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The Art of Not Knowing the Answer

A Trauma Specialist Shares Her Most Therapeutic Moment

Mary Jo Barrett

By Mary Jo Barrett - My very first case was the Byford family. The father was serving a six-month sentence for domestic abuse. During a home visit several months into treatment, the daughter, Laura, announced, “Dad is getting out of jail today! And he’s coming here!” My mind went blank. Her mother looked at me. Suddenly, it was as though I passed whatever strength I had to her, and she then passed it back to me.

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A Nightmare No More

Repairing the Parent-Child Bond is a Two-Way Street

Dafna Lender

By Dafna Lender - When difficulties arise between parent and child, most therapists naturally focus treatment on the child. But the parent–child bond is a two-way street, and parents come with their own history. In these situations, I can often find ways to help parents and children connect through attachment-based games that involve elements of silliness, movement, and surprise.

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The Three Marriages

Poet David Whyte on Our Work and Purpose

David Whyte

By David Whyte - Human beings are creatures of belonging, and our sense of belonging and not belonging is lived out by most people through three principal dynamics.

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Stop Treating Eating Disorders Like Just Bad Habits

How to Empower Clients to Heal with Parts Work

Lisa Ferentz

By Lisa Ferentz - It's unproductive to deal with an eating disorder as though it were simply a bad habit. Therapy has the greatest impact when I step away from the temptation to get into a power struggle and empower clients to do a large part of the healing work themselves.

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VIDEO: Lisa Ferentz on Planting the Seeds for Post-Traumatic Growth

Removing the Glass Ceiling for Trauma Survivors

Lisa Ferentz

It’s not always easy to tell trauma survivors in the midst of deep suffering that one day they’ll find meaning in what happened to them. But according to trauma specialist Lisa Ferentz, trauma survivors can emerge from their nightmarish experiences stronger than before, and there's a sensitive, measured way to go about planting the seeds for post-traumatic growth.

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Shoplifting: An Important (and Neglected) Clinical Issue

The Seven Types of People Who Shoplift and Why They Do It

Terrence Daryl Shulman

By Terrence Daryl Shulman - The American Society of Employers reports that 20 percent of every dollar earned by an American company is lost to employee theft, to the tune of $53 billion per year. Most shoplifters steal out of feelings of anger, loss, disempowerment, and entitlement, and many become addicted. So why is this an important—and neglected—issue for clinicians and others in the mental health fields?

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Can Childhood Trauma Lead to Adult Obesity?

How One Study Exposed the Connection Between Early Life Abuse and Weight Gain

Mary Sykes Wylie

During the mid-1980s, Vincent Felitti, founder of Kaiser Permanente's Department of Preventive Medicine, began directing a new obesity-treatment program. But within a year or two, Felitti and his colleagues began having a very unusual problem. Virtually none of the patients were fat as children. They'd gained their weight abruptly, usually in response to a difficult life event. But the shocking news was that the interviews revealed an unsettling pattern of childhood sexual abuse, trauma, family suicides, brutality, and other evidence of severely dysfunctional family relationships.

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Therapy Strategies for Working with Underprivileged Youth

An Inner City School Social Worker Shares Two of His Cases

Howard Honigsfeld

Public School 48, where I’m on staff as a social worker, sits on a block between a juvenile detention center and a strip club. I became a social worker because I wanted to directly address the problems---truancy, childhood depression, and the overwhelming responsibilities of being an older child raising siblings---that were keeping them from functioning well in school. My current job is to counsel children with Special Education Services, as well as to handle the daily emotional crises that arise in a place like PS 48. A week of work can be exciting, frustrating, and often hair-raising---anything but boring.

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Recovering the Lost Roots of Child and Family Therapy

Using Family Therapy's Origins to Fix a Broken Mental Health System

Cloe Madanes

During the height of the family therapy movement, the healing power of the family was respected, and medication and out-of-home placements were considered a last resort. For a variety of reasons, that era has passed, and countertherapeutic economic forces have come to dominate treatment decisions. We need to reexamine our values as a profession and rediscover the activism of the days when the DSM didn’t so thoroughly limit our perspective and clinicians were encouraged to think beyond narrow diagnostic categories and embrace the fuller complexities of human systems.

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The Explorative Narrative Therapy of Michael White

Embracing Storytelling in the Consulting Room

Mary Sykes Wylie

Watching Australian therapist Michael White's loosely called “narrative therapy" in session is a far cry from seeing one of the recognized lions of clinical performance, but in recent years, he has developed a worldwide following of both senior therapists and neophytes alike. He almost never asserts anything, rarely utters a declarative sentence, just patiently asks questions, hundreds of questions, often repeating back the answers and writing them down. At the same time, there is a startling tenacity about the process, a kind of polite but unshakable insistence on participation, a refusal to let people off the hook. He simply will not give up.

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