Stood Up by Your Therapist

3:11pm - How lame. What does this say about her? About me? About our relationship? This is taking a serious chunk out of my time, now I might not get my whole session. This is inconsiderate! Unprofessional! I pay for this time! Did I do something wrong?!

Therapist Waiting Room Etiquette

The waiting room is more than a showcase of your therapist’s interior design skills (or lack thereof). It’s more than a place to sample muzak or white noise. It’s more than a room to wait. What are the do's and don'ts?

Texting in Therapy

Many therapists have a no phone rule, but I've decided to roll with it. If a client keeps the phone on and feels the urgency to send and receive texts immediately, we'll experience and deal with it together in session.

Dichotomastery: The Hidden Talent of Good Therapists

The pull between opposing forces is everywhere in therapy. Do we rely on theory or go with our gut? Charge for a missed session or let it slide? Give a hug or refrain? Share the interpretation or wait until next session?

The World's Best Therapy Client

You know who you are. You’re thrilled with every session, never raise a concern with the therapy or therapist and are careful to point out how helpful it all is. You’re the World’s Best Therapy Client. What could possibly be wrong with that?

Letters of Recommendation for Psych Students

I change hats here today to write an open letter to psychology students seeking letters of recommendation from professors and supervisors. A little effort on your part goes a long way.

Journaling in Therapy

Some people do, some don't. I think it can make the difference between spending some time in therapy and truly being in therapy. It's the cheapest way to supersize your experience.
Win The Day: Duck Psychology

Win The Day: Duck Psychology

Today the turbocharged Oregon Ducks make their first appearance in the college football national title game. What does this have to do with psychotherapy? I'm not sure yet. Let's see what I come up with.

Silence in Psychotherapy

Some of the most powerful moments of the "talking cure" include no talking. You heard right, paying to not talk in talk therapy can be beneficial. On the other hand, silence may reflect a problem that results in a colossal waste of time and money. Here's how to tell the difference. 

Therapists and Their Pet Phrases

Along with the plentiful jargon tossed around in this field, there are a few dozen phrases therapists keep on auto-repeat: "How does that make you feel?" "Can we dialogue about this?" "Let's bring it back into the room." "And how's that working for you?" (thanks, Dr. Phil) I can actually hear your eyes rolling.

Water Bottles in Psychotherapy

I think my office building consumes more liquid per square foot than any other building in Los Angeles.That's because it's saturated with therapists. If you sit in the lobby at 55 minutes past the hour you'll see a platoon of clients loading into the elevators to make it to their session. Most carry water, coffee or some other drink. It seems that somehow therapy and liquid refreshment go together. Why? 

Yalom On the Here-and-Now

Perhaps the most powerful yet simple tool in psychotherapy is the here-and-now: sharing the raw, honest thoughts and feelings about what's happening in the moment. The concept has been around forever, but no one champions its clinical use quite like Irvin Yalom.

Therapist On Vacation?

Welcome to late summer, the time of year when the NBA, ski lift operators and psychotherapists take some time off to charge their batteries. Here are some of the most common reactions to therapist vacations and some pointers on how to cope.

White Noise Machines and Psychotherapy

Under an end table in my waiting room sits the fourth most important piece of technology in professional psychology: the white noise machine. Why would we bother? 
Why Do We Run?

Why Do We Run?

It's a cold, misty morning in the purple mountains of Central Idaho and I'm running on the shoulder of a two lane highway, 25 miles from cell coverage. At over 7000 feet elevation, my legs feel like I'm running through a wading pool in cargo pants and I have a faint metallic taste of blood in my mouth. A grown man intentionally dressed as Draco Malfoy blazes past me like I'm standing still. I'm exhausted, humiliated and it's 4 miles uphill to the next exchange point. Welcome to the Sawtooth Relay.

21 Tips for Clients in Psychotherapy

Therapists have a big advantage in the therapy office. We've read a stack of books and spent thousands of hours learning what to do in session. Clients have to learn as they go, costing them valuable time and money. Here are a few pointers to help clients level the playing field.

