Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Seamless Garment of Life


23Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His outer garments and made four parts, a part to every soldier and also the [a]tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece.
24So they said to one another, "Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, to decide whose it shall be"; this was to fulfill the Scripture: "THEY DIVIDED MY OUTER GARMENTS AMONG THEM, AND FOR MY CLOTHING THEY CAST LOTS."

The late Joseph Bernardin spent his life fighting for a consistent ethic of life. He saw that all life was sacred, and he was against abortion, capital punishment, militarism, euthanasia, abuse, social injustice and economic injustice. It is called the Seamless Garment of Life. This is a challenge few followers of Christ are willing to fully accept. It is more than a list of rules or even ideas. The rules and ideas are really the result of a greater process. I believe it is when we learn to love life the way Christ did, it will have an unreasonable impact on our life. I am hoping this is a challenge I can enter into.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Mirrors in Therapy?


I read this fascinating article on mood altering ability of mirrors. It says "Subjects tested in a room with a mirror have been found to work harder, to be more helpful and to be less inclined to cheat, and less likely to judge others based on social stereotypes about, for example, sex, race or religion." Basically, they make people more self aware, and not just at a surface level. Physical self reflection encourages philosophical self reflection. People reflect more, are more aware of their effect on other people, and are more aware of other people's opinions when a mirror is in the room. What strikes me is these are all things that therapy encourages, yet I have never heard anything about mirrors in therapy, and I have never been in a therapy room with a mirror. I would imagine a mirror that the client is staring at while they are sitting could be very distracting, but an indirect mirror could subtly enhance what is already happening in the room.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Can I get too good at psychology?


In the book, "Wisdom of Crowds" the author talks about the huge disadvantage of being surrounded by similar people who think just like you. It is much more effective to have many different types of people, coming from many different perspectives. This is especially poignant for me if I end up being a therapist because they usually pack together like timber wolves and high school cheerleaders. The book even makes the point that Psychologists are worse predictors of human behavior than the average person. I believe this is from all of us reading the same people, thinking in the same or similar themes, and eventually create self-fulfilling prophesies of how we see the world. I don't know how to deal with this, but I know it is a problem

How Not to Get Sued


I have read many places, including here, how medical doctor's getting sued has no correlation to how effective they are. It has to do with their people skills, specifically how long they sit with their patients and how quickly they apologize. I wonder if it is the same for counselors? Many of my professors have said that if you do become a full time therapist you will eventually get sued or at least deposed. But I am curious if the counselor's who aren't sued as often are the ones who treat their clients kinder? Counselors are supposed to be good at people skills, but I have met a few who are arrogant, unapproachable and harsh. I would love to see a study about this, because being sued does not sound fun to me

Monday, March 17, 2008

Self-Object Relations

1. Idealizing transference: the need to connect with a protected by someone good, strong and wise, someone he can trust, idealize, and hope to emulate.

2. Mirror Transference: The need to be noticed, accepted and affirmed in his strengths, ambitions, and creativity. He needs someone to admire and smile, to back up his dreams and plans.

3. Alter ego Transference: The need to feel alike between client and therapist. “Being Alike” is an important kind of belonging; it counters feelings of being alone and alien in the world.

4. Merger Transference: the need to be attuned with therapist. Any difference is perceived as a threat

5. Adversarial Transference: The need to be given space to test someone and see if they will continue to be supportive, responsive and affirming of the client’s self.

6. Self-delineating transference: The need for the therapist to help understand their experience until the client can have a durable sense of being present as a valid, feeling, experiencing self in his own right

Where do you find yourself in this list?

Friday, March 7, 2008

How to think relationally

I am constantly in a state of changing how I think. I am finding that my old ways of thinking, which included critiquing, goal oriented, being objective, trying to fix problems and find solutions, no longer fit me and I am trying to replace them with surrender, being process oriented, and wonder, respectively. What I think is an even bigger process than any of these is to think relationally. I have found this to be much harder than I thought it would be, as I am just discovering how individualistic my thinking really is. It is obvious to say that our culture is individualistic, so obvious and stated so often that it is almost useless to say. What I am finding goes much deeper, is much more pervasive, and will be much harder for me to give up.

One place where I want to see my thinking dramatically change is therapy. So much of my beliefs are still around the idea that one person has the information or at least the expertise and the other is there to learn. But relational therapy doesn't have to be that way. You can learn together, you can both be present, subjective and affected. The therapist can not know what to do, and that is okay, the therapist can be stuck and that is still okay. And even more unbelievable, still worth the money the client is paying them.


The new idea I have is to view every session I have not as a client but as a small group, where there are two members. The therapist is the facilitator, but also a participant. While many small groups have focuses on topics like accountability, or a bible study, the focus of these small groups is always the client. I don't know why, but this seems to be a huge breakthrough for me. instead of having to direct the conversations and keep it client centered, it would be both of our jobs to think about the client and figure him out. we would both talk about what roles we are playing, what we are keeping from the group, how we are affected by the dynamics of the group, where we don't feel safe. Many times it is easy to forget their are relational dynamics going when there is two people, but they still exist in a very strong way.

This also brings me to even more incomplete thoughts about relational therapy. Therapy can no longer be client centered if it is truly relational. everything, including what the patient chooses to start the sessions about, is open to discussion. the therapist no longer has to hold the client taking the session wherever they want, or ignoring previous sessions. If it is relational counseling, it has to be a mutual decision.

The last one is about dual relationships. I just read that the therapist should have no other social relationship with their clients. This seems like a good idea in such a litigious society, and it seems to keep a lot of energy in therapy and keep clingy patients from taking over therapists' lives. But it reeks of professionalism. This is what makes so many people, like my mentor bill james, hate psychology. over time many jobs that deal with people start to separate themselves themselves from not only their clients but from the populous at large by becoming more and more professional. Roles are more defined, boundaries are more strict, their are a lot more laws and insurance is involved. this is why doctors can no longer visit houses, and countless other jobs I can't think of now, but in the past have really bothered me. This happens in Psychology all the time, by therapists telling their clients they can pretend they don't recognize them when they are in public, and that they can't counsel a friend, or have a friendship outside of therapy with a current client, or the language they use that most people can't understand, or all the laws they have to follow and all the paper work they have to fill out. This all separates the therapist from the client, and makes therapy less and less about just talking. Many therapists like it this way, as it obviously has its advantages, but I don't think it is a good direction for the field.