A Practical Skill for Defusing Anger

Anger is a normal (and often necessary) emotion. But when tempers flare and rage ensues, our clients’ relationships suffer, their stress levels skyrocket, and reactivity simply takes over. So how can people shift out of anger once the fuse is lit? In the video below, Marsha Linehan, PhD will share a practical skill to help clients defuse anger before it escalates beyond control. Take a look – it’s about 2 ½ minutes. Marsha’s strategy is practical, it’s simple, and it’s something clients can use right away, in almost any situation where anger threatens to boil over. This video was taken…

Read More »


Can Mindfulness Change How the Brain Processes Emotion?

We’d like to think it can, but what does the evidence show? A working definition of mindfulness is that it attentively and non-judgmentally focuses on present experiences. But does this actually affect anything in the brain? To find out, Jacqueline Lutz, from the psychiatry department at the University Hospital of Zurich, led a study investigating whether mindfulness could affect the brain during emotional arousal. Lutz and her colleagues recruited 49 subjects with no prior or existing neurological or psychiatric illnesses and randomly assigned them to either the mindfulness group or the control group, which received no mindfulness instruction. Researchers hypothesized…

Read More »


On The Shoulders of Giants

Carl Rogers. Milton Erikson. Fritz Perls. Albert Ellis. Virginia Satir. These are some of the experts who shaped the interventions we use with patients today. And these experts stood on the shoulders of the giants who came before them. I’m thinking about people like Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Alfred Adler, Karen Horney, and Pierre Genet. The contributions made by all these pioneers have given us treatment approaches and strategies that help a large percentage of the people we see. But sadly, not all of them. So I’ve been wondering, “Where is the next generation of innovators who will help us…

Read More »


Self-Compassion: The Secret to Reducing PTSD Symptoms?

One thing that can frequently increase the suffering of many patients with PTSD is shame. Even worse, shame can limit a patient’s treatment – even if they objectively know that there’s nothing to be ashamed of. But is there a way to trade self-judgment for self-compassion? And would that reduce a client’s symptoms? Asle Hoffart, PhD, adjunct professor of psychology at the University of Oslo, wanted to study how self-compassion impacted symptoms of PTSD. Hoffart measured self-compassion with his six-part Self-Compassion Scale. First, he designated three components that made up self compassion: self-kindness (being kind to oneself even during hard…

Read More »


Helping Trauma Patients Shed Feelings of Shame

For someone who’s experienced trauma, feelings of shame often remain long after the painful event. So how can practitioners help clients begin to reclaim a sense of self-worth? Kerstin Jung, PhD and Regina Steil, PsyD, at Goethe University Frankfurt, in Frankfurt, Germany, wanted to find out whether Cognitive Restructuring and Imagery Modification (CRIM) could empower adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse to move beyond feelings of shame associated with trauma. CRIM is designed to help patients do two things: change the way they see themselves (Cognitive Restructuring), and change the imagery they associate with their trauma (Imagery Modification). To test…

Read More »


Can Fear of Happiness Get in the Way of Healing?

Why is it so hard to get people to follow through on strategies that are good for them? Patient noncompliance can be one of the greatest roadblocks that keeps people from achieving their goals. And I recently came across some new research that might hold a clue to what holds some people back. You see, for some of our patients, the fear of experiencing a positive outcome might actually be stronger than their desire to heal. Now this isn’t really a new idea, but what is new is that it’s starting to be evaluated by researchers. A 2014 British Journal…

Read More »