Topic - Anxiety/Depression

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We've gathered Psychotherapy Networkers most popular posts and arranged them here by topic.

A Brain Science Approach to Couples Therapy

Using Brain Science in Therapy to Alter Mood States

Brent Atkinson

When clients become upset, they're in the grip of one of seven major body-brain mood states, also referred to as "executive operating systems." These are more than just passing moods. They're complex neurochemical cascades, in which hormones race through the body and brain and electrical impulses fly over familiar neural synapses, shaping what we feel, do, and think. This hormonal cascade can be lifesaving in the appropriate situation---in the face of a dangerous driver, say, or a possible mugger or rapist. But in intimate relationships, it's often toxic. In my work as a couples therapist, I train my clients to reactivate the neocortex---the inner switchmaster---in the face of strong emotion.

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The Rise of Therapy's Positive Psychology Movement

Martin Seligman Injects Thinking Positively into the Therapy World

Mary Sykes Wylie

How did Martin Seligman come to be known as the "father" of something called positive psychology, a movement that could change the face of psychotherapy as we know it? With his scientific study of what makes people happy and good, Seligman overturned therapy's culture of victimology, obsessed with the study of what's wrong with people---with their emotional lives, their relationships, their physical brains, and why they fail and feel bad. If people could be taught to feel bad, Seligman supposed, perhaps they could also be taught to feel good.

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The Fiction of the Self

The Paradox of Mindfulness in Clinical Practice

Ronald Siegel

What if our therapeutic goals of improving self-esteem, developing a stable and coherent sense of self, and identifying and expressing genuine, authentic feelings all turn out to be symptoms of delusion? If we engage in meditation long enough, we discover that our sense of being a separate, coherent, enduring self is actually a delusion maintained by our constant inner chatter. Seeing ourselves in this light can pull the rug out from under us in alarming—though potentially liberating—ways.

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Bridging Mind and Body in Trauma Treatment

How Bessel van der Kolk Pioneered a New Trauma Therapy

Mary Sykes Wylie

Bessel Van der Kolk first became aware of the world of trauma in 1978, when he decided to go work for the Veterans Administration, not to study PTSD (it hadn't been recognized yet as a formal diagnosis), but to get the government benefits to pay for his own psychoanalysis. While there, he discovered the reality of PTSD---and the beginnings of a stunning, nationwide phenomenon. Since then, the trauma field has gone from obscurity to become one of the most innovative and supported specialties in mental health. Trauma researchers have set off an explosion of knowledge about psychobiology and the interaction of body and mind. And van der Kolk, as much as anyone else in the field, has defined the current framework for understanding trauma.

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Sensory Integration Therapy for Defiant Children

When Faulty Sensory Processing Affects Behavior

Karen Smith

In our culture, we don't take kindly to children who refuse to do what they are told. We label them with euphemisms, such as difficult, willful or spirited. When these kids show up in my office as early as age 3 or 4, their parents---often tearful, angry, guilt ridden---want quick advice about how to win the battles they are losing. Because we assume that these children are neurologically and physiologically capable of doing what we ask them to do, we may describe them as inattentive, hyperactive or clumsy and complain that they are stubborn, angry or oppositional. In fact, they are all of those things---but for a reason. That reason is faulty sensory processing.

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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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Coping with Anxiety by Welcoming Stress

Reid Wilson on Mindful Stress Management

Reid Wilson

The problems we suffer with anxiety often continue not because we have symptoms, but because we resist the fact that we're experiencing symptoms---doing our utmost to block out the symptoms, rather than getting to know them a little bit. Most of our clients come to us trying to end something unpleasant, seeking both comfort and predictability in their lives. The desire for a life without stress or doubt is perfectly natural. And yet, we compound our clients' problems when we collude in their goal of simply making the unpleasantness go away. Our objective should not simply be to block their discomfort and allay their doubts, but to help reduce their suffering---ultimately, a completely different task.

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Revisiting Our Relationship with Insomnia

Why Our Trouble Sleeping Is More Normal Than We Think

Mary Sykes Wylie

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.

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Anxiety: A Modern Phenomenon?

Scott Stossel on Coping with Anxiety in Today's World

Esther Perel

Given the “record levels of anxiety” we seem to be seeing around the world, surely we must today be living in the most anxious age ever. How can this be? Economic disruption and recent global recession notwithstanding, we live in an age of unprecedented material affluence. Life expectancies in the developed world are long and growing. But perhaps the price of progress and improvements in material prosperity has been an increase in the average allotment of anxiety.

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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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