The Therapist — How to Choose The One for You

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

How much does the patient need to know about a therapist in order to hire him or her?

I frequently address this question in many different forms. (Since we will be using myself as an example in this blog, we will defer to the masculine pronoun when referring to ‘therapist’.)

This can be a tricky subject, as initiating a relationship with a therapist or analyst is not like buying a toaster.  If you don’t like the toaster or if it doesn’t work, you can simply return it, get your money back and buy one more to your liking. Very little time and energy is wasted. However, finding the right person to accompany you in the vulnerable process of transformation—which therapy can be, is not as simple.

It can take years before one discovers they do not genuinely share a “meeting of minds” with their analyst. This is largely due to false paradigms and metaphors that people use to pick one’s therapist.

Oftentimes people make the mistake of thinking they need to know everything about their therapist. In extreme instances, people become a form of the “birthers,” convinced they need to learn every detail of their therapist’s personal lives before they could trust him to themselves or their children. Now of course, it’s a good idea to get a general background check (visit sex offender registry website here). But otherwise, personal lives are called that for a reason. Everyone should be allowed to have marriages, children, partners, etc, and even have these not go so well, as this is part of the journey we call life. To not allow a therapist this room to live, might give some insight as to why you or your loved one might be struggling. Sometimes we struggle just to have room to struggle.

Equally misleading can be colleagues inclined to provide all “the dirt” on the therapist you are interested in hiring. In some cases, making sure the therapeutic alliance is a “good fit” in the “guise of professionalism” can be disingenuous. If the fit isn’t right, that will naturally come to the fore soon enough. In the Jewish tradition, there is the danger of the ‘loshon hora’— or the ‘evil tongue.’ The old fashioned word is ‘gossip.’ It’s generally a good idea to be cautious of colleagues whom relay distasteful views with no real merit. Inevitably, one has to wonder what is their true motive for this behavior?

Not that we’ve discussed what not to do when seeking a therapist… what should one do before choosing a professional that is a good match? 

To start, visit the state website that registers licenses to (1) verify if their license is current and (2) no disciplinary action has been taken against them.

Secondly, go the clinician’s website to see what the therapist communicates about himself and his philosophy of practice. If you agree with his ideologies, then that is a fairly good sign.

Thirdly, ask former and current patients, as well as parents of patients what their experience has been. Keep in mind each person has their own set of expectations of therapy and analysis going into the experience. For example, if a parent expects analysis to change their philosophical child into the quarterback of the football team, and are disappointed when this does not happen, then perhaps this says more about the parent than the clinician.

What is the best way to get an accurate impression of the therapist/analyst? Book a session to interview him! Meet him in person. Get a feel for his office. The way his office is decorated (or not) will say a lot. Ask him about all things relevant: his training, his past experience with this kind of patient and symptom picture, his history in the industry community. Get a sense of how he listens. Does he seem empathic? Does he seem distracted, disinterested? Does he seem to care? Does he seem warm? Do you get a sense that you or your child might want to see this person for a second session?  Especially for teenagers, is he able to effectively engage a conversation? (A therapy dog is always a positive thing! But, then I’m biased about therapy dogs (See

At the end of the day, it’s always better to form your own opinion before trusting rumor or word of mouth. I bet most big decisions made in your life were not made based entirely on logic, but by following your gut or your intuition. We were all born with an emotional compass that points us in the right direction. I would think that ability would serve you well in choosing a therapist that serves you best.



Body Issues and Ideas To Help

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

In the world of psychotherapy, especially psychoanalytic psychotherapy, the body issues always present themselves with every patient, without exception, in one way or another.  Sometimes it is something that can be resolved in a few sessions never to be seen again.  Sometimes it is the bulk of the treatment.  Whichever way it goes, being embodied is no easy task.  And as April 01 was recently here, it makes fools of all of us.  Why?  Because the warmer weather calls for less clothing that we can all hide behind and as a result, our issues of food and weight become more visible to the world.

A gambling problem is not immediately obvious to a the naked eye, because one has to check credit card statements and other things to see if there is a problem.  Not so with a weight issue, it’s there for all to see.  And sadly, even with the warmer weather, some people seclude themselves even more because of the shame they feel about their bodies.

Given all this and the veritable forest that has been written about body and weight issues, here’s a few ideas that might help people before the bathing suits come out:

1.  Body issues plague men as well as women.  Perhaps not in the same volume, but not having the midsection of a Channing Tatum tortures more than a few young men.  Just getting men to admit this is a huge step.

