Posts Tagged With: Tom Johnson

Day 1839: Use of self

Psychotherapists (like myself) use the term “use of self,” which includes thoughtful self-disclosure, transparency, and sharing aspects of one’s personal self for therapeutic connection.

I’ll use this quote from the Amazon description of the book  The Use of Self in Therapy.

One of the most powerful factors in therapy is that it involves the intensive relationship between two (or more) human beings. The issues of transparency and self-disclosure therefore become important concerns for therapists; how can they use themselves effectively in their work without transgressing on professional regulations?

I’m going to use myself in the following example of use of self.

Yesterday, I was asked by a doctor to meet with a Spanish-speaking patient whose mother had recently died in the hospital.  The meeting included the tearful patient, a hospital interpreter, a social work intern who was observing me, and myself. The patient told me, through the interpreter, that she felt guilty about the death of her mother and also that her doctor had previously suggested she see a therapist for treatment of  depression. I assumed that this patient would resist the idea of seeing a therapist for many reasons, including a culture-based stigma about mental health treatment.  As we discussed the realities of therapy, I told her she might be surprised how many people saw therapists for helpful support.   I decided to self-disclose. “I see a therapist,” I told her. Immediately, the intern revealed, “I see a therapist, too.” The interpreter said  — in Spanish and then in English — “I do, also.” All four of us laughed, as I observed that the patient was the only one in the room who was NOT seeing a therapist.

Is there use of self in these photos?









When our world turns upside down, using our selves and our shared humanity can help us stop and connect.

Here‘s James Brown’s use of self in song:

I look forward to my readers’ use of self in the comment section, below.

Speaking for myself, use of self always includes thanking all the selves that help me express myself and — of course! — YOU.


Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Day 555: Ann explains the brain to you

Yesterday, at work, when somebody was describing some powerful, negative, and self-judgmental thoughts, I felt compelled to draw a picture of the brain.

I need to warn you,

  1. I’m a terrible artist and
  2. I’ve not studied, in any real way, the structure of the brain.

You may find both of the above confessions surprising, since I

  1. often focus on visual images here and
  2. am a psychotherapist.

Nevertheless, those are the facts.

After I drew the brain on my office whiteboard, we discussed how negative thoughts can be RIGHT THERE, so quickly,  in the front of  the mind.   We talked about the difficulty of accessing positive thoughts.  We discussed how the part of the brain that stores affirming, hopeful thoughts can seem small, hidden, and difficult to reach.

Are you ready to see my non-scientific and non-artistic drawing of the brain, with shadings and call-outs from yesterday’s discussion?


The negative part of my brain (depicted, above, in front and in blue) is telling me that NOBODY could possibly understand that drawing, and that I’m foolish to include that photo here.

The  positive part of my brain (shown, above, in reddish-purple and in the middle) is telling me the drawing is good enough to make my points. That positive part of my brain also tells me this: if people are confused or have questions, they can let me know.

We agreed, yesterday, that the positive part of any human brain can learn, grow, and become more immediately accessible, with practice.

That part of my brain is telling me, now, to include these other images, also from yesterday:

IMG_6779   IMG_6788  IMG_6783 IMG_6784 IMG_6785  IMG_6786IMG_6790IMG_6792 IMG_6791


The brain works in mysterious ways, doesn’t it?

Thanks to those I work with, to all the different parts of the brain (whether or not I can draw them), to anybody who contributed to the words and images of this post, and to you — of course! — for using your head, today.


© 2014 Ann Koplow (for the brain)

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , | 44 Comments

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