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.

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Friday, April 27, 2018

Overcoming Fear of Death when Not Religious

Some non-religious people who are afraid of dying may find assuraance in the following video by a well-known brain researcher.


Thursday, April 19, 2018

How to be More "Therapieutic" for your Family and Friends


Most of the actual "therapy" that is done in the world is carried on between close friends, romantic partners, family members, and co-workers, who provide understanding and emotional support to those around them while serving as a good listener and helping them to look at things in a more positive light. In clinical settings, family systems theorists point out that the "identified patient" who comes for counseling or psychotherapy may not be the one who actually needs it, but merely the one who is the most sensitive. How can we help people to be a therapeutic influence for others whom they are close to, who may be more in need of help than they are, but who refuse to even consider such a possibility?

Cognitive-behavioral psychologists have found many ways to change people. Many of these techniques, once we have learned them and put them to work in our own lives, can also be used to help those around us. While they cannot, of course, serve as a substitute for actual counseling or psychotherapy which is provided by a duly trained and licensed mental health professional, they can help to make life easier, both for ourselves and for those whom we hold dear. 

For example, Albert Ellis has compiled a list of "ten irrational ideas," which is reproduced below, Most of us believe some of these false beliefs at least part of the time. The first one, "I must be perfect in all respects in order to be worthwhile," does an especially great amount of damage, since it guarantees that we are going to feel like miserable failures whenever we do not live up to this impossible ideal. We can spare ourselves a great deal of misery when we cast out this false belief once and for all! But what about our friends and loved ones? Whenever someone who is close to you acts as if he or she could use a gentle reminder that they are being too hard on themselves by expecting to be perfect all the time, you might point this out by saing something like, "You know, dear, sometimes I think you feel like you have to be perfect all the time or you're a failure. But even the Pope goes to confession. You mustn't expect yourself to be perfect when nobody else is!"

You don't need a Ph.D. in clinical psychology to apply ideas like this in a common-sense manner when the situation is appropriate. The rest of the items on Ellis's list can also take their turn when the situation warrants it.  


 Ideas that Cause Negative Emotions

 "I must be perfect in all respects in order to be worthwhile." Nobody can be perfect in everything that we have to do in life. But if you believe that you're a failure unless you are perfect in every way, you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of unhappiness.

"I must be loved and approved of by everyone who is important to me." Sometimes you just can't help making enemies, and there are people in the world who bear ill will to almost everyone. But you can't make your own life miserable by trying to please them.

"When people treat me unfairly, it is because they are bad people." Most of the people who treat you unfairly have friends and family who love them. People are mixtures of good and bad.

"It is terrible when I am seriously frustrated, treated badly, or rejected." Some people have such a short fuse, that they are constantly losing jobs or endangering friendships because they are unable to endure the slightest frustration.

"Misery comes from outside forces which I can’t do very much to change." Many prison inmates describe their life as if it were a cork, bobbing up and down on waves of circumstance. You can choose whether to see yourself as an effect of your circumstances, or a cause.

"If something is dangerous or fearful, I have to worry about it." Many people believe that "the work of worrying" will help to make problems go away. "Okay, that's over. Now, what's the next thing on the list that I have to worry about?"

"It is easier to avoid life’s difficulties and responsibilities than to face them." Even painful experiences, once we can get through them, can serve as a basis for learning and future growth.

"Because things in my past controlled my life, they have to keep doing so now and in the future." If this were really true, it would mean that we are prisoners of our past, and change is impossible. But people change all the time -- and sometimes they change dramatically!

"It is terrible when things do not work out exactly as I want them to." Could you have predicted the course of your own life? Probably not. By the same token, you can't predict that things are going to work out exactly as you want them to, even in the short term.

"I can be as happy as possible by just doing nothing and enjoying myself, taking life as it comes." If this were true, almost every wealthy or comfortably retired person would do as little as possible. But instead, they seek new challenges as a pathway to further growth.


