As the 2017 comes to a close, I am reflecting on the year as well as preparing for 2018. Part of this process includes taking a look at my website analytics. One of my favorite things to note is the content that most resonated with you throughout the year. And, here are the winners--the top ten most popular posts on this blog in 2017 (thus far).
Self-disclosure is a touchy subject among therapists. Some therapists never self-disclose, while others feel stifled by having a rigid boundary around self-disclosure. As I consider self-disclosure in therapy, I ask myself, “When is self-disclosure appropriate?” “How does self-disclosure deepen the therapist-client connection?"
But, as soon as I ask these questions, I realize that their counterparts should also be asked: “How do I know if self-disclosure is inappropriate? “How can self-disclosure hinder the therapist-client relationship?”
Self-disclosure is complicated.
Recently, I was supervising a group of therapists, and the conversation turned to self-disclosure. It became clear to me that self-disclosure tends to be an all-encompassing term for what is really a nuanced process of self-revelation that includes degrees. From our group conversation, I was able to identify three separate degrees of self-disclosure: The normalizing statement, the personal story, and the reactive response. Learn more about each self-disclosure.
If you’re a mental health professional working with children, you will probably agree that many of the calls you receive from parents have something to do with anxiety or stress. Child therapists have the amazingly important yet challenging task of educating and supporting kids in a therapeutic setting that is both productive and fun. When working with children as young as preschool age, it can be a very daunting task to keep things fresh and exciting week after week! So, how do we help children develop the coping skills they need while keeping them engaged (and not glancing at their watch)? Here are ten therapist (and child!)-approved, fun activities that address anxiety-based disorders and promote relaxation and stress reduction in children. See the activities.
In article four of the Family of Origin Exploration for the Therapist series, I explain initial steps for creating your genogram. Before adding more detail to your genogram, including relational patterns and dynamics, it's important to explore the family rules and structure of your family of origin, so that you can add the appropriate relational dynamics to your genogram.
The ideas presented in this article about family rules and structure will be mainly based on the work of Salvador Minuchin (1974). While "diagnosing" family rules and boundaries is valuable, it is not meant to encourage a negative view of your family of origin and its members; it is meant to give you tools for assessing your family of origin experience realistically, based on traditional family therapy ideas. Learn about your family rules.
Relational dynamics are also referred to as relationship patterns or relationship lines; they are the symbols used on a genogram that connect family members to one another as well as illustrate details about their relationship.
In this post, I provide symbols for the five fundamental relational dynamics (closeness, distance, cut-off, fusion/enmeshment, and conflict), and show you how to add them to your genogram. If you haven't already completed your basic genogram (step 1), see this post. If you have completed step one, then please continue; you're ready to add relational dynamics to your genogram. Learn how.
In their now classic family therapy text, The Family Crucible (1978), Napier and Whitaker outline two main “battles” between therapists and clients: The battle for structure and the battle for initiative.
At the time of their writing, concepts of resistance and unconscious processes were accepted within the family therapy field; this may have been due, partly, to the fact that many family therapy pioneers were trained as psychiatrists. While family therapy has moved beyond these views of the therapist-client relationship, there are still ways in which family therapists can use Napier and Whitaker's "battles" to inform and enhance their work. Learn how.
Katie Lee is a daily life designer. I first heard her share her message on this episode of Being Boss, and I was intrigued. The way that Katie talks about the moments of our days is both challenging and inspiring; her ideas easily drew me in.
I invited Katie to talk with me about her work, as well as systems that busy therapists can use to live and work more intentionally. This is our video chat, followed by the transcript.
Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is an approach to change that invites "what gives life" to people and systems to be noticed, discussed, and owned. This specific style of inquiry involves, "the art and practice of asking questions that strengthen a system’s capacity to apprehend, anticipate, and heighten positive potential” (Cooperrider & Whitney, 2005). The goal of AI is to build an appreciation--a positive core--within groups.
Cooperrider and Whitney (2004) developed the 4D model of Appreciative Inquiry, which involves (as you may have guessed) four steps: Discovery, Dream, Design, and Destiny. These steps, as well as the guiding principles of AI, can be used with one person, families, or large groups--within the therapeutic environment, community gatherings, or organizations--in order to generate “commitment to change” that flows from the foundation of caring conversation (Cooperrider & Whitney, 2005).
The 4D Model of Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is traditionally used for working with organizations, but, according to one of its founders, David Cooperrider, it is also applicable to working with any number of participants. This makes AI (founded on systems theory) worthy of consideration for the therapeutic context. Learn how to use it in your work.
Elliott Connie is a Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) practitioner, author, and speaker. He developed an approach to couples work that distills the essence of SFBT into guiding principles for working with couples.
As a therapist who loves working with couples, I am always interested in ways to enhance my couples therapy skills. For this reason, I invited Elliott to explain the reasons why SFBT is his choice for working with clients, as well as how it creates a contrasting experience for couples that have a history in therapy.
In this brief video post, Elliott and I chat about what makes SFBT stand apart as a couples approach from other popular approaches, as well as three tips you can implement right now to utilize SFBT principles in sessions with couples. View the video, or read the transcript.
A good question is well crafted, uses client language, and incorporates what it is you, as the therapist, are wanting. It is intentional. Every question has the potential to be an intervention.
In this video chat, Dr. AnnaLynn Schooley and I discuss therapy questions as an intentional craft, and she covers four basic question types: single answer, open, relational, and circular. View the video, or read the transcript.
“Stuckness” is part of our work as therapists. It can be frustrating and confusing to suddenly reach this experience when previously, our client was showing progress. In this post, I cover several approaches to helping therapists, and clients, get “unstuck.”
First, a warning. Like in life, when we’re frustrated in our attempts, a reaction readily available to us is that of blame. I caution, during this experience, against blaming the client. A common term used to describe a client’s halt in progress is “resistance.” While this term is useful for inviting therapists to explore barriers to change the client may be encountering, it should not be used as a reason to “give up” on clients in the form of termination or referral. These should come only as a result of therapists thoroughly evaluating their contribution to the stuckness. Take a look at the seven approaches.
- Which post was most helpful to you this year, and why?
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