WEEK 122: Building Connections to Lessen a Client’s Tendency to Blame

October 1 – October 6, 2018

September 24 – September 29, 2018 . . . . .

WEEK 122

September 24 – September 29, 2018


Monday, October 1, 2018

The Brain’s Role in Blame

Dan Siegel, MD explores the brain science behind a blame mindset.
Running time: 08:56

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Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Rebuilding a Relationship Damaged by Blame

Dan Siegel, MD helpes his clients work through their tendency to blame using 5 aspects of empathy.
Running time: 07:38

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Wednesday, October 3, 2018

How to Avoid “Pushing” Change on Our Clients

Stephen Porges, PhD looks at one way to help clients adjust their behavior without pushing them to change.
Running time: 05:27

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Thursday, October 4, 2018

What to Listen for When Clients Blame

Ron Siegel, PsyD shares how he gets at the emotions beneath blame.
Running time: 07:55

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Friday, October 5, 2018

Critical Insights

Ron Siegel, PsyD and Kelly McGonigal, PhD highlight the key concepts in this week’s videos.
Running time: 25:44

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Saturday, October 6, 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: 18:11

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27 Responses

  1. By the way, I totally agree with Joan Borysenko, this week was an amazing week considering all the information given on brain science. Thank you for this especially, everybody!
    I will go ahead now and will actually download the transcripts, thanks for the nudge 🙂

  2. This weeks critical insight session was really full of important information for me. I am currently preparing a group session for a company and the aim is to create more positive communication, confidence and empathy between group members. I am definitely going to use the idea Kelly McGonigal talked about, trying to guess what is on another person’s mind. It’s a great idea for an intervention.

    I also liked the idea Ron Siegel presented, shifting perspective from blaming to what is really scary about the situation. Although I totally agree that to go from blaming to admitting fear is a difficult step. It brings to mind that in Polyvagal Theory the different branches of the autonomous nervous system are hierarchically connected, if I have this correctly. So this would mean, every time we are able to feel an emotion based on the sympathetic stress response, like anger or disgust, we will feel much stronger than when we feel pure fear, shame or vulnerability, which represents emotions which we have less control over and that we can even feel ashamed about having. Especially in front of others we tend to need to be strong, so anger is always the best option.
    This is a very lonely and isolated experience. Our fears from complex trauma are usually connected to other people, so SAFETY literally means other people being safe. That means the therapist in the therapeutic environment, but also the general social environment of the client.
    It would also means, that in order to be able to shift out of anger, we always have to create a safe and supportive environment on an interpersonal level, meaning we have to engage the ventral vagal system. Otherwise we would activate the dorsal vagal branch being unprotected (as in other people being unsafe) and that would maybe help us shift out of anger, but wouldn’t help with the underlying fear.

    I’m making this reflection, because I remember clients in the past who were able to address their fears, but were not able to let go of them, as there was no sufficient support in their surrounding. Simply addressing their fears did not make tose fears go away, even though there was a focused work on the body’s response to fear, a guidance through the emotional experience and so on. This is why I believe there is no letting go of the underlying fears related to trauma when there is no supportive social network that helps the person feel accepted, afraid and vulnerable as they are.

    1. Deborah Dana wrote a recent book in tandem with Stephen Porges and she uses a meditation for those three nerves. I find it quite helpful for understanding of how that nerve functions. I have been researching this for a long time. It is complicated but worth the effort. If you have not read Porges companion book on the subject, it also helped solidify some issues for me, especially when it comes to the school system.

      I found when I used an exercise with a vet to open up that Polyvagal nerve connection, he found a major change within his system and talks about it often.

      Of course all people are more responsive and some do not understand the subtle changes but the challenges in our everyday life help them begin to see it makes a difference, does not impact thier healing when bombarded by outside issues.

      I believe being forwarned or what I call redflagging, helps somewhat even if it short circuits their healing when an issues arises. They tell me they felt that rage arise pushing the SNS into alert or dorsal vagal system want to take over and control the shut down,. That control begins to help them feel more in control of their world.

      So wish you well as groups are so effective for our work. I have been doing groups for 30 years. I think you are on significant path. I can feel your passion for this avenue of work. Best of luck. Groups are so rewarding and it sounds like you are very invested.

