Archive for February, 2012

Seven Ways to Get What You Want

February 25, 2012

By Marshall Loeb, MarketWatch

Jim Camp, an expert on negotiating and author of “No: The Only Negotiating System You Need for Work and Home,” offers seven ideas for getting what you want — whether negotiating with people, handling finances, or tackling a difficult situation — by saying “no” early and often.

1. Start with “No.” Resist the urge to compromise. Remember that “no” is not an absolute rejection, but a decision that can be changed. Invite the person who said no to your proposal to explain his or her vision; it may open the door to an honest discussion that can eventually turn out in your favor.

2. Be in control. Do not dwell on gratuitous things you may want; focus instead on what you can control – your actions and behaviors. In the realm of personal finance, that could mean reducing payments on your debt and putting the remainder in your savings. “Say no to full payments,” says Camp. “Taking care of your bills is important, but not at the expense of paying yourself first. Pay a third or a quarter of the bill and tuck the rest of the money away.”

3. Do your research. Learn everything you can about a project before you begin work on it. This way, you will save time and prevent a minefield of surprises, whether you’re dealing with the boss, a car dealer, or your teenager. The confidence that comes with knowing just what you are dealing with often translates into tangible success.

4. Face problems head-on. Identify the issues and bring them out into the open. Whether they are your own problems or somebody else’s, acknowledging them gives you an edge.

5. Check your emotions. Practice self-control and let go of any expectations or judgments. Whatever you do, don’t be needy.

6. Get them talking. Ask open-ended questions that begin with “what” and “how.” Find out what the other person wants or needs, and show him how your proposal may actually benefit him.

7. Have a purpose and a vision to reflect it. Learn to present your ideas as solutions. By helping others see exactly what they will gain from your plan, you spark decision-making and action. “When you have a mission in place, decision-making really gets bolstered. It becomes so much easier to say no and so much clearer when to say yes.”


How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer

February 25, 2012

This is the first book I read on the Kindle Fire I got for Christmas. I have read a number of books in the genre where writers try to distill recent psychological research for the layperson. This is the best one I have read, perhaps because of the unifying theme – making decisions. Not something we can really avoid, we often are aware of it like we are aware of our breathing. I tend to only be aware of my breathing when I am working to breathe, and I tend to only be aware I am making decisions when they are hard. But the book demonstrates that we often make it harder on ourselves then we need to because we fail to pay attention to the task of matching how we decide with what we are deciding. For example, and this will sound likely counterintuitive to many, simple decisions are best made with the intellect or reason and complex decision are better made with the gut or emotion.

As a therapist, I was able to make use of what I learned in the book to help some of my clients immediately. Fit of approach is so important to success in therapy, and the fit of how you are thinking to what you are thinking about also correlates highly with success. One size fits all, like ‘positive thinking’ approaches, can really be a poison in so many situations.

As we go into this political season, and watch how people with different viewpoints seem to be excellent at dodging facts that put their candidates in a negative light, I am reminded of this line from Lehrer – Self-delusion apparently feels really good.  Parts of the brain that cause us to feel pleasure become VERY active when we delude ourselves. Lehrer advises us to be in contant dialog with our feelings and you will understand how this can help you. Having a conversation with yourself about how you feel  while you ‘get off’ on your self-delusion tends to burst your bubble and help you avoid errors.  

 I took notes on this book and I will continue to study it. It is a fun read too. I learned about it from Todd Camp in a Linkedin discussion about negotiation.

Identifying clients at risk for treatment failure

February 24, 2012

Positive outcomes can be expected for most clients who enter psychotherapy, and clinicians

are appropriately optimistic about the effects of their services. Despite clinician con-

fidence in their ability to help clients, many clients do not benefit and a small portion even

deteriorate before they leave treatment. It appears that clinicians are unwilling or unable to

identify these clients, despite knowing the baseline rates for failure. Whereas other health

care professionals rely heavily on lab test results for diagnosis and monitoring of treatment

response, psychotherapists continue to practice without reliance on them. Formally tracking

treatment response with the use of standardized measures and markers for likely negative

response increases the likelihood that clinicians can take timely steps to reduce treatment

failure.We now have the ability to use effective lab tests to aid clinical practice. The nagging

question is whether clinicians will use them in routine practice. We have developed

elegant methods for accurately predicting client treatment response, and failure to respond

in particular. The degree to which such information, when made accessible to practitioners,

improves client outcome is a topic highlighted in other articles in this issue.

