Psychotherapy: The Shortest Distance is Not Always a Straight Line

In psychotherapy the shortest distance between two points is not necessarily a straight line. The laws of math that apply to the physical world often seem to be suspended in the therapist’s consulting room.  And yet the geometry of straight lines has an orderliness to it that makes it appealing to clients and therapists alike…

The Therapist’s Fascination with Straight Lines

Were you to peek inside most “behavioral health” agencies today, you would see the logic of straight lines applied everywhere. The fascination with geometric rationality is here so dominant, that you would be excused for wondering if their psychotherapists had a background in engineering, rather than psychology…

Psychotherapy in these settings has become a very rational and well-planned endeavor that is usually centered around a geometrical road-map, also called “the treatment plan”.

Guided by the dictates of the treatment plan, therapists in these settings are asked to first identify the client’s problem, next help the client set some goals, and finally devise a plan to most quickly and efficiently achieve those goals. From then on therapy is supposed to follow the plan in a straight line from start to finish. Any deviation from the road map is considered disruptive and tangential. It threatens the geometric principles of treatment.

In line with this approach you can hear well-respected cognitive behavior therapists (the engineers of the field) speak of “potentially therapy-disrupting behaviors” that include “attempts [by the client] to overly control the pace of topics of conversation during the interview” (Wright, Basco, and Thase). You can also hear statements such as: “One of the challenges in this treatment is to avoid getting distracted by discussions of other problems the client may be facing” (Safren). In short, we must straight-jacket the process to make it fit with the plan. We must shape the territory to make it look like the map!

Two Different Views of Psychotherapy

So what is wrong with this picture? To the rational mind, planning psychotherapy ahead of time and directing treatment with an authoritative hand toward definite goals can seem very intuitive and appealing. And yet, I would argue that it misses the point altogether…

Psychotherapy is not about getting somewhere that is known in advance. In fact, therapy is itself a process by which we discover where we want to go and what we want. To determine the goals in advance of the therapy is thus much like putting the carriage before the horse…

If we use the metaphor of a road-trip to describe what psychotherapy is, then we can perhaps compare the two approaches in the following way:

In the first more “planned” approach, we are trying to get the fastest way possible from New York to Los Angeles. We therefore take the freeway in a straight line to the destination, missing all the sights along the way. We end up in Los Angeles in record time, but have learned very little along the way. We have reduced the journey to a simple means of transportation to get us from point A to point B.

In the approach I advocate, we might also begin our journey toward Los Angeles. Instead of zooming past all the sights, however, we allow time to get off the beaten path and leave ourselves open to new experiences along the way. What might then happen is that we discover that we would rather go to Cleveland, or that it isn’t really so important to get to Los Angeles right away. Maybe it is more interesting to make a detour to the Grand Canyon, or to follow our chance encounters.  We may even decide that our whole enterprise has been a mistake and return back home.

I am speaking metaphorically here, of course, about the nature of the human psyche: Contained within us there are many unexplored territories, and many memories and experiences that can teach us something new about what we really want in life. Going in a straight line may therefore not be the fastest way to get where we ultimately want to be…

Psychotherapy and the Dance of Life

The irony is that when we plan psychotherapy too much, we miss out on all the key therapeutic moments. The real “stuff” of psychotherapy is not about getting to the destination, but about all the little surprises that happen along the way. The goal of psychotherapy is not to get us from point A to point B in the most direct way possible, but to help us undergo a journey where the destination itself can change as we discover new things about ourselves. In fact, even if we ultimately end up in the same place, from a therapeutic perspective it matters how we got there. If we took the freeway, likelihood is we bypassed all the realizations and all the emotional twists and turns that would have given us the true conviction that Los Angeles is where we need to be. We would have exchanged one place with another without being none the wiser…

The intellectual insight a person can have in session 1 can also be the one they ultimately end up with in session 20. However, it took the twists and turns of therapy, to make the person know what they knew, in their gut. To the outsider it may look like nothing much has happened, since after all the person is back just where she started. And yet to the person who did the traveling, this place is completely changed now, and it feels like she has made a quantum leap in her understanding of herself.

