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Joining A Support Group

rp_300px-Grouptherapy.jpgThings to consider when joining a support group:

  1.  Avoid making negative comments, passing judgments on others’ comments.
  2. Realize that privacy is important.  Just because something is shared in group doesn’t mean it should be shared elsewhere.
  3. Remember everybody is entitled to their own opinion but they shouldn’t impose it or try to force it on someone else.
  4. Try to be understanding and to take another person’s point of view if you can.
  5. A person’s locus of control is within him or herself and the only behavior a person can rightfully change is their own.
  6. If a person is ready to change, they will change.  If not, it may not happen now or ever.
  7. Remember the Golden Rule.  Do unto others as you would want them to do to you.
  8. Think about the Bible verse, “The meek shall inherit the earth.”
  9. Why do bad things happen to good people is a good thing to think about.
  10. If you can’t say something good then don’t say it at all is something to consider before saying something critical.
  11. Being humble and open-minded might make others more receptive to your contributions.
  12. You do not have to make a contribution to the group discussion if you don’t want to; but do give your full attention to other peoples’ contributions.
  13. Gentle reminders of appropriate group behavior are acceptable especially if the group discussion is getting off course.
  14. Everyone needs some help sometime including a group leader.

    Part of the Lady Bug series

    Part of the Lady Bug series

Negative And Useless Thoughts

rp_300px-ThinkingMan_Rodin.jpgNegative and useless thoughts such as “I can’t”, “I won’t”, “What if something bad happens?”  Do they saturate your mind?

We are always programing our minds whether we know it or not. Do you ever listen to yourself from an objective point of view? Do you feel helpless to change your mind. Do you think, “I have always thought that way.” “Why should I change now?”

Many people think that to be forewarned is to be forearmed if something bad happens. How many gloomy scenarios like this do you generate? If these become blueprints for your mind, what are you going to build? Doesn’t sound good does it?

Have you ever been criticized for being a daydreamer? What if this is just a more positive way to program your mind? Little kids do this all the time. In their fantasies they are strong, brave, fearless and the conflict always ends with the daydreaming child being the conquering hero, winning the contest, or making great friends.

What changed our minds which were once full of hope, ambition, and no end to the happy endings it could create? Our imaginations even thought of things that didn’t exist yet but could be real in our minds. What happened to us.

Reality set in as viewed by those around us. We were considered to be foolish, even stupid, and setting ourselves up for disappointment and failure. Better be prepared when this happens! Our parents dreams didn’t work out or if they did, we couldn’t compete at their level.

We constantly think that having a fear of failure we should be prepared for this possibility as then it won’t hurt so bad.

Life we are taught is always a competition and only a few win.
This belief keeps many people from competing and narrows the field for those who do. Maybe those type of people are not doing us any favors; but they are doing themselves.

What if we are taught that there is plenty enough for everybody and that everybody has some unique talents which once developed can create a successful life.

Finally what do you think will make you happy anyway? Supportive friends and family? Creative and useful work. Pride in accomplishments? Little or no worry about survival? Finally, just forgetting about all this for a moment and just enjoying being alive. How often do we do things absentmindedly and forget to enjoy what is going on around us?

Do the things that we have acquired get in the way of our being able to enjoy them? Who can be in six places at once; drive a dozen vintage cars, or handle a half dozen spouses? With things come responsibilities as they need to be stored appropriately, maintained, and paid for!

Communes may have had the right idea? Many hands make light work. Sharing things and sharing responsibilities with no one person being a dictator? Do we need separate kitchens and eating areas? Or can we share one?

Gardens, things of nature can generate beautiful spaces to share as anyone person can’t be in all of them all of the time. Retreats can share facilities and give people a chance to get away from it all and enjoy beauty. Getting away from everyday responsibilities and their accompanying worries generates peace.

Why People Can’t Change

Why people can’t change:

1.  They would have to admit they were wrong about something.

2.  They might have to make some other changes too.

3.  It would take too much time.

4.  They are waiting for somebody else to change first.

5.  They would have to admit that they wasted time or money doing the wrong thing.

6.  They might have to admit that somebody else was right and they were wrong or too much pride and too much emphasis on winning some type of competition.

7.  Having to be always right even if it kills you.

Why they should change:

1.  To stop putting money down a rat hole.

2.  To become an example for somebody else.

3.  To stop wasting time defending why they can’t change.

4.  To save more  time and money after investing some current time and money making a change.

5.  To stop having to hide some deficiency from others.

6.  To learn something new.

In the long run there are great benefits:  For example, learning to drive as an adult.  Erased my dependency on others.  Gave me freedom.

amygdala

 

 

 

When Feelings Aren’t Wrong In Therapy

Don't Ask; Don't Tell.

Don’t Ask; Don’t Tell.