      1. Thank you so much for your two replies, Marcia! What a wonderful inspiration you gave me there, I appreciate it!

        I have read Stephen Porges’s book on Polyvagal Theory, however it sometimes still is difficult to find a way to apply it in practice. Another very indicative book for all my work has been “In an Unspoken Word” by Peter Levine, which is laden with indication for application.

        The forewarning is a good thing to do, also I usually give plenty of help-tools for grounding and easing the painful wave of experience. However, at least in the past, I remember there was a tendency to not speak out loud whatever the painful experience was, and this kept the client trapped in the dorsal vagal experience. Especially shame did not go away, I interpreted it as shame for “having” this issue at all.

        And yes, I totally agree with you, groups have a tremendous potential, and it goes beyond the verbal exchange of experiences. I have had very powerful sessions, just doing guided meditations. And one of the key points here is probably, that everybody is doing the same thing, so there is no need for feeling ashamed. Nobody can be excluded if we all do the same meditation, social recognition of our inner experiences is granted just by sitting there and doing it all together.

        I’m actually reading Deb Dana’s book right now, or at least I was until work load piled up. So I still have to get to that point where she talks about these meditations. Thanks for your great explanations and feedback, Marcia, this encourages me to read on soon!

        1. So glad I could be helpful. I will be brief. The reason why Porges wrote his companion book to the Polyvagal theory, a totally diferent book than his lengthy book from the sixties, was because, as you say, it is a difficult read so chock full of science.

          He and Ruth put the other book together. I found it joyful and relaxing to read. Short and a quick read, but really lays out this whole science evolved and the ramifications. I liked it because I lived the changes over the years and remember how medical and mental health went astray. His companion book explains areas in his main book should that need clarification.

          This medical and mental health evolution is also demonstrated in a Utube presentation by Vincent Fillitti I think is his name. He ran the Kaiser group for years and explains how the ACE came into fruition, per the earlier conversation. He is a good speaker and spells out how it all went wrong regarding this Kaiser medical group for weight loss. They kept coming back to the hospital program and had to find out why, hence, the ACE study.

          The Dana book has the meditation to the three quarters into book. I skipped and was intrigued to do in a group setting. Now I do one to one as I can ease their own dialogue with the meditation interjecting thier particular dorsal vagal dive concerns or other how they manifest the flight and fight response in their individual life.

          I can see this as helpful once a group becomes cohesive, pointing out points they shared in the group interchanges. Their smiling does not interrupt thier concentrations but they get energized with these personal ad libs. It is wonderful for a group, once you explain the ladder to them which I do before the meditation. That is before the mediation. It has so many ways to use the work as it can be broken down into bitesize pieces which is how she has it laid out.

          Sorry I was not brief. I no longer know how to be brief as my nervous system heals. I do not like to repress anymore . Did ir far too long. I am working on auto correcting but it takes time. I think this new internet and brevity on line is harmful for teenagers, which Porges points out in the companion book.

          1. 🙂 I love your briefness, Marcia!! Thanks again, also for doing what you feel is good, I genuinely enjoy reading you!!

            Great information, fantastic. I just have to find a balance with all this news coming in. Yes, the ladder, I actually explain evolution at the very beginning to them, so this covers it partly, as well as the hierarchy.

            May I ask what the title of the more comprehensive version of the Polyvagal Theory?
            I will check out Vince Fillitti now.

            Thanks again! Keep contributing, please :)))
            A hug to you!

  3. I had to listen to Ron Seigel twice! His eloquent theoretical and practical description of joining, eliciting an enactment that puts the client in the position of power, and then brainstorming with the client for how to achieve different results, is quite powerful. I look forward to using this model with families next week.

  4. I must say, Dr. Porges hit the nail on the head. Again! That was a fantastic conclusion on how and why it is so much more “helpful” for a client (and the therapist) to have a therapeutic relationship that is supportive and acknowledges their pain.

  5. Daniel Siegel’s story was so deep for me as I have had clients who have witnessed death by hanging. I realize I went within, moved on to next webinar, but caught that avoidant delay of processing.

    This happens so often in the profession. We need more processing these stories to assure our own healing. This avoidance is encouraged, inadvertantly by the workforce due to workload. We need to challenge the five aspects of empathy for our self so we can be present for each client.

