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 26, 2012

Celebration!!! Three Years.

 This is the blog anniversary
 The 1st post was written on Friday, June 26, 2009

 What am I doing here?  I am trying to provide a useful service.  During the time since I achieved my license and have been in practice, I have seen hundreds of people.  They have shared with me---they've shared their shame, their joy, their struggle, their wishes, their disappointments, their accomplishments, their love, their pain, their ideas; in short, they've shared with me their inner lives.  
I sure hope I have learned something from this.  And that learning is what I hope to impart to you.  If you have never seen the inside of a therapy office, I think that this blog will give you a small taste of what that may be like.  
If you have been in therapy or are currently engaged in that process, this blog should work for you as a stimulating adjunct to your own therapy effort.  If psychology is an interest of yours, the latest information from the researchers in the field is here.  If you'd enjoy a peek into what occurs between me and my patients, there's a bit of that here.  If you want to know what it's like to be a therapist, that has now been incorporated into the blog.   At first, my aim was to provide growth-provoking material in written form.  But, as I've gone along, it's become abundantly clear that you, my readers, actually want to know about me, or, people like me.  Now I have a label, "About therapists" so you can find out something about us.

I am also hoping to provide a place you can trust.  I try my best, in my profession, to function with integrity.  Naturally, everything I write here cannot be perfectly correct.  On the other hand, I didn't begin this blog until I had a whole lot of experience under my belt.  I have an intrinsic interest in my field so, even if I weren't required to complete continuing education, I would be attending seminars and reading about psychology anyway.  I know what is in my heart.  And my wish  to offer something here that will be helpful to some of you out there in the world, is real.  So, I hope that when you are perusing these posts and wandering around in the blog that you feel, confident and comfortable.
If you are curious, if you have a drive to understand, if you are seeking inspiration, you will be able to find resources for those quests here.
I am on a mission (and I don't mean to sound overly dramatic but that is how I feel) to add something good into the mix that is our human world.  At the same time, it also makes me happy to create the blog:  I feel inspired myself, I utilize my creative energy, and I am giving out all that I have.  I don't want to stop until I am on empty!

It seems like there does need to be some sort of change though, in how the blog is done.  As I've said before, I work many hours every week on it.  I rarely miss a day, believe it or not-yes-I work here every day.
I have to find a way to support this.  I've asked for your suggestions (Post, titled, Call For Participation addressed that problem) but I didn't get any.  My best that I can come up with is to place a Donation Button on the blog.  If you feel you received some value from visiting here, you may wish to help me to continue to offer my particular brand of encouragement for self-actualization and living life to the fullest.
 I want to continue to give you what you want (and, please, if there are topics you want me to address, ask me for it in one of the comment sections!) and, at the same time, I want to take care of myself.
Don't get me wrong, it is, as a matter of fact, a magnificent feeling, to altruistically give whatever you may have to offer, freely to the whole world.  It's wonderful.   (Bless the internet)
But! as one of my patients so wisely once said:  "If you don't deal with reality, it will deal with you."

***Primarily, though, this is time to celebrate---3 years of writing about us, people, fascinating creatures that we are---344 posts and counting!***

Again I invite you to join my blog as a Follower; it would mean a lot to me.  Write what you think, how you feel, what your questions are, in the comment boxes.  Talk to me.  Express yourself to the other interesting people who read this blog.

Celebrate!  Dance!  Listen to the music!  I am celebrating my accomplishment and I celebrate you in your personal quest!

"There are many times in our life when we may feel as small as a butterfly, and when we think that the things we can do have as little effect as the fluttering of a butterfly’s wings.  We think that in our own little space allotted to us, in the small roles given us to play, we make almost no difference in the lives of those around us.
Little however do we know that what we do may truly result to a big difference later on, creating waves of change that wouldn’t have happened had we not taken the initiative to do our part.
Let us remember the Butterfly Effect.  For who knows?  Your little deeds may just yield a tornado of blessings to countless others around you, even to those whom you haven’t even met."

I will be looking for your comments.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Google + 1/A Dozen Doozies

12 Noteworthy Posts Chosen By You, The Readers

 These are the posts, of the 344 now published, that have merited a Google + 1.  Each of these was awarded, by the readers, that special designation of being outstanding in some way.    That two of these have also been on the All Time Most Popular Posts list stands to reason.  
For me, the blogger, it is a magnificent lift to see one of these +s appear next to a post.  I am so gratified that these 12 made someone feel they were important enough to be shared this way.  So, here they are, for those of you who would like to take a look: 

Another Look at How's the Fit has also been on the most popular list in addition to being Google+d

Out of The Question! (I like this title because it has a double meaning) 

This post, also has been on the popular list:  One Door Closes, Another Opens

One day I will put up some links to early posts that didn't get much attention because I didn't have many readers then.  But there are some hidden gems there!

