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Dying as a Rite of Passage

There's a Gap Between How We Hope to Die and How We Really Do

Katy Butler

By Katy Butler - There’s a gap nowadays between how we hope to die, and how we really do. More than three-quarters of Americans hope to die at home like their ancestors, but more than two-thirds die in hospitals, nursing homes, and other institutions. It doesn’t have to be this way. There’s a pathway to a peaceful, empowered death, even in an era of high-technology medicine.

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How To Become Your Best Self

A Story About Changing Your Habits

Katy Butler

By Katy Butler - In earlier centuries, systems of human transformation were embedded within local life. Today, in a culture freed from communal rhythms, our habits of the heart are nearly forgotten. In this postmodern world of infinite choice and incoherent structure, what practical steps should we take now to become our best selves?

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The New Realities of Dying

A Daughter Struggles with the Medical System's Epidemic of Overtreatment

Katy Butler

By Katy Butler - Although many doctors assume that people want to extend their lives, many do not. I believe that my father’s doctors did their best within a compartmentalized and time-pressured medical system. But in the absence of any other guiding hand, there is no doubt that economics helped shape the wider context in which doctors made decisions.

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Hard Lessons in Setting Limits

From Dutiful Daughter to Self-Aware Caregiver

Katy Butler

By Katy Butler - Five years ago, my 79-year-old father had a stroke, and my family entered a new life stage. Every family wound I thought I'd outgrown and every trusted defense that had seemed to work emerged again, carrying with it danger, and an opportunity for redemption.

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Adopting Healthy Habits for Happiness and Wellbeing

How Therapists Can Teach Habits for Happiness

Katy Butler, Katy Butler

Once in a while, we may make concerted attempts to be kinder, less impatient, or more attentive to our own self-care. But our chaotic 21st-century lives often lack the structure, discipline, and even the raw physical energy required to make the changes stick. After a few weeks of trying something as simple as swimming at lunchtime, we sag beneath the weight of too much distraction and too little sleep. We know everything except how to live. In this postmodern world of infinite choice and incoherent structure, what practical steps should we take now---a personal trainer? More therapy? Feng shui? Zen meditation?---to become the self we see shining in our best moments?

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Satori in the Bedroom

Tantric Sexuality and the West's Narrow View of Sexual Repair

Katy Butler, Katy Butler

In the West, we reverberate between sexual obsession and sexual shame. No wonder we feel split within ourselves and from each other. Modern sex therapy helps thousands with simple, effective behavioral techniques, usually focused narrowly on achieving erection, intercourse or orgasm. Yet few of us have much of a clue about the more profound joys of sexuality. Presaged by the popularity in the 1960s of the Kama Sutra, a 3rd-century Indian sex manual, Tantra has become a postmodern hybrid. The goal in Tantra is to move arousal to the brain in an explosion of enlightenment and bliss. In Tantra, sex is not a dirty detour from the path to God, it is the path.

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The Gottman Method: Couples Therapy Under the Microscope

John Gottman Blends Couples Counseling with Science

Katy Butler, Katy Butler

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, mathematician-turned-psychologist John Gottman performed experiments in which he videotaped ordinary couples in their most ordinary moments---chatting, kissing, and watching TV. But he also recorded how much they brought up painful subjects, how they responded to each other's bids for attention, and expressed emotion. Using complex computer models, he found that he could predict divorce with 91-percent accuracy, simply by analyzing seven variables in a couple's behavior during a five-minute disagreement. What he discovered made him famous, and eventually became the basis of Gottman Method Couples Therapy.


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The Rebirth of Borderline Personality Disorder Treatment

How Marsha Linehan Revolutionized Therapy with DBT

Katy Butler, Katy Butler

For decades, most clinicians who had a choice avoided borderline clients, while agency staff (who couldn't) went through the motions with a sense of futility. Therapy consisted of guarding against "manipulation" and mining the borderline's reactions to the therapist for clues to her fragmented inner world. It was hard on clients---and on therapists as well. Then, in 1991, a behavioral psychologist and Zen student at the University of Washington named Marsha Linehan introduced an alternative. Her treatment was called Dialectical Behavior Therapy, or DBT.

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Sex Therapy for Building Intimacy

A Therapeutic Approach to Common Sexual Problems

Katy Butler, Katy Butler

Today, sex therapy consists mainly of counseling and “homework” in which new experiences are tried and new skills practiced. If clients are too tense or reluctant to try something new, systems approaches, couples therapy, prescription drugs and psychodynamic therapy may be tried as well. Once anxiety is lowered, sex therapy often proceeds successfully, especially in treating the following common problems outlined here.

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Satori in the Bedroom

Tantra and the Dilemma of Western Sexuality

Katy Butler, Katy Butler

Many of us enter the bedroom now as if we have been told we are about to play a high-stakes game. There is no rule book, or else it's been hidden. Everyone else, we think, knows how to play. We charge down the field. We pass the ball. A whistle blows. The rules have changed. We are given five different rule books and told to choose one that suits us. (We have no idea what book the other team is playing from.) Bleeding from the shin, we strap on our battered equipment again and once more run down the field.

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