Keyword: psychotherapy

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

Mindfulness and Awareness According to Jon Kabat-Zinn

On the 10th anniversary of the publication of Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World, Jon Kabat-Zinn will be the keynote speaker at the 2015 Networker Symposium this March in Washington, DC. He’ll explore the connection between the intensely private experience of living a meditative life and responding to the vast deluge of global and social problems we collectively face. In this interview, he explains the concept of mindfulness, how to practice it, and its role in the world today.   Read More

Mindfulness Enters American Health and Science

In 1979, a 35-year-old MIT-trained molecular biologist had a vision of what his life’s work—his “karmic assignment”—would be. He’d bring the ancient Eastern disciplines he’d followed for 13 years—mindfulness meditation and yoga—to chronically sick people right here in modern America. What’s more, he’d bring these practices into the very belly of the Western scientific beast. Not exactly a modest scheme. But Jon Kabat-Zinn, the originator of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), would manage to pull it off. Since then, mindfulness has spilled out of the healthcare/psychotherapy world and into the rest of society. But the explosive growth of mindfulness in America has also inevitably triggered a backlash.   Read More

Coping with Anxiety by Welcoming Stress

The problems we suffer with anxiety often continue not because we have symptoms, but because we resist the fact that we’re experiencing symptoms—doing our utmost to block out the symptoms, rather than getting to know them a little bit. Most of our clients come to us trying to end something unpleasant, seeking both comfort and predictability in their lives. The desire for a life without stress or doubt is perfectly natural. And yet, we compound our clients’ problems when we collude in their goal of simply making the unpleasantness go away. Our objective should not simply be to block their discomfort and allay their doubts, but to help reduce their suffering—ultimately, a completely different task.   Read More

Revisiting Our Relationship with Insomnia

Insomnia. Almost everybody has it at one time or another. Some poor souls live (or barely live) with it. It’s hard to know exactly how widespread it is—prevalence rates are all over the map. But some researchers are drawing the conclusion that midnight or early-morning insomnia is possibly more “natural” than the pattern of eight hours straight sleep that we’ve come to expect, but often fail to achieve. Perhaps, the implication is, we ought to accept the reality of those hours awake and cultivate a better attitude toward the inevitable—we should accept and make friends with those wakeful hours in the middle of the night.   Read More

Therapy: Ally to Memory Recollection?

In the late 1980s and 1990s, after the growing recognition that child abuse was far more prevalent than had been believed, an increasingly vocal adult survivors’ movement began to form, determined to bring to light the previously ignored subject of child abuse. During this period, research psychologist Elizabeth Loftus emerged as the most prominent public critic of the notion that memories of childhood abuse could be recovered years later. In this interview, she reflects on her role in the memory wars of the 1990s and whether our increasing understanding of the brain has illuminated the difference between real and false memories.   Read More


 

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