12 Steps: Step 5 – Connecting

Step 5 – Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs How many times have you heard some certain 7-year old say, “sorry” like this: “Sorrrrreeee.” He’s kind of fed up with saying it. But someone told him he had to apologize. Guess what, folks? That’s not an apology. It does absolutely nothing for his soul. It does not repair in any way the injury he caused another. And just saying “sorry” – or moving on without it – will not undo any hurt you have caused those who you were supposed to love. See, here’s the sad but true fact about being an abuse victim: The Coping Strategies You Used To Survive Meant You Didn’t Know When You Hurt Others Read that line over: The coping strategies you used to survive mean you didn’t know when you hurt others. Whatever you did to survive was a means of not knowing: cutting, drinking, drugging, sex, gambling, anger rages, numbing, dissociation, whatever. They were all ways of getting away from your pain. Makes total sense. But the downside is that you didn’t know anything else either. Not knowing is not knowing. It can’t be selective. So when you’re busy drowning in drink or whatever your addiction, and you’re blessedly removed from the pain, you are quite capable of unknowingly and unconsciously hurting someone else. And it is now your responsibility to figure out what you did to whom and why it hurt. Because if you didn’t figure that out, you’d be perpetuating the damage that was done to you onto some other...

Denial: Do You Do That?

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION from Natural Awakenings, p. 25 Human consciousness is a marvelous thing. It is more flexible than a yogi. For example: You are in a lecture that is definitely not going anywhere. You could be bored out of your mind, but lo and behold, your mind takes a little trip elsewhere and, before you know it, the stupid lecture is over. You walk out feeling not quite so bad about the lost time as you might have. Or, something painful just happened. Pick one-you got burned, a heavy object fell on your foot, your vegetable knife just pierced your skin. But, at that very moment, you see your toddler falling off a chair and you rush to the rescue. Five hours later, after the emergency doctor visit and the stitches for your baby, you notice your burn, crushed foot or whatever. Your Consciousness Knew What Was Most Important To Focus On You see, our minds are really very smart, much smarter than we realize. We can compartmentalize our conscious focus, as is the case in the above scenario or we can turn it completely off as was the case with the opening example. Why were we created that way? Well, if you think about it, that makes our consciousness supremely efficient. We don’t need to clutter it up with irrelevant things and we don’t need to use it at all when it needs a break! So where does denial come in? What looks like denial may really only be our consciousness not focusing on pain. Now, that makes sense, doesn’t it? If we were steeped in all...

Holistic Psychotherapy: A Different Way of Viewing Problems

REPRINTED BY PERMISSION from Natural Awakenings, pp. 14, 15, 19 She walked into my office, a picture of personal torment. Hounded by memories of unspeakable things, involved in one bad relationship after another, and hating herself more by the minute, she could easily have been labeled with a heavy-duty diagnosis right out of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. That’s the bible that every therapist has to use in order to collect reimbursement from insurance companies. Except that holistic psychotherapists don’t label people. People deserve better than that. Diagnosis Should Not Favor The Negative Behavior Over The Positive Why should clinicians see the people-glass as half empty instead of half-full? A diagnosis is nothing more than an inventory of how a person is functioning. A “whole” picture should not emphasize the negative over the positive. If I were going to place labels on that lady, I would want to focus on the strength she showed in just making the call to see me, the courage it took for her to free herself from damaging relationships, the insight she showed in recognizing the role of her past, and the wisdom she showed in setting new goals. But strength, courage, insight, and wisdom are not in that diagnostic bible. Too bad. If there were such a thing as a Diagnostic Manual for Capacity to Manage Under Tough Circumstances, those words would be in it because a holistic approach capitalizes on a person’s resources- what the person does right, not what he or she does wrong. Does a holistic problem definition ignore the problem?-No! A holistic psychotherapist is not a...

