Discovering the Best Psychotherapy

Recently, I read of this article by a psychiatrist who was critical and disappointed of his own profession. He found from his research that as much as 70% of depressed people who consulted psychiatrists were so minimally or not helped at all.

Interestingly, he noted from his study that over 80% who consulted a minister gained significant relief. Such particularly disturbed the psychiatrist for his profession was into helping people and yet it’s not making a desired difference.

One middle-aged single woman’s depression and addictions drove her to psychotherapy. Her previous years of psychiatric drug use and hospital confinement were so ineffective that it made things worst for her. Lately, she became promiscuous and had sex with different men within just a month.

When she came to me, she was overwhelmingly depressed. She’s attempting suicide. She’s not only depressed but staggering under an overburden of guilt. In addition, she was pregnant. For the years of psychiatric treatment, she should buy drugs and pay other services to house her?

There must be a better way!

While we may not hesitate to go to a cardiologist or surgeon for our physical ailments, a “doctor of the mind” is something else. The meaning of the word “psychotherapy” comes from the original Greek roots “psuche” and “therapepuo” which means “mind/soul healing.”

God’s ways are not man’s ways (Isaiah 55:8,9). In the real healing of mind and soul, only God’s ways apply. Therefore, we should not be surprised when the theories of Freud, Skinner, Adler, Yalom, and others are diametrically opposed to God’s ways as stated in Scripture.

Humanistic psychologists or drug-based psychiatrists have no or little to offer by way of genuine psychotherapy. They’re committed to helping people with only the humanistic or physical tools/concepts available to them. Both humanism and science (man-centered) try to solve mankind’s problems independent of God.

What is the best psychotherapy? Jesus said, “Without Me, you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) If you’re healing in the areas of mind, emotions, and soul, particularly those that spill over into life values, you’ll have to know God and His healing principles.

Self Image and your Physical Body

When I was a boy onwards spiraling out of adolescence, I was painfully thin. I remember each time I dressed, I’ll put “extras” on my shoulder to look bulky, compact, or big.

In social events, I looked like a tall ectomorphic pole without the “extras!” It made me feel self conscious and had to repair my self image from this in years following.

It can be hard to stand against culture”s overemphasis on physical appearance. It tends to distort vision and image of our true selves.

A client, Celia, had acquired a sense of worthlessness from others who jeered her “ugliness” and twisted form. Finally, it darkened her judgment and mental health as she accepted their assessment of her self based on external appearances alone.

The self is so much more than our body weight, physical appearance, or organic definition. Our “true self” operates on another deeper level of awareness.

If we get that, we won’t overreact to the “illusions” of culture or unkind feedback we encounter. Low self esteem – a negative view of self – is arrested.

So naturally even as we take care of our physical appearance and health, we know a crucial difference. The authenticity or core of our selves is essentially separate from the physical state of our selves.

When you’re stuck …

I’m thinking about thinking today. Rumination.

In many situations where there is psychological wounding, a person may tend not just to ruminate but to “over-ruminate.”

Such usually produces stuckness, inability to take healthy actions.

How do you navigate your over-ruminating to unclog your stuckness?

Here are some pieces of thought I have about it that could be helpful to you.

* Observe and analyze your self when over-ruminating:

* Be sensitive and conscious of your fictional or magnified memory bias;

* Reduce your self-criticism;

* Spot over-ruminating triggered by sms, emails, or notes;

* Try mindfulness meditation and prayer;

* Define your options or alternative courses of action;

* Replace thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that make your over-rumination and worrying worse;

* Use imagery or visualization to bounce flashbacks and images that get you stuck;

* Reduce over-ruminating, your over-thinking, capturing ideas via taking notes as you have them and then sleep on them;

* Practice thought-stopping and deep breathing;

* Seek help when symptoms persist. There could be heavy, overwhelming root causes underneath fueling the over-ruminating.

Are You Lonely?

Often when I work with disturbed people, I try to sense which feelings are most painful. A number of themes surface into my actual sessions.

But a common thread reveals that majority of them feels an inner vacuum.  An unsatisfied inner pain. A craving for fulfillment.

In one word: loneliness.

Psychological research reveals that loneliness is a most pervasive emotional disorder of our times. In fact, even without those clinical findings, we know that loneliness has always plagued humankind since time immemorial.

Interestingly, more so in our modern times.  Even with the rise of technology and other special comforts at our disposal. When there is deep emotional trauma, loneliness is most acute.

Experiences most conducive to acute loneliness are: the loss or death of a loved one, a broken home, parental abuses, separation or divorce, infidelity, leaving one’s home for work overseas.

All of these special experiences prevail in our times. They contribute to the increase of incidences of harmful effects of loneliness on people.

In her article in Mental Hygiene titled “Loneliness in Old Age,” author Irene Burnside writes:

“Loneliness is the state of mind in which the fact that there were people in one’s life in the past is more or less forgotten, and the hope that there may be interpersonal relations in the future is out of the realm of expectation.”

