Cleaning the Closet

We are certain to encounter the past.

We are confronted with it if we go back to the old homestead, step in through our childhood door, and walk into our early days. We face it if we unpack memories along with the ornaments for the Christmas tree. Either we choose to spend time the past, or it is guaranteed to call on us. Continue reading →

Cabin Fever

How compulsion feels from the inside

I used to live in a cabin, so I should be an expert on cabin fever.

At age nineteen, I emigrated to western New York to live on a remote piece of land, a quarter mile from the nearest neighbor and built that cabin. They didn’t plow my dirt road, so I’d be snowed in for weeks at a time, which was just as well, for the rattletrap vehicle I drove was broken down as often as it was operable. A trip to town was as special as a vacation in Paris. It took years before I realized and could admit that I really didn’t like living in the country, and would much rather be in the city, or at least as much of a city as Rochester, NY, where I am now, can claim to be. Continue reading →

Do You Really Have a Choice with Your Feelings?

If you say you got pisssed off, gripped by fear, sadness overcame you, lost hope, filled with gratitude, or overwhelmed by joy; the passive voice you use about your feelings reveals a misconception of how they work. Continue reading →

Something You Can Do When There’s Nothing You Can Do: Relaxation Therapy

When you go to as many conferences led by therapists as I do, you’re subjected to lots of speakers beginning their talk by telling you to close your eyes, get comfortable, and pay attention to your breathing. Some try to lead you on visualizations that include forest glens, peaceful waves on the beach, warm sunshine, and gentle breezes. I refuse. Don’t tell me to relax and don’t remind me when I’m at a conference, that I’m not on the beach.

I still won’t relax on command, but I have learned the value of relaxation therapy. Continue reading →

Your Emotional Immune System

Personal and social antibodies for stress.

…The body’s immune response is as wonderful and useful as it is disgusting and often uncomfortable. Thank God you have it. But you should also thank God, or whatever you choose to thank, that you have an emotional immune system, as well. For, while there is stress everywhere, most of the time you don’t go mad.  Continue reading →

Igniting Change with the Principles of Motivational Enhancement Therapy

Most methods of psychotherapy are designed for the therapist to help the client. Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) seems to be one of these; but it’s actually therapy for the therapist when standard Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) just isn’t working. Continue reading →

The Mind’s Instruction Manual: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Life doesn’t come with an instruction manual. What are you supposed to do with these emotions, thoughts, and behaviors? How do you get rid of the ones you don’t want and cultivate the ones you do? Somewhere, close by, a cognitive behavioral therapist is ready to roll up his sleeves and tell you. Continue reading →

An Introduction to Feelings

I get it if you don’t think it’s important to talk about your feelings. I really do.

You see, I haven’t always been a therapist, asking people about their feelings. I used to do hard work: building things, cooking things, and growing things. When I was younger, I played sports that had me hurl my body towards other bodies and make them hurt. Having done that, I know there are many settings where feelings are out of place. Continue reading →

Continue reading “An Introduction to Feelings”

Eleanor Oliphant Might Be Completely FineBut Using Therapists to Resolve Your Plot Isn’t

Ordinarily, I avoid reading books and watching movies that portray head shrinking because I’m careful to maintain a work/life balance. But I couldn’t ignore Eleanor Oliphant. Continue reading →