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The Mentor Who Changed My Therapy Practice

…And How Two Little Words Changed Everything

Chris Lyford

By Chris Lyford - While therapeutic skill is the product of years of practice and self-determination, most clinicians need a mentor: someone who takes them under their wing and inspires them to be a better therapist. The five clinicians whose stories you’re about to read all agree on one thing: seeing how their mentors practice left an indelible mark on their personal and professional development that still resonates today.

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Getting Real in Couples Therapy

Ignoring the Destructive Patterns in Front of Us Does Our Clients a Disservice

Terry Real

By Terry Real - It's disrespectful to clients not to let them in on the truth about what we witness regularly in our offices as they play out their relationships in front of us: the ways they deal with their partners are often self-centered, unfeeling, and counterproductive. I believe that in order to teach our clients how to be authentic and connected, we must be real with them ourselves.

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The Labels We Use

When It Comes to Addiction, Sometimes a Diagnosis is a Client's Best Motivator

Margaret Wehrenberg

By Margaret Wehrenberg - The labels we use to describe clients’ behaviors have important therapeutic implications. Sometimes using the word addiction and explaining its neurological basis can help clients focus on the consequences of their behavior. But how do we parse the tenuous line between addiction and habit?

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The Case for Alcoholics Anonymous

What Attendees Want You to Know

Mark Schenker

By Mark Schenker - Several features of AA make it ideal as an adjunct to therapy. No therapist alone can provide the kind of group support that AA makes available 24 hours a day. The process of change that occurs in AA can open up a tremendous amount of relevant clinical material, and the clinician, when properly oriented, can help resolve roadblocks and resistance that the patient encounters in pursuit of recovery.

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Journaling Exercises to Do Better Therapy

Brad Sachs on Creative Writing to Bolster Your Therapeutic Technique

Brad Sachs

While therapists are generally trained to focus on preparing case notes that are clinical and objective, confining ourselves to this format severely restricts the creative potential of the process. While many clinicians encourage their patients to keep a journal, draft real or imaginary letters to family members, and compose poetry, few clinicians use creative writing in their own work. But at its core, creative writing brings into awareness a conversation between what's alive and what's dying in ourselves, what's limiting and free, what's observable and shadowy.

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A Therapist's Therapy: Telling the Story of Sexual Abuse

Mental Health Comes to Terms with Traumatic Sexual Abuse

Dusty Miller

As a systems therapist, incest survivor, and recovering alcoholic, I’ve lived through several stages of our culture’s attempt to come to terms with child sexual abuse–as a victim in the silent 1950s; as a therapy client in the oblivious 1960s and 1970s; and as a psychotherapist in the 1980s and 1990s, when once-dismissed accounts of abuse filled my therapy practice (and my television screen) only to be partly discredited within the decade during another swing of the cultural pendulum.

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The Rebirth of Borderline Personality Disorder Treatment

How Marsha Linehan Revolutionized Therapy with DBT

Katy Butler, Katy Butler

For decades, most clinicians who had a choice avoided borderline clients, while agency staff (who couldn't) went through the motions with a sense of futility. Therapy consisted of guarding against "manipulation" and mining the borderline's reactions to the therapist for clues to her fragmented inner world. It was hard on clients---and on therapists as well. Then, in 1991, a behavioral psychologist and Zen student at the University of Washington named Marsha Linehan introduced an alternative. Her treatment was called Dialectical Behavior Therapy, or DBT.

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The Poetics of Progress Notes

Using Your Imagination with Tough Cases

Brad Sachs

While we're generally trained to focus on preparing notes that are clinical and objective, confining ourselves to this format severely restricts the creative potential of the process. It's interesting to consider, in fact, that although many clinicians encourage their patients to keep a journal, draft real or imaginary letters to family members, and compose poetry, few clinicians use creative writing in their own work. The act of writing is, in its most elemental form, an act of self-discovery.

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Revolution on the Horizon

DBT Challenges the Borderline Diagnosis

Katy Butler, Katy Butler

DBT was no walk in the park: it required team treatment, including weekly individual therapy, a year-long "skills training" class, telephone coaching and supportive supervision for the therapist. But it offered clients and therapists alike a way out of chaos--a systematic clinical package that integrated the technical and analytical strengths of behaviorism, the subtleties of Zen training, the warmth and acceptance of relationship-centered therapies and the often undervalued power of psychoeducation.

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The End of Innocence

Reconsidering Our Concepts of Victimhood

Dusty Miller

As a systems therapist, incest survivor, and recovering alcoholic, I've lived through several stages of our culture's attempt to come to terms with child sexual abuse--as a victim in the silent 1950s; as a therapy client in the oblivious 1960s and 1970s; and as a psychotherapist in the 1980s and 1990s, when once-dismissed accounts of abuse filled my therapy practice (and my television screen) only to be partly discredited within the decade during another swing of the cultural pendulum.

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