Keyword: psychotherapy

Taking the Pulse of Psychotherapy

There’s been a decline in the public’s utilization of psychotherapy as a consequence of the rise of what might be called the Gang of Three: DSM, Big Pharma, and Managed Care. Today, we appear to be an atomized and poorly organized field that’s lost economic ground to other approaches promising mental health consumers improved wellbeing. But while recognizing the missed opportunities and missteps we’ve made as a profession, the contributors to our latest issue of the Networker also point to what we need to do to make a more concerted and effective stand to reclaim lost territory.
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How Our Everyday Behavior Can Heal Trauma

As therapists, we often elicit negative emotions, believing that they must be purged before there’ll be room for hope and other positive emotions. We’re particularly anxious to assuage trauma survivors, whose desperate, unbearable pain seems to demand immediate relief. But favoring positive emotions and subtly trying to subdue negative ones can backfire. How do we get beyond this impasse? We can begin by looking again at the ways people have found consolation and support in the thousands of years before psychotherapy was developed. Throughout history, human beings have found rough relief and a modicum of comfort in the immediate obligations and habits of ordinary, daily life.   Read More

Assessing the State of Psychotherapy

The bad news was made official in 2010, though everybody in the head-shrink business had long suspected as much: psychotherapy was in decline, or even in freefall. You might think this trend represents people’s preferences for the quick fix of a pill, rather than a slog through talk therapy, but you’d be wrong: surveys have consistently shown that depressed and/or anxious people and their families would rather talk to a real, live, human therapist than fill a prescription. So in what appears to be the twilight of the psychopharm gods, why aren’t therapy practitioners rising up, throwing off their chains, and reconquering lost mental health territory?   Read More

Where Do Therapists Stand on Marijuana Legalization?

More than 20 states have enacted laws to allow the sale of marijuana for medicinal purposes, and others have moved to reduce criminal penalties for possession of small amounts. But the more marijuana legalization reaches mainstream acceptance, the more the divisions of opinion within the mental health field—presumably the professionals who have the most scientifically informed perspective on the debate—become apparent.   Read More

Adopting Healthy Habits for Happiness and Wellbeing

Once in a while, we may make concerted attempts to be kinder, less impatient, or more attentive to our own self-care. But our chaotic 21st-century lives often lack the structure, discipline, and even the raw physical energy required to make the changes stick. After a few weeks of trying something as simple as swimming at lunchtime, we sag beneath the weight of too much distraction and too little sleep. We know everything except how to live. In this postmodern world of infinite choice and incoherent structure, what practical steps should we take now—a personal trainer? More therapy? Feng shui? Zen meditation?—to become the self we see shining in our best moments?   Read More

A Brain Science Approach to Couples Therapy

When clients become upset, they’re in the grip of one of seven major body-brain mood states, also referred to as “executive operating systems.” These are more than just passing moods. They’re complex neurochemical cascades, in which hormones race through the body and brain and electrical impulses fly over familiar neural synapses, shaping what we feel, do, and think. This hormonal cascade can be lifesaving in the appropriate situation—in the face of a dangerous driver, say, or a possible mugger or rapist. But in intimate relationships, it’s often toxic. In my work as a couples therapist, I train my clients to reactivate the neocortex—the inner switchmaster—in the face of strong emotion.   Read More

The Rise of Therapy’s Positive Psychology Movement

How did Martin Seligman come to be known as the “father” of something called positive psychology, a movement that could change the face of psychotherapy as we know it? With his scientific study of what makes people happy and good, Seligman overturned therapy’s culture of victimology, obsessed with the study of what’s wrong with people—with their emotional lives, their relationships, their physical brains, and why they fail and feel bad. If people could be taught to feel bad, Seligman supposed, perhaps they could also be taught to feel good.   Read More

How Mindfulness Makes Therapy a Sacred Space

What exactly is it that mindfulness helps bring into focus that our other theories and methods of therapeutic practice haven’t already addressed? For an answer to that question, we asked Jack Kornfield—Buddhist teacher, psychotherapist, and someone who’s been at the forefront of those helping Westerners grasp Eastern spiritual concepts and practices since the 1970s. In this interview, he describes how ritual—what he calls the experience of the sacred—and a concern with the larger mystery of our lives can deepen the therapeutic encounter.   Read More

How Mindfulness Therapy Redefines the Self

What if our therapeutic goals of improving self-esteem, developing a stable and coherent sense of self, and identifying and expressing genuine, authentic feelings all turn out to be symptoms of delusion? If we engage in meditation long enough, we discover that our sense of being a separate, coherent, enduring self is actually a delusion maintained by our constant inner chatter. Seeing ourselves in this light can pull the rug out from under us in alarming—though potentially liberating—ways.   Read More

Bridging Mind and Body in Trauma Treatment

Bessel Van der Kolk first became aware of the world of trauma in 1978, when he decided to go work for the Veterans Administration, not to study PTSD (it hadn’t been recognized yet as a formal diagnosis), but to get the government benefits to pay for his own psychoanalysis. While there, he discovered the reality of PTSD—and the beginnings of a stunning, nationwide phenomenon. Since then, the trauma field has gone from obscurity to become one of the most innovative and supported specialties in mental health. Trauma researchers have set off an explosion of knowledge about psychobiology and the interaction of body and mind. And van der Kolk, as much as anyone else in the field, has defined the current framework for understanding trauma.   Read More


 

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