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Changing Our Contract with Life

A Therapist's Story of Battling Chronic Pain

By Kevin Anderson - This is the story of one of the most turbulent storms in my personal and professional life. After the storm, I learned there’s something about healing from deep emotional suffering that feels like death and rebirth—the kind that asks us to be open to changing our contract with life.

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Making Clinical Wisdom a Daily Goal

Ways to Boost Your Clinical Creativity

By Ronald Siegel - In today’s more strictly regulated, bottom line-driven mental health marketplace, should we care about anything beyond symptom relief?

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Making Way for Manhood 2.0

Therapists Push Back Against a Cultural Force

By Chris Lyford - Expanding the limited definition of masculinity is prime territory for therapists. But when running up against entrenched social mores, how can we bring about change? A few therapists have found creative ways to make space in therapy for raising more emotionally expressive young men.

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When Siblings Become Caregivers

Three Ways to Defuse Confrontation

By Barry Jacobs - Nothing reveals the fault lines in sibling relationships like the seismic shift caused by an aging parent's sudden decline. Brothers and sisters can quickly become locked in conflict about what's best for Mom and Dad. Here's how to help them forget their old rivalries and cooperate with one another.

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When Victims Victimize Others

Using Empathy to Help Abusers Make Amends

By Noel Larson - Throughout my career, countless people have asked me how I can work with clients who’ve committed sexual abuse, murdered their wives, or broken their children’s bones and spirits. My answer has always been the same: all I have to do is remember and feel in my heart the traumatized children my clients once were.

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Getting Comfortable with Discomfort

Using Art Therapy to Welcome the Unknown

By Lisa Mitchell - As both an art therapist and a marriage and family therapist, I believe that vulnerability, doubt, fear, and uncertainty—feelings most people try to avoid—are essential to getting unstuck. I teach clients how to move beyond "artist’s block," a state of being joylessly trapped in repetitive patterns and rigid expectations, and welcome the type of anxiety around the unknown that creativity invites.

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Selling Clients on Consent

...And Creating a Space for Men in the Age of #MeToo

By Lauren Dockett - Privately shaken and sometimes concerned about their own complicity, many men are now worried about how the #MeToo movement will deepen the gulf of understanding between them and the women in their lives. But much of the secrecy and shame around sex for men and women could be mitigated by embracing a practice of consent.

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Engaging Ourselves Compassionately

Richard Schwartz Explains the IFS Approach to Mindfulness

By Richard Schwartz - Mindfulness allows us to separate from our irrational self-statements. But what if it were possible to transform this inner drama, rather than just keep it at arm’s length, by taking mindfulness one step further?

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The Hearing

A Therapist Shares Her Most Transformative Session

In our own small way, the Networker has tried to revive the ancient, tribal practice of storytelling. At our third annual Symposium storytelling event, Kirsten Lind Seal shared the story of her attempt to rescue an immigrant client in a desperate situation.

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A Late-Life Lesson in Love

A Special Feature from Our Family Matters Department

By Jeanne Folks - It's difficult to describe my shock as my mother opens the front door and ushers me into the house of my youth. She's aged-shrunken, with poorly dyed blond hair and the familiar rigidity in her hands and body. Her once beautifully straight teeth are crooked, and one tooth is missing. It's been eight years since my last visit.

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The Five Love Languages

An Interview with Gary Chapman

By Ryan Howes - In our romantic fantasies, the path to true love is smooth. But the couples we see in therapy aren’t always so adept. In his book, The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman writes that people typically tend to express and understand emotional love through one of five “languages”—words of affirmation, quality time, personal gifts, acts of service, or physical touch.

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The Essence of Healing

Jack Kornfield on What Our Profession Can Do for Humanity

By Jack Kornfield - There’s something so remarkable about seeing the beauty in another human being. It brings about more possibility for change than almost anything else that we can do. And out of this quality of presence comes healing.

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How Much Are We Really in Control?

Retraining the Knee-Jerk Brain

By Brent Atkinson - Conscious understanding and effort aren’t the mighty forces we assume they are. Our automatic urges and inclinations are much stronger than most of us ever imagined. Even so, there's something we can do to retrain the emotional brain.

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Thinking Outside the Box

Giving Stuck Clients a Therapy Experience Like They've Never Had Before

By Cloe Madanes - There are times when clients are so deeply stuck, not just in the unhappy circumstances of their pain, but in the unshakable sense that nothing they do will make any difference, that they need a little benign shaking up.

