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Sorting Through the Bewildering World of Therapeutic Apps

Left to Our Own Devices

By Marian Sandmaier - Today, we’re entering a new and fast-expanding universe of emotional self-help—one populated by smartphone apps. They offer tools for everything from depression, social anxiety, and binge eating to phobias, postpartum problems, and substance abuse recovery. Since solace-by-app is here to stay, how might clinicians become a meaningful part of this mental health game changer, in ways that might benefit both themselves and their clients?

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The Paradox of Acceptance

Richard Schwartz Shares What Wise Buddhists Have Known for Centuries

By Richard Schwartz - We normally think of the attachment process as happening between caretakers and young children, but the more you explore how the inner world functions, the more you find that it parallels external relationships, and that we have an inner capacity to extend mindful caretaking to aspects of ourselves that are frozen in time and excluded from our normal consciousness.

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The Biomedical Model is Failing Us

Andrew Weil on Why We Need Integrative Mental Health

By Andrew Weil - Depression and anxiety should be as fully conquered as smallpox and polio. But more of us than ever aren't experiencing optimum emotional well-being. Why is the vast enterprise of professional mental health unable to help us feel better? I want you to consider the possibility that the basic assumptions of mainstream psychiatric medicine are obsolete and no longer serve us well. Those assumptions constitute the biomedical model of mental health and dominate the whole field.

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Does Positive Psychology Really Work?

A Myth Buster Reveals the Truth Behind Martin Seligman's Happiness Movement

By Barbara Ehrenreich - The central claim of positive psychology, as of positive thinking generally, is that happiness is not only desirable in and of itself but actually useful, leading to better health and greater success. But is this actually the case, or is positive psychology nothing more than pop science?

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Could Energy Psychology Transform Couples Therapy?

An Unconventional Approach to One of Therapy's Most Common Dilemmas

By David Feinstein - You might've heard about energy psychology and the use of tapping with PTSD, phobias, and depression. But couples therapy provides a rich context for acupoint tapping, both in the office and as a tool to use at home. The empathy and understanding that emerges in the partner who’s watching can be a game changer, building a path to healing through some of the couple’s most emotionally hazardous territory.

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Men in Couples Therapy Don't Want Your Validation

Helping Men Commit to Change Means Tapping into a Biological Imperative

By Steven Stosny -  For men to engage in the hard work of change, the rewards have to be automatic and visceral, independent of the artificial environment of the therapist's office and vague therapeutic concepts. If you listen long enough to men talking about what it means to love, you'll notice that loving is inextricably linked, for many men, to some form of protection. If men can't feel successful at protecting, they can't fully love.

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What Really Gets Handed Down in a Family?

A Personal Essay from our Family Matters Department

By Roberta Israeloff - Our son was 30, the new girlfriend just a few years younger. They continued to date. She was funny and smart. They moved in together. “Is there some kind of family ring?” my son finally asked. Soon after, my mother-in-law took a turn for the worse. She wouldn’t get out of bed in the rehab center, and she’d lie instead curled up like a fetus. When we’d call, all she’d want to talk about were her things: her dishes and cups, jewelry, and the gifts and mementos she’d accrued over her lifetime. “Every single one of them has a story,” she’d say.

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Are You a "Permaparent"?

Your Adult Child Just Moved Back Home. But Is It Normal?

By Martha Straus - Today, about 25 million young adults between between 18 and 34 are currently residing with their parents. In its basic form, this story holds that most emerging adults still living at home are wretched, entitled, or manipulative. But the new bungee family offers emerging adults---and our fragmented social fabric---a healing alternative, one that's injecting the best social capital available into the human mix.

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Effectively Treating Eating Disorders Is a Matter of Life and Death

What Needs to Happen in the First Session

By Sandra Wartski - Any therapist who's worked with eating disorders knows that treatment can be a rocky journey. While it can be unpredictable, scary, and slow, my work with one client helped reinforce my optimism that recovery is possible.

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Can Open Relationships Ever Work—and When Should Therapists Support Them?

Helping Your Clients Create a Relationship "Contract"

By Rick Miller - Partners who are basically healthy as individuals and stable as a couple may benefit from an open relationship. Even in our highly sexualized society, alternative arrangements such as open relationships may seem alien and intimidating to many people, but as therapists, our challenge is to be less prudish and frightened by potentially negative outcomes.

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Turning Panic into Power

Hidden Strengths Can Be the Key to Healing Trauma

By Courtney Armstrong - As therapists, we’re taught to be master detectives who methodically investigate our clients’ symptoms in search of a “culprit”—the source of their pain. But if we spend too much time preoccupied with symptoms, we’re likely to miss important clues to hidden strengths, which can transform the experience of psychotherapy.

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Breaking the Isolation of Caretaking

Three Ways to Help Clients Cope with the Challenges of Alzheimer’s

By Nancy Kriseman - The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that 5.2 million Americans affected by dementia are over the age 65, which makes the vast majority members of what’s called the traditionalist generation. Understanding this generation’s entrenched values and how they can affect their coping and your intervention can facilitate better outcomes. It’s important never to underestimate how validating and normalizing the caretaker’s experience can foster resilience and inspire hope.