Trying to bypass the journey to simply get to the result is to mistake intellectual insight for an emotional experience of truth. It is to cut out the “therapeutic middle” which is where all the action happens…

On this point, I am reminded of a very insightful video, based on the teachings of Buddhist philosopher Alan Watts. In the video we are shown how a linear pursuit of higher and better accomplishments ends up being a failed strategy in the end. Once we arrive at the promised destination, we realize that there is always another goal to be accomplished. Once we finally reach the top of the mountain in our final age, we discover to our dismay that all we are really left with is a sense of emptiness and hollowness; a bitter realization that it was all for naught…

Why? Alan Watts reminds us: Because life wasn’t about getting anywhere. It was about a dance. The point of a dance, as with a musical piece, is not to quickly get to the end. It is about the dance, and about the music. Therapy is also a dance, and if we get somewhere too fast, we might just end up missing the point…

To read more about the perils of a rational/planning approach to  psychotherapy, download my article: Cultivating the Therapeutic Moment: From Planning to Receptivity in Therapeutic Practice.

About me: I am Rune Moelbak, a psychodynamic therapist in Houston, Texas. Click here to visit my website.

Sources:

Safren, S. A., Perlman, C. A., Sprich, S., & Otto, M. W. (2005). Mastering your adult ADHD. A cognitive-behavioral treatment program (Therapist guide). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Wright, J. H., Basco, M. R., & Thase, M. E. (2005). Learning cognitive-behavior therapy. An illustrated guide. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publishing.

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Why Psychotherapy is not about Solving People’s Problems…

The Uncommon Wisdom of Psychotherapy…

Psychotherapy is not about solving people’s problems, at least not in the same way as a math teacher helps you solve a math equation, or an auto mechanic helps you fix a broken car. As a person, your problems cannot be separated from you, and you can therefore not simply treat the problem without in some fundamental way becoming changed yourself.  In fact, as I will explain, sometimes the very desire to solve your problems, may itself be part of the problem…

This is a difficult idea to understand in a society that values self-improvement and shows us every day how we can use the latest technological advances to improve how we look, how we feel, and how we perform. Self-help gurus, experts in the media, and the latest “solution-focused” psychotherapies, seem to offer us the knowledge and techniques to “fix” ourselves and become who we want to be.

Why our Symptoms are not Problems to be Solved…

The idea that we can solve our psychological issues by finding some technique or rational solution, is often the product of an unstated dualism. The symptom that bothers us, be it a perceived character flaw or some other deficit or deficiency, has often become split off from ourselves. It has become a part of ourselves that we do not accept. We experience it as incongruent with who we want to be. Our disliked symptom seems to serve no role and have no contribution to make. It is considered “irrational” and unwanted. And the best thing therefore is to find a way to be rid of it.

And yet this separation of our irrational and problematic parts from our cherished and rational self is a flawed starting point for change. It assumes that we are like a four-legged lizard that can simply lose its tail when it is no longer needed. We might as well be trying to spit out our own tongue or eat our own mouth, because the task we have set ourselves is just as contradictory.

Discovering the Logic of our Symptoms

The problem is that our annoying little habits and traits only appear senseless and tasteless when we have defined our problem in too narrow of a way. Only when we cut our symptom off from  a wider interest in understanding ourselves, does the symptom appear like a bad tooth that can simply be plucked without any repercussions for the rest of us.

Once we begin to understand what really keeps the symptom in place, however, we realize that the symptom is often a sign of an internal conflict with which we are struggling as a human being. The symptom, therefore, far from being a problem we can simply solve, is thus in fact a solution to a problem which we have not been able to solve. It points us toward a larger issue of which we are not aware. The symptom indicates that something is awry, but does not indicate what exactly. This however is what psychotherapy is for… 

Hence, a person who desperately wants advice about how to stop having panic attacks, discovers through psychotherapy that the panic attacks are really a result of the person’s battle against his own impulses. The person has not allowed himself to admit to feeling angry with his parents and has in fact waged an ongoing battle against himself to not feel certain feelings that produce anxiety and discomfort. His need for tight control of his emotional life and the impossible bind that he not be who he is, is nevertheless a failing strategy. His anxiety attacks indicate precisely this.  

The person’s pursuit of a solution to get rid of his anxiety attacks, as if they were simply irrational and alien intrusions into his existence, keeps the real issue at bay. Instead of heeding the message of the symptom, the person now instead enters into a battle with a part of him which he cannot understand. He may try anti-anxiety medication, relaxation techniques, and whatever other desperate solutions people can offer him. But because his attempt at a solution is an attempt at covering up the real problem, whatever he tries to do is destined to fail. He is like a person attempting to become a lizard, or attempting to divide himself in two. He wants to rid himself of the symptom, but does not realize that the symptom is connected to him, just like his nose is connected to his face.

