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Positive Psychology

20 Weeks to Happiness: Can a Course in Positive Psychology Change Your Life?
By Richard Handler
January/February 2006

Why Is This Man Smiling? A Self-Described Grouch Is Trying to Turn Happiness into a Science
By Mary Sykes Wylie
January/February 2003

Living on Purpose: The Seeker, the Tennis Coach and the Next Wave of Therapeutic Practice
By Katy Butler
September/October 2003

Positive Aging: A New Paradigm for Growing Old
By Robert Hill
May/June 2007

 

Sample from: Living On Purpose, by Katy Butler

These athletes didn't use their limited reservoir of "free will" to tell themselves to relax. Instead of cluttering their brains with that kind of management decision, they followed a behavioral sequence repeated so often that it had grooved itself into the cluster of brain cells close to the brainstem sometimes called the "reptilian brain." Their rituals were automatic, even under pressure. They were done mindlessly, just as an experienced driver steps on the clutch and smoothly shifts gears without thinking about it.

Between-point rituals turned out to have startling training effects. Loehr fitted the athletes with wireless monitors and discovered that the heart rates of the champions dropped as much as 15 to 20 beats between points. They didn't win every game. But because they took real breaks--what Loehr called "oscillation"--they played at the top of their games for years, while talented but volatile players, like John McEnroe, burned out young.

Loehr showed his videos to the tennis kids--and his growing list of private clients--and had them mimic the champions' confident walks. Their games improved. He organized 90-minute cycles of oscillation (intense exertion followed by rest and recovery) into their days, and they improved again. He tailor-made new rituals to address individual weaknesses, and the athletes improved still more.

From Psychotherapy Networker, September/October 2003

 

Sample from: Positive Aging, by Robert Hill

Now the principles of Positive Psychology are captured in a new term specific to later life—namely, "positive aging." The idea behind positive aging is that there are sources of happiness in our later years that are inherent in the processes of growing old. In other words, positive aging is not how well we're able to dodge our infirmities, but rather, our ability to focus on what makes life worthwhile in our later years in spite of the physical or mental challenges that may arise.

We all have known people who were born with the type of attitude that allowed them to grow old gracefully and get the most out of life right up to the end. For the rest of us, however, there are specific actions and habits of mind that we can learn, which, with focus and practice, can help the process of aging become a more positive experience. To grow old with a positive frame of mind, it's important to learn to take four basic actions:

From Psychotherapy Networker, May/June 2007


Mindfulness

A Quiet Revolution: Therapists Are Learning a New Way to Be with Clients
By Jerome Front
January/February 2008

The Soul of Relationship: Where Self and Other Meet
By Molly Layton
January/February 2008

A Week of Silence: Quieting the Mind and Liberating the Self
By Daniel Siegel
November/December 2006

Appointments with Yourself: Don’t Mistake Your Schedule for Your Life
By Michael Ventura
November/December 2006

The Precarious Present: Why Is It So Hard to Stay in the Moment?
By Robert Scaer
November/December 2006

Any Day Above Ground: After Recovery, What Then?
By David Treadway
January/February 2008

Hello Darkness: Discovering Our Values By Confronting Our Fears
By Steven Hayes
September/October 2007

 

 

Content Search Overview: Therapists, social workers, counselors and others found these articles helpful in learning more about mindfulness in therapy practices. People searching for information on the following terms and concepts found these articles helpful:

Mindfulness
Buddhism
Meditation
Retreats
The Present
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
Brain
Relaxation
Mind Body
Relapse Prevention
Flow

Sample from: A Week of Silence, by Daniel Siegel

After focusing on the self, we focus on others. We wish safety, happiness, health, and ease first on a benefactor (someone who's supported us and our development in life), then on a friend, followed by someone about whom we feel neutral. Often an image of that person is useful to have in mind as these wishes are expressed. The next step is harder--wishing these blessings on a "difficult" person in our life, one with whom we may have a challenging relationship. And the next step can be even harder: we're asked to offer and ask for forgiveness. "I ask you for forgiveness for anything I've done or said that's caused you harm or painful feelings." Then, with the same words, one forgives this person.

I chose a friend with whom I've had a long-standing relationship that had ended with confusion and hostility recently. I pictured his face, saw the troubles that led to our rift, and asked his forgiveness for what had happened between us. It was hard, as he hasn't been forthcoming in trying to make a reconnection. But the exercise, including forgiving him for what had happened, helped me feel a sense of resolution.

From Psychotherapy Networker, November/December 2006

 

Sample from: Hello, Darkness, by Steven Hayes

A thought like Im bad invites us to argue about whether its true by providing evidence (usually from the past) on one side or the other. But whether its true or false is irrelevant to the fact that the thought is here, now. Simply noticing thoughts as processes, rather than as events that must be true or false, liberates clients from having to put their life on hold while cognitions are evaluated, accepted, rejected, argued with, or put in some sort of order.

