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VIDEO: How to Think Scientifically about Medications

Why Having a Hypothesis Works for the Non-Medical Therapist

Despite the increasing popularity of psychiatric meds as the go-to remedy for everything from seasonal depression to social anxiety, drugs are often not the best treatment alternative. In the following video clip, Steven Dubovsky, MD, explains why therapists should create a hypothesis about what might be causing a client’s suffering and investigate it thoroughly before deciding to recommend medication.

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How to Get Clients to Do Their Homework

Step 1: Don't Call It "Homework"

By Bill O'Hanlon - The best way to ensure clients' cooperation is to make the assignments relevant for them. Task assignments are designed to bring about changes in the presenting problem. We try to make sure they are relevant to clients by having a mutually agreed upon definition of the problem being addressed and then collaboratively designing tasks that relate to it. In fact, when the tasks derive from a collaborative relationship, they often don't feel like tasks at all.

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When Male Partners Won't Open Up

Helping Closed-Off Men See Vulnerability as a Path to Healthier Relationships

By George Faller - Many of our clients, especially men, believe in the traditional definition of vulnerability: a state of weakness that leads to being open to attack. But vulnerability is the language of emotionally connected beings, and like a powerful magnet, pain, doubt, fear, mistrust, and other vulnerable states bring forth new opportunities for deep intimacy and transformation, especially in work with couples.

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Three Myths About Old Age

...And What We Can Learn from Our Older Peers About Aging Successfully

By Jay Lebow - By examining how older members of our society actually live and looking at what we can learn from people who age successfully, one study shifts the focus away from the deficits experienced in aging to the factors that permit individuals to function effectively, both physically and mentally, well into old age.

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Got "Flow"?

Six Self-Hypnosis Guidelines to Create Lasting Change in Yourself

By Douglas Flemons - Got flow? As a psychotherapist specializing in hypnosis, I work at times with elite performers—people who've spent long years learning and honing a skill that they can carry out with precision and grace. Except when they can't. Except when, with their mind and body out of sync, they lose concentration, coordination, and confidence.

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Couples Therapy with One Partner: Can It Work?

Creating the Beginnings of a "Solution Avalanche"

By Michele Weiner-Davis - How is it possible to do couples therapy with just one partner? We clinicians communicate our presuppositions about people and how they change when we do our work. If we begin therapy with a "this is better than nothing" attitude, we undoubtedly broadcast a pessimistic message about the possibilities for change.

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VIDEO: Why Anticipating Relapse Is Our Best Defense Against It

How to Mobilize the Client’s Support System

It’s always cause for celebration when depressed clients nears the finish line of treatment, feeling energized, empowered, and more content with their life. But it’s one thing to get people back on their feet from a depressive episode; it’s another to prevent recurrences down the road.

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Breaking Through Therapeutic Gridlock

How to Respond When Clients Resist Your Advice

By Jay Lappin - As therapists, we need to be open to feedback, even criticism, as a means of deepening the therapeutic relationship. Establishing trust by moving beyond the reflex action of offering a solution and creating a context in which the possibility for transformation is greater than the pull of old patterns is hard work both for clients and for therapists.

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The Tony Robbins Experience

What’s the Takeaway for Therapists?

By Marian Sandmaier - Tony Robbins, who will give a special session at the 41st annual Networker Symposium in March, is a pop psychology phenom. Over the last four decades, his work in the area of emotional growth and healing has influenced millions of people. But can therapists learn anything useful from him?

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What Talking About Fantasy Can Do for Couples Therapy

...And Four Questions to Get the Conversation Started

By Tammy Nelson - Sexual boredom often results from the assumption by each partner that there's no longer anything new to discover about the other, or about their sex life together. I've found that a therapist can alleviate such sexual ennui by helping each partner reveal previously undisclosed erotic fantasies. This apparently simple step can lead to new ways of seeing and experiencing the partner and the self.

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The Silver Lining in Failure

Not Every Teachable Moment Has to Be a Successful One

By Cloe Madanes - The problem with a failure is that one doesn't really understand why one failed. If one did, it wouldn't have been a failure. But I'm not giving up on my toughest client, Bob. There's one strategy I still haven't used.

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VIDEO: What's the Difference Between Brain and Mind? Dan Siegel Explains

The Distinctions between Neuroscience and Psychotherapy

With all the buzz about brain science, is it possible to lose sight of the mind? Dan Siegel, a pioneer in the applications of brain science to psychotherapy, says that the mind is much bigger than the brain. In the following video clip, he explains what this means for psychotherapy.

