Sunday, May 9, 2021

Reframing our narratives can be a useful strategy when life does not go our way


Reframing can be a useful strategy in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) if we are ready to reframe our narrative. Our experiences will have to be validated first before a reframe is more well received by our minds.

The danger in “reframing” is when we are NOT ready, we may feel very invalidated through that process.

My family and I often talk about the Vietnam War. Many families like mine escaped the country in the 80s. But without the “bad”, many of the “good” wouldn’t have happened either.

We won’t be able to speak another language. We won’t have the appreciation that we have right now. We won’t have the life that we have right now.

So when something “bad” happens, acknowledge it. Then we can consider reminding ourselves, when one door closes, another one opens~A.Bell.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Why mindfulness of thoughts and feelings are like punctuations in our writings


Imagine trying to write a story without a comma, full stop, paragraphs, or chapters. 

It’s amazing how much a simple pause can make a difference to the meaning of a sentence and the outcome of a story.

Likewise, when one has thoughts or feelings showing up in our minds, and we don’t have the ability to apply mindfulness and defusion in the right places for the “pause, think, before we do”, we might not get the perspective and the outcome that we want. It can lead to impulsivity, obsessive compulsive tendencies, and unwanted behaviours and drama.

A comma or full stop can be insignificant by itself, but without it, our writing may turn out very differently.

Likewise, practicing mindfulness and defusion is pretty boring by itself, but without it, the narrative in our minds can get quite distorted.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

What strategies can we take to solve some of our emotional issues


The human mind can focus in two direction, the external and internal. Extroversion and introversion if you like. 

We can use our five senses to ground us in the external world of the here and now or......

We can go inside our heads and use our memory to access past data or use our imagination to anticipate the possible futures. 

Each has its pros and cons of course. Too much introversion is an issue. Too much extroversion can also be an issue. 

When someone is more focused, zoomed in, or “fused” with the past memory or the imagined future, and these are “negative in nature”, it may then manifest as an anxious or flat mood. If excessive, it can lead to a “mood disorder”. 

So what are our options?

1. Go back in time and change the event. Of course this is not possible although it would be nice to do so. 

2. Try to understand it and reframe it. We cannot change the event but we can certainly change the meaning of it. 

3. Try to understand it, defuse from it and accept it. 

4. Try to take a drug or chemical of some sort to numb it or detach from it. There are illegal and legal types with illegal not recommended. 

5. We simply ignore the inside head experience and ground ourselves to live in the 5senses present moment experience or value based living. Think Zen Master. 

6. We can do a combination of the above. 

So often, I will ask patients regarding what strategies resonate with them the most and go from there. 

Defusion and detaching from thoughts or feelings, and creating a new experience are more towards Mindfulness, DBT and ACT in my opinion. 

Understanding, and reframing our story may be more in line with Psychoanalysis, CBT and Schema Therapy perhaps. 

Medications are a good option too especially if the condition is too severe for the person to engage in new skill learning and training. With this in mind, I see medication as an adjunct to counseling rather than the other way round. 

Simply living life in the present moment like a Zen Master is nice but not practical for most of us. 

Often, we end up taking a combination approach.....

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Which method is the best for counseling?


Some folks believe that certain “type of therapies” are more superior than another. 

Some people think that Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) is better. Some think Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is better. Some think something else is better.

If we use the metaphor of martial arts, I liken CBT to Karate, and ACT is probably more like Tai Chi. So saying ACT is better than CBT, is like saying Tai Chi is better than Karate.

The reality is, I think it’s highly dependent on the personality of the practitioner, the personality of the patient, and of course, the context.

So why is that important?

As a Family Doctor, we often have to take an “eclectic approach” rather any one particular approach, as we see such a wide range of personalities and context. 

So we may use whichever one is workable for the patient.

Having said that, the quality of the therapeutic relationship is still much more important than any particular method.