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Therapy Needs More Than Just "Big Moments"

The Two Elements That Hold the Key to Change

By David Waters - I used to get very excited when I thought that clients were about to embark on what I called a project—a course of action that crystallized a problem into a unifying undertaking. But however valuable creativity can be in setting up the conditions in which transformation may take place, change itself requires repetition and commitment to altering habits.

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Confronting the Language of Subtle Racism

Commenting Even When It's Not Convenient

By Dee Watts-Jones - I believe that addressing racism, in whatever form it appears, is always relevant to therapy. As therapists, we have a responsibility not only to our clients, but to the wider community, to speak up in the face of values and practices that oppress. So when I encounter racist language in my office, whether it can be linked directly to a family's presenting problem or not, I address the issue.

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VIDEO: Julie Gottman on When Partners Get Flooded

What Works in Couples Therapy

The hallmark of John and Julie Gottmans’ work is taking the rare step of actually observing the broadest sample of couples they can find, rather than relying on personal intuitions about the world, to inform their approach in the consulting room. In this clip from their keynote, Julie Gottman shares what four decades of research has taught them about how to help partners who become emotionally "flooded."

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When Therapy Takes a Personal Toll

A Therapist Working with Abusers Reaches a Crossroads

By Michelle Cacho-Negrette - I made my first appointment with Gloria one autumn afternoon. I needed a still point, a peaceful promontory in the ocean of loud, unrepentant excuses I heard daily from the men I treated in a batterer-intervention program, men who committed unspeakable violence against those they claimed to love.

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Therapy Tools That Last a Lifetime

Three Simple Breathing Techniques and How They Work

By Patrick Dougherty - When clients focus on their own breathing, they're making the most fundamental mind-body connection. Regardless of what they're talking about—childhood trauma, a painful marriage, or just the struggle to be open with you in the session—breathing can help them get in touch with their immediate experience and be fully present, for the moment, in their own lives.

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A Child’s Respect is Bestowed, Not Extracted

How Much Parental Authority Do We Really Need?

By Janet Sasson Edgette - Preoccupied with commanding deference, some parents fail to recognize that a child’s respect is always something bestowed, not extracted. Thus, they end up forfeiting the opportunity to remain credible influences on their children in favor of levying control, which is a poor and costly approach to relationship building.

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The Case for the Older Therapist

Five Therapeutic Lessons That Only Come with Age and Practice

By Walter Lowe - Time and practice, practice, practice count as much or more than formal instruction in becoming an expert at therapy or just about anything else—medicine, law, carpentry, fire-fighting, or violin-playing. The longer you've been at it, the more deeply knowledgeable and skilled at the work you're likely to be.

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VIDEO: Dan Siegel on the Therapist's Mission in the Modern Age

Attending to How We Relate to Each Other and the Planet

In this video clip from his 2015 Networker Symposium Keynote address, "Healing and Hope in the Human Age," psychiatrist and bestselling author Dan Siegel explores how human consciousness can evolve to meet the unprecedented challenges we face on a planet we're altering in ways never before contemplated.

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The New Anatomy of Emotion

How Brain Science Can Teach Couples Emotional Literacy

By Brent Atkinson - Even among couples who do make progress in therapy, a disheartening chunk relapse. Why? A lack of emotional literacy. Good clinicians help couples effectively calm their anger and fear circuits as well as stimulate the more vulnerable, connection-generating states. The therapist acts as a kind of neural chiropractor, making regular, finely tuned adjustments to each partner's out-of-sync brain.

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The Surprisingly Simple Way to Jump-Start Intimacy

Traditional Approaches Aren't Always the Best Option

By Michele Weiner-Davis - When it comes to feeling loved in a marriage, everybody has different requirements. Some people feel loved when their spouses spend time with them. Others feel loved when they've had "good talks." I believe that behavior change often precedes affect or cognitive changes. For many, touch says love like nothing else. Making love is love.

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The Challenges of Working with Suicidal Teens

Best Practices for When Work Becomes Dramatic and Unpredictable

By Matthew Selekman - Working with self-harming teens often seems like riding a runaway roller coaster, which keeps threatening to go off the rails altogether. To succeed, you have to be highly flexible and able to turn on a dime, as the circumstances demand.

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Helping Struggling Couples Get to the Root of Intimacy Problems

Richard Schwartz's Internal Family Systems Approach to Couples Therapy

By Richard Schwartz - No other area of a couple's life holds as much promise for achieving intimacy as sex. Indeed, the promise of intimacy may be as important as lust for drawing human beings toward sex in the first place. My goal now is to help partners reach the kind of soul-deep connectedness in their sexual encounters that can transform their lives and their relationship with each other.

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An Awareness of the Soul

What Does It Mean to Really Get in Touch with Yourself?

