Category Archive: Awareness

Sep 04

What IS Therapy, Anyway? Part 1

What goes on in a therapist’s office is a mystery to many who have never pursued psychotherapy. First-timers are often nervous and uncertain, not knowing what to expect. A common misconception is that therapy is some sort of cathartic, secular confessional, or that the therapist will magically “fix” the client—cure depression, anxiety, grief, social isolation, …

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Aug 17

The Poignant Dichotomy of Old Age

Every Thursday, my husband and I drive 10 minutes to my mother-in-law’s well-appointed retirement community to have dinner with her at 4:30. On those days, we have to make sure to skip lunch so we can be hungry at an odd time of day. Although the helpings are small—suitable for the elderly residents’ diminished appetites—the …

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Mar 11

I Am the Cosmos*

Our daughter Owen got married a few weeks ago. It was, by all accounts, a joyous occasion. It was the one cold, damp evening of the month, but her happiness was so contagious that it didn’t make a whit of difference. Everyone partied on until the wee hours—outdoors, mind you, in the limestone, twinkly-lit courtyard …

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Jan 01

Peacocks and Poachers

Today was one of my assigned swimming days at Gold’s Gym. I am working with a trainer to rehab a hip plagued by osteo-arthritis—swimming laps two or three days a week, and on alternate days, struggling through an isometric and hip-strengthening workout. For me, swimming is easy and Zen: I find it meditative and restorative, …

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Aug 25

Why I Left New York By Elizabeth O’Brien, LPC-S

I was keen to stay home and raise our three children. Happily, in New York City, where we were living in the 80s and 90s, it made more economic sense for me to quit work. But this choice was fraught: women in New York who leave their jobs to raise their children generally vaporize into …

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Apr 02

Armadillo

Armadillo By Elizabeth O’Brien, LPC-S I was already feeling fragile, having slept fitfully, rattled by disturbing dreams. Some part of me couldn’t shake a feeling of dread. I forced myself into my morning ritual, firing up my IPad, New York Times app, coffee by my side. The top story hit me in the face: a …

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Nov 09

The Problem with Positive Psychology

Positive psychology has come to the fore in our culture, giving rise to certain positivity performance anxiety. We are under pressure from television, radio and particularly social media to maintain an optimistic outlook, no matter what; believe that we can accomplish anything we set our minds to; learn to let things go; claim that everything …

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Apr 19

Readiness for Change

Readiness for Change By Elizabeth O’Brien, LPC Many clients come in for therapy expecting the counselor to “fix them.” Yet when the counselor explores the problem(s)—asking critical questions, gently challenging negative or irrational thoughts and beliefs, reframing the meaning of the presenting issue, and then suggesting specific initiatives—clients often resist. They say they have either …

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Feb 13

Congruence of Self

Congruence By Elizabeth O’Brien One of our main objectives as human beings is to reach a state of well-being—a state in which we are deeply comfortable in our own skin. To do this, we must become more fully congruent. What does this mean? Being congruent means embracing our true self and projecting it into the …

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Sep 12

Separation of Self

Separation of Self By Elizabeth O’Brien, M.A., LPC When human beings suffer trauma, large or small, they generally experience “separation” from themselves, from others, and from the meaning of life. But even when individuals haven’t had a distinct trauma but are simply depressed, anxious or otherwise off-track, the same kind of separation, or alienation, can …

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