The Lighter Side of Transformation

Observed and reported by Lisa Wessan, LICSW

Decompressin’ with Wessan: Walk and Talk Therapy comes to Chelmsford, MA

LW WATT

Since I changed careers in 1999,  morphing from science journalist to therapist, I feel as if I have given birth to three clinical children in this journey…

First, I delivered Therapeutic Laughter for Caregivers (and others) in New York City, which emerged as keynotes, workshops and seminars.  I still enjoy presenting these programs which also include Team Building with Laughter, the Let Go and Lighten Up program and LaughAnanda (laughter meditation).  Each program serves a different sector, for corporate, medical/healthcare, educational, non-profit, and spiritual organizations.

Second, after a long gestational study period,  I delivered Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Groups (DBT) two years ago and currently facilitate two DBT groups in my office in Westford, MA, one daytime and evening group.

Third, and brand new as of June 2017, Walk and Talk Therapy (WATT) was born.  I am very excited about the progress and results my clients are experiencing during WATT.

Over the past several years, every time I read about exercising with clients, I was more intrigued…yes, there is solid science and empirically verified research on the benefits of WATT.

In brief, the motion of walking stimulates the bicameral brain and increases activity between the left and right hemispheres.  This allows people to access more complex feelings and memories, and have the ability to process the sadness, grief or trauma even more effectively while walking. While walking, everything is flowing, and the negative or heavily charged energy from the  traumatic memories can discharge quicker.  (I’m in the process of writing an article on a few of my clients who have had dramatic shifts and turnarounds on these walks.)

So for today, I’m feeling grateful that I took the risk of starting WATT with several people in my practice.   The challenges included, but were not limited to:

  • Presenting myself in hiking clothes, instead of professional garb, and being out of the controlled office milieu.
  • Risking severe disappointment from the client.
  • Dealing with heat, bugs, sweat and other outdoor elements in a professional manner.
  • Allowing more time between clients to allow complete privacy.
  • Seeing clients from 7 AM – 10 AM, a time when I usually am not quite as perky, being a naturally nocturnal person (for DBT students, this was an “Opposite Action” experiment for me!)

I have my clients sign an Indemnity Agreement prior to the WATT, and we discuss the possible challenges that may occur, such as tripping on a rock, or falling for some reason.  For some, this often leads to a lively discussion of their previous adventures and how confident they are in their walking ability.  “Walking around a lake? This is nothing, a piece of cake!”  they say.  For others, the prospect of walking for two miles is daunting, but they understand they can do as much or little of the walk as they want.  We have a choice of several benches for resting along the way with stunning views of the lake.

If you are considering WATT, I strongly recommend it.  As the Scottish-American naturalist John Muir once said, “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”

Copyright © by Lisa Wessan 2017.   All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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New daytime DBT Skills Groups starts Thursday June 8, 2017 in Westford, MA. This group is co-ed/non-binary, mature teens and adults welcome…

We will be studying Mindfulness and Emotion Regulation from the DBT Skills curriculum. This class will be held on Thursdays, 3:15-4:45 PM,  in the beautiful Westford Center for Counseling and Holistic Therapies, in Westford, Massachusetts. (One initial consultation is required prior to joining the group, plus the completion of some DBT Skills registration forms.)

dbt-skills

Over the years, I have seen the strong evidence of how DBT helps to rewire our brains, and reduce the inflammatory cognitions and irrational beliefs and interpretations which cause so much pain and suffering. So I am passionate about teaching DBT Skills, and truly believe it should be offered to all adolescents.

DBT has powerful and easy relaxation techniques for anxiety; a large array of management tools for depression and mood issues; and brilliant communication and boundary setting skills which make this an amazing vehicle for interpersonal effectiveness, peak performance and personal growth.

Each 14 week course delves into Mindfulness and Dialectics plus one of the remaining three main modules of DBT, which are Distress Tolerance, Emotional Regulation and Interpersonal Effectiveness. We repeat the Mindfulness module at the beginning of each semester to reinforce the powerful foundational skills it offers for general anxiety (Kabat-Zinn et al, 1992).