The process of defusion dampens down the impact of thoughts and allows more flexibility in responding to them. For example, a panic disordered person thinking If I get anxious here Ill make a total fool of myself might short-cut the endless problem-solving, discrepancy-reducing mental rigamarole that makes the problem worse by simply thanking his mind for the thought, or by saying the thought again very slowly (a toooooootaaal foooooool of myseeeeeelllllllfff), singing the thought to the tune of a popular song, or saying it in a Donald Duck voice. The ACT defusion techniques all carry the same message: thoughts are just thoughts. Notice them and then do what works, not necessarily what they say.

The second fundamental ACT skill is Acceptance. When patients try to avoid, escape, or control painful feelings, the present becomes the enemy. Now is where and when feeling occurs, but theyre concentrating on the imagined future in which the now will be different. Coming into the present requires psychological acceptance--a voluntary and undefended leap into the multifaceted, multisensory moment. As with any leap, this means abandoning some degree of control. In a physical leap, we leave it to gravity to carry us safely back to earth. In a leap of acceptance, we give over control to the now, allowing our experiences to present themselves in their full breadth and depth.

From Psychotherapy Networker, September/October 2007


Leaders in the Field

The Top Ten: The Most Influential Therapists of the Past Quarter-Century
March/April 2007

Super Shrinks: What’s the Secret of Their Success?
By Scott Miller, Mark Hubble, and Barry Duncan
November/December 2007

The Accidental Therapist: Jay Haley Didn’t Set Out to Transform Psychotherapy
By Mary Sykes Wylie
November/December 2007

Larger than Life: Marianne Walters Was Family Therapy’s Foremost Feminist
By Mary Sykes Wylie
May/June 2006

The Power of Paying Attention: What Jon Kabat Zinn Has Against “Spirituality"
By Richard Simon and Mary Sykes Wylie
November/December 2004

The 8 Minute Cure: Can Watching Dr. Phil Change Your Life?
By Michael Ventura
July/August 2005

The Untold Story: Carol Gilligan on Recapturing the Lost Voice of Pleasure
By Mary Sykes Wylie
November/December 2002

It’s More Complicated Than That: Don’t Smooth Out Life’s Wrinkles Says Salvador Minuchin
By Richard Simon
November/December 1996

Panning for Gold: Michael White Is the Ultimate Prospector
By Mary Sykes Wylie
November/December 1994

 

 

 

Content Search Overview: Therapists, social workers, counselors and others found these articles helpful in learning about the influence of psychotherapy leaders today on therapy practices. People searching for information on the following terms and concepts found these articles helpful:

Leaders in the Field
Supershrinks
Strategic Therapy
Structural Family Therapy
Social Change
Pop Psychology
Media Psychology
Feminism
Top Ten
Most Influential Therapists
Therapeutic Movements
Therapeutic Pioneers
Founders
Empirically Supported Treatments
Research

Sample from: Supershrinks, by Scott Miller, Mark Hubble and Barry Duncan

Should Ericsson's bold and sweeping claims prove difficult to believe, take the example of Michael Jordan, widely regarded as the greatest basketball player of all time. When asked, most would cite natural advantages in height, reach, and leap as key to his success. Notwithstanding, few know that "His Airness" was cut from his high school varsity basketball team! So much for the idea of being born great. It simply doesn't work that way.

The key to superior performance? As absurd as it sounds, the best of the best simply work harder at improving their performance than others do. Jordan, for example, didn't give up when thrown off the team. Instead, his failure drove him to the courts, where he practiced hour after hour. As he put it, "Whenever I was working out and got tired and figured I ought to stop, I'd close my eyes and see that list in the locker room without my name on it, and that usually got me going again."

Such deliberate practice, as Ericsson goes to great lengths to point out, isn't the same as the number of hours spent on the job, but rather the amount of time specifically devoted to reaching for objectives just beyond one's level of proficiency.He chides anyone who believes that experience creates expertise, saying, "Just because you've been walking for 50 years doesn't mean you're getting better at it." Interestingly, he and his group have found that elite performers across many different domains engage in the same amount of such practice, on average, every day, including weekends. In a study of 20-year-old musicians, for example, Ericsson and colleagues found that the top violinists spent 2 times as much time (10,000 hours on average) working to meet specific performance targets as the next best players and 10 times as much time as the average musician.

From Psychotherapy Networker, November/December 2007

 

Sample from: The Power of Paying Attention, by Richard Simon and Mary Sykes Wylie

How was it that Kabat-Zinn was allowed to try a decidedly fringy approach on patients in the absence of any professional credentials in this line of work? Or as he puts it, "How the hell did somebody with no training in clinical medicine or psychology, no credentials, and no license, get to work with medical patients?" He was given carte blanche partly because he was passionate and articulate, and also because his Ph.D. in molecular biology from MIT with a Nobel Laureate dissertation advisor provided an entr´ee in professional circles, even if it didn't have much bearing on his new job.

