Attempting to address abuse through couples therapy is like wrenching a nut the wrong way. It just gets harder to undo than it was before. ~ Lundy Bancroft
This is the second article exploring the appropriateness of couples counseling in various situations. See the first article here. In this article, we explore the situation where one of the partners treats the other partner very badly, disrespects the other, bullies or intimidates or otherwise tries to control them, and doesn’t consider the other partner’s opinion worth taking seriously. If you guessed that couples counseling can do little or nothing (and may actually be harmful) in these cases, you guessed right. Let’s look at this situation more closely, then explore some alternative options.
Take time for all things: great haste makes great waste. ~ Benjamin Franklin
Have you been feeling “not-exactly-happy” with your relationship lately? Do you and your relationship partner have “communication problems?” Do you or your partner have “one foot out the door?” Are you wondering whether getting a second opinion from a professional might be in order? This article explores some things to think about before making that step. The idea here is to set your expectations, open your eyes before going in, and give your efforts, should you decide to go for it, the best chance they can have.
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
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
What would happen if you stopped looking for solutions and check to see if there was actually a problem? ~ Jeff Foster
More and more, I have people coming to me believing that they have a problem when they only think they do. Maybe they’ve lived their life being told by others that they are not good enough, need to shape up or get with the program, are too sad, too anxious, too happy, too calm, too fast, too slow, too distracted, or whatever. What if they were actually doing a great job of being “perfectly themselves?” What if they’ve only been led to believe there is a problem by others who are different from them and therefore find fault in them? If everyone realized this, I’d be out of a job. So, shhh! Continue reading
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.
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.
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.
“I’m afraid our time is up.” ~ Said at one time or other by most therapists
Why not a 15-minute hour, like a physician? Why not a 60-minute hour, like on most people’s watches? Why an hour in the first place? Good questions all. And the answers do not involve any evidence-based reasons that I know of. It’s all about the convenience of the therapist. Or it’s because that’s what insurance companies pay for. Same thing?
There is something in every one of you that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself. It is the only true guide you will ever have. ~ Howard Thurman
I recently read a book by Thomas Moore called, “A Religion of One’s Own.” Here, Dr. Moore, a former Catholic monk and now an author, therapist, and professor, tells his story of pulling in religious and spiritual traditions from various places and developing a “religion” that works for him. He also leads the reader through a process of doing this for him- or herself. In this spirit, if you engage me as your therapist, I will guide you toward a “psychotherapy of your own,” one that works for you in every possible way.