By Michael Ventura - When I was 5 years old, I experienced something that made me feel viscerally, mentally, emotionally, and inescapably connected to everything and everyone around me, while feeling what I can only describe as a sense of privacy so deep and unassailable that "loneliness" doesn't begin to describe it. Thirty-five years later, I felt it again.

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The Gottmans' Call to Make Couples Therapy More Effective

A New Wave of Systems Theory and Therapy Now Includes Scientific Inquiry

By John and Julie Gottman - A second revolution is quietly taking shape—a new wave of systems theory and therapy—that marries the wisdom of clinical intuition with the rigors of scientific inquiry. With more precision and accuracy, we can now begin to answer two key questions about relationships: what causes trouble between people and what helps them not merely survive together, but actually rekindle love and delight?

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The Beethoven Factor

Three Qualities of People Who Triumph Under Adversity

By Paul Pearsall - Quantum leaps of thriving sometimes happen. However, most thrivers rarely recognize their invincibility in a short period of magnificent epiphany. Like Ludwig van Beethoven, they have periods of dismal lows and unrealistic highs. Through it all, thrivers maintain the key characteristic of thriving.

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VIDEO: How to Broach the Subject of Medication with Kids

When Is It Necessary? An Expert Explains.

Given the stigma still attached to psychiatric drugs, it’s no surprise that today’s kids might have reservations about taking them. But as a specialist in working with kids and teens, therapist and author Ron Taffel knows that for burdened young clients, medication is often necessary to get therapy moving. Therapists, he says, can’t always go it alone.

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VIDEO: Rick Hanson on the Healing Power of Refuge

Focusing on the People, Places, and Activities that Give Us Sanctuary

At last year's Networker Symposium, Rick Hanson, psychologist and bestselling author, invoked the spirit of Mr. Rogers to help attendees better acknowledge their connection with each other and savor their most inspiring experiences. Take a moment to watch this clip with Rick Hanson. You'll be glad you did.

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How to Develop a Safety Plan with Suicidal Clients

A Process of Inquiry That Promotes Empathic Connection

By Douglas Flemons - Suicide assessment is a high-stakes process infused with uncertainty. However, even the best scales can be unreliable when they’re completed in the midst of an emotional crisis. Rather than outsourcing your decision-making to an instrument, it's important that therapists learn how to conduct a conversational evaluation that builds on their therapeutic skills.

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What's It Take to Beat Anxiety?

Optimizing Health, Mindful Awareness, and More

By Margaret Wehrenberg - The sensations of doom or dread or panic felt by anxiety sufferers are truly overwhelming—the very same sensations, in fact, that a person would feel if the worst really were happening. Here are a few anxiety-management techniques that can offer relief, and offer it quickly.

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VIDEO: Stepfamilies: Great for Parents, Grief for Kids?

Patricia Papernow On The Double-Reality New Stepfamilies Face

Patricia Papernow, an expert in working with stepfamilies, helps us understand the fundamental issues and unique hurdles most stepfamilies must navigate.

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Pinpointing Suicidality with Brain Science

Can the Brains of the Dead Give Hope to the Living?

By Charles Barber - For the last three decades, Victoria Arango has been studying the brains of people who committed suicide, and has discovered that the biochemistry of their brains differs significantly from that of people who don't commit suicide.

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The Quest to Influence, Persuade, and Alter

What the Brain Reveals About Our Power to Change Others

Review By Diane Cole - Emotions can change people's behavior, says cognitive neuroscientist Tali Sharot in her new book, a highly accessible exploration of why and how we succeed, or fail, in our quest to influence, persuade, or alter the opinions and actions of others. Understand how the brain works, she argues, and you’ll have a leg up in successfully formulating and delivering the messages you want to get across to others.

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The Therapist Who Saved Me

Learning to Explore the Stories I Never Told Anyone

By Stephen Lyons - I spent my first weeks in therapy recounting my recently-ended marriage: the spreading contagion of lies, fights, and broken promises. I'd never told these stories to anyone, ever. Each scene seemed a searing indictment of my abilities as a husband and father. But Sara simply listened, asked questions I'd never asked myself. Her role as a protective friend startled me into action.

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Coping and Learning After a Client's Suicide

A Therapist Reflects on What He Might Have Done Differently

By Frank Pittman - I've been in full-time private practice for almost 30 years. In that time, three patients in my practice killed themselves. Each suicide has left me shell-shocked and questioning my therapeutic attitudes and methods. I did not expect Adam to be one of my casualties.

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Confronting a Broken Juvenile Justice System

Detention Facilities Have Become Warehouses for Mentally Disturbed Youth

By Rob Waters - Record numbers of young people have been sentenced to juvenile detention facilities that have become warehouses for mentally disturbed youth. But outcome studies have found that kids who complete Multisystemic Therapy programs go on to commit fewer crimes than kids in control groups who went to correctional facilities.

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