While the program was a "clinic," in name only when it began, today, it stands proudly housed in its own spacious quarters, with the full staff of directors, instructors, administrators, receptionists, and bureaucratic billing procedures of any self-respecting hospital department. Still, the basic content of the program has hardly deviated from what it was at the beginning. While patients are greeted with open-hearted kindness and authentic presence, they're also asked to commit themselves to full participation in the eight-week program--go to weekly classes, meditate for at least 45 minutes six days a week (using tapes provided), and attend a day-long, silent retreat in the sixth week.

The results patients experienced in the new clinic were almost immediate. One doctor told Kabat-Zinn, "You did more for my patient in eight weeks than I've been able to do in eight years." People with all kinds of medical and emotional conditions reported that they slept better, were more relaxed, and were less anxious. Persistent headaches went away, blood pressure dropped, and pain often decreased. What Kabat-Zinn had done for them was "astounding," they told him, "a miracle." To which, Kabat-Zinn, ever the stern empiricist, constitutionally allergic to both mysticism and hero worship, would reply, "Don't use that language. I didn't do anything for you. You did it yourself. All I did was arrange the conditions and give you enough support and encouragement and tools to do it."

From Psychotherapy Networker, November/December 2004


Ethics

The Ethical Eye: Beyond “Risk Management”
By Ofer Zur
July/August 2007

Can We Talk?: Let’s End the Conspiracy of Silence about Ethical Dilemmas
By Mary Jo Barrett
March/April 2002

To Tell the Truth: Letting Go of Our Inscrutable Facade
By Jay Efran
March/April 2002

Nightmare in Aisle 6: A Therapist Caught in the Act of Being Herself
By Linda Stone Fish
March/April 2002

The Slippery Slope: Violating the Ultimate Therapeutic Taboo
By Susan Rowan
March/April 2002

The Crush: Challenging Our Culture of Avoidance
By Mary Jo Barrett
March/April 2002

The Necklace: When Does a Rule Become a Straitjacket
By Jenny Newsome
March/April 2002

Love, Dr. Lagerfeld: Sometimes It’s Okay to Trust Your Instincts
By Michael Hoyt
March/April 2002

A Triple Boundary Crossing: From Client to Friend to Client
By Arnold Lazarus
March/April 2002

Everybody’s Business: There Are Few Secrets in a Small Town
By Jan Michael Sherman
March/April 2002

 

 

Content Search Overview: Therapists, social workers, counselors and others found these articles helpful in learning more about the importance of ethics in therapy practices. People searching for information on the following terms and concepts found these articles helpful:

Ethics
Dual Relationships
Boundaries
Gifts
Risk Management
Self-Disclosure
Sexual Boundaries
Boundary Crossing
Boundary violation
Confidentiality
HIPPA
Records
Taboos

Sample from: The Ethical Eye, by Ofer Zur

The most frequently uttered words coming from these sources seem to be "don't" and "never." Consider the commandments regularly issued against what these experts consider dangerously risky behaviors. "Don't touch your clients—a handshake is the outer limit!" "Minimize self-disclosure; keep your anonymity intact!" "Never venture outside the office with a client!" "Don't accept gifts from a client!" "Never socialize or share a meal with a client." As Richard Leslie, an attorney specializing in psychotherapy issues and a consultant to the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy, put it in one all-purpose rule, "If you have to ask, don't do it!"

The problem with these blanket condemnations is that many of the forbidden acts may be among the most powerful therapeutic methods at our disposal. We know that touch is one of the most elementary human ways to relate, and can have a powerful reassuring and healing effect. Self-disclosure can help fearful and defensive clients connect with us, and learn from us through modeling—a proven cognitive-behavioral intervention in itself. Sometimes going to the client, rather than making the client come to us, is the only reasonable way of doing therapy: take, for example, the empirically successful home-based family therapies with juvenile offenders, or therapy with a homebound sick or elderly client. A gift may be an important way for a client to express gratitude; refusing it could be deeply offensive and shaming. Sharing a meal with an anorexic client is often part of an effective, system-based treatment plan. "Dual relationships" with clients are often unavoidable and therapeutically helpful for a therapist who works in a small town or rural setting—your children may go to the same school as your clients' children; you may belong to the same church or synagogue. Conscientious, ethical therapists know all this, but even as we necessarily engage in these "forbidden" activities in the interest of being good therapists, we may feel a shudder of apprehension that we're somehow dangerously flouting rules written in stone.

From Psychotherapy Networker, July/August 2007

 

Sample from: The Slippery Slope, by Susan Rowan

Since that day seven years ago, I have been fortunate enough to be allowed to return to practice. I passed a forensic evaluation and my licensing board has reinstated me, under strict conditions that include having a mentor (a specialist in transference and countertransference) to oversee my clinical work. I've undergone prolonged retraining, including an individual ethics tutorial. I've studied the professional literature on ethics violations and have been educated in the need for boundaries. The lawsuit was settled by my insurance carrier and I stopped drinking. As a condition of my license reinstatement, I am required to undergo psychotherapy until my therapist and I feel I don't need to any longer--at least another two or three years.

