group psychotherapy

Day 2910: I know things ordinary people don’t know

I know things ordinary people don’t know because I

  • was born with a very unusual heart,
  • grew up in an Orthodox Jewish household,
  • had an incredibly funny, creative, and kind father, who loved to make people laugh,
  • had an incredibly caring, kind, clean and neat mother, who loved to laugh,
  • realized I had a connection with cats when I was very young,
  • had my first major heart surgery when I was 10 on the day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated,
  • have relied on cardiac pacemakers to keep me alive since that day,
  • spent a lot of time in hospitals where I met many different types of people,
  • danced in our basement to musicals when nobody was watching,
  • read voraciously when I was young,
  • learned to play the piano, guitar, and ukulele,
  • attended three schools where everyone there knew I had a heart condition,
  • travelled across the USA by bus when I was 21,
  • visited many different countries,
  • danced, danced, danced in the 1970s even though my heart rate was fixed at 72 beats per minute,
  • majored in English literature at college,
  • worked as a technical writer, marketing writer, teacher, manager, and psychotherapist,
  • volunteered for several years at a suicide hotline,
  • attended graduate schools for film studies and social work,
  • love hearing other people’s stories,
  • married two extraordinary men,
  • gave birth to an extraordinary son when I was 45 years old,
  • saw people behave at their best and their worst and everything in between (including me),
  • survived the coronavirus,
  • have kept learning from all the people I have encountered in my long life, and
  • have the Daily Bitch calendar, which knows a lot.

Can you tell that I know things ordinary people don’t know from the rest of today’s photos?

Harley knows things that ordinary cats don’t know, but he’s not telling.

It’s a good thing I know things that ordinary people don’t know, because I’ll be teaching several interns about my Coping and Healing groups this morning at 9.

Here is “I Know Things Now” from Into the Woods by Stephen Sondheim, whom I’ve known I’ve loved for a long, long time.

I also know gratitude that ordinary people don’t know, every day, so thanks to to all the extraordinary people I’ve known, including YOU!

Categories: group psychotherapy, heart condition, heart surgery, life during the pandemic, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 32 Comments

Day 2737: Alone in the presence of others

Seven years ago (but who’s counting?), I created and published my other lone daily blog post with the title “Alone in the presence of others.”

In the presence of others, here and now, I notice that earlier blog post

  • focuses on group therapy,
  • has no photos, and
  • has no comments.

Since then, I’ve made a t-shirt that says,”Alone in the presence of others,” which seems even more relevant during these pandemic days.

We are always in the presence of others, even when we feel alone. There’s a beautiful group intervention about that in the incredible new series GROUP on YouTube. GROUP  features scripted characters, improvised interactions, and the renowned group therapist Elliot Ziesel, PhD as Dr. Ezra, the group leader. At the end of the first episode (at 14:31), there’s this exchange:

Karina: But the thing about unconditional love is that you can lose it.

Dr. Ezra: Unconditional love?

Karina:  Yes.

Dr. Ezra: How can you lose that?

Karina: My mother died.

Karina: You don’t continue to talk to her? She doesn’t continue to live inside you somewhere?

Karina: She does.

Dr. Ezra: She’s gone, but she’s not dead.

Yesterday, when I was alone in the presence of others, I …

  • watched several episodes of GROUP,
  • thought about my late mother and my late father,
  • communicated with my lone child, Aaron, who is in the presence of others 3,068 miles away in Edinburgh, Scotland (but who’s counting?),
  • told Aaron about GROUP, and
  • took all these photos:

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That delicious toasted quinoa was alone in the presence of others on my dinner plate last night, thanks to the presence of my dear husband Michael.

Would you like to be alone in the presence of others in the comments section, below?

Today’s expression of gratitude is alone in the presence of others.

