Monday, July 25, 2016

Progress in psychotherapy on the ground, in the office

I have been studying schema therapy this week and the model is based on five childhood needs which continue into adulthood. 

The first need is for connection and acceptance and how we end a session makes a big difference to our inner child. I usually say something like, "I've got five more minutes and then I'm going to have to finish. Is there anything else you wanted to address before we finish today?" or sometimes I'll ask, "Did you get what you wanted out of our meeting today cause I'm gonna have to stop in about five minutes?"

The second childhood need is for autonomy and competent performance. To provide positive feedback about how things are going should enhance this sense. I said to my client yesterday, "I just can't get over the positive changes you have been able to make since the first time we met in March" and then I mentioned a few of things that are different in a positive way. We agreed that making changes with patience and persistence, what I call the two Ps, can lead to success. The two Ps are based on social emotional learning skill models simply put as "emotional intelligence." My client is becoming much more emotionally intelligent and it is paying off.

Noting progress is one thing, but developing models and skills for ways of noting progress is another.

As the Solution Focused Brief Therapy folks suggest, ask "How would you know, how could you tell, if things were going better."

I asked my client and he said, "We aren't fighting so much, and I don't fall for that thing she does."


And what is it that is making a difference?

"I just try to stay calm and let it go."

"You rise above it?" I ask.

"Exactly," says he.

I say, "My colleague upstairs told me that when life gives you white water you should get a surf board."

He laughed along with me.

I said, "It sounds like you've taking up surfing."

"When can we meet again, " he says.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Is FAB ruining your life?

Fears of abandonment (FAB)arise from instability in the early years of a persons life. This instability contributes to insecurities. These insecurities manifest in multiple ways including anxiety, defensiveness, giving up, people pleasing, clinging including stalking, and substance abuse and other mood altering behaviors.

Fears of abandonment is the basis for many of the symptoms that make it possible for mental health professionals to diagnose a person with a personality disorder. A personality disorder is described as repetitive patterns of behavior that are dysfunctional and maladaptive so as to decrease the life satisfaction and fulfillment of the person with the disorder and the people that person has relationships with.

Fears of abandonment can take over a person's life and tell her/him that the world is a unstable place where people wind up leaving you alone to fend for yourself physically, emotionally, socially, mentally, and even spiritually. The fears of abandonment have convinced the person that without connection, acceptance, and belonging with the special other, the person will die.

Fears of abandonment will convince people that they shouldn't fall in love and become attached  because they will be devastated if they lose the relationship.

Fears of abandonment can create jealousy and paranoia when the person experiences the loss of their partner's attention and/or loyalty whether real or imagined.

Fears of abandonment can become stronger and more insistent when there is a physical and/or emotional separation from the person the sufferer is attached to.

Fears of abandonment make a person believe that no one will ever be committed to them and loyal and they are doomed to a life of loneliness and insecurity.

Fears of abandonment can be so tricky and devilish as to make the person accuse others of not being loyal and faithful, thereby pushing and driving them away, and bringing about the very situation of abandonment and rejection they feared. This is called a "self fulfilling prophecy" when the very thing the person feared is brought about by  his/her own self sabotage.

How can one manage FAB to decrease and maybe even eliminate its influence on one's life?

To be continued

Friday, July 22, 2016

Fears of abandonment arise from early life experiences of instability

As human beings we all have a need for connection, acceptance, and belonging. Without it, beginning as children, we experience the world as unstable and unpredictable. How does a child cope with these feelings of insecurity? There are many ways and the predominant way of coping with this instability is influenced by temperament along with other factors.

How do these feelings of instability work for you?

Do you worry a lot that people you care about will leave you or die?
Does it seem that people come and go a lot in your life?
Do you find yourself getting anxious when people are late or tell you they have to go?
Do you find yourself not trusting people and not believing what they say?
Do you find yourself clinging and demanding more togetherness than the other person feels comfortable with and thereby pushing him/her away and your worst fear comes to pass?
Is this fear of abandonment a "viscous cycle" that seems to happen over again and again in your relationships and makes you miserable a lot of the time?

The desire for connection, acceptance, and belonging is normal. The way that people sometimes manage this desire and handle it may not be and cause problems.

What are some constructive ways of managing this desire for connection and acceptance and some destructive ways?

To be continued

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Talk therapy helps reduce anxiety by naming the fears

Labeling your fears helps to reduce the fear research has shown.

I have told my clients for years that naming the problem helps. I say to them, "If you can't name it, you can't manage it. So naming the problems is 90% of strategy of minimizing and eliminating it." Research bears this assertion out.

This activity in Narrative Therapy is called "externalizing the problem." The narrative therapy slogan is "The person is not the problem. The problem is the problem. So what's the problem."

Finding a name for the problem takes some creative effort sometimes, but once it's named, it is much easier to deal with it successfully.

Dr. Freud, the father of psychoanalysis said, "You can either talk it out or act it out. It is always better to talk it out." This study of labeling or naming the problem is further evidence that talk therapy works.

For more on this research click here.