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The Art of Not Knowing the Answer

A Trauma Specialist Shares Her Most Therapeutic Moment

Mary Jo Barrett

By Mary Jo Barrett - My very first case was the Byford family. The father was serving a six-month sentence for domestic abuse. During a home visit several months into treatment, the daughter, Laura, announced, “Dad is getting out of jail today! And he’s coming here!” My mind went blank. Her mother looked at me. Suddenly, it was as though I passed whatever strength I had to her, and she then passed it back to me.

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From Trauma to Recovery and Wholeness

A Trauma Survivor Shares Her Story and Explains What Our Field Has Yet to Learn

Dusty Miller

By 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. We clinicians are still feeling our way toward a middle path.

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Therapy Lessons from Men's Relationship with Sports

Using Athletics to Tap into Male Emotions, Relationships, and Aggression

Barry Jacobs

I understand and relate to the passion that many men have for sports. At the same time, I'm aware of a counternarrative held by many of my psychotherapist colleagues: sports breeds competition, which causes decreased empathy, which foments injustice. Still, there's so much more here: rich drama, with which to understand the strivings, insecurities, and identities of many of our male clients. Sports can teach us about trust, relationships, teamwork, and our power to regulate feelings.

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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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Where Do Therapists Stand on Marijuana Legalization?

Therapy Grapples with the Drug's Pros and Cons

Tori Rodriguez

More than 20 states have enacted laws to allow the sale of marijuana for medicinal purposes, and others have moved to reduce criminal penalties for possession of small amounts. But the more marijuana legalization reaches mainstream acceptance, the more the divisions of opinion within the mental health field---presumably the professionals who have the most scientifically informed perspective on the debate---become apparent.

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A Business Plan for Growing Your Therapy Practice

Entrepreneurial and Advertising Tips for the Psychotherapist

Joe Bavonese

I've read that you have to spend money to make money. But I'm not Donald Trump: I'm just a good clinician. Why isn't that enough? Why do I have to spend more money? Didn't I spend enough in graduate school? It seems crazy to have gone through all those years of training only to end up here: scared, risk averse, confused, and unsure what to do next to grow my practice. But if you're serious about being successful in your private practice and helping more people, investing money and time will reward you handsomely for the rest of your career.

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Mindfulness Enters American Health and Science

How Jon Kabat-Zinn Started a Mindful Revolution

Mary Sykes Wylie

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.

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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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Beyond Viagra

Why the Promise of Cure Far Exceeds the Reality

Barry McCarthy

Contrary to media myths, movies, and male braggadocio, sex is seldom 100-percent successful, especially as men age. The most important fact for our sex-saturated society to accept is that 5 to 15 percent of all sexual experiences among well-functioning couples are dissatisfying or dysfunctional. In other words, contrary to the cultural myth of ecstasy all the time as the norm, almost all happy, sexually fulfilled couples experience lousy sex occasionally.

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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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