Category Archives: postive psychology

The Therapeutic Alliance: The Essential Ingredient for Psychotherapy

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umbrellas

 I am currently writing on the ‘therapeutic alliance’ – its relation to mindfulness, psychotherapy, understanding, and ‘being listened to…’   What follows is an interesting article that I came across that may interest some of you…

Excerpt:

Have you ever tried to change the way you do something? It could be anything — the way you hold your tennis racket, blow into a flute, meditate — you name it. If so, think about that experience. No matter how motivated you were to change, and no matter how much you knew that it would help your serve, musicality, or sense of inner peace, it can be difficult and scary to change even the smallest thing. In order to change, you have to give up your old way of doing something first and then try the new way. That means that for a while you’re in a free fall — you no longer have your old habit to rely on and you don’t yet have the new one.

The anxiety of trying to change something as complex and entrenched as how you relate to people close to you or manage stress takes the feeling to a whole new level. Yet, that’s just what you do when you enter psychotherapy. Just as you had to put yourself into the hand of your teachers and coaches, in therapy you need to gradually do just that with your therapist to help you through what can be a harrowing adventure. The foundation for therapy is called the therapeutic alliance (1, 2). When it’s there, you know that your therapist is there to help you, no matter how hard the going gets.

The therapeutic alliance might be the most important part of beginning a psychotherapy. In fact, many studies indicate that the therapeutic alliance is the best predictor of treatment outcome (3-5).

See entire article:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deborah-l-cabaniss-md/therapeutic-alliance_b_1554007.html

 

A mad world A diagnosis of mental illness is more common than ever – did psychiatrists create the problem, or just recognise it?

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Unfortunate Events

When a psychiatrist meets people at a party and reveals what he or she does for a living, two responses are typical. People either say, ‘I’d better be careful what I say around you,’ and then clam up, or they say, ‘I could talk to you for hours,’ and then launch into a litany of complaints and diagnostic questions, usually about one or another family member, in-law, co-worker, or other acquaintance. It seems that people are quick to acknowledge the ubiquity of those who might benefit from a psychiatrist’s attention, while expressing a deep reluctance ever to seek it out themselves…

…While a continuous view of mental illness probably reflects underlying reality, it inevitably results in grey areas where ‘caseness’ (whether someone does or does not have a mental disorder) must be decided based on judgment calls made by experienced clinicians. In psychiatry, those calls usually depend on whether a patient’s complaints are associated with significant distress or impaired functioning. Unlike medical disorders where morbidity is often determined by physical limitations or the threat of impending death, the distress and disruption of social functioning associated with mental illness can be fairly subjective. Even those on the softer, less severe end of the mental illness spectrum can experience considerable suffering and impairment. For example, someone with mild depression might not be on the verge of suicide, but could really be struggling with work due to anxiety and poor concentration. Many people might experience sub-clinical conditions that fall short of the threshold for a mental disorder, but still might benefit from intervention.

See link for interesting article on psychiatry…and bits about the importance of psychotherapeutic intervention…

http://aeon.co/magazine/being-human/have-psychiatrists-lost-perspective-on-mental-illness/

How to Think More Clearly: Beginning Steps

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Serenity

Serenity

We all need a little bit of time to ourselves. At this ripe old age of ??something, I realize how important it is to be able to find some time every day to just “be.”

That is a very long way for me to have traveled from the little girl who’s mother used to carry on like there was no tomorrow whenever I closed my bedroom door if I was upset and wanted to be alone. It was something that was frowned upon deeply – almost as if it were something I should avoid at all costs.

So here we are, and I’m a full, unadulterated convert in favor of the human need for stillness and a time of uninterrupted, undisturbed, untweeted, unnotified, unstatused…you get the point! I have grown to believe that it is an absolute necessity if a person is to be able to function even remotely close to their best throughout their day; something as necessary as brushing one’s teeth, combing one’s hair, showering, drinking enough water, exercising – all the various things we are now convinced are daily habits that are necessary to our overall well-being and health.

Sixty Thousand

Sixty Thousand

Do not despair if you find even 10 or 15 minutes of stillness every day a daunting task, because in the beginning, that is exactly what it is. I will not ramble on here too much about the continuous barrage of stimuli we all encounter in the course of a single day. Suffice it to go with one of my favorite researched facts which is that the average person experiences more than 60,000 (as in thousand) thoughts every single day. And on some level (not equally) every single one of those thoughts needs to be processed, someway.

Our brains must almost automatically identify the stimuli and compartmentalize it, making a determination, sometimes subconsciously, about what if anything we have to do with it from this point forward.

