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.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Welcome Lisa.

Lisa-I am ridiculously happy that you have joined the blog!

All the current members know how much I appreciate knowing that someone is regularly reading and participating in this blog.  Some of our members make comments that really enrich the discussion---it's worthwhile to take a look at the comments.
Now, who will be our 30th member???

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Donations Accepted

Using the button #3

 The PayPal button I have here is so easy and safe to use.  I use PayPal myself all the time.  There has never been a problem.  It is a secure method to transfer money.

If you want to be a user who supports this work and you don't want to use the button, you can mail me a check.  My address is always on the landing page, at the bottom of the page. 

Donations of any size will be happily accepted.
Most important, it will encourage me to keep doing what I am doing here.

This is a user supported blog.

Friday, December 28, 2012

A Few Can Influence Many

Some human behaviors or feeling states can be contagious

I observed this myself, way back when, I was awaiting my interview for my first internship at the counseling center run by my graduate program (a useful tip: If you need psychotherapy and have little ability to pay, graduate school programs often run these counseling centers where students gain experience working with clients, under supervision of licensed therapists; the fees are usually based on a very low sliding fee scale)As I waited I began noticing that the student next to me was quite agitated I was notBut as I began sensing her anxiety, I could tell that it might affect me.  I moved to another seat and as several of us continued to wait for our interview appointment, I saw each of the other students, one by one, become anxious too.  Since then I have noticed this phenomenon  on other occasions:  I have noticed, for example, becoming stirred up if I am in the company of an anxious person---I am not immune.  But I am aware.
This experience I had was also mentioned in an earlier post:

Some research that was done awhile ago, which I recently came across in my files tells us that happiness, loneliness, and obesity are also contagious.  Research by Nicholas Christakis at Harvard and James Fowler at U C San Diego.
This effect has since been reported by others again,more recently so, this research has held up.  How can obesity be contagious?  When you spend time around people who tend to overeat or choose unhealthy foods as a habit, you will be influenced to do the same.  I also noticed this myself, in the opposite way.  Because I usually attend several Yoga classes a week, I make little friendships with others who take the classes.  When we chat before or after class, subjects relating to good health often come up because people who do yoga tend to be health conscious.  There's talk about diet, exercise, stress reduction, supplements, and so on.  I do find myself thinking about what others have said, later, and also, trying some of their ideas.  There's also a subtle inspiring effect to re-commit myself to healthy practices.
(A related post:

 The good news is that "Doing good deeds, or just being kind, is contagious --- and the behavior of a few can influence many...When people benefit from kindness, they 'pay it forward', which creates greater cooperation that influences others in a social network...Generosity was...tripled by others, who were directly or indirectly influenced to give more." Sharon Jayson 
 I have also been aware at times of how when one is interacting with a happy person, sometimes the happiness just flows out and washes over the other person and tends to lift their spirits.
  There are few things to think about here:
  • Of course, you want to keep your boundaries intact if you are in the company of an anxious or lonely person.  
  •  You can teach yourself to be alert to how you feel in the company of various people.  
  • In addition, you might consider asking yourself just how are you, yourself, influencing others.  
Remember the butterfly effect-it is a theory akin to the research findings and my own observations reported above.

 Have you ever noticed your own state of mind being affected/altered by proximity to someone in a different state of mind?  Please comment.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Belated Welcome

Missed welcoming one of our new members---my mistake

Those of you who have been following my blog know how happy a new member makes me.  I always post a special welcome.  But, I think one got missed!

This person, who had participated in the blog with regular visits and comments, changed her (his?) name and, at the same I had an influx of new members.  Between the 2, Bama Psych didn't get a proper welcome.

Let's remedy this right now:  Welcome Bama Psych!

It's a delight for me to receive a new member but the bonus is when that member writes comments.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Some, such as Nelson Rockefeller and Mother Teresa believe that love is the most powerful force there is

"Love is sometimes shown in the things you don't say, don't keep track of, and don't notice.  The greatest kindness is often shown in letting things go.  None of us is perfect, but we can all be perfect friends and perfect partners by allowing those we love to be imperfect."
Neale Donald Walsch

"Love is the ability and willingness to allow those you care for to be what they choose for themselves without any insistence that they satisfy you."
Dr. Wayne Dyer

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Family Therapist

How can therapy help

 One of the best recommendations for the process of psychotherapy I've seen:  
"Life is not what it's supposed to be. It's what it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference. "
Virginia Satir

I attended a seminar once, a long time ago, where Virgina Satir presented.  I think I was still a student then.  She had a few of us on stage to demonstrate her ideas about how things happen in families.  What a privilege!  I'll never forget her warmth, intelligence, confidence, and generous nature. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Lowering Holiday Stress

The Christmas rush is on---here is a link to an article with some useful tips for keeping balanced

This can be a playful, celebratory time of year and it can be a difficult time of year.  There's, undeniably a lot of pressure (at least, many people feel it) to have fun and make everyone on your list happy.  Here's a link to an article with some useful ideas for keeping calm and being able to truly enjoy the holidays:  
A post I wrote  previously about gift giving is here:
It's a post that gives you a way to think about selecting gifts.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Best You

Is therapy for problem-solving only?