UP NEXT FOR 2017-2018
FALL – WINTER – SPRING – SUMMER OVERVIEW

Fall 2017- Winter 2018 trimester: Mindfulness, Dialectics and Distress Tolerance (especially useful for the “Holiday Red Zone,” which is fraught with unique challenges and conflicts, including severe Compare and Despair Syndrome).

Winter – Spring 2018 trimester: Mindfulness, Dialectics and Emotional Regulation. Learning to identify your vast array of feelings, articulate them and express appropriately is part of this powerful work. Also, learning to turn down the volume on your intense emotions yet still experience them is most empowering.

Summer – Fall 2018  trimester: Mindfulness, Dialectics and Interpersonal Effectiveness. Through discussions, readings and interactive exercises you will be learning to set healthy boundaries, learning to say “YES” when you mean yes and “NO” when you mean no without worrying about getting people’s approval.  You will  learn how to become bulletproof to others invalidation of you and as you become a self-validating person.  The art of asking for what you want and negotiating well to get it is also explored. In addition, we study various forms of interpersonal protection, safety and skills to identify your Energy Vampires (Orloff, 2004) and recover well from their hurtful interactions.

TUITION

Each trimester is $630 for 14 weeks. (There is no insurance for this psycho-education program. Useful statements can be provided, however, for your Flexible Spending Account or as a business expense for taxes, as this is also considered a skills training program).

** It is a requirement of this group that participants are working with an individual therapist while they attend the group. The therapist does not need to be me, nor does the therapist need to be trained in DBT, but will be available for all processing outside the group. (Release forms will be sent to you and/or your therapist after the Initial Consultation with me).

I hope I can be of service to you, your clients or loved ones who would benefit from this group in the greater north Boston area.

Learn more about the details of this DBT Skills Group by visiting my web site, www.lisawessan.com.  Also, please feel free to call or email me for further information.

Onward and Upward,

Lisa Wessan

________________________________________________________________________________________
References

Kabat-Zinn, J., Massion, A. O., Kristeller, J., Peterson, L. G., Fletcher, K. E., Pbert, L., et al. (1992). Effectiveness of a meditation-based stress reduction program in the treatment of anxiety disorders. American Journal of Psychiatry, 149, 936–943.

Orloff, Judith, MD. (2004). Positive Energy.   New York: Random House.  Chapter 9, The Ninth Prescription:  Protect Yourself from Energy Vampires.  288 – 318.

Copyright © 2017 by Lisa Wessan. All rights reserved.

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Moving towards wholeness with Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Skills Group, Thursday evenings in Westford, MA

Grateful Plug:

I am pleased to announce the next 14-week Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills (DBT) Group in Westford, MA will be starting a new module on Thursday, April 6, 2017.  We will be covering both the Mindfulness  and Emotion Regulation modules.  (This is an ongoing group that has open enrollment periods three times per year.)  At this writing, there are two spots left for the next trimester.

The Mindfulness material includes:

  • Learning to be a good observer
  • Being non-judgmental
  • Staying in the present
  • Practicing non-multitasking
  • Accessing Wise Mind (aka higher self, higher consciousness or other spiritual beliefs, e.g. Christ Consciousness, HaShem, Atman)
  • Understanding Reality Acceptance and detaching from thoughts.DBT Mindfulness

The Emotion Regulation module has four sections:

  • Understanding and Naming Emotions
  • Changing Emotional Responses
  • Reducing Vulnerability to Emotion Mind
  • Managing Extremely Difficult Emotions

 

#MirthMaven |

As DBT founder Dr. Linehan says, “It is difficult to manage your emotions when you do not understand how emotions work. Knowledge is power.”

For dates, fees, location and more details, please visit www.lisawessan.com

Onward and Upward,

Lisa Wessan

 

Copyright © by Lisa Wessan 2017. All rights reserved.

