This Blog Is About

This blog is about---You! Each and every post is about you. Use it to challenge your usual patterns, as a tool for self-discovery, to stimulate your thinking, to learn about yourself and to answer your questions about others.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

For Californians and Travelers

di Rosa has an amazing and eclectic collection of work done by Bay Area artists.  Some of the pieces are early work by artists now renowned, others are current.

A wonderful day can be spent touring the art in this beautiful setting located in the Napa Valley.  A new exhibit just opened on June 18 and will be showing through September 17, 2011.

The Curator of this exhibit, Robert Wuilfe writes in his treatise on the exhibit:  "Writer Rebecca Solnit has found a similar---albeit sometimes more positive---dynamic operating in her study of individual and collective behavior during disaster.  A Paradise Built in Hell.  When discussing the work of sociologist and disaster specialist Charles E. Fritz she notes:  'Fritz sheds light on life during disaster, but the shadows cast on it are those of everyday life---of the alienation not just from each other but also from tangible solutions, heroic roles and chances to begin anew that disaster provides.  His essays hint that disaster is relatively easy, at least in knowing what to do and who to be.   It is everyday life that is hard, with its complications and ambiguities,  its problems to which no easy solution can be found, its conflicts between people because of economics and ideologies that become relatively insignificant in crisis'."

For my thoughts on the psychology of behavior in crisis, see post titled, In The Eye of The Storm.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Substance Abuse

If you grew up in an alcoholic family, put on the yellow light (proceed with caution) when it comes to alcohol and other drugs.
"Children of alcoholics have a three- to fourfold greater chance of developing alcoholism, says Michael Weaver, M.D., an addiction medical specialist in Richmond.  Although there's less research on drug abuse, a similar risk is thought to apply.  If you have such a background, it's essential to monitor your consumption or stop altogether.  Sometimes it's easier to say 'None at all,' when there is a known genetic risk than to wonder, 'How much is too much?', says Weaver.
 For more information on addiction, visit this site:

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Ripple Effect

A local leader and activist offers an idea.
"It may make a difference to all eternity whether we do right or wrong today."
                                                    John Allen, MFT

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Big Sigh

Some people do this when they enter my office and sit down.  They let out a sigh of relief.  It happened today:  My patient said:  "Oh, I just feel so safe in here, as if I am protected from the world.  It's as if I'm inside a bubble.  No one can get to me here."
(and, in fact, I always deadbolt the door, from the inside, after the patient enters, so as to be sure that no one can interrupt us).  There are big windows wrapping around a corner of my office and this particular patient mentioned that too, saying she liked it that she could see out but, since we are on the second floor, no one can see in.
Earlier in the week, another person made that sound after he came in and said:  "I feel like now things will be sorted out.  I can get squared away."
In a recent post, I wrote about a woman who said, following the initial sigh, "I feel like I can say anything here.  I can pour it all out.  Everyone should have this.  It's my sanctuary."

Everyone feels differently about therapy.  People come for different reasons; they have varying expectations; they interpret the experience in their own individual way.  But this sigh at the beginning happens often enough that I have taken note of it.  Apparently for some people, the therapy setting is, amongst other things a respite from a demanding, difficult, sometimes challenging world. 
Therapy can provide many things---a place for confession, a chance to sort out problems with assistance, an opportunity for personal review,  a person from whom to get suggestions, new ideas, a sounding board, a relationship different from all others, a place to think out loud, and more.  But, I am noticing, it can also be this other thing---a sanctum.

Any comments?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Blog Note

Question for you.

 The search bar at the top of the page makes the blog slower to load.  Do you use that?  Would you prefer a faster loading page to having a search bar?
I am going to put up a poll to ask you to vote on this and a few other things.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Wise Counsel

"Make today count while counting the days." 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Answering Questions

Search Keywords Reveal Reader's Questions

Two questions have come up a few times in the search words used that brought a reader to this blog.  One is about whether or not you need to tell your therapist "...every detail."  The other was about how to pay for therapy.

