You are a multitude

Posted by on Jan 22, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on You are a multitude

Each one of us consists of many parts. A very effective way to do therapy is to consider yourself as a collection of parts. These parts can be based on roles you play in life, such as child, parent, baseball player, or they may be based on traits, such as the happy one, or the one who criticizes. Some parts are based on age – such as the five year old, the teenager, the grown up. Sometimes these parts get along well with each other, and work as a team. But if they do not, as is often the case, you can experience a lot of inner conflict. Parts have qualities of consciousness. Some parts are aware of each other, can remember each other, and other parts are walled off. They may not want to get along, or even to know each other. We have attitudes and beliefs about different parts. Some we approve of for public presentation. Others are kept away from sight. One of the goals of therapy is to create a harmonic whole, so that parts work together in harmony, rather than against each other. What about the part of you that can look at all the various parts? It makes sense after all, doesn’t it, that in order to recognize a part as such that there must be someone doing the recognizing? While parts are identifiably different from each other, they are also fluid. So, who are you, after all? Are you this cast of characters? As I see it, you are more like the unfolding play, the process of becoming, than you are a set of parts. But it’s also important to get to know the various...

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Book Review: Taming Your Gremlin, by Rick Carson

Posted by on Nov 5, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

This slim volume could turn out to be a very handy guide if you are looking for a new way of working with what’s bugging you. It’s full of examples and little stories about Rick himself and people he has worked with.  Its style is light yet down to earth, and it’s illustrated with drawings that are both humorous and sardonic. In order to get the most benefit from it you should do the exercises, not just read it. It’s also full of potential journaling topics. What’s a gremlin? Carson writes: “Your gremlin is the narrator in your head….He wants you to accept his interpretations as reality, and his goal, from moment to moment, day to day, is to squelch the natural, vibrant you within.” In contrast to the gremlin is the natural you. Carson sees the natural you as the real you, which is obscured by the gremlin, which will do all in its power to convince you that it is the real thing, rather than the natural you. In the beginning, most of us are enmeshed with our gremlins. Carson’s exercises are designed to take you from that state of enmeshment, to a state of differentiation. In other words, after a while, you will be able to identify when the gremlin is talking, and that will put you in a position to make your own choices, rather than the gremlin running you ragged. This book meshes well with a mindfulness practice. One of the skills it emphasizes is simply noticing, Over and over Carson will ask you to practice the skill of simply noticing, that is, to use your awareness to facilitate change. Have you heard of the acceptance paradox? It states that change occurs when you can accept things as they are. This theme runs throughout the book, that staying with whatever is, in the present moment, puts you in a creative position, making it possible to live the life you choose to live. This is a good book to use as an adjunct to therapy. It was written in such a way that you can work through it on your own, but one of the problems with books is that they are not interactive. There’s no one to talk to if you get stuck, which is no fun if you are going through the book in order to get unstuck! Your therapist can serve as a consultant and support person to help you over the more difficult spots. Though Carson writes mostly about a single gremlin, in closing he tells us that gremlins morph over time and in different circumstances. This puts our focus in the right place – on practicing the method – rather than getting fixated on the character of the gremlin. This book is not a flash in the pan. It’s in its third edition, having gone through several revisions since its initial publication in 1983. Looking at its on line reviews, apparently it’s not for everyone, but it’s quite useful for those who appreciate its appeal. It is not a perfect book – and it’s not intended to be. I believe its intent is to show the reader a method. Be prepared to spend some time with it, and see if it works for you. And come on in and talk with me about...