When feelings aren’t wrong in therapy and might be a warning sign:

As a therapist, I have been in psychotherapy working on my own issues.

It seems that the first thing a therapist might say is trust me, I only want to help you.

So you entrust your soul to a therapist you don’t know who you think has the appropriate credentials to help you solve your problems but who in the end only creates more problems for you.

Sounds complicated, doesn’t it?

Here is my story:

The details are fuzzy but they often are when dealing with sexual abuse.  One of the first things this therapist told me was that he found me sexually attractive and this made me feel uncomfortable; but he reassured me that I shouldn’t feel that way as it was a compliment.

Months later, maybe even a year later.  I came back to see this therapist at his invitation to let him know how I was doing after I had completed therapy with him.

I opened the door to his office and saw him lying on the floor with some pillows around him and he said,”Come here.  Let me touch you.”  I don’t remember the rest of what happened.  I was at the very least surprised and disconcerted by his proposition.

I don’t remember the rest of what happened.  The details are fuzzy and any attempts I have made to create a time line has been even more confusing.  It took years for me to remember this and by then it was too late to do anything about it.

What is appropriate and what is inappropriate in therapy?

Common sense would tell you that touching, especially titilating touches, are not appropriate either during or after therapy while the client still relates to the therapist in the therapist role.

Sexual abuse victims are extremely vulnerable to this kind of thing and the practitioner’s code is “Above all else do no harm”.

Do you see how this orientation on the therapist’s part could have rended most of the therapy ineffective?  maybe even harmful to me?

Therapist’s have a big responsibility and they must constantly monitor their feelings towards a client and seek supervision if they are unsure about this.

Clients place a big burden on the therapist and there has been a code of ethics created for him or her to follow in their relationships with a client.  It would seem to be easy to do this if the therapist has common sense and a personal code of conduct not only as a therapist but also as a human being.

The biggest trap is transference in the therapist-client reationship.  This happens when either the therapist or the client perceives the other person in the relationship as being like someone from their past and acting toward that person like he or she would with this figure.

Therapists should be trained to avoid this trap and to use this information about their own possible transference to promote healing in the client versus letting it happen on their part and disrupting and corrupting the relationship.

 

 

 

 

Continuing Growth Is Necessary For A Psychotherapist

loud-noisesNo, once chosen the profession of a psychotherapist or counselor requires continuing growth.  Sometimes in surprising ways.

Freudian psychotherapists have raised the subject of transference in the relationship between a therapist and a client.  Transference can go both ways.  Something about the client makes them see the therapist in a certain way.  Sometimes something about the therapist makes them see the client in a certain way.

Education in a profession such as psychotherapy can lead the practitioner to believe they must present themselves as  experts in the field and as not vulnerable to the types of things that bring ordinary clients into therapy.  This can lead to rationalization and denial on the therapists part.

Rationalization means that the therapst can create a good explanation as to why he or she is not vulnerable to the types of problems his or her patients have.  Denial can also result from the taking of this position and it can cause therapy to not move forward for the client.

Personal growth is one way possibly to help stop this from happening. Does the development of one’s self-concept and concept of life stop with attaining one’s maturity whether at 18, 21, or 35?  No, it does not.  Our perspective on life constantly changes with new experiences.

Honestly does a psychotherapist think that they can understand exactly how they learned to be who they think they are and stop growing.  Wouldn’t personal growth experiences for psychotherapists help with this?

Is there only one answer?  Hasn’t science found this out.  What things did scientists believe were true when your parents were children and what have you or your children learned in the present that scientists’ did not know or believe then?

Remember the old saying, “Do as I say!” not “Do as I do!”

Also the more defensive barbed wire a therapist puts between him or herself and what he or she is asking their patient to do, the more “phony” and indefensible they become as therapists.

New learning and new growth leads to enthusiasm to carry this over into the psychotherapist’s work.  Insights developed this way can help a therapist be more responsive in therapy.   I now hear and see more things than I used to see or hear in everyday interpersonal interaction.

For example I can still learn from a four year old that grandma is not always smiling and looking happy when she thinks she is especially when I am feeling that I am working at something and forgeting to enjoy doing it.

 

 

Sometimes You Have To Let Something Go To Make Room For Something New To Come In

rp_300px-Sabbatical_titlescreen.jpgAs you can see I am taking a sabatical this fall.  I have no classes to teach this fall which means it will be a squeeze financially but I will have more time to devote to writing for this website, more time to babysit grandchildren (which is a mixed blessing), more time to meditate in several different ways, and more time to pursue my own personal growth.

While I was teaching this summer (and taking an art class myself), I was feeling stressed out and at times it made me physically ill.  Do you think that as a psychologist I should have known better than that?  Maybe.  But I just know from past experiences that it is a sign that I should take heed of and do something about.

