Category Archives: Treatment for mind & body

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

 

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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/

Mission of life

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“It has always been this way. Death is followed by birth. To reach paradise, man must pass through inferno. – Bertrand Zobrist”

“The decisions of our past are the architects of our present.”

— Dan Brown (Inferno)

Have you ever seen the skies draw apart relieving the image on the other side. It might have looked like some unclear oasis in the desert; Your own hopeful mirror image. Have you ever felt sure on what your mission in life will be? If not, don`t panic. It is not certain that these experiences would be classified under “normal” anyway.I have had some sudden insights in my life, often after waking up in the morning, when my eyes have fluttered from side to side in their world of dreams.

After working with EMDR, insights happen even more frequently
then before, like a thousand blaring lightbulbs. Some people can`t follow
my thoughts and ideas, but we still like and try to understand each other. These people have learnt that I can`t be as rapid as my head, or I`ll confuse people enough to make them dizzy, so I always attach my legs firmly to the ground.

For the curious of you (and there has beenenough question to validate that people ARE indeed curious), you know I have been working on something the last weeks. Not everyone knows, however, that I`ve actually worked for months on what will berevealed as my Mission in Life tomorrow. True enough, I have put energy into this, but it doesn`t mean that I`ll poured over books too heavy to lift. I`ve lived my life to the fullest while letting my (surprisingly clever) brain do its magic consciously or unconsciously, requiring some practical work every now and then.

I`ve asked myself the same question countless times:

Why is life so short? But until I figure that one out, let me continue with what I`ll learnt so far:

“Nothing is more creative…nor destructive… than a brilliant mind with a purpose.” — Dan B.  (Inferno)

and:

“Denial is a critical part of the human coping mechanism. Without it, we
would all wake up terrified every morning about all the ways we could
die. Instead, our minds block out our existential fears by focusing
on stresses we can handle—like getting to work on time or paying
our taxes.” Brown (I am fond of his books, but not denial)

and:

“I’m a fan of the truth… even if it’s painfully hard to accept.” — Dan

can you see the picture?

I also have some bad news that might frustrate some:

From tomorrow I`ll password-protect this blog.

Some might think “Oh lord! I`ve been waiting for this “revelation” for WEEKS now, and this is what I`ll get in return?” If this was somehow descriptive, I do apologize. I can only assure you that we`ll all get our cherries in the end.

Of course, you can shorten the waiting time by writing an email (forfreepsychology@gmail.com) and I`ll give you the password.

I won`t say much more now; Some might even have an inkling what my new project will be (I have belief in the fearless conscious and unconscious mind) and tomorrow you`ll know for sure. Until then, we all make our small steps that sooner or later, might alter the future of mankind.

“..”consider this. It took the earth’s population thousand of years-from the early
dawn of man all the way to the early 1800s-to reach one billion
people. Then astoundingly, it took only about a hundred years to
double the population to two billion in the 1920s. After that, it
took a mere fifty years for the population to double again to four
billion in the 1970s. As you can imagine, we’re well on track to
reach eight billion very soon. Just today, the human race added
another quarter-billion people to planet Earth. A quarter million.
And this happens ever day-rain or shine. Currently every year we are adding the equivalent of the entire country of Germany.” — Dan Brown

EMDR – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy CBT in London

The Unconscious Brain Can

Do Math – Scientific American

Moving Through E-Motions

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scared

So, what is so frightening about our feelings? What is it about intense emotions that cause us to go out of our way time and time again, in order to avoid dealing with them?

For whatever it’s worth, here’s my take. It is human nature to fear what we don’t know or understand. We don’t have to go far from our own developmental process to see this as fact. Children aren’t afraid of daylight – they are afraid at night, when it is dark. Because it is difficult to actually see things in the dark, our imagination kicks in and feeds our thoughts. (And, if you see a connection between the words imagination and image, you can link them together and come up with how our imaginations create images inside our heads all the time.) Another ‘factoid’ about human nature, is that we tend to imagine more of the worst than the best. Again, if we reflect on the way things are with young children, they imagine monsters under the bed not fairy princesses.

Having said that, what I believe is that when it comes to our feelings and emotions, we are likely to imagine them being much worse than they are in actuality. We blow them out of proportion and continue through the cycle of avoiding them because now, we are even more fearful of facing them than ever.