How Psychotherapy Can Help Us

Many of our psychological symptoms and issues are the result of such impossible battles with ourselves. The more we try to fight against what we don’t like, the more the disliked parts of ourselves are forced to return with a vengeance or to appear at the most inopportune times.

When we instead stop trying to solve our problems, and start to be curious about what sustains them in the first place, we may discover to our surprise that our symptoms all of a sudden disappear.

If I am feeling angry but cannot accept anger as part of my life, this is not really a problem to be solved, but is rather a problem that begs a whole new series of questions. Why am I for example uncomfortable with anger?  Might it be that I fear that it can be destructive and make me lose the love from others on which I desperately depend? If so, how did my sense of love and worth in relation to others become so tenuous? And what repercussions does this have for my ability to assert my own needs without feeling guilty or bad? Might it force me to act out my resentment in passive aggressive ways that interfere with my ability to both endure and maintain intimate relationships?

These series of questions are all contained within one single symptom. What started out as a panic attack has now given way to an exploration of inhibited anger, problems with intimacy, and questions about tenuous self-esteem. These questions have not simply displaced me from the real issue, but have problematized my initial problem, and made it about something more than the simple removal of a symptom. As the problem has shifted, so has the nature of my symptom and the solutions that now seem relevant. Rather than being solved, the symptom has now dis-solved.

Instead of battling my symptom, which had initially been a blemish on my self image and a nuisance to get rid of, the symptom now instead shows itself as a gift in disguise. Unwrapping its message leads to ever greater riches in my understanding of who I am and why I am the way I am. Instead of running around like a lizard wanting to lose my own tail, I now begin to integrate all aspects of myself into one unified congruent existence… Instead of solving my problems, I begin to understand what they are really about in the first place… This is what psychotherapy can help you do. 

About me: Rune Moelbak, Ph.D.  is a psychologist and psychodynamic therapist in Houston, Texas. To read more about the theoretical principles that guide me in my work, visit my website, or listen to this recent podcast where I explain more about my approach to psychotherapy  

Things We Can Learn from Happy Couples

Happy couple in couples therapy

It’s all supposed to be very rosy: Two people meet, fall in love, and live happily ever after. That’s what the fairy tale states…

And yet underneath the hood of every romantic relationship, we find one thing that all relationships have in common: they are all a lot of work.

The Perpetual Issues of Couples

As famous couples therapist, John Gottman, frequently says: To pick a partner is to pick a set of problems…

This does not mean that there are not plenty of moments of joy and closeness in every relationship. What it means is that we should expect that we will also be different from our partner on a number of key issues that are important to us.

Gottman calls these differences our perpetual conflicts, and every couple has them. One partner, for example, likes to travel the world and experience new things, whereas the other prefers the comforts of the known and would like to stay home more. Such an issue is not easily resolved because it is rooted in very deeply held values and personality preferences. It cannot be solved as easily as simply asking someone to take out the trash more often… To compromise on a perpetual issue often feels like giving up a valued piece of oneself…

From Gridlock to Dialogue

What is different between the couples who stay together versus the couples who eventually split up is that they accept this about their relationship. Instead of engaging in a perpetual warfare to change the other person, the successful couple finds ways to acknowledge their differences, to laugh about them, and to engage in a dialogue, not so much about the issues themselves, as about the underlying experiences that have created these personal preferences to begin with.

The perpetual difference now becomes an opportunity to understand something about your partner… The partner who does not like to travel, may be able to share the real reason behind wanting to be home-bound, and that may involve the ability to share some of the underlying fears that he or she has about the unknown and the unfamiliar. The partner who feels bored and restless when not on the go, may be able to identify what is so important about always experiencing something new, and perhaps even more so, why it is so unsettling to find interest and comfort in the familiar.

If a couple can engage each other in a conversation not just about the surface issues, but about their underlying feelings, fears, and desires, they have managed to move out of an initial gridlock on the issue and into an open a dialogue that is therapeutic for both. Maybe, with the safety of knowing that my partner understands me and cares about my position, I can feel free to venture out of my comfort zone, whatever that may be. I no longer have to feel like we are in a tug of war or that I am being asked to become another person.

The Not-so-Happy Couple

In not-so-happy couples, however, warfare on these perpetual issues has frequently resulted in the erosion of the mutual trust and safety that would allow such discussions of underlying meanings to take place.

As partners grow increasingly frustrated with each other’s differences, the consequence is often an escalation of the frequency of fights, and a tendency to fight “dirty”. Relationships may increasingly evolve into “power struggles”, where each partner fights for their own way, even if this means crushing the other person’s dreams in the process.