Do you agree with the readers who Google + 1 ed these posts or have you found others that you think have greater merit?  You be the judge!

Thursday, June 21, 2012


     A focus for meditation from one of my recent Kundalini Yoga classes
Truth is my identity.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Wishes Come True

A fantasy of mine or, imagining having a magic wand

This weekend, I bought a state lottery ticket.  The jackpot is $241,000,000.  It's a lot of money in my book.  Isn't it fun to dream about what you will do if you win?
One of the things that I like to think about is how I could make wishes come true.  
My dear friend who has a terminal illness and is struggling and fighting to stay alive---I would pay for the world's best doctors who specialize in his diagnosis.  I have a young relative who really wants to move but doesn't have the wherewithal to accomplish that.  Voila!  I would move her.  I know a couple who have a house and a car but they need a second car and a new house.  Or, even more fun would be to re-model, completely, the house they have.  Speaking of properties, I do know someone who is caught in this 'under water' loan situation that now exists here (value at which property was bought and for which a bank loan was procured, is now worth thousands of dollars less); I would take care of that in a minute!  I have a colleague, a wonderful, talented therapist who has her office in the middle of a very poor community.  She has made the interior of her office very attractive but, her landlord at her building is unwilling to do any repairs or upkeep.  It would be fun to buy that building, get her a receptionist and fix it all up so she could be comfortable in that important work she is doing.  Thinking about work, I know an artist and a yoga teacher each of whom would be ecstatic to have their own studio.  Done!  Magic!
Daydreaming:  I love to fantasize about this.  How would I do it?  Would I be an anonymous good fairy or a joyful friend?  
Every time I ponder this, I think of different people who have shared their dreams with me or, even who haven't but, just obviously could flourish with that one added thing that is out of their reach financially.
 It's fun.
This is a huge departure for me.  I've never written on the blog about anything so simply personal.  Sharing a bit of my inner child, I guess.  Usually you only hear my adult, professional voice.  I thought maybe there would be someone out there who could understand this fantasy, so I indulged myself today.
By the way, it isn't that I don't have my own wishes.  Of course I do.  Just like anybody does.  And I like to imagine being able to have those too.  It's all part of a happy daydream.

P.S.  No sooner did I write this (not posted yet, still in draft) but one of my clients said, sharing a regret:  "Every day I wake up  wishing I had finished school."  Funny how that happened, huh.  Wish I could make his dream come true.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Top Honors Go To Russian Readers

The number of faithful readers to our blog here who hail from the country of Russia continue to take the top spot.
Russian readers are second only to those from my own country, the United States.  Yay Russia!
Thank you for your loyalty.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Attachment and Transformation in Therapy

When the therapist fails.

Sometimes it happens that a beloved, depended upon therapist dies suddenly.  One of our Grand Rounds presentations was by a colleague who had this unfortunate experience when her analyst, with whom she was in the middle of her work, suddenly passed away.  (this was by Robin A. Deutach, PhD and called, A Voice Lost, A Voice Found:  After the Death of the Analyst; tell me in the comment section if you want to hear more about this talk.)  Also, The Healing Hour, by V.C. August tells the story of another analysand who lost her therapist.  "Every love relationship bears the risk of inevitable loss, and so to offer one’s heart is always an act of emotional courage. The two main characters in The Healing Hour are not a likely pairing. The narrator, V, is an independent, feisty, witty businesswoman who is in a committed, happy relationship. Dr. Alex is a psychiatrist who helps her when she becomes quite ill with lupus, a disease that puts V at risk of losing both her eyesight and her business. But it is only a short time before Dr. Alex herself becomes ill, terminally. The healing hour now involves V’s support and feelings for Dr. Alex. The memoir shows how being willing to love everywhere — your mate, your career, the streets of New York, your family, and then, even your doctor — can be healing for everyone. Even the readers.")
More commonly, will be the situation where the therapist succumbs to the flu or a sinus infection, a virus or some other medical problem.  Besides not being above human ailments, we are also in a closed room for nearly an hour with sick, symptomatic people a lot.  Why do people come when they are ill?  Some of it is probably wishing to avoid paying the fee for not having given adequate notice to cancel the session.  But, also, therapy can make a person feel better.  It isn't talked about much and I haven't seen any scientific studies on it, but, I do think that therapy can contribute to good health, overall.  After all, our bodies are not disconnected from our minds.  Your therapist is probably one of the most compassionate people you can see when you are feeling lousy.  Even just that is sometimes enough to create a relaxation response which, if nothing else, relieves pain (and that is documented).
I've had a lot of therapy myself and done personal growth and self development work almost all of my adult life.  I think it is in part, a result of that effort that I don't often get sick enough that I have to stay home from work and I am generally healthier than average for my age.  But, recently, I did come down with a bacterial infection---not something one can power through.  I
was forced to cancel appointments at my office.  It was interesting how my patients reacted.  There was a whole range, from some who simply took it as an ordinary bump-in-the-road type life event, through those who felt quite sorry, to those who were angry.
 It made me recall an experience I had, many years ago with my dear therapist of the time, Marty Johnson, MFT.  While I was early in my career then, nonetheless, I was a practicing therapist myself.  I was an adult. But, when she called and left me a message that she was sick and had to postpone our appointment to the next scheduled time that we had, I called back and left her a message, asking her to call me.

