The Evolution of a Diagnosis: PTSD, Part One

Trauma is in the eye of the beholder.                                                                              ~ Dan Metevier

You have probably heard of PTSD, especially if you know someone who has served in the military. This “mental disorder” diagnosis stands for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. It was developed following the Vietnam war in recognition of the sometimes terrible after-effects of that war on many of the people who participated in it. For example, I once evaluated for disability insurance a Vietnam vet whose job was to load onto a helicopter the bodies of his buddies who had died that day. He did this all day long, day after day. Needless to say, he was not doing so well. I thanked him for his service and sent him on his way, with a tear in my eye.

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What is the Problem Right Now?

Narrow your life down to this moment. Your life situation may be full of problems – most life situations are – but find out if you have a problem at this moment. Do you have a problem now?
~ Eckhart Tolle

A saleswoman named Jessica worried constantly about money. She had just moved to San Diego from Sacramento and, while she wanted to establish herself at a new company there, she did not quite know how to go about it. In the meantime, she had no income and her savings was starting to dwindle. She talked to many people about this and got a lot of advice. But she still could not shake this constant worry. She needed to find relief soon!

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The Paradoxical Theory of Change

The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.             ~ Carl Rogers

Try that quote on for size and see how it fits for you. Does this seem right? How can this be? What does he mean by “accept?” How can I accept my shortcomings, dysfunctions, etc.? If I accept them, then why change? But I want to change!!

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Confessions of an Amoral Therapist, or How Lack of Judgment Can Pay Off

I have a small sign in my office that reads:

Notice: This office has been designated a Judgment-Free Zone. Please set your expectations accordingly. Thank you.

While said in jest, it also means a lot to me. In my work with clients, and in my own work in therapy, lack of judgment (me judging them or them judging me) has been the most significant aspect of success.

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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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