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VIDEO: Diane Poole Heller on the Hidden Capabilities of Trauma Survivors

Watch as a Traumatized Client Taps Into a Wellspring of Healing in an Actual Session

Think all traumatized clients are shut-down and energy-sapped? Think again. In this clip from her Networker Symposium Keynote, "Creating a Corrective Emotional Experience," trauma specialist Diane Poole Heller shares a clip from an actual session, where she guides a client in tapping into a hidden wellspring of energy that leaves them feeling refreshed, happy, and safe.

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Is Parental Authority a Thing of the Past?

Fostering Parent Circles Can Demystify the Challenges of Raising Kids

By Ron Taffel - American parents today face a perfect storm of cultural and social circumstances that undermine the very foundations of parental authority. In response, mothers and fathers are beginning to see therapists as irrelevant and to challenge the entire social, educational, and economic context of childrearing.

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The 2016 Election Is Raising Ethical Concerns for Therapists

Is There a Place for Politics in Therapy?

By Chris Lyford - It's almost a cardinal rule that therapy and politics don’t mix. However, concerned about the stakes in this year’s presidential election, some therapists are wondering whether they have a professional, and even moral, obligation to bring politics into the consulting room.

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Turning Off the Inner Anger Switch

Using Brain Science to Invest Men in Anger Management

By Ron Potter-Efron - Over the past 30 years, I've spent nearly 25,000 hours counseling angry men. For many, anger is the only weapon they've ever had against feelings of powerlessness. But what I've found is that these men are fascinated by information about how anger develops in the brain, and how they're capable of literally using their own brains to calm down.

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VIDEO: Susan Johnson on the Power of Emotion

The Secret Ingredient in Good Therapy

Emotion is the most important motivating force bringing clients to our offices in the first place. Nevertheless, therapists are often strangely queasy in the presence of strong emotion. In this clip from her 2013 Symposium keynote address, Susan Johnson offers a vivid picture of how we can take full therapeutic advantage of the emotional force field to propel the process of change.

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A New Appreciation for Human Resilience

Rich Simon on Embracing Vulnerability as Strength

By Rich Simon - Clearly, therapists must always respond with empathy, understanding, and attuned clinical expertise to clients’ suffering. But in their urgency to relieve pain, therapists must not overlook the rich possibilities for health and growth within every person, without which even the most skilled clinician in the world can do nothing. In the end, all clients must, to some extent, be their own healers.

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The Essential Tasks of Brief Therapy

Meeting Treatment Goals in Just Eight Sessions

By Robert Taibbi - We all know the essential tasks of the first session in any kind of therapy: building rapport and a sense of collaboration, assessing and diagnosing, and formulating and offering a preliminary treatment plan. The tasks in brief therapy aren't different, but they're done in less time--meaning that therapists need to get to work immediately, and there's little leeway for mistakes.

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Understanding the Roots of Political Differences

How Political Leanings Boil Down to Moral Beliefs and Group Loyalties

By Ryan Howes - Perhaps you've had the experience of getting lost in a political argument in which you became exasperated that people on the other side couldn't see what was so obvious, despite your best efforts to reason with them. In the following interview, author Jonathan Haidt explains why politics is ultimately about our stance on fundamental moral beliefs and group loyalties--things that aren't usually influenced by facts, figures, or rational policy debate.

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Psychotherapy's Duty to the Wider World

Reflections on the Challenges and Rewards of Volunteer Work

By Jeffrey Kottler - Who has time to change the world when we already have our hands full trying to make a living and get through the obstacle course of a normal work week? It's not impossible. I now spend several months each year working in remote regions of Nepal, helping lower-caste girls, who are at the greatest risk of being forced into early marriage or trafficked into sex slavery. It's when I'm here that I feel most alive, and at least for the few months after I return, I feel a new clarity and focus about what's most important.

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Mind-Body Medicine in Motion

How One Therapist is Using Meditation to Help Suffering Populations Heal

By James Gordon - Recently, I was invited to Dharamsala by the Men Tsee Khang Institute, a school of traditional Tibetan medicine, to give a talk on the scientific basis of the mind–body connection and the techniques of self-care that are particularly effective with war- and disaster-traumatized populations. Here's what followed.

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Conversational Skill, the Common Denominator in Good Therapy

Are Specialization and Clinical Complexity Really Necessary?

By Jay Efran and Rob Fauber - Over psychotherapy’s history, the search for new therapy techniques and fancier gimmicks has led the field lurching down one blind alley after another. But therapy is undeniably a form of conversation, not a medical treatment. It can never be fully scripted or manualized, and its value hinges on a few basic principles that have been known for a long time.

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Appreciating the Strengths and Contributions of Introverts

Author Susan Cain Explains the Link Between Solitude and Creativity

By Ryan Howes - More often than not, we tend to give preference to the people we see as more social, gregarious, and comfortable in the limelight and in crowds. But according to Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, maybe it’s time the world came to appreciate the strengths and contributions of the 50 percent of Americans who are introverts.

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How to Help Clients Break Their Obnoxious Habits

Using Hypnosis to Reinforce New Behaviors

By Ronald Soderquist - Sometimes there’s no need for a detailed assessment of a client’s entire life history and their family relationships, especially when the desired outcome is changing an automatic habit like nose-picking.

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