  Despite being an adult professional myself, I was quite dependent on her at that point.  I feel a bit chagrined as I remember this.  (Poor thing.  She did call me, though she felt so poorly, and I really didn't have anything to say.)  However, from my current vantage point, I  recognize that some dependency is a normal stage of therapy for most patients.  I went through that stage with her and, eventually on to a good conclusion of the therapy and came out with more independence than I went in with. 
  With my most recent therapist, when he called, sick or, once when he had to have a knee surgery, these things were no problem to me.  So, I got to see my own growth by comparing the two experiences.  I share it partly because it is a good illustration of how therapy, while engendering dependency to some extent, eventually can afford the patient more autonomy.

You have to be willing to trust your therapist enough to allow that dependency to develop so that you can then grow out of it.  If you stay at a more superficial level in the relationship, you can utilize the therapist's ability to problem solve, you can enjoy the sympathy when airing out your difficulties, and still gain a lot from time in therapy.  But, if you want deeper changes, you have to agree to hold that person in a special position within your own psyche.  Meanwhile the therapist, for their part, has to be capable of carrying whatever projection their client has on them.  This is why it is important that we (we therapists) do a lot of personal work and sort out our own issues as much as possible, so that we can hang in there, in that neutral, compassionate, holding position as long as you need it.                                                                                                                                                                                Artist JohnMaggiotto
This is an exposition, in brief, of part of why I have said previously that the therapy relationship is central to the success of the therapy; it is part of the source of healing.

Does this post remind you of any of your experiences?  Please share.

(For a related article on dependence and autonomy, re. adult couples and parenting relationships, rather than the therapy relationship as I have written about above, take a look at this one:

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

We Love New Members of this Blog Community!

Welcome to The Netherlands

The people of The Netherlands are visiting us very regularly now. 
The Netherlands, a country known for it's generosity.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

And, Also

An Addition to a Previous Post

May 16, 2012
Honesty without kindness, humor, and goodheartedness can be just mean. From the very beginning to the very end, pointing to our own hearts to discover what is true isn’t just a matter of honesty but also of compassion and respect for what we see.  Pema Chodron
The post I'm referencing is called Your Self-Editor

Friday, June 8, 2012

When To Call a Therapist

Reason for making use of the therapy resource

What are some of the reasons a person might look into beginning therapy?  Here are some common experiences that people find they want help with:
  • Difficulty at work
  • Trouble at school
  • Social problems (chronic interpersonal issues or social fears or awkwardness)
  • Family strife
  • Feeling fearful with no apparent reason for it
  • Sleep disorder
  • Anxiety, nervousness, or shakiness
  • Loss of interest in usual activities
  • Sense that life is too much of an effort
  • Hopelessness about the future
  • Feeling blue 
  • Eating disorder, often in the form of compulsive overeating
Other general causes for the call may have to do with:
  1. how the person views themselves,
  2. how well they may or may not be dealing with their problems
  3. friendships or lack of support/people they can count on
  4. wish to accomplish something and looking for assistance
  5. substance abuse or chemical dependency or a close relationship with one who has this issue
  6. chronic medical condition and how to handle it
By and large, most people come to therapy with anxiety or depression or both and in varying degrees.  Problems in their primary relationship rank up there with one of the most commonly seen problems by therapists.  Generally, just feeling stuck brings people to the therapy office; they have a dilemma and have not been able to solve it with their usual methods.  It may be a pattern, that is, a problem that has come up repeatedly in their life or it may be a new conundrum that they want help with how to figure out a way through.

Some people still think of therapy as being only there for "psychotic" people or the "certifiably insane" or "nutcases" (I have heard all of these descriptive terms from clients who, obviously changed their opinion or, from members of the general public who have not changed their opinion).  The truth is, the people seen in outpatient therapy offices come from all walks of life, sometimes with more severe disorders but, usually, with the ordinary challenges of life that everyone faces.

