Psychotherapy Blog

 

Listening as Meditation

Posted by John Sommers-Flanagan, PhD on 2/25/14 - 1:24 PM
In 1975, Herbert Benson of Harvard University wrote that to achieve a “relaxation response” you only need four ingredients. These included (a) a quiet place, (b) a comfortable position, (c) a mental device, and (d) a passive attitude. Benson’s relaxation response was, of course, roughly equivalent to the meditative mental state. His work presaged the mindfulness movement in psychotherapy. He identified a psychological place of exploration, discovery, and acceptance. His research linked the relaxation response to a variety of physiological...

The Thousand-Armed Therapist

Posted by Christian Conte, PhD on 2/21/14 - 2:30 PM
A typical desire for most therapists (at least at some point in their training or career) is “to save people;” because let’s face it: the majority of us are in this business because we care a great deal about others. There comes a moment, however, when almost all therapists eventually learn that trying to save people is exhausting. Actually, even trying to help others gain small amounts of awareness on a daily basis can be difficult and draining. Therapists are...

Dial-Up Connection

Posted by Pete Walker, MFT on 10/22/13 - 4:51 PM
Thirty-five years ago I got my first paid therapist job as a second-string telephone counselor for an enlightened radio station in Sydney, Australia. The radio station ran a daily one-hour program called “Kid’s Careline,” and my boss was the first string counselor who fielded on air calls from the radio audience. She was so brilliant at it that she kept three of us second stringers busy 9 to 5 fielding the calls that did not make it onto the air. It...

Calisthenics in Front of the Fun House Mirror

Posted by Catherine Ambrose, LCSW on 9/19/13 - 12:52 PM
Sometimes my days bring to mind a funhouse mirror. I stretch, collapse, widen, or shrink depending on the clinical demands of the moment, fundamentally changing and fundamentally remaining the same, moment to moment and hour to hour. Yesterday in my first session of the evening I was speaking with a young woman about the reasons for her recent spotty attendance. I fielded an interpretation that I know in every molecule of my being is correct, that she is trying to convince...

Talk is Cheap. Really.

Posted by Catherine Ambrose, LCSW on 7/16/13 - 4:51 PM
A few days ago, I read yet another article comparing the costs and effectiveness of psychotherapy and medication. While both have benefits, the article stated, medication is cheaper. Hmm. I wondered. My insurance company has a handy calculator that allows me to estimate the costs of various types of care, so I figured I’d check it out. Well, as it turns out, generic antidepressants are pretty inexpensive—definitely cheaper than psychotherapy for insured and insurer. But let’s consider my modal client. You’ve...

Clocked

Posted by Melissa Groman LCSW on 6/27/13 - 1:22 PM
I once took an informal survey of clinicians to find out a) where in their office they keep their clocks and b) how they ended their sessions. I found out we are a crafty lot indeed. Clever too. Some of us keep a big round clock somewhere behind where the client sits, so it can be seen either directly or with peripheral vision at all times. Some of us rely on our wrist watches. Some of us sport large analogues and...

The Power of Custom in Psychotherapy

Posted by Simon Yisrael Feuerman, PsyD, LCSW on 6/18/13 - 5:45 PM
It’s the kind of telephone call that every therapist gets and every therapist hates to get. “I’m sorry to disappoint you on such short notice, but I can’t come in today.” It was a patient who had come only once before, the week prior, and though he was articulate about what troubled him, one could discern that he was deeply conflicted about who he wanted help from or whether he even wanted help at all to solve his problems or even ease...

The Ones That Get Away

Posted by Catherine Ambrose, LCSW on 5/30/13 - 6:13 PM
On sunny days, the koi rise to the surface of the pond. Occasionally a particularly interesting one rises through the murk, and for a few moments it is clearly visible in all its mottled, sun-dappled glory, fins lazily stroking the water, eyes unblinkingly assessing my shadow before it propels itself back into the depths. That is the image that comes to mind when I think of Cassie. She contacted me initially through an email, sending me a clear, carefully composed assessment...

Verbal Ventilation: The highway to intimacy and the key process of therapy

Posted by Pete Walker, MFT on 5/14/13 - 12:21 PM
I was standing in the waiting room before my first session with a new therapist some twenty years ago, when I perused a cartoon that she had displayed on her bulletin board. In panel 1 of the wordless cartoon, a woman with a dark cloud over her head is talking to a friend who has a shining sun over hers. In panel 2, as the first woman gestures in a way that indicates complaining, the cloud covers her friend’s sun....

The Lying Artist

Posted by Catherine Ambrose, LCSW on 4/16/13 - 7:15 PM
Once upon a time and many years ago when I was a very new therapist, I worked with a client who had completely made herself up. A lot of things never added up with her. For starters, there was her presenting problem. Some days she would report a diet of jelly beans (not many) and carrots, and yet she was never low weight. But since clients with eating disorders are so often metabolically out of sync, it didn’t seem completely unbelievable...
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