 

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Beyond the Waiting Room: The Time Lapse and Gaps of Behavioral Health Care

This goal of this article is to provide insight into the “back office” of  behavioral health care practitioners, especially for our patients, and the administrators who work with us.

unavoidable-delay1

Even though I tell new patients that they need to allow for some “wiggle room” at the top of their session and at the end of their 45-50 minute therapeutic hour, there are always some who are hurt and upset when I am not punctual, and that would be for anywhere from five to fifteen minutes. I am writing this article for them… and my fellow behavioral health care practitioners, who may appreciate this illustration of what goes on while our patients are waiting for us.

One factor to keep in mind is that there are many different opinions on the “therapeutic hour.” Most insurance companies reimburse for a 45 minute session, a unit of time that they deem is appropriate for treatment. There is an ongoing debate on this matter.1

My patients know that they will get their full time here, whether we start at 2 PM or 2:10 PM. Most of the people I work with have no problem if I am a few minutes past the hour. They understand the ebb and flow of a behavioral health care facility, or they are conditioned to wait from previous appointments with other practitioners. There are just a handful of people that are in acute pain in the Waiting Room, and this article will hopefully soothe their concerns (until we can work through their attachment issues).

What do therapists typically do in that 10-15 gap between patients?   We are usually returning phone calls, making appointments, reviewing or writing notes, visiting the restroom,  and perhaps eating lunch, dinner or some kind of metabolic adjustment. There isn’t much time for a phone call, unless we have at least 30 minutes between appointments.  (Typically I don’t attempt to initiate  any phone calls unless I have that block of time available.)

Then we have the Unavoidable Delays which occur during these gaps:

Delay #1: Collateral calls between sessions. What is a collateral call?  That’s when we return urgent calls to your  doctors,  nurse practitioners, teachers, guidance counselors, lawyers, judges, concerned family members or call your insurance company.

For example, when I have a patient in the hospital, and her doctor wants to talk to me, he leaves a message in the morning “Please call me today as soon as you can before 1 PM.”  So what happens at  10:50 AM or 11:50 AM when I am returning his call during a 10 minute gap?  I call the doctor, and then his secretary tells me to “Please hold while I page him.”  I can be on hold for more than 10 minutes at times — waiting to find out how our mutual patient is doing. Naturally  I am concerned for my hospitalized patient’s well being and may also need to respond to the doctor’s questions. Plus, Medical Release forms may need to be signed and faxed so that we can speak without violating the HIPAA Privacy Rule2.

Am I concerned about you being in the Waiting Room?  Yes, I regret when this happens. But to remedy this challenge, when I have a collateral call to place — which may guarantee a delay  —  I immediately send you a “Courtesy Notice” via text.  I let you know that I am being detained, and that we will most likely meet closer to 11:15 AM, or 12:15 PM, or whatever is 15 minutes past your original appointment. I am always doing the best I can, given the urgent and timely nature of these collateral calls.

I am honoring your time as much as I possibly can, and I deeply care that you are waiting, but I also need to make these calls between seeing patients in my office. You need to know that I am not thoughtless, careless or indifferent to your waiting time. That would be an extremely false assumption.

Delay #2:  Longer sessions.  Sometimes a client is delving into a very difficult thought or memory, and is having a breakthrough at the 43rd minute of the 45 minute hour, often referred to as “Doorknob Therapy.”3.  Do I stop the client at the stroke of 45 minutes and say, “Sorry, we will pick this up next week.”  No, I allow them to finish their thought, or complete their process, especially when they are releasing a traumatic memory or having a major breakthrough or insight. Again, it’s just a few extra minutes past their usual time.

Please understand, I am not working at a bottling plant, popping caps on bottles,  where I can just flip the switch and shut down the conveyor belt. If I was a factory worker, or a bean counter of any kind, yes, this would be possible. But in behavioral healthcare, this is typically not possible.

you-are-fascinating

Delay #3:  Engrossed  listening, not watching the clock. The good news and the less good news…I am listening to your story,  you have my full attention, and I do not watch the clock every minute. I sometimes lose track of time while I am deeply concentrating on your words, and what is happening with you. This is a natural hazard of working in this field4.  Yes, there are ways to keep track of the time despite the process of  intensive reflective listening, putting together symbolic themes and meaningful interpretations for you.