John Gottman’s research on couples shows that as couples grow increasingly dissatisfied with each other, they begin to attack each other’s personalities instead of addressing their mutual differences in a respectful and caring manner. By doing so, each person retreats into a defensive posture that makes it “dangerous” to share their more vulnerable side. Our partner can now become an “enemy” and “threat” to our sense of dignity and self-preservation, and a culture of contempt can develop that makes us question if we are even good friends anymore.

The Process of Couples Therapy

The first step in couples therapy is therefore often to reestablish safety and trust between partners. This means first of all stopping any additional bleeding, by stopping the vicious spiral of attack-defense. Only then can the process of healing past emotional wounds and restoring mutual trust begin. We must learn to become friends again, so we can once again share our vulnerabilities, fears, and desires without being afraid that such acts of courage will later be used against us.

The bad news is that we were never really taught how to do this. We were not provided with an instruction manual when we initially fell in love, and we never attended a “How to Make Relationships Work” class in high school. We therefore often stumble and fumble through our relationships, and unwittingly find ourselves repeating failed patterns over and over…

The good news is that an increasing body of literature on couples and couples therapy is beginning to pinpoint the skills and processes needed for couples to successfully make their relationships work. With the right knowledge in hand, couples can learn what to do and what not to do, and can begin to become more skillful at this most challenging of human tasks…

image of psychodynamic therapist, Dr. Rune MoelbakAbout me: Rune Moelbak is an ICEEFT-certified couples therapist in Houston Texas. He has completed level-2 training in Gottman Method Couples Therapy and is a fully certified emotionally-focused couples therapist. He regularly works with couples who are looking to rebuild trust, friendship, and passion in their relationships. To read more about his approach to couples therapy: visit www.bettertherapy.com

If You like this article you may also like:

My free e-book with helpful tips on how to build a happy relationship from the ground up:Couples Guide> Click Here to Get Your FREE Copy!

The Myth of Major Depression – Why Depression is not an Illness…

depressed person

The Rise of Major Depressive Disorder

It has become common nowadays to think of depression as a medical condition. If you visit your general health practitioner, she might ask a few questions about your energy level, appetite, sleep, and mood and, if you answer these questions in a particular way,  tell you that you have “Major Depressive Disorder”. Major Depressive Disorder, you will be told, is a real illness. And like any real illness, it even comes with its own pill prescription (SSRIs)…

This way of thinking about depression, however, is really the product of a medical discourse that has been spoken so many times that it is has begun to ring true. And yet, as a psychologist with many years of experience helping people who are depressed, I am here to tell you that the emperor has no clothes on…

The Reduction of Subjective Distress to Objective Symptoms

The talk about depression as an illness is really the result of a more overarching trend in the mental health field to reduce life to objective behaviors or symptoms. We take two individuals and observe how they act, talk, or say they feel. We extract the behavior they have in common, and bam! we have arrived at a symptom. One person’s sleepless nights, for example, are equated with another person’s sleepless nights, and what we now have is the symptom of “reduced sleep”. When we observe a collection of such abstract symptoms that appear to frequently occur together, we end up with a “syndrome”, or a certain cluster of symptoms. And when we give a name to such a cluster, by inventing nouns like “Major Depressive Disorder” or “Generalized Anxiety Disorder”, these nouns then take on the status of illnesses that appear to preexist and explain the appearance of the symptoms.

The Loss of the Subjective Meaning of Depression

So what is the problem with this way of thinking? Well, for one, we have abstracted the symptom from the life of the person, and without this person, the symptom has lost its meaning. It is for example quite different to have a sleepless night because one feels empty inside and can’t stand the stillness of the night, and to have a sleepless night because one lies awake beating oneself up about things one should have done differently during the course of the day. In the one case, the sleeplessness announces to the person that they have become too alienated from their own experience (emptiness being the result). In the other case, the sleeplessness may bear witness to a traumatic event that the person has resolved to deal with by feeling eternally guilty…

The idea of the symptom as some abstract behavior erases these differences and treats each individual’s behaviors as if they were the same. Reduced sleep thus becomes a rather hollow concept. In its abstractness, it hides more than it reveals. To say of both instances of sleepless nights that they refer to the same phenomenon is a stretch, for what looks the same on the surface, betrays significant differences when an understanding of the life of the person is taken into account.