The first puts us back to the trust issue.  First and foremost, find a therapist you can trust.  Or, at least, find one whose competence to help, you have confidence in and whom you believe you can come to trust.  The trust isn't always instant.  For some patients, it is.  They have a sense or an intuition about the person they have chosen and are able to pour everything out right away.  To others, they have it firmly in mind that, credentials or not, this is a complete stranger, and they simply cannot open up right away; in that case the trust builds gradually.  
Depending upon the degree of trust, you will share more or, less, of what is up with you--- past, present, and future plans and hopes.
As for, specifically, how much to tell your therapist?  Well, of course, that is up to you.  The therapy is for you, after all.  It is your therapy.  But once you have someone you trust and a good relationship, I suggest you share as much as possible.  By withholding certain details you deprive yourself and handicap your treatment provider.  On the first, you'd be surprised how much you can get out of just hearing yourself and what you say, when you speak spontaneously. 
The second is probably obvious now that you've had a few seconds to think about it.  How, for starters, can the therapist truly understand your problem or dilemma without all the pieces of the puzzle?  Obviously their ability to do that effectively will be hampered.
(As the friend of one of my patients told her recently:  "You don't take your car to a mechanic and expect him to fix it without telling him what's wrong.")

As for paying therapists, there is a wide range in fees.  The fee depends upon the therapist's credentials and the setting in which you are seen.  By and large, psychiatrists get paid the highest fees as they are medical doctors and can prescribe medicine.  Psychologists get paid on the higher end; the difference between them and counselors like me is the PhD rather than the Master's degree and that they are certified to do psychological testing.  The LMFT and LCSW both have Master's degrees, the latter in social work, the LMFT has a Master's degree in clinical psychology or counseling theory.
If you go to a clinic for treatment, there is often a sliding fee scale (fee based on your ability to pay), or medi-cal is accepted.  In some school-based counseling centers, you can be seen by a trainee for a very low fee or even free.  Some group practices engage an intern(s) and offer their services for a lower fee than that of the licensed therapists. 
The therapist in private practice usually commands the highest fee.  As I've written before, this setting is very private, very confidential (if you pay for your own therapy, that is; if you use insurance, the insurance company will be able to have certain information about you).  However, there is a bit of a range here too.  What community the therapist practices in will determine the fee, in part; if the therapist has garnered some renown from writing a book or having a radio show, etc. they will cost more, and more experienced practitioners with an established practice and a good reputation will usually draw a higher fee.  By the same token, if you can find a therapist who is in a relatively new practice, the fee will probably be on the lower end of the range.
Now, in case those of you who were searching were really wondering about basics, most private practice therapists and clinics will accept cash or check as payment, most require payment before or on, the date of the session.  Most don't have support staff so, billing is burdensome and they usually don't run the practice that way.  A few are now accepting charge cards.  If you use insurance, you pay the insurance's required co-pay again, at or before, the session and then either you (in this case, you pay the full fee at the time of the session and then collect the reimbursement from your insurance yourself), or your therapist bill the insurance for the remainder.  Hope that helps. 

Any more questions?  If you write them as a comment, I will know better what exactly the question is and will be able to answer accurately.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Blog Note

This morning I put links on the post titles mentioned in the post titled, Are You New?
It will now be easy for you to take a look at those posts.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Best You

                                                    Another way to become more you.

 How do you experience yourself in relationship with the others in your life?  Today one of my patients said in passing:  "He brings out the best in me."  This caught my attention and triggered a reexamination of something I have thought about before.  It is about how we interact with each other person who is in our life.  Have you noticed that there is a difference?  You may see that you experience yourself differently in each relationship.  It is probably the interaction, the dynamic between you and the other(s). (That's often referred to as "the chemistry" between you.)  But, for now, to keep it more easily visible, more clear, let's limit ourselves to the individual influence.  Do you see how each person brings out a different part (or parts) of you?  Or, perhaps first, it would be easier to look at the most obvious examples.  Is there someone with whom you are almost always playful?  Do you kind of light up inside around that person, feel free, in the moment, and willing to say and react to, silly things?
How about someone with whom you feel really relaxed, unpretentious, able to just be yourself?
The opposite of that one, of course, is the individual with whom you feel some vague pressure, like there is something you should be doing better or differently.
Is there someone in your life who brings out your highest self?  Your ideal self?  Your freshest, most newly developed parts?  Or, who, maybe seems to be able to provide some kind of holding relationship that allows you to grow, to try new good ideas or behaviors?  (How do they do that?)
Do you have a person with whom you feel truly safe, secure, unthreatened?
Are you always a little bit on edge with a certain person in your life?

