Tag: psychotherapy

We can do better than desensitization as the goal of trauma treatment

David J. Morris, a former Marine infantry officer and a reporter in some of the most violent regions of the Iraq war, blacked out while watching a movie and ran out of the theater, only to regain awareness of himself in the lobby as he anxiously scanned other patrons for improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Morris’ girlfriend …

The secrets in our silences

I began reading the book History Beyond Trauma by Françoise Davoine and Jean-Max Gaudillière during a turbulent time in my life — when deaths, losses, and uncertainties continually piled up. Despite my best efforts to remain optimistic and push forward with life as planned, traumatic stress was threatening to be more than a subject I …

When soul informs psychotherapy

Research on human attachment has improved the practice of psychotherapy in part because attachment theory gives therapists permission to be “real” people with their clients. One of my favorite books on the subject is David Wallin’s Attachment in Psychotherapy, which describes how to practice attachment-focused psychotherapy. (He’s working on a new book that looks at how …

Trauma-informed psychotherapy puts the body – and love – back in mental healthcare

Painting of the word "Love".

For the past 50 years, psychotherapy has taken a back seat to biomedical psychiatry, largely due to reliance on medications for the treatment of mental disorders. Yet clinical evidence increasingly points to chronic, unresolved traumatic stress as the source of many — if not most — mental disorders. Furthermore, longitudinal analyses show continued use of psychotropic medications …

Taking that leap of faith

Photo of paraglider.

One of my teachers at Pacifica Graduate Institute called psychotherapy “the hope manufacturing business.” And frankly, if my first meetings with a therapist left me feeling dejected, I’d likely think that person was pretty lousy at her or his job. Psychotherapy is time-consuming, expensive, and shines a spotlight on the painful stuff we have difficulty getting over …

The mental health field has a branding problem

For over two centuries, the mental health field, and psychiatry in particular, has actively cultivated a “brand,” distinguishing itself as a remedy for societal ills, largely by adapting its philosophy and methods to the dominant social agenda. In 1793, when Dr. Philippe Pinel initiated reforms in the Salpêtriere and Bicêtre Hospitals in Paris where the …

How I practice psychotherapy with minimal intrusion from the DSM

Photo: Shed with "Freedom From Religion" painted on one side.

I started critiquing the DSM about sixteen years ago. At that time, I was conducting research for my dissertation on mood disorders as well as team teaching an advanced graduate seminar on the phenomenology of madness. Back then, mood disorders were called depression and manic depression. Both terms resonated with what it felt like to suffer …

When psychiatry retraumatizes

Before I became a psychotherapist, I often wrote, lectured, and blogged about damaging aspects of psychiatry. I am more hopeful now — not about psychiatry improving, but about truly helpful mental healthcare for people who might otherwise be labeled “chronically” mentally ill and forever take medications to tranquillize their internal demons. Since I began combining …

On social trauma

Every month Somatic Perspectives on Psychotherapy provides interviews with clinicians and thinkers who take a somatic approach to psychotherapy and studying the human condition. The interview below with Eric Wolterstorff focuses on social trauma, which is defined as “the impacts of threats, disasters, deprivation and violent conflict on the capacity of societies to adapt to the world, regulate …