Listen to family therapist Chris Hoff's interview with Christine LaCerva, this week's featured guest on Hoff's popular radio podcast, The Radical Therapist. In this lively conversation, Christine discusses how she relies upon play, performance and philosophizing with her groups to help them create zones for emotional growth. Click here to listen.
Over 50 people attended our recent Conversations with Practitioners: On the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. Read excerpts of my talk and the conversation with mental health practitioners that attended.
Can we organize a "breakdown" to become a breakthrough? Can it be a moment of growth for the individual - and perhaps the therapist? For the group? How might that happen?
I've found it terribly upsetting watching the news in recent days – terrorism, random acts of violence and the horrors of increasing poverty and civil war. My patients are also expressing a heightened emotionality, and it’s all over the place emotionally speaking. “I just feel like crying all the time,” said one of my clients, “What do you think is going on?"
“My therapist announced to my group that she plans to be out for ‘several weeks.’ Uh oh. What does she mean by ‘several?’” In this post, I consider the trials and tribulations of both patient and therapist as they grapple with all the issues that get raised when the therapist is away.
How can we create our mental health together? The Brooklyn community speaks...
At the Performing the World conference, our international colleagues experienced the social therapy group in action. Read what they have to say...
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?”
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.
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.
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of hosting a celebratory community event at the Social Therapy Group to introduce Rachel Mickenberg, a talented social therapist who is joining our staff. As a way of continuing to build community with all of you, I’d like to share with you the talk I gave that evening.
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.
As we move into the New Year I’m experiencing a whole range of emotions. In conversations with my clients in our social therapy groups, it’s become clear that I’m not alone in this experience. Many clients and community members have expressed how they feel overwhelmed and challenged by what is happening in the world.
I hope you and your families are safe and sound in the aftermath of this horrendous hurricane. I live in the Fort Greene area of Brooklyn, and we were quite lucky here. There was little damage — just a few trees down in the park. Most residents of the area were home, since there were no subways to Manhattan.
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.