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Book Review: The Disorganized Mind, Coaching Your ADHD Brain to Take Control of Your Time Tasks and Talents, by Nancy A. Ratey

Posted by on Sep 25, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Ratey herself has ADHD, and is a professional ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) coach. As the title indicates, this book explains coaching methods that address the problems caused by ADHD. To get the full benefit of the book, you should plan to commit some time and effort to follow the program Ratey lays out. • The book explains her methods in a logical and empathetic way that still allows for individual flexibility. It will help you to establish routines that address your specific needs. • It is written for adults who can self-coach. Some people may need external support in order to get through their plan. • Coaching is different from therapy. Some people benefit from either coaching or therapy, others need a combination. Coaching is great if you have some broad goals but don’t know how to achieve them, or if you have already defined the problems you want to address. Therapy works at a more fundamental level, addressing trauma, and the emotional root of problems. Many people who suffer from ADHD also have early trauma, and have experienced shame from early and repeated “failures”. Sometimes working on goals can stir up these emotional wounds. • People who have ADHD often benefit from having a multi-pronged approach, which addresses nutrition, medication, behavior, and inner experience.  For example: Resource or professional Nutrition                  Book -The Mood Cure, by Julia Ross, nutrition and health coaches Medication              Medical doctor or psychiatrist who specializes in ADHD meds Behavior                   ADHD coach and/or The Disorganized Mind Inner experience    Psychotherapist The book has an extensive appendix of resources that should help lead you to the resources you need. One of the big takeaways from this book is that there are good solutions for those with ADHD. Just knowing this can erase the frustration and sense of helplessness often associated with...

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Child work

Posted by on Sep 5, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

One of my teachers told me that even if the client is actually an adult, all therapy work is with the child. Whether we are now eight or eighty, our younger selves remain.  Whatever was left unfinished at a younger stage remains so, until it is resolved.  The following is a vignette from an actual child I worked with, who taught me so much. Sitting with my eight year old client, she is in tears.  She has lost a relationship that she really treasured.  Or thinks she has lost it.  We talk about how she can stay in touch, and how she can hold this person in her heart, even if they never see each other again.  As I let her be in her sadness I begin to panic quietly, internally. She sinks deeper into experience.  I worry, what if I am not be able to offer her an alternative?  I can’t abandon her there, but I also do not want her to develop a belief that sadness is not endurable, that feelings must be avoided.  I touch into my own sadness and in that moment, remember there is something beyond it.  Her sobs subside.  Her breath becomes more regular.  We are both quiet. I look for some way to share with her my own experience beyond sadness.  There is grass growing at our feet.  Nothing like using what’s at hand.  I pick a piece of grass and ask her if she minds if I make a funny noise.  She is intrigued, says no, she doesn’t mind.   I make a grass whistle, and the sound is much louder than I expected.  It’s raucous.  On her face I first see surprise, and then she giggles.  Her therapist is being very silly.  We spend the rest of the session practicing the fine art of making grass whistles and offering to demonstrate the same to family members who pass by with their therapists. I don’t know if my client will forget this session as the years go by, but I don’t think I ever will.  To me it represents so many essentials.  First off, whether the client is chronologically a child or not, so much of the time, therapy involves contacting the child.  Working with children is every bit as serious as working with adults, and working with adults can be as much fun as working with children.  Both require respect and care.  The other thing I will remember is my own feeling of being at a loss, followed by a reminder of my own healing experience, then backed up by years of studying theory and technique.  And yes, I can give sound theoretical reasons for using a grass whistle as a therapeutic intervention.  Joy can provide some serious...

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The Perfect is the enemy of the Good

Posted by on Aug 5, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Have you ever stopped yourself from doing something because what you have in mind wasn’t good enough? I often suggest that clients  try acting on an idea, with an open mind and an experimental attitude, even if it’s not “the exact thing” or the final goal.  There are several reasons for this.  Often something is learned from the effort.  You get the opportunity to work with a part of yourself that needs to be expressed or exercised. Something unforeseen is gained.  Life can be pretty mysterious.  You never know what can happen the next moment, or the next day.  Sometimes, when you have a goal, the way forward is a side step, and you can’t know that until you take the step. A person grows through the effort.  Skills are gained.  Inner strength is built. It’s good practice in shifting the inner balance away from negative thinking to a positive attitude. As you can see, these reasons are inter-related. So,  check it out, using your good judgment.  As you do, be compassionate with yourself, and study what happens inside you as you take this next step, whatever it is.  And bring it into your session so we can talk about...

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