How Jon Kabat-Zinn Started a Mindful Revolution
In 1979, a 35-year-old MIT-trained molecular biologist had a vision of what his life’s work—his “karmic assignment”—would be. He’d bring the ancient Eastern disciplines he’d followed for 13 years—mindfulness meditation and yoga—to chronically sick people right here in modern America. What’s more, he’d bring these practices into the very belly of the Western scientific beast. Not exactly a modest scheme. But Jon Kabat-Zinn, the originator of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), would manage to pull it off. Since then, mindfulness has spilled out of the healthcare/psychotherapy world and into the rest of society. But the explosive growth of mindfulness in America has also inevitably triggered a backlash.
Why Our Trouble Sleeping Is More Normal Than We Think
Insomnia. Almost everybody has it at one time or another. Some poor souls live (or barely live) with it. It's hard to know exactly how widespread it is—prevalence rates are all over the map. But some researchers are drawing the conclusion that midnight or early-morning insomnia is possibly more "natural" than the pattern of eight hours straight sleep that we've come to expect, but often fail to achieve. Perhaps, the implication is, we ought to accept the reality of those hours awake and cultivate a better attitude toward the inevitable---we should accept and make friends with those wakeful hours in the middle of the night.
Embracing Storytelling in the Consulting Room
Watching Australian therapist Michael White's loosely called “narrative therapy" in session is a far cry from seeing one of the recognized lions of clinical performance, but in recent years, he has developed a worldwide following of both senior therapists and neophytes alike. He almost never asserts anything, rarely utters a declarative sentence, just patiently asks questions, hundreds of questions, often repeating back the answers and writing them down. At the same time, there is a startling tenacity about the process, a kind of polite but unshakable insistence on participation, a refusal to let people off the hook. He simply will not give up.
Rekindling Creative Therapy through Poetry
John O'Donohue has begun to build up a small but devoted following in the therapy world. At a time when the pressure is on to do ever briefer, more technical, symptom-focused, "evidence-based," standardized therapies, and to rationalize every moment of a clinical encounter, he reminds us what a noble, even sacred, calling therapy can be. What's more, O'Donohue's musings lead us to reflect on the same old questions mystics and spiritual guides have asked throughout the ages: Who are we? Where have we come from? Why are we here? What do we truly want?
Marianne Walters Was Family Therapy's Foremost Feminist
Marianne Walters didn't invent a brilliant new therapeutic paradigm, publish a large and magisterial body of research, or establish her own unique school of clinical practice. Yet Walters probably had as great an impact on the overall clinical zeitgeist of family therapy as any of the master theory-builders and gurus. Along with her three comrades in arms---Betty Carter, Peggy Papp, and Olga Silverstein---she formed The Women's Project in Family Therapy in 1977, once called "the first, biggest, longest-running feminist road show." It was a combination feminist think tank and SWAT team, which, in public workshops all over the country, challenged the underlying sexism in some of the most basic notions of family therapy.
The Perils of Mainstream Acceptance
By replacing the exotic aura of spirituality with the language of science and a down-to-earth self-help approach, mindfulness has brought practices once considered New Age hokum into mainstream acceptance. But as it increasingly becomes a product to be sold in the marketplace, does it risk losing something vital to its transformative power?
How Aaron Beck and Albert Ellis Started a Psychotherapy Revolution
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is arguably the most successful therapy ever developed. In only about 40 years, it’s gone from the almost accidental innovations of two disenchanted psychoanalysts to the most widely practiced and promulgated approach in the world. Independently coinvented by Aaron Beck and Albert Ellis, CBT is brief, usually 16 sessions or fewer, thus much cheaper than that once-famous other brand, psychodynamic therapy. But where did this streamlined, efficient, practical therapy come from? And what made it so revolutionary?
The Story of Family Therapy's Unabashed Founding Father
Jay Haley was an unlikely candidate to become a founder of the early family therapy movement. An outsider to the field, he had no formal training in psychology or psychotherapy. But as someone who translated the abstruse concepts of cybernetics—the rules, sequences, and feedback loops that guide self-regulating machines—into the lingua franca of family therapy, Haley helped give the field its organizing principles.
How Veterans Forced Mental Health to Confront the New Trauma
Before the 1970s, almost no mental health authorities imagined, much less expected and prepared for, traumatic reactions to war to emerge years after the conflict ended. But after they returned stateside, almost 50 percent of Vietnam veterans began breaking down, months or even years later. By the late 1970s, it had become obvious to many therapists that the old diagnostic system had fatal flaws. DSM-II seemed to have been written for a world in which serious trauma virtually never occurred. While the veterans were struggling for recognition on one front, another campaign was being waged---which included some of the same people---on another, to get traumatic stress back into the DSM.
Two Perspectives on How It Works
While widely acknowledged to be the most empirically supported therapy ever invented, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is often criticized for being too rigid and mechanical. Not so, say two of its foremost practitioners.