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The Merits of Applying Brain Science in Therapy

Using the Brain to Explain Fear and Anxiety Objectively

Louis Cozolino

The aspects of our brains that evolved 50,000 years ago—which give us astonishing powers of thought, logic, imagination, empathy, and morality—also share skull space with the ancient brain equipment that we've inherited from our mammalian and reptilian forebears over the past several million years, including the neural circuitry involved in fear and anxiety. Some therapists bristle at the integration of neuroscience and psychotherapy, calling it irrelevant or reductionistic. But information about the brain and how it evolved helps us communicate with clients about their problems in an objective and non-shaming manner. It's hard to grasp how the brain could be irrelevant to changing the mind.

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Marianne Walters and the Women's Therapy Movement

How One Woman Brought Feminist Insight into Clinical Practice

Mary Sykes Wylie

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.

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Assessing the State of Psychotherapy

Is Today's Therapy Losing Out to Science and Psychopharmacology?

Mary Sykes Wylie

The bad news was made official in 2010, though everybody in the head-shrink business had long suspected as much: psychotherapy was in decline, or even in freefall. You might think this trend represents people’s preferences for the quick fix of a pill, rather than a slog through talk therapy, but you’d be wrong: surveys have consistently shown that depressed and/or anxious people and their families would rather talk to a real, live, human therapist than fill a prescription. So in what appears to be the twilight of the psychopharm gods, why aren’t therapy practitioners rising up, throwing off their chains, and reconquering lost mental health territory?

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Larger than Life

Marianne Walters Was Family Therapy's Foremost Feminist

Mary Sykes Wylie

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.

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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Redefines Mental Health

How Aaron Beck and Albert Ellis Started a Psychotherapy Revolution

Mary Sykes Wylie

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?

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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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Can Mood Science Save Us from the Depression Epidemic?

Psychotherapy Tackles Depression as a Low Mood Problem

Jonathan Rottenberg

How can it be that—despite all the efforts aimed at understanding, treating, and educating the public about depression—the number of people suffering from depression continues to rise? Why have our treatments plateaued in their effectiveness, and why does the stigma associated with this condition remain very much with us? Depression has clearly been a tough nut to crack, but we haven’t focused much on what’s at the center of that nut: mood.

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Satori in the Bedroom

Tantra and the Dilemma of Western Sexuality

Katy Butler, Katy Butler

Many of us enter the bedroom now as if we have been told we are about to play a high-stakes game. There is no rule book, or else it's been hidden. Everyone else, we think, knows how to play. We charge down the field. We pass the ball. A whistle blows. The rules have changed. We are given five different rule books and told to choose one that suits us. (We have no idea what book the other team is playing from.) Bleeding from the shin, we strap on our battered equipment again and once more run down the field.

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The Divided Self

Inside the World of 21st Century Teens

Ron Taffel

While at first glance, 21st-century adolescents appear impossibly cool--cooler than we could have ever been ourselves--teens today are running hot. They're not just hormonally hot, but hot with cultural forces that have redefined the nature of their consciousness and experience of selfhood. Millennium kids live in a context that spawns fragmentation, what I call a "divided-self" experience: cool and often cruel on the surface, they hide surprisingly healthy passions beneath.

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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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