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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...

Leave Your Degree at the Door, Dude

Posted by Howard Rosenthal, EdD on 11/19/13 - 5:55 PM
The late 1960s and 1970s were exciting times for the fields of psychology and psychotherapy. Much of the enthusiasm was spawned by a body of landmark research. At the time experts postulated that humans had two distinct nervous systems: the voluntary and the involuntary. The voluntary nervous system allows you to brew your morning cup of Joe or take out the trash before you leave for work. The involuntary or autonomic nervous system controls your heart rate, blood pressure and...

Just Peachy

Posted by Melissa Groman LCSW on 10/24/13 - 2:10 PM
It's getting colder in the Northeast. I love it—mostly I do—except that I am colder than cold, colder than most folks. I feel it in my bones. My husband and I are Florida bound for vacation soon, and then, we think, to live. Not just yet. The kids need a bit more raising first. So with the cold coming and the time being ripe, we take the kids (the same ones who still need a bit more raising, and two that...

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...

Technology and Psychotherapy

Posted by Elizabeth Sullivan, MFT on 8/20/13 - 2:57 PM
A recent article on a study from the University of Zurich offered the headline, "Psychotherapy Via Internet as Good as If Not Better Than Face-To-Face Consultations." It does not surprise me when I think about many of my clients’ everyday lives in the Bay Area: technology tends to be seen for the most part as a fun, useful and normal part of life. It also makes sense when I think about the ways that technology, if wielded strategically, can sometimes...

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...
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