When depression becomes a universal construct or set of behaviors, its true meaning is lost. For in reality, there can be no depression outside the concrete life of an individual. And even though we may label two people’s behaviors as depressed, the meaning of their depression can vary widely. One person may be depressed because they are faced with a life situation that demands they assert themselves, but have fears about doing so, and therefore can do nothing but admit defeat. Another may be depressed because they have cut out social contacts to deal with their social anxiety and now find themselves devoid of meaningful relationships. In short, there are as many types of depressions as there are people who are depressed. There is always a unique story to be told…

The problem with a construct like Major Depressive Disorder is that it gives us the illusion that it exists as some “thing” in itself. It conveys that the “wizard behind the curtain” is a disease process and not a person.

A Faceless Healthcare…

In line with this view, “treatment” of depression becomes a rather impersonal endeavor. One treats “symptoms” not “people”. Instead of taking time to listen and understand, to help people figure out what depression means in the context of their other life problems, one now gets prescribed an SSRI or gets education about sleep hygiene…

Constructs like Major Depressive Disorder, and the philosophical assumptions that underlie them, lead to a faceless kind of healthcare that is devoid of the subjectivity of the person. They trade an abstract category, for the real deal…

Depression is, and always will be, shorthand for a multitude of particular ways that people struggle. Only when we understand the life of each struggling person, will we succeed in understanding what depression really is, for it is many different things to different people. Depression is not a “thing”, and is not an “illness”. Instead it is a marker of a particular stuckness in a person’s life. It  acts as an invitation or perhaps a dictate to discover something deeper about ourselves…

About me: I am a clinical psychologist in Houston Texas. Visit my therapy website to read more about my treatment approach to depression.

The Phenomenology of Flirting

The first three Saturday’s in January, Dr. Kevin Boileau from The Existential Psychoanalytic Institute & Society (EPIS) will interview me about my dissertation research on flirting.

As part of my doctoral degree in psychology, I conducted a phenomenological study of people’s experiences of flirting. The goal was to discover more about the things people experience, think, and do when they flirt and to find out exactly what makes an interpersonal encounter a flirtatious one. What I discovered might surprise you…

We will also get to talk more about the phenomenological perspective on psychotherapy in general as well as other existential and psychodynamic themes. So listen in: January 4/ 11/ 18, 3:30 PM, Mountain Standard Time. Click Here to Listen: EPIS-Radio: Radio for the Thinking Person

The McDonald’s Approach to Therapy: Why Empirically Supported Treatments are Not the Way to Go…

Let’s take a rich experience of a real world therapy interaction, considered by both therapist and client to have meaning, intensity, and benefit.

The client is free to go where he or she may, to enter into new territory of emotion and thought, and to follow new leads and surprises uncovered through the therapeutic interaction…

The therapist is free to learn from a multitude of signs emitted by the client – consciously and unconsciously, verbally and nonverbally – indicating where the client might need to venture next, where the pain might be, and where truth has yet to emerge…

The course of therapy is free to be determined by the mutual input from both client and therapist and to take situational factors into account such as timing and the presence and absence of a variety of factors in the present moment, informing an organic intuition of where to go next…

Now compare this to a therapy where the client is given instructions of what to talk about and how to talk about it in a way that that has been determined in advance, and where the same instructions are being applied uniformly to each and every client regardless of specific circumstances and needs.

…to a therapy where the therapist is not free to follow his or her moment-to-moment intuitions or to adjust interventions on the basis of attunements to the importance of the timing and context of the situation.

…to a therapy where the course of therapy is determined not by client and therapist, but by a schedule that specifies what conversations or activities need to take place, when and for how long they need to be done, and in what order they must be accomplished.

The latter form of therapy, which I would call “therapy as technology” or “therapy as mass production”, has one benefit which the richer, more organic, and more tailored therapy does not: It is simplistic and rigid enough to lend itself well to the requirements of a scientific study that demands that an inflexible set of interventions be “administered” uniformly to a large number of clients that have been grouped in advance into uniform “categories”.

It is this set of restrictions, imposed on an otherwise rich, complex, and organic process, that is needed in order to prove what specific interventions can be said to be effective for which specific “type of problem” or which specific “category of client”.  If an effect is found that is greater than the effect of a chance encounter, as evaluated by some yard stick that is uniformly assumed to represent a good outcome, then the therapy in question is deemed to be “empirically supported” (EST) and to have earned the stamp of scientific proof.

Some therapists treat people as if they were “categories of problems” rather than unique individuals

The problem, as you can see, is that to get the stamp of approval, a series of operations had to be performed intended to simplify the richness of an actual flexible, organic, and complex therapy interaction. The intensity and meaningfulness of an experience evolving gradually between therapist and client had to be straight-jacketed and turned into a “technology” (a predefined set of procedures). Therapy had to become a machine-like process, the therapists had to become machine-operators, and clients, well… they had to be treated with the uniformity of “stock”, losing their individuality and autonomy completely in the process.

