The “Sigh” in PsyMart

[A holiday gift from the book, “Inspired Therapist”]

Happy New Year! I hope your holidays were joyous. My scale (and my wardrobe) are intimating I overindulged a tad this season. The only real casualty being the alterations I had done in November. Oh well, as you sew so shall you rip. But it’s all good. A new year’s in the offing. So full of hope and possibility. A fresh opportunity… to go to PsyMart, the one-stop shopping haven for therapists.

As I enter, I see the ceiling girders are alive with brightly colored banners rhythmically swaying in the incense-laden breeze. They promise new groups, new marketing plans, new commitments. I love New Years at PsyMart!

But alas, today is not about the usual reverie and abandon, I’m here to make a return. A valued colleague gave me one of those clever calendars, unfortunately it’s missing the months of May and July. My year goes by too fast as it is. I’m determined to recoup this tragic loss.

A PsyMart Customer Experience Facilitator approaches and asks: “How may I enhance your presence in this moment?”

“This moment is perfect… but this calendar is defective and I’d like to return it. Where can I go?”

“That depends on your priorities. For complaints I’d recommend Victim Validation, section B-9. But to move toward resolution you’ll want the Unfinished Business Center. They’re located in the kiosk by the food court until their offices are completed.”

Unfinished Business it is. I start strolling across the endless sea of aisles that is PsyMart. Along the way, a video monitor catches my eye. They’re touting “The Jung & The Restless,” a new reality show about psychoanalysts in a sleep disorder clinic. It might be fun, but it sounds like a thinly veiled remake of Generalized Hospital.

As I’m approaching the food court an associate hands me a coupon which reads: “Kentucky Freud Chicken – Electra-fying Deal! 50% off any Combo at our Transference Counter.” I ask the associate if it’s any good? “Absolutely!” she says, “I’ve eaten there 3 times-a-week for years and I’m still going.”

I thank her for her input and start to walk on when I can’t help overhearing a customer at the Reframing Window, “I get extremely upset when I tell my dog to stay and he doesn’t listen.”

“Try changing the dog’s name to Nama.”

“How will that help?”

“He may still disobey, but you’ll be reminded to honor your own inner peace each time you say… ‘Nama, Stay!’

PsyMart has an interesting take on service provision.

At last, the kiosk is in sight. As I cross the food court, I contemplate the notion of fast food for therapists. Is it really a brief modality? There’s Kentucky Freud Chicken, right between the Hungry HIPAA and my personal favorite, the Department of Consuming Éclairs. But this is no time for distractions.

At the kiosk sits a woman of great composure, and several empty chairs. There is no sign indicating the Unfinished Business Center, but the “UB” on her PsyMart uniform is all the confirmation I need. Her face neither smiles nor frowns, yet it invites me to speak.

“This calendar is missing two months. I want a complete one.”

“OK, but first please take a moment to be the calendar. Describe your experience as the calendar.”

“I’m not whole. I’m paginated and incomplete. I feel pressured. I feel a need to make up for lost time.”

“Speak to me as the calendar. What does the calendar say?”

“I want a refund.”

“Your experience cannot be refunded. The past is gone, we can only assist you with baggage. Speak to me as the baggage you carry from this calendriacal trauma.”

“How about a store credit?”

“Excellent. Now be the store credit. Speak to the calendar…”

Two hours later I got a store credit, and a tremendous sense of well-being.

Whether the giver or the givee, service can be challenging. However, when I allow myself to simply be curious and explore, PsyMart becomes an amazing place. I’m devoting this year to quality time in service. In fact, I’m putting it on my calendar.

Happy New Year!

[This is reprinted from the book: Inspired Therapist. It’s insightful fun for therapists. Get it, read it, then pass it on to a friend.]

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The Good We Do

I became a therapist later in life. But it turns out I’ve been helping to heal people longer than I suspected. Sometimes the things we do have a lovely way of coming back to us in unexpected ways. Here is a precious example of one of those moments for me…

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Therapy During COVID-19

To me, therapy is a very intimate activity. Now, in the age of unforeseen consequences, I’m wondering how attempts to sterilize the environment will impact the intimacy of the exchange.

There is no doubt that online sessions are less intimate than in-person work, all other things being equal. These days, however, all those other things are not equal. As we focus more on the molecules passing between us, do we become less focused on/aware of the therapeutic exchange taking place?

Is therapeutic intimacy better preserved online or in a hyper-cautious in-person setting? I’m not sure yet, but I think it’s an interesting point to consider as I evaluate how to deliver best care to my clients in this challenging environment.

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Quarantine Lifestyle in the Age of Unforeseen Consequences

Here’s my latest Silicon Valley Therapist article on dealing with the quarantine. I hope you find it helpful in our present pandemic predicament. Feel free to share it with colleagues and clients. Check it out…

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The Silicon Valley Therapist series #4

I created one of the biggest failures of my generation. Here’s what I learned:


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Quote: Reflection on Life Direction

“It’s easier to experience symptoms than it is to explore causes.”  -HSW

Therapy, if engaged seriously, can be hard work. It involves challenge and discomfort and pushing through resistance into new territory. The advantage is creating fresh possibilities and satisfaction in your life.

It’s much easier to simply keep doing what you’re doing. The only downside to that is you are likely to continue being right where you are.

If you’re considering therapy, remember this nugget from Lao Tzu: “If you do not change direction, you may wind up where you are heading.”

Is that where you want to go?

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The Silicon Valley Therapist series #03

Here are 5 things you should know about intelligence:

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The Posi-Traumatic Perspective: The Upside of Down Times

One way to frame trauma is the absolute interruption of all my patterns. In a trauma I am unable to continue performing life the way I’m used to doing it.

We tend to think of this as robbing us of the good things. We seldom think of it as interrupting our negative patterns too. The behaviors and habits that hold us back and keep us stuck… they get interrupted by trauma also.

And when they are interrupted, temporarily broken, that’s the best opportunity to change them! Trauma is not just a tragedy, it is also an opportunity. The opportunity to make a shift without all the baggage that our usual habits create.

We are going to resettle in the aftermath, why not resettle in a new, more positive growth oriented way?

We are taught extensively how bad some situations are: we call them traumatic moments, suffering catastrophic loss (fires, floods, death of a loved one), failing our dreams, losing a job. Getting rejected by my lover is one of the list toppers. We’ve even identified positive stressors, like moving into a new home or getting married.

We’re exceedingly well versed in problems. Why not consider some benefits?

For some reason today’s society seems more prone to finding the downside of joyous events than exploring the upside of difficulties. Well… you can begin changing that right now!



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Here is my interview on NPR. Their series on Total Failure was interested in my having authored the worst video game in history!  🙂

NPR Interview on All Things Considered, May 31, 2017


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The Silicon Valley Therapist series #02

Here is a discussion of some preconceptions and misperceptions of programmers:

Decoding the Computer Programmer Stereotype

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