Sorting Into Categories

Sorting Into Categories

Once we make that determination, those thoughts that require action need to be further sorted into priorities that determine how we address them. And that is what we will be found doing in the order we have set our priorities.

If we learn to quiet ourselves so we can think (process) more clearly, we are more likely to set our priorities in proper order to be most productive and successful.

• Set your priorities better by taking time to think about them rather than have a knee-jerk reaction to things that “come at you” throughout the day.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

Let Creativity Flow

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Creativity

Creativity

It has been a while and I apologize for the length of time since my last post. And honestly, as much as I am sorry for those who come by and read what I have to say, I also have to acknowledge how much I personally have missed the time I just sit here and write from the heart, not necessarily having a final destination in mind, just letting the words write themselves.

This is a topic I’ve touched upon and for those of you who write or express yourself creatively through any medium such as art or music, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Also, for those of you who have any background in mental health, you also know what I’m talking about. To me, this occurrence actually bridges both and joins them into a total package. What I mean is that when a person writes free-style this way, it is as if they are having a conversation with a part of themselves that needed to be heard, but that may never have said anything had it not been given the opportunity in this way.

It is rather funny, but if people who are involved in other walks of life – other than writers or psychologists and therapists may consider whether or not I require some type of treatment myself. The wording sounds almost out-of-body in nature and there are a lot of people who may view that as ‘way out there,’ and rightfully so. But to those of us who have experienced it, there is nothing unusual about it. It is something I have grown used to calling a ‘free-style frame of mind’ and it is absolutely an altered state of mind from that in which we live and process information most of the time.

Mihaly

Mihaly

It most likely won’t surprise you to learn that once again, research lends a huge helping hand. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmahalyi, Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Management and Founding Co-Director, at Quality of Life Research Center. has studied this state — which he calls creative flow — and determined a high correlation to outstanding creativity.

I feel validated! There is a lot of technical information involved, but basically, a specific type of brain wave is involved in the type of activity the brain goes through, in order to perform creatively.

So, let those Theta Waves fly, my friends and let the creativity begin!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

Kindness to a stranger

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On the page “Let`s change the world” you find our idea for a better world. We have now created a group where I will post information about a competition we will have, and where I will publish ideas for acts of kindness we all can do. You will also find a lot of inspirations and ideas here on the blog. For those who don`t know what kindness to a stranger mean, I`ll repost the idea:

 

Project: Kindness to a stranger

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Give a smile to a stranger, and you might have made the world a little better  ”validation project”

Project kindness to a stranger

To introduce the idea, I will ask everyone to watch this short movie first. Even if it takes 18 minutes, and afterwards you will feel good.

We go about our everyday lives wanting things to always be getting better. We hope that our work makes a difference and those who came before us are proud and we wish for our children to have more than what we were given. As anyone knows who has heard Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speech—delivered fifty years ago this August~ dreams are at the center of any effort to make things better. And today we have something with more power than we might realize: The internet. It’s not without reason that China and North-Korea tried to keep their inhabitants away from news.The media also have immense power, and even if some might argue that they focus on the wrong things, a lot of journalist really want to make the world a better place. Combine the knowledge, motivation the internet and the media and you have a wonderful recipe: People who actually do something.

http://ow.ly/nk7U1

So, by now you might be thinking: Yeah, sure, but what can I DO?

If you have watched the movie, you have seen the immense effect some words can have. When we have the possibility to help, by little effort, we do it. For example, most people help the world by sorting our paper and throw it in a separate garbage bin, thereby saving the rainforest. So, what about potentially making somebody happy by smiling a little?

trueResearch shows that our mirror-neurons respond automatically by creating a smile on your own lips. This means that smiling AT someone, actually MAKE them happier. Research also shows that being happy yourself, gives you more energy to be there for others. So, like in the video, I would challenge the readers of this blog to do JUST one nice thing for somebody else (preferably a stranger, because that would have the biggest impact) the next week.

When you have done that, write WHAT you did, and if you want, leave your email at the end. This will be like signing a petition for releasing a political prisoners. For every one of you who does that, you might have made the world just a little better. This is what your story means: You are signing a petition for a better world

 

 

The group can be found here (you must have google + to join). I will start to interview people next week, and I will then focus on good things they`ve done, or good things others have done to them. The interviews will be posted on the group:

https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/104282293763031936119

twitter: @Freepsychology

Facebook page (have you liked it yet?): https://www.facebook.com/freepsychology

Improving Performance

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Trust

Trust

Here’s something I’ve noticed with myself as well as others. We tend to reflect onto others the things we ourselves struggle or deal with. What I mean by this is that we tend to suspect others if we ourselves know that we can’t trust ourselves. It is as if we know that we are likely to behave a certain way – or we have behaved in certain ways in the past, and we tend to believe that other people would do the same thing.

