Getting Off the Torture Rack of Self-Improvement

Torture rack of self-improvement? Isn’t that an oxymoron? Aren’t we supposed to be improving ourselves? We could always do better, whatever that means and whatever the price, couldn’t we?

This phrase, attributed to Fritz Perls, the “father” of Gestalt Therapy, pushed a button for me when I first heard it. Many of us spend a lot of much time and effort following self-improvement advice. It may come Continue reading

Saying “Yes” – More Important Than Saying “No?”

Learning to say “no” is the essence of being “assertive” and having “good boundaries,” according to many self-help gurus. It’s also something that many mothers of three-year-olds wish never happened. But that’s a whole other Oprah, as they say. I certainly do not disagree with the first point and will not belabor this concept any more than it already has been.

I want to make a case, however, for learning to say “Yes!

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What It Means to Be Alive

Alive, ə-′līv , adjective, Middle English, from Old English on life, from on + līf

abounding, abundant, activated, activating, active, adroit, aggressive, agile, airy, alert, alive, all ears, animated, ardent, around, aroused, attentive, awake, awakened, aware, blithe, bouncy, bountiful, breathing, bright, brisk, bucked, buoyant, bustling, busy, cagey, careful, changing, charismatic, cheerful, cheery, chipper, chirpy, circumspect, clever, cognizant, coming on strong, compelling, conscious, contented, copious, driving,
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Top Ten Ways to Make Your Therapist Like You

If you’re like most people going to therapy for the first time, you’ll be sure and want to make your therapist like you. Don’t worry, this is normal. It’s a symptom of what you came to therapy for and, with any luck, you’ll get over it in due time.

(By the way, I’m being totally facetious as I write this, except for #1.)

In the meantime, here are the top ten ways to make your therapist like you:

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When You Get Better, They Might Get Worse

Client Lecture #57: As you become more healthy, those around you may become less healthy.

This is something I find myself saying to clients after they’ve worked hard and start to feel better about themselves. It is a warning that sets their expectations so they don’t start to believe they are doing something wrong or that they are not actually becoming more healthy.

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Top Ten Ways to Know You Have a Good Therapist

Unfortunately, not all therapists are the same, or even of the same quality. When you walk into a particular McDonald’s, Starbuck’s, or Home Depot, you can pretty much expect to have the same or similar experience as at any other location. Same is true, although less so, of walking into any doctor’s office. You know the drill, and there are few, if any, surprises. Not true of a therapist’s office.

To guide you in knowing, albeit after the fact, whether or not you are working with a good therapist, here are some important things to watch for:

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Therapy as a Subversive Activity

“It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”                                                                                                         ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti

What? You thought psychotherapy was a way to help others to become “normal,” that is, to conform to social norms. When someone tells another, “You need professional help!” it usually means the other is not behaving in a way that is acceptable. The “bible” of mental health, the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), is chock full of labels for socially unacceptable behavior we need to treat and cure, if possible. Give ‘em drugs, talk some sense into ‘em, make ‘em see their “distorted thinking,” and so on.

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