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What Basketball Taught Me About Therapy

Learning to Stay in the Game with Challenging Clients

Barry Jacobs

By Barry Jacobs - Basketball has taught me many lessons. I learned about trust, relationships, and teamwork. I learned the power to regulate feelings. It would shape my clinician's game too. I developed a knack for handling male aggression, as well as physical decline and loss.

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When Siblings Become Caregivers

Three Ways to Defuse Confrontation

Barry Jacobs

By Barry Jacobs - Nothing reveals the fault lines in sibling relationships like the seismic shift caused by an aging parent's sudden decline. Brothers and sisters can quickly become locked in conflict about what's best for Mom and Dad. Here's how to help them forget their old rivalries and cooperate with one another.

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Reframing the "Burden" of Caretaking

Why Accepting Help is Empowering for Those Receiving and Giving

Barry Jacobs

By Barry Jacobs - For those who've spent their lifetimes taking pride in giving generously to others, suddenly being on the receiving end of care because of illness or age-related infirmity can be tormenting. For many, rejecting help is regarded as a measure of one's courage and determination in battling family crises brought on by old age or disease. Here are some ways of overcoming this common tendency to refuse help.

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What Does a Son Owe a Mother?

A squeeze of the Hand

Barry Jacobs

By Barry Jacobs - For 58 years, from my birth until her death, my mother and I clashed over money and material values, cents and sensibilities. She may have felt entitled to a grand lifestyle, but I felt entitled to a less solipsistic mother—one who relished, not hated, my help. Years later, I found myself able to relax and just be her adult son in a way I’d never experienced.

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Intimate Enemies

A Stepson Reconsiders a Long-Held Resentment

Barry Jacobs

By Barry Jacobs - A lot of blended families don’t really blend: the new “relatives” at first try to join together, but then they quietly distance themselves, however awkwardly, as differences and conflicts emerge, even as they try to pretend otherwise. My stepfather, Steve, and I made no such pretense—we were enemies from the start.

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Promoting Positive Caregiving

Helping Clients Escape Negative Cycles in Caring for Aging Parents

Barry Jacobs

By Barry Jacobs and Julia Mayer - The bedraggled, beleaguered, and bereft family caregivers who come to us for therapy have a common litany of complaints. They feel overburdened by caregiving tasks, unacknowledged by those they’re caring for, and unsupported by family members who take their herculean efforts for granted. Here's how to help them approach the caregiving experience more positively.

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Helping Therapy Clients Cope with the Reality of Death

Clinical Wisdom to Combat Fear, Anxiety, and Grief at the End of Life

Barry Jacobs

For 17 years, managing responses to death has become part of my work, whether originally my intention or not. I’ve aspired to helping families hang tough through medical crisis, but now spend some of my time hanging crepe. I’ve now accepted the variety of ways people react to their dying. All of these ways of facing death are utterly ordinary and human. Throughout it all, I've learned that as difficult and awkward as confronting death can be, this work also gives me a richer sense of my client, the cast of characters in their world, and the drama of their life.

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Therapy Lessons from Men's Relationship with Sports

Using Athletics to Tap into Male Emotions, Relationships, and Aggression

Barry Jacobs

I understand and relate to the passion that many men have for sports. At the same time, I'm aware of a counternarrative held by many of my psychotherapist colleagues: sports breeds competition, which causes decreased empathy, which foments injustice. Still, there's so much more here: rich drama, with which to understand the strivings, insecurities, and identities of many of our male clients. Sports can teach us about trust, relationships, teamwork, and our power to regulate feelings.

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