 

 

Categories: group psychotherapy, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Day 2184: Don’t miss the drama

Yesterday morning,  before leaving our dramatic New York City airbnb to attend the second and final day of a dramatic  group therapy conference, I didn’t miss the drama of this sign on the wall:

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I didn’t miss the fact that  “Don’t miss the drama” was a perfect invitation for a day of learning, connection, and  participation in the human drama of group therapy.

In those groups, I learned, again, how the dramas, traumas, thoughts, feelings, and actions of all the individuals present can dramatically form and transform a group experience. I’m so glad I didn’t miss the drama of that group therapy conference, despite the drama of our traumatic drive from Boston to NYC through white-out conditions on Thursday night.

Don’t miss the drama in my other photos from yesterday.

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IMG_1125Did you pick up or miss the dramatic thanks I’m giving to the Eastern Group Psychotherapy Society and everyone else who contributed to the wonderful drama of my days in New York? Also, don’t miss the drama of my thanks to you — of course! —  for participating in this blog.

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Finally, don’t miss the drama of Marcelo Álvarez singing “Sperai, tanto il deliro” from Pagliacci:

Categories: group psychotherapy, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Day 2147: Bravo!

At our Airbnb home-away-from-home in NYC, I noticed this on a signed photograph:

It says, “Bravo! Great voice!”

In the groups I observed and participated in yesterday (at the Eastern Group Psychotherapy Society annual conference), I heard variations of “Bravo!” when people were brave, authentic, went beneath the surface, and gave great voice to their thoughts and feelings.

What helped people do all this in those groups? Perhaps it was this clear message (which I saw at the church where the conference took place):

“You are safe here.”

Bravo!

Do any of my other photos from yesterday deserve a “Bravo!” ?

Here‘s the Goedicke Concert Etude, played by Julia Bravo:

Thanks to all who helped me create today’s post and — Bravo! — to YOU.

Categories: group psychotherapy, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , | 17 Comments

Day 2135: Healing factors

A week ago Sunday, I attended a wonderful talk  by J. Scott Rutan, a highly esteemed writer, teacher, and practitioner of group psychotherapy. During the talk — offered by the Northeastern Society for Group Psychotherapy —   Scott handed out a list of healing factors, and invited everybody to rank the healing factors in order.

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This was a difficult task, because all of those healing factors are very important. However, I had no difficulty identifying what healing factor I rely on the most: Hope.

I hope it’s okay if I quote from my first blog post with “hope” in the title, written almost exactly three years ago today:

I hope I can express, in my first post about hope, how important hope is for human beings who struggle, cope, bruise, and heal.

I hope you understand that I’m saying that hope is important to all of us.

Hope is:

I hope there’s hope in the three photos I took yesterday.

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Michael loves raccoons, so I bought him this mug yesterday.  I hoped that he’d like it and he did!

 

 

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I hope we all survive the coming winter and don’t swallow too much snow.

 

 

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I hope Scott Rutan, everyone else who helps me create these blog posts, and my readers know how thankful I am for them.

I hope this week brings good news to all who hold hope for the USA.

I hope you find hope in this:

I hope you comment about your own healing factors, below,  and accept more thanks from me.

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Categories: group psychotherapy, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Day 1985: What do you do with an unpleasant person?

What do you do with an unpleasant person?

You could hide,

read a book,

take charge, wear distracting socks,

keep your distance,

take a pause,

drive away, drink tea,

appreciate yourself, honor your soul, give yourself a compliment,

be open to other people’s compliments, be the hero of your own story,

and/or write a song.

Today, I’ll be spending the day with many pleasant people for the first day of a three-day group psychotherapy conference in my pleasant birthplace of Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

I look forward to reading your pleasant comments.

Many thanks to all the pleasant cats and people who helped me create today’s post and — of course! — to YOU.

Categories: group psychotherapy, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Day 1941: Threads

Three days ago, I facilitated a retreat for the board of directors of a professional group psychotherapy association. During that retreat, I invited people to identify “threads,” defined as the important issues that

  • run through the history of the association,
  • keep coming up during retreats and other discussions about the association, and
  • connect people to the association.