Possible solutions for Delay #3: How would you feel if I set a timer for 43 Minutes?  Would you mind if a chime went off right before your time was up?  That is one solution for this delay. Other solutions involve keeping one eye on the clock and thereby removing myself from total immersion in your story. When I go over the hour due to engrossed listening, it is rarely more than 5 or 10 minutes. Yet this does anger some patients in the Waiting Room who feel miffed that I am a few minutes past their appointment time.

Delay #4:  Clinical meetings off-site. Sometimes I perform home visits for my elderly patients, or teens without wheels. Traveling from another location, where I was in a clinical meeting that ran later than expected, could cause a small delay.  Again, when I see that coming, I send a text with a Courtesy Notice.  During home visits, sometimes there are extra complications, or equipment needs to be ordered, and urgent paperwork needs to be processed which takes a bit longer. This is all part of the unavoidable delay caused by this off-site work.

In Conclusion

It remains questionable as to whether the 45-50 minute hour can be effective when processing deep trauma and chronic grief.  I do the best I can during this standardized treatment window, but you need to know that there are methods and techniques which do require longer time for maximum benefit, including Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT),  Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Hypnotherapy and other trauma treatments. These do not always fit into the 45-50 minute hour5.

In sum, this work occurs in a non-linear, sometimes timeless space that cannot be boxed into a precise unit of time if the practitioner is working with true empathy, compassion and a commitment to excellence6.

So the next time you are sitting in the Waiting Room, I hope you consider that one of these four delays are probably happening and that’s why you are waiting, hopefully patiently.

Suggestion: It would be an excellent use of your time to make a list of topics that you want to discuss with your therapist, or sit quietly with your eyes closed and scan your body and mind for what you are feeling in the moment, to get in touch with your inner world in the Waiting Room.  This will contribute to your having a more effective and successful quality of session and therefore you will be using your time with deeper purpose and meaning  in the Waiting Room. You could also write your check for your fee or copayment while you wait, also a good use of those minutes.  [Please refer to my article on “The Art of Waiting,” for your enjoyment and better understanding of this issue7.]

 

Finally, this is an important issue to discuss with your therapist. Chances are if you are impatient in the Waiting Room, you are impatient everywhere. You are not behaving this way only at this time. It’s how you roll, your Modus Operandi.  You may also discover that you are avoiding dealing with your painful issues and interpersonal conflicts by hyper-focusing on the 10 minutes you are waiting. 

You may be triggered by this short wait, and it is bringing up important tender golden threads from your childhood when you were neglected or kept waiting by a harsh relative.  But being condemning, critical and complaining of your therapist’s time delay will not help you in dealing with your inner troubles and your personal transformation process unless you discuss it openly with your therapist.  Ultimately, railing about your therapist’s time delay to your friends  will just keep you feeling like a victim, and you will stay stuck right where you are until you process this out with your therapist.

 

We are your Practice Human. In the best of all possible therapeutic relationships, you will feel safe enough to say anything to us, tell us exactly how you feel, what you think, and how frustrated you are with your waiting experience (or any other issue you are having with therapy).  This is all very useful and helpful in your journey towards wholeness.
When you practice improving your communication with us, you increase your interpersonal effectiveness in the world.  I always tell my people “This is the Huddle!  You come in here to defrost painful feelings, get some relief, regroup, strategize, learn some new skills, tools and methods, and then go out and practice.  The real work is done out in your life.”

 

If waiting for your therapist continues to be a huge issue for you, speak to your therapist about getting treatment for practicing Radical Acceptance8. Or if none of this fits for you, then just get a referral to see a different therapist.

At the end of the day,  you are always 100% accountable for your life.  As the captain of your ship, you can always sail on to the next safe harbor.

May you have the best life ever, and learn to process your “time issues” with love and grace.

Onward and Upward!

 

NOTES
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1. Goleman, D. (1984). The New York Times. Therapy: Critics Assail ‘Assembly Line’ sessions. By Daniel Goleman.

2. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, aka the HIPAA Privacy Rule.