No Thinking

No Thinking

How do we stop the madness? Remind yourself we have not been told to think about our feelings. The suggestion is to get in touch with our feelings. We don’t touch with our brains. We need to feel our emotions, to experience them.

It has taken me a while to get it, but I finally understand this to mean I need to identify where in my physical body I am feeling the feeling; to acknowledge it being there; to breathe into it and stop resisting it, and to let it be. Amazingly, it doesn’t last forever. It dissipates and dissolves, eventually other feelings appear, and they move on too.

They are JUST feelings. They do not have any control over me that I am not willing to give up. They do not have any more power than anything else. They are not against me. They are for me to accept as part of who I am.

One of the neatest things about feelings that I’ve discovered, is that there is absolutely no such thing as wrong or right to them. They just are.

Meditation

Carve out 10 or 15 minutes to get to know your feelings today. As I heard said the other day “don’t just do something, sit there!”

I would truly love to hear how it goes.

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!

What About Feeling?

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Emotion Poster

Let’s talk a bit about emotions. I’m not sure why, but most people seem more comfortable referring to them as feelings than as emotions. Perhaps the word feelings sounds more personal and less official in a way and that makes them a bit less ominous.

But whether we call them feelings or emotions, they refer to internal sensations that get stirred up when life happens. We all experience them. Interestingly however, if you do a search to find out how many feelings an average person experiences in any given day, you will find nothing. The options that come up will range from the number of thoughts a person has on an average day to the amount of calories a person should consume in an average day to how many times an average person urinates in an average day. But nothing about how many feelings a person experiences on the average.

According to dictionary.com emotion is: ‘an affective state of consciousness in which joy, sorrow, fear, hate, or the like, is experienced, as distinguished from cognitive and volitional states of consciousness.’

If this sounds a bit tough to pin down and measure to you, don’t worry. You are not alone. That is why we can’t determine something like an average amount of them each day for the average person. When it comes to emotions, for all intent and purpose, there is no real average. One person can become extremely emotional when they experience a specific event while another person experiencing the exact same event for the exact same amount of time has no emotional reaction whatsoever. In fact, one person can experience an intense emotional reaction to something one time, and later in the same day, experience no emotional reaction to the same event. How do you measure something that ambiguous and unique?

confusion

The confusion regarding emotions doesn’t only impact things like quantifying them. Many times, people find emotions difficult to identify, understand and manage; even their own. Quite often, if you ask someone how they are feeling, they do not really know. This is because as often as we experience emotions, we do not pay them much attention. Many times, this is not a very wise thing, because emotions have a funny way of piling up if they are intense and they are not dealt with.

When we think about the way we feel, we extend the feeling and compound the emotion. This would be a good thing in regard to positive emotions, like if we feel excited about an upcoming event and think about the way we feel, we intensify the excitement. It would not be a wise thing to do when it comes to negative emotions, however. But many people tend to do just that. By thinking about feeling upset, we ‘work ourselves up’ even more and become angrier.

What’s a person to do? This poses a dilemma because we are finding that it is healthful to get in touch with our emotions, yet we are saying it is not wise to think about them if they are negative.

The key is in the word “think.” Getting in touch with our feelings is not a cognitive process. Let me say that again. Nobody ever said to ‘think’ about feelings. Getting in touch means experience them – not think about them.

Just Be

Just Be

Feelings equate to being, not thinking. And most of us don’t know how“to be.” That is not a concept that many of us are familiar with. In fact, it is a concept that most of us are very uncomfortable with.

Now “THAT” is something to think about.

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!

Small stories

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Every person can do many acts of love.

 

On our post “I presented our new cards, and already I have distributed some of them to readers and fellow humans who wants to help me distribute them. Yesterday I met a friend who will travel for 5 months and she would love to distribute the cards in South-Africa, India, America, South-America and Asia. I also got a reader from Portland (thank you Laurie) and one from Pennsylvania (thank you Niko), who wants to share the cards. If more readers of this blog would like to help me with distributing them, feel free to send me some contact information, so I can mail some business-cards you can give to people you know, or even complete strangers (thereby also getting extra stars in the «kindness project».

 

If you don`t want to do that, it`s perfectly fine.

 

I hope our readers like what we`ve produced so far. If not, we really love concrete feedback on how we can make the blog even better. We can only deliver high-quality content if readers tell us what could be better.

