Couples and Stress

March 6th, 2012

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Robert Sapolsky, the Stanford neuroscientist and writer, revealed an important fact about primates under stress during an interview on KQED: one of the most effective ways to diffuse stress is to take it out on someone else. I was struck by how relevant this is for couples. In fact, couples do this to each other all the time, and they often regret it. So how can you change this behavior?

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Finding the Words

January 31st, 2012

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Language is one of the ways to connect our conscious and unconscious worlds. Things we don’t yet realize we know have a chance to rise to the surface. This allows our perceptions to become more deeply felt and understood. Sometimes we forget this amazing function of language in a culture that overflows with data and information.

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Tips for the Holiday Season

November 11th, 2011

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The holidays can get hectic. But the winter days are also a good time to slow down and have some quiet, contemplative time. It helps to set a few intentions before everything gets busy. I know that “setting intentions” can sound serious and time-consuming, but all it takes is finding an idea you like and saying a simple one-line statement to yourself.

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The Antidote to Self-Hate is Compassion

July 19th, 2011

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I’ve been reading Cheri Huber’s book, There is Nothing Wrong With You: Going Beyond Self-Hate. She talks a lot about how self-hate works, and how to intervene on your own behalf. She says that spiritual practice is essential because “in order to be free of self-hate, we must find the unconditional.” Not everyone who comes to psychotherapy is interested in spiritual practice, so here are some of her suggestions that are free of spiritual or religious requirements.

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Learning About Orthorexia

June 5th, 2011

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I’ve been hearing a lot about orthorexia, a term developed by Steven Bratman, MD, to identify an unhealthy obsession with eating healthy food. Orthorexia is not a recognized mental or medical disorder, but it identifies a phenomenon that Bratman sees in his practice and has experienced personally. The quest for good nutrition and healthy eating seems like a positive goal, but the unhealthy obsessiveness seriously complicates the picture.

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Motivational Interviewing

March 14th, 2011

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Motivational Interviewing is a directive, client-centered counseling style for eliciting behavior change by helping clients explore and resolve ambivalence. It was developed by William Miller and Stephen Rollnick and evolved from the treatment of problem drinking. It’s a useful approach for working with clients around change and can be integrated with other treatment goals.

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Rethinking Chaos and Health

February 27th, 2011

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The health benefits of meditation and mindfulness receive a lot of well-deserved attention in our culture. These practices can help people with everyday suffering, as well as specific health concerns. The image associated with these practices is frequently a calm and peaceful meditator. So the question is, do we have to be calm and peaceful in order to be healthy?

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Assertiveness and Guilt

December 27th, 2010

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I’m writing an article for the Winter 2011 issue of Bridge on the topic of assertiveness and guilt. Assertiveness is an often-misunderstood communication style, so I begin the article by contrasting it with other styles and then identifying this mysterious link to guilt.

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Dealing with Loss

November 29th, 2010

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I was reading the website for Kara, an organization in Palo Alto offering grief support and education, and was touched by their list of do’s and don’ts when helping someone suffering from a loss. Grief and loss can be a challenging experience for everyone — those going through it and those wanting to provide support.

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Therapists on Film

September 27th, 2010

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Therapists often show up in films and on television, and I like watching to see how they’re portrayed. One of my all-time favorites is Dagmar from Lars and the Real Girl, beautifully played by Patricia Clarkson. Her character embodies a kind of compassion, smarts and empathy that I strive for in my own work.

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