2.  Get a good physical.  A doctor can tell you if thyroid or other issues are getting in the way.  One cannot fight nature with will power.

3.  Tell the doctor ALL the medication and chemical that you put in your body, prescribed and otherwise.  He/she will be able to tell you which ones might be working against you.  Again, one cannot fight against the forces of nature.

4.  Take a good look at your fridge.  Why?  Because, eventually all the stuff that’s in there you’ll eat.  Ask yourself, do I really want to do that?  Unlike other societies, Americans spend very little time thinking about what they are going to eat when and how.  Perhaps just a little more mindfulness might help you reach your goals (whatever they might be) if you become more conscious of the connection between your goals and your daily habits.

5.  Keep a daily food journal.  And don’t lie!  As shame inducing as this might sound, a dose of the truth might set you on a better path

6.  Think about how much you actually move in a day.  People often report they are far more active than they actually are.  When the personal trainer puts the pedometer (a device that measures steps taken in a day) on people, they are often shocked at how inactive they are, depending upon even the dog to get the paper in the morning, that is if they don’t just get it on their tablets.

7.  Don’t go it alone!  Studies show that goals are more successfully reached if one’s spouse or best friend joins in.  Who knows?  They might actually be grateful for you request for “support.”

8.  Start today with small things.  People often think that changes have to be big and dramatic.  In graduate school, one of my friends came back to school having lost 70 lbs.  When asked how he did it, he reported that he stopped using alcohol and did yoga everyday.  (I cannot promisee that you will have the same results.)  That was it.  Sometimes small changes can have big effects!!

9.  Ask for help.  Tell your friends, family and neighbors that you are going to try to make a change and it can become a communal effort.  You’ll be surprised at how much support you’ll receive from people you did not think could care!

10. This one is important!  No matter how big the slip up, the binge, the slacking off of exercise or whatever mistake you might make, do NOT use it as an excuse to say, “Screw it, it’s too hard.”  or “I’ll try again next year and I’ll just wear a t shirt at the beach.”  No way!  If you make a mistake, that’s ok.  Dust yourself off and start anew.  This is why we’re given a brand new day everyday.  This is where body stuff becomes soul stuff very quickly.  Why?  Because this is where we learn how to forgive ourselves and show ourselves compassion:  the compassion we’d probably show others.  So give yourself a break and get going!


(All this being said, please do not start/stop any diet/exercise regime without a doctor’s approval!!)

Finding a Therapist Who’s a Good “Fit”

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Perhaps one of the most important decisions that one can make when choosing a therapist, particularly an analytically oriented one, either for oneself or for one’s child, is whether or not that person is going to be a good “fit.”

Many therapists practice very “externally”, that is, they are going to support the defenses and habits that are in place.  The analytically oriented therapist in contrast, is going to try to get to the root of symptoms and replace them with actually healthy structures of personality.  This kind of work takes MUCH longer, is much more difficult and takes much more courage.  Not everyone is up to this challenge.

It has been my experience that analytic work does not only change the person engaged in it, but also can challenge the family of the person engaged in this work.  Oftentimes, the greatest resistance to the analysand changing is the individual’s family!  All too often, this comes in the form of devaluing or diminishing the work of the therapist or the person in therapy.  These comments, such as “You’re not all that bad.”  or “You don’t need therapy that often, do you?” although meant well, can be enormously damaging to the person in treatment.

Indeed, ironically, because the family undermines the work that means so much to person in treatment, the family can often find themselves distancing themselves from the person in therapy, not understanding why the work of therapy is ending up with their loved one more distant from them than ever.  Although this sounds obvious, very intelligent people can fall into this trap.  So here’s a few pointers for those of you who are contemplating treatment or are in analysis:

1.  Make sure the therapist can understand your family’s values.  This means that the therapist should be able to understand the family’s stated religious values and also the sub textual values:  those of socioeconomic class and expectations that come from such realities.

2.  Check out the therapist’s background:  Talk to people who have been through his/her process.  If the process sounds like something that you and your family can withstand, go for it.

3.  If the therapist’s process requires more trust than the family can muster; or the family must micromanage, find a therapist who is willing to do case-management.  If the treatment goals are being dictated by the family, then the therapist must be willing to trust this or have the courage to challenge the family when it’s needed.

