Archive for April, 2009

On Becoming a Client

April 26, 2009


It’s kind of scary to pick up the phone and call a perfect, or not so perfect, stranger and ask questions about coming to see her/him, especially when you’re in pain. You ask questions about fees, appointment times, maybe about the therapeutic or theoretical approach–and you seldom ask questions about the therapist herself/himself. You’re usually too stressed to even think of any questions.

Some of the questions I suggest that you ask yourself are:
1. Do I feel a rapport with this person?
2. Do I trust this person?
3. Do I feel safe with this person so that I am willing to share myself and be vulnerable?
4. What do I need/want from this person so that I can heal myself?

In addition to the normal administrative questions, I suggest that you also ask:
1. How long have you been in practice?
2. What type of client do you do your best work with?
3. How do you take care of yourself?
4. Are you in therapy and/or have you ever been in therapy?

You may be very uncomfortable asking these questions, and the therapist may not like them nor be willing to answer them. It’s important for you to remember that for your therapy to be successful, you will have to allow yourself to be vulnerable. You need to be willing to express what you’re thinking and feeling, including not liking your therapist at times. Can you do that with this person?

I’d like to hear how it is or would be for you to ask these questions. Do you have any other questions you might think of asking? I look forward to hearing from you.


Did You Smile or Frown in Your High-School Yearbook Photos?

April 22, 2009

Did any of you see the small blurb in the Sunday, April 19th, 2009, San Francisco Chronicle about a new study that showed that people who frown in their high-school yearbook photos are five times more likely to get divorced than people who smile? What do you think about that? The psychologist who was quoted in the paper, Mathew Hertenstein, from DePauw University in Indiana, stated, “Maybe smiling represents a positive disposition toward life. Or maybe smiling people attract other happier people, and the combination may lead to a greater likelihood of a long-lasting marriage. We don’t really know for sure what’s causing it.” Any ideas?

While you’re commenting, I’d surely like to know your response to the 2 previous articles that I posted. Do you and/or your significant other “should” on each other. What happens if you and/or s/he does?

Did you do any of the suggested experiments from the Mind, Body, Emotion connection article? If you did, what was your experience?

I’d like this blog to be a dialogue and I am very interested in what you have to say.

Hope that you’re all surviving the heat without too much discomfort.

Mind, Body and Emotion Connections

April 18, 2009

Eastern philosophies and cultures, including medicine, have always recognized and acknowledged the unity of mind, body and emotions. Western culture and philosophy, on the other hand until recently, have taken a very dualistic approach to healing. Still, within that dualistic approach there has been an unacknowledged recognition of the impact the emotions have on the body and vise versa.

Try this: close your eyes, imagine you’re hearing
the most beautiful music. It gives you goose pimples.
Let yourself feel the goose pimples. What are the
emotions that go with hearing that music? Now, someone
in the orchestra hits a discordant note. What happens in
your body and what are the feelings that go with that
discordant note?

Now imagine someone is hollering at you.
You feel angry. How do you know you are angry? What are your body’s clues, and what do you feel like doing?

What is going on in your body that tells you are angry; or, in reverse, you have a pain in the neck. What are the emotions that go with that pain in the neck? Is there someone you want to tell to get off your back? Are you sometimes so overcome with emotion that you feel weak in the knees? Have you ever been broken-hearted?

These are just a few examples illustrating the mind/emotion/body connection. Self-awareness is Somatic – in the body. Therefore, the most effective way in which to relearn and work through early emotional deprivations and emotional traumas is to deal with the body – emotional holding patterns that are fixed and held within the body. Recognizing the mind/emotion/body connection and working with it enables people to expand their options and to find their voices so that they may be truly present in the world.

Don’t “Should” on Me

April 16, 2009

The above statement is one of my favorite bumper stickers.  It is a reminder of one of the ways in which we both allow others to tyrannize us and tyrannize ourselves.  “Shoulds” come from cultural, parental and peer expectations and we accept them because we need to feel loved, to belong and to feel safe and good about ourselves.

We act on “shoulds” because we believe that they are true, and that’s how we give them power over us.  If we don’t live up to our “shoulds” or to someone else’s “shoulds”, we feel that we are unworthy–a bad person.  Our self-esteem is impacted and we torture ourselves with self-blame and guilt.    

Look over the following list of “shoulds” and notice which impact on your feelings about yourself:

                ~  I should be strong.
                ~  I should always be kind.
                ~  I should never make a mistake.
                ~  I should be perfect (a particular curse).
                ~  I should never feel angry.
                ~  I should always be helpful.
                ~  I should never feel sexually attracted to____________.
                ~  I should never be afraid.
                ~  I should always be happy.
                ~  I should always help others.

If these or any other “shoulds” are keeping you from living your life to the fullest in the way that you want to live it, I invite you to explore healthy ways of dealing with them.  It really isn’t necessary to carry these burdens around–and I definitely do not mean that you should get rid of them.  It is all your decision and depends on how you feel about them.