Learn what many therapists don’t tell you – You are not your thoughts.

Listen and learn how to control your thoughts so they don’t control you – Not good enough . . . I’ll always be alone in pain . . . not smart enough . . . no one will ever understand me and . . .  dark, dark thoughts. 

Do listen to this excellent (and entertaining) NPR broadcast.  Worth your time and it’s cheaper than a therapy appointment.




“The Most Dangerous Word in the World”

Carolyn Thomas has done it again – written a post that I am compelled to steal.  She has single-handedly turned me from a law-abiding citizen to a “blogging” thief.  (use a British accent to reap the full benefit on my play on words).

Cognitive-behavioral therapy has been my focus as a therapist for many, many years. I stopped trying to figure out if clients had been weaned too early as enfants when I first read brain research on obsessive compulsive disorders and how thinking  literally changes the brain’s neurochemical activity thereby diminishing anxiety & depression in mood disorders. (whew! that was a long sentence).  

Research continues to show that cognitive behavioral therapy along with exercise (which also activates certain neurochemical) is better or as good as medication . . . and cheaper in the long run.  Read!  Here’s something even cheaper than therapy and you already have the know-how and tools.

Carolyn’s article hits a home run.  There’s not much I would change. I’m even brazen enough to steal her title.  Carolyn has so many jewels that, without an accomplice, I can’t haul all of them over here all at once.  So here’s an excerpt from her post: (Read the entire post, it’s worth it, by clicking on Carolyn’s title below)

P.S.  Max would have changed the title to “The most OVER-USED word in my world”

“The Most Dangerous Word in the World”

by Carolyn Thomas

It’s “NO”.

Any form of negative rumination – for example, worrying about your health – can stimulate the release of destructive neurochemicals.  Waldman and Newberg [researchers] explain:

“If we were to put you into an fMRI scanner – a huge donut-shaped magnet that can take a video of the neural changes happening in your brain – and flash the word “NO” for less than one second, you’d see a sudden release of dozens of stress-producing hormones and neurotransmitters. These chemicals immediately interrupt the normal functioning of your brain, impairing logic, reason, language processing, and communication.

“In fact, just seeing a list of negative words for a few seconds will make a highly anxious or depressed person feel worse, and the more you ruminate on them, the more you can actually damage key structures that regulate your memory, feelings, and emotions.

“You’ll disrupt your sleep, your appetite, and your ability to experience long-term happiness and satisfaction.”

“These findings are distressing for those of us who are living with a chronic diagnosis like heart disease that can involve quite a bit of day-to-day serious rumination about one’s health”

“But Ohio researchers warn that there’s apparently an intrinsic problem here: the brain barely responds to our positive words and thoughts; they found that even with simple examples (such as showing research subjects pictures of flowers vs pictures of snakes), we tend to react to the scary snakes but barely register a reaction to those nice flowers.** That’s why, they suggest, we need to bulk up on those positives to outweigh the negatives.”

“Finally, Waldman and Newberg remind us of the findings of Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, (one of the founders of the field of Positive Psychology) and others whose work suggests that we need to generate 3-5 positive thoughts and feelings for each expression of negativity.  They add:

“Our advice: choose your words wisely and speak them slowly. This will allow you to interrupt the brain’s propensity to be negative, and as recent research has shown, the mere repetition of positive words will turn on specific genes that lower your physical and emotional stress.”’

To get ALL the loot you will have to steal over to her site . . .Heart Sisters

(She already knows I’m  giving  you the keys to her vault – she never locks it anyway, she has a very trusting heart . . .)

Depressed, Anxious? You’re Not Crazy & sneaking in a Judaiku

Judy's visual journal entry

My favorite antidote for anxiety was the topic of yesterday’s post.  Today I want to briefly address depression since anxiety and depression often go hand in hand.

Acute, situational depression is the brain’s way of helping us not blow our lid or slit our throats.  When we’re depressed we don’t have the highs or the lows – everything is “flat”.  It’s when the depression lasts longer than the situation warrants and becomes chronic that something needs to be done.

To add insult to injury, clients I see with depression and anxiety  experience trouble with sleep:  Falling asleep ; Staying asleep; Never getting restorative rest.

This is important!

Research findings suggest that there is a neurochemical link between depression, anxiety, and stress.  This has nothing to do with psychology or character or any psychiatric disorder.  This is about disturbances in neurochemical functioning in the brain.  You’re not crazy, not psychological damaged or fragile.  Your neurochemistry is out of wack if you are depressed and/or anxious.

Many of the symptoms of anxiety disorders and depression overlap quite a bit. Depression can lead to anxiety and conversely, anxiety can lead to depression. So we’re talking about a very tight relationship here in terms of diagnosis.

When I was first licensed in 1986 anxiety was treated with different medication than depression.  Today many, if not most, people with anxiety are treated and respond very well to anti-depressant medication.

On Call Plus
ABC News Photo Illustration

Research has shown that the best ways of breaking the depressive cycle are:  1.  EXERCISE, 2. COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY, 3.  MEDICATION


The good news is you can do the first two on your own, no Rx and the only side effects are feeling better.

    • Now sneaking in my Haiku for today: Prompt – “hidden”

    Depression visits

Hidden depths, silent despair

Uninvited guest

Would I Make an Appointment with Myself?

I am a bit at a loss for words.  Those who know me will find that almost incomprehensible.

just read an excellent post on Phylor’s blog


You need to read it in its entirety.

It made me stop and think. She wrote about how easy it was for therapists to tell her what to do without really knowing who she was or her circumstances.

Over the years I’ve thought about seeing a therapist to talk to about my struggles with fibromyalgia.   As both a patient  and a psychotherapist Phylor’s post made me wonder if I would see me as a therapist.

I’m stubborn (NO! you are thinking . .), am more of a leader than follower (learning to take the back seat).  I have strong opinions and some have hinted I’m not very patient (which I vehemently deny !).

I know that I have changed in the 25 years I’ve been in practice . . .  . . . . .For the best?

My training was psychodynamic –  finding insight into the  unconscious which is to lead to life changes.  The bulk of the training was to erase my own personality,  listen and help the client find their own answers.  This sometime taking years and years with no discernible changes – just lots of insight and money (unless you have insurance . . .)

Insight without action is meaningless.  Now I lean toward what is called a Cognitive-Behavioral approach. I still find lots of value in unconscious meaning and motivation but  I frequently offer clients “options, actions and possibilities” and often hear myself saying to them “It’s very easy for me to say and not so easy to do.”

There is a fine line between having “answers” and empowering people to take right action – whatever “right” might be for them.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of clients later I know all I really can offer is being witness to their, hurt, confusion & pain, with patience, love and a few behavioral options..

Guess I found some words.

Now to find a therapist that’s right for me.  Easier to say than do.