4.  If the family is unsure about the treatment, get a second opinion.  Present both the identified patient and the process to another clinician and if everyone decides it’s time for a switch, then make it.  It might be time anyway.

5.  If, however, an attachment is important, then one might want to let the treatment process be.  Like surgery, it’s best not to have to move the patient midway through.

Like any process of human growth, like the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola for example, if they involve real change and growth, they will involve change and challenge for everyone involved.  It’s not child’s play and it’s best to have a clinician who has a few years of experience under his/her belt.  In this way, those gray hairs might be well earned and might be a sign of wisdom.  And at the end of the day, is not wisdom what we are all seeking?

Employment for the 20-somethings

Monday, October 31st, 2011

In a new series of blog posts, I would like to discuss the nature and the problems with employment–you know, that thing that some of us are lucky enough to have to do things that we might or might not like, and most importantly to get paid for these efforts.  Since I am not an economist (Heck, my own checkbook proves that one to be true!), I would like to discuss the issue of work from the perspective of the people that sit with me in analytic psychotherapy.

First up are the 20-somethings!

Gotta love the 20-somethings.  Born at least in 1991, their first political memories are of Bill Clinton, an economy that would not stop.  Jobs were available even if you showed-up to the interview stoned….and the good old days when people discussed the possibility of moving toward a 30 hour work week.  The 20-somethings went to college and expected the world to be even more of their oyster.  And then some things known as derivatives and sub-prime loans became headline news and the next thing you know, people are talking about Hoover-villes and class war.  What does this have to do with the young people in analysis or might need analysis?  EVERYTHING!

See, in a way that many older people find difficult to understand, my 20-somethings feel personally betrayed by history, economy, government, schools, parents, and maybe just anyone else they can get their hands on.  The real questions are why, and how to get them to move past it.

I don’t know for sure, but I have a hunch that my 20-somethings had components of a dream of what their adult lives would be like.  It might have been very nailed down for some, and others just a feeling of how things were going to turn out.  Their inner narrative, which they might not have shared even with themselves, goes like this, “I work some now, get a job out of college that starts at $75,000.00 a year, and then I work a bit harder so the real money starts rolling in.”  Sounds like a good plan right?

That is until the plan falls apart because the world changed, and history has happened all around us everyday, leaving these young adults the capacity to survive in times like this.  How have our 20-somethings responded?  For the most part, I have to say they have not responded all that well.


Now I know these are generalizations, but if you’re a 20-something yourself reading this or know and love one, see how much of this applies:

1.  Many 20-somethings have not kept up with the rate of how the world is changing both economically and politically.  For example, many of my 20-somethings have not registered to vote in the upcoming election.  They sometimes even wear their ignorance of what is going on the in the world as a badge of ideological purity.  Thus, they do not know what they need to know.

2.  Even if they know some of what would be helpful, many young adults find these events so overwhelming and so paradigm crushing, that they reinsert their heads back into the sand.  (Other images come to mind but this is a family friendly blog.)

3.  Since their emotions freeze their emotional advancement, they loose the nimbleness necessary to compete and thus to thrive.  For example, they might read in the New York Times that schools in India are so competitive that those young people are applying to Yale.  When they learn of this, I can see them melting in front of me in complete despair, which robs them of the energy they need to compete.


So, what’s the solution?  I don’t have a magic pill.  I’m sorry.  But I do have some suggestions that might help this age group.

1.  20-somethings need from somewhere a supportive, but challenging, relationship that will help keep them moving forward… but will not be too much of a Drill Instructor.  All the work that is ahead of them will be too much for them on their own.  Thus, if their butts are not on some shrink’s couch, they need to be and SPARK is here to help.

2.  These young people need to examine their assumptions about what life was going to be like with a ruthless honesty.  Here again, we get nowhere if they cannot embrace the painful truths.  This might require digging inside of themselves in order to see what DID they think was going to happen.

3.  Then based on full embrace of the facts about the world today, 20-somethings need to go through a mourning process about the world they expected to join and cannot because it no longer exists.  This arc of mourning will include many feelings, often contradictory but all very real.

4.  Simultaneously to working through their emotions, this age group needs to begin to develop an action plan.  This is essential for several reasons.  First, we might not have the luxury even in full bore analytic work 3 – 4 days a week to take that kind of break.  Second, this can degenerate into feeling so discouraging that despair can set in.  As Soren Kierkegaard would assert, depression can be worked through, especially with the new meds and a skillful analyst.  But despair can be a sickness of the soul and thus is even more dangerous.  We can make up for lost things from depression.  Getting one’s soul back is a very painful process.