I realize that some therapists reading this may feel sympathetic toward me--that I tangled naively with the sort of boundary-less client that we're frequently warned against. But the responsibility lies with me. It was my responsibility, not hers, to know my profession's norms and to preserve clinical boundaries. It was my responsibility to understand that power between a client and a therapist is never equal and that a so-called friendship is never appropriate after clinical work. It doesn't matter how provocative, vulnerable or seductive a client is. It is my responsibility not to create pathological dependencies.

From Psychotherapy Networker, March/April 2002


Depression

Finding Daylight: Mindful Recovery from Depression
By Zindel Segal
January/February 2008

Turning “I Can’t” into “I Will”: How to Motivate Depressed Clients
By Margaret Wehrenberg
July/August 2004

Exposing the Mythmakers: How Soft Sell Has Replaced Hard Science
By Barry Duncan, Scott Miller, and Jacqueline Sparks
March/April 2000

A Melancholy of Mine Own: Communicating the Uncommunicable Reality of Depression
By Joshua Wolf Shenk
July/August 2001

The Legacy: Inside a Family Haunted By Depression
By Martha Manning
January/February 1997

Stronger Medicine: Anti-Depresssants Haven’t Made Therapy Obsolete
By Michael Yapko
January/February 1997

 

 

 

Content Search Overview: Therapists, social workers, counselors and others found these articles helpful in treating depression in therapy practices. People searching for information on the following terms and concepts found these articles helpful:

Depression
Antidepressants
Medication
SSRIs
ECT
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Mood Disorders
Prozac
Dysthymic Disorders
Chronic Depression
St. John’s Wort
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
Cognitive Therapy
Insomnia
Postpartum Mood Disorder
Loss
Grief

Sample from: Turning "I Can't" Into "I Will", by Margaret Wehrenberg

Method 4: Don't Listen When Worry Calls Your Name. Colleen feared I'd  think she was crazy when she said, "It's as if my anxiety has a voice. It calls to me, 'Worry now,' even when there's nothing on my mind. Then I have to go looking for what's wrong." And she was very good at finding something wrong to worry about. An executive who had a lot of irons in the fire, she had no shortage of projects that needed her supervision. On any day, she could worry about whether a report had been correct, or projected figures were accurate, or a contract would generate income for her firm. In describing the voice of worry, she was describing that physical, pit-of-the-stomach sense of doom that comes on for no reason, and then compels an explanation for why it's there. This feeling of dread and tension, experienced by most GAD clients, actually comprises a state of low-grade fear, which can also cause other physical symptoms, like headache, temporo-mandibular joint (TMJ) pain, and ulcers.

Few realize that the feeling of dread is just the emotional manifestation of physical tension. This "Don't Listen" method decreases this tension by combining a decision to ignore the voice of worry with a cue for the relaxation state. Early in treatment, GAD clients learn progressive muscle relaxation to get relief. I always teach them how to cue up relaxation several times throughout the day by drawing a breath and remembering how they feel at the end of the relaxation exercise. We usually pair that deeply relaxed state with a color, image, and word to strengthen associations with muscle relaxation and make it easier to cue the sensation at will.

We then use that ability to relax to counteract the voice of worry. Clients must first learn that worry is a habit with a neurobiological underpinning. Even when a person isn't particularly worried about anything, an anxiety-prone brain can create a sense of doom, which then causes hypervigilance as the person tries to figure out what's wrong. Colleen smiled with recognition when I said that, when she was in this state, it was as though her brain had gone into radar mode, scanning her horizons for problems to defend against. I asked her to pay attention to the order of events, and she quickly recognized that the dread occurred before she consciously had a worry. "But," she announced, "I always find something that could be causing the doom, so I guess I had a good reason to worry without realizing it."

From Psychotherapy Networker, July/August 2004

 

Sample from: Stronger Medicine, by Michael Yapko

What is it about psychotherapy that makes it so vital to treatment, that gives depressed clients something they cannot obtain from medications? People become and stay depressed partly because they tend to explain life's ordinary defeats and disappointments in terms of their personal inadequacies and failures, and then believe their own negative opinion of themselves. Others have deeply pessimistic worldviews that influence their mood states and tend to engender self-fulfilling prophecies. A healing relationship with a therapist can provide the kind of personal support and teaching that can clear up the misperceptions that contribute to the negativistic view of life typical of depressed people. Therapy can help clients see life events from different perspectives and reattribute experience by assigning alternative explanations for life events that are less damaging to themselves than the typical depressive worldview. The ability to see and interpret events from new perspectives is critical to mental health.

