Archives for November, 2010


On Gratitude

Below are a few quotes on gratitude.  This time of year, it’s helpful to be mindful of what we have, rather than what we’re missing.

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.  Albert Schweitzer

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Finding Meaning

I read an article in the Wall Street Journal this weekend in which the author asked the question “What have you learned about what it means to be human?”

We’re all shaped by our past and our experiences.  We make sense of the world in different ways and find purpose in life through different means.

I know that my truth might be quite different than your truth.  But more often, I find that my truth is quite similar to yours, although my method of arriving there was different and unique to my experience.
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Are You Highly Emotionally Sensitive?

Does the world feel dangerous to you?  Do you feel powerless, vulnerable or unacceptable?  Do you often think in terms of fair, unfair, should, shouldn’t, right and wrong?

People who are highly sensitive to emotions often experience the world as unsafe and feel helpless.  When you’re emotionally sensitive you’re frequently overcome by emotion and have trouble tolerating emotional pain.

People with significant difficulties with impulsive and self-destructive behaviors, problems controlling emotions, depression, aggression, attention, substance abuse, and other impulse behaviors often have problems with their emotion regulation system.  In DBT, these emotional problems are seen as a result of your biological makeup and your past experiences. 
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DBT Assumptions

Every therapy operates with a certain set of basic assumptions.  These are sets of hypothesis', facts or statements that are taken for granted.  They are not always articulated, but they are acted upon as rules and guidelines for treatment.

DBT is no different.  It too operates with a certain set of assumptions.  In DBT, however, the assumptions are clearly articulated.

About Clients

People are doing the best that they can.
People want to improve
People must learn new behaviors both in therapy and in the context of their day-to-day life.
People cannot fail in DBT
People may not have caused all of their problems, but they have to solve them anyway.
People need to do better, try harder and be more motivated to change.
The lives of people who are suicidal are unbearable as they are currently being lived.

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DBT and Distressed Elephants: An Expert Interview with Renee Hoekstra

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Renee Hoekstra, Psy.D. about her practice, finding a quiet moment and how elephants can teach us something about our emotions.  I'm happy to share with you, today, what she had to say.

Christy:  In your practice you focus on reducing suffering that accompanies misery, isolation, disconnection, alienation and loneliness.  How do you approach these problems?

Renee:  These problems can be very profound and rarely made public. What I really enjoy about some of the DBT material is that if offers qualitative information about the types of experiences people have, the reasons and causes for some of these experiences, and a way of making sense, sort of speak, of these experiences.

Clients come to my groups and have tremendous difficulty putting words on experience as well as organizing and understanding their own behaviors. It can be quite powerful to find they are not alone.
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2010 APA Stress Survey

How stressed is America?  How stressed are you?  In recognition of the high levels of stress many Americans experience on a daily basis, The American Psychological Association conducts an annual survey to better understand where our stress is coming from.

Stress is an important issue.  It affects both our mental health and our physical health.   Many people find themselves managing stress by doing things that ultimately lead to more problems.  Over or under eating, drinking and smoking are a  few of the behaviors that can create both physical and psychological problems and increase stress over time.

The following are some of the findings reported in a press release from the 2010 APA Stress in America survey.
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Have You Lost Your Self Respect?

Have you ever compromised your values to smooth out a conflict?  Been worried about how someone would judge you and pretended not to hold important ideals?  Have you lied or glossed over the truth out of fear of rejection?

We all smooth over the truth and bend in our standards or principles from time to time in order to reduce conflict and make relationships work.  But if pleasing others becomes a habit and smoothing over disagreements and arguments becomes more important than your own personal beliefs, you may find that you’re compromising your self-respect.

It’s possible to lose sight of your values slowly, over time.  If you’ve had negative experiences with confrontation, one concession may lead to another, until you’re no longer sure where you’re values lie.
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How Do You Make Moral Decisions?

It’s an age old question asked by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.  Are moral choices and judgments based on emotion and our passions or on logic and rational thought?  Do we choose a course of action because if “feels” right or is it based on reason and sound judgment?
In DBT Linehan describes a state of mind she calls “
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