Spiritual Treatment of ADHD

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION from The Jewish Star Times, p. 19 I first encountered Attention Deficit Disorder when my third child was born. That was 17 years ago and it went undiagnosed. He exhibited signs which, in retrospect, were classic indicators. At age two, a respected educator and psychologist tested him–and missed the diagnosis. In third grade, I knew what I was up against when his teacher told us that when he asks the class a really, really hard question, there would be silence for a moment until a voice would call out the correct answer from under a desk. That’s when we took him to a pediatric neruologist and got the right diagnosis. So Because My Child Is ADD, That Means He Is “Disordered”? Enter, spirituality. We were confronted with the big questions that need to be answered in order to institute a behavioral/medical plan: What is this child to make of this “disorder”? Why was it foisted on him? Does that really make him a “disordered” person, somehow “less than”? What are his siblings to think of him and how should they treat him when it comes to school effort and chores? Why should he have to take medication that tastes bitter? What do we say to him in the evenings when the last dose was out of his system and he showed a rebound effect (even more hyperactivity than if he had not taken the medication in the first place)? What pieces of the problem would the medicine not address and how should we address them? I Told My Child He Did NOT Have A “Disorder” When...

Anything Good From September 11th?

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION¬† from Natural Awakenings, January, 2002, p. 24 I have met some people who go through their everyday lives feeling somewhat distant from their own emotions, just going through the motions of living. I’ve met others who wonder what it is all about, their humdrum activities that seem to lack depth or meaning. It might seem that the nervous and uncertain period we are in right now would accentuate all that, but I think it has the potential to do the opposite. Like a chilly winter wind, I think it can wake us up to an intense-and perhaps meaningful-reality. Take complacency, for example. Before September 11, I was complacent, taking for granted whatever was good in my life. Oh, sure, I was grateful for my health and that of my family; I delighted in my children; I cared about my clients; I was thrilled when my articles would come out. But, do you think I ever gave much thought to the food I was eating? Or my cozy, safe house? Indoor plumbing? Now, I do. I can’t help but think of the starving people in Afghanistan. I’ll bet that happened to you, too. And the funny thing is, I consider myself kind-hearted and empathetic. How come I was never rocked before by the hunger in the world? I certainly knew about it. You see what I mean? Feeling Alive Is One Good Outcome I think feeling real, feeling connected, feeling alive is another outcome of this horror. Just like we no longer take our food for granted, we can’t take safety for granted any more either. But...

ADHD: Keys Under the Hood, Eyeglasses in the Freezer

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION from The Jewish Star Times, p. 19 I swear it really happened this way. Not a day goes by that my husband doesn’t “lose” his glasses, his keys, his wallet, and often his shoes. (How you even manage to lose shoes, I don’t know.) He’s got ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) but that’s no excuse. He gets the whole family in an uproar: “I’m late! I’ll miss [you fill in the blank-carpool, the plane, the appointment, etc.]. Where are my [choose from the following: glasses, keys, shoes, socks, important papers]?” Notice that the papers he’s missing are never ordinary papers like you or I would have. Oh, nooo. They’re always “important” papers. And he’s missing them just when he’s late. (Of course.) And, to make matters worse, it is our fault. His family, whom he loves, is at fault because we hid/moved them. Oh, even if he knows we were not home to do that terrible deed, we know he has a “problem” so we should be looking after his belongings so he doesn’t lose them. That’s pretty clever, eh? So anyway, on one particular day when hysteria had reached unparalleled heights, his keys were really lost. I mean lost. And I, his loving wife, had to sacrifice my own set of keys with the lanyard my son made and the ivory piece carved in the shape of Africa knowing full well that I might never see them again. Reluctantly, I handed my precious set over because he really, really did need to get to work. And, as he started the car, there was a distinctly...