As we become increasingly a nation of wanderers, our lack of steady and sustained social connections and consequent lack of competence in relationship skills provokes even higher rates of depression. Our ethos of extreme individuality and personal rights over collective responsibility and social accommodation increases the likelihood that we will be lonely and depressed, without the deep ties to family and friends that can immunize us against alienation and despair. But there is no disease here, just a way of responding to life that is proving ever more toxic to our individual and collective psyches.

As therapists, what can we do in the face of this rising tide of depression, which deeply implicates not the faulty biology of millions of people but the depressing nature of our civilization? And how can we counter the myth of pharmaceutical omnipotence that undermines our own confidence in therapy and our appreciation for its irreplaceable role? We must be aware that therapy works with depressed people because it draws on the clinical skills and adaptability required to understand a complex disorder skills no pill can mimic. Therapists also need to emphasize active, solution-oriented treatments over pathology-based passive ones. Rather than search the dim past for causes of presumed deficits, we need to actively teach clients the specific skills they need to manage their feelings and develop what author Daniel Goleman calls their "emotional intelligence."

From Psychotherapy Networker, January/February 1997


Creativity

The Big Moment: Inspiration Vs. Perspiration in the Therapy Room
By David Waters
November/December 2005

The Art of the Therapeutic Conversation
By Jay Efran and Mitchell Greene
November/December 2005

The Poetics of Progress Notes: Using Your Imagination with Tough Cases
By Brad Sachs
November/December 2005

Rediscovering the Mystery: For John O’Donohue, Therapy Is a Journey into the Unknown Self
By Mary Sykes Wylie
November/December 2005

The Practices of Transformation: With Ben and Roz Zander, Breakthroughs Are the Norm
By Richard Simon
January/February 2002

Beauty Resurrected: Awakening Wonder in the Consulting Room
By Michael Ventura
January/February 2001

 

 

 

Content Search Overview: Therapists, social workers, counselors and others found these articles helpful in using creativity in therapy practices. People searching for information on the following terms and concepts found these articles helpful:

Therapeutic Creativity
Transformation
Breakthrough
Inspiration
Insight
Improvisation
Problem-Solving
Use of Self
Mindfulness

Sample from: The Poetics of Progress Notes, by Brad Sachs

Reading the poem inspired by my session with Wendy crystallized for me how dutiful she was. She was essentially raising her two children as a single mother while tending to her adolescent-acting husband. She volunteered at the children's school and was team manager for her girls' lacrosse teams. She also regularly fielded her mother's calls for medical advice and made herself available to drive her to appointments, even though they lived almost an hour apart.

Perhaps, it occurred to me, her responsibilities were so oppressive that they were oppressing me, prompting me to avoid attending to her by allowing my own attention to roam. My reverie may have been serving the same purpose for me that her drinking did for her--allowing for a momentary break from a suffocating reality. After this insight, I was able to rouse myself from my previous torpor and focus on our sessions with more clarity. I helped Wendy begin to examine her ambivalence about setting limits with her children, her husband, and her mother. I encouraged her to start looking for ways to nourish and gratify herself that didn't rely entirely on meeting others' needs.

Thinking more about her own needs, she joined a senior swim team, and insisted that her husband be home the two evenings a week she practiced to supervise the girls' homework and nighttime routine, which, to her surprise, he agreed to do. She made some calls to a senior-support services center in her mom's neighborhood, and found that they offered free transportation for local seniors' medical appointments, which unburdened her as well. She also began attending Al-Anon meetings.

From Psychotherapy Networker, November/December 2005

 

Sample from: Beauty Resurrected, by Michael Ventura

The illness had stripped me down to the core of my being, which, like the core of anyone's being, feels itself most intensely when at the meeting-point of life and death.

And the window--the window!--had poured beauty into me at just that terribly vulnerable moment. And everything changed; or, to put it more accurately and less dramatically, many disparate and not-yet-coherent elements in me coalesced and found their focus.

Many walk into the therapist's consulting room exactly at the moment, and because of the moment, that they have been stripped to the core of their being. While not at the physical meeting-point of life and death, they are often at its emotional and spiritual equivalent. One element they seek and are desperate for, one element they usually feel they've lost, is beauty; they present a situation that's cut them off from experiencing beauty. They may not articulate it that way, but that's what's going on. Yet, beauty has not still been sufficiently recognized as both a healing balm and a necessity--something without which we may die, and through which we may live.

