I enjoyed a webinar with Richard Schwartz, developer of the Internal Family Systems therapy model. The IFS model grew out of other family therapy models that examined “roles” each family member inherits in reaction to each other & the family’s overall needs. The IFS model examines various “parts”, or roles, within a person, often developed within confusing family dynamics. For example, an individual is likely to develop various “protector” parts and other parts that are “exiles”–parts that express impulsive or other unwelcome behavior. In the IFS model, healing occurs as each part is attended to with curiosity and awareness. When the parts are understood, they relax and trust a well-informed leader–the “self.”
Schwartz’s IFS website: Center for Self Leadership
At a time when people are gaining awareness about the dynamics & negative effects of sexual abuse AND deconstructing puritanical sexual beliefs & misinformation, Doug Braun-Harvey offers us six principles of sexual health. These principles are important guideposts in a frequently neglected and obscured corner of mental health treatment–as well as human lifespan development more generally.
- pleasure: healthy sexuality leads to joy and/or empowerment (rather than detachment, and/or shame)
- consent: participants should be in full, active agreement to the particular sexual acts, time, place, people, etc.
- non-exploitation: secrecy and betrayal prevent partners from engaging in a psychologically-safe intimacy
- protection: healthy partners collaborate in preventing transmission of STI’s and unwanted pregnancies
- honesty: healthy partners voice their desires, limits, and ambivalence
- shared values: connections are built on common meanings
If you would like to examine how your life interfaces with these principles, please contact me. BTW, imagine how much psychological pain would be eliminated and how much pleasure would increase if adolescent sexual education raised conscientiousness about these intra-personal and interpersonal factors.
I enjoyed a presentation by Dr. David Willey and Dr. Amalia Bullard regarding medical and psychosocial treatments for addiction. Dr. Willey provided great information about medications that may aid in relapse prevention. For example, antagonist medication can help reduce cravings and change the brain-body’s response when substances are consumed. Dr. Bullard reanimated the importance of Motivational Interviewing.
I’ve concluded another semester of graduate teaching–so it’s time to focus on my own continuing education! I’m in 4 day intensive training next week. This program surrounds the treatment of “Out of Control Sexual Behavior.”
The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California Berkeley curates videos, articles, and podcasts about happiness. The short videos are presented by prominent researchers, therapists, business leaders, and educators. They include a wide range of topics such as “How to check in with Yourself” and “The Biology of Mindfulness and Compassion.” There are hundreds of happiness videos here. The information is not a substitute for therapy–a process that can investigate specific traumas and the complexity of a person’s unique life. However, the videos can help people remember their wisdom and encourage action.
If you have a history of suicidal thoughts or know someone who died by suicide, you may want to look into a new research project called Our Data Helps by Qntfy. You can donate social media data (from online activity) and/or fitness & sensory data (from wearable devices) to help researchers learn more about why suicides happen and how they can be prevented. The project will analyse the language, physical data, and media patterns of people who sign up to help the project.
I took a webinar training last week on everyone’s favorite topic: “Lies, Deception, Infidelity, and Jealousy.” Ellyn Bader of The Couples Institute facilitated the discussion. One of the most interesting parts of the training was her model for determining whether a relationship is likely to recover from deception:
- How high are the partners’ desires for honesty?
- What are the partners’ beliefs in the likelihood of success?
- What amount of unwanted effort is it going to take?
- How willing are the partners to take emotional risks (self-exposure rather than avoidance, denial, minimizing)?
The answers to these questions can help evaluate the relationship’s potential and pinpoint particular areas for development.
Many psychology researchers, including the Veterans Administration, are studying the effects of mental health applications. While indiscriminate screen time is widely known to reduce peoples’ focus, some research indicates that consistent, intentional use of some mental health apps tends to boost self-awareness; effectiveness; and happiness. The Veterans Administration is specifically studying the app PTSD Coach, which I would like to use with a client. Please let me know if you would like to participate in that process! Here are some applications I already find useful with many of my clients:
- Narrative Therapy Questions: helps the participant conduct a deep self-interview about their preferred life direction and related obstacles
- Calm: 100+ guided meditations to choose from. The app will track the dates and lengths of of your meditations
- Relax: helps practice diaphragmatic breathing, which is good for nervous system regulation and panic-attack prevention
- Mood Tracker: charts symptom severity/remissions/patterns based on pre-programmed OR customized data schemes
When you experience a negative memory, do you experience an inability to move or take action? These “stuck” or “frozen” states are indicative of trauma. The trauma may be related to a single overwhelming event and/or it may be from a developmental disturbance, like childhood abuse or neglect. Trauma is about powerlessness, not being able to DO something helpful within the original situation. A traumatized person’s challenge is to re-train their mind AND body to take calm action when they are triggered into these states. Sometimes, traumatized people over-react to situations, understandably not wanting to be revictimized. Some interventions that help relieve (rather than re-live) trauma are: meditation (noticing disturbing mind/body cues while regulating breathing and heart rate); identifying and using self-soothing stimuli (perhaps a comforting smell, texture, visualization); and articulating the trauma experience within a safe and responsive context.
I recently completed a continuing education training with Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, author of The Body Keeps the Score.
I attended an InterPlay workshop recently, based on the principals of Interpersonal Neurobiology. We experienced firsthand how “mindfulness” can be fun. And “playfulness” is not an escape from reality. In this workshop, we played (connected, laughed, moved) and built (inter)personal awareness. Intentional play is an antidote for depression and anxiety.