As I was thinking about threads in preparation for that retreat, I noticed threads everywhere, including on this pair of gloves.

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Here are some threads from the retreat:

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At the end of the retreat, everybody there had taken ownership of some threads that were important to them. The threads I chose  included resolving conflict and making the organization more accessible to current and future members.  As I become President of the organization on July 1, I hope to help people develop  the threads that are important to them and weave them together into a strong and healthy tapestry.

Today, I’m thinking about the threads that run through this blog. Five of the strongest threads are love, group work,  hearts, food, and cats.

Another thread is photography.

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Another strong thread in this blog is music, but I need to leave now to get to physical therapy on time.  Perhaps I’ll add that thread later.

What threads are important to you?

Gratitude is another strong thread in this blog, so …

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Categories: group psychotherapy, group therapy, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Day 1872: Silver Linings

Yesterday, in a therapy group, we talked about silver linings, which are

the hopeful side of a situation that might seem gloomy on the surface. The common expression “every cloud has a silver lining” means that even the worst events or situations have some positive aspect.

The silver linings we talked about in group included the dark clouds of traumatic events which had made people stronger, more resilient, and grateful for the gifts of the present.

I found my own silver linings in that group:  I couldn’t write important themes up on the white board because of my torn rotator cuff so one of the group participants  wrote those lines instead, which meant

  • more group engagement and
  • better hand-writing.

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I was so pleased with these silver linings that I said,”Now I’m glad I hurt my arm.”  At first the group said, in unison, “No you’re not!” but that led to more valuable discussions about silver linings.

I want to underline this about silver linings:  I’m a person who can find a silver lining in my own painful injuries, but I can NOT find  silver linings in another horrific assault-weapon massacre in the U.S.  Maybe I can’t find silver linings there because nothing seems to disperse or lessen the  cloud of gun violence in the United States.

When my only child decided to go to the University of Edinburgh I easily found this silver lining:  no school shootings in Scotland.

What are your thoughts and feelings about silver linings?  Can you find any silver linings in my other photos?

 

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I have a silver lining of hope that people will change their thoughts and change the world .

There’s  a “Silver Lining” by Rilo Kiley on YouTube.

 

Here’s my silver lining of gratitude for all who helped me create today’s post and — of course! — for YOU.

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Categories: group psychotherapy, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Day 1515: Jealousy

Jealousy is one of those “negative” human emotions  which can make people uncomfortable.

Yesterday, the members of my therapy group discussed jealousy  without judgment. Any jealousy about that?

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I doubt there’s any jealousy about my handwriting and drawing abilities. This is what I wrote, yesterday, about jealousy:

  1. Jealousy is a human emotion. I am afraid of other people’s jealousy — I’m afraid the feeling is going to hurt me. But other people’s feelings and thoughts cannot hurt me.
  2. What makes jealousy worse for you? Lack of self-care. Cognitive distortions. Fear. $ Money.
  3. What helps you deal with jealousy? Self care. Recognizing it’s just a feeling. Leaning back and letting jealousy go by me without hurting me.

What are your thoughts and feelings about jealousy?

Do you have jealousy about any of my other photos from yesterday?

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Comparisons — the thief of joy — can often lead to jealousy.

Any jealousy about my having a wonderful son, who is turning 19 today and whose YouTube video has  90,000 views this morning?

Any jealousy about all the gratitude I have for everyone who helped me create this post and — of course! — for you?

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Categories: group psychotherapy, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 36 Comments

Day 1318: What helps you do what’s healthy for you?

Yesterday, in a therapy group, one of the members asked this great question:

What helps you do what’s healthy for you?

Do any of my photos from yesterday help?

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What helps you do what’s healthy for you?

As you might notice, humor, music and dancing are on my list.  Here’s something healthy  that includes all three:

 

 

Gratitude is on one of my lists, too.  Thanks to all who helped me create this post and to you — of course! — for visiting, here and now.

 

Categories: group psychotherapy, group therapy, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , | 20 Comments

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