Don E. Gibbons, Ph.D., NJ Licensed Psychologist #03513
This Blog is published for information and educational purposes only. No warranty, expressed or implied, is furnished with respect to the material contained in this Blog. The reader is urged to consult with his/her physician or a duly licensed mental health professional with respect to the treatment of any medical or psychological condition.

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The New Center for Counseling and Psychotherapy, LLC

The New Center for Counseling and Psychotherapy, LLC, is located at 675 Route 72 E Manahawkin, NJ 08050. Telephone us at(609)709-2043 and (609) 709-0009.Take Mill Creek Road South, just off Route 72, on the road to Beach Haven West.After about 400 feet, turn right into the office complex of Greater Coastal Realty. Then turn right and go past the Lyceum Gyn. Continue on to the Prudential Zack Building. We. are the last office at the end. We accept Medicare and most other major insurance.Weekend and evening office hours are avalable.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

What IS Psychology? Time for a New Definition?

Boring's History of Psychology, a Twentieth Century classic in the field, chronicles the twists and turns that psychologists went through trying to define themselves, beginning with the first psychological laboratory established by Wilhelm Wundt in Leipzig in 1879, which was dedicated to the study of the properties of the human senses.  I won't attempt to summarize these twists and turns here, because the History of Psychology even says "Boring" on the cover! Suffice it to say that for most of this period, psychologists were more or less content to define psychology as the science of behavior. 

It was during these trying times that one introductory psychology student commented in a paper, "psychology deals with either the trivial or the obvious." A graduate student whom I knew referred to the experiements published in peer-reviewed psychological journals as a "Great Wall of China," full of articles with a high degree of statistical significance but almost completely devoid of any practical significance. And a female friend commented , "They could even make sex boring!" One truism which was widely accepted among psychology graduate students was that no one else is likely to ever read your doctoral dissertation except the members of your doctoral committee, because it is their job to do so.

Finally, the late Ernest R. ("Jack") Hilgard, as a former President of the American Psychological Association and the author of several widely-adopted textbooks, was able to get away with re-defining psychology as "the science of behavior and mental life." 

Today, post-modern constructionism is a position which holds that since nobody can really know what "truth" is anyway, we should help clients to put together any type of conceptual framework which helps them to make sense of their existence, regardless of the personal reality that we construct for ourselves. As long as it does not harm others, I would not hesitate to assist my clients to construct any view of themselves, the world, and the future, which helps them to relieve their distress and find meaning and purpose in life, regardless of my own beliefs about the reality of things which are fundamentally unknowable. Post-modern constructionism, however, is not a scientific point of view, but a philosophical one. And if we accept this philosophical position that in order to be successful therapists, we need to assist our clients to construct a philosophy of life which is best suited to their own personality and unique characteristics, then, IMHO, we must carry Hilgard's definition a step further, and define psychology itself as "the philosophy of behavior and mental life," which returns us to where we were in the days of ancient Greece, where someone who was depressed, unhappy, fearful, or anxious, would consult -- a philosopher!

Of course, should you choose to do so, you can use use a research-based cognitive-behavioral approach to assist your clients in constructing such a philosophy. And if this happens to be the reality that you have constructed for yourself in order to find meaning and structure in your own life, you can try to use a cognitive-behavioral approach with everyone who walks in the door. One cognitive behaviorist dismissively referred to the eclectic psychologists who tailor their approach to suit the personality and unique characteristics of every client they encounter as people who have "both feet planted firmly in mid-air." But, take it from one who sees clients from all walks of life and all sorts of circumstances, most clients do seem to prefer a therapist who is willing to talk to them about the things that really matter to them in their own life as they see it, instead of following one particular theoretical point of view.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Creating the Perrect Balance for a Relationship to Grow

Bowen family systems theory emphasizes the idea of differentiation from your significant other, as opposed to fusion with him or her. Increasing your degree of differentiation is a lifelong project, which can be ranked on a scale from zero to 100. People who are more differentiated are less reactive to close relationhips, and less likely to become triangulated into other relationships. Generally speaking the more differentiated you are, the more you are in control of your own development and the better adjusted you are. 

From one generation to the next, however, families tend to become less and less differentiated and more fused, ultimately leading to schizophrenia, which in traditional Bowenian theory is the ultimate form of fusion. (This, of course, flies in the face of contemporary research findings documenting the high rates of schizophrenia in pairs of identical twins who have been adopted by different families and raised apart. If one such twin develops schizophrenia, research has found, the chances are much higher than would be expected that the other one will too.)
In contrast, the Daoist concept of Yin and Yang teaches that the secret of a happy adjustment is to find the right balance between all the opposing forces in the couple's life together. Yin and Yang are constantly changing; but just as one cannot exist without the other, it is also true that too much of either Yin or Yang in the relationship can eventually weaken and consume the other, thereby destroying it from within. Each partner should learn from the other, and they both should change in a measured degree as time goes on. If one member chnges too rapidly, without the other being able to follow, the relationship is weakened or destroyed; and if one partner comes to dominate the other so completely that the other's individuality is obliterated, the relationship will also become debilitated. (Of course, the same principles apply to the relationship between parents and children, between friends, and even between therapist and client!)
The Yin-Yang symbol, reproduced below, illustrates this balance, which under ideal conditions is is equally distributed, with a portion of the Yin contained within the Yang portion, and vice-versa. (Every man, for example, should have a feminine side, and every woman should have a masculine side, as Karl Jung pointed out.) 
Yin and Yang are seen as universal principles which exist throughout nature, i.e., the crest of a wave is Yin, and the trough is Yang; a growing shard of wheat is Yin; but when it is harvested, it is Yang, So pervasive is the concept of Dao in Oriental culture that the Yin-Yang symbol and lines representing the various most common combinations have been utilized to form the flag of South Korea. Chinese villages on the sunny side of a river will frequently have "Yin" in their name, whille those on the shady side of the river will frequently incorporate the term, "Yang;" and the capital of North Korea is named Pyongyang, to indicate that it is located in a valley. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

"IF" by Rudyard Kipling

IF

by Rudyard Kipling
There is a lifetime of wisdom packed into every verse of Rudyard Kipling's poem, "If," which has helped to sustain me through misfortunes great and small. I hope you like it too.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thought your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same:
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings:
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it. . . .