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Psychotherapy

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.

 

 

 

 

First You must Be Able To Forgive Yourself Before You Can Forgive Someone Else

God Wants Me To Forgive Them!?! DVD Cover

God Wants Me To Forgive Them!?! DVD Cover (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

You must be able to forgive yourself before you can forgive someone else.  How can you conceive of the need to forgive somebody else when you can’t conceive of needing it yourself or worse yet being able to offer it to others.  You have to know and understand that all of us have done some things for which we need to be forgiven and it may be easier to offer it to others than it is to offer it to ourselves.  Are you hard on yourself and while you may not be the Holiest person in the world, might you not be capable of having the title of being the most unforgiveable person in the world.  How self-sacrificing to offer to someone else what you, yourself, feel that you don’t deserve.  Then and only then can you relate to the need to forgive someone else.  When it comes to forgiveness, we all need it and realizing that we ourselves need it, we realize what it means to extend that to someone else besides ourselves.

Now there is another side to the story.  Some people feel very good about offering forgiveness to others when they think that they don’t need it themselves.  It can come from a “holier than thou” attitude.  These people can’t conceive of the need to forgive themselves even though they are happy to offer it to others.  Doing this shows how much better off they are than the other people whom they need to forgive.  “Who me?”  “I don’t need to forgive myself.  The fact that I can forgive others proves that I don’t need to be forgiven myself.”

The point to this story is that we need to be able to do both, focus on things we need to forgive ourselves for and things we need to forgive others for.  The best example of this perplexing problem is someone who has been physically or sexually abused as a child and this leads to them to doing this to children themselves.  Maybe you have not done this but you have made foolish possibly even egregous mistakes in the past which might have even caused a tragedy.  If we can’t accept responsibility for what we did and then forgive ourselves, this will stand in the way of truly being able to forgive someone else for what they have done to us.

 

Forgiveness

Forgiveness (Photo credit: Celestine Chua)

No one is perfect or we wouldn’t be here.  Whether you believe in original sin or not.

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Wake, Awake, For Night Is Flying

Wake,  Awake, For Night Is Flying.

The Meaning of Life (TV series)

We are definitely in a New Age.  More and more people have come up to me and asked me questions about the meaning of life. 

We have been stuck in a rut; but not anymore.  It is mostly older people who have asked these questions.  People have learned that to deal with life they have make changes in themselves, not others.  Some people have been caught napping.  They have been content with the way life was going for them and when it stopped working, they didn’t know where to go or what to do.

I am not a “home wrecker.´”  I only talk to those people who want to talk to me.  These people already have questions and they think that I might have the answers.  I do, but for me, not them; but if I can help I will.  When I give my ”advice”, it is “take it or leave it.”

Hamlet with Yorick's skull

Hamlet with Yorick’s skull (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I do believe in the meaningfulness of life.  There is a reason behind everything even if I don’t know it right now.  I believe in the worthiness of every human being.  Everyone has some valuable contribution to make.  We should recognize this and not just focus on the rich and famous.  These people often can do amazing things and yet, at the same time, they are very humble. 

This type of awakening can come during adolescence or young adulthood, middle age, or even at the end of life.  It depends on how much society supports such a search.  Often it requires letting go of attachments  to things people, values etc.  which were very important earlier in life.As a result of this awakening, we can change so much that we can hardly recognize ourselves.  “Who was that 30 year old woman who met her husband on a blind date after moving to a new town?

Change is a human condition.  Most people recognize the physical ones.  “Oh, did I look like that when I was in grade school?  “What will I look like in ten years?”  Some people are very afraid of change and base what they do on what they learned in the past.  Nothing remains the same; even in nature.  The cycle of birth and death is always a reality that we and other creatures have to face.  This is something that we can not effectively deny.

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Who Are You? Does anybody Know?

It's Still Like a Secret

It’s Still Like a Secret (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The secret, sacred self is highly guarded.  There are lots of things about yourself that even you don’t know.  Life is a process of discovery.  When you let someone into your secret, sacred self (even yourself), you are very vulnerable.  It could be deadly.  People have committed suicide over feeling rejected, not only by others, but also by themselves.  What is so unacceptable about you.  What can’t you admit about yourself (even to yourself) that is so dangerous?

There used to be encounter groups of all kinds, often not run by qualified group therapists.  Confrontation was often the style of group process.  People got hurt mentally and physically when they had to admit the worse about themselves and some terrible deep dark secret was revealed.  Sometimes the person was released from the session to grin and bare it alone.  Reliable, reputable groups did not do this but were there when the sessions ended to handle the fall out.  They were there to catch the recent participants before they fell to far.

