How Your Body Can Help You Find Peace

If you’ve been feeling depressed, anxious, grieving, guilty, or preoccupied with cravings, then you probably tried to reason yourself out of it. You’ve wanted to get your head screwed on right and the clouds cleared from your mind. You believed if you talked to somebody, they could tell you things that might help you feel better. Don’t let me stop you. I would be the last person to prevent you from thinking better, but it isn’t just a matter for the mind. Your body can help, too. Let your body help you with your depression, anxiety, grief, guilt, or craving. Continue reading →

What Is the Meaning of Life?

I have an answer

It’s taken humankind thousands of years, but I think I finally have the answer. I know the meaning of life.

For many people, questions about the meaning of life get set aside; but, for us therapists, we encounter them every day. Questioning the meaning of life is part of the human condition, as ubiquitous and basic as walking upright and having opposable thumbs. It preoccupies many of us some of the time but is generally dismissed as an enigmatic and fruitless endeavor. It’s hard to talk about it and even harder to find someone to talk about it with, which is why people talk about it with their shrinks.

Having had so many of these conversations, I’ve stuck with it longer than most. I’m ready to tell you what it is.

The meaning of life is like this: Continue reading →

Reflections on “In Treatment”: Season 1, Episode 1

Can You Fall in Love with Your Therapist?

And what should happen if you do?

I heard the critically acclaimed series, In Treatment is coming back this year for a new season, so I thought I’d catch up and see what the excitement is about. It’s an unusual show that’s set entirely in a therapist’s office. I’ve avoided the series so far because, why I would want to watch therapy in my time off when I’m seeing clients as a therapist all day long? It seemed to be a drama best left for a wanna-be therapist, in the same way as, when I watch football, I imagine myself as Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen.

However, Josh Allen may like to watch football from time to time. He can appreciate how Tom Brady picks apart defenses. I should be able to enjoy seeing the therapeutic expertise of Dr Paul Weston. Weston is no slouch when it comes to overcoming defenses, in his own way.

The scene of episode one, season one, opens with Weston’s patient, Laura Hill, in agony on the couch. She arrived hours early and waited in the parking lot, but now does almost everything possible to avoid talking about what she needs to talk about.

[Spoiler alert] Continue reading →

Why Ask Why?

Sooner or later, if you come to me for therapy, I’ll ask you to put, in a single sentence, your objective in seeing me. I ask this because I want to know how to be successful. I also want you to define your goal. The most common answer I get is something like, “I want to know why I am the way I am.” In other words, why do I drink more than I should, why can’t I get the courage to leave my husband, or why am I so depressed, so anxious, or so angry?

I used to be surprised by this, especially if it came after a long, intense description of how unhappy they were. Wouldn’t they rather know how to stop drinking, how to be less depressed, anxious, or angry, or how to leave their husband? Why ask why? Continue reading →

How Stories Can Harm

But they can heal the harm, too

If someone pointed a gun to my head and forced me to admit, as a psychotherapist, what my preferred counseling method was, I could not say I was a reflective eclectic. That would get me shot. It’s not really an answer. Instead, I would have to confess that I have a soft spot for narrative therapy. I might get shot anyway because few people know what that is. Continue reading →