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Finding a Male Therapist – Take Two

I had about 10 people forward me the New York Times article on the dwindling number of men going into counseling professions. Most of them know that male psychology is an area of special interest to me, and I'm also one of the only male therapists that they know. It has been interesting for me to learn that some controversy has emerged from the article, and the rationale for there being cause for alarm.

The article essentially made the case that if fewer men go into counseling professions, then fewer men may want to attend because they feel more comfortable talking about certain topics with other men.
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8 Tips for Writing a Love Letter to Your Spouse

In my post, “Getting the Love You Want … Over and Over Again,” I mention one of the most powerful intimacy tools in my marriage, which is writing a love letter. I write one every day to my husband. Now mind you, these are not lengthy missives. Some of them are just a few sentences. But I do think the brief expression of affection has made our connection much stronger. On some days, it is the only substantial communication between us, because our kids have an uncanny knack of interrupting all of our conversations.

But how do you go about writing a love letter? I found these eight tips on the site, Song of Marriage. This following suggestions are part of a husband’s guide. But I think they work for a wife’s as well.

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Brain and Behavior

Politicians and Sex: The Type T Personality

Colleague and psychologist Dr. Frank Farley has an interesting op-ed over at the LA Times the other day about some of the underlying psychological motivations that may explain why politicians stray from their marriages.

In the article, Dr. Farley refers to the "Type T Personality" -- the T stands for Thrill. He makes the argument that we elect the politicians we do because we're drawn to their bold ideas, their intensity, their charisma. But those same qualities that may make them a good politician (we don't really know, because there hasn't been a lot of research done in this area yet), also may put them at greater risk for engaging in unethical relationship behavior, such as cheating on their spouse.

Politicians, like Hollywood celebrities, are also constantly surrounded by people who do nothing but look up to them, sing their praises -- "yes" people. He notes that the politician is immersed in a set of people who are "adoring followers, campaign workers, office staff — all focused on pleasing the politician." It may give someone an unrealistic belief that they above normal morals and ethics, and so cheating is "okay" (perhaps explaining former President Clinton's tryst with an intern).

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Brain and Behavior

The Critical Thinker Academy 2: Interview with Kevin deLaplante

This is part two of a two-part interview of Kevin deLaplante, a professor of philosophy and founder of The Critical Thinker Academy. Check out part one here.

What is your favorite book on critical thinking?

I often get requests for book recommendations. It's hard because critical thinking requires so many different kinds of skill development, and no single book is going to cover everything. Also, people are usually interested in specific issues or topics, and once I know what those are it's easier to recommend sources.

My “starter kit” recommendation is to pick a good introductory book on basic argumentation and fallacies written from a logic/philosophy perspective, plus a good introductory book on the psychology of reasoning and decision making (something in the “biases and heuristics” tradition), and then a book that might be more specifically focused on your area of interest.

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Brain and Behavior

Self-Exploration: Getting To Know Thyself

Many of us go through life skimming the surface of our identities. That is, we don’t truly dig deeply into our thoughts, feelings, desires and dreams.

Part of the problem is that we’re always on the go. When to-do lists keep swelling, self-exploration takes a backseat. How can it not, when we barely find time for self-care?

Specifically, self-exploration involves “taking a look at your own thoughts, feelings, behaviors and motivations and asking why. It's looking for the roots of who we are -- answers to all the questions we have about [ourselves]," according to Ryan Howes, Ph.D, psychologist, writer and professor in Pasadena, California.

Having a deeper understanding of ourselves has many benefits. It “helps people understand and accept who they are and why they do what they do, which improves self-esteem, communication and relationships,” he said.

Here, Howes discusses how he helps clients explore their own identities, the potential challenges that can hamper self-exploration and the strategies readers can try at home.

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Best of Our Blogs: May 24, 2011

Saturday's end of the world scare probably didn't send you in a panic. Or maybe it did. Just a little? I know it wasn't on my mind until two baristas decided to turn a boring day into an exciting one by counting down the last ten seconds to the end of the world. I started to think about how sad it would be if it were to all end here... before I had the chance to write that book I've always wanted to write, travel the world or own a home.

A few days later, I began to think about the people in my life that I was unintentionally taking for granted (including me!). It turned a false alarm into an opportunity to revisit my priorities and rethink the way I was treating loved ones in my life.

This week's top posts reminded me of that. I think you will find new compassion for others and ways to better your relationships by being more present. Oh and if the end of the world scare shook you up just a tiny bit and you want to take the time to reflect and reconnect to your goals and yourself, this post will give you lots of great ideas!

Where Would We Be Without Compassion?

(Adventures in Positive Psychology) - These days we are getting farther away from the motto, "All for one and one for all," and more focused on just the first part (all for one). This post asks us to rethink the balance between personal responsibility, individual determination and compassion for others.