5.  Once my people have emerged from the bunkers of their minds to look at the world as it truly is, not what they want it to be, they again, need to be ruthless in their honesty about what they are doing.  Some of my more honest people will admit that they are waiting for the family to step in and deus ex machina style, somehow save the day.  This is where parents might have to change script and think about how they are helping their children.

6.  In order to do all this very intensive work on themselves, they need to bring their A game to everyday life.  Or for my gamers, everyday is day they are picking up the remote and becoming their character in this game called “Life.”  As a result of the intensity of what they need to do , they need to be open to trying to be aware of and jump on whatever little chances the world might be offering them.


What am I suggesting that these young people do in order to change the trajectory of their lives? 

1.  Young people should place themselves in the care of a good therapist that will understand how issues of employment can have deep psychological ramifications.  Therapists that don’t incorporate this insight into their practice not only give their patients incomplete help, but dangerously inadequate care.  Patients trust their therapists to be able to devise a plan to help them reach their goals.

2.  Young people need to identify their own goals and dreams that have gotten delayed and possibly even aborted.  Many of these hopes and dreams are often best identified in their day dreams of fantasies about what they want their lives to look like when they are 30 years old.

3.  They need to identify what gifts, talents and assets they do have… and then capitalize on them immediately.  Even very pedestrian habits like procrastination and avoidance can be goal killer in this situation.  They have to bring an intensity to the goal with a focus and desire they might not have thought they had.  As one of my high school coaches told us, “Success is a child of desire.”

4.  Marshaling all their gifts and talents they need to develop a game plan- exactly how are they going to go about the task of acquiring a employment.  Again, this is where a therapist that can deal with the outside as well as the inside is indispensable.  This is not easy work, even for therapists who might be willing to wear more than one hat.  We might have to serve as analyst, proofreader for resumes, motivation maintainer and sometimes the right kick in the tuches!

5.  Taking all this information, the therapist and his/her patient have to form a plan that will enhance the chances of success for every endeavor the patient attempts.  Even things like socializing and exercise can be very important.  The plan needs to take on all kinds of issues:  time management, how they are looking for a job, the resumes and cover letters, even how the patient spends his/her free time is key.   Have it be organized and organic to the young person’s identity. And it must specific bite sized do-able goals that the young person can engage without feeling overwhelmed with feelings of worthlessness.

6.  Finally, the young person needs to get know more people, professional network like he/she means it.  Who knows, they might meet someone who might want to spend time with them on romantic level.  But there will be time for that later! Right now there is a job to be won!

7.  A great mental exercise for my people is for them to pretend that they are the demon charged with the mission of messing this their life in the most destructive and long lasting ways as possible.  In this exercise, I have found people to be amazingly honest.  They will admit things like, “I would mess up my sleep schedule and wake up too late;” “I would make sure I feel so busy doing 1,000 things but none of them actually mean anything.”  I’ve even heard, “I’d make sure I don’t lose this belly because I know it makes me self-conscious and want to avoid having to interact with people.  Then when I get home, I’d make sure that I’d eat that large pizza with a few beers because it will make me feel less in control of my life.”

Will these stalled young people have a million reasons for not doing the very things that will bring them the success they need?  You can count on it.  Perhaps this is why Sun Tzu’s The Art of War might be the most important book they could read right now.  Not to make actual military soldiers out of them, but to prepare them for the economic war they need to fight right now, a fight for jobs, salary, and future happiness.


I invite any/all comments to this post….just don’t curse at me too much!

Service Available: Ensemble Therapist

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

It has been my good fortune to work with no small number of actors and directors from the Chicagoland area theater community.  They come into analytic treatment for pretty much the same reasons that everyone else does, really.  But one thing that does stand out is that frequently, either a director or an actor will come into the treatment room, script in hand, complaining, “I don’t get this!  What does the author really mean?”  Or more often, “My director tells me I’m blocked, but I don’t see how.”

To my great surprise and delight, I have found that psychoanalysis lends itself perfectly to the process of artists trying to dig into themselves, find out what is there, both good and bad, and mine deeper into what they find there for their craft.