Rest of this article can be found at link below:

Jumpstarting questions and concepts

February 24, 2012

What do you know about your recovery that XXXXXXXX doesn’t?

Relentlessly blame clients for their success and improvement.

saying by Michel Callon: “To speak for others is to first silence those in whose name we speak.”

“What in my life would improve so greatly if I got this thing the way I want it?”

“What do I have to believe to feel this way?”

“If I really felt powerful and unafraid, what would I be doing?”

The illusion that we are not choosing is what locks us out of the beauty of life>”

Stare down the fear that you’re not enough.

Provoke strength.

Two magic words:


What are they comparing ‘it’ (eg- ORS scores) to?

God Box

What else MIGHT cause someone to behave this way?

Is there anything I’m not seeing here because I’m so used to my own model of the world?

How can I ask myself an even better question right now?

Smooth seas do not make skillfull sailors.

Mistake to make: Telling your therapy client they need meds

February 23, 2012

The irony of psychotherapists recommending medications is that doing so is exactly what clients do NOT want.  Over the last few days, I ran into several research articles, which found psychotherapy was preferred over medications at a ratio of 2:1[i] another found a ratio of 2.8 to 1,[ii] while another found that psychotherapy was preferred nearly 5 times more often than medications.[iii]  Similar results are found in studies of the general public.  In a review of 10 studies, positive attitudes to psychotherapy were 2.3 times more prevalent than to antidepressant medications.[iv]  Some of the reasons expressed as to why psychotherapy was preferred include a belief that psychotherapy can get to the actual cause of the depression, concerns about medication side-effects, and concerns that medications are addictive. Thus, among depressed patients, and the general public, psychotherapy is strongly seen as the treatment of choice over medications, for a variety of reasons.

So, the pressure for psychotherapists to recommend medications may come from the titanic influence of drug company advertising and influence over the medical profession, and the desire of psychotherapists to be accepted by the medical profession.  It is opposite to what clients want.  I want to encourage all of you to be strong, privilege your client’s voices and goals, regardless of the pro-pill environment.

Eric Kuelker, Ph.D. R.Psych.

[i] M Dwight-Johnson, CD Sherbourne, D Liao, KB Wells (2000) Treatment Preferences Among Depressed Primary Care Patients, J Gen Intern Med, 15:527-534

[ii] Backenstrass MJoest KFrank AHingmann SMundt CKronmüller KT (2006) Preferences for treatment in primary care: a comparison of nondepressive, subsyndromal and major depressive patients. Gen Hosp Psychiatry. Mar-Apr;28(2):178-80

[iii] Lowe B, Schulz U, Grafe K, Wilke S, (2006) Medical Patients’ Attitudes Toward Emotional Problems and Their Treatment. What Do They Really Want? Journal of General Internal Medicine,  21, 1, 39-46

[iv] van Schaik DJKlijn AFvan Hout HPvan Marwijk HWBeekman ATde Haan Mvan Dyck R. (2004) Patients’ preferences in the treatment of depressive disorder in primary care. Gen Hosp Psychiatry. May-Jun;26

Respect the power of negative affect reciprocity or fail

February 22, 2012

 A marital therapy researcher, Dr. John Gottman  claims he can predict – with 94% accuracy! – which couples will make it and which won’t, based on only a few observable patterns. He was on Oprah, but don’t hold that against him.

Whether or how often a couple fights is not the main factor. What is more important – the key, according to Gottman, to what makes or breaks a marraige – is how those conflicts are resolved, especially whether the resolution leaves people feeling close, safe and caring again. And no matter what style a couple has for dealing with conflict, couples who last have at least five times as many positive as negative moments together. This means that for every negative, painful comment, action, and encounter, each of you needs to experience five positive ones.

    Negative Affect Reciprocity – Gottman (1999)  most consistent discriminator btwn happily and unhappily married couples. Probability that a person’s emotions will be negative (anger, sadness, belligerence, contempt) right after his partner has expressed negativity. Far better measurement that amount of negative affect.

 Avoid exploring negativity.

 Some reinvigoration, remembering and refreshing of the good story elements must precede or accompany repair attempts  if they are to be successful.