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A Special Daughter's Special Night

A Personal Essay from our Family Matters Department

By Richard Holloway - My daughter is beautiful: she has long, flowing, blonde hair, blue eyes, elegant features, and stands about 5’ 10” tall. She’s now 18, a senior, and this June will be her graduation. It’s a prospect I greet with mixed emotions. She’s autistic and has difficulty with everyday interactions and expressing herself coherently. So in the winter of her junior year, even though the prom was just around the corner, we never imagined she’d go. (A personal essay from our Family Matters department)

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How Neurofeedback Works

Pioneer Sebern Fisher Explains Why It's the Perfect Complement to Clinical Practice

By Ryan Howes - Since it was developed almost 60 years ago, neurofeedback has been used as a way to help clients change their brainwave frequency as a way to reduce symptoms ranging from anxiety, phobias, and depression to personality disorders and PTSD. In the following interview, psychotherapist Sebern Fisher, a neurofeedback pioneer, shares her approach and describes its promise for the future.

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Could You Connect with This Client?

A Guide to Doing Couples Therapy When One Partner Won't Open Up

By Kathryn Rheem - Probably no aspect of couples work is more critical, or more difficult, for therapists than engaging a distant, emotionally shutdown partner. Since the feelings being avoided are often regarded as terrifying, humiliating, and deeply threatening, doing this work is a delicate therapeutic balancing act. It requires moving forward with both gentleness and persistence, without being deflected by clients’ profound unwillingness to become engaged.

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High Lonesome

Braving the Quest for True Belonging

By Brené Brown - High lonesome is a type of music in the bluegrass tradition that captures the mood of isolation many people feel today, as we turn away from one another and toward blame and rage. Our challenge as a nation is to reclaim human connection and true belonging even as, more and more, we sort ourselves into antagonistic tribes. But to do that, we’ll need to choose courage over comfort.

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Searching for a Language for Depression

The Vocabulary of Diagnosis Isn't Telling Our Stories

By Joshua Wolf Shenk - Each year, seventeen million Americans and one hundred million people worldwide experience clinical depression. What does this mean, exactly? Too many of us take comfort in language that raises the fewest questions, provokes the least fear of the unknown. When we funnel a sea of human experience into the linguistic equivalent of a laboratory beaker, we choke the long streams of breath needed to tell of a life in whole.

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VIDEO: Peter Kramer on Antidepressants and Your Practice

Today's Medications Are Leagues Above Their Predecessors

We've all heard of the undesirable side effects of certain medications that are used therapeutically. But according to psychiatrist Peter Kramer, author of the renowned Listening to Prozac, many of today's antidepressants not only have fewer side effects, but give psychotherapists more flexibility in their treatment options.

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How Commitment Really Works

The Two Most Common Mistakes Struggling Couples Make

By Gay Hendricks - Therapists who understand and apply two concepts about commitment—that the results you get reveal the actual commitment you've made, and to make a change in a relationship, each participant must take 100 percent responsibility for the current situation—can eliminate a great deal of energy-draining work in the treatment of couples.

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Learning to Look at Anxiety in a New Way

The Two Truths About the Nature of Anxiety Disorders

By Graham Campbell - Anxiety disorders are a means of keeping the external world at bay. Anxiety keeps new ideas and information out of a person's awareness. It saves overloaded mental and emotional circuits from additional strain. It is a sea wall built against the tide of physical circumstance. As a psychotherapist, I'm an empathic listener, but I'm still teaching a skill. That skill is inner listening: the ability to hear one's own heart, spirit or soul.

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Are We Taking Boundaries Too Seriously?

A Story About Breaking Tradition, and What Happened Afterwards

By Michael Hoyt - We therapists tend to worry a lot about boundaries, sometimes to the point that we forget that sharing our humanity can be a gift, not a distortion. But when is it okay to go with our impulse and when is it wiser to hold back?

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Discovering the Real Life of Teens

The Key to Translating Youth Culture to Mystified Parents

By Ron Taffel - What I've discovered, after talking with hundreds of teens, is that with their friends, they're almost a different species than when they're in the alien company of adults. If parents want to reclaim a connection with their children, they'll have to pay deep and respectful attention to a culture many of them abhor.

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The Core of Couples Therapy

Why Homework is So Important, and Six Ways to Make Sure Your Clients Do It

By David Treadway - Over the years, the couples in my practice who’ve actually done homework exercises have reported communicating better and being more affectionate and more supportive of each other than couples who haven’t. To make sure I’m successful in motivating them, I use these six techniques.

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What Works in Anxiety Treatment

Four Techniques Your Clients Can Use Anywhere, Anytime

By Margaret Wehrenberg - The rewards of teaching people how to use deceptively simple anxiety-relief techniques are great. While clients in this culture have been indoctrinated to want and expect instantaneous relief from their discomfort at the pop of a pill, we can show them we have something better to offer.

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VIDEO: Helen Fisher on the Truth about Adultery

Match.com's Scientific Advisor Weighs In

In a world of new and emerging norms about commitment, intimacy, the right to personal happiness, and open relationships are there also new patterns? Has the truth about adultery changed? In the following video clip, Helen Fisher, author and scientific advisor to Match.com, gives us the answer.

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