Anxiety is often described as a feeling of worry, which could be mild or severe, and it is associated with the prediction of future events. This is the reason why it is followed by negative thoughts and catastrophic scenarios i.e. all kinds of different stories about future disasters. Physical manifestations that accompany the anxiety include muscle tension, stomachache and an experience of tightening in the stomach, fatigue, exhaustion, and problems focusing. In contrast to fear, where such reaction is always somehow connected to the lurking danger in the outside environment, it appears that anxiety is always about factors and awaiting consequences that are not in the “here and now.”
Critical voice is a well-integrated pattern of destructive thoughts towards ourselves and others. The voice can become dominant in our daily lives, continually transforming itself into inner dialogue, where we split ourselves into two parts: the Critic and the Listener. Soon we catch ourselves doing things we have never done before, like binge eating or drinking, to soothe the mental pain. Instead of being led by one’s core values, the person who obediently listens to this voice no longer acts in their own self-interest, simply because the Inner Critic stubbornly discourages them to do so. One no longer lives a fulfilling life inspired by one’s values. Distancing themselves from the life of purpose and meaning, the person might also distance themselves from their partner, or threaten relationships with significant others. They could also have problems in everyday performance and productivity at work, suffer from low self-esteem, become increasingly distrustful in themselves and others, turn to alcohol and substance abuse, etc.
Pain is part of life, companion of many important life events, a clear sign that something demands our attention, a conspicuous signal that something is wrong or not quite right, and an invitation that we should ask for help. Pain might be physical or mental/psychological. Psychological pain is sometimes defined as “the affective state associated with discrepancy between ideal and actual perception of self.” Psychological pain is tied to any form of inner suffering or intense unpleasant feelings (e.g. guilt, fear, loneliness, panic, helplessness, despair). Suffering can be caused by frustrated psychological needs, such as need for love, belonging, autonomy, success, etc. Fulfilling these needs is a drive to action—it can be big part of human motivation per se. However, personal meanings and the unique story of each person differ from one human being to another, even when the same or similar needs are not satisfied. So, suffering and pain of each person are specific: in order to understand something about them and to approach the inner core of their problems, we must first understand their life story. Psychological pain is at the heart of many psychological problems. In depression, the pain is often described as “physical,” which can further lead to an over exaggerated reaction to negative images and stimuli. Consequences might include feelings of unhappiness, guilt, ruminations, etc. Very intense pain could lead to suicidal thoughts and suicidal behaviors. The risk of suicide rises as general psychological and emotional pain becomes stronger. Suicide happens when the pain becomes excruciating—when it becomes intolerable—so the very act signifies escape from unbearable suffering.
Mindfulness is not only a type of practice associated with silent meditation in a quiet room. It is much more than that—it is an embodied experience which we live every day, breathing in and breathing out. While in the therapy room, we as therapists try to cultivate a mindful attitude during the whole day with … Continue reading Mindfulness in psychotherapy and beyond
Inner child is real—it’s not real in the sense in which the desk which I am writing this blog post on is real, or the car on the parking lot in front of the building where I live. Inner child is real in the psychological and phenomenological sense of the word: It is a metaphor, … Continue reading Reconnecting with the inner child
Characterizing people who struggle with mental problems as "psychiatric patients," "mental patients" or "mentally unstable" can make them feel particularly unhappy. After they have been hospitalized for the first time they typically face drastically different social expectations. This new life may bring new social roles to the individual, where the self before the first psychiatric … Continue reading The impact of stigma on the identity of users of psychiatric services
Psychotherapy is successful when boundaries between the therapist and the client are well-defined. As in any relationship between two people, it is an ongoing process of defining borderlines between the two personalities. However, in psychotherapy there are some ethical concerns, norms and guidelines which are very important to follow. Boundaries are a crucial element in … Continue reading Boundaries in psychotherapy
Embarking on therapy is an important and difficult decision. The client may not have experienced anything similar to this before. Seeing a stranger for the first time and talking about personal, intimate issues can be very difficult and the client might perceive it as an artificial situation. Usually the first session is about gathering basic … Continue reading Building trust in psychotherapy
Feelings of uncertainty are usually connected to anxiety which is experienced when one is thinking about the future. Reduced ability to anticipate future events can trigger strong feelings of anxiety and many other unpleasant emotions. In fact, this ability to reflect about the future is something which makes us truly human. Uncertainty comes and goes, … Continue reading Tolerating uncertainty
The mind-body problem is a very old philosophical dilemma. What is the connection between this enigma and the concept of mental disorder? Stated briefly, the mind-body dualism could be explained in a form of a question: Is there a relationship between the mind and the body, and if there is some kind of a relationship, … Continue reading How is the mind-body problem relevant to the concept of mental disorder?