Friday, May 13, 2016

Such a beautiful day today.

Friday, October 26, 2012

This article beautifully illustrates the value of allowing people to grieve in their own time and their own way.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A wonderful article about how to keep moving forward and not get derailed when things don't go exactly as hoped or planned. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

“The present moment is the mother of the future.
Take care of the mother, and the mother will take care of the child.”

Quote posted with permission from Amy Gutman

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Young Adults, Anti-Depressants, and Talk Therapy

Here's the link to a thought-provoking Wall Street Journal article about young adults who have been taking anti-depression medications for much of their lives, and the possible harm it causes to adolescent and young adult development, including the evolution and strengthening of a young person's sense of personality, self-awareness, and confidence in their own ability to understand and manage their emotions.  The article is a vote of confidence for the value of talk therapy. 

The Medication Generation. 
"Many young people today have now spent most of their lives on antidepressants. Have the drugs made them 'emotionally illiterate'?"

Read about Katherine Sharpe's book, Coming of Age on Zoloft: How Antidepressants Cheered Us Up, Let Us Down, and Changed Who We Are, on the Good Reads page of this blog. 

Monday, September 6, 2010

Coping with Being Unemployed

Labor Day seems like a good time to talk about coping with being unemployed. It helps to remember that being unemployed while seeking work is a transition, especially if you were previously employed, attending school, or voluntarily not working. Transitions tend to elicit feelings of loss and uncertainty. Yet, even when painful and difficult, transitions are a time of opportunity.

First, build a foundation of self-care from which to take advantage of your state of unemployment. Attend to your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. Here are some simple, yet powerful ideas that will likely improve your mood and confidence, increase your productivity, and decrease your anxiety.

• Create structure in your life through a daily and weekly schedule. Each individual functions best at a different point on the continuum between a rigid and flexible structure. Experiment with what works best for you, and be honest with yourself about it—in other words, find what works and hold yourself accountable.

• It’s usually best to awaken and go to sleep at consistent times all or most days of the week.

• Eat nutritiously and at consistent times of the day.

• Choose an enjoyable form of physical exercise or activity to include in your daily schedule.

• Stay connected to family, friends and acquaintances, including in-person time. Don’t isolate.

• Make time for hobbies or other activities you haven’t had time for in the past.

With this foundation in place, you can focus on activities that will boost your “hire-ability” and your chances of finding work. Use your current wealth of time to grow your professional expertise and your professional network. Think: education.

• Research and read about areas within and outside of your field that interest you. The internet is a vast resource for learning.

• Contact professionals within and outside of your field whose work or organizations interest you. Learn about their work and how it is connected to the work you’ve done or would like to do. You might find that professional connections and relationships that you form while unemployed will continue to develop even after you find work.

• Consider volunteering as a way of learning about a new field, or keeping fresh in your current field. Volunteering can also lead to paid work. Similarly, consider taking a part-time job or a contract job.

Finally, seek help and support. If funds permit, consider hiring a career counselor or coach for direction, guidance and support. Or consider forming or joining a support group with others that are looking for work. If you find yourself debilitated or bogged down by depression or anxiety, consider counseling. Counseling can help you get out from under thoughts, feelings and actions that are getting in the way of making the most of your present circumstances, and help you to take advantage of the opportunities that your situation provides.

May this time be one of growth and development for you, and lead to satisfying work.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

What is Psychodynamic Therapy, Anyway?

For some, psychodynamic therapy has a bad name. For others, it is a bit of a mystery. What some people might not know is that psychodynamic therapy (a broader application of psychoanalytic therapy) has evolved over the years since Freud discovered the unconscious and theorized that all mental distress originates from unresolved sexual and aggressive conflicts.

Present-day psychodynamic therapy tends to be more accessible and “user-friendly.” Psychologist Jonathan Shedler (2010) found that contemporary psychodynamic therapy is effective and that patients who receive this type of therapy benefit from it and continue to improve after their therapy ends. Shedler (2010, pp. 98-100) discusses seven features that characterize the practice of contemporary psychodynamic therapy and distinguish it from other therapeutic approaches. Here is a brief discussion of these features.

1. Focus on and expression of emotion. The psychodynamic therapist encourages the client to express their full range of emotions, to put words to their emotional experience.

2. Exploration of attempts to avoid uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. We all tend to use certain behaviors and, sometimes, addictions to avoid thoughts and feelings that cause us pain and discomfort. These avoidance behaviors are explored in psychodynamic therapy, to understand how the client uses them to cover over thoughts and feelings. Clients can then work on experiencing previously avoided thoughts and feelings in a safe, non-judgmental context.

3. Exploration of themes and patterns. Increasing awareness and understanding of the themes and patterns in one’s thoughts, feelings, self-concept, relationships and experiences allows a person to make more satisfying choices and to avoid self-defeating behaviors.

4. Exploration of past experiences. Awareness and understanding of a client's past, and how past experiences re-play in the present, can help explain the client's current psychological challenges. "The goal is to help patients free themselves from the bonds of past experience in order to live more fully in the present.” (Shedler, 2010, p.99).

5. Focus on interpersonal relationships. Interpersonal relationships can suffer when one’s self-defeating, recurring behaviors interfere with intimacy and the ability to get one’s emotional needs met in a relationship.

6. Focus on the therapy relationship. A person’s relationship themes and patterns tend to play out in the therapy relationship as well. This provides an opportunity for the therapist and client to explore the client’s interpersonal patterns in a very direct, in-the-moment way.

7. Exploration of wishes, fantasies and dreams. A foundation of psychodynamic theory is that a person’s wishes, fantasies and dreams contain valuable information about a person’s view of themselves and others. Exploration of this material in therapy provides the client and therapist with additional avenues of discovering what is blocking the client from living a more authentic life, as well as the means for the client to begin to live more authentically.

In my work, I use a blend of psychodynamic therapy and mindfulness-based cognitive-behavioral therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help clients become more aware of their thinking, and how their thinking affects their feelings and behavior. The mindfulness component helps clients sharpen their awareness and learn to breathe and relax even in the midst of uncomfortable or distressing thoughts and feelings. (See my earlier blog entry entitled, A Simple Approach to Working with Mindfulness).

These approaches work well together. Mindfulness-based cognitive-behavioral therapy helps strengthen client’s awareness and ability to tolerate difficult moments, both useful skills for working in a psychodynamic mode. Most important to me is discovering and utilizing a mode of working that seems helpful to each client.

Shedler, J., (2010). The efficacy of psychodynamic psychotherapy. American Psychologist, 65, 98-109.