3.  Gould, C. (2014). PSYCHED. Getting to “The Good Part” of therapy.

4.  Lazarus, A. (1997).  Brief But Comprehensive Psychotherapy: The Multimodal Way. New York: Springer Publishing Company.

5. Ibid.

6. For this reason, some of my patients have double sessions, where we can do accelerated work and have the advantage of a 90 or 100 minute session to cover a broad reach of material successfully.

7. Wessan, Lisa (2016). PULSE. The Art of Living is the the Art of Waiting.

8. Brach, T. (2004). Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha.  Bantam Dell: New York, New York.  [There are many sources for learning about Radical Acceptance, and it’s also included in the Distress Tolerance module of Dialectical Behavior Therapy.  Tara Brach’s book is a wonderful source for delving deep into the process of learning to accept reality and find peace with the imperfections of your life.]

© Copyright 2017 by Lisa Wessan. All rights reserved.

 

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[TIME SENSITIVE] Please call Dept. of Justice today…Practicing Radical Acceptance AND Taking Action!

Displaying IMG_1956.JPG

I just did this. It took about a minute. Let’s act!

If you heard the news about Russia’s influence affecting the previous election and would like your voice heard …

The Department of Justice is tallying phone calls regarding those who want the 2016 vote audited. A shift of just 55,000 Trump votes to Hillary in PA, MI, & WI is all that is needed to win. They are starting to recognize there really is something off about the election results as they came in. Considering everything that is at stake, a vote audit should be done.

** Call 202-514-2000, choose option #4, and leave a message for the Attorney General’s office.  Just state your full name, that you are a US citizen, where you live, and that you would like to add your voice to all those calling for an audit of the 2016 presidential election. **

These things are tallies. Recording time is short. Make it easy for them. They don’t need a long winded message.

SHARE THIS, SPREAD THE WORD. Please copy and paste; do not just hit share.
I just made the call myself, and it went right through. This took two minutes of my time at the most. It was fast and easy. You can do something right now!
Then copy and paste this to your page or any of your group pages. Thanks!

 

 

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Thanksgiving Gratitude Quotes

There are a plethora of wonderful quotes and passages on the topic of gratitude.
I thought I’d share a few of mine, with some annotations, and let them continue to spread more good energy in the world!
* * *
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously.  And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I am too blessed to be stressed and too anointed to be disappointed!”
~ Author Unknown

Ralph Waldo Emerson and this unknown author really grasped the enormity of the amount of goodness which lavishes us at all times.  We are typically not thinking about how well gravity keeps us on this Earth, without crushing us; how our bodies work with such precision and accuracy (most of the time); how the air we breathe and the food we eat sustain us.  From the micro to vast macro levels, we are swimming in an abundance of complexity and richness. To be in awe of the magnificence of this mosaic of life, and let that gratitude sustain you — regardless of the cash and prizes in your life — is a path to more inner peace.

In my Wednesday night DBT Skills Group (Dialectical Behavior Therapy), we recently explored this poem by Pat Schneider (Schneider, 2005)  to gain insight into the mystery of the generosity and kindness of the Universe:

The Patience of Ordinary Things

It is a kind of love, is it not?
How the cup holds the tea,
How the chair stands sturdy and foursquare,
How the floor receives the bottoms of shoes
Or toes. How soles of feet know
Where they’re supposed to be.
I’ve been thinking about the patience
Of ordinary things, how clothes
Wait respectfully in closets
And soap dries quietly in the dish,
And towels drink the wet
From the skin of the back.
And the lovely repetition of stairs.
And what is more generous than a window?

*  *  *

“We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”

~ Frederick Keonig

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”

~ Eckhart Tolle

“The quality of your life equals the ratio of appreciation to complaint.”
~ Alan Cohen

Complaining is draining. One of my teachers in NYC once said, “If you  would abstain from complaining for 30 days, it would transform your life.”  Yes, I took on that challenge and it was an amazing month. I learned that what I focus on increases.  When I focus on what’s good, it expands.  When I focus on lack, illness, anger, scarcity, exhaustion, it gets worse. In sum, the intense energy I expend on complaining can be flipped to be uses instead in the arena of creative solutions.  As it is written, “What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”  (Matt. 15:11.)  Let your words be the seeds for a greater tomorrow, consider each word you speak a new seedling that will start to grow. You want to plant loving, smart, solution focused seeds.  They will turn into strong action plans, and help you manifest your dreams.

