Posts Tagged ‘Grief’
To be in Milton Erickson’s presence was to invite him to teach. And teach he did! Almost everyone who spent time with him can remember precisely the words he said that changed life forevermore. Even people who read his words often comment that “his voice goes with them.”
I am fortunate that when I think of my father, I vividly remember many times when just a few words changed me instantly. In this case, Dad and a family friend, Margaret Mead, worked in tandem. Although the event and words are crystal clear, I don’t remember who said what-they complimented each other beautifully. → Read more
In December of 1973, when I was 26 years old and had recently earned a master’s degree in clinical psychology, I met Milton Erickson. I was working in the San Francisco Bay Area as a couples and family counselor and serendipitously the opportunity to visit Dr. Erickson presented itself. (The transcript of this initial meeting is in my book, Experiencing Erickson, Zeig, 1985.) → Read more
Recently, I began experiencing stabbing ear pain, shortness of breath, a dry cough, unremitting headaches, and signs of high blood pressure. The online doctor told me I needed to go to the ER right away.
At the ER, tears welled in my eyes and I was anxious. I had taken a COVID-19 nasal swab test and spent six hours in the ER waiting and wondering. I tried to reach a calm state, but I was scared. → Read more
Edgar, a child of five, is the oldest son of a marriage that has lived with great economic and family pressures. The mother began going to therapy two years ago for her distress because of her pregnancy. She left treatment. A short while later, she asked for an emergency appointment. She told me by phone that she had just gotten Edgar out of the hospital, and he did not want to return home because he was afraid of his father who, in an attack of fury and impatience, had hit him against the wall, fracturing his cranium.
I met with the whole family in therapy because that permitted me to understand the family situation, to perceive their emotions, and to explore their resources. Once I have an idea of the family structure and the context in which the problem occurred, I can tell a story (or build a story together with the children) that represents the problem and different solutions. In an abuse situation, it is necessary to censure actions, not the persons implicated, trying to see them as parents who make mistakes. In this case, I constructed the story because the child was immobile in a chair, not wanting to look at anyone, much less participate. → Read more
The voice of the man on the phone was cracked and old. He and his wife were in their seventies and for 20 years the family had not been able to have a Christmas, a birthday, or any celebration together. There were four children and it was the enmity and resentment from Melissa, now 40- years old, to Michael, now 45, that precluded any type of family gathering. Melissa had announced, at age 20, that Michael had sexually molested her from the time she was ten until she was fourteen. Ever since then the family had been torn apart.
Melissa led an isolated life. She had never been in a relationship with a man and she had never even had a roommate. She was a lawyer but had never practiced and worked sporadically at jobs that were beneath her education. She attributed all this to her abuse by Michael. → Read more
Ericksonian Integrative Medical Institute of Orange County Orange, CaliforniaEstimated Reading Time: 3 minutes, 36 seconds
We are often presented with a patient who complains of what appears to be mild depression or general fatigue. Both of these terms have significant overlap, and in reality they may be difficult to distinguish. Fatigue may actually lead to depression or visa versa. About 25% of the general population will experience a symptom profile consistent with fatigue and/or depression. The symptoms can be insidious. They gradually build up into what feels like concrete blocks, impeding health, or compromising resilience. After a while these symptoms may become familiar to patients and a level of resignation may appear. “Maybe this is just who I am.”
We as healers use our tools to intervene, be it CBT, hypnosis, or other forms of psychotherapy. But try as we may, for a specific patient we may reach a ceiling (and sometimes not a good foundation) with our treatment. We all have had such a patient for which our typical interventions do not appear adequate. We discuss with the patients their motivations, tap into their environmental and social systems, or refer them for medication consultation. And yet it still feels like an uphill battle. → Read more
Frigid rain peppers hard blackened snow. You continue to season my thoughts.
When I saw her in the waiting room last March I knew the lymphoma had recurred. She’d aged. Her shrunken profile barely stirred the air as she walked into my office. Undaunted, she wanted to write more of her memoir. As a Registered Poetry Therapist, I offer healing trances through spontaneous free writing and bibliotherapy, as well as hypnosis.
I met Abby several years ago in my poetry therapy group. To continue the work she began then, we agreed to meet in my office, unless the chemotherapy was debilitating, in which case we’d met at her home. → Read more
Note: Joe was not a “usual” client. Highly motivated, in therapy at exactly the right time, he believed life was good, and the therapy fit his paradigm perfectly. Even though it is not common that everything works so well, the concepts and ideas used in this case can be useful in many situations.
Joe walked into the office with a diffident yet paradoxically firm attitude. A handsome 32-year-old, he had never had a long-term relationship. He used to start out just fine, he said, but after having sex a few times, he would lose his erection half-way through. As time went on, he would lose his erection more quickly. Now he couldn’t even get one at the beginning of an encounter. Worse, he was starting to choose people who were not his type, who drank too much or had no ambition. He was sure the two problems were related.
A fellow church member whose husband died 10 years ago called out of concern for her 30-year-old daughter, Amy, who had never gotten over the loss of her father. The woman said, “I think Amy’s depression is affecting her health and her marriage.”
“Haggard” would not be too strong a word to describe Amy when she entered my office. She looked much older than her years. Tears began flowing down her face even before she sat down. The visual evidence of depression was so dramatic, I could understand why her mother reported that it was taking its toll. → Read more