What is so unacceptable about us?  Who led us when we were little children to accept the fact that we were unacceptable for some reason and to keep it a secret.  Unconditional love handles the whole problem.  Is there any sin that can’t be forgiven?   We often build walls around ourselves which prevent people from getting too close and discovering our unacceptable secret sins.  Confession is good for the soul.  It might even be that what you did did not hurt anyone in spite of what you thought at the time.

There are astonishing stories about victims’ families that forgave the person who took their child or family member from them and even took the perpetrator into their own family circles.  If they can do that, what is holding you back?  What kind of conceit is it that says that you (among all the evil people in the world) do not qualify for forgiveness and for unconditional love?  Unconditional love is just that, unconditional love.

If you are religious, who are you to tell God that he can’t forgive you and accept you (and your shortcomings) among all people in creation?  Nuff said!  Move over; there has got to be somebody in worse shape than you.  If you don’t believe me, read something on satanic ritual abuse.  Second thought, don’t.  It can creep you out.

Psychotherapy‘s ultimate goal is to forge a relationship between the patient and the therapist that is strong enough to withstand any revelation to the therapist by the patient.  If the therapist has been in business of psychotherapy long enough, he or she has heard it all.  Nothing surprises him or her anymore let alone what you have to tell him or her!  This confession is often the real beginning of the therapeutic relationship, not the end.

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Please Listen To Me

good_listeningPlease listen to me so that you can tell me what I said.  Don’t make it a waste of my breath to talk to you.  Sometimes a conversation becomes a competition to see who can dominate  it and at the same time no one really is listening to the other.  You are trying to tell someone something and they are too busy thinking of what to say next to listen.

Why do we talk to others  Is it to learn something new or to convince someone else to accept our values or to take our point of view.  If you are not open to changing your mind or rethinking a position that you have taken then why do you think that other people would be that way?

Have you ever gotten involved in a conversation that has turned into a yelling match?  What do you think that you or the other people you are talking “at”  are accomplishing ?  Yes, it is nice to get something off your chest; but what if it doesn’t really solve anything?

Sometimes therapy is the only place where someone really listens to you; but then I (and probably you) have heard of stories where the therapist fell asleep during a session while supposedly listening to their patient.

activelistening-glych1

activelistening-glych1 (Photo credit: stallio)

Therapy involves “active listening” where the therapist repeats what the client has said in his or her own words to be sure that he or she has gotten correct what the other person has been trying to say.  Then the therapist might make an interpretation of what the client is actually probably doing or make a suggestion as to what the client might do about the problem they have just related to the therapist.

Debating is an activity that promotes active listening and the ability to see the other side of issues.  Critical thinking is encouraged and people are forced to be able to take both sides of an issue.  We are not always able to see the other person’s point of view.  In a society that promotes individual differences, we often get caught up in defending our right to have our own preferences and ignoring the right of others to have theirs.

Think for yourself, but give others that right too.

 

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Here I Am, Tomorrow

livetomorrowReady to start life over and develop my creative side.  After all being left-handed, I am in my right mind.  Is that why I need to develop my spontaneous, intuitive side?  I  find a better fit as a psychologist when I view myself  also as a crafts person, not only as a scientist.  I now know who I am; I am an artist and life is my canvas.

At this time of life most people are winding down while I am winding up.  After a hiatus of five years due to physical problems,  I’ve got time to make up.  The new me, JoyL, has changed her name and now has red hair.  If my friends could see me now.  There is no time like the present.  I have waited long enough.  I am not your usual housewife, mother, or grandma anymore (if I ever was).

There’s no time like the present.  Can’t stop now.  I’ve just begun.  Anyone else like me out there?  Could you write a post for this blog that was inspired by this?

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Creative Drawing

Drawings reveal what is on a child’s mind especially before they become a teenager.  Until then they don’t realize everything they are communicating even though sometimes they will tell you what they are drawing and perhaps even why they are drawing it.  In therapy with children, drawing (by both the child and the therapist) can be a way of resolving an issue.  There is nothing really sophisticated about, it requires no artistic talent on either the child’s or the therapist’s part.  The materials are easy to find and they probably are in your home already if you have children.  You can recycle computer printouts by using the plain back sides.  Most children have crayons and/or colored pencils and the more colors the better.  Also you can use markers or paints if the child is old enough.  The colors used, the actions portrayed, the placement and inclusion of figures all tell the therapist something.  A child can be asked to draw something traumatic or scarey (like a trip to the emergency room).  If the child appears reluctant, then the therapist might draw first asking the child to tell him or her what to draw in the picture.

