BLOGGING BEHAVIORAL



LISTEN IN AS AN AUSTIN PSYCHOLOGIST TALKS ABOUT CBT - COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY

June 29, 2018

The Science of Pain Explored

     Most people think of pain as a purely physical experience. A hot stove burns my hand, my skin is hurt, my brain sends a pain signal, Ouch!  This sensory feeling is but one source, one explanation of pain. The second explanation is the role of emotions in the experience of pain. Fear and example, for example, amplifies the pain signal.  If we are worried about our pain, it hurts more.  The more we worry the stronger the pain signal.  The brain is a complex interaction between our physical selves and our emotional experience of what our body is feeling, especially where chronic pain is concerned.

     To help us understand more about this, Nicola Twilley has written about the neuroscience of pain in New Yorker magazine, here

April 10, 2018

Meltdown: What it could Mean, How to Respond

I don't see children in my practice but I do see adults who are parenting children.  We talk about "meltdowns," or what used to be called "tantrums."

Thought I would share HandInHand's insightful look at what is happening when a child has a meltdown, understand what is possibly at the heart of it, and how to respond.  Click here.

April 2, 2018

Even on the Sidewalks of NYC

In broad daylight, a person can relax and meditate:



For more on-the-street photography, you can visit Brandon's website,  Humans of New York.

January 7, 2018

Decide Not to Decide




It is quite common for people to enter therapy in the midst of a crisis. They want answers.

Is my marriage over?

Cognitive therapy is all about replacement thinking. A cognitive therapist will listen for faulty or dysfunctional thinking patterns that are contributing toward a client's lowered mood, anxiety, anger, or indecision.

And sometimes those problematic thoughts are questions. Especially questions whose answers involve major life decisions. Upheaval.

My job is horrible! Should I quit now or find a new job first?

One calming thought replacement is decide not to decide. At this moment, anyway. Perhaps for an undetermined period of time, if the situation allows. Give yourself the time to make a more informed decision.

I'm not happy here. Should I move back to the West Coast?

First we must explore whether there is an urgency to decide now. Many, if not most, of life's crises do not require immediate action. They may, at some point, require a decision. But right now? Not usually. And hasty decisions are often the source of regret or self-doubt down the road.

My neighbors are so toxic. Is it time to move?

What crises typically do require is calm and thorough deliberation. Careful consideration of the options available. Analyzing the situation so that we know what we're dealing with. Generating a range of steps to take before making a drastic change.

By the time someone has entered the therapy room, however, they are often worked up into a frenzy or feeling overwhelmed to the point of depression. They are not thinking clearly. They cannot focus. They are unable to come up with creative solutions. They're engaged in black or white, all or none, thinking.

So rather than focus on making the decision, we want the client to slow down, calm down, reduce the stress, increase the self care, and decide not to decide.

Concentrate on self-soothing. Take care of yourself until you are in a position where you can carefully assess the available information, until it can be gathered in a calm, deliberate and accurate manner. And then reflected on without haste. Seek opinions from respected experts or someone who has been in your shoes.

Slow down.
Get some good sleep.
Regroup.
Think of my options.
List pros and cons.
Get some support:
Consult with friends, colleagues, loved ones, a professional.
Take a walk. Appreciate the sky, the clouds, the trees. 
Sit on a park bench. 
Take deep breaths.
And full, emptying exhales.
Again.
And again.
Give myself the time to decide.
In good time.

Decide not to decide.
Until I am ready.


Sandy Andrews, PhD is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Psychotherapist in Austin, Texas
She practices Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT