Psychoanalysis • Psychotherapy • Counseling

David I. Brandt, LCSW, LLC

Montclair, NJ Area

Tools & Insights

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Does the Perspective of the Listener Matter?

Posted on April 9, 2014 at 11:36 PM Comments comments (8)
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Problem vs. Solution Focus

Posted on January 26, 2014 at 5:44 PM Comments comments (0)
Problem vs. Solution Focus

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Found this quote below. Sometimes, we really do need to focus in on, and deconstruct, issues, if only to raise our own consciousness of their essential components and/or of the issues themselves. There also comes a point where:

"If I focus on the problem, the problem gets bigger. If I focus on the solution, the solution gets bigger."

Thank you to Twitter @jonniqueen (whoever you may be!?) for this one.

Let's Dispense with the Therapy, Here's What You Need to Know, Eh?!!??

Posted on November 24, 2013 at 8:35 PM Comments comments (0)
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Honest for Whom™

Posted on November 3, 2013 at 7:54 PM Comments comments (4)
Honest for Whom™

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How many times have we heard: “Honesty is the best policy.”  Or, “Be Real." Or, “I tell it like it is." Or, "I pull no punches.”  Or, “I say exactly what is on my mind.”  Whereas, in general, "the truth  will  set you free”, there are several situations where it may be better to think before we speak, or, in other words, where “discretion  is  the better part of valor”!

When one feels like “telling it like it is” and being totally up front and honest with another, it is a good idea to ask oneself, Honest for whom???  Are we being so honest and direct because  we  feel better after it?  To prove a point?  Exact our pound of flesh? Or, is there really a good purpose in our honesty?   What are our motives?  Are we helping someone or some