    Thank you, Dan, for sharing that story. Still processing but this is good for my own empathy. I realize I had heard a similar ancient history from a client a few months ago, but did not register it within myself. Clients are notorious for minimizing these stories. I try not to collude, but I know this does happen.

    Being genuine and empathetic is priceless in this process with the client. I am still unclear as to why this form of death bothers me more than other forms of suicide…Yes, I realize as I write this, exactly where that aversion originates. It has to do with my own origins in some fashion.

  6. Stephen Porges suggested the relationships improve as the client gets underneath this blaming. Recently witnessed this in a famiily with longterm severe dysfunction and abuse, finally begin to relate and start to thrive in all the family members.

    In family systems it is possible for one family member to affect the whole. This was true in fhis family, but is was hard at first. The homeostasis had to rise in the family function once the client stopped blaming as other family members followed suit.

    Preparing the client to this process helped, so the ciient could see the results as the shifts occurred, avoiding regressing to blaming. Now, the client is thriving, proud for the first time, able to forgive, seeing the healing take place slowly between family members. This is hard work but so gratifying when lives are changed, sometimes for the first time in a life.

    Understanding the nervous system changed my life and work with clients. It is a slow process but well worth the results.

    As our society is in conflict, some restructuring in thinking can bring clarity to us all. Personally this is hard for me to assure I do not backslide as the healing process needs room to take root, becoming less and less fragile.

  7. We all know how to push peoples buttons, especially in our most intimate relationships. To elicit a negative response is easy. I like the point made by Stephen Porges, that we need to shift our focus on bringing out the best in the other person. That brings about positive change and can be reinforced with further positively focused results; changing the relationship for good.

    1. That’s an interesting question! Although I would think blaming parents might actually not be necessary, if there was a sense of freedom to do whatever is needed to create the sense of self. So again, there is an anger issue, a defense mechanism… although this doesn’t lead me to any conclusion. I know there are mindfulness approaches for adolescents with family and other issues, that help them overcome fear, anger, aggression, grief and other non-useful emotions related to the stress response.

    2. When I work with teenagers, depending why they are in counseling, I have used the ACE study and the Adult attachment interview in those first sessions if appropriate. Also, I have found that explaining to either the parent, child or both how separation anxiety seems to work in those teen years. How the tension is often due to the ambivalence of wanting to be an adult, while also fear to give up childhood for more responsibility., especially in this day and age. This ambivalence affects the relationship and causes excessive tensionj when it is aften times a way to transition through this new fear of the unknown for both child and parent.

        1. William, forgot to say that if you give the ACE study, it is most helpful to do the Resiliance part the same day.. This has two parts and many only give the ACE. The Resiliance is where they put it in perspective how they feel now which is partly why I give it that way.

          When the ambivalence and the separation anxiety is discussed I also point out that the arguments are ususally over something unimportant, not the agruments over the major problems they always give a resounding affirmative. This opens up avenues to address the serious problems they fear and can laugh at those arguments over peanut butter or whatever.

          Not sure how this will change nowadays, but up to now it has been unananinous and opens up communication over the serious worries and adds some levity over the daily feeling that life is changing and uncomfortable over the unknown. future. They usually laught at themselves and handle the latter situation more affectively.

      1. Hi Marcia,
        so, would you say that when we work with adolescents who blame adults, it would be appropriate to do an ACE assessment straight away?

        I’m asking because I would like to do a group of meditation, self-awareness and mindfulness practices for adolescents at a near-by public school. And I wasn’t thinking of doing an ACE study, my idea is not to talk about what is happening in their lives in depth during these sessions. However everybody from the group will have the opportunity to work with me in a more private setting if needed. Then I believe ACE studies are appropriate?

        I’m a little bit in doubt about it, it is a very delicate subject and I don’t know if the school is the right frame for working on this level.

        Thanks in advance!

        1. Tamara, no this is for a clinical setting and the two scales are helpful or the teen to speak to the issues. The first test speaks to this but the second shows them that despite these issues there were positives when they review their conflicts overall. It is for the individual you are counseling, not for a group.

          What did come to mind when I read your recent entry was the meditation by Deborah Dana on the polyvagal Nerve in therapy. I will put it up in your reply for the group and the nervous system as it is more appropriate there, I guess.