It matters that people have a way to use the latest findings in psychology beyond buying a pill for depression. It matters that people have a way of looking at their lives that lets them ask the big questions and determine how they want to live – and that this is supported by therapists and mental health professionals.

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Posts tagged with the category Key Concepts

My last entry for this site asked the question, “What is liberty?” Previously, I had posited this question to my Facebook friends, as well as my professional peers, and received only one response. The lack of response to my question as well as recent local and national events caused me to wonder whether we, as a society, as communities...
Several writers have presented exciting new ideas for classifying and diagnosing human problems. Peter Kinderman, for instance, has proposed a “problem list and formulation” approach in which clinicians list however many presenting problems a client brings to session. Jeffrey Rubin has put forward ideas for a “Classification and...
Carpenter's (1857) The Eldest Son of the King of Delhi.
As I write this, it has been 12-years since I obtained my PhD in clinical psychology. In many ways, I feel quite proud of what I have accomplished; in other ways I struggle with the existential guilt associated with the privilege that allowed for that success. I write this as I near the end of my term as president of the Society for Humanistic...
Photo by Richard Bargdill.
In one of psychology classes I teach, we were talking about experiences of the sacred. Only about half the students, through a show of hands, would admit publicly to having had such an experience. We decided, as class, to write a reflection on what people had experienced, and at least, called the sacred. Then we would see if we could find some...
The country is abuzz with opinions about the Zimmerman/Martin case at this moment. At the risk of igniting a flame war, I can't help thinking it is a bit of a distraction from larger issues—the racism endemic to our system of government is far bigger than one case in Florida, and our increasingly imminent suffering and death caused by...
What is liberty? Stop for a moment and reflect on what words, images, pictures, and feelings come to mind in response to this question. Maybe you see a flag or words from a document. Maybe you see a picture of soldiers in battle or images of leaders. Maybe you hear a melody or the lines of a poem racing across your mind. What is liberty? Liberty...
Photo by NBC.
I never thought it would happen to me. I’ve spent a good portion of my life railing against this kind of activity—coming up with all the reasons—the aesthetic as well as the elitist—for why I should not participate. But now, it’s happened, thanks to an innocent request from my 10-year-old nephew, Judah, to watch with...
Photo Illustration by Craig Sunter.
A friend recently asked me for some support regarding a personal issue. I was limited with my time to give help immediately, but I wanted to offer something of value to this person. I could identify with her distress. She was faced with what seemed like the need to make an immediate decision, and yet that sense of immediate threat was likely false...
Photo by Debra Sweet.
I was surprised by the intensity of my emotions when I heard the news of the Zimmerman verdict earlier this evening. George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed African American youth. After a highly publicized trial, he was found not guilty. As I read the news alert, I immediately responded in anger. The next several minutes my...
Lately, I have been writing a lot about despair. I know that the most immediate experiences make the best writing, and a mentor of mine some years ago said I should give up fiction writing and just write what I know. So, as I struggle with despair, trying to live it bravely rather than cast it out, it seems foolish to write about other topics. So...
Etching by Adi Holzer (1997).
The interest in theory and research pertaining to racial microaggressions is booming, yet it rarely gets mentioned in the existential literature. This, I believe, is a problem that needs to be rectified. I have written numerous articles arguing for the need for greater attention to diversity issues in existential psychology (see Hoffman, 2008;...
Jody Stephens performing with Chris Stamey.
“More important…is that aspect of beauty that transcends death. Beauty calls up in us the qualities that go beyond death, such as eternity, serenity, the use of the imagination to project us beyond time and space….” (May, 1985, p. 70) A few weeks ago, I found myself, as I occasionally do, going through a period of...