*  *  *

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
~William Arthur Ward

Some people have a difficult time expressing their feelings, even good ones. Feeling grateful and not saying anything about it is a sad loss of the beautiful and healing vibrational power of gratitude.  Just saying “Thank You” out loud has a profound shift on your inner chemical factory.  It has been proven in many studies how every thought becomes a chemical reaction in your body. (Emoto, 2004)

In the 12 Step world (Alcoholics Anonymous and all the related  recovery programs) , it is often said “Grateful people don’t pick up.”  The power of gratitude can help a resentful, angry addict focus on what’s working and good, and not feel the need to reach for the substance of choice for self medication, as in “Poor me, poor me, pour me a drink!” Having an “Attitude of Gratitude” is recovery code for focusing on what’s good, and to quit ruminating about what’s bad.

Making a gratitude list before bedtime is a classic and wonderful way to pre-pave the  way for a good night’s sleep. Gratitude calms the mind and reconnects to the Source Energy from which all our good comes to us. Here’s an example from one of my clients of one way to write your gratitude list:

“At night, I find written inventories helpful. I keep them brief and to the point, with three columns: plus, minus and gratitude.  In the first column, I list things I did well that day…In the second column, I list things I did not do well that day (binged on anger, lied or kept someone waiting).  In the final column, I list all the ways in which I am grateful.  I try to make this at least as long as my  other two columns!”
~ S. P., Massachusetts

Another way to amplify this positive energy is to send thank you notes. I love writing thank you notes in longhand on beautiful stationary because the energy  channeled from my hand gets directly transferred to the paper, and then the recipient can feel my gratitude even stronger than via text or email.

Writing thank you notes allows you to experience the deep gratitude and positive goodness a minimum of three times. First, there is the  immediate wave of gratitude in the moment of the experience. Second, when I write the thank you note  I re-experience the gratitude again.  Finally,  the third wave of gratitude comes back in a boomerang effect when the recipient calls, texts or emails me to thank me for my thank you note!  We often have a wonderful exchange, and the gratitude rises again.

In Conclusion

I invite you to experiment in the laboratory of your life…take on one or more of these practices to experience more gratitude in your life, feel better, and then create more positive results:

  • Say thank you more often.
  • See how it feels to write out your gratitudes each day.
  • Abstain from complaining for 30 days, and focus on your gratitude list instead.
  • Send out a few thank you notes to people whom have enriched your life, whether for a brief encounter or even for long term relationships.

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Copyright © by Lisa Wessan 2016. All rights reserved.
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Sources:

12 Step Recovery Programs – There are currently over 200 free programs worldwide. After the first three, Alcoholics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous and  Overeaters Anonymous, the evidence of a strong recovery rate was significant enough to apply the 12 Steps to many other addictions, including nicotine, cocaine, pills, hoarding/clutter, internet, videogames and more.  If you are struggling with an addiction, search for a 12 Step program that will help you.

Matthew 15:11, New International Version (NIV).

Emoto, M. (2004). Hidden Messages in Water. Hillsboro, OR: Beyond Words Publishing.

Schneider, P. (2005). The patience of ordinary things. In Another River: new and selected poems. Amherst MA: Amherst Artists and Writers Press.

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Laughter Therapy for Post-Primary Stress Disorder

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One of my favorite sources for excellent international (and national) news coverage is a magazine called THE WEEK.  It is chock full of great executive summaries, plus the editors of THE WEEK have a healthy sense of humor. They express their humor in many ways, such as with their weekly sidebar/column, “Only in America.”  They also have a column for “Good week for/Bad week for” which always gives me a good chuckle, again based on fact checked news stories.

My best laughter therapy from THE WEEK often shows up in The Week Contest, when they ask us to help name something, or label something, or describe something useful to help sort out the news.

