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Therapy, the Conversational Craft

Strategies for Improving Your Therapeutic Conversation Skills

William Doherty

By Bill Doherty - In this era of medical necessity and evidence-based therapies, it's easy to lose sight of the basic truth that psychotherapy is a special form of conversation: we heal not through prescriptions and procedures, but through talking and listening. What if we think of therapy as a conversational craft that we hone over a career with our clients and with a community of conversational healers?

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Five Strategies for When Therapy is Stuck

Bypassing the Limits of Feelings, Judgments, and Language

Steve Andreas

By Steve Andreas - When therapy goes wrong, it’s typically because we’ve entered our clients’ trance, joining them in their myopic misery. Therapy typically hangs on your ability to demonstrate more skill and awareness in using the trancelike qualities of human communication to move beyond the tunnel vision that can stall therapy and prevent change and healing from taking place.

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Putting an End to the Blame Game

A Tool for Helping Partners See Both Sides

Alicia Muñoz

By Alicia Muñoz - Giving up being right doesn’t mean you give up your convictions. It means honoring a multiplicity of viewpoints. Rumi says, “Somewhere beyond right and wrong, there is a garden. I will meet you there.” For couples, this garden is their relationship.

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Resisting the Seduction of "Otherness"

...Once Upon a Time in a Diversity Training Session

Ken Hardy

By Ken Hardy - When I got my doctorate in family therapy, I went to work in community-based organizations, believing that I'd change the world. Today, I realize that my work is about helping people see the insidious impact of the "otherness process." Our task poses formidable challenges, but failing to resist the seductions of "otherness" is failing at a fundamental principle of our work.

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Mastering the Tango of Love

Sue Johnson on Discovering Hidden Moments of Connection

Susan Johnson

By Sue Johnson - If you’re going to help a couple get closer and learn to really dance together, whether in bed or anywhere else, the key is helping partners experience bonding moments that open them to becoming emotionally accessible to each other. If you can do that, their bodies will follow, and sex will almost always improve.

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Making Your Therapy Practices Stick

Four Steps to Help Clients Master Exercises Used in Session

Donald Altman

By Donald Altman - Perhaps the most important aspect of engaging your clients with practices and handouts is to listen to their feedback. What are the challenges? What is most helpful? How clear are your instructions? Here's a four-step approach to help your clients master practices used in session.

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Jump-Starting Conversation in Family Therapy

The Difference Between Guiding and Intervening

Mike Nichols

By Mike Nichols - How do you get family members to talk together productively? Enactments can be among the most valuable tools for getting a family's communication going. But cultivating these conversations—and making sure not to overmanage them—is harder than it sounds.

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Raising Boys Right

How to Help Closed-Off Young Men Cross the Communication Divide

Adam Cox

By Adam Cox - As we raise and support the next generation of boys, it's vital that we give them the tools to be full participants in society by helping them find the words to define themselves and relate to others. To do so, therapists and parents alike must explore new means of engaging silent youngsters, going beyond the business-as-usual inquiries about thoughts and feelings.

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Doing Away with the "Blank Slate"

What Happened When One Therapist Decided to Self-Disclose

Jay Efran

By Jay Efran - These days, I rarely hesitate to share my frank reactions with clients, most of whom, I have come to realize, are far hardier than we were taught to believe. If the setting is right, even brutal honesty can advance the therapeutic cause. Over the years, I have discovered a very handy therapeutic mantra to consider whenever the work bogs down, "When you find yourself stuck, try the truth."

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We Weren't Meant to Live in "Screenworld"

Why Therapy is the Counterculture We Need

Michael Ventura

By Michael Ventura - Nowadays, you see screens at checkout counters and laundromats, in restaurants and waiting rooms, and on the dashboards of cars and in their back seats. Isn't there something peculiarly disembodied about it? How does one find or grow a sense of centeredness amid this continually shifting screenscape? Psychotherapy, by its nature and purpose, is Counter-Screenworld.

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