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What Climate Change Could Mean for Therapists

Moving from Anxiety to Action

Lauren Dockett

By Lauren Dockett - In 2017, the American Psychological Association published a guide to the psychological impact of today’s grim environmental realities on clients and communities, and says therapists should expect to deal with increased levels of eco-anxiety, depression, fatalism, suicide, PTSD, and aggression as natural disasters increase. Their advice? Let clients acknowledge their sorrow and fears, and then help them find empowerment through action.

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A New Stretch of the River

Learning to Age with New Openness in Our Hearts and Minds

Mary Pipher

By Mary Pipher - As we age, our bodies and relationships change, and the pace of change accelerates. At 70, we’re unlikely to be able to function as we did in our 50s. We require fresh visions and new paradigms for framing our experiences. What worked yesterday will not be sufficient for tomorrow.

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What Writers and Therapists Have in Common

Rekindling Our Moral Imagination and Courage

Mary Pipher

By Mary Pipher - Both good writing and effective therapy rely on the ability to move beyond the self to understand how the world looks and feels to another person. Here, an author and psychotherapist argues that this quality of "moral imagination" is crucial to our ability to face the enormous challenges that face us, not only in our consulting rooms, but in the wider world we share with one another.

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Are You Suffering from Planetary Anguish?

Reversing Climate Change May Not Be Beyond Our Reach

Mary Pipher

By Mary Pipher - We live in a culture of denial, especially about the grim reality of climate change. Sure, we want to savor the occasional shrimp cocktail without having to brood about ruined mangroves, but we can’t solve a problem we can’t face.

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How Effective is Modern Psychotherapy?

The Qualities of Good Therapy, and Where Today's Clinicians Stand

Mary Pipher

Over the past few decades, therapy has made great strides. However, there are areas in which I think therapy may have also gotten worse. The essence of therapy remains the relationship, and the greatest gift to a client with virtually any problem is a focused, curious, empathic listener. But right now, pressure to speed up therapy can undercut the sanctity of the therapeutic relationship. Like good cooking, I think good therapy takes time. In many ways, we’re treating people in therapy offices as if it were 1960. But it’s a really different time, and there are a lot of issues we’re not approaching because we don’t know how.

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Mary Pipher on Leaving Our Biases outside the Consulting Room

Finding Respect for All Clients

Mary Pipher

From the moment I met the Correys in my waiting room, I was baffled about why they were together. Frank was tall, good looking and suave; Donna dowdy and sullen. Every other week for a year, I saw them, during which time I tried pretty much every trick in my therapeutic arsenal. And in spite of all my efforts, the Correys were one of my most spectacular failures. Gradually, I let my own values prejudice me against Donna. In the end, I learned that with no respect, there can be no connection. And without connection, therapy loses its meaning.

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My Most Spectacular Failure

Voluntary Simplicity Meets Shop Til You Drop

Mary Pipher

I will never forget the Correys, who were referred to me by their family doctor in western Nebraska. Every other week for a year, I saw them, during which time I tried pretty much every trick in my therapeutic arsenal. I spent hours discussing their case with trusted colleagues and read up on their particular problems. I don't know how many nights' sleep I lost worrying about how to get these folks on the right track. And in spite of all my efforts, the Correys were one of my most spectacular failures.

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