Saturday, August 29, 2009
A clean slate
is before me.
Will I fill it with
Will I shape it subtly
as the wisdom and serenity
of a quiet and reflective morning
Will I balance my canvas with
a walk in the park,
play with a child,
a good book?
Will I warm it with sweet tea
and a heart-felt smile?
Will I honor my deepest values
and be receptive to the days lessons?
Will I hold fast
or take a stand?
I now begin to acknowledge
I truly am....
From: BirthQuake: A Journey to Wholness
Friday, August 28, 2009
Sunday, August 23, 2009
“Psychotherapy and spiritual practice both offer the opportunity to actually suffer our suffering, offsetting the ways we have become numbly unreal to ourselves. We listen for the inaudible scream, finger the invisible scar. We reach toward agony X finding yet never fully finding, yet ever reaching toward, on and on. We fall into ravines, scale perpendicular cliffs, enter flames, and cross scorching deserts looking for the baptism of tears – the kind of tears that fall ever faster as the heart opens. The baptism of tears that transmutes the parched, torn , scorched body into a body of light, a body of breath, a body of gems, over and over and over until the body gradually begins to retain some of its glow. It’s the work of at least one whole long lifetime.”
Thursday, August 20, 2009
During her presentation Westrup points out that female veterans tend to be younger, receive less in terms of in-service support, and are twice as likely to develop PTSD than their male counterparts. She also discusses the following evidence based treatments that are currently offered to female veterans:
Cognitive Processing Therapy
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
In Awakening and Insight: Zen Buddhism and Psychotherapy, edited by Polly Young-Eisendrath and Shôji Muramoto, Akira Onda observes, "Dhampada, one of the oldest Buddhist texts, begins with the words, ‘We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.’” These ancient words have been echoed by so many models of psychotherapy including but not limited to cognitive, reality, psychoanalytic, gestalt, humanistic, and narrative therapy.
In the same book quoted above, Young-Eisendrath writes, "In my work as a Jungian psychoanalyst and psychotherapist, I have many opportunities… to engage in the struggle of human suffering, and as many opportunities to test my compassion… An American dread of suffering, based on ignorance about what suffering teaches and how it can be transformed, has recently led to more and more physicalistic and materialist explanations of our pain and adversity. Instead of recognizing the role subjective distress- the ways in which disappointment, anguish, fear, envy, pride, and hostility, for instance, contribute to our suffering – the American anti-suffering campaign now addresses people at the level of neurotransmitters, organ transplants, genetic engineering and biological determinism. This cultural movement has already had massive ill-effects on the practice of psychiatry and psychotherapy over the past two decades in the United States…In this same period of time that this has been unfolding, Buddhism has become a major religious and cultural movement in North America in a way that no one could have easily anticipated in the early 1970…As a result, Buddhism…has, perhaps surprisingly, opened up the possibility of a renewed appreciation of psychodynamic practices of psychotherapy. Because Buddhism presents a spiritual argument for the transformation (not medication) of suffering, as well as specific and systematic methods of analyzing subjective distress…”
As both a therapist and a human being, suffering and the alleviation of suffering has been a great preoccupation of mine for much of my life. It was perhaps from my introduction to the Buddhist perspective on suffering over twenty years ago now that my attention began to shift from how suffering can best be eliminated (an impossibility) to how it might be transformed.
Following are links to additional articles that address Buddhism and psychotherapy that you might find of interest:
Wisdom and compassion: Buddhism and Psychotherapy as Skillful Means
The Search for Happiness Through Buddhism and Psychotherapy
Increasing Use of Buddhist Practices in Psychotherapy
Buddhism and Psychotherapy
Positive Psychology and the Buddhist Path of Compassion
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
…The demand for mental health practitioners with spiritual and religious experience, interests, or background is undeniable. However, the response to this call is generally lukewarm, if not apathetic. For instance, less than one third of practitioners in the filed responded in a survey stating that they would incorporate religious matters as a part of their treatment plan… In general practitioners are skeptical in discussing religious issues in therapy; many are reluctant to explore or address religious topics with their clients. Even when religious issues are brought up in the session, practitioners may tend to be oblivious about the subject matter. Some may downplay its significance in clients’ lives…”
It's my belief that training in how to most effectively and respectfully address both religious and spiritual issues is essential for all mental health professionals.
I'll be writing more about this in future blogs.