My sister worked for a company whose owners were not the most ethical when it came to dealings in business. They weren’t horrible, but there were times when they made choices that weren’t totally honest and above-board. Since they know this, they assume the people they work with and the people who work for them are the same way. They tend not to trust others, maintaining as much control over them as they can – even too much to certain extents – where people end up leaving their employ because of how unhappy they are with the way they are treated.

It is an interesting thing because many times, people feel alone, as if they are the only one to feel a certain way; yet on the other hand, we also assume something like this, because we feel and do certain things, we let it spill over onto the way we believe other people will be to us. I find the irony of that interesting.

Improved Performoance

Improved Performoance

The good news is that positive qualities work the same way as negative qualities. In other words, people who are honest tend to expect honesty from others and don’t start off being suspicious or doubtful. If they are good workers with a dependable work ethic, they anticipate others will provide the same. That is a good thing because many times, we are able to bring qualities out in people by setting the stage for them to act certain ways. We also encourage good behaviors because of the example we set. People don’t like to stand out and be too different, especially when they are around people they work with or want to gain approval from. So, it is more likely they will imitate the behaviors they see modeled for them by others in that environment.

With this as the foundation for formulating behaviors, it is a good idea to take time to look at the types of behaviors and values you stand for and you model to others. Whether in your place of work, in your personal life or in your home for your children, becoming more aware of the picture you project to the outside is a good step in improving your performance as well as that of those around you.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

She Yelled and Called Me Names

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A look at the power of empathy and compassion. . .

Everyday Grace

she-yelledPulling my car into the drive-thru line at Starbucks, I wondered why it was a dozen people deep. It wasn’t raining, yet it seemed everyone was driving through today. I was transporting three dogs to the groomer, and there was no way I could leave two wild Shih-tzus and one crazy Bichon alone while I went inside for my daily dose.

Millie, the Bichon, sat on my lap licking the window.

As I peeled her away from the glass, I saw the woman.

She sat across the parking lot, leaving just enough room for a thoroughfare, as she too was waiting in the Starbucks line. I smiled, and gestured to her. It went something like this: “Are you next, or am I?” Really, I was fine either way.

She was not.

Thinking I was trying to snag her spot of next up, she gunned her Suburban, rolled down the window…

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Love As A State Of Being And Healing

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Love As A State Of Being And Healing

The philosophy of Dharma is a beautiful one; one that describes a grasp of Love for all beings, in whatever form they take in the world. That Love is not conditional, that it does not come with guarantees and that promise to pay is not a part of the Great Love. But Love can become a parody, as well. For instance, I Love Stephen and allways will, but I do not Love every one, but nor do I hate, nor would I wish upon anyone any harm or ill well, nor would I deny someone a hand should they ask. The reason being for that philosophy is that most people are not willing/able to accept Love, and it would be a kind of idiot compassion to project Great Love to someone who would reject or become scared by it, as you can place yourself in a vicious circle of victim consciousness (see videos below). To other people, I can become an instrument to be used and then discarded (as they view all other people).  It is possible to live amicably in the world without loving on all planes of consciousness in the world. It is possible to be kind without loving all of humanity. I do not love all of humanity, yet I do not hate them, because not all humans can accept Love or feel that they are deserving of Love. Would that humanity were different, that we could all be as Powder speaks, and yet, we (as a whole) are not. At least, not at this time.

San Francisco Sessions 2001 *Would I speak to someone who hated me, who wanted to harm me? No, that would be idiot compassion. Would I help someone who was only manipulating me? No, that would be idiot compassion. These are lessons that I have learnt. I do not hate humanity either. I used to. I used to be very misanthropic and self-deprecating, but I have let that go. There is no one to blame, in order to do so; I would have to blame us all. There is no great monster upon whose shoulders stones can be cast….so, hatred is not necessary. But neither can every one alive be trusted or Loved fully. Does that mean it is not possible to live fully in the world, no I do not think so. I think were I to make believe that everyone loves everyone totally and completely and unconditionally or that Love can be on all planes of consciousness/existence would make it so that I could not live fully in the world. Love to me, is like a deep friendship, a bond that cannot be broken save by those in the friendship. On this matter, I agree with Alan Watts and the others. I just do not punish those whom I do not love, because I do not think punishment is a very good learning tool. But I do think to love all of humanity in its current state is a parody of love.