Why Symptoms of ADD/ADHD Are Not Enough To Make a Diagnosis

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION from Natural Awakenings, pp. 16-17 [edited with change of title from ADD: A Holistic Approach] I’m not against pharmaceuticals. Not 100% anyway. My mother was a diabetic and I’m convinced the insulin she took daily prolonged her life. But when you’re looking at human behavior, a holistic perspective demands that you exhaust less invasive remedies before turning to medication. Such is surely the case with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), a problem for which there exists NO definitive diagnostic tool. ADHD is an easy label to pin on an out-of-control child. The most precise measures we have to determine if a particular child indeed “has” ADHD are paper and pencil questionnaires which parents, teachers, and the child may fill out or take on computer. These questionnaires pinpoint aspects of the child’s behavior, and answering “yes” to a sufficient number of them yields a score which means that that child is behaving like an ADHD child. But is he in fact ADHD-or are other factors causing his disruptive, difficult, and hyper behavior? Before concluding that a given child is ADHD, parents, teachers, pediatricians, doctors, and psychologists are morally and ethically mandated to rule out other possible causes, such as the following: 1. abuse I recently attended a conference where I was amazed to see a video of a 5 year old child totally destroying his room over a three week period. He ripped wooden frames off windows and used the wood to beat family members who entered the room. He abused the dog. He would not let his parents come near him. He was in constant motion,...

Postmodern Ethics and Our Theories: Doing Therapy versus Being Therapists

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION from Guilford Press for the Journal of Systemic Therapies, vol 18, number 4, pp. 18-41. Abstract Theories are often an object of contention in the family therapy field. Confused therapists can mechanically follow models, produce too many negative outcomes, or burn out. Theories are not to blame. Neither are therapists. It is the way in which they are related that makes for the quality of therapy. We have an ethical mandate to choose a model that fits our personal beliefs. This paper describes a process for creating our theories to fit ourselves. When clinical practice is a reflection of one’s deepest values, one goes beyond doing therapy to being a therapist. As a field, family therapy seems well defined. Authors perceive it as a separate discipline from other forms of psychotherapy (Framo, 1996; Lee & Sturkie, 1997; Shields, Wynne, McDaniel, & Gawinski, 1994; Stanton, 1988) especially given the increasing utilization of social constructionist, postmodern thinking (Bailey, 1996; Fruggeri, 1992; Gergen, 1991; Hoffman, 1988). The definition blurs, however, when it comes to specifying what it takes to be a family therapist. A good place to turn for an understanding of how to do therapy would seem to be theory because theories should provide focus for our work (Hardy, 1994; Taibbi, 1996). Instead, the subject of theory is a constant source of contention. For example, there is the decades-old debate on influence and power (Goolishian & Anderson, 1992; Simon, G. M., 1992, 1993, 1994; Simon, R., 1982). This is just one of many conflictual theoretical issues (Amundson, Stewart, & Valentine, 1993; Atkinson & Heath, 1990; Coyne, Denner, &...

Non-Normative Systemic Therapy in a Case of Intergenerational Enmeshment

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION from ¬©Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, 1998 for The Journal of Psychology and Judaism,1998, vol. 22, pp. 115-128 This paper is based on a presentation given on December 22, 1996, at the Second Annual Nefesh Conference, held in Miami, Florida. The author wishes to express appreciation to conference organizers Dr. Norman Goldwasser and Dr. Norman Bloom; the panel, Phyllis Mayer, Chana Kahn, Dr. Shlomo Schuck, and Shimon Russel; and to Dr. Anne Rambo of Nova Southeastern University.   Abstract There are a number of differences between normative and non-normative systemic therapy. It is useful to understand normative thinking because that is a traditional orientation. Non-normative clinical work also has much to offer both philosophically and practically: It is characterized by the premise that people’s behavior makes sense given their histories and current context. Therefore, when understood from the perspective of the individual, even his or her “psychopathology” would make sense. Using a composite case analyzed in normative terms and treated non-normatively, the author illustrates how to bridge these two approaches. Solution-focused methods constitute the interventions of choice. The Orthodox psychotherapy community is familiar with systemic thinking (Wieselberg, 1992), but may not be aware of a distinction in outlook between normative (Kerr & Bowen, 1988; Minuchin, 1993) and non-normative clinical work (Andersen, 1991; Anderson & Goolishian, 1988; Boscolo, Cecchin, Hoffman, & Penn, 1987; McNamee & Gergen, 1992). Within the latter are a number of schools whose ideas have pierced mainstream therapy. Solution-focused work, pioneered by Steve de Shazer (1985, 1988a; de Shazer, Berg, Lipchik, Nunnally, Molnar, Gingerich, & Weiner-Davis, 1986; de Shazer & Molnar, 1984; de Shazer, Gingerich, &...
Show Buttons
Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkdin
Hide Buttons