Daring Greatly

I am currently re-reading the wonderful book Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown. If I only had a single therapeutic tool or paradigm, Dr. Brown’s work may be the one. Dr. Brown examines yucky problems like scarcity, shame, and defense mechanisms with finesse and humor. For those of you who have not seen her first viral video, here it is: vulnerability .

Lessons from Improv

I am currently taking an introduction to Improvisation Comedy class. Improv is a fun way to practice…

  • awareness: it’s hard to keep people’s attention if your own attention is wandering
  • listening: respond to a group story rather than one’s own preoccupations
  • acceptance: in improv, you working as a team–and other people have some weird ideas
  • healthy risk-taking (AKA healthy vulnerability): it gets the dopamine going; it builds competence and resilience

Externalizing Anxiety

An anxious computer programmer reprogrammed his anxiety. First, he outlined his worries into a computer program. Then, the program emailed him anxious messages throughout each day. The programmer read the messages–as if they were comical spam messages. This process helped him emotionally distance from worry and deconstruct anxiety in real time.

The original audio story can be found here: here

Feedback Informed Treatment

I am enlisting two new tools to build collaborative client relationships! The Outcome Rating Scale measures a client’s life satisfaction–and any positive or negative trends during the course of treatment. At the end of each meeting, clients use the Session Rating Scale to provide feedback about the meeting’s topics and methodology.  These tools are associated with the International Center for Clinical Excellence. This evaluation process encourages transparency, accountability, and “custom-fit” rather than “cookie-cutter” therapy.

Trauma Stewardship

In addition to other healthy life practices, I find great resiliency in a self-book: Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others. This book provides a framework for managing vicarious trauma. The text outlines 16 possible imbalances within a caregiver or service provider–such as cynicism, deliberate avoidance, hypervigilance, and an inability to embrace complexity. Readers can self-assess their experience and make adjustments. This collection of research and anecdotes relates to various human services, including social work, law enforcement, education, and medical fields.

Therapy Style, continued…

Another important part of my therapy style is seeking and developing Exceptions. Exceptions are times/places/relationships when the problem does NOT present itself.

It can be argued that some suffering is part of the human condition; however, the worst problems have a way of becoming a dominant theme, encroaching on multiple areas of life. I help people develop problem-free zones. Articulating and building these exceptional experiences helps develop nuanced awareness and the increased personal agency required to respond to difficulties.

Therapy Style

When asked about my therapy style, people often want to know two things: what are some of my core assumptions? how do I relate to clients?

  • I understand that people have variation, including biological variation. One person may be fundamentally different from other people.
  • An individual’s biochemistry and personality may vary and adapt throughout time.
  • A pattern of thoughts/emotions/and actions may be described as a relational template. Relational templates that are adaptive in a previous context may become generalized into other parts of a person’s life. Unfortunately, the generalizations may become problematic in newer contexts. In that case, the person may revise their thoughts/emotions/actions.
  • I position myself as a collaborator with the client. Rather than take a prescriptive approach or a passive approach, I solicit the client’s participation. I expect clients to challenge themselves while I am an active respondent. We share power and control so that new dynamics and opportunities develop.