One time I was engaged with such an actor, and this person’s off hand remark at first didn’t mean that much, “Wouldn’t it be great for you to be available to the whole theater company for when we get stuck like this.”  At first, I thought that this person was simply saying a kind remark out of generosity.  But then it hit me:  What if an analytically trained person was available to an acting company while they are finding their way to a script’s meaning?  This is not to say that the analyst would or could ever take the place of the director…God forbid!  But even if the analyst was there part of the time, available on call, available for actors and company members to explore themselves and their work, the actual product that the company produces might improve just a little, might improve immeasurably.  Either way, might it be worth a try?

So as a first go around, Spark of Creation Therapy is willing to accept the challenge to be the “ensemble therapist” as an “in kind” donation to whatever theater company might think it might be a good idea.  (Given logistics, travel times, and all the other real life issues that occur.)  But it might be fun.  Most importantly, could it be possible that it could help create even better theater than the high level of theater that people in Chicagoland are somewhat spoiled with?  There’s no way to know but to try.  So be in touch actors all around.  SPARK thinks more highly of you than Max Bialystock.

On Giving Advice

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

“Teachers who offer you the ultimate answers do not possess the ultimate answers, for if they did, they would know that the ultimate answers cannot be given, they can only be received.”
-Tom Robbins

A common misconception about psychotherapy is that the role of the therapist is to give direct advice to his patient. I would like to examine why this situation often arises, and explain why a good therapist should rarely give a patient direct advice.

What might be happening when a patient begs his therapist to, “Just tell me what to do”? Well, it is possible that this is an expression of frustration or exasperation. The attuned psychotherapist will cue in to this feeling and should encourage the patient to further explore this emotional state. Can they express how they are feeling? When have they felt this way in the past? Are they frustrated with the therapist? What are their expectations of the therapist? Who else might trigger these feelings in the patient? This is the real work of psychotherapy, and these sorts of exploratory questions will help a patient to gain new insights into their previously automatic emotional responses. Simply indulging the patient’s frustration and giving them direct advice robs the patient of the opportunity to explore these more salient underlying issues.

Whatever the current dilemma that the patient may be wrestling with, for example should they take a new job or end a current romantic relationship, is certainly important, but it is also usually superficial. In the long run, the underlying personality characteristics of the patient will not be impacted by the decisions they make about their day-to-day life circumstances, and good psychodynamic psychotherapy usually concerns itself with the long run. Patients have friends, family members, co-workers, and romantic partners that they can bounce ideas off of and solicit advice from. The psychotherapeutic relationship is most effective when it is unique, and a therapist who reduces the distinctiveness of this relationship by relating to their patient as they would a friend is doing a grave disservice to their patient.

Furthermore, while a therapist might have opinions about what a patient should do, these are more likely to be reflections of what the therapist would do in a similar situation, and it is unfair for a therapist to impose his values and beliefs onto the patient. Therapists are not models for how to live a virtuous life, and those who believe they possess “The Answer” need to re-examine their motivations for engaging in this type of work. They also need to get back in their own course of therapy and explore their hang-ups with issues of power and control. At the same time, a patient who is so willing to give up his sense of agency also likely has issues with power and control. It is likely that he feels weak, ineffectual, or helpless to alter the unsatisfactory conditions in which he finds himself. A therapist who attempts to rescue this patient by solving his problems for him only serves to reinforce these feelings of helplessness.

Another reason that a therapist should not tell a patient what to do is because of the issue of accountability. There are a number of therapeutic conditions that are intended to reinforce the idea that the patient is accountable for his own treatment. Some of these include the patient’s responsibility to pay the fee, his responsibility to be on time, and his responsibility to pay for missed sessions that he does not cancel in advance. A therapist who tells a patient what to do makes himself accountable for the outcome of these decisions. What if the situation doesn’t work out? Then it is the therapist’s fault. Worse yet, what if they situation does work out in the patient’s favor? Then the therapist gets the credit for being wise. Either way, the patient loses out on an opportunity to learn and to grow.

Of course, there are certain situations where a therapist in fact has a responsibility to be directive with a patient, and these include situations where risk of harm is involved. If a patient says, “I’m feeling like hurting myself, and I don’t feel safe being alone, what should I do,” the appropriate response is usually, “Call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.” I want to emphasize that what I’m discussing here relates more to the daily dilemmas that we all face.

To conclude, it is my belief that a therapist should always assume that the patient knows more about himself than the therapist does. Think for a moment how utterly disrespectful and infantilizing it would be for someone who is essentially a complete stranger to claim that they know what is best for you. Now, over the course of time it is likely that the therapist will become aware of recurring interpersonal dynamics and patterns of behavior observed in the patient that remain unconscious to the patient, but that is a different situation. There are people, such as life coaches and executive coaches, who specialize in taking a more active and direct role in shaping an individual’s daily life circumstances, and that type of intervention might be appropriate for some people. However, life coaching is not the same as psychotherapy, and they should not be considered interchangeable.