Perceptions that Make Negative Emotions Worse



Similar practical applications can be found for the items on the second list. which cognitive-behavioral psychologists refer to as "cognitive distortions."  Most of us have heard the expression, "looking at the world through rose-colored glasses." But when you use cognitive distortions, you tend to look at the world through mud-colored glasses! Here are some habitual ways of looking at things that you should stop from rolling through your head if you catch yourself using them.

All-or-nothing thinking. Everything is good or bad, with nothing in between. If you aren't perfect, then you're a failure. You procastinate doing stuff because they are not perfect until you have no other choice than doing them.

Overgeneralization. A single negative event turns into a never-ending pattern of defeat. "I didn't get a phone call. I'll never hear from anybody again."

Mental filter. One single negative thing colors everything else. When you're depressed, it sometimes feels like you're "looking at the world through mud-colored glasses."

Disqualifying the positive. If somebody says something good about you, it doesn't count. But if somebody says something bad about you, you "knew it all along."

Jumping to conclusions. You make a negative interpretation even though there are no definite facts that convincingly support your conclusion.

Mind reading. You think somebody is disrespecting you and don't bother to check it out. You just assume that he is.

The Fortune Teller Error. You think that things are going to turn out badly, and convince yourself that this is already a fact.

Magnification (catastrophizing) or minimization. Imagine that you're looking at yourself or somebody else through a pair of binoculars. You might think that a mistake you made or somebody else's achievement are more important than they really are. Now imagine that you've turned the binoculars around and you're looking through them backwards. Something you've done might look less important than it really is, and somebody else's faults might look less important than they really are.

Emotional reasoning. You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: "I feel it, therefore it must be true."

"Should" statements. You beat up on yourself as a way of getting motivated to do something. You "should" do this, you "must" do this, you "ought" to do this, and so on. This doesn't make you want to do it, it only makes you feel guilty. When you direct should statements toward others, you feel anger, frustration, and resentment.

Labeling and mislabeling. This is an extreme form of overgeneralization. When you make a mistake, you give yourself a label, such as, "I'm a loser." When someone else's behavior rubs you the wrong way, you attach a negative label to him, "He's a louse." Mislabeling involves describing an event with language that is highly colored and emotionally loaded.

Personalization. You believe that you were the cause of something bad that happened, when you really didn't have very much to do with it. And ask a friend to help you realize your emotions or worries so that you can have someone to rely on.

Don't memorize these lists, just keep them handy.  (One of my cilients keeps them posted on her refrigerator for ready reference!) And when someone you know well enough starts showing signs of exaggerated worry, self-distrust, fear, anger, or despair, see whether or not some of these false beliefs or false perceptions might be behind these feelings. And, in the process, you'll get pretty good at applying these principles to your own life.

As previously mentioned, this type of "psychological first aid," augmented by sympathetic listening, affection, and encouragement, is not to be considered as a substitute for actual counseling or psychotherapy, which can only be carried out by trained professional. But If we can get the people around us who refuse to even consider the possibility of formal counseling or psychotherapy to "lighten up" in the manner just described, it can frequently make life better for ud ss well as for them!

See also: 
How to Recognize a Personality Disorder
How to Keep Your Boss from Driving You Crazy

Print Sources


Ellis, A. (2006). IHow to stubbornly refuse to make yourself miserable about anything -- yes, anything! Chicago: Citadel Press. 

Laazrus, A. A., Lazarus, C. A., & Fay, A. Don't believe it for a minute! Forty toxic ideas that are driving you crazy. San Luis Obispo, CA: Impact Publishers.



 

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Sometimes Therapists Just Talk Too Much!

When people are helplessly stuck, a sympathetic ear can often make all the difference.



Even  when the problem can be fixed, many people want understanding and sympathy first.


Often what they want most of all is validation.




And if you create enough expectancy for change, you may not need to say anything at all!



