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 … Continue reading Why Can’t We Simply Choose Happiness?
Consultation for Psychotherapists I tell my graduate students that beyond all the academic exercises of reading, writing, and research, the two most important skills for a competent psychotherapist to master are the capacities for being alone and the tolerance of not knowing. Ironically, even though a psychotherapist spends many … Continue reading The Importance of Consultation Among Psychotherapists
Psychiatric Medication Television advertising for psychiatric medications seems to have become as regular as commercials for automobiles, miracle cookware, or cosmetics. We are shown beautiful young men and women enjoying their friends and family, as we are also told that they have major depressions, bipolar moods, insomnia, and other potentially debilitating conditions. Certainly these ads … Continue reading A Commentary on the State of Mental Illness in Contemporary Society
Over Diagnosing Children I once read an article by Jordan Smoller called, “The Etiology and Treatment of Childhood.” It was a satirical article that described childhood as a mental disorder. He noted that childhood is congenital, is characterized by temporary dwarfism, is marked by emotional instability and immaturity, and that children have knowledge deficits … Continue reading Are We Over Diagnosing Children With Mental Illnesses?
Psychological Determinism Perhaps the single most representative concept of psychoanalysis is that of psychological determinism. By this I mean a fundamental belief that human behavior, consciousness, and experience are determined or explainable. Freud followed in a scientific tradition that was dedicated to uncovering the laws and mysteries of life, hopefully to lead to a comprehensive theory … Continue reading Are There Really No Psychological Accidents?
Psychotherapy and Epistemology: Learning How to Think Psychotherapy and epistemology–what do they have to do with each other? Philosophy refers to how knowing happens as epistemology. I would argue that addressing the process of knowing is at least as important for training psychotherapists as considering what is known. Let me explain… When I supervise graduate students … Continue reading Thinking Like a Psychologist
Resilience Resilience, the ability to bounce back and maintain strength in the face of stressors, is an important attribute for our patients as well as for ourselves. Life is filled with tribulation and dangers, both those we experience first-hand and those we live through vicariously as we are instantly exposed to events through the media. … Continue reading Resilience
Psychotherapy with Adolescents Psychotherapy with adolescents provides a unique opportunity to impact identity at a key time in development. Understanding the roles of “self” and “identity” is helpful in this process. Self and identity have been variously defined and, at times, viewed as synonymous. It is clinically helpful to distinguish between the two in psychoanalytic psychotherapy … Continue reading Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy with Adolescents
Neuroscience, Self, and Identity What do we mean when we refer to self? Is self distinct from identity? The constructs of self and identity have been understood and discussed historically in diverse ways. Neuroscience research is now supporting that they are indeed distinct constructs. Neuro-imaging research is consistent with self as reflecting right hemisphere, reflexive, nonlinguistic … Continue reading “Self” and “Identity”