Little girl drawing with a blue pencil.

Little girl drawing with a blue pencil. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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Good Vibrations

Problem Solving

Problem Solving (Photo credit: Ken Whytock)

TRIZ process for creative problem solving
TRIZ process for creative problem solving (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Good emotions bring good vibrations and bad emotions have bad vibrations.  If vibrations effect you as some people say,  what are you doing to yourself and others?  How much of the news is good?  How much is bad?  When you talk about other people  is it mostly to complain or find fault.  When and if you pray is it about gratitude for something or lack of something?

Modern psychotherapy places much emphasis on changing the way you think and what you think about.  Formerly psychotherapy often concentrated on what bad things had happened to you in the past and how they effected you in the present.  Focusing on the bad things can at least make you a “bore”.  It may make friends and family avoid you and may even make things worse.  They are not written in stone and should be seen as something to move past and maybe even to change.

Thinking about the solution rather than the problem makes more sense.  Perhaps you were abused as a child.  Does thinking about it over and over change it?  How often do you say, “I can’t”, and stay stuck in the problem and not the solution.  Do not do what was done to you.  Encourage problem solving in children at home, at work, or away from home.

Besides learning problem solving skills, you also can increase the amount of time that you think about good things.  Where did that imagination go that you had as a child?  You were able to imagine all sorts of wonderful things.  How fast in your mind can you get to that perfect getaway spot and experience it in as many ways as possible using all of your senses?  Having good vibrations is a good change from having constant bad vibrations.

Last, but not least is humor.  We can all take a joke if it is not mean.  Cancer patients may benefit from laughter and some have concentrated on watching funny movies as part of their battle against cancer.

 

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Like Chewing on a Bone

The reviewing of significant events in one’s life is often done over and over like a dog who burys a bone only to dig it up later and chew on it again.  It may seem like the process is never complete but if new material is discovered that changes the picture or a different point of view is found, it can be very helpful.  What is disconcerting is to find out that knowing what you do now you wish you hadn’t done or said something about that situation in the past.

This is often the process in psychotherapy.  The same problem can come up again and again at different points in one’s life.  This often happens with sexual abuse.  Such an experience can effect several different areas of one’s life at different times.  It can effect one’s sexual relationships.  It can effect parent-child relationships.  There is also a possible anniversary effect when the child the same sex as you reaches the age you were when you were abused or when that child has contact with the same person or with someone in the same role as the person who abused you..

Problems that one had with one’s parents or other authority figures as a child can come up again and again in a person’s life time.  This is especially so if you or your child is put in that same situation again.  For example, when your parents need your help as they get older and more dependent on outside help is one such occasion or when your children have conflicts with teachers like you did as a child.

As time passes, there is the possibility of a change in perspective and with that a change in behavior.  For example, when one realizes that his or her parents were young and inexperienced when he or she was a child and couldn’t be expected to be perfect parents at that time.

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Psychopaths

English: Lansing Correctional Facility

English: Lansing Correctional Facility (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Prison 2
Prison 2 (Photo credit: planetschwa)

Having almost no or almost no conscience, psychopaths can commit violent crimes often without an ounce of guilt.  They have a high recidivism rate.  Committing the same crimes over and over again until he (or she) is permanently locked up and cut off from society.

As far as mental illnesses go, psychopathy is expensive to treat as incarceration is expensive and is mostly useful as a form of  protection for society and really is not a form of treatment.  They may continue to be violent in prison and may acquire a longer prison term because of this.  Also they usually need to be kept in  expensive high security prisons.  Even when taken out of society, they remain dangerous to others, both other inmates and correctional facility staff.

Because psychopaths having no built in governors on their aggressive drives, talk therapy does not seem to work with them.  Also they could care less about the feelings of others.  It would seem that if some form of treatment could be found that would inhibit their aggressive behavior, it would of a great benefit to society and perhaps even hopefully to psychopaths themselves.

Focusing on rewarding good behavior in adolescents who seem to be destined to be psychopaths with privileges seems to be more effective than punishing bad behavior which often causes an increase in bad behavior..  The theory behind this is partly based on the neuroplasticity of the brain.  Please see this article, (Mis)guided Light by Jenny Price in “On Wisconsin” (Vol. 113, No. 3), the alumni magazine of the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

 

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