Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda: Three Places You Don’t Need to Go

Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better.      ~ Maya Angelou

So, you’re going along in your therapy process and many light bulbs start to go off. You now realize so much more about what’s been happening around you that you never realized before, how your own well-intentioned actions have worked against you, or how your or your family’s version of “normal” was anything but healthy. All well and good.

BUT, you now start to beat yourself up about this. “I coulda spent these last 25 years living such a different life. It woulda been so much better for me. I shoulda known what to do. Why did I DO that?” Another wave of depression sets in as you contemplate what coulda been if you only knew then what you know now. Well, I’m here to tell you: You don’t need to go there! Continue reading

Seven Things I Learned During 21 Years in Corporate America

Excellent firms don’t believe in excellence – only in constant improvement and constant change.                   ~ Tom Peters

The bad news is that it only took me 21 years to figure out that I didn’t really belong in Corporate America. The good news is that I can now apply many things I learned during that time to help me better do the work of a clinical psychologist today. Admittedly, Corporate America has its good, its bad, and its ugly, just like anything else. Here I focus on the good and how I incorporate that good into my practice so that you can benefit. Continue reading

Ask Your Therapist If a Button-ectomy is Right for You!

You have to learn to get rid of the buttons instead of the button pushers.                 ~ Yogi Amrit Desai 

Our parents, our children, our spouses, and our friends will continue to press every button we have, until we realize what it is that we don’t want to know about ourselves, yet. They will point us to our freedom every time.                                     ~ Byron Katie

I often talk to clients about getting rid of their hot buttons, rather than getting rid of the people who push those buttons. Imagine life without buttons, where nothing triggers your stress and you’re able to stay conscious and in your “thinking” brain rather than your “emotional” or “survival” brain. To some, this might seem unimaginable, boring, or unromantic. Whenever I am able to do this, however, I find it quite exhilarating and freeing. Try it on for size and see what you experience. Continue reading

Putting a Surgeon General’s Warning Label on Therapy

Surgeon General’s Warning: Engaging in therapy can substantially alter your perspective on yourself and the world and irreversibly change your relationships with significant others.

Are you in therapy right now, or considering it? Well, if so, get ready for a potentially life-changing experience. Be warned that, once you get into it, you may never look at yourself, the world, and other people in the same way again. Please be sure that this is what you want. Fairly quickly, you may pass a point of no return. Continue reading

When You Get Better, They Might Resent You

The degree to which we have not allowed ourselves to experience the reality of our true Self is represented by our resentment toward those who have actually done so.         ~ David Hawkins

Much like in a previous article, I provide here a warning that sets your expectations so you don’t start to believe you are doing something wrong or that you are not actually becoming healthier when you really are. Here I describe a phenomenon where certain people in your life, not everyone (hopefully), may actually resent the fact that you’re feeling better. Continue reading

On Being a Client

A quotation is a handy thing to have about, saving one the trouble of thinking for oneself, always a laborious business.                                                                                                 ~ A.A. Milne

I rarely have an original thought and almost always revert to re-using someone else’s thoughts. In that spirit, I have provided below a laundry list of quotations that, to me, represent the essence of what one learns (if willing) during the psychotherapy process. Yes, a couple of these come from me, so you’re witnessing a rare occasion. If you are a current or past client of mine, you might recognize some of these.

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Look, Ma, I’m Enlightened! Now What? Therapy with the Spiritually Awake

If your therapist is the Buddha, you’ll become enlightened in the process.                           ~ Ram Dass

 If their client is the Buddha, the therapist will become enlightened in the process.               ~ Reworking of Ram Dass quote by Dan Metevier

I have been working lately with an individual who reports to have (and, by all appearances, has) recently gone through what some call a “spiritual emergence” or “spiritual awakening.” Their perspective on life, the universe, and everything has shifted toward one where they seem to have a “knowing” (their word) that, in fact, the universe is perfect as it is and everything is just as it should be. This person is working with me to address what I have jokingly called “Post-Enlightenment Stress Disorder” and “Adjustment Disorder with Mixed Grandiose and Impatient Moods.” Rather than me saying more at this point, I’ll share with you something this person wrote recently and gave me permission to publish here and pass along to you with no strings attached. Continue reading

How High Are You, Therapist?

If your therapist is the Buddha, you’ll become enlightened in the process.                           ~ Ram Dass

This started out as a sequel to another article with a similar name, but I want to address therapists here instead of non-therapists (though I welcome anyone to listen in). I’m not widely known for giving advice (how would I know?) or setting requirements (did I mention: how would I know?). Yet, it feels right to explore the concept of therapists having some responsibility for getting as “high” as possible (in the sense of level of consciousness, emotional maturity, etc.) in the service of their clients. I explore that here.

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How High is Your Therapist? (Part One)

You can only get as high as your therapist.      ~ Ram Dass

This is a very important question, but one that needs some context. When Ram Dass says “high,” he’s talking about a level of consciousness, not a psychedelic drug-induced high. Or, you could think of a level of emotional maturity or emotional intelligence, as one author calls it.

This question connects to the idea I implied in another article (This is Your Brain on Therapy, Part One) that your therapist’s emotional health directly relates to the results you’ll get in therapy. Ram Dass says the same thing with different (catchier?) words.

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A Needed Course Correction for the “Evidence-Based” Movement?

“Every psychotherapist recognizes that what works for one person may not work for another; we embrace the maxim, ‘Different strokes for different folks.’”  ~ John Norcross

In recent times, much fuss has been made about evidence-based treatments (EBT). In our case, this refers to psychotherapy treatments that have been “proven” to work for certain diagnoses. In a separate article, I made the argument that psychologists reject EBTs because the science behind them is too primitive to be useful. Here I look at a possible way that the “evidence-based” movement may have actual value to people who do psychotherapy in the field and not just for publishing journal articles in an academic environment.

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