Archive for the healing recovery Category

Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes for Depression


Are you wondering what you can do to overcome depression in addition to psychotherapy and medication? You may want to watch the video above which features Stephen Ilardi, associate professor of psychology at the University of Kansas, sharing his research findings regarding how life style changes can significantly reduce symptoms of depression. Youre probably in control of much more than you realize.

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Safire Rose On Letting Go

I have been in Florida for the past month and plan to remain here with my mother until she dies. I find very little time for writing these days, for little else actually other than caring for her and my father. I am firmly planted here by my mothers side although my thoughts and heart wander quite regularly back to Maine where my husband, daughter, grandchildren, friends, and clients go about their lives. I send them love and hold them closely in my heart. There is a great deal of both holding on and letting go happening in my life right now.

The following is a poem by Reverend Safire Rose sent to me by a wise and wonderful woman whom I feel blessed to know. I hope it touches you as it has touched me.

She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.

She let go of the fear. She let go of the judgments.

She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.

She let go of the committee of indecision within her.

She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons.

Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.

She didn’t ask anyone for advice.

She didn’t read a book on how to let go.

She didn’t search the scriptures.

She just let go.

She let go of all of the memories that held her back.

She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.

She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.

She didn’t promise to let go.

She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper.

She just let go.

She didn’t analyze whether she should let go. She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter.

She didn’t utter one word.

She just let go.

No one was around when it happened.

There was no applause or congratulations. No one thanked her or praised her.

No one noticed a thing.

Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.

There was no effort. There was no struggle.

It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad.

It was what it was, and it is just that.

In the space of letting go, she let it all be.

A small smile came over her face.

A light breeze blew through her.

And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.

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To all those Abused as Children

The following is a poem by wise and compassionate poet, counselor, and retired Episcopal priest, Alla Renee Bozrath that I first discovered in the book, Life Prayers: 365 Prayers, Blessings and Affirmations to Celebrate the Human Journey edited by Elizabeth Roberts and Elias Amidon. If you are a seeker, a griever, or are struggling in any way right now, I encourage you to explore her wonderful work.

Dont look back,
battered child,
Time then hurt you,
Let time heal you.
Dont look back.

Dont look back,
beaten child.
They knew not what
they did except what
was done unto them.
Dont look back.

Dont look back,
abandoned child,
abused, neglected child.
Denial is salt in your wounds.
Dwelling in repeating
the deliberate disappearance
of your soul.
Dont perpetuate this harm.

Break the cycle,
wait -
stop it here.

Speak out the paralyzing secret
and begin to come back to yourself.
Cry it out to compassionate ears
and be held in the hearts of your witnesses.

The truth shall make you free
but first it will shatter you.
What was broken can be mended,
what was lost, restored.
Find yourself, then,
pure and whole, a child of God.
Look back long enough to let go.
Alla Renee Bozarth

Look Back
Long Enough
and then
Let Go..

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How Rollo May Survived his Nervous Break Down

Recently I was appreciating the photographs of a woman whom I admire tremendously – pictures of her garden, the ocean, a number of stunning landscapes, an osprey nest, and an eagle in flight. As a child she was the victim of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, tortured by the kind of cruelty and ugliness that can break hearts and shatter souls. And yet, as an adult she has spent a great deal of time both capturing and creating beauty. I was reminded as she shared her photography with me of psychologist, Rollo May, one of the founders of the humanistic psychology movement.

As a young man May fell victim to a debilitating depression. Many years later, when asked by writer and film maker, Phil Cousineau, what had saved him during that dark and painful time, Rollo replied, “beauty.”

In his book, “My Quest for Beauty” May wrote of wandering aimlessly in the hills of Greece where one day he stumbled into a field of wild poppies and had the following epiphany, “It seemed that I had not listened to my inner voice, which had tried to talk to me about beauty. I had been too hard-working, too principled to spend time merely looking at flowers . . . it had taken a collapse of my whole former way of life for this voice to make itself heard. . . What is beauty? . . . Beauty is the experience that gives us a sense of joy and a sense of peace simultaneously. Other happenings give us joy and afterwards a peace, but in beauty these are the same experience. Beauty is serene and at the same time exhilarating; it increases ones sense of being alive.”

I am thinking about my remarkable photographer friend and about Rollo May when I visit the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay. After a long and difficult week, I lie down beside the waterfall in the rhododendron garden among the ferns, hostas, bees, and beautiful blossoms. I welcome the beauty, allow myself to become intoxicated by it, lost in it. George Washington Carver wrote, “If you love it enough, anything will talk with you.” And so I send my love out into the garden. I listen. It begins to speak

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Self Discovery and The Art Box

Creativity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual
Arthur Koestler

Dan Montgomery, author of How to Survive Practically Anything draws often on his clients creativity to help facilitate their journeys of self discovery. One technique he uses for this purpose is called, the art box.

If youd like to try this technique, first, select a box of any size or shape that can serve to represent your whole self (body/mind/spirit/soul.) Next, collect any pictures, lyrics, poems, photos, drawings, objects, etc. that symbolize the various aspects of your life. Decorate the outside of the box with objects that represents those parts of yourself that the whole world sees. Place in the interior of the box those symbols and objects that represent your inner life.

Just as were always in process, the boxes as well are never truly completed as the expectation is that youll periodically modify your box to reflect change and growth. The potential for self discovery and catharsis when we engage in these kinds of creative activities is really quite remarkable. Go ahead and try it. Open yourself up to the wise spirit of your own creativity.

