WEEK 114: Expert Approaches to First Sessions: Client Stories

July 16 – July 21, 2018 . . . . .

WEEK 114

July 23 – July 28, 2018


Monday, July 23, 2018

How to Acknowledge and Reconcile Different Perspectives

Shelly Harrell, PhD shares how she helped an interfaith couple feel comfortable with the different ways they each saw the world.
Running time: 09:26

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Tuesday, July 24, 2018

How to Work with the Brain to Construct Meaning

Dan Siegel, MD tells how he helped one client find meaning after a major health scare.
Running time: 6:00

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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

When A First Session Stirs Up Strong Emotions

Pat Ogden, PhD shares how she followed her client’s lead to help her process powerful emotions.
Running time: 08:08

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Thursday, July 26, 2018

When Other Therapies Haven’t Worked

Ron Siegel, PsyD shares five steps he follows to help reassure clients who have struggled to find success in their previous experiences with therapy.
Running time: 10:01

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Friday, July 27, 2018

Critical Insights

Ron Siegel, PsyD and Kelly McGonigal, PhD highlight the key concepts in this week’s videos.
Running time: 23:48

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Saturday, July 28, 2018

Focus on Application

Joan Borysenko, PhD, and Rick Hanson, PhD connect exercises and techniques with this week’s discussion so you can begin using these ideas right away with your clients.
Running time: 26:32

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11 Responses

  1. In reference to Dr Harrell’s video:
    I typically revert to zero self disclosure, and yet there are times when it really just makes sense to share something in order to normalize a life experience. Often I will refer to a friend who went through something similar if the detail is too personal to share, and what “the friend” found for resources; on the rare occasion It has felt entirely appropriate to me to drop in a mention of a common experience, I use it in the way we use commonality in support groups- as commiseration for the resulting emotions. I really make sure that I am not talking about my experience, but rather commiserating with theirs.

    Her example of a couple seeking out the possibility of her biases beforehand really makes sense and I can see how important it would be to have utter authenticity there.

  2. I so often appreciate Joan’s insights and examples in this program. This week, her tremendous strengths and wisdom as a spiritual counsellor shone. What a balm to my soul to learn from her, and from all of the therapists this week. Meaning no disrespect at all, I feel the need to mention Rick’s use of the term “the dark continent” to refer to the body for someone who is not used to becoming more embodied, and might be alarmed. I cringed. I looked it up to check and indeed it refers to Africa and the unknowns of Africa and is used in a pejorative sense usually as terms like this are so white-centric. I am certain Rick did not mean any harm but maybe we need to reconsider whether we use terms like these. ( I am always discovering new ones in my own habitual language).

  3. Regarding self disclosure, my fault has always been to talk too much. As a result of this tendency, in my work as a counsellor I try hard to say less and trust that ‘less will be more’. I start the first session with all of the necessary issues and forms etc. and then I inform the person that although a client counsellor interaction is personable and warm, it is not a friendship because it is not a reciprocal relationship. I go on to say that I will not say much about myself because I am concerned that you might feel inclined to respond as a friend, with concern or other. I always make light of this and use humour but on a serious note, I remind her (or him or them) that if there is something they wonder about me or my training, feel free to ask me. I am happy to answer. This might sound a little clumsy but it works well and it has been my experience that most people do not ask me much about myself.
    I tend to use a lot of analogies and will tell short stories to illuminate an issue or concern which usually inadvertently discloses a little about who I am.

  4. A while back Dr.Kelly Mc Gonigal referred to an article in the Journal of Medical Ethics by Phoebe Friesen and Charlotte Blease. This was in the context of the discussion about Dr. Dan Siegle’s compelling vignette about his client saying that the turning point of her healing was “feeling felt” from the first session. Kelly said she would send you the article. Would it be possible to put it up on the Resources Board?