Kleenex in Psychotherapy

Kleenex was the topic in supervision this week. My student asked if I hand clients a tissue when they're crying or let them get it on their own. A lively discussion followed. Believe it or not, conversations like this could keep us talking for hours.What's your Kleenex style?

Weekly Report vs. Psychotherapy

Jane gets started:"Ok, well, I saw you last Wednesday, and that night Sally and I went to a restaurant near her house. She knows the bartender there and he seemed pretty nice. Anyway, that was Wednesday. On Thursday morning they sent a memo around work saying..........(Jane continues reporting her week for the next 45 minutes)...so then this morning I emailed her and said I wasn't coming to the party, but she hasn't written back. And that's my week. Oh no, time's up! We didn't get to work on anything!"

Couch Eulogy

Loveseat, we hardly knew ye.After seven years of faithful service, my therapy couch has been retired. How do clients respond to changes in the therapy office? 

The Ten Coolest Therapy Interventions, Honorable Mentions & Wrap Up

You're cooler just for knowing the coolest interventions in psychotherapy. Here it is, the entire Top Ten list along with a few techniques that almost made it and some concluding thoughts.

Cool Intervention #1: Transference Interpretation

Time to pop a cork and celebrate the top selection from the Ten Coolest Therapy Interventions: transference interpretation. I raise a glass and yield the stage to Dr. Glen O. Gabbard, a true connoisseur of psychological theory.

Cool Intervention #2: Virtual Reality

Get ready for Avatar-meets-Xbox-meets-Freud's-couch as techies like USC's Skip Rizzo usher psychotherapy out of the 1980s and into the information age. Just in time to become one of the Ten Coolest Therapy Interventions.

Cool Intervention #3: Primal Therapy

Cool comes in many forms. In the case of Primal Therapy, cool means unorthodox, controversial and powerful enough to ruffle feathers after 40 years. None other than Dr. Arthur Janov himself chimes in as we dig deep to explore one of the Ten Coolest Therapy Interventions.

Cool Intervention #4: Sandplay

It's no day at the beach. Sure, there's sand, water and what appear to be toys, but this technique is serious business. So serious and intriguing that it qualifies as one of the Ten Coolest Therapy Interventions. 

Cool Intervention #5: Head-On Collision

A client has pent-up emotion buried under denial, rationalization and minimizing. "Hey, no one had a perfect childhood, it's no big deal," he says, "it is what it is." What happens next? If his therapist was trained in ISTDP, the client better make sure his seatbelt is fastened. Stand back on the sidewalk and witness another one of the Ten Coolest Therapy Interventions.

Cool Intervention #6: The Hunger Illusion

No, this intervention isn't (necessarily) about food. Tucked away in the pages of a George Weinberg book lies one of the most powerful and elegant techniques ever. And it's safe to use at home, no therapist required.

Cool Intervention #7: Voice Dialogue

Ever feel a battle raging inside you? The part that wants to achieve versus the beach bum? The good guy versus the rebel? The loner versus the attention-seeker? Or maybe your critic, inner child, ideal self and saboteur get together to play poker once in a while. Voice Dialogue may be the technique for you. The Ten Coolest Therapy Interventions series explores this elaborate method. 

Cool Intervention #8: Paradoxical Interventions

You know, this contribution to the Ten Coolest Therapy Interventions isn't very interesting. I wouldn't waste your time reading about the fascinating and controversial world of paradoxical interventions or the interview with one of psychotherapy's living legends: Cloe Madanes. Kindly move along to the next blog. Okay, read if you must, but definitely don't send it to a friend. Or leave a comment.

Cool Intervention #9: The Empty Chair

The Ten Coolest Therapy Interventions series continues with a technique widely recognized among gestalt therapists, their clients and furniture aficionados everywhere. Gestalt therapy expert Dan Bloom shares his thoughts on this powerful procedure.

Cool Intervention #10: The Miracle Question

The Ten Coolest Therapy Interventions series kicks off with supernatural power. Many clients come to therapy looking for a miracle. Here's a technique built on miracles. I'm honored to speak with Dr. Linda Metcalf, expert on the Miracle Question and Solution Focused Therapy. 

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