Psychotherapy provides the opportunity for an individual to develop new insights into their previously automatic emotional and interpersonal responses, and it provides the opportunity for an individual to develop real and lasting change. Psychotherapy also provides the opportunity for an individual to discover his or her own Truth, and I firmly believe that is something that can only come from within.

Simplistically Compassionate – How compassionate communication can help in fragile relating styles.

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Most couples bring unresolved, negative past experiences to a new relationship such as fear, uncertainty and emotional distress.  With these experiences guiding the relationship, it is difficult for one or both parties to believe that they can depend on each other when in need of emotional support.

When one party in the relationship has been disappointed by the lack of emotional availability of the other, the individual in the relationship that is in need of emotional support might respond by acts of desperation to get the other person’s attention.  They might also respond by using acts of avoidance.  An act of desperation can look like an ultimatum, or consciously or unconsciously creating a situation where one might appear to be helpless or needy.  With acts of avoidance, the other person might create situations where they are always busy; therefore, they spend very little time together, or the person might be present physically but not present emotionally.

Unfortunately, neither one of these attempts usually work.  The act of desperation usually pushes the other person further away and the act of avoidance usually places additional tension and feelings of loneliness in the relationship.

Sometimes the answer for a deeper connection is simply knowing what you need from your partner and verbally communicating those needs.  I’m sure that one might be thinking if the person’s relating style is fragile then they can’t possibly know how to articulate what they need.  That could be possible.  However, it can start with something as small as saying how you feel.  I know you might be thinking that sounds too simplistic to be the answer.  However, research has shown that most couples do not know how to confront or how to negotiate to positively resolve the issue at hand.  We also cannot connect with the person we are currently in a relationship with because we are using the same unsuccessful communication tactics that we have used in previous unsuccessful relationships.  Because we lack the insight in how to resolve the issue at hand, most couples end up in a power struggle that spills over into other areas of the relationship.  Simply put, we do not know how to compassionately communicate with the people we love.

Compassionate Communication

I use the term compassionate because the person who is communicating must care enough about themselves to be honest and they must care enough about the other person not to be offensive in their word choices.  Also, they must be compassionate about the success of the relationship.  What does Compassionate Communication look like:  Validation and mutual respect.  Meaning,  using statements that validate you; always state how the behavior makes you feel and never assume that your spouse or partner knows what you feel or that they have ill intentions.  Always allow the hearer of your statement and/or feelings to respond while seeking a point of emotional connection after the statement and the response have been made.  Compassionate communication strengthens the connection between the couple and it builds a trusting anticipation of future dialogue.  This style of communication will help the couple build a passionate, trusting and successful style of relating that can lead to a deeper emotional connection where both parties feel supported and understood.

New Spark Space

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

As most Spark patients have learned, our offices have moved from 214 to LL 12.  This move was prompted by the desire to expand the space so that it could afford our patients a greater array of services. Also, our landlord, John Consalvi has been a SAINT, ever attempting to keep up with Spark’s goal of perfection.  He is a good patient guy and everyone should give him a round of applause!

1.  We now have a permanent waiting room which will never be used for treatment. It is decorated with great pieces of sub-Saharan African fine art.  It also sports a “window” which allows patients to look upon restful nature scenes while they are waiting for their therapists.  (Some people show up an hour early just to relax in the calm waiting room environment.

2.  The offices now exactly that:  plural. We have two new offices to accommodate the two new clinicians that have been brought onto the team.  Both Neil and David are fine therapists and bring different gifts to the practice.  We welcome them both.

3.  Spark now has a group room which will allow Spark clinicians to run both educational and therapeutic groups. These will start in the fall.  Look to the blog for more news about these opportunities.

4.  Being on the Lower Level allows everyone to feel safe and secure in our little nook that has been created just for us. In this way, from beginning to end, therapy at Spark should be an experience that advances everyone’s efforts toward healing and optimal living.

These changes would not have been possible without a team of people that have been more than patient and hardworking:  Brian McGee, Chief Technological Officer of Spark, Mike Johnson, mechanical engineer and contractor, Franz–the go to guy on all repairs.  These are just a few.  I look forward to working in the new space.  For those of you that have seen the space, feel free to give us comments and feedback.  We are always open to suggestions that would enhance our space!