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Why I Incorporate Positive Psychology into My Therapy

There are no hopeless situations; there are only people who have grown hopeless about them.
Author Unknown

Being a proponent for strength based therapies for the past twenty years, I was extremely receptive when positive psychology was first introduced to the world. Like so many therapists, Id experienced that terrible sense of hopelessness that periodically emerged during my early years as a therapist as I and my client become entrenched in the muck of pain and pathology. There in my light filled office, muscles tensed and heart heavy, gazing into the eyes of someone whom I had come to care deeply about, I all too often came perilously close to developing tunnel vision. I had witnessed the pain, listened compassionately, and carefully gathered up the shattered pieces of a broken story, while failing to truly see the
epic tale before me

I had come close enough to not only touch the wounds, but to hold them closely, and yet I had allowed precious and essential aspects of my client to move beyond my immediate reach all of those experiences, lessons, wisdom, and unique strengths and gifts that my client possessed which absolutely guaranteed a successful (though never without risk or pain)passage.

When I learned to adapt my lens so that I could readily shift my focus back and forth between pain and possibility, pathology and promise, I not only improved my effectiveness and enhanced my vision I discovered an inner voice. This voice has sustained me through many difficult, frightening and even heart breaking journeys with clients, and while this voice still expresses self-doubt and even despair, it is never without hope. And with hope in tact, we can go on. I can go on.

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Rachel Naomi Ramen, Carl Rogers, and Honoring Those we Serve

In Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories that Heal, Rachel Naomi Remen wrote of a workshop she attended that was facilitated by the late Carl Rogers, creator of Client Centered Therapy. Rogers shared the following with Remens group:

Before every session I take a moment to remember my humanity. There is no experience that this man has that I cannot share with him, no fear that I cannot understand, no suffering that I cannot care about, because I too am human. No matter how deep his wound, he does not need to be ashamed in front of me. I too am vulnerable. And because of this, I am enough. Whatever his story, he no longer needs to be alone with it. This is what will allow his healing to begin.

Of all the wisdom that has been shared with me over my many years of training and experience as a therapist, Rogers words reflect the true essence of healing.

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Tools for Promoting Post Traumatic Growth: #1 (Recasting)

In “How We Choose to be Happy,” Rick Foster and Greg Hicks describe a process they call ‘recasting’. In order to learn how to recast:

1. Identify a problem that you’re currently struggling with
2. Next, ask yourself the following questions in regards to the problem that you’ve identified:
• What am I feeling?
• Have I allowed myself feel all of the emotions that might be associated with the problem I’m currently facing?
• In spite of how hurtful this problem has been, what have I learned about myself or others as I’ve struggled with this problem? What have I learned about my life in general?
• Has this problem led me to make any positive changes in my life?
• Are there meaningful changes that I could make in my life that would make me more effective in dealing with this problem or happier overall?
• If this problem is unlikely to change, how can I improve other aspects of my life?

Take your time as you answer these questions, you may even want to come back to them more than once before you consider this exercise complete. Recasting provides you with greater perspective and will help illuminate the lessons that are invariably contained within any challenge that we commit to responding to thoughtfully and consciously.

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Andrew Solomon on Depression


Despite the poor quality of the introduction, this lecture by Andrew Solomon, author of , The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, (based on his own struggle with major depression) is well worth the time it takes to listen.

Following is a quote from Solomons book:

Listen to the people who love you. Believe that they are worth living for even when you dont believe it. Seek out the memories depression takes away and project them into the future. Be brave; be strong; take your pills. Exercise because its good for you even if every step weighs a thousand pounds. Eat when food itself disgusts you. Reason with yourself when you have lost your reason.

On the PBS special, Depression: Out of the Shadows Solomon observes,

I always say that the opposite of depression is not happiness but vitality, and that depression has to do with finding all of life totally overwhelming

clinical depression really has to do with the feeling that you cant do anything, that everything is unbelievably difficult, that life is completely terrifying, and a feeling of this free-floating despair, which is overpowering and horrifying

So thats the real message of hope, is that you can get better. And when you do get better, not that youll look back on it with great longing, but you may look back on it and think, I learned a lot by going through that. And Im a better person because I did it.

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How Childhood Suffering lives on

Some things that happen to you never stop happening to you
Author Unknown

Each of us who has endured prolonged childhood suffering leaves behind our own unique trail of tears. Some of us still have nightmares. Others no longer remember; we simply experience a sense of emptiness and a vague and disturbing suspicion that something was, and perhaps still is, terribly wrong. Although our symptoms and behaviors vary, we are each aware at some level that we have been deeply wounded. For most of us, theres a secret shame imbedded in this knowledge. In spite of the fact that we intellectually understand that we were innocent and vulnerable children when the deepest wounds were inflicted, there remains a part of us that perceives ourselves as failing. All too often it becomes ourselves whom we cannot trust.

The child who blamed him or herself for the abuse becomes the self-condemning adult. The losses and betrayals he or she endured become promises that more hurt will be forthcoming. The child who was powerless grows into a frightened and defensive adult. The little girl whose body was abused remains disconnected from her grown up body. The anger of the small boy lives on in the man who lets no-one close enough to harm (or heal) him. Another compensates for his or her shame by devoting a life time to achievement, but the struggle never ends. There are no victories great enough to annihalate the inadequacy and self-doubt. The child who acts out his or her pain in destructive ways might continue the pattern into adulthood, unconsciously creating situations that inspire the very misery he or she so desperatley sought to escape. These sad cycles can go on and on. And they can be broken.

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