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What is Structural Family Therapy?

What is Structural Family Therapy?

I’m grateful to Sal Minuchin for helping us as family therapists understand, conceptualize and maneuver within the dynamic structures of families: the way that the emotional and legal connections of parents to their children over generations create fluid as well as fixed patterns of hierarchies, loyalties, rules, subsystems, coalitions and boundaries. While we may know these experiences instinctively, his theory gives us a vocabulary, structure and system of talking and thinking about these automatic family features. I’m particularly glad for…

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Sometimes it IS About You

Sometimes it IS About You

As a family therapist and systems thinker, I view the conflicts and discussions in my therapy office as shared events and problems. We are all connected; what I do effects my spouse, my children and other close relationships, just as what they do effects me. But there are times when one person’s habits, behaviors, attitudes, or choices are the source of a system’s pain. A problem frequently has a source. And it just might be you. One of the most…

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Healing Traumatic Memory

Healing Traumatic Memory

If only life was one long, beautiful, inspirational journey. But it’s not. Some of us know that life can include experiences of such fear, helplessness and pain that we wonder how we survived. Over time, and with support, most of us get back to what we would call our normal. Yet others of us discover no matter what, we just can’t. We call these experiences psychological trauma, the kind of experiences that steal our mental equilibrium. Many traumas have their…

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Please Don’t Lie to Me

Please Don’t Lie to Me

I know as a person and therapist that Truth with a capital T is often a very subjective target. Your truth about an experience doesn’t have to be anywhere near my version of the truth of that same thing. You may LOVE Taylor Swift as a musician, and me? Well, I’m more Bruce. We went to the same concert perhaps, but did we have the same experience? No. But when it comes to arriving at some shared version of what…

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Why I Told My Clients about My Surgery

Why I Told My Clients about My Surgery

Years ago, when I was 6 years old, my family was in a massive car accident. That event, which nearly killed my parents, is a nodal life event for me. It is the source of many years of mental suffering, as well as the focus of eventual healing and my interest in psychology. I was seated behind my father, who was driving, when the drunk driver hit our station wagon head on. The driver’s seat slammed into my knee, and…

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What Every Wife Ought to Know about Marriage Conflict

What Every Wife Ought to Know about Marriage Conflict

If I had the opportunity to share one essential marital tool with every wife in America, I know exactly what I would say: Learn to bring up difficult topics with your partner in a calm, quiet and focused voice. Marital researcher Dr. John Gottman has studied tens of thousands of marital conversations over 30 + years. He has found that there are 4 distinct communication habits that are poison to happy relationships. He calls them the “Four Horsemen,” like the…

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On the brink of a PTSD breakthrough

On the brink of a PTSD breakthrough

Today I was talking with two different clients about the research done at the VA in Minneapolis in veterans experiencing PTSD – finding in brain scans that traumatic memory seems to “reside” in the right hemisphere of the brain, right above the ear. So happy to have located a story on this research, and want to pin it here 🙂  On the brink of a PTSD breakthrough Thanks to Dr. Apostolos Georgopoulos for his continuing research!

In The Therapist’s Office (now)

In The Therapist’s Office (now)

Every so often patterns seem to emerge from the diverse clients I see. Here’s what I’m noticing now: 1. Couples in my area are coming to counseling at higher distress levels. In our initial conversations, they easily say their problems go back years, not months. This often translates into one or both of the couple completely emotionally “finished,” and only coming to counseling out of a sense of obligation or the expectation that the divorce process in their county will…

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When To Get Marriage Therapy

When To Get Marriage Therapy

Most couples come to therapy when they have completely run out of steam. While there is a great deal that MFTs can do to help, it’s not a time in the family when people feel resilient, optimistic or energized. In order to create permanent change, one needs a good deal of hope and energy. And so does one’s partner. I’ve observed that for many couples (especially those who have had a less-than smooth relationship history, full of stops and re-starts,…

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What I’ve Been Talking About This Week

What I’ve Been Talking About This Week

I find it interesting to notice that sometimes my conversations in therapy, with vastly different people and circumstances, seem to circle around themes on occasion. This week, I’ve noticed two topics that I am repeatedly seeing in session: 1. Men who have become “awake” to their own conflicts, problem behaviors and thinking and have made radical steps to be fuller, more peaceful people. Some have partners that are whole enough people themselves who rejoice in the change, and despite years…

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