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Therapy: Group / Psychotherapy / CBT

Psychotherapy - a Life Examined
Nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so. – Shakespeare

Many believe that stress reduction is of no use because the perceived source of stress cannot be changed (husband, wife, job, external events).  And whereas we often cannot change the world outside, we can change the world inside and our response to it.  Stress reduction can be practiced, like any other activity.  We can improve how we respond, process, and let go of painful life stress.

Whether stress is real or perceived, it still has the same negative effect on the body through elevation of stress hormones (cortisol, adrenaline, and others) and has the a negative effect on our health through our physiologic response of these elevated stress hormones (elevated blood sugar and blood pressure and excess neurologic excitation).

Look for the Good
Life is an interpretive experience. What happens is less important than how we respond to our circumstances. An intense stimulus that some people report as pain others report as pleasure. It is we who decide what the interpretation will be. Are you a "good finder"? A recent study of the countrys millionaires showed that the most common trait they all shared was the ability to discover good in any situation. This trait is also common in "triumphant survivors" - those individuals who overcome adversity and emerge strengthened and renewed.

A sincere spiritual seeker suffering from a chronic illness wondered, "Why havent my prayers been answered?" One day, in deep meditation the reply came: "Look for the good in your situation and you will see that the answer has already been provided." Suddenly this woman realized that her crisis provided a wonderful opportunity. She embarked on a program of nutrition, exercise, and yoga, which led to a dramatic improvement in the quality of her life.

Abraham Lincoln once said, "Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." Your state of mind is up to you. Choose now to look for the good.

Perceptual “Reframing”
Feelings are the body’s response to the perceptions of our brain.  Perceptions are what the brain thinks to be true but are often misinterpretations of reality in fact.  One way to change perceptions and therefore the body’s reactions (feelings) is to challenge your own thinking.  Ask yourself the question... “What evidence exists the supports or refutes my belief?”  This is a simple, yet difficult endeavor.  Changing our perceptions usually requires honest feedback from others, friends, family, counselors, and clergy.  Changing our perceptions through the help of others is the basis for cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) , a type of psychotherapy pioneered by Dr. Aaron Beck of the Beck Institute in Philadelphia, PA.

Consider Psychotherapy (Group or Individual)
I know you have read this quote before: "The unexamined life is not worth living." Socrates said that at his trial for heresy. He was on trial for encouraging his students to challenge the accepted beliefs of the time and think for themselves. The sentence was death but Socrates had the option of suggesting an alternative punishment. He could have chosen life in prison or exile, and would likely have avoided death.

But Socrates believed that these alternatives would rob him of the only thing that made life useful: Examining the world around him and discussing how to make the world a better place. Without his "examined life" there was no point in living. So he suggested that Athens reward him for his service to society. The result, of course, is that they had no alternative and were forced to vote for a punishment of death.

Luckily, we do not have to choose between an examined life and death. But the sad thing is, most people avoid leading an examined life. It is not that they do not have time or make time. They actively avoid examining their lives.

People who do examine their lives, who think about where they have been, how they got here, and where they are going, are much happier people. No one has all the answers. And no one life is free from trouble and strife. But those who have some sense of where they belong in the universe also have a context for understanding how all the elements of their life fit together.

If there are two people, one with a map and one without a map, who has the better chance of reaching her destination? The one with the map, of course.

When you set aside time to examine your life,
You get to choose your destination; You get to set the goals;
You get to determine the path; You get to decide how long it will take;
You get to decide whether you are on the right path or the wrong path.

In other words, you begin to know your self and to take control of your life. You decide who you want to be and begin to become the person you want to be.