Navigating Modern Relationships with Attachment Science

Susan Johnson, the inventor of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFCT), bases her work on the fundamental understanding that teaching communication skills to couples in conflict is like trying to teach the whirlwind how to blow more gently. That’s why EFCT is based on the new science of bonding, clarifying people’s attachment needs and helping them understand how they trigger each other’s deepest fears, then helping them move into interactions where they can more safely bond with each other.

Creative Therapy with the Humor Antidote

When clients are deeply stuck, they have lost all sense of perspective, all capacity to see any possible humor or lightness in their problem or in their lives. Emotionally and cognitively, they’re trapped in their own sad story. In these cases, the approach that I’ve found most useful is a kind of soft shock therapy in the form of a humorous paradoxical directive. Playful, humorous strategies can be like therapeutic life preservers, which keep both therapist and client afloat until both can get back to shore. Humor reboots the emotions and enables us to look at our situation with fresh eyes.

Exploring Hidden Anxiety with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

When I first began my career in CBT, it seemed to work a lot better than medications and talk therapy, and clients liked it. Sometimes, the results were fast and spectacular. But something was missing. It seemed obvious that negative thoughts triggered anxiety, but what caused the negative thoughts? What was it inside a person that made him or her so vulnerable to intense anxiety and insecurity? Then one day, one of my patients got me to thinking about anxiety in an entirely new way.

Three Tips for Boosting Your Clinical Wisdom

Within the older traditions originally inspired by psychoanalysis, self-knowledge had a place of honor in both treatment and training that it no longer occupies. The question our field faces at this point is whether this older tradition that revered clinical wisdom is still relevant. Here are some of the characteristics of wisdom identified by both researchers and therapists alike.

The Healing Potential of Childhood Memories

August_RopeSwing_700x400[1]Helping clients directly taste the kind of spontaneity, freedom, and untethered happiness that’s often left behind in early childhood, while not in itself offering an instant cure, can become a powerful beacon illuminating the path toward healing. As a result, I’ve developed ways of helping clients access intense memories of positive childhood experiences that can jump-start the therapy process.


Solutions for Moving Beyond the Therapeutic Impasse

700-00044903 © Allan Davey Model Release: Yes Property Release: No Model Release Business People Rolling Boulder Up HillWhen clients get immersed in their problems, they often suffer from a kind of tunnel vision, focused on a small range of experiences, with their bad feelings taking center stage. When therapy goes wrong, it’s typically because we’ve entered our clients’ trances with them, joining them in their myopic misery. Once caught in such a trance, we need to break the spell, broaden our vision, and open ourselves to new possibilities. Here are three ways to do it.

Understanding the Brain Science Behind Addiction and Habit

Wehrenberg_OpenerThe labels we use to describe clients’ behaviors have important therapeutic implications. Sometimes using the word addiction and explaining its neurological basis can help clients focus on the consequences of their behavior and carefully plan how to change their self-destructive patterns. But how do we parse the tenuous line between addiction and habit? First, we must recognize that habit is part of addiction.


Mind-Mapping: The Spark in Couples Conflict?

Rather than being triggered by fear, shame, or insecurity, some people do hurtful things with impunity and entitlement to gratify their own needs and wishes. In marriage, they’re engaging in the form of relationship with which they’re most familiar, one that, in fact, they prefer. The key to grasping the roots of this “inner game” is to understand the brain’s ability to map another person’s mind—what I call “mind-mapping. Marriage is inconceivable without some degree of mind-mapping: you need it to understand wants and desires. Of course, it comes in handy if you want to be a good liar, manipulator, or adulterer.

How to Prepare for Insurance Company Treatment Reviews

While treatment review has always been a part of insurance reimbursement, therapists in the last few years have reported an increase in such phone calls from insurance companies. But what’s the health plan looking for when reviewing for medical necessity? What does the language of medical necessity sound like, and how can you learn to speak it fluently? Here are a few tips.

What Mindfulness Can Learn from Hypnosis

If you talk to mindfulness practitioners about the similarities between guided mindfulness meditation and hypnosis, they tend to react with various degrees of indignation, if not downright revulsion. But a closer look at the processes, goals, and outcomes of both mindfulness and hypnotism reveals that they share fundamental similarities of purpose and practical knowledge. Both mindfulness and clinical hypnosis use suggestive methods to elicit beneficial, nonvoluntary responses.

Using Play in Therapy to Solve Emotional Problems

How many times have you surprised yourself by jumping at the scary part of a movie? It isn’t enough to be a kind, supportive guide on clients’ journeys. We have to be a provocative guide, creating experiences that trigger their curiosity and desire to know more. Human behavior and motivation are driven mostly by the emotional brain—the brain centers that mediate “primitive” emotions and instincts and respond to sensory-rich experiences, not intellectual insights.

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