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F E A T U R E D    A R T I C L E

Well-Meaning Advice that Doesn’t Work

March 3rd, 2015
As friends or family, we want to help our loved ones when they’re struggling with a mental illness or painful feelings. Our natural tendency might be to offer advice or a reassuring comment. It’s hard to see a loved one in distress, ...

OCD and Fear of Treatment

OCD and Fear of TreatmentI’ve previously written about recovery avoidance in those with obsessive-compulsive disorder. It can be heartbreaking for family and friends to know there is treatment for the illness, yet their loved ones refuse to commit themselves to it. I’ve talked about how important ...

Cooking Up a Family of Love

dinner family parents bigstI was recently taken to task by a reader who took exception to my suggestion: that a sullen teen be paid to watch younger children for a while on Thanksgiving. That would give the adults some time to talk without interruption. In the ...

No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos & Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind

BOOK REVIEW.
Parents, grandparents, caregivers, teachers, and anyone else in frequent contact with kids can all stand to learn more about how to stay calm. No-Drama Discipline offers example-backed tools to help us discipline children in a supportive and lasting way. This is not the first book that Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson have written together. Their earlier book was the ...

Why Sitting Up Straight Makes You Feel Better

Helping Women Cope with InfertilitySit up straight, a command never far from the lips of mothers just a couple of generations ago, is not something you hear very often today. But depression is something we hear a lot about. Depression affects an extraordinary number of people ...

Positive Computing: Technology for Wellbeing & Human Potential

BOOK REVIEW.
More and more people who work in technology need to take into account the wellbeing of their users when they design new applications and systems. Sometimes they must do this directly — for instance, for apps where health and fitness is a primary goal. Sometimes it is indirectly, when they want to increase user engagement and motivation — ...

Book Review: Visual/Spatial Portals to Thinking, Feeling & Movement

BOOK REVIEW.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2010, the prevalence of autism in the States was about one in sixty-eight, with numbers increasing steadily since 2000. Among the treatments recognized by the CDC for autism spectrum disorders is the Developmental, Individual Differences, Relationship-Based Approach, or DIR for short. DIR is also known as floortime, since parents ...

The Mood Repair Toolkit: Proven Strategies to Prevent the Blues from Turning into Depression

BOOK REVIEW.
As a therapist who specializes in treating depressed adolescents, I find that parents often challenge me. They cannot understand why their teen is helplessly depressed, or why their child isn’t motivated to engage in activities that their peers find enjoyable. “She has nothing to be depressed about — she has a great family and good grades, and is smart and ...

Contemplative Psychotherapy Essentials: Enriching Your Practice with Buddhist Psychology

BOOK REVIEW.
Nothing could have prepared me for the human suffering I saw in nursing facilities. As a doctoral student in 2006, I provided mental health services to nursing-facility residents, clients who were most frequently diagnosed with some form of adjustment disorder or depression. Although my doctoral program was not a clinical one, I wanted to experience conventional therapeutic intervention — ...

Letting Go of Self-Destructive Behaviors: A Workbook of Hope & Healing

BOOK REVIEW.
“Thou hast but enraged, not insulted me, sir; but for that I ask thee not to beware of Starbuck; thou wouldst but laugh; but let Ahab beware of Ahab; beware of thyself, old man.” —Herman Melville, >Moby-Dick; or, The Whale Anna sat across from me, her eyes downcast. A middle-aged woman with a family, she had come ...

Deeper Dating: How to Drop the Games of Seduction & Discover the Power of Intimacy

BOOK REVIEW.
The advice that you have to love yourself in order to find love is a little shopworn — so oft repeated that it’s hard to feel its wisdom. But in Deeper Dating: How to Drop the Games of Seduction and Discover the Power of Intimacy, psychotherapist Ken Page takes that wisdom and drills into it, helping us ...

A Tribute to OCD Heroes

OCD vs. Eating DisordersI recently attended a family funeral at the Pacific View Memorial Park in Newport Beach, Calif., about 15 miles southeast of Disneyland and fewer than 10 miles from John Wayne Airport. The immaculately groomed cemetery, offering unimpeded views of the Pacific Ocean, is the ...

Breathing in a Circle

Breathing in a CircleOn the last Tuesday of every month, around the world, small groups of people gather themselves into circles. They come together not to debate an issue, form a committee or follow a 12-step program, but to do what we all do every ...

Single Parenting Isn’t Second-Rate

Single Parenting isn’t Second-RateMiranda broke down in tears while talking to me. She’d suffered months of abuse by her husband following the birth of her son. He was going out all the time, didn’t show any interest in their son and spent what time he ...

The Two Faces of Guilt

The Two Faces of GuiltWe all want positive changes in our lives, but often there is something blocking us. Some blocks are very personal, but there are others which are almost universal. One of these universal saboteurs I frequently come across in my therapy practice is ...

Book Review: Creatures of a Day

BOOK REVIEW.
As a therapist myself, I often find it difficult to express the indescribable joy of the therapy process and why I’m so passionate about its healing power. However, I don’t have to, now that the father of group psychotherapy himself, Irvin D. Yalom, has masterfully captured the experience in his new book ...

Counter the Psychology of Pessimism

faq-adults-adhdWe all do it. We get a stellar performance review at work but there is one area our boss says "needs a little improvement." What do we focus on? The mildly negative comment. Our partner tells us that we are oh so wonderful that it’s impossible to ...

Dancing to Chronic Pain’s Wicked Beat

NewApproachToManagePainandDepressionLike a billion and a half other people in the world, I experience chronic pain. It is as unstoppable as the seasons, and I have given up plotting against it. However, the aura of acceptance that surrounds my pain does nothing to block it. It hurts, ...

Can You Love Too Much?

Can You Love Too Much?Conventional belief is that we can never love too much, but that isn’t always true. Sometimes, love can blind us so that we deny painful truths. We might believe broken promises and continue to excuse someone’s abuse or rejection. We may empathize ...

Clinicians on the Couch: 10 Questions with Therapist Diana Pitaru

Diana PitaruIn our monthly interview series we turn the tables and ask therapists questions about their professional and personal lives. We ask them to reveal everything from the triumphs and trials of conducting therapy to whether they’d pick the same path if they had to ...

OCD, Medication, and Genetic Testing

expired_medicationsIf you’ve read a good number of my articles over the years, you might remember that my son Dan had some bad experiences with medication used to treat his obsessive-compulsive disorder. He was overmedicated, wrongly medicated, and improperly weaned from various combinations of 10 different medications ...

Book Review: The Giver

BOOK REVIEW.
Lois Lowry’s The Giver is a classic read that portrays a bizarre society. Free will is questioned. Human emotions and experiences are absent. The novel creates a thought-provoking discussion regarding life and suffering: would an ideal world incorporate pain? The Giver depicts life that is orderly, predicable and painless. In the community of Sameness, every individual ...

The Benefits of Play

PT Domestic Drama Prickly PéreOne of the most important gifts we can give our kids is time to play, both as a family and on their own. Finding time to play with kids can be a challenge if you are working, managing a household and meeting ...