Buzzfeed, you’ve got it wrong. Most therapy is not like that.

Buzzfeed, you’ve got it wrong. Therapy is not like that.

Buzzfeed had a couple of jokey articles for Mental Health Week, including
19 Questions You’ve Definitely Wanted To Ask Your Therapist and 27 Things Everyone Who Has Gone To Therapy Will Understand. They are funny enough that I thought I’d answer some of the questions. [Also: Buzzfeed, I don’t listen to people’s problems.] A whole lot of the article is just wrong, wrong, wrong about what therapy nowadays involves.  Buzzfeed, it’s not like that.

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“How do you handle listening to people’s problems all day?” – therapist questions from Buzzfeed

“How do you handle listening to people’s problems all day?” – questions to your therapist from Buzzfeed. Answer: I don’t!

Buzzfeed.co.uk had a page about therapy for Mental Health week,  “19 Questions You’ve Definitely Wanted To Ask Your Therapist.” Silly yes, but they have enough sense, I thought I’d answer a few. (Also: Buzzfeed, you are so wrong about therapy.)

Question #17 is “How do you handle listening to people’s problems all day?” And the answer is … I just don’t do it!  Listening to problems is draining.  Pain, however, is different. Meeting authentic pain is inspiring. Indeed it is an honour. Let me explain the difference.

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Don’t complain about feelings, make requests for actions

Don’t complain about feelings, make requests for actions

Relationships are about love, sex, fun, communication, emergence, transformation.  Whether you travel together for a day or a lifetime, every journey is step by step from this here and now … to this here and now. Communication works best when it is rooted step by step in the here and now. Sometimes the heart invites us to flow with deep currents; still, there is no other moment than now. This post is about keeping communication in the here and now. It is, if you like, a form of relationship meditation or communication mindfulness.

It’s simple and it is useful and it is basic to good communication. The key is grammatically-positive communication. That means that you ask for what you want instead of complaining about what you don’t want.

Far too often, we tell the other person either what we don’t want or don’t like (“I’m not happy about our sex life”, “You spend too much”),  or we ask for vague things like. “I want to feel you want me”, “I want you to respect me.” Mostly this is combined with hurt emotions imported from our own past. Such communication has no root in here-and-now physical life.  At best it goes round in circles. At worst it degenerates into a toxic cycle that can easily sink even a relationship full of love and affection.

This isn’t by any means all there is to intimate communication. But grammatically negative communication is like potholes on a runway, it stops love from flying.

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If it doesn’t work, DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT

Icon insanity different einsteinIf it doesn’t work, DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT

“If you do what you always did, you’ll get what you always got.” – Anon

“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

“If it doesn’t work, don’t do it. It if works do it more. If it might work, give it a try.” – Anon

“It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

OK, you get the message – this post is about trying different things. Particularly it’s about doing what works, not what doesn’t.  Simple, but effective. Obvious, but almost universally overlooked. Do what works for you!  There’s an exercise lower down that page, Moments I’d Like More Of, that I can’t recommend too highly. Not only will it help your relationship a lot. It will immunise you from having to read those silly lists on the internet of “Ten things to improve your relationship.”   You already know this, you just need to trust yourself and do those things more.   [More like this: index page to relationship posts] (more…)

Barefoot stress counsellor: a solution-oriented self-help tool

Be realistic miracle colourThe Barefoot Stress Counsellor: a solution-oriented self-help tool

This is a good self-help technique which is different and effective. Its a series of questions you can ask yourself, based on a research-validated method called solution-oriented therapy.  You can do it on your own, or with a friend. The exercise was originally by Chris Evans of the Brief Therapy Practice in London, but I’ve edited it so much over many years I can no longer be sure where what he wrote ends and mine begins – anyway, BIG thank you Chris.

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Romantic film lists for the couples self-help exercise

bullet waves 11 washed-out red aa-img030_crGood films to use for the relationship deepening exercise

Here are Dr Ron Rogge’s original lists of films from his research, for use with the movie relationship deepening self-help exercise (explanation and instructions here.)  But you can use any other movies, as long as they feature two people sincerely trying to  solve a relationship issue and show the day-to-day dynamics. So pure romcoms, or films about falling in love, are not necessarily suitable. [Index page to all relationship posts ] (more…)

Snuggle up, discuss films, and save your relationship

Save your relationship – just discuss romantic films

This page is a fun, easy, and effective relationship self-help exercise to bring you and your beloved closer together. You watch five movies and discuss them together – and that’s it. It works. You can help your relationship as easily as that. Give it a go! – click here for instructions lower down on this page.  (And if you enjoy this, please do share it using the links at the bottom.)

It’s based on a great piece of 2014 research from Dr Ron Rogge of the University of Rochester. Couples in the first few years of their marriage  watched five romantic movies together and then discussed them, one a week for five weeks. They halved their divorce rate. Indeed watching movies proved more effective than various kinds of training offered to control groups, including couples conflict management training and acceptance and compassion relationship training.  (more…)