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What Does a Son Owe a Mother?

A Squeeze of the Hand

By Barry Jacobs - For 58 years, from my birth until her death, my mother and I clashed over money and material values, cents and sensibilities. She may have felt entitled to a grand lifestyle, but I felt entitled to a less solipsistic mother—one who relished, not hated, my help. Years later, I found myself able to relax and just be her adult son in a way I’d never experienced.

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The Perils of Paying Too Much Attention

A Guide for Attending to Clients Without Getting Burned Out

By Christine Caldwell - We've all experienced what happens when get tied up in our clients' knotted lives. But how do we attune to our clients' experiences and not get knotted up ourselves? In essence, self-care becomes more than just taking enough time off, balancing our practice, and getting good supervision. It involves getting our bodies back.

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What Do Transformative Therapy Moments Have in Common?

The Surprisingly Simple Way to Get Powerful Results Swiftly and Reliably

By Bruce Ecker and Laurel Hulley - There's a moment that we therapists savor above all. Before our eyes, a shift takes place and the client slips from the grip of a lifelong pattern. Three decades ago, we discovered that what distinguished the pivotal interactions was that we had completely stopped trying to counteract, override or prevent the client's debilitating difficulties.

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The Surprising Clinical Benefits of MDMA for Trauma

Could a Psychedelic Drug Be the Next Big Thing in Treatment?

By Ryan Howes - Michael Mithoefer, a clinical faculty member at the Medical University of South Carolina, has demonstrated remarkable early results using MDMA as a therapist-supervised treatment for chronic PTSD. His work is being approved by the FDA and could eventually clear a path for MDMA treatment clinics specializing in trauma.

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Reclaiming Your Life After Unfathomable Trauma

A Therapist Shares Her Ordeal, and the Steps it Took to Reclaim Her Former Self

By Janice Starkman Goldfein - On January 4, 1994, trauma became a lived reality for me. That evening, I was grabbed from behind and heard a low, menacing voice say, "If you cooperate, I won't hurt you." In the days, weeks, and months that followed, I struggled not to allow the attack to defeat me. I had to learn how to control the fear, stop the flashbacks, and handle the anger, while dealing with an overwhelming range and intensity of feelings.

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What You're Probably Missing in Therapy

Assessing Body Language, Voice, and More to Explore Clients' Inner States

By Rob Fisher - In therapy, it's important to notice the storyteller, not just the story. As therapists, we can notice and attend to outward signs of internal experience. The client may be looking down, squirming in her seat, or being very still, for instance. Each of these is an indicator of an internal experience as well as a set of beliefs and models of the world that underlie a client's behavior.

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Is Sport Psychology a New Clinical Direction For You?

An Opportunity to Expand Your Practice

By Mitchell Greene - There are plenty of similarities between my clinical and sport psychology work. Like any group, however, athletes have their own lingo, culture, rituals, and lifestyle. Understanding the ins and outs of them can give you a leg up on establishing rapport, trust, and mutual understanding.

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The Healing Power of Taking Baby Steps

Hope Follows Action, Not the Other Way Around

By Yvonne Dolan - Favoring positive emotions and subtly trying to subdue negative ones can sometimes backfire. Though focusing on mundane tasks in the present can seem impossibly beside the point for someone who has suffered a life-shattering event, it can help build, inch by inch and then yard by yard, a pathway out of despair and into the fullness of life.

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The Emotional Truth Behind Anxiety Symptoms

An Exercise That Gets at the Root of Your Clients' Worries

By Bruce Ecker - Anxieties and panics aren't merely neurobiological dysfunctions. By heading straight into the core of meaning at the heart of symptoms, therapy becomes a place where a deeper sense of order replaces the apparent senselessness of presenting complaints, and clients awaken to areas of self that have control over what previously seemed utterly out of control.

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VIDEO: Bill Doherty on the Rewards of Civic Commitment

Creating Space for a Conversation About Civic Commitments

Sometimes our clients have commitments to groups or causes that enrich their lives and social connections. But very often, says couples therapist Bill Doherty, therapists don't inquire about these elements of our clients' lives. In fact, he adds, there seems to be a bias against doing so. In the following clip from his 2017 Networker Symposium Keynote address, Doherty explains how exploring civic commitments can also advance therapy.

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Helping Clients Access Their True Selves

Dick Schwartz on Changing Outer Dialogues by Changing Inner Dialogues

By Richard Schwartz - As clients embody more Self, their inner dialogues change spontaneously. They stop berating themselves and, instead, get to know, rather than try to eliminate, the extreme inner voices or emotions that have plagued them. Even clients who've shown little insight into their problems are suddenly able to trace the trajectory of their own feelings and emotional histories with startling clarity and understanding.

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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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