 

I want to than601835_580478758651088_1235832139_nk all the readers, contributors and people who`ve been involved so far. Without you I would be nothing. The next week I will collect stories from people: What small things have they done for others the last couple of weeks. I will then write a post describing those acts. Maybe I can even videotape it, if people would be interested?

Project kindness to a stranger: Give a smile to a stranger, and you might have made the world a little better

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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

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 (five minutes, or if you are in a hurry, two second, is all that`s needed to fulfill the criterias).

 

When you have done that, write WHAT you did, and if you want,  email us at forfreepsychology@gmail.com

For every one of you who does that, you might have made the world just a little better.

  

Nina, psychologist

She Yelled and Called Me Names

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

The Voices In My Head

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To all appearances, Eleanor Longden was just like every other student, heading to college full of promise and without a care in the world. That was until the voices in her head started talking. Initially innocuous, these internal narrators became increasingly antagonistic and dictatorial, turning her life into a living nightmare. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, hospitalized, drugged, Longden was discarded by a system that didn’t know how to help her. Longden tells the moving tale of her years-long journey back to mental health, and makes the case that it was through learning to listen to her voices that she was able to survive.

Eleanor Longden overcame her diagnosis of schizophrenia to earn a master’s in psychology and demonstrate that the voices in her head were “a sane reaction to insane circumstances.

 

A step beyond ego

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CG Jung and the ‘Leap of Faith’ Into Individuation

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The Red Book has been described as Jung’s creative response to the threat of madness, yet it has also been seen as a deliberate exercise in self-analysis. I believe it’s likely both. When creating The Red Book, Jung knew he was on the verge of madness, and he also knew his analytical skills and expertise as a psychiatrist were his best chance at alleviating suffering, if not creating the conditions for transformation.

In many regards, The Red Book reads like a healing journey — a phrase often used to describe the reclaiming of self after a history of abuse — which is a transformative period that happens for many people committed to overcoming early life trauma. On the way to an authentic self there is first the need to step away from the person one became to survive abuse. Those confronted with this journey often experience a period of ‘going crazy’ on their way to establishing an authentic sense of self.

As The Red Book shows, individuation is a blessed curse. It opens the way to becoming one’s authentic self, and yet also the risk of alienation from the ‘tribe’. Childhood trauma survivors often know this conundrum intimately. Transformation requires a significant reorienting away from the beliefs, feelings, fantasies, and body states that made possible living in traumatizing conditions. Invariably, there is a part of the self that has gone unacknowledged or rejected, and aches to be reclaimed.

In The Red Book Jung found a process for continually rediscovering authenticity. As he often remarked, individuation is an ongoing journey and not an endpoint reached. Jung also intimated the need for what I called in an earlier post leaps of faith: turning away from the larger world’s expectations and towards one’s inner world of wisdom with acceptance and curiosity.

This quote from The Red Book inspires the impulse to creatively go forth into all that you are:

“Woe betide those who live by way of examples! Life is not with them. If you live according to an example, you thus live the life of that example, but who should live your own life if not yourself? So live yourselves.

“The signposts have fallen, unblazed trails lie before us. Do not be greedy to gobble up the fruits of foreign fields. Do you not know that you yourselves are the fertile acre which bears everything that avails you?”

Jung knew such a ‘leap of faith’ is not easy. He also wrote:

“To live oneself means: to be one’s own task. Never say that it is a pleasure to live oneself. It will be no joy but a long suffering since you must become your own creator.”

But he gives helpful advice for the journey, particularly how to live if the world feels contrary to whom you are becoming. Then you must learn to be your own guide:

“To certain things of the world I must say: you should not be thus, but you should be different. Yet first I look carefully at their nature, otherwise I cannot change it. I proceed in the same way with certain thoughts. You change those things of the world that, not being useful in themselves, endanger your welfare. Proceed likewise with your thoughts. Nothing is complete, and much is in dispute. The way of life is transformation, not exclusion. Well-being is a better judge than the law.”

Reprinted in full with permission by the original author Laura K. Kerr, Ph.D, who moderates the blog, Trauma’s Labyrinth: Finding Ways Out Of Trauma. Laura K. Kerr is a mental health scholar, blogger and trauma-focused psychotherapist. [Her] focus is on healing, with special attention to trauma, modernity, and mental health systems of care.