This is how I tried to teach my interns how to sit in the mystery of therapy.Read More
Wow, I just watched a video by The School of Life that captures 80% of what I have taken so long to learn in my journey to become what I feel is a good therapist: a good listener. I've never heard anyone else articulate the essential ingredients of good listening so concisely and so in line with the things I've had to learn on my own through hundreds of hours of practice. I'm embedding the video at the bottom.
Here is a summary of the key points:
- Encourage people to elaborate their point, instead of responding with your own story, because most people don't know quite what they are trying to say and need to talk it out to pinpoint it; and keep the speaker's history in mind as you listen to new information and connect it all, so they make new insights and feel deeply heard.
- Urge clarification about why someone feels a certain way to help them understand their own life themes and values and definitely don't move to reassurance and advice giving too quickly.
- Don't moralize and judge; instead, respond with small sounds of sympathy and reassurance. Realize that we are all weak and vulnerable in some way. Warm to vulnerability, instead of rejecting it.
- Separate disagreement with hostility. Invite or at least allow for disagreement in the relationship to show that people don't always have to agree to remain in relationship with each other. (This one isn't as often used as a therapist but sometimes it does happen).
In my thinking, I've been summarizing good listening as Compassionate Curiosity, a nonjudgmental empathic desire to keep learning more and more about a person that can only happen through explicit intention, bracketing of judgement and willingness to identify the hidden virtues and values behind embarrassing and shameful emotions that block true exploration. So very similar!
Should a therapist cry with their patients?Read More
In my own work nowadays, I'm constantly aware of how much my heart aches with each person I see.Read More
Four stories of sexual assault crash on top of each other, like a four-car pile up.Read More
Listen to a podcast about my work on a Korean radio show. I answer questions about historical trauma and its impact on the Korean psyche and child-rearing.Read More
Watch a new commercial for the Child Psychiatry division at Mount Sinai Health System that features the work of my Center.Read More
So, my trauma-recovered patient continues "wondering" around NYC, snapping pictures of its beauty. This particular scene is quite metaphoric. That red emergency rescue ladder is a remnant of a winter just passed, where a fissured frozen pond portends drowning and death. But, this day welcomes the first warm weekend of Spring. And for the first time in his life, he allows himself to soak in its life-renewing promise, holding hands with his expectant wife. His dog deeply wise in her playfulness frolicks ahead. ...We should drape the ladder with garlands of new Spring buds.
This is a redo of a training video on using compassion to motivate others.Read More
I work with a group of advocates who champion the cause of encouraging adoption of transition age youth. They go around the city talking to youth about holding on to the hope for unconditional family love and commitment, and they recruit parents to fulfill those dreams.
They hurt today when one young man in the audience despaired, “fuck family!”Read More
, a patient of mine comes out from under the dense fog of childhood traumaRead More
Ok, I wasted the weekend editing the Cardozo lecture so people can actually see the video and my talk at the same time. And I shrank it down to 35 minutes! I hope you enjoy it. I think it's kinda funny yet educational. After this talk, the NYC Dept of Education asked me to helped them improve youth development and school safety.Read More
I received this plaque of appreciation while giving a keynote for a conference on runaway and homeless youth for the NYC Department of Youth & Community Development. It's more valuable to me than my diplomas. Those mark the development of my tools. This is what I've done with my tools: helping my dear city take care of its own staff and in turn take care of our children and families. What a blessing!
Today, a mother shared memories of being one of those little children who dallied walking to and fro from school, dreaming up fantastic elaborate worlds of little fairies hiding under blades of grass, building cities in piles of sidewalk snow. She was punished by her teachers for being so late, and now she worries that her own child will lose that precious imagination if labeled ADHD and medicated.Read More
I spent the day at a conference with panels and panels of renowned experts examining the nature of psychotherapy. These people have devoted their careers to understanding the process through which psychotherapy works. Yet, the discussion was leaving me bored and uninspired.Read More
I kinda helped open up a new mental health clinic in Flushing, NY. It's run by Korean Community Services of NY. I was brought onto the board to help them create it. We had our ribbon ceremony on Monday. The ceremony was covered by NY1 and The Korea Times. The new clinic is on the 2nd floor of this building in the picture. It's not the Head 2 Toe Spa, though it makes me think: that's not a bad business idea... therapy and pedicure all at once.
Though many therapists are trained to believe that they need to suppress or control feelings of anger, I think it is incredibly important to use them in therapy because they often reveal important patterns in the patient’s life--ghosts of relationships past. When these feelings go unexamined, they can harm the patient because they can slip out in hurtful ways. But, when examined, they can be some of the most healing moments in therapy.Read More
This post describes some heart warming events that happened when I visited a juvenile detention center last week.Read More
This post is about how a trauma-informed approach, at least the way I view it, might differ from standard clinical practice.Read More