So let’s dispel the myth that empirically supported treatments are in fact superior forms of treatment. Let’s not fall into the trap of assuming that scientific proof is always the hallmark of the gold standard of treatment.

A uniformly produced McDonald’s hamburger, mass produced and mass-consumed, may have been found to be effective at reducing hunger, but it is not a superior hamburger of that accord. It cannot compete with a hand-crafted premium burger tailored exactly to the needs of each client.

I am not against scientific proof, but when we have to distort reality to make it conform to the needs of our scientific methods, we are committing tomfoolery in the guise of science and are contributing to a lowering of our standards rather than a bettering of our collective destiny.

Therapy is a complex relationship, not a science-based technology, and no scientific study will ever be able to question that fact…

What is a Psychologist? Or… The Meaning of Life

When we meet new people, we often wonder about their professions and might ask question such as “What is a psychologist?… Environmental engineer?… Key account manager?… etc… etc…”. The temptation when this kind of question is posed is to simply list what we do. A psychologist, for example, is someone who diagnoses and treats mental health problems. However, this really doesn’t answer the question, for we did not ask: “What does a psychologist do?” But: “What is a psychologist?”

So let me try again: A psychologist is someone who through a commitment to a particular professional path, has chosen to be addressed by certain questions about life, such as the the question of the meaning and role of suffering, the question of what makes life worth living, and the question of how or why people should change. These questions are not easy to grapple with, but to “be” a psychologist is to adopt a stance towards them, whether one wants to or not. They get answered in every little task a psychologist does, from how a psychologist talks to a client to how a psychologist works with people’s experiences and defines their problems.

There is always a set of questions that animate a given profession and demand that we as the professionals inhabit the place of the answer.  To be a lawyer is to be addressed by questions of justice and to take a stance toward those questions in and through one’s work, and to be a medical doctor is to be addressed by questions of the preservation of life and the forces that impinge on it. Every profession addresses us in this way, and compels us to embody a response in the way we carry out that particular profession.

Good professionals are people who are conscious of the questions being addressed through the work they do. They are not the mechanics of the profession, who live away from these questions in the comfort of the rote application of techniques they were taught in school. They are the one’s who wake up each morning acutely aware of the impact their approach to these questions can have, and who understand that to “be” a profession and to “do” a profession are quite different things. One question asks for “me”; the other asks for my productivity…

The European existentialist philosopher, Martin Heidegger, was very aware of the importance of that little word “is”. To “be” rather than to “do” is a uniquely human task. We can’t avoid it, whatever we do. We have to embody a response to the questions posed by our life, our activities, and our chosen professions.  We have to “be”. And yet, in modern life, we are very good at evading the question of our being. We tend to get lost in the mere busy-work of our day to day activities, and to confuse the activity for the end goal itself. Even after a day’s hard work, we will not feel accomplished if we do not understand how it is that that activity itself helps us “be”.  Being is the ultimate goal, and we cannot escape it nor avoid it without forfeiting our existence and living away from ourselves.

So ask yourself: how are you “being” a lawyer, a father, a daughter? How do you embody an answer to the questions evoked by your job, your commitments, your roles is life? How are you “being” you?

If you would like to learn more about how I approach “being” a psychologist, visit my website. Here I address some of the ways in which I have been called into a particular  approach to my work in and through a dialogue with the questions my work has raised for me. http://www.bettertherapy.com/therapy.html

 

Welcome!

I have finally decided to join the blogosphere. In the coming  years I would like this blog to become a forum for people interested in delving deeper into topics related to life as an existential journey of love and pain, beauty and tragedy, laughter and struggle…

I plan to post on topics that people will find relevant to living life more fully or that will inspire greater insight about themselves. I will be writing from the perspective of a psychologist who spends his working life on journeys with people who show me what life really looks like underneath the surface of pretense and show. I will also be writing as a “thinker” who has published many journal articles in my field and who has made it part of his career to challenge the common sense of his profession and unsettle  the quick and easy understandings we are offered at the cultural surface. In sum, my audience is not the person looking for a quick psychological fix, but the person who is a critical consumer of therapy, and knows not to mistake the menu of cultural ideals for the meal that is life. So welcome, and please check back soon…

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A Blog for the Critical Consumer of Psychotherapy

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