Hey, the Therapist Is Interrupting! (An up-close look at a social therapy group in action)

At a recent conference in Norway, participants asked me what social therapy is like in practice. So, I invited them to read out-loud and perform transcripts from an actual therapy group that I lead in NYC. Take a look at the transcripts, and you'll see some of the weird questions I ask my group. I see my role as performer/director to challenge the group on how they're organizing themselves, so that maybe we can create a new kind of therapy play.  I have interrupted their traditional notions of therapy!  My colleagues in Norway didn't quite know what to do with this philosophical challenge to traditional concepts of therapy. What do you think?

Therapy Interrupted (in Norway): Shifting the Gaze from the Self to the Group

At a recent conference in Norway, I led a workshop called Therapy Interrupted: Performing Social Therapy. My co-presenter Pal Carlin and I talked with people about how social therapy interrupts our fascination with the self and helps us shift our gaze to the group. It stops us from digging deep into our patients' psyches in favor of helping them create new ensemble performances. It disturbs our patients' notion that therapy is all about them and introduces them to the other. It challenges the model of traditional psychology in favor of exploring, creating and playing with subjectivity as social relational and cultural activity.

Social Therapy Goes to Norway!

I‘m very excited to let you know that I will be presenting at the upcoming conference Beyond the Therapeutic State: Collaborative Practices for Individual and Social Change in Drammen, Norway this summer. Sponsored by the Taos Institute, the conference will bring together practitioners, scholars and progressives in the field of mental health to produce a lively dialogue and share our creativity and desire to create a better world.

What is Mental Health?

I want to invite you to join an international online conversation started by the Social Therapy Group called What Is Mental Health? It’s part of the National Dialogue on Mental Health started last summer in response to the shootings at Sandy Hook and the increasing violence across this country, and it’s one of several conversations taking place in the Civic Commons Initiative, Creating Community Solutions, in partnership with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Talking About Trauma - Our International Colleagues Speak Out

To broaden our community conversation about trauma, I reached out to international colleagues of the Social Therapy Group and the East Side Institute (ESI), our education, training and research center. I asked them to speak about trauma in their countries, and how they use their creativity and passion to go beyond victimization and powerlessness.

How We Talk About Trauma Matters

A few weeks ago I hosted a community event on trauma at the Social Therapy Group’s Conversation with Practitioners series. A friend of mine, a psychologist and longtime political activist who hadn’t been able to attend, asked me why I had chosen this topic. “Doesn’t the field of psychology relate to people who have been traumatized around their victimization and powerlessness?” she asked. “I thought social therapy wasn’t into that. What were you thinking?”

We’ve Got Your Back!

I want to share with you a note that was sent to the Social Therapy Group after our “Play Pride” event, Sexuality, Gender and Development. As a contribution to our dialogue, Yemayah raises a profound issue concerning the development of African American youth: I wanted to say that I enjoyed yesterday's discussion — it was interesting, provocative and funny. Later, I had some thoughts about race and how it pertains to the development of young people of color that I’d like to bring into the conversation.

Play Pride: Sexuality, Gender and Development

On May 17 the Social Therapy Group hosted a community dialogue on sexuality, gender and development as part of our new “Conversations with Practitioners” series. My guest at the event was Mark Beauregard, a creative arts and drama therapist who has done groundbreaking work using play and performance with his clients.

Radical Acceptance

In my last blog entry, I wrote about new ways of thinking, seeing, and creating possibility in our lives and the broader world. A key aspect of this kind of growth and development is an activity — a revolutionary idea, in fact — that Fred Newman called "radical acceptance." The transcript below of a social therapy group led by Dr. Hugh Polk will give us an opportunity to explore and discuss this idea further.

The Diagnosis Dialogue Continues

In my March post (Abnormal? Unusual? Who Decides?) I wrote about a controversial topic in the field of psychology — the pending publication of the American Psychiatric Association’s new manual of psychiatric diagnoses, the DSM 5. Much of the controversy and ensuing dialogue centers around new diagnoses (and changes to old ones) that are potentially harmful to us and our families.