The most recent Contest was about creating a new diagnosis for dealing with the current political climate…here are the results, for your therapeutic laughter du jour:

Source: THE WEEK, 10/21/16, page 38:

Last week’s question: The American Psychological Association has found that more than half of Americans identify the 2016 presidential election as a significant source of stress in their lives. Please come up with a psychological term that describes the unique feeling of anxiety induced by this race.

RESULTS:

THE WINNER: “Sufferage”
Phyllis Klein, New York City

SECOND PLACE: “ADHD (Another day with Hillary and Donald)”
Don Walker, Lexington, Mass.

THIRD PLACE: Democrazy
Peg O’Neil, Bloomingdale, N.J.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

“Strep vote”
Ken Kellam III, Dallas

“Campains”
Valerie Resnick, New York City

“Polliosis”
Dorothy L. Delman, New York City

“POTUS parting depression”
Robert Koshiyama, San Francisco

“Boast rhetoric stress disorder”
Ken Liebman, Williston, Vt.

“Seasonal elective disorder
Emily Aborn, Temple, N.H.

“Pair-annoy-ya”
Richard Pitruzzello, Hanceville, Ala.

“Polls traumatic stress disorder”
Justin Bookey, Santa Monica, Calif.

“Poli-tics”
Curtis Irwin, Clearfield, Pa.

“Turnout burnout”
Peter Bergin, Kings Park, N.Y.

I’m curious, which one is your favorite? Or do you have a better diagnostic term for us to use?

Yes, politics and our election process are serious business, but let’s not get sick from watching this drama unfold!

Onward and Upward,

Lisa Wessan

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The Mayonnaise Jar and 2 Cups of Coffee

 

When things in your lives seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 cups of  coffee.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of  him.  When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty  mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.  He then asked the  students if the jar was full.  They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar.  He shook the jar lightly.  The pebbles rolled into the open areas between  the golf balls.  He then asked the students again if the jar was full.  They  agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar.

Of  course, the sand filled up everything else.  He asked once more if the jar was  full.  The students responded with an unanimous “yes.”

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space  between the sand.  The students laughed.

“Now,” said the professor as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life.  The golf balls are the important  things–your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite  passions—and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life  would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and  your car.

The sand is everything else—the small stuff.  “If you put the sand into  the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the golf  balls.  The same goes for life.  If you spend all your time and energy on the  small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

“Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with  your children.  Take time to get medical checkups.  Take your spouse out to  dinner.  Play another 18.  There will always be time to clean the house and  fix the disposal.  Take care of the golf balls first—the things that really  matter.  Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented.  The professor smiled.  “I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s  always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.”

~ Author Unknown

 

 

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Do you have Digiphrenia? Techno-Despair?

Now there’s a word for it – I used to call it Techno-Despair – but Digiphrenia  is all about coping with information overload.  Is this in the DSM V? Not sure yet.

In the 21st century, true success will come to those who can FOCUS and abstain from all the pinging distractions…here’s to practice and more practice.

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How to Find a Clutter Buddy and be a Victorious “Clutter Buddy Duo”

As part of my Let Go & Lighten Up programs (for voluntary simplicity and decluttering), I strongly suggest participants find a safe person with whom to work in between groups or individual sessions.

Here is a short list of requirements and tips that I have found useful for successfully working with a Clutter Buddy  (“CB”):

1. The CB has a clutter or hoarding challenge, too,  and is willing to take turns every other week, rotating the role of being the CB or “the client.” This is a free, non-professional, peer-to-peer  service for mutual aid. Thus we have the makings of a dynamic CB Duo!

2. The CB lives or works nearby, so there is no “travel resistance” due to excessive gas mileage expenses or travel time.

3. The CB is unconditionally accepting and kind. That is to say, if your client is holding up an old vest with holes in it and ragged edges, the CB would NOT say, “What are you crazy? Throw that rag out!  It’s disgusting!” Nay, nay, this is a toxic candidate, which may rule out best friends, relatives, spouses and well-meaning peers. Sometimes an acquaintance or  pleasant stranger you meet in a group might be best, or a neighbor who you like and trust but don’t know that well.  I always invite attendees at my groups to try to find a CB in the group. It’s a safe place to meet a local acquaintance who shares the same issue.

