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Are Ego Defenses Bad or Good?

Are ego defenses bad or good?    Are ego defenses bad or good to have?  Is the goal of psychotherapy to remove defense mechanisms or strengthen them?  Can mental health be defined as the absence of ego defenses?  Or are some ego defenses better to have than others? Questions like these are posed frequently by graduate students, clinicians, … Continue reading Are Ego Defenses Bad or Good?

What Is Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy?

What is psychoanalytic psychotherapy? Psychoanalytic psychotherapy (also called psychodynamic psychotherapy) is a contemporary form of treatment for mental health issues that has evolved from its roots in psychoanalysis over the last 100+ years. This form of treatment emphasizes a comprehensive understanding of the client (“patient”) as a person, as opposed to following a strictly symptom-oriented … Continue reading What Is Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy?

Isn’t Psychoanalysis Dead?

I heard the question again just last week, this time from an undergraduate in my Abnormal Psychology class. I’ve heard it many times over the years, from colleagues and grad students as well. I had also been taught, all through college and throughout graduate training, that no one considered Freud’s work anymore. I suspect that … Continue reading Isn’t Psychoanalysis Dead?

The Value of “Having Your Head Examined”

The profession of psychotherapy has been around for over 100 years, with less formal versions of personal consultation going back to biblical times.  So why is it that the voluntary seeking of psychotherapy can be such a polarizing issue?    Skeptics of psychotherapy cast doubts on the effectiveness of “talk” to change anything in a … Continue reading The Value of “Having Your Head Examined”

An Unforgettable Patient: The “Meerkat Boy”

He was only 4 ½ years old.  His father had mentioned to his own therapist that the child had rarely (if ever) spoken, was reclusive, and was defecating in the corners of rooms.  The therapist recommended that the child be evaluated.  Hence, my first meeting with the boy.  The child entered my office alone, apparently … Continue reading An Unforgettable Patient: The “Meerkat Boy”

Orthodonture or Psychotherapy?

How can I get my child to stop sucking her thumb? It’s a common question asked by parents. And there are so many “remedies” on the market to help achieve this goal—bitter nail solutions, thumb wraps, children’s books to coax a child away from the act, and parenting books with numerous strategies. I rarely hear … Continue reading Orthodonture or Psychotherapy?

What a T-Shirt and Ticklish Gorilla Can Teach a Psychotherapist About Building a Life That’s True to the Self

I’ve learned much from both my favorite t-shirt and a ticklish gorilla about identity development, self-awareness, and building a life that’s likely to be fulfilling. First, for the t-shirt.  My favorite t-shirt has a little label sewn on it that says, “Do what you like, like what you do.”  I’ve thought a lot about this.  … Continue reading What a T-Shirt and Ticklish Gorilla Can Teach a Psychotherapist About Building a Life That’s True to the Self

Facing Dreaded Projects (How to Make a Mole Hill Out of a Mountain)

As psychotherapists, counselors, teachers, or students we’ve all had to face that project that we’ve dreaded.  A paper, a speech, preparing an event.  Maybe we don’t feel that we have enough background or the skills needed to do the project well or even to do it at all.  Or maybe it’s just that it’s so … Continue reading Facing Dreaded Projects (How to Make a Mole Hill Out of a Mountain)

New Year’s Resolutions Get a “Bum Rap”!

New Year’s Resolutions get a “bum rap.”  They’re often derided as deluded wishful thinking and as rarely successful.  But I think they provide us with a wonderful opportunity to reflect and reevaluate, to engage in self-forgiveness and acceptance, and to rekindle hope and commitment to important goals—and, if approached carefully, they can be very successful. Resolutions … Continue reading New Year’s Resolutions Get a “Bum Rap”!

Why Can’t We Simply Choose Happiness?

As a psychologist and psychotherapist, I’ve spent the last 30 years listening to people struggle with anxieties, depression, and loneliness, in search of ways to alleviate unhappiness.  And as a professor, I’ve spent as many years researching ways to build resilience—hoping to find ways to prevent people from “succumbing” to unhappiness.  The more I explore … Continue reading Why Can’t We Simply Choose Happiness?

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