Do you have any questions about this list?

Sunday, June 3, 2012


As therapists, we think a lot about change.  People often come to therapy looking for change of some sort.  How does change happen?  Here are some considerations about change.

The Pain of Change
"Change is painful. Few people have the courage to seek out change. Most people won’t change until the pain of where they are exceeds the pain of change. When it comes to money, we can be like the toddler in a soiled diaper... Only when the rash comes will we cry out. I hope Sara’s story and the others in this book will make you unwilling to stay where you are. If you keep doing the same things, you will keep getting the same results. You are where you are right now financially as a sum total of the decisions you’ve made to this point. If you like where you are, keep it up. Keep in mind, how- ever, why you are reading a book called The Total Money Makeover. Is it because deep down you have the same uneasy feeling Sara had but didn’t address until it was almost too late? Are you really looking for something more? If so, I’ve got great news...Break through the temptation to remain in the same situation, and opt for the pain of change before the pain of not changing searches you out. Don’t wait for a heart attack to show you that you are overweight. Cut the carbs, the fats, the sugars, and lace up the running shoes now".  Dave Ramsey

I was interested to find this passage in a book about money management.  In recent years, I have discovered that some people in this field include psychology as an aspect of their work or, at the very least, develop a philosophy about how to live well.  I tease my own financial adviser telling him he is my "financial therapist".  People can actualize through many endeavors, not just the therapy process; there are entire books written on that notion.  How change happens whatever the vehicle, is another topic that has occupied a few whole books.
But, in a way, change is what life is about.  Very little stays the same throughout our lives.  If we admit it, change is occurring all the time for all of us.  To be comfortable, we need to be able to adapt, to be less rigid and more fluid, to be flexible and open.  Some change is bad, some change is good; we are definitely not a bunch of statues sitting around for all eternity.  We are organisms moving through an ever-evolving environment.

Many, if not most adults, find it difficult to change.  Try, yourself, to develop a new routine or stop a bad habit if you want an example.  And so, when we talk about psychotherapy, we are looking at something that is not easy.  Interesting?  Yes.  Sometimes surprising?  Yes.  Promising?  Yes.  But, easy?  No.

It might seem comfortable to reach adulthood with a few skills, some intact relationships, some wishes for acquisitions, and success at achieving the fundamentals to live, and leave it at that.  The trouble with this, what you might call, easy way out, is that it can undermine the good life and contribute to problems.
Here's a real example:  A patient of mine graduated from high school and landed a male-dominated job that offered good pay, regular raises, and some amount of security.  He stayed there, getting married and having children along the way.  So much of his time is spent in this physically demanding, somewhat dangerous, mostly male co-workers job that this was his major developmental influence as a young adult.  Now, his wife has suddenly left, expressing dissatisfaction with the quality of their relationship.  He is panic-stricken.  Nonetheless, his way of interacting with her about this is in the style he has learned to use to deal with the guys at work.  He is being tough, making demands, drawing lines in the sand, and arguing, with the goal of being right; all of this is having the opposite effect of what he wants.  In other words, it is sending her further away when what he really wants is to reunite with her.

So, his comfortable life turns out to be too self-limiting.  He has not branched out and learned any skills other than what he needs to maintain his job, his house, and to some degree, his children.  Perhaps if he had developed some other interests where he might have met some other kinds of people in a different setting,
he may have learned some social skills other than the set he needs for the workplace.

This is a simple example.  But, you can use your own imagination to see how staying only with what is familiar and comfortable and not placing yourself in new situations and pursuing new learning can be self-defeating.

Sophists taught arête (Greek: ἀρετή, quality, excellence) as the highest value, and the determinant of one's actions in life. The Sophists taught artistic quality in oratory (motivation via speech) as a manner of demonstrating one's arête. Oratory was taught as an art form, used to please and to influence other people via excellent speech; nonetheless, the Sophists taught the pupil to seek arête in all endeavours, not solely in oratory. Socrates favoured truth as the highest value, proposing that it could be discovered through reason and logic in discussion.  Maryana Pinchuk
Sometimes, in the short term, finding the way to one's own truth  can be a bumpy road.  In the long run, however, it may lead to a life of quality, a life that is an expression of the unique you, a life that is gratifying and successful on the personal front.

"It's also a cornerstone of mental health. Authenticity is correlated with many aspects of psychological well-being, including vitality, self-esteem, and coping skills. Acting in accordance with one's core self—a trait called self-determination—is ranked by some experts as one of three basic psychological needs, along with competence and a sense of relatedness."  Psychology Today

A short post on this topic:  Going Forward
What are your thoughts about change?  Please comment below.