Category Archives: Uncategorized

Why A Psychotherapy Blog?

I have been on a blogging binge for my website and have promised myself that I will continue until I have a library of pieces for when the urge to blog binge abates. It has made me think about the concept of blogging about therapy in general and in particular why I do it. I started doing it when a number of my patients said “I want to write that down” after exploring something I had said to them in their therapy session that day. I keep paper for them to use, writing makes it real. Or a patient will say “you ought to write about that” once again when we have been talking about something in their therapy work. I want to be clear that my posts come almost completely from my work as a therapist listening to people over time hearing consistent themes, their personal and intimate stories and seeking to provide psychotherapeutic treatment and care. My thoughts and feelings about therapy come from my experience of being a therapist, from what people bring to the consultation room as well as my training and continuous learning. Certainly my blog content is informed by how I personally navigate the … Continue reading

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Celebrate Your Independence

Congratulations! You have made it through the first six months of what can only be described as a tumultuous year…politically, socially and psychologically and Fourth of July is here. It is the quintessential American holiday whose formal name is Independence Day. It celebrates the Declaration of Independence which declared the separation of the United States from Great Britain. My family members in England find this odd…why wouldn’t we want the fabulous Queen Elizabeth and scones with clotted cream? In psychotherapy terms we understand that the need to separate and be independent creates growth. The “terrible twos” and the teen years are examples of becoming independent….for better or worse. When patients leave my office around the July 4th holiday I sometimes say “celebrate your independence” and they often chuckle or grimace depending on what is going on in their lives. We Americans very much prize our personal independence and get it confused with healthy dependence and interdependence. The American idea that asking for help is a sign of lack of resolve or weakness and may even signify low character gets us in trouble….all the time. My comment to patients about the act of celebrating ones independence has to do with the … Continue reading

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The Imperfect Celebration

Hello ~ Hope your Thanksgiving was happy and that you are fondly anticipating whatever the next holiday is that you celebrate or at least the Winter Solstice. Ritual provides continuity and consistency in an increasingly inconsistent world and celebrations can help us feel connected. The ritual does not need to be perfect it just needs to be. The ritual can be playing a board game after the dishes are done. No incense required. Perfectionism is the enemy of contentment and this is certainly the season where it is easy to be caught up in trying to make the perfect celebration. There are perfect moments, kittens, brownies, basketball shots and sunsets but rarely a completely perfect “thing” which creates happiness beyond what we experience in the moment. We all say “perfect” when something goes well; I am not being a curmudgeon but the anxiety and even sometimes depression which may occur when something does not go “perfectly” is really bad for our health and well being. This is not a very good time to worry about your diet, exercise routine and what didn’t get done in 2016. It is a really good time to eat good food with pleasure, go for … Continue reading

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The Angst Season

Happy autumn and Happy Thanksgiving. For many people this is the start of the holiday season and for many people Thanksgiving is the holiday they look forward to as it doesn’t seem to carry the baggage of other holidays. When I take a history from new patients at the beginning of therapy I ask people if there is a religious belief system which played a part in their lives growing up and is there one now. “I’m not religious I’m spiritual” is a common answer and I often think of Thanksgiving as being representative of this understanding which people have of themselves. For many people Thanksgiving may have religious significance and for others it is a time to have a sense of gratitude for whatever they experience as bounty. In psychotherapy offices this is also the beginning of the “angst” season when people express concern about being with family members they don’t like, don’t get along with and people they would not choose as friends. This may sound harsh but I have heard it so much so consistently over the years that I accept it as a truth for some folks. If the person believes that it is just too … Continue reading

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“you can’t possibly know I feel” & other ways to prevent kindness & understanding

I am often interested when people reject kindness, empathy, compassion, sympathy or help by saying “you can’t know how I feel because you haven’t gone through exactly what I have so you can’t possibly understand or help me”. I have never had erectile dysfunction, for the obvious reason, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t know what it is like to have my body sometimes not work and the fear and helplessness which can happen as a result. Sometimes another will have had to “walk in our shoes” to completely understand our distress but not always. Suffering is universal and the often lighthearted throwaway line “I feel your pain” has a lot of truth. Perhaps it is part of the human condition to see our problems as unique beyond others understanding and trust only those who have our same experiences. A result of that faulty thinking however is feeling shame which can lead to thinking something to death believing that if we just understand it, whatever it is, that it will change on its own and the discomfort will go away. I can’t tell you how many times someone has come to my office saying “I know what I am … Continue reading

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