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Brain and Behavior

The Critical Thinker Academy: Interview with Kevin deLaplante

The Critical Thinker Academy is a site that offers video tutorials on a wide range of critical thinking topics, such as logic, argumentation, and critical reasoning and essay writing.

Philosophy professor Kevin deLaplante, with over 14 years of teaching experience, developed the videos.

In the interview below, deLaplante provides detailed answers to various questions on critical thinking.  If you are interested in critical thinking and its implications I am sure you will enjoy this two-part interview.

In a nutshell, what is the Critical Thinker Academy?

The Critical Thinker Academy is a website that hosts video tutorial courses on a variety of topics related to logic, argumentation and critical thinking. It also has some courses on essay writing. I produce all the content for the site, and I continue to add new tutorials every month. The goal is to create a comprehensive set of resources for anyone interested in learning more about these topics and developing their critical thinking skills.

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Abandoned Minds: Social Justice, Civil Rights and Mental Health – Part 1

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” -- Edmund Burke
“What conditions?" asked Rivera.

“In my building,” responded Wilkins, “there are sixty retarded kids with only one attendant to take care of them.  Most are naked and they lie in their own sh*t."
This exchange was from a telephone call from Dr. Wilkins, who had been fired from Willowbrook State School in Staten Island, New York. He and a coworker were fired for their concern for the welfare of the inhabitants.  The person they were talking to was a young television reporter: Geraldo Rivera.

On January 6th, 1972, Wilkins and Rivera met at a diner.  Wilkins still had the keys to many buildings, and the plan was set to bring in a camera crew to (illegally) film the inhabitants and their conditions.  On January 10 they entered building No. 6.

In honor of May -- mental health month -- I wanted to highlight the day those videos were taken because it marks the beginning of the mental health movement in America.  Specifically, who received mental health services and how those services were delivered changed after those videos aired. But the powerful videos taken by Geraldo Rivera weren’t the first time the conditions at Willowbrook were noticed.
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10 Things You Should Know About Male Depression

What looks and feels like depression to a woman may not to a man, which is why so many men in America are misdiagnosed or missed altogether.

However, considering that the rates of completed suicide of men are three to four times that of women, we need to educate ourselves about male depression and its unique symptoms. The following are 10 things you should know about male depression, compiled from Johns Hopkins Depression and Anxiety Bulletin and other sources.

1. Depression affects about 6 million American men and 12 million American women each year. But these numbers don’t tell the story of men, and older men, in particular.

2. Suicide in men peaks in the 20s and again in the 60s and 70s.

3. Many men experience “depression without sadness,” which makes it more challenging for primary care physicians to make the diagnosis of depression. Some of the symptoms of this kind of depression include severe anxiety, physical discomfort, sleep disorders, and diminished energy and self-confidence as some of its primary symptoms.
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Hard to Find a Male Therapist?

Well, yes. Fewer men are choosing clinical psychology as a profession.

We've known this for many years, as graduate programs in psychology -- both Master's level and doctoral -- have increasingly become female-dominated. In my graduate class of 1990, over 75% of the class was female. That percentage has only increased in the past two decades.

So Benedict Carey's new article in the New York Times is a bit of a puzzler. The angle is that because of this gender discrepancy, a good male therapist is increasingly becoming difficult to find:
Researchers began tracking the “feminization” of mental health care more than a generation ago, when women started to outnumber men in fields like psychology and counseling. Today the takeover is almost complete.
And I say, "So what?"

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Bummer, The World Didn’t End: Now What?

“What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.”

~Richard Bach

If I owned a restaurant I would have the morning after brunch special for Sunday, May 22.  It would, of course, be called The Day After Brunch, in honor of the day most of us knew would come --in spite of the media frenzy.  The meal would be a chance to celebrate and cope.

On the menu?

Eggs benedict, for those who felt betrayed by the hype.
Glazed donuts for those who really didn’t see it coming.
A Forgiveness Frittata for anyone needing to absolve themselves or others.
And, yes, you are allowed to groan when you hear this, but the drink of the day would be: Orange Juice glad the world didn’t end?

If you are reading this the end of the world hasn’t taken place.  Of course we could start looking for a date to plan the next end of the world, but perhaps there is a better use of our time and effort. This is an excellent time for the 3 Rs -- reflect, recommit, and restore. Take the time to reappraise yourself, get on track with goals, and prune the things (and people) from your life that aren’t working for you.  Each of these suggestions is supported by the new research in positive psychology.

More of what you want, less of what you don’t. Sustainable positive change comes about slowly.  Start thinking about increasing the activities and events you want more of in your life, and decreasing the things you want less of.  No absolutes.  Less sugar, more protein; fewer work commitments, more time with loved ones; more time exercising, less time watching TV, you get the idea.
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