Thursday, April 5, 2018

Hypnosis and Self Hypnosis to Manage Chronic Pain

Hypnosis and self hypnosis have been highly effective  in helping clients to manage chronic pain (Gibbons & Woods, 2016; Patterson, Jensen, & Montgomery, 2010). . For example, I recently had a client who suffered from severe pain and post-traumatic stress disorder from a near-fatal automobile accident. He had been prescribed several pain medications, which were not always effective. I saw him weekly at his home for three months, because the accident had left him totally disabled. I used a traditional hypnotic induction (Gibbons &amp Lynn, 2010), with suggestions of deep-muscle relaxation, followed by repeated deepening combined with suggestions of anesthesia and well-being, with post-hypnotic suggestions that the effects would continue. I also taught him self-hypnosis in order to continue these suggestions after his formal treatment was completed.. He reported that these procedures were highly effective when used in combination with his prescribed medication.

The client and his wife have remained in occasional contact. In our most recent telephone conversation, two years after the hypnotic suggestions were incorporated into his pain management  program,  He reported that although some pain sensations remained after taking his medication, the combination of prescribed medication plus hypnotic suggestions provided a considerable amount of relief, and he was able to resume most of his daily activities without discomfort.


 References

Gibbons, D. E., &; Lynn, S. J. (2010). Hypnotic inductions: A primer. in S. J. Lynn, J. W. Rhue, & I. Kirsch (Eds.) Handbook of clinical hypnosis, 2nd ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, pp. 267-291.

Gibbons, D. E., &; Woods, K. T. Virtual reality hypnosis.  Amazon Books, 2016. 


Patterson, D. R., Jensen, M. P., & Montgomery, G.H. (2010). Hypnosis for pain control. in S. J. Lynn, J. W. Rhue, &; I. Kirsch (Eds.) Handbook of clinical hypnosis, 2nd ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, pp. 521-550.
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Sunday, April 1, 2018

How Hypnosis Saved My Life

I used to think that my interest in hypnosis sprang from the fact that I "hit it just right" in my mid teens with the first person I ever hypnotized, a skeptical seventh grader. But why had I already been reading books on hypnosis, and how did I know enough to hypnotize him in the first place?

Now, I recall that when I was four years old, I developed a potentially life-threatening throat and ear infection which, in those days before antibiotics, required me to remain in bed for six months. In order to quiet my restlessness, my mother read to me each day for several hours, until her throat was sore. At that age, it did not matter how often I had heard a particular story before, I was still clamoring to hear it again. Although my mother did not realize it at the time, she was placing me in a trance-like state as she endlessly read to me from Grimm's Fairy Tales, A Child's Garden of Verse, and similar childhood classics to keep me quet.

By the time I rhad tecovered from my infection, I was acutely aware of the power of words to transcend reality, even if I was too young to verbalize it; and many decades were to pass before I could have a hand in describing this process to others  (see Gibbons & Lynn, 2008).

As far as individuals are concerned, hypnosis is essentially an artistic medium which depends for its effectiveness upon the personality and circumstances of each client we encounter, exactly as it had been with me as a child. The stories I was told in hypnosis, such as the parable of the hare and the tortoise, and the little engine that could, enabled me to complete the long trek to the Ph.D.(de Rivera & Sarbin, 1998) in spite of setbacks too numerous to mention -- and this early stimulation of my imagination, I believe, is what made the work relatively easy,

References

Gibbons, D. E., & Lynn, S. J. (2008). Hyonotic inductions: A primer. In Ruhe, J. W., Lynn, S. J., & Kirsch, I. (Eds.) Handbook of clinical hypnosis, 2nd ed. Wqshington, DC: American Psychological Assn.

de Rivera, Joseph & Sarbin, T. R. (Eds.) (1998). Believed-in imaginings: The narrative construction of reality. Washington, DC: American Psychological Assn.,