From Psychotherapy Networker, January/February 2001


Couples

The Art and Science of Love: Bringing Empirical Rigor to the Intuitive World of Couples Therapy
By Katy Butler
September/October 2006

Are You There for Me?: Understanding the Foundations of Couples Conflict
By Susan Johnson
September/October 2006

When Three Threatens Two: Must Parenthood Bring Down the Curtain on Romance?
By Esther Perel
September/October 2006

Scoreboard for Couples Therapy: Which Are the Winners in the Latest Research
By Jay Lebow
September/October 2006

Bad Couples Therapy: Getting Past the Myth of Therapist Neutrality
By William Doherty
November/December 2002

It Takes One to Tango: You Don’t Need Both Partners to Do Couples Therapy
By Michele Weiner-Davis
September/October 1998

 

 

 

Content Search Overview: Therapists, social workers, counselors and others found these articles helpful in learning more about helping couples in therapy practices. People searching for information on the following terms and concepts found these articles helpful:

Couples
Marriage Counseling
Couples Therapy
Couples Counseling
Infidelity
Affairs
Divorce
Couples Conflict
Conflict Resolution
Couples Research
Imago Relationship Therapy
Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy
Attachment Theory

Sample from: Are You There For Me? by Susan Johnson

With one couple, for example, every time the man--who completely avoided his wife and wouldn't sleep with her--tried, in a kind of embarrassed mumble, to justify himself, she'd respond, "That's ridiculous! You're just so incompetent!" After slowly helping them uncover and experience the emotions beneath their interaction, however, I noticed that he began to talk about his feelings in a different way--more openly, straightforwardly, without his usual awkward embarrassment. For the first time, he was really able to look at her, and say that it wasn't that he didn't care about her, but that he was so afraid of her rejection that he felt paralyzed. Again she responded "That's ridiculous," but her voice was softer, and as he repeated his message, she began to look at him with puzzlement--seeing something that had been invisible before. "I never knew you were afraid," she continued softly, looking him full in the face.

The look she had at that moment I now know well. I call it the "dog and recorder" look. It's named after the cocked-head and deeply nonplussed look my dog sported the first time he heard a human voice come out of a recording machine. Its best translated as: "What new thing under the sun is this?" I knew by that look that my dismissing client had begun to see her husband differently. It was moments like these, in which primary emotions were spoken clearly and pulled out new responses from a spouse, that seemed to make the difference in my sessions. What was going on here? I wondered.

Once when I was still pondering these issues, I went to a conference and got into an after-hours bar conversation with an eminent researcher in the field, who argued that getting and staying married was like entering and sticking to a bargain. I disagreed, saying, "The only time marriages are like a bargain is when the relationship is already as good as dead and all hope of intimacy is gone." Then I heard myself adding, almost without conscious thought, "Marriages aren't bargains. They're emotional bonds."

At that moment, it felt as if a door had suddenly opened in my mind and I could begin to truly see what was happening with my couples. I realized what should have been the most obvious truth of all: marriages were primarily about the emotional responsiveness that we call love; about fundamental human attachment. These bonds reflected deep primal survival needs for secure, intimate connection to irreplaceable others. These needs went from the cradle to the grave. How had we ever decided that adults were somehow self-sufficient?

From Psychotherapy Networker, September/October 2006

 

Sample from: Bad Couples Therapy, by William Doherty

In one of the early sessions, the therapist, who was highly experienced in couples work, empathized with the wife's feeling caught between the needs of her husband and those of her children, and supported the wife's decision to prioritize the children. The therapist explained that these years of raising school-age children are ones in which the children's time demands are huge, and the marital relationship inevitably has to take a back seat. She said that, as a wife and mother, she herself knew about these demands, which ease when children get older. In other words, the therapist normalized the marital gap in terms of the family life cycle, recognizing especially the unique strain on a wife who couldn't meet everyone's needs. The wife burst into tears at feeling so deeply understood and accepted. The therapist then turned to the husband and gently asked him for his feelings and thoughts as he'd followed the conversation and seen his wife's pain and tears. The husband, a "good guy," who didn't like conflict, owned that he'd been selfish and pledged to back off on his demands for more time with his wife, promising he'd be more understanding in the future.

The session ended with a warm glow. The couple agreed to continue working on other issues that had brought them to therapy. The therapist was pleased at how she'd been able to combine her clinical skills and her own experience as a wife and mother to help this couple. A few days later, the husband called to end the therapy, saying tersely that they'd decided to continue to work on things by themselves.

The therapist was stunned and consulted with me. I helped her see that she'd missed that there were two distinct family developmental stages at work in this case. Yes, the parent-child development stage was one of intense time demands (leaving aside for the moment the overscheduling supported by the wider culture), but the marital-developmental stage had its own pacing needs: a puppy marriage needs time for play and nurturing. To put aside their new marriage for years on end is dangerous. Of course, it's dangerous even in long-term relationships, but at least there may be a strong foundation and memories of good years. The husband was appropriately worried about the viability of a neglected new marriage. What struck me was how even a skilled, experienced couples therapist had misunderstood the special needs of a remarried couple.