Essentially, loneliness is a connection issue. It can be remedied. But the first steps need to be taken by the sufferer himself or herself.


Master Your Brain Health Without Drugs!

Working with your Mental Images

Images in our minds are powerful. In fact, to the self, they can speak louder than words. Images are often “concealed” within our feelings.

I’m reminded of a a middle-aged woman I worked with. She’d burst into tears when speaking of her husband. The constant image in her mind was her husband having sex with another woman.

The great psychoanalyst, Dr. Carl Jung, once observed and wrote that he became “inwardly calmed and reassured” whenever he uncovered his mind’s images underneath his feelings.

Therapeutic imagery. That’s how Dr. Jung put it. You do your therapeutic imagery at your point of trouble, as Jung did.

In therapeutic imagery, you take time to let your mental image take its shape. A person, place, a tactile image, an image of your self – even though exaggerated in some ways. You develop and refine the image until it engulfs you. Your really feel it.

To actively work on the developed image (a movie, not a snapshot!), you nudge your self along it. You become the director of your image. The goal is for you to direct the image organically from negative to positive.

In psychotherapy, our imaginations can do anything. With our imaginations, we can perform cathartic acts of self destruction or self renewal. It’s essentially an exercise of choice.

Tend to your imagination. From it springs your life and wholeness.

“As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” (the Bible)

Master your brain health without drugs!

A Secret to Beat Depression

When you’re psychologically depressed, you’re behaviorally depressed. Your mind expects more pain than gain. Life doesn’t excite you any more. You feel you’re unfit for life. That depresses you even more.

One solution is pretty simple. Direct.

When you find your self – whether consciously or subconsciously – in a vicious cycle of depression and inactivity, keep moving.

Be more active! That’s the antidote. A proven prescription.

Cognitive behavioral therapies all teach the art of being more active to become less depressed. Among clinical psychologists and their dozens of studies, they’re convinced that a most powerful antidepressant is “successful performance.”

Christina had trouble being active again after suffering losses. Employments. Relationships. During our therapy sessions, its tremendous hard work for her to defy her depressive inertia, with its self doubts and crying spells.

After developing an inventory of activities, scheduling them, and working on her resistances, i stumbled upon a “vehicle.” Together, Christina and I experimented on launching a new business where she could be motivated to be active.

Having a strong desire to help people, her new business that does help people took off! She realized how it gives her purpose seeing others happy after she helps them with the product of her business. With her loved ones cheering her on, she became so active each day, knowing she’s making a difference.

Christina is one good example of “being active” in order to beat depression. Discovering her right niche and activities is the secret. That led Christina to her “successful performance” which gave her rewards and meaning to move on.

Patting her self on the back at every turn – learning to schmooze with her self big time! – Christina experienced the essence of a very effective cognitive behavioral therapy for depression.

Master Your Brain Health Without Drugs!

Transcending Death

Working as a therapist, “hints” of death and its accompanying anxiety are never absent. I hardly get through my sessions without sensing a cry for help from individuals hurt by dire consequences and relationships.

It’s not private bias or indulgence on my part. It’s a universal concern we all have as human beings.

This “death anxiety” though is often invisible. A male patient in his early 40s told me about his much younger cousin who died recently of cancer. After learning it, he suddenly felt a rushing in his panic attacks.

Once while inside an airplane, everything was well when he took his seat. Then suddenly, he became so uneasy and felt, “This plane is where I am and it’s about to crash!” No amount of care from his wife or plane assistants could calm his anxiety and fear.

We have two choices to deal with “invisible death anxiety.” We either face the truth directly or we try to flee the anxious feelings and not attempt to come to terms with it. I think the latter response appears more common in modern times.

In the “Hour of Death,” author Philippe Aries writes, “Except for the death of statesmen, society has banished death. In the towns, there is no way of knowing that something has happened … Society no longer observes a pause; the disappearance of an individual no longer affects it’s continuity.”

Ernest Becker, in his “The Denial of Death,” describes the reality of the human condition. He says, “Man is a worm and food for the worms. This is the paradox; he is out of nature and hopelessly in it; he is dual … Literally split in two… He sticks out of nature with a towering majesty and yet goes back into the ground a few feet … to rot and disappear forever. It is a terrifying dilemma to be in and have to live with.”

Thus to make invisible our inherent death anxiety makes little sense. Our society focuses us more on the “economic” or “making a living.” Such conditions us to deny or be unprepared to dying. Yet we all need to face the reality of it to live well.

Free from the non-essentials of life or unnecessary personal disabilities. Free from “denying the problem,” “immature defenses,” “distortion of our reactions,” or projecting fears to things or persons.

Death anxiety is not beyond human control. If it’s made visible and faced head-on, it can bring much quality of life. Especially in light of our limited years. I believe the measure of a good life is how we view and transcend our own death.