Asleep at the Wheel & Out of Focus

(1533 words – 7 1/2 minute read)

This therapy thing is not a complicated deal once you get the hang of it. It’s probably because over the years most of the ‘technique’ has become internalized, a natural thing – like knowing your name.

A client was referred to me by Dr. Thompson, our prescribing psychologist at the Behavioral Health Center at our local hospital.

He was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I forget if he was taking meds for it or had refused the drugs. Clients who had refused medication therapy were often referred to me. I like to know what the real situation is. I have enough confidence in my ability to help them not to want what is going on with them obscured by dulling medications. Otherwise I’m only as skilled as the social workers in the clinic: checking on how the ‘meds’ are working, and dispensing encouraging advice.

I once had a client who had to hold onto the walls to stay upright and couldn’t form words easily. Time to ease up on the meds!

Anyway, let’s call our client John, in his 30’s and single. He couldn’t leave his house in the morning to go to work without checking the locks so many times he was frequently late for work and worried all day that the house was open or his dog would get out of the yard.

In the first session I addressed his situation as a memory problem. I figured that if John had a way of knowing he had locked his door, then he would be relieved of one aspect of his anxiety.

Continue reading Asleep at the Wheel & Out of Focus


(164 words – 1  minute read)

In the usual therapy seen on TV, touching is absolutely forbidden. Like really not OK. The idea being about “transference” blah blah.

But some of us go for days, weeks maybe, touching no one. Not a hug in sight. Nada, fuckall. So we buy a massage or touch ourselves. Sad, yes?!

Exercise is one way of feeling the body, but the word is an instant turn off for me…like
Who ‘wants” to ‘exercise’? No one. But if we FEEL good running, then that’s not exercise for its own sake, that’s joy. Anything Physical that feels good IS good.
And therapeutic.

We practice T’ai Chi because it connects the mind and the body and it FEELS good…so-
therapeutic, right?
Therapies come in all shapes and sizes as do therapists. We never know who or what is going to enlighten us or bring a new idea to life for us.
Stay awake and be open to the influences around us is all.

What we do and what we don’t do

(585 words – 3 minute read)

Trauma resolution, stress management, pain management. These are some of the things we do. They all have certain things in common which we will try to describe here. And because a client is not a passive recipient but rather an active participant, he or she needs to know what is going on for therapy to work.

What we dealing with in a session are troubling incidents or feelings, something you have but don’t want. A troubling incident or mood is something that persists when it should be moving on.

Continue reading What we do and what we don’t do

The Clarity Meter

(484 words – 2 1/2 minute read)

The Clarity Meter: What is it? Is it still a thing?

I received an e-mail the other day from advertising the Clarity Meter and it reminded me that we used a similar machine in the late ’60’s and early ’70’s to detect areas of disturbance or trauma in the client; and, when the trauma was treated, checking to see that it has been successfully resolved.

The meter is a skin galvanometer and measures changes in skin conductivity – with what ease or resistance electrical impulses move throughout the body.

Continue reading The Clarity Meter

About Amy

Everything is changing all the time.


Sometimes forgetting is better than always watching.

Checking, having to remember, fearful of forgetting, writing lists. The feeling that we must always be on the alert to prevent our world from falling apart.

Fuck that! Relax – let it go. Come what may! Come on, I can take it.



“Escape” is the I Ching advice for my day connected to my biorhythms (another story).

There is no escape until….and even then….who knows? If the Christians have it right, I’m in jail or purgatory forever.

If the Buddhists nailed it, I could be reborn a cockroach or a goddess…also forever?

The Jews? not a clue.

The Muslims? Am I IN the harem or do I get reborn a man (a la the Tibetans) and HAVE the harem? And is it men or women in the harem…such confusion.

How about the Mormons? I get to be on some guy’s planet-who?? Which husband?

I like the line from the movie “Still Alice”:

“Just take the pills-ALL the pills-make sure you are alone-go to bed and go to sleep”.




“‘Be here now’ – that’s so yesterday” – Amy



A thought about the EFT line “Even though I have such-and-such a condition – I love and accept myself fully and completely“.

Wow! that’s a heavy one and frequently results in a flood of tears and two or three sessions for the client to get anywhere near this place of unconditional self-regard, love and acceptance. This is a thing in itself with many ramifications and threads to follow and clear.

Meanwhile your client came in for something else to resolve: a loss, sadness, a headache and so on. So we’ve gone off track with this “love and acceptance” thing.

Let’s keep it open, unjudgemental, undemanding and real.

“Even though he left me and I feel lost I believe in myself“.

That feels right doesn’t it?



The Mouse Story

(725 words – 4 minute read)

About 15 years ago I came across this new way of treating trauma and phobias. It involved tapping on certain acupuncture points to calm the nervous system and dissolve the trauma.

Sounds too good to be true but I bought the manual anyway and read enough of it to get an idea of what to do.

That evening we were having some friends over and during the conversation it came up that I had this new ‘phobia cure’.

A friend piped up “I’ve got one for you, I’m terrified of mice and I’m visiting my in-laws this week-end, and it’s a farmhouse and its got mice all over the place and I don’t know if I’ll be able to go.”

By now she was shaking and pale. Continue reading The Mouse Story

Life in the Mainstream

(681 words – 3 minute read)

I was going to skip this section but Amy said I have to write it, not only because it contains valuable insights but more importantly for my own sake. I needed to get the charge off those incidents.

There is a mechanism here that’s worth describing. Upsetting events disrupt the nervous system. We feel shaky, nauseated, break out in a cold sweat. The nervous system is in turmoil.

Being reminded of a traumatic incident triggers the disruption all over again. The incident, instead of being neutral, has a negative charge on it. It circles around in your head. Writing it down is one way of getting it out of your head and onto the paper.

This exteriorization of our internal processes is the essence of the therapeutic process.

The first thing I learned about running a session was to listen. Sounds simple but to deeply listen, understand and acknowledge without indulging in judgment, “Helpful Feedback”, evaluation, interpretation, comments, or even a slightly raised eyebrow is not as easy as it may seem.

As soon as you do something that interrupts the outward flow of the person’s internal processes you turn their attention back on themselves. “Was that the right thing to do? Did that really happen the way I think it did?” and that easy outward flow is interrupted. Continue reading Life in the Mainstream

How I Got Into Behavioral Health

(962 words – 5 minute read)

So how did I, Rod, with no university degrees find my way into working in a conservative small-town mental health clinic?

I’d had some slight experience with the university system, a glancing blow you may say, a few years back. Our hospital had about twelve beds and I was working there as a CNA (nurses assistant or “orderly” as my mother would pointedly say). I had a vague intention of becoming a nurse as the idea of earning a steady income had its appeal. It was a bit late in the game, my late 50s, but what the hell, it’s a new game to play.

We had a local university extension; it was a doublewide behind a gas station off the freeway on the outskirts of town. Ah! ”Higher Learning.” Not quite the hallowed halls of Oxford, but it would do just fine for me.

There were about twenty eager faces in the psychology class. It was taught by a retired pharmaceutical employee an ex “Pharma babe.” They were a familiar sight at the hospital, seducing the doctors with their free samples. Good start, my dealer is my teacher.

Our textbook was “Exploring Psychology” by David G. Myers.

Right at the beginning of the textbook David said we weren’t going to study the nature of consciousness or awareness because it couldn’t be understood and wasn’t worth thinking about. There goes 10,000 years of meditation down the drain. We were just going to study behavior, our observable actions. Right there I could feel all the fun being sucked out of this game. Continue reading How I Got Into Behavioral Health