Reduce Your Social Stress

Regular readers of this blog know that I really like the writings of Rick Hanson (he has a wonderful email list called “Just One Thing” and a new book that is an excellent resource for personal transformation called Hardwiring Happiness). For the last couple of months, however, his posts have seemed a bit repetitive. Just in time for the New …

I’m In An Abusive Relationship… with Myself

Many people I see with chronic depression carry around with them a tormentor who says the most terrible things imaginable about them, their abilities, their worth, their very right to live. That tormentor is their own inner critic (hardly a strong enough term for the cruelty that can be unleashed by these inner voices). Often it is clear where this …

Experience a Sense of Plenty

Nothing can seem more urgent, important, and real than the sense that there is not enough for us. Not enough love. Not enough food. The sense of scarcity may not even connect to any clear sense of what is missing. But that doesn’t take away its power. Regular readers of this blog know that we appreciate the insights of Rick …

Acceptance versus Avoidance

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is based on the belief that five fundamental errors are responsible for much of human distress. One of these errors is the tendency to want to avoid painful feelings at all costs. Our addiction to our cell phones can serve as a distraction from the distress of loneliness. Or drinking. Or smoking. A colleague suggested …

Online Resources: Links and Apps Update

The very useful listserve of the Northern California Cognitive Behavioral Therapy association has had a great thread about favorite apps for mental health. We took advantage of the opportunity to update the page entitled “Links and Apps” with some more options. Here is an unedited list of the favorites from that group… note that this list is heavy on iPhone …

Leaving War Behind

I spent many sessions working with a successful entrepreneur to try to help him cope better with stress and depression. His problems seem to be neatly encapsulated in Joseph Campbell’s notion of the Hero. Like all of the heroes in the past, he set out as a young man to make fame and fortune and to change the world for …

Awareness and Acceptance

The New York Times has had a series of well written articles on the topic of mindfulness. The most recent article notes that brain scans show that mindfulness can change the way our brains function, and help us improve attention, reduce stress hormones and even bounce back faster from negative information. The increased ability to bounce back from negative information that comes from …

Meditate!

Rick Hanson has a wonderful blog of practices that will help you achieve excellent mental health. We encourage you to subscribe to his newsletter (Just One Thing). We were inspired to share with you a summary of last week’s email. It is devoted to one of the five most useful practices – meditation. Meditation increases grey matter in a number of …

Chronic Health Condition

A woman who works in the health care field came in for a visit with us today.  We’ve been seeing her for about five months.  She had a problem with depression and then developed a hypomanic episode. She has continued to have mood cycles for the last several months. It’s now clear that she has developed a bipolar type of …

Christian Mindfulness

I will be writing posts from time to time that are a response to questions posed on this site. The first question that we received had to do with whether mindfulness can be reconciled with Christianity. And, if not, if there is an alternative practice that can achieve the same goals. Since I am not a theologian, I am not …

ACT

The “hot” thing in the therapy world these days is something called ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy). The radical notion behind ACT is that therapy should not be primarily about reducing symptoms (like depression) but rather increasing our ability to have a valued life (a life that is based on our deepest values) even though we have symptoms. And, by …

Mood Phobias

We were talking with a couple of wonderful psychologists about what it is that helps people come to terms with moods and learn to live with them creatively.  One of the barriers to successful mood surfing is a fear of moods.  I suppose the analogy is of someone who is afraid of the waves trying to learn how to surf. …

Depression is Depressing

Sometimes helping someone deal with their moods can seem a bit like being a gynecologist in Victorian England. How can you help someone with something (sex, or depression) when the topic itself is off limits. We are exaggerating, but there are so many ways that the idea that “depression is depressing” interferes with actually dealing with the mood. Not to …