It seems like it might be worth considering this:  Should you try to hang out with those who bring out the best in you?
This might be something you'd like to do but, first, you have to figure out what the best you is!  You could start by just paying some conscious attention to how you experience yourself, how you feel, in the presence of each person you now have in your life.  Just interact naturally, as you normally would.  But, separate out a little part of your awareness to just observe.

You may have noticed these things in passing, or not at all.  In any case, to make a little project of this for yourself should interesting, possibly even compelling.

Another post on a related topic is titled:  The Geography of Your Friendships

Friday, June 3, 2011

Over and Over

The one tip that so many guys need.

Women are different sexually from men.  Most guys learn that one fairly early.  But do guys ever get, i.e. really take in, the one thing that I hear over and over again in my office, from women?

Here it is:     For women, unlike men, visual cues and genital stimulation are not enough.  Women need a lead-in, historically referred to as, "fore-play".  I actually don't like this word as it denotes a separation of sexual stages that isn't really true to reality.  Women need, usually, a feeling of closeness, before and during sexual activity with a man (and, ideally, also after---start the cycle again!).  Sometimes this may be expressed as a wish from the woman for a romantic gesture on the part of the male.  Some women want personal attention which can come in many forms, one of which would be feeling attractive and desirable.The closeness can be developed in a number of ways, such as:
  • An unexpected gift, or
  • a hug or other physical affection, or
  • the doing of something for her, or 
  • verbal declarations of love or fondness, or appreciation of her beauty or her personal qualities. 
  • Sometimes even doing something for someone she loves, such as her child, can produce tremendous tenderness in a woman.  
  • Quality time is important to sustaining and enhancing almost any relationship.  Spend time together that is especially designated for the 2 of you.  At that time do the things suggested in the post titled, You Can Catch More Flies With Honey Than Vinegar.  Quality time is when the time is primarily devoted to being together.  And, I'm sure there are more ways---maybe you can think of some and share them in the comment section here.                                                                                                                                                         Any or all of these are worth doing.  Some will have more effect on a particular woman than others.  But, don't make the common guy-mistake of testing until you find the one that gets the quickest and biggest reaction and just keep repeating that.  It doesn't work that way for women and, besides, the woman will catch on and begin to feel manipulated.  The point here is, you need to move into an emotionally intimate space (for real, not just with an end-goal in mind) with the woman before, during, and after the physical intimacy.                                                    Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman is a book that discusses in more detail most of the above suggestions in the bullet list.

Of course, women can force a sexual response out of themselves without the emotional intimacy being present but, it is far less enjoyable and satisfying.  It may even be harder to get her engaged the next time.  It seems to be very difficult for men to really believe this, probably because it is so different from how they function.  For men, sex is much more direct and, in a way, simpler.  Of course, by the same token, it is difficult for women to understand the male side too.
Sticking to the subject, for this post, anyway, for most women, relationship is everything.  They may be able to "multi-task", to accomplish tremendous things in the outer world or the domestic world; they may have great success in many spheres of life.  But, if their primary relationship is in trouble, it will affect everything for them.  They may be well able to hide it, at work, etc. but they feel it.  It colors the mood of their day until it is remedied.  This is also different from men in that they (men) are more likely to "compartmentalize".  For men, one part of their life doesn't necessarily spill over into another.  Thus, for women, an unhappy relationship is, really, an unhappy life.

Rule of thumb:  A happy woman is more likely to be interested in sex.  A woman who gets the extended version of sex outlined above is much more likely to be happy.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Release and Return

There's a reason for everything, some believe.  If it's not true, then at least, learn from the challenges that come your way.

 "When you stumble, make it part of the dance."  Author Unknown.