Don’t Force It

Especially when trying to bring about change

My father was a car mechanic. When I was a kid, he tried to teach me all about cars, but I wasn’t very interested. After a while, he might have thought he was wasting his time, but one of his lessons stuck with me. I think about it every day.

“Don’t force it,” he often said. Continue reading →

Why Can’t We Turn Away?

The fascinating and appalling state called abjection

There’s a psychological mechanism that isn’t very well known, yet it’s involved behind the scenes in many emotions. It plays a part in disgust, revulsion, repugnance, aversion, distaste, nausea, abhorrence, loathing, detestation, horror, contempt, weird, outrage, terror, fear, fright, panic, dread, trepidation, hatred, hate, abomination, execration, odium, antipathy, dislike, hostility, animosity, ill feeling, bad feeling, malice, animus, enmity, aversion, shame, humiliation, mortification, chagrin, ignominy, embarrassment, indignity, discomfort and repugnance, among others. Really, just about any negative emotion has this mechanism involved.

What is this mysterious power behind the curtain of so many intense, uncomfortable emotions? It’s called abjection. Abjection is what happens when there is a breakdown of the distinction between self and other. It’s necessary for your development into an independent, functioning human being. Continue reading →

Announcement

After more than fifteen months of pandemic, I am fully vaccinated and will be ready to see clients in-person after June 1, 2021 at a new location. I’ll be in the office for in-person sessions two days a week. I will still be counseling by telehealth five days a week.

The New Location

My new office is at the Harvard Street Integrated Wellness Center, 18 Harvard St, Rochester, NY 14607, a residential street in the Park Avenue area of the city of Rochester. Also in the building are other therapists, a psychiatrist, a physical therapist, a nutritionist, and a couple massage therapists.

In-Person Counseling

I will be at the new office for in-person sessions two days each week.

Tuesdays, 9am to 2pm and Thursdays, 3pm to 8pm

If you chose in-person counseling, you should be fully vaccinated and wear a mask while entering the building and sitting in the waiting room. We will be able to take the masks off once we get settled in my office.

Telehealth

Because so many people have found telehealth to be more convenient, I will continue to offer counseling by phone or video for all the hours of operation.

Mondays, 3pm to 8pm
Tuesdays, 9am to 2pm
Wednesdays, 9am to 4pm
Thursdays, 3pm to 8pm
Fridays, 11am to 4pm

How to Schedule an Appointment

To schedule an appointment, please use this link and, if I have seen you before, enter your email address. You will get a link to that address from simplepractice.com. Open it up, select request an appointment, and chose the type, whether an initial evaluation or individual or couple’s counseling. On the next screen, you will have a chance to select a location, either telehealth or in person at 18 Harvard St. You will then see the openings I have in my calendar. Select one and you are done.

If you would like to meet regularly and your schedule is tight, I recommend setting up several appointments at once, so you know you can get the time you want. We can always change them if we need to.

Afterwards, I will most likely confirm the appointment. I may send you a request to fill out some paperwork beforehand so that I have up to date contact and insurance information.

I hope to see you soon.

Keith

The Perils of Understanding

And how your prejudices can help you understand better

I once worked as a therapist with a deaf female client in my office by having her type what she wanted to say to me, as I typed to her. I didn’t know much sign language but was eager to show off what little I had. As she wrote about herself, I kept making the sign that I thought meant I understand. She looked uncomfortable until we were able to figure out my mistake. The sign I kept making was for I’m horny.

I could have been in big trouble, but we sorted it out. We both made mistakes leading to the confusion. Continue reading →

Don’t Be Mindless About Mindfulness

It doesn’t have to involve meditation

If you have any connection to psychotherapy or psychotherapists and have been paying attention to trends, you’ve noticed that everyone in shrinkland is talking about something called mindfulness. I don’t know if mindfulness has infiltrated everywhere else as much as it has the land of shrinkishness; but if it has, it’s either got you completely converted, or, if you’re like me, you’re ready to scream.

As much as I hate to admit this about a trendy thing, the purveyors of mindfulness are selling something that’s real, and really good; the trouble is, they’re doing such a great job of selling it that they may be outselling their supply. The customers buying mindfulness may be placing their order, awaiting the delivery, opening the box, only to find it empty, containing as much mindlessness as they have in the rest of their life. Continue reading →

Shame

We have no emotion that’s not useful in some way. Everything is there for a purpose, even an emotion that undermines its purpose.

I’m talking about shame. Its purpose seems to be to help us fit in with others. Shame, and its milder version, embarrassment, comes up when you violate a social norm which might get you expelled from the group or, at least lower your status. Continue reading →

Some Strange Ideas about the Strange Situation

And stranger ideas about attachment

A mother enters a room with her eighteen-month-old child. Neither have been there before. There’s a few toys on the floor. The mother leaves the child with a stranger for a few minutes. The mother returns. White-coated researchers are standing behind a one-way mirror with clipboards, recording everything that happens.

The experiment has been called the Strange Situation, but it’s not a strange situation at all. It happens all the time in the natural world. Nonetheless, it’s been a very important experiment in the history of psychology. Out of it has arisen theories of attachment. Continue reading →

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 →