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VIDEO: Valeria Chuba on Male Sexuality in the Age of #MeToo

Is Male Sexuality Inherently Violent?

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, men are reevaluating the way they approach courtship, relationships, gender roles, and love. Their therapists must switch gears as well. In the following video, Networker senior writer Lauren Dockett speaks with Valeria Chuba, clinical sexologist and certified intimacy coach, on how male sexuality is strongly connected to masculinity in our culture, and why male sexuality isn't inherently violent.

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Athletes Get Real About Mental Health

What’s Behind the Recent Slew of Confessional Essays?

By Lauren Dockett - A growing list of professional athletes have begun going public with personal mental health concerns all on their own. They contain unflinchingly honest details from members of an elite segment of society who have historically been sent up as untouchable heroes. But why are these athletes opening up in this way, and why are they doing it now?

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The Power of Peer Groups

Escaping the Isolation of Private Practice

By Eleanor Counselman - Peer supervision groups provide a welcome respite from the isolation of private practice and an informal, nonevaluative setting after years of formal supervision, particularly for young therapists. They offer valuable guidance on difficult cases and tough ethical dilemmas to therapists at any level of experience. And they’re free!

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Loving Wholeheartedly

Fraught Parent-Child Relationships Can be an Opportunity for Personal Growth

By Leonard Felder - Every now and then, we're lucky enough to meet someone who feels driven to let go of old emotional baggage and find the kind of freedom that comes with being able to love wholeheartedly, without inner reservation. When that person is a client, they're a great lesson to us in our own lives.

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The Stories That Bind Us

A Special Feature from Our Family Matters Department

By Janine Roberts - When I was eight years old, I reached into Mom's jewelry drawer and found a folded piece of paper that read: “I want to die here in the meadow. The lupine and Indian paintbrush around me.” Not long ago, my granddaughter was born. She taught me anew how we want to connect and be seen—something Mom needed from me.

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The Art of Not Trying Too Hard

For Some Clients, Our Best Efforts Might Be Having the Opposite Effect

By Steven Shapiro - What stands in the way of connecting effectively? Sometimes difficulty stems, paradoxically enough, from trying too hard! Many clients, even if they're highly motivated, have only limited tolerance for emotional connection, interpersonal closeness, and sympathetic concern. Here are three guidelines that may help you form a solid alliance with your hard-to-reach clients.

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Reframing the "Burden" of Caretaking

Why Accepting Help is Empowering for Those Receiving and Giving

By Barry Jacobs - For those who've spent their lifetimes taking pride in giving generously to others, suddenly being on the receiving end of care because of illness or age-related infirmity can be tormenting. For many, rejecting help is regarded as a measure of one's courage and determination in battling family crises brought on by old age or disease. Here are some ways of overcoming this common tendency to refuse help.

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VIDEO: Peter Levine on the Art of Noticing

See Somatic Experiencing in Motion with This Clip from an Actual Session

Among the first to fully realize that humans have an innate psychophysiological capacity for overcoming trauma and recovering physical and emotional wholeness, Peter Levine developed Somatic Experiencing, a simple yet profoundly effective mind-body healing technique. In this video clip, he shows how simply noticing a client's body sensations can lead to therapeutic breakthroughs.

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What Therapists Can Learn from Improv

Three Rules for Being More Energetic and Interactive in Sessions

By Robert Taibbi - I started improv several years ago. It showed me how to be freer and more creative, providing a unique way of approaching relationships that's generous rather than closed, organic rather than scripted. While the theory and skills of therapy form the foundation of clinical practice, we have little foundation for the creativity that good therapy demands. Doing improv made me wonder whether applying these rules might make me more creative in my work and personal life.

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What's New in Art Therapy?

Expressive Arts Therapy Pioneer Cathy Malchiodi Weighs In

By Ryan Howes - Art therapy can help people of all ages process and recover from trauma. In the following interview, Cathy Malchiodi, President of Art Therapy Without Borders, explains her approach and talks about the growing movement to treat returning combat veterans with art and expressive art therapy.

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Inhabiting the Moment with Traumatized Teens

Three Strategies to Rewire Young Brains for Safety and Attachment

By Martha Straus - What we therapists have to offer our young clients, more than anything, is our well-regulated, fully developed adult brain, with its mature capacity for awareness, perspective, appraisal, curiosity, and forgiveness on full display. According to the approach I use, Developmental-Relational Therapy, we’re both the mechanism of change and the intervention. Here are a few strategies that can rewire the teen brain for safety and intimacy.

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