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Can Open Relationships Work?

How to Know When They're Right (or Not) and How to Set Ground Rules

By Rick Miller - Even for healthy couples, opening up a relationship in a way that’s not destructive is hard work and requires a great deal of communication around what is and isn’t acceptable. Yet even with these guidelines established, helping couples navigate this territory is a challenge. Here are some best practices.

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Trapped in a Wall-Less Prison

Bridging the Racial Gulf by Listening to Untold Stories

By Ken Hardy - I’ve spent the last four decades of my life working with young people who live their lives hidden in the shadows of invisibility as far as white society is concerned. Too many therapists charged with helping them fail to see the untold stories in their lives of family dysfunction, poverty, and racial oppression. And no real conversation about race can begin until, as a society, we’re willing to listen to those stories.

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New to Therapy? Let Instinct Be Your Guide

Doing Therapy Well Requires a Certain Kind of Freedom

By Frank Dattilio - Often, therapy trainees in supervision feel more secure approaching every clinical encounter strictly "by the book," and are frequently so afraid of making mistakes that they stifle their own capacity for therapeutic intuition and emotional connection with their clients. Sometimes freeing their therapeutic imagination requires bold steps.

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Six Ways to Find Comedy in Even the Darkest Moments

Shaking Your Clients Loose from Their Tragic Stances

By Frank Pittman - Therapy, in order to shake people loose from their tragic stances and bounce them into the human comedy, is at its best when it is funny, when the tragic family story being acted out is rewritten to provide a happy ending. I urge therapists to keep these simple guidelines in mind as they go through their day.

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Therapists Talk Gun Violence

Brainstorming Ways to Make a Difference

By Ron Taffel and Lauren Dockett - Therapists are often at the center of cultural conversations around large-scale shootings. At the 2018 Psychotherapy Networker Symposium, they came together to discuss ways to prevent further gun violence in their communities and schools. Here's what happened.

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Family Therapy as We Know It Needs to Change

To Reach Troubled Adolescents, Look to the "Second Family"

By Ron Taffel - When it comes to treating troubled adolescents, family therapy has not kept pace with several decades of massive social upheaval. The world of an adolescent is now so powerfully defined by systemic forces other than home—the peer network, pop culture, school and neighborhood ethos—that working with the family alone is rarely powerful enough to effect change.

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When Your Client Won't Commit to Change

How to Accept Opposition and Still Get Results

By David Johnson - In my several decades of practice, one skill that’s served me well in this field is my ability to leave work at the office. But every once in a while, I see clients whose situation intrigues, moves, or confounds me in a way that keeps them in my thoughts in between sessions, even if I’m often not sure what it is about them that continues to haunt me. Such was the case with Matthew.

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What to Say When Clients Push Your Buttons

How to Spot, Confront, and Correct Self-Defeating Patterns

By Wendy Behary - There are ways to deliver profoundly effective, on-the-spot responses during difficult encounters—ways that can mobilize you and restore the receptive, flexible, and empathically attuned you. I've chosen a small sample of a long list of examples that colleagues and trainees have shared with me over the years, including my own personal favorites.

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Erv Polster on How Aging Changes Therapy

Learning to Embrace the Flow of Relationship

By Erv Polster - As each of us grows older, we can try to embrace the full possibilities of aging, even alongside its challenges. In the following interview, Erv Polster, a prime mover of Gestalt Therapy, delves into a little-acknowledged element of older people’s inner lives, shares what aspects of his own aging process have had the biggest impact on his approach to psychotherapy, and reflects on life after ending his practice.

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The One Thing That's Missing from Attachment Theory

Challenging a Therapeutic Cornerstone

By Jerome Kagan - One of the strongest articles of faith among psychotherapists is the intuitively attractive proposition that the security of early attachments to parents has a profound influence on adult mental health. However, when I examine the evidence for this belief as a research psychologist, rather than as a clinical practitioner, a different, less clear-cut picture emerges.

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VIDEO: Tara Brach on Awakening from the Cybertrance

Dealing with the Challenges to Mindfulness in a Digital World

It should come as no surprise that, in our culture, immersion in cyber activities far outpace the interest in mindfulness. But how do you deal with the trance-like quality of immersion in the digital world? Find out in this video with Tara Brach.

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Why Don't Diets Work? CBT's Judith Beck Has the Answer

A Five-Step Process for Mastering Dieting Skills

Judith Beck - Why is it so hard to stick to a healthy eating plan and a reasonable exercise regimen? From the viewpoint of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), when it comes to changing behavior, especially long-term, habitual patterns, getting yourself to do something different, even when you know it's good for you, depends largely on what you tell yourself: that is, on your thinking.