From Psychotherapy Networker, November/December 2002


Children

See How They Run: When Did Childhood Turn into a Rat Race?
By William Doherty
September/October 2003

Beloved Stranger: Temperament and the Elusive Concept of Normality
By Alice Shannon
May/June 2005

The Rise of the ADHD Diagnosis
By Lawrence Diller
January/February 2008

The Worry Hill: A Child-Friendly Approach to OCD
By Aureen Pinto Wagner
May/June 2008

The Healing Power of Play: Helping the Traumatized Child Find Safety Again
By David Crenshaw
September/October 2008

The Impossible Child: A New Treatment Offers Hope for the Undiagnosable
By Karen Smith
September/October 2000

 

 

 

Content Search Overview: Therapists, social workers, counselors and others found these articles helpful in learning more about working with children and teens in therapy practices. People searching for information on the following terms and concepts found these articles helpful:

Children/Adolescents
Anxiety
Depression
Eating Disorders
Trauma
Parenting
Limit Setting
Boundaries
Time-Out
School Problems
ADHD
OCD
Learning Disorders
Oppositional Behavior
Conduct Disorders
Teenage Suicide
Self Injury
Play Therapy
Cognitive Therapy
Medication
Ritalin
Sensory Integration Disorders
Overscheduling

Sample from: The Worry Hill, by Aureen Pinto Wagner

To alleviate blame and shame and build an alliance with the family, I then discussed the current understanding of OCD as a neurobehavioral disorder. "Having OCD isn't your fault. It's not your parents' fault either. It's like having allergies or asthma—it happens to you because you're more sensitive to it. Sometimes there are other people in your family who are also sensitive and have OCD. OCD isn't something you do on purpose to get attention or because you're lazy. Sometimes your parents or your teachers or friends may think that you're just being stubborn or annoying. It's hard for them to understand that you don't want to do it, but you don't know how to stop." Maria glanced at her parents with a "See, I told you!" look, as her mother tearfully acknowledged having had such reactions.

Communication is key. Most children and families aren't aware that the body is designed to habituate naturally to anxiety. I developed the Worry Hill metaphor to make CBT more child-friendly and prepare children for treatment, by helping them understand how exposure leads to habituation. It's a drawing of a bell-shaped curve that graphically illustrates how anxiety rises with exposure until it reaches a peak, and then, if the child persists in resisting the urge to employ the usual anxiety-avoidance tactics, automatically begins to decline.

In our second session the next week, I explained to Maria and her parents, "Learning how to stop OCD is like riding your bicycle up and down a hill. At first, facing your fears and not doing your rituals feels like riding up a big Worry Hill, because it's tough. You have to work hard to huff and puff up a hill, but if you keep going, you can get to the top. Once you get to the top, it's easy and fun to coast down the hill.

From Psychotherapy Networker, May/June 2008

 

Sample from: The Healing Power of Play, by David Crenshaw

In the fourth session, we continued with these playful activities—dropping in and springing out of the water—repeated many times with the jungle animals, farm animals, dogs, and the figures of adults and children. All of them were jumping into and out of the water, obviously having a good time. Bobby's parents' active participation in the play therapy intervention was crucial because they, too, were "shell-shocked" by this horrific experience of almost losing their son, their only child, and had no idea how to help him. Engaging in the play activities with Bobby was empowering for them and for him.

A clear indication that Bobby was healing was his increasing ability to play again, both in the session and at home. He entered the play in each subsequent session with more gusto, even at times with screams of delight. This was particularly significant because the trauma event occurred while Bobby was running around in the backyard playing. Meanwhile, at home, he was recovering his language ability, was less fretful, and usually slept through the night, much to his parents' relief.

But there was one more major step left to accomplish: we needed to "bracket" the event for Bobby—make it clear that what he'd experienced was extremely unlikely to occur again. Even adult trauma survivors often find their assumptions of safety in the world so shattered that they need help placing traumatic events in a meaningful context, so they can realize emotionally that the trauma will not endlessly recur. Children have less ability to put traumatic events into perspective and understand that what happened was a rare, improbable event that won't need to be confronted over and over again. This bracketing of the trauma event was a challenge with a child as young as Bobby.

From Psychotherapy Networker, September/October 2008


Challenging Cases

Revolution on the Horizon: DBT Challenges the Borderline Diagnosis
By Katy Butler
May/June 2001

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Turning Ambivalence into Possibility
By Bill O’Hanlon
January/February 2003

The Pragmatics of Hope: What to Do When All Seems Lost
By Yvonne Dolan
January/February 2003

My Most Spectacular Failure: Voluntary Simplicity Meets Shop Til You Drop
By Mary Pipher
November/December 2000

A Matter of Life and Death: When the Therapist Becomes the Survivor
By Frank Pittman
November/December 2000

How Involved Is Too Involved?: Twenty-two Years and Still Wondering
By David Treadway
November/December 2000

 

 

 

Content Search Overview: Therapists, social workers, counselors and others found these articles helpful when faced with challenging therapy cases. People searching for information on the following terms and concepts found these articles helpful:

Challenging Cases
Borderlines
Suicide
Self-Harm
Hospitalization
Dual Diagnosis
Depression
Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Sample from: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly, by Bill O'Hanlon

Abel's response to this approach--that it made him feel he couldn't do anything wrong--crystallized something for me. Here was a way to break up unconscious logjams; permissions enabled clients to experience two seemingly contradictory states simultaneously. The structure of hypnotic language freed people from the tyranny of having to choose, and choose correctly, what to feel and how to proceed. I began to appreciate the extraordinary power of permission, with or without hypnosis, particularly with my most challenging cases.

So I began focusing on how to most productively include the good, the bad, the ugly, and the in-between of my clients' experience to help them expand their sense of possibilities in life. But this was the mid-1980s, the height of the popularity of various forms of solution-based therapy, and people would sometimes come up to me at my workshops and say, "I really like your positive approach," thinking they were complimenting me, in spite of the fact that I wasn't particularly interested in accentuating the positive.

From Psychotherapy Networker, January/February 2003

 

Sample from: A Matter of Life and Death, by Frank Pittman

I was stunned. It was not just a personal loss (I wanted to save this guy); it was not just a blow to my grandiosity (I kept telling myself in my newfound humility, this sort of thing doesn't happen to therapists who work as hard and care as much as I). I was sad over the loss of what Adam could, with time and effort, have become. His suicide was a dumb and preventable waste. His children were devastated. Angela felt many things, among them relief: when the abuse started the year before, a well-intentioned counselor had warned her that violent men never change. She had been fearful that she could not get herself and the kids out of the marriage alive.

I had been trying so hard to respect Angela's need to empower herself and feel in control of her life and the marriage, I had been non-directive and neutral with her, so much so that she didn't fathom that I had hopes not only for Adam, but for the marriage. I certainly foresaw a different outcome than this.

From Psychotherapy Networker, November/December 2000


The Business of Therapy

Harnessing the Winds of Change: It’s Time to Reinvent Private Practice
By Lynn Grodzki
July/August 2007

How to Develop a Money Mindset: Investing for Success in Your Practice
By Joe Bavonese
July/August 2007

Beyond Technophobia: Using the Internet to Grow Your Practice
By Casey Truffo
July/August 2007

Our Businesses, Our Selves: Learning to Love the Entrepreneurial Side of Therapy
By Lynn Godzki
July/August 2003

Psychotherapy’s Soothsayer: Nick Cummings Foretells Your Future
By Richard Simon
July/August 2001

The Future of Psychotherapy: Beware the Siren Call of Integrated Care
By Barry Duncan
July/August 2001

The Bottom Line: A Fee Policy Can Clarify the Therapeutic Relationship
By Lynne Stevens
November/December 1998

 

 

 

Content Search Overview: Therapists, social workers, counselors and others found these articles helpful in learning more about the business aspects of therapy practices. People searching for information on the following terms and concepts found these articles helpful:

Private Practice
Referrals
Marketing
Billing
Networking
Insurance
Managed Care
Money
Internet
Website
Utilization Review

Sample from: How To Develop A Money Mindset, by Joe Bavonese

I spend a lot of time during breaks informally talking with a funny, balding, fiftyish man named George, a high school dropout who's a chimney sweep in Washington, D.C. Sheepishly, I admit to him that my only association to chimney sweeps is Mary Poppins. But when he tells me he has six centers and an annual income of $2 million, I drop my prejudice against blue collar work and suddenly develop enormous respect for chimney sweeps. George asks me how I'm funding my practice and I tell him it's been profitable from day one, and that's how I've managed growth. He looks at me incredulously. "What? You can't possibly get where you say you want to go without funding!" I think of where I want to go—middle-class security for my family of five—and feel a lot less smug. It becomes obvious that in comparison to most small-business owners, we therapists are incredibly risk averse and well, cheap.

George urges me to get a "small" $100,000 business loan to fund a major expansion of my marketing efforts and hire additional staff. The thought of huge loan payments every month fills me with dread, and, seeing my expression, he laughs out loud, yelling above the din, "Hey Doc! Who's the psycho, you or me?"

From Psychotherapy Networker, July/August 2007

 

Sample from: Beyond Technophobia, by Casey Truffo

From grade-school students to my 80-year-old dad, everyone is searching the web these days. It's estimated that there are 500 million Google searches every day. More and more consumers are using the Internet to find products, services, and service providers. They're searching the web for counselors too. Yahoo gets about 150,000 search requests each month for marriage counseling. Judy Gifford, CEO of Find-a-Therapist.com, an online therapist locator helping the public find counselors in their area, reports that her website had 4.5 million hits last year. I predict that, in the coming decade, online searches will be the primary way therapists attract clients.

When I explained this to Marla, she said "Technology! I don't know anything about computers and the Internet! My kids do, but I don't."

This is a common reaction. As therapists, we're comfortable in face-to-face interactions, and we've spent a lot of time mastering therapeutic theories and techniques. But our anxiety rises—if we don't go into full-blown panic mode—when we think of plunging into the world of electronic interactions. The idea is especially daunting for seasoned therapists, who've never had to market their practice before. I explained to Marla that she didn't have to learn everything in a day, and that some of it might be easier—and maybe even more fun—than she thought possible.

From Psychotherapy Networker, July/August 2007

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