It took time and money out of my pocket in order to teach even though I have been enjoying it and growing a lot doing it.  Yes, I was paid but as a part-time instructor and only for what classes I taught each semester.  This summer I made an hour round trip trip to town four days a week for two months spending the whole day there two days a week.rp_300px-New_Life_Ranch_Sign.jpg

I will take two road trips this fall to see the evangelist Joyce Meyer and attend the homecoming celebration of my undergraduate college in honor of my class’s 50th anniversary.  I will be doing this on a shoestring; but I am not going to miss these chances to do something I want to do which only comes along once in a blue moon.

I have already gotten one surprise phone call offering me some financial help for one of my upcoming seminars after it was decided that I was not going to teach this fall. I also have recently found some books that answer questions I have been asking, but did not get the answers for that I have been gobbling up.

Yesterday, I caught up on some of my sleep and decided to do nothing that I didn’t have to do.  I missed one of my regular salesmen while I slept in the afternoon and I did not check on most of the things that I am checking on today and I did not turn my computer on.

I am growing.  I intend to explore new and old things that I have not gotten around to doing recently.

Stop! Think…Could A LadyBug Be Self-Actualizing?

rp_5854234616_9eb56eac3d_m.jpg(Work in progress.  More to come.  Including the essay that was the idea for this post.)

The epitomy of personal achievement in Humanistic Psychology is the self-actualzing person who only reaches that point after overcoming the hurdles of satisfying basic needs: physical, security, social, and self-esteem ones.

It is not the person you might expect him, or is it her, to be?  ( Don’t we generally think of ladybugs as female?)  Fame and wealth aren’t necessarily the highest goals and meeting the needs for these self-agrandizing or often other-exploiting objectives often can leave a bitter taste in one’s mouth and a sense of “Is that all there is?”

Then what is a self-actualized person?

Maslow’s characteristics of self-actualized people:

1) Self-actualized people have realistic perceptions of themselves, others and the world around them.

2) Self-actualized individuals are concerned with solving problems outside of themselves, including helping others and finding solutions to problems in the external world. These people are often motivated by a sense of personal responsibility and ethics.

3) Self-actualized people are spontaneous in their internal thoughts and outward behavior. While they can conform to rules and social expectations, they also tend to be open and unconventional.

4) Another characteristic of self-actualized people is the need for independence and privacy. While they enjoy the company of others, these individuals need time to focus on developing their own individual potential.

Now what has a ladybug got to do with this?  This description of a ladybug that was brought to my attention by one of my honorary “sisters” (as I only have brothers) fits the description of a self-actualized person quite well.   To be continued…

Part of the Lady Bug series

Part of the Lady Bug series

 

 

Positive Attitudes, Winner or Loser

not who you are 344Why are we so afraid to create positive expectations of future situations?  We are afraid that if we do this we will be badly disappointed when it doesn’t work out.

Have you ever played pretend and created exactly what you wanted in every detail?  You probably did so as a child when you were only limited by your imagination.  I used to think that the president and his or her family had access to every thing a person could want and many things that ordinary people, even rich people, didn’t have yet.  They had color TVs in my child’s mind before they were even invented.

For example, my best friend and I created beautiful ballgowns in our heads that we could really see.  Daydreaming, you say just daydreaming….  Did the candy taste just as sweet if only in our imaginations and everything starts with an idea before it becomes a reality.

Your frame of mind can influence your outcome.  How do you act if you know you will get something?  How do you act if you are sure you won’t get something as things are unfair and no matter how good you are you don’t have a chance!

 

 

Smiles Breed Smiles

Does no one ever smile at you?  Well, do you ever smile at them.  It can be risky but you can even try this with people you meet on the street or in a store.  Now I do admit that this might not be a very safe thing to do in certain neighborhoods or with certain people who could perceive it as a “come on” but it is usually safe in other places and with other types of people.  What do you think?

Competition Can Be Good For You!

Checking out your competition can be good for you and discovering what your competition can do for you and what you can learn from your competition is a good idea.  Just think how many good conversations you could have with somebody who knows as much or more than you do.  It could be stimulating and productive.  It might even result in joint effort on a new project.  Your competion could become your best friends and working companions.

We fear that we might look bad when compared to or lose out when we meet our competition.  Surprise! Some people even like honest competition.  Competitors can become supportive friends.  We know this is true of lawyers.

Really knowing and appreciating your competition can be really valuable.  Just think what you might find out and what things you might learn that you didn’t know before.  Don’t be scared by your competition; really worthwhile opponents really want to know the people smart enough to be their competition.  Some people also can’t stand fools who only want to use what they know and what they can do because they can’t compete at the same level.  You and your competition CAN become friends and learn to appreciate each other.