In the virtual world, Keith Glantz will be making updates to our website.  We are very excited about making the blogs interactive.  This will roll out later this month.  So although it might sound like a lot of change, we look forward to serving everyone who is part of Spark of Creation Therapy.  Hopefully, we will serve everyone in this space with Heaven’s blessing for many years.  (I signed a lease for four years…so we’re there for years to come!)

Hopelessness: What to do about it?

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

Hopelessness is perhaps one of the most significant but ignored issues that people will present in psychoanalysis.  Sometimes, it is seen as part of depression, and indeed it is.  Sometimes, however, it is seen as a proof as a person’s lack of patience with the analytic process.  And perhaps sometimes it is.  But in my experience as a clinician it appears to signify much more.

First, it IS a sign of depression–perhaps along with finding no pleasure in anything one of the most important symptoms of a depression that can become life threatening.  Secondly, and perhaps as importantly, it is a sign of how an individual feels about his/her life in general, taken as a whole.  All too often in our society we look at the various dimensions of our lives:  professional, financial, family, friends, etc. and assume that if there is no great problem in any of those areas then we must be happy and that any feelings of discontent must be imaginary, like Jacob Marley’s ghost.

But perhaps these feelings of emptiness are trying to tell us something.  Perhaps they are trying to suggest to us that we ARE lacking something in our lives.  Perhaps one of the above mentioned areas of our lives is not going as well as we would want to believe.  Perhaps our work is boring us to tears,  Perhaps our romantic partner no longer seems as invested in the relationship as he/she once was.

But there is a possibility that these feelings of emptiness are trying to get our attention to something deeper, something of what one theologian has called, something of ultimate concern.  In the old song, that most of you would be too young to remember, Peggy Lee asks, “Is that all there is?”  It is possible that even with all of our material and emotional desires more or less met, that we seem to long for something more, something greater than ourselves, something truly transcendent.  Perhaps it is in this quest for the transcendent that we discover our deepest and truest humanity.  It in response to these deeper longings, that we turn our attention to the “great” questions:  questions of the True, the Just, and the Beautiful.  I would suggest that unless we at some point in our lives quest after some “taste” of these transcendent mysteries, we miss the deepest and most important experiences of being human.

If you find yourself wrestling with these questions or being plagued by these doubts, perhaps the solution is not just to “have another drink.”  Perhaps it might be the universe’s way of trying to get your attention.  In ancient texts, when a person was about to be let in on something big, some celestial being would get this person’s attention and say, BEHOLD!  Could it be possible that the universe is trying to get your attention?  If this is true, then perhaps your feelings are not to be ignored.  If anything, it might be time to try to behold what is trying to come to be within your life and maybe even inside yourself.  If this is the case, you have to be careful.  You might get swept off your feet!

Fed Up with the Set Up Equates to Readiness

Monday, June 20th, 2011

I’m sure you have heard the phrase, “ready, set go” Webster Dictionary defines the word Ready as “prepared mentally or physically for some experience or action.” One of the factors I assess when I see clients for therapy is whether they are ready for soul searching, insight and working through the issue at hand. What do I mean by that? Many clients travel various different routes in life before they decide to come for treatment. They have many experiences, disappointments, events that are difficult to explain and some that do not make much sense. There are situations that are unfair and painful. Most times, the pain and the fear of the unknown is what keep clients from coming in for treatment. The fear of the unknown can be as simple as what will change in me or my life once I start the journey of working through the pain and fear. Sometimes clients present for treatment, but are not ready to handle the inner work that comes with the insight that is explored and revealed. This can slow down or even discontinue the treatment process.

When a client is ready to deal with the presenting issue or issues, several events have already taken place:

1. The issue at hand has impacted the client’s social life.
2. The issue at hand has impacted the client’s most intimate relationships.
3. There could be a physical impact of the presenting issues, i.e., not sleeping, eating less or more, feelings of fatigue.
4. There is a psychological impact of sad feelings, anger, constant racing of thoughts, feeling overwhelmed.
5. The loss of something very dear to the person has changed their view of life or their life in general.
6. Financial trouble or concerns.
7. Feeling as if one is not in control of their life anymore.

Most of all, clients have reported that they are just tired of things being the way they are, and are ready for an experience or action. There that word goes again – Ready. Are you ready??