Life Coping Skills

Mid-life “Crises”: How Should Therapists Think About Them?

“I don’t know what’s wrong with me,” the client confides. “I’m at the top of my game in my job, my marriage is going ok, and I am healthy. I have achieved a lot of my goals, but my life suddenly feels like it doesn’t fit me anymore.” The client continues, describing a wild desire to quit everything and leave town – or maybe take up drinking to excess as a nightly sport. You perceive anxiety, depre... »

Building Shame Resilience in Clients

Jungian analysts have called it the “swampland of the soul”. Other psychotherapy writers have observed how it originally served to keep us safe; the tendency to shame has been a universal one in which our desire to hide our flaws from others has saved us from being kicked out of the group (the society), which evolutionarily would have meant death (Sholl, 2013). So which is it? Is shame totally pat... »

Seven Secrets for a Healthy Microbiome

In the first article of this series we proposed the radical idea (to some) that a new paradigm for mental health helping is emerging: one in which we cannot ignore the burgeoning research showing that the gut affects our psychological health as much as psychological health influences our physical (gut) health. »

Strategies for Helping Families to Enhance Resilience

If you are supporting a family in transition, you may perceive huge differences between them and the characteristics (named in our previous article) as belonging to resilient families. If so, you may be wondering: “So how do I help move my struggling family down the continuum towards greater functionality?” In this article we address three principal areas of focus, which reinforce one another: Sup... »

Helping Clients Relax: Techniques that Focus on the Body

Most relaxation approaches understand that the main point is for the relaxation practitioner to attain a greater state of focus and concentration. What’s up for grabs with each technique is that which is focused on, and how. In this article, we explore techniques where the practitioner focuses in some way on the body, either just observing it, or in some cases, actively tensing and then relaxing i... »

Mindfulness Meditation vs Stress

Although only recently embraced by Western psychology, mindfulness practices and techniques have been part of many Eastern philosophies, such as Buddhism, Taoism, Tai Chi, Hinduism, and most martial arts, for thousands of years. The various definitions of it revolve around bringing non-judgmental consciousness to the present experience, so it can be considered the art of conscious living. Mindfuln... »

Basic Principles of Communication

We’ve been doing it since the first humanoids appeared on the planet, so by now – hundreds of thousands of years into our existence – we have some basic notions about what governs our communication. We understand that our human interactions are purposeful, not random. We observe that we make choices, that there is usually room for another meaning from what we intend (so communication is ambiguous)... »

Exercise: A Moving Part of Wellness

As with questions of diet, exercise is perhaps uppermost in the minds of those looking to enhance their wellness. The quest for fitness, however – as with diet – is so pervasive in developed cultures that some controversies are inevitable. As with our previous article on diet, we believe the best approach is for you to offer your client basic guidelines to help them (re-)shape their fitness regime... »

Helping Clients Identify Sources and Symptoms of Stress

Stress as a perceived demand or threat can come to us from multiple sources, and usually many are occurring at once. In stress management, we can generally refer to stressors as being of a personal or environmental nature. The environmental ones may be general or special. Part of your discussion with a stressed client can usefully centre on which types of stressors the client is experiencing more ... »

Identifying and Replacing Stress-inducing Attitudes in Clients

How willing are your clients to acknowledge unhelpful attitudes and beliefs that they may have? Some of these may be unexamined ways of thinking about themselves and their lives that were given to them by parents and other early caregivers. They may not really be the clients’ attitudes and values, but they were put there so early on, it is hard for clients to tell that they do not belong with them... »

Time Management and Wellbeing

If we want to understand our relationship with time, we have only to look to how we talk about it. In the more relaxed Spanish-speaking cultures, people say, “Anda el reloj”: “Time/the clock walks”. In the German culture where emphasis is on things working, it functions. In the precise French culture, time marches. In English, of course, our watch – and time in general – runs, as in “running out”.... »

Balance and Stress Management

The world’s religions, most scientific literature (Treadway, 1998), and most cultures’ traditions of common sense and wisdom agree: as human beings, we need balance. That is, we most capably give ourselves an antidote to the stresses of life if we have balanced, nurturing connections with ourselves, between ourselves and significant others, and between ourselves and a higher power (however we conc... »

Fixed vs Growth Mindsets

Nearly four decades of research has shown that intelligence is not fixed as scientists used to think; rather, people can develop their brains like a muscle if they put in the effort. People who do that – persisting despite obstacles – can be said to have a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset and they enjoy significantly more success than their fixed-minded peers. In this article, we define ... »

Self-help Strategies for OCD and OCPD

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) are said to affect two to three percent of the population for OCD (that is: more than 500,000 Australians) and one percent for OCPD, although three to ten percent of the psychiatric population is said to have it (Long, 2011). Many cases probably go untreated. As a therapist, what can you give to obsessive clie... »

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