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When Money Comes Up in Therapy

Two Ways to Make Your Fee Policies Clear and Easy to Talk About

By Lynne Stevens - Most therapists were never coached about how to reconcile the closeness of the therapeutic encounter with the fact that therapy is also a business. It has taken me years to understand that therapy is not separate from the exchange of money. I am in this profession because I care and have skills and knowledge that can help, and I also need to make a living.

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What Can Therapists Learn from The Minimalists?

Expert Joshua Millburn Explains What It Really Means to Let Go

By Ryan Howes - How does minimalism correlate with wellness? Why do we crave stuff, yet feel relief when we let it go? We therapists can easily identify the pathology of hoarding, but can we also see the benefits of embracing minimalism? To find answers to those kinds of questions, we caught up with Joshua Millburn, co-founder of The Minimalists.

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Raising Boys Right

How to Help Closed-Off Young Men Cross the Communication Divide

By Adam Cox - As we raise and support the next generation of boys, it's vital that we give them the tools to be full participants in society by helping them find the words to define themselves and relate to others. To do so, therapists and parents alike must explore new means of engaging silent youngsters, going beyond the business-as-usual inquiries about thoughts and feelings.

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Approaching Food Differently

Treating Binge Eating from a Non-Diet Perspective

By Sandra Wartski - Although binge eating disorder is the most common type of eating disorder, many people suffering with it don’t get the help they need because of their embarrassment about their bodies and eating habits. The approach to treating it is similar to other eating-disorder work, but we need to be especially vigilant about addressing issues of self-agency and keeping the focus more on wellness than weight.

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Listening to the Body's Story

In Couples Therapy, Sitting With Sensations Can Have a Surprising Effect

By Molly Layton - Even with two people sitting quietly, an interpersonal space isn't an empty space—it's alive with a peculiar quality. These days, in certain intractable situations, I keep discovering how much getting couples to focus on the immediacy of their bodily sensations can change the entire flow and direction of what takes place in my office.

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My Greatest Clinical Learning Experience

Finding the "Genuine Hero" in Even Your Most Troubled Clients

By Lisa Ferentz - In the early days of the trauma field, clients were seen as one-dimensional bundles of dysfunction and pain, who needed to relive their trauma before progress could be made. But an increased interest in post-traumatic growth has allowed many therapists to see that insight and healing can occur not only in the midst of devastating experiences, but even because of them.

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Couples Therapy with a Positive Spin

How to Accomplish Something in Every Session

By Ellen Wachtel - Doing couples therapy isn’t easy. But often there are implicit positives in statements in which the main point is anger, disappointment, and hurt. With practice, therapists can learn to pick up on the strengths that are embedded in painful emotions.

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The Best Way to Support Older Caregivers

...And the One Question You Probably Didn't Think to Ask

By Nancy Kriseman - The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that 5.2 million Americans affected by dementia are over the age 65, which makes the vast majority members of what’s called the traditionalist generation. Understanding this generation’s entrenched values and how they can affect their coping and your intervention can facilitate better outcomes.

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Does Energy Psychology Really Work?

Tapping Pioneer David Feinstein Shares What Made Him a Believer

By David Feinstein - About a decade ago, something came along to challenge my bedrock beliefs about therapy: Energy Psychology, a method based on tapping on selected acupuncture points to address psychological problems. What could possibly have possessed a seen-it-all therapist like me to embrace an approach that many consider the latest incarnation of snake oil? What follows is the answer.

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How To Stop Couples Conflict Before It Even Starts

...And the Five Life Factors That Contribute to Intensifying Anger Arousal

By W. Robert Nay - Therapy often involves entirely too much talking about new skills the client should put into place, but not enough rehearsing. Just as exposure training reduces anxiety to feared situations, having couples rehearse conflict makes them feel less threatened as they learn new ways of responding to old anger triggers.

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The Trigger Warning Controversy

Are We Promoting a Culture of Avoidance?

By Chris Lyford - According to some critics, an overly protective approach to presenting college course materials deemed too triggering—in books, lessons, and lectures—could soon be coming to a university near you. Are they a boon to student mental health, or just promoting a culture of avoidance?

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The Healing Power of Uncertainty

Our Traditional Approaches to Anxiety Treatment Aren't Good Enough

By Reid Wilson - Therapy with anxious clients is most effective when I repeatedly challenge their underlying beliefs about how to handle distress. Anxious clients don't need my cleverness. They need therapeutic principles powerful enough to offset their faulty beliefs. I've learned to help my anxious clients by challenging three of their most basic life stances: their attitudes toward worry, certainty, and comfort.

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Restoring Intimacy the Natural Way

How to "Build a Bridge" to Sexual Desire

By Barry McCarthy - Contrary to media myths, movies, and male braggadocio, sex is seldom 100 percent successful, especially as men age. By a certain age, men need to learn what most women already know: good, satisfying, pleasurable sex, particularly in midlife and beyond, is more a matter of intimate teamwork than of physical hydraulics.

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