It is possible to engage and to achieve Dharma without that kind of depth of Love for all of humankind, because understanding, honoring, and accepting are a great part of living fully. It is possible to be kind without it being known to the party receiving that kindness, it is possible to be kind without love. Kindness comes from understanding/ comprehension/perception as well

freedLiberation will come, but will it come from Love? I do not know. Liberation arises out of kindness, empathy, sympathy, compassion, understanding, comprehension, acceptance, help, generosity, example, sharing, caring, etc. as well as a Love (on a higher plane of consciousness). This is what I have learnt, what I see in the world. I hope humans one day in some time will be All Love. I hope I am around in some form to witness. In the meantime, I ride the wave and see what I can see, and explore, and embark upon adventures, and find pleasure in finding these things out…following scents on the wind.

Yes, I am speaking of Love in its profound sense, rather than its sentimental/emotional sense. Love can be expressed emotionally, yes, but I do not see it as an emotion. I see Love as a state of being, same as many of the states of being usually attributed to “mere” emotion. I see emotions as much more complex than feeling sad or angry (the idea that sadness is expressed with tears or that anger is expressed with loud voices). Emotions are far more subtle, and are included in the state of being known as Love. I think it is why sometimes when we are happy we may cry, or we can be extremely calm and quiet when we are angry, or we can be even more kind when we hate. Emotions are not so black and white. So, I speak of Love from the state of being (the profound sense). In this way, although it is a parody of Love to speak to all people we encounter with Love (i.e., would you tell the person you just met in the café and had a wonderful conversation that you love them? Yet you may do this to the person with whom you are most intimate, your girlfriend/boyfriend/partner/significant other, yes? You would not hesitate to spontaneously say to that person “I Love you” should they do something that you find yourself suddenly filled with the compulsion to say so? But you would not do this with the “stranger” seated next to you, even though they may do something as profound? This is what I mean in the difference between love as a parody and Love on a different plane). So, it is possible to have the heart open all the time (or as much as possible) to have Love, and yet, not project in this realm, where it is parodied.

the golden dream*Image Credits (all work used with permission through CC license)–
“freed” by new 1lluminati
“San Francisco Sessions 2001 *” by Wolfgang Sterneck
“the golden dream” by AlicePopkorn

 

Freud’s theoretical formulations were not rigidly fixed, but set down instead as formulations that could change…allowing more emphasis on ‘not knowing.’

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Review of Attachment and Psychoanalysis – published this week.  (see link below)

Attachment and Psychoanalysis
Theory, Research, and Clinical Implications
by Morris N. Eagle
Guilford Press, 2013

http://metapsychology.mentalhelp.net/poc/view_doc.php?type=book&id=6971&cn=395

Humanity is but a scale. . .

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Humanity is but a scale. . .

It is this hard wiring that must be reprogrammed, not so much in individual persons, but in the DNA of humanity itself. The gene must be turned back on. Like reversing the damage done by centuries of the civilized life, well, reversing it without returning to the original point, so a new point to begin evolving. In the civilized life, we forget that we are animals and start believing that we are superior. We start believing that the abilities of mental acuity makes us formidable and beyond reproach. We start thinking it makes us immortal. Although, we can possess mental acuity and we are (as energy) immortal, we are not as humans immortal, we are not untouchable, we are not an ALL KNOWING BEING. Humanity is but a scale, a dimension of existence, a level of magnification. As is consciousness.

There are such apprehensions as infinite finitudes and finite infinities. There is limited unlimits and unlimited limits. It’s more like a spiral, and by spiral, that is to say a gradient (or levels of degrees). A growing, an expansion….not some vertical all powerful CEO. Nature knows this, the Earth knows this. Take, for instance, a spider building its web above the rapids. To put what the spider did into human terminology, he will yield the most return because he built an efficient economy. Bugs gather above the water because it is a source of food for them as well, some will inevitability be trapped in the web. Spiders build webs all over sporadically it seems. But that’s on one level of magnification. There is an intelligence here, it could be on the quantum level or on the macro level [that is should we say if the earth is conscious] which protrudes from motion as a spider that builds a web above the water. The spider knows. And humans are a scale of knowing, a way of explaining the world.

And this deep knowledge (by deep, I allude to volume of Time) is projected as instinct and awareness.

“My rule is, when you are unhappy, think about it. But when you’re happy, don’t. Why spoil it? You’re probably happy for some ridiculous reason and you’d just spoil it to know it.” ~Richard Feynman