been the ideological truism that, deep down, both genders want exactly the same thing from their relationships. But as we’ve made real advances in understanding some of the differences between the male and female brain as well as grasping the biology of other social mammals, we’ve had to take another look at some of our conventional therapeutic wisdom about commonalities between the sexes.

    To explore further what some of our field’s most innovative contributors are discovering about working more effectively with men, here are two resources to check out. Just click here to preview the latest Networker streaming-video webcast series, Engaging Men in Therapy: Everything Clinicians Need to Know, beginning June 5th. And if you want some extremely thoughtful and provocative articles to challenge outdated clinical assumptions, click here to take a look at our May 2010 issue, The Secret World of Men. In either case, be prepared to discover how disconcerting—and illuminating—it is to embrace the possibility that men and women don’t necessarily want exactly the same things after all.

    05.18.2012   Posted In: NP0020 Men in Therapy: What Clinicians Need to Know   By Rich Simon
    5
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