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A Special Daughter's Special Night

A Personal Essay from our Family Matters Department

Richard Holloway • 8/26/2016 • 1 Comment

By Richard Holloway - My daughter is beautiful: she has long, flowing, blonde hair, blue eyes, elegant features, and stands about 5’ 10” tall. She’s now 18, a senior, and this June will be her graduation. It’s a prospect I greet with mixed emotions. She’s autistic and has difficulty with everyday interactions and expressing herself coherently. So in the winter of her junior year, even though the prom was just around the corner, we never imagined she’d go. (A personal essay from our Family Matters department)

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Bad Couples Therapy

Betting Past the Myth of Therapist Neutrality

William Doherty • 9/29/2014 • 3 Comments

Most therapists learn couples therapy after they get licensed--through workshops and by trial and error. Most specialize in individual therapy, and work with couples on the side. So it's not surprising that the only form of therapy that received low ratings in a famous national survey of therapy clients, published in 1996 by Consumer Reports, was couples therapy. The state of the art in couples therapy isn't very artful. I'll start with beginners' mistakes and then describe how couples therapy can go south, even in the hands of experienced therapists.

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Bad Couples Therapy

Getting Past the Myth of Therapist Neutrality

William Doherty • 11/1/2002 • No Comments

As a graduate student, I'd done individual counseling before, and had worked with parents and kids, but had never worked with a couple. Thirty minutes into the first session, when I was lost in the midst of a meandering series of questions, the husband leaned forward and said, "I don't think you know what you are doing." Alas, he was right. Naked came the new couples therapist.

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Blending Psychotherapy and Community Activism

Jeffrey Kottler on the Rewards of Volunteer Therapy in Nepal

Jeffrey Kottler • 6/2/2015 • 1 Comment

Who has time to change the world when we already have our hands full trying to make a living and get through the obstacle course of a normal work week? It's not impossible. I now spend several months each year working in remote regions of Nepal, helping lower-caste girls, who are at the greatest risk of being forced into early marriage or trafficked into sex slavery, by making it possible for them to attend school. It's when I'm here that I feel most alive, and at least for the few months after I return, I feel a new clarity and focus about what's most important.

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Bubble-Wrapping Our Children

The Perils of Overprotective Parenting

Michael Ungar • 9/19/2014 • 2 Comments

While not all overprotective parents are as extreme in their behaviors as Shyam (indeed, few experience themselves as being obsessive at all), many middle-class families are struggling to decide how much protection is the right amount, even when their children are showing signs of anxiety and rebellion as a result. Whether these families are my clients or my neighbors, overprotective parenting appears to have become the rule, rather than the exception, in today’s world.

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Bullying in Schools: What to Do When Officials Can’t Help

As Parents Become Frustrated with Officials Who Can’t Help with Bullying in Schools, They Turn to Another Source

Ron Taffel • 12/5/2013 • 9 Comments

Almost nothing evokes more fear and dread in parents today than the omnipresent specter of social cruelty and bullying in schools.

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Can Couples Therapy Work with Only One Partner?

Action-Oriented Strategies for the Couples Therapist

Michele Weiner-Davis • 3/17/2015 • 1 Comment

Many therapists define the type of therapy they practice by taking a head count: if one person is present, they're practicing individual therapy; if two or more people are present, it's couples or family therapy. I believe this is misguided. The key to determining which brand of therapy is in use at any given point lies in the therapist's orientation and focus, not the number of people occupying space in the room. In contrast to therapists who question the value of doing couples therapy with individuals, this approach is often my method of choice for a variety of reasons. I find it can empower people by showing them that they no longer have to play the waiting game of "I'll change if you change first." Instead, they find themselves back in the driver's seat of their own lives.

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Confronting the Culture of the Busy Child in Therapy

The Epidemic of Overscheduling Our Children

William Doherty • 2/19/2015 • No Comments

In previous decades, we came to see sexism and racism as problems we could no longer ignore in our work. I have a nomination for the problem of this decade: for many kids, childhood is becoming a rat race of hyperscheduling, overbusyness, and loss of family time. The problem is all around us, but we haven't noticed how many of our children need daily planners to manage their schedules of soccer, hockey, piano, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, baseball, football, karate, gymnastics, dance, violin, band, craft clubs, foreign-language classes, academic-enrichment courses, and religious activities. Parents have become recreation directors on the family cruise ship.

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Do We Still Need Attachment Theory?

Jerome Kagan, Daniel Siegel, and Salvador Minuchin Weigh In

Mary Sykes Wylie • 1/6/2017 • 1 Comment

By Mary Sykes Wylie - In the world of psychotherapy, few models of human development have attracted more acceptance in recent years than the centrality of early bonding experiences to adult psychological well-being. What on earth could ever be wrong with emphasizing early bonding, connection, and relationship as the foundation of all good therapy? According to some critics, attachment-based therapy neglects a vast range of important human influences.

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Effectively Treating Eating Disorders Is a Matter of Life and Death

What Needs to Happen in the First Session

Sandra Wartski • 10/9/2016 • 1 Comment

By Sandra Wartski - Any therapist who's worked with eating disorders knows that treatment can be a rocky journey. While it can be unpredictable, scary, and slow, my work with one client helped reinforce my optimism that recovery is possible.

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