  5. From observation professionally and in personally, telling someone the details of a fear regarding a health issue means everything to a patient who probably has told her story over and over again but no one responded to her the way she needed. Total compassion and Daniel Siegel’s presence lifted the client’s final ability to move ahead. If he had not been able to hear her “devil in the details” my guess this client would not have been able to hear what he had to say next. His patience and presence gave her the courage to start her process of healing.

    I do think the freeze state needs time to unveil the observation of what happened to her. To me, that half of session was the best thing he could have done. He was wise enough to help it shift to her need to heal instead of ongoing ruminations, hopefully for the last time. If a therapist cuts me off or if I find I inadvertently cut off a story content, there is damage to the relationship. and it slows down healing.

    After all, where else can someone hear you intently and care about your wellbeing, if not a therapist’s office, especially in the world that seems to care less and less about people’s thoughts. Telling ones truth needs to happen. I use Daniel Siegel’s 9 domains and the very first one is the cognitive presence to the problem at hand. I use that for the story and broaden out to the other 8 domains.

    A client lately told me she wanted to work on in hypnotherapy her “repression causes fear.” I had been processing this very thought working with trauma victims in groups over the years. This thought kept subconsciously rising into my consciousness. all the prior weekend. When she mentioned this thought, I realized how often we all have not expressed the truth for various reasons, fear of being judged or fear we might burden another. This repression is draining to the mind and body. It thwarts our growth to not be able to tell the whole truth without guarded reservation especially to someone we know can help us.

    Often people minimize “talk therapy,” and it makes me cringe. I think this is an avenue that clinicians need to do well despite one’s modality. After all that is the height of socializing to heal the nervous system. Daniel allowed this woman to start to heal her system.

  6. Thanks again. In my practice self disclosing of my faith became necessary. It was evident by my questions to my clients thinking about issues, eg. parenting expectations, guilt management, self compassion possibilities, that I did not have the same definition for some common words we used. Also I did not have the same expectation for expected behaviors as they did. When I was a new therapist in a community that was 99% the same faith; and I was completely unfamiliar with that faith, I was told by my clients that a therapist of their faith would never ask the questions that I did. So they then asked what faith was I. I decided to be very open about my faith, my practices. Many years ago I asked a pastor about people whom I dearly loved and were of various faiths from other continents. This wise pastor told me that my faith was true and also he cautioned me to never limit the GOD who is experienced by many of various faiths.
    He advised me to “Do not put God into a pocket. Do not limit God. Let God be God.” He said he believes that Holy Immeasurable Love has many routes leading to that entity that ” Always was/Is Now/ and Always Will Be” and I was on one of the routes. This advice has also allowed me to dialogue with those who believe humans are the highest evolved and have no after life.
    The lesson I learned is to be curious about the other and respectful of their beliefs and to answer their searching questions about mine. I think that many of my clients built their identity more solidly by being able to tell me who they are and to want to understand my “weird” belief and customs and to talk freely about issues and compare different ways to handle them. They helped me clarify my beliefs
    and I helped them clarify their beliefs. They felt safe to understand me and to disagree with me. And I also was honored that they became transparent and helped me understand them and then to ask about my beliefs. I was there 23 years and am glad to say that the original fear among my colleagues who were of the 99% went away and our dialogues were very rich.

    1. I really like the thought you discussed of not putting God in your pocket. I have worked with many native Americans and learning thier views was crucial especially when it came to grief and how to deal with death of a loved one. Speaking of the process of ones beliefs can only grow our society and understanding differences. I remember reading Genesis, seeing so many seeds of religions flourishing today. Thanks for sharing you experience.

      1. Marcia Thanks for your response. I have found that early decisions to obey the defense to be secretive about their deepest beliefs because they fear rejection by others (trauma through a child’s eyes?) is discharged bit by bit as the group members feel their discomfort, recognize their early defense, acknowledge and thank themselves for the warning, and then use their adult reasoning to check the danger. When they decide to be open and transparent they grow in understanding others and wanting to be understood by others. This ongoing transparency and ongoing acceptance is very healing for each member of group Thanks for sharing your experience.
        I would be most interested in hearing more.