VIDEO: Getting Through to Inner City Youth

In its coverage of Ferguson and Baltimore, the media fixed on lurid images of violence and destruction without providing much context for understanding the conditions of daily life that could possibly spark such explosive rage. As someone who’s spent much of his career working with traumatized kids whose lives have been shaped by poverty and violence, psychologist Ken Hardy understands what fuels that rage. In this video, psychologist Ken shares how to connect with these kids in a way that validates their experience.

Psychotherapy and the Issue of Race

qweqOver the past year, we’ve all watched the racially charged demonstrations erupt in cities across the country, often without grasping the raw underlying emotions that spark them in the first place. As a therapist with over 40 years of experience working with inner-city youth, psychologist Ken Hardy has devoted himself to listening to the untold stories that underlie these eruptions of violence and destruction. In the following excerpt from his article, “The View from Black America,” Ken takes a penetrating look at what it means to grow up black in America today. As part of this special blog, we’re offering you access to Ken’s powerful article. Please join this conversation about race in America and let us know what you think our field should be adding to it.

Blending Psychotherapy and Community Activism

tn_1200_9436f460d26c457dd1145be513691dd0.jpgWho has time to change the world when we already have our hands full trying to make a living and get through the obstacle course of a normal work week? It’s not impossible. I now spend several months each year working in remote regions of Nepal, helping lower-caste girls, who are at the greatest risk of being forced into early marriage or trafficked into sex slavery, by making it possible for them to attend school. It’s when I’m here that I feel most alive, and at least for the few months after I return, I feel a new clarity and focus about what’s most important.

VIDEO: What Stops Us From Changing The World?

Mary Pipher on Individual Action, Meaningful Change, and Hope. As the world’s leaders prepare to gather in Paris for the UN Conference on Climate Change, there is an uptick in news about coral reefs and polar bears stranded on ice …

The Secret Ingredients for Effective Therapy in Inner-City Communities

high-school-cafeteria_mainWhen you do therapy in poor, underserved, inner-city communities, it’s important to be aware of the message your program communicates. For example, we never underestimate how important it is for people in the community to see our the environment at Northside Center for Child Development—a community-based agency in Harlem that’s provided outpatient mental health and educational services to children and families for 70 years—as a place that’s well cared for, inviting, and reflective of their culture. Regardless of training, the most important thing our therapists bring to the table is the strong belief that clients can get better, despite life circumstances.

The Secret to Helping Agitated Couples Reel in Emotional Arousal

39045-Long-HugWhen clients are emotionally worked up, caught in fight-flight-freeze mode, all their hard-earned skills in empathic listening and responsible (and responsive) speaking go out the window. Nothing therapeutic is going to happen until they feel calm enough and safe enough to reengage with each other. But by teaching behavior that helps clients’ brains release oxytocin, a naturally occurring hormone which stimulates feelings of bonding and trust, and reduces fear and anxiety, we can create potent catalysts of psycho-physiological change.

Confronting Western Definitions of Sexuality and Intimacy

4488-feet-in-bedToday, sexuality still seems to be a territory as private and filled with fear as ever it was. We haven’t advanced far in our ability to talk of our own sexuality one with another. Part of what makes sexuality scary is that it’s a realm all its own: one in which the rational and the measured are overwhelmed and subsumed. It’s where we meet ourselves most directly, without filters, without verbiage, and, if we go far enough, without fixed roles. It’s where we meet ourselves with and through the Other, a partner as fluid we are.

Helping Therapy Clients Cope with the Reality of Death

Love and Loss (Angled)For 17 years, managing responses to death has become part of my work, whether originally my intention or not. I’ve aspired to helping families hang tough through medical crisis, but now spend some of my time hanging crepe. I’ve now accepted the variety of ways people react to their dying. All of these ways of facing death are utterly ordinary and human. Throughout it all, I’ve learned that as difficult and awkward as confronting death can be, this work also gives me a richer sense of my client, the cast of characters in their world, and the drama of their life.

VIDEO: When Is It Infidelity?

Tammy Nelson on the one thing that all forms of cheating have in common We’re only friends. It’s no big deal—just something I found online.  If you work with couples, you’ve probably heard one partner minimize activities outside of the …

Challenging the Stereotype of the Paralyzed Trauma Victim

RecoveryIn Jim Rendon’s new book, Upside: The New Science of Post-Traumatic Growth, he challenges an all-too-common stereotype: that most trauma survivors remain forever stuck in place, embittered, broken in core ways. As psychotherapists know, the emotional (and sometimes physical) damage may sometimes be so vast and entrenched that repair comes slowly, if at all. But as therapists also know, this isn’t always the case. Many trauma victims have managed to make life go on—and even thrive.

Therapy’s Strategies for Curing Our Culture of Insomnia

FWEQM50FVKOLJKC.MEDIUMTraditionally, sleep and darkness have had positive connotations. Yet many of us don’t go gently into the night: we knock ourselves out with alcohol, sleeping pills, or sheer exhaustion. Our widespread fear of and disregard for darkness—both literal and figurative—may be the most critical, overlooked factor in the contemporary epidemic of sleep disorders. We suffer today from serious complications of a kind of psychological “nightblindness”: a far-reaching failure to understand the significance of night and darkness to our health and well-being.

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