 Diddly’s thoughts:

So I am guessing that higher postive to negative moment ratios, at least 5 to 1, reduce negative affect reciprocity. I bet this also applies to other familial relationships. If we decrease the number of positive moments we have with our kids, especially as they get older and spend less time with us and they aren’t so into cuddling, than things can deteriorate. If they are out a lot and we are worried about their safety and follwing rules, then when we talk to them we often go to safety first and that often isn’t a positive moment for either party. 

I think this is particularly tough for stepparents who feel obligated to maintain discipline when the bio parent isn’t there, but feel inhibited out of respect for boundaries from showing too much affection.

I think this requires some creative thinking and perhaps some increased willingness to go out of one’s comfort zone.  For example, hold off on discipline moments with older kids until you  get your ‘ratio’ up.

Recruiting wisdom of two approaches to addiction: abstinence vs moderation

February 18, 2012

I wrote an earlier post  on the positive uses of procrastination, and I have been experimenting with it as have some of my clients. You’ll find the link to the research in my post.

Simply put, you put off negative behaviors rather than just trying to abstain ‘forever’. It works pretty well as long as your limbic system isn’t susceptible to being overridden by the behavior in question.  For example, if you put off drinking alcohol, and you are an addict, that one drink could send you on a long destructive ride that may last years and even end your life. But procrastination can be used positively by an addict. For example, an addict may have an urge to visit friends or places where the addictive behavior has taken place in the past.  If they put off giving into the impulse, it may subside completely, but even if it doesn’t, they will buy time for themself to put in measures that make the visit more safe, such as bringing a sober friend with you or not bringing money.

So I am inviting consideration of allowing more mindful and moderate exposure to addictive triggers in moderation via procrastination strategies. Some problem drinkers may even be able to drink in moderation but with more attention to context using the procrastination strategy. Other problem drinkers may not be safe using the moderation option with the addictive behavior itself, but they can still avail themselves of procrastination strategies so as to save their daily willpower for the moments of direct temptation

Decisions are 100% emotional before the decision is made

February 17, 2012

There was a very telling/supportive article in the HBR a few years back. The focus was on a brain tumor patient who suffered surgical damage to the center of his frontal lobes. This patient had the same IQ, no language problems, his memory was 100% in tact, but he had no sense or feelings of any emotion(s).

Once that damage occurred the patient was incapable of making a decision for the remainder of his life. They would put two simple options in front of him and ask him to make a decision, and he simply could not do it.

No emotion = Impossible to make a decision. I believe Lehrer talks about the same patient/case study in his book as well.

When we conduct classroom style workshops, this rule puts many people in a state of unease or distress. They simply don’t want to believe this is the case. They’re convinced their decision making is based on logic, reason, rationale, knowledge, and/or intellect. They make emotional decisions to reject that decisions are emotional! Its actually a very fun topic to get people engaged.   (Todd Camp)

Functions of anger – might as well make it work for you

February 17, 2012

Anger:  one of the most frequent causes – someone interfering with what we are intent on doing.

–          apart from rare circumstances when anger helps us to stop a threat, angry feelings warn us that we are getting closer to making our anger public and making things worse

 –          anger can motivate us to stop or change whatever caused us to feel angry

 –          anger at injustice motivates actions to bring about change

 –          useful to direct anger at actions not people and adhere to intent not to hurt actors but bring attention to the solution of the problem caused by the actions

 –          anger and fear often occur in the same situation, in response to the same threats, and anger can be helpful in reducing the fear and provide energy that mobilizes actions to deal with the threat

 –          anger informs others of trouble

 –          anger can be a clear signal to someone that what they are doing is objectionable

 –          past angry events can be remembered without become angry if there is no backlog and if the specific event was resolved, they are more likelyto provoke further anger if they are unresolved and/or there is a backlog

 –          referential expressions require a reference to the ‘real thing’

Negotiation is inevitable in psychotherapy – getting better at it has been a boon for my clients

February 16, 2012

In this post I am referring to the system of negotiation developed by Jim Camp. I posted  this on a linked-in discussion with fellow negotiation students.

William Chase • One thing that has happened with many of my therapy clients is that they often have quick success implementing valid activity and behavior from the system. This is important for people with emotional problems because they are often demoralized and can really use some quick gratification to build their confidence. Just like me, though, they struggle to sustain implementation of the principles of the system. They may return discouraged at a later time, but since they have tasted that early success, I simply remind them of it. How quickly they forget 🙂 – emotions can really bang up their memory, especially of positives. Now they have decision to make. They did it, they can do it again or not. ” Just tell me NO” . The negotiation is on! Awesome stuff.

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