4. The CB needs to be willing to follow the format, and stick with the Four Questions (which I will discuss in a few paragraphs). The CB should be able to maintain silence except when the client asks a question, or to offer one of the Four Questions, and be aware that this time is for the client.  If the CB is loquacious and insists on having a running commentary on everything and everyone, this will be stressful and painfully distracting for the client.

Most important, the CB needs to respect that the client is struggling with Clutter Blindness (1),  and can’t even see the absurdity of his hoard. As the late, great comedian George Carlin once observed, “Did you ever notice how your crap is stuff, and every else’s stuff is crap?”

5. The CB is not there to offer a cleaning  or hauling service. In fact, the CB is required to sit still and help the client stay focused. It’s acceptable for the CB to do needlework, read a book, or write notes on paper. No eating or drinking during the session, except during the breaks.  No electronics, tablets, headsets,  smart phone games or checking email. The CB is allowed to accept a quick call, but optimally the phone is on vibrate. The CB  needs to be able to keep one eye on the client and make sure they are staying on task.  They are also ready to be emotionally supportive if the client reaches an impasse, expresses unresolved grief,  and needs to talk about the feelings coming up in a safe milieu.

Without giving CBs formal clinical training in reflective listening, I explain how that works and encourage the CB Duo to practice reflective listening with each other. No advice, no fixing, no rescuing here. Just passive listening and kindness.  It’s not hard to learn, but it is difficult to practice.

6. The CB must respect the planned “Flake Breaks,” whether they are five or fifteen minutes long. I think it’s healthy to call these Flake Breaks, borrowing from psychologist Martha Becks’ recent discussion of coping with flakiness (2). The mirth and lightness of the term helps to dissolve some of the shame related to  this activity.

Prior to each session, the client and CB will discuss how many and at what time the breaks will occur.  For most clients, they can usually work consistently for one hour before needing a 10-15 minute break. As each ideal session is two hours long, this would be one break per session.

If the client has Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or any processing impairment,  it would be better to work with smaller segments, and then allow for more Flake Breaks.  But those breaks need to be timed. For example, if the client can sustain 15 minutes of decluttering, the break is just five minutes.

Loading up on sugar, caffeine or alcohol is not a good idea for a break. I suggest that all CB Duos integrate laughter therapy into the work, so that it helps release some of the stress of the work.  Being intentional about this means perhaps bringing funny cards, humorous cartoons, books with jokes (available for free from the library) which all help to make that Flake Break more valuable.

The Four Questions

The Four Questions for decluttering your home or office are most useful when you are decluttering your non-paper collection or hoard. The client or the CB can ask these questions for each item, to be used for clothes, jewelry, accessories, bric-à-brac, attics, basements, appliances,  stuffed closets and drawers.

When working with your CB, it’s helpful when the CB asks you these questions with kindness and unconditional regard. No judgment allowed!  When your CB asks you these questions, pause, take a deep breath, be as honest as you can be and bravely prepare to go forth and send the items to Good Will, consignment or trash.

If you answer “NO” to questions one through three,  it will be an easier toss.  If you answer “YES” to one of them, you may need to have a brief discussion about the item with your CB  to process and re-evaluate your item.

1. Does it lift my energy when I think about it or look at it?
2. Do I absolutely love it?
3. Is it genuinely useful?
4. DO I WANT THIS? OR DO I WANT FREEDOM?

Question number four is always my favorite — for each cluttering item is sucking away at your freedom and serenity.

You can do this…never give up!

____________________________
Notes:

1. Frost, R.O., Steketee, G. (2013).  Treatment for Hoarding Disorder: Workbook. Oxford University Press: New York, NY.

2. Beck, M. (2014, March). Don’t Blow It. Oprah Magazine,  pp. 41-44.

Copyright © by Lisa Wessan 2014. All rights reserved.  www.LisaWessan.com

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