This post is prompted by a reader's comment.  This person was looking for two things from their therapist that the therapist did not want to offer.  One was reassurance that the relationship was fine and in good condition and the other request was that the therapist, in addition to pointing out problems, highlight for her some of her positive attributes.
When I conduct therapy, I go into it looking for the positive characteristics in the patient; that belies an assumption that there, of course, would be some good qualities in nearly anyone.  And I do enter each new relationship with that assumption.
First off though, we want an honest relationship and a true process.  So, here I am not talking about social niceties.  I am not talking about flattery.  Unless it's sincere, I don't mean just throwing in a compliment here and there for good measure.  
What I mean is looking for that individual's real assets and sometimes speaking about them.  I think that honing in on a patient's strengths and bolstering those positive traits should always be a part of therapy.  The purpose of therapy, in my book, is for you to become the best you possible.
But, not all therapists agree with this and so, once again, I remind you that if you want a solution-focused therapist or, on the other hand, if you want one who will try to include all parts of your character and personhood, you must search until you find the right match.  As you can see, if you are looking for one of those styles and you land up with a therapist of the other style, it's going to be a rocky road.
In this case, the client who wrote in also asked for some reassurance from the therapist, specifically about the therapy relationship.  Personally, I oftentimes ask clients to tell me if there is a certain way that they want me to work with them, if they have been in therapy before and have found things that are helpful to tell me about that, as well as to say if something isn't working and to express their wishes.  I expect our therapy  to be a collaborative effort and process.  I also ask, periodically, for feedback on how the therapy is going in the patient's view and often do a year-end review.  All therapists are not going to be of this mind-set.

When you read the post, Making Mistakes, you saw a list of some of the helpful things that therapists have to offer in their skill set.  That list is mostly about problem-solving and promoting growth which is, perhaps, the arena in which the reader's therapist most liked to work.  Indeed, this is the majority of what we do.  People usually come to us with a problem.  Or, sometimes they are having trouble with their own inner life, or their personal functioning.  So, indeed, therapy is not just about ego-boosting.  But, at the same time, I don't think people come to a therapist to be only told what's wrong with them.  It's best to have some balance.
Seems to me if you want a balanced outcome, there ought to be some balance in the process.  If the focus is only and always about problems and what's wrong, the implication (subtle message) is that the client is just a bundle of problems with no good side.
(One little caveat; it must be mentioned that each case is different, i.e. in one case lots of positive feedback and encouragement might be just what's needed and, in another, it might be the worst thing for the client.  Therapists have to make these determinations.  This post is about the development of the therapeutic alliance and collaborating on creating a working style.)  
Nonetheless, if a patient asks the therapist for something, it seems the least the therapist could do is explore with the client what that request means to them, what it's about. 
In addition, generally, I think that courtesy, respect, and a little encouragement on the part of the therapist can go a long way toward providing a welcoming, accepting situation in which the client can openly
share and explore their personal issues.
Sometimes I write about the work of other theorists. Sometimes I do synopses of research I hear presentations on or from seminars I attend.  But, usually when I write here, it is my opinion I am expressing and this post would be an example of that.
Other therapists, please weigh in.
It would be great to hear other ideas about this, whether you have an opposing point of view or are in agreement.
Comments on this topic are welcome.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Blog Note

Just a blog business update

 Oops, looks like the film I had up for you is gone.  I am glad I got to share it with a few of you before that happened.
Also, the Google Comments Gadget is broken.  You may have noticed that the comments no longer appear in the right hand column.  The comments can still be seen though.  You just have to look at them via each post.  It's worth it to read some of them.  Some are new thoughts or additions that enhance the post they are on and some are personal sharing.
The comments enrich the blog.  I think that some of them might be interesting to you as you are perusing things here.
Too bad we lost these 2 things but the meat of the blog, the posts are still here and will continue.
If you want to share any of them, it is easy to do on the little tab called More, at the top of the page.  
For those of you who are fans of the posts about therapists themselves, I have a new one in mind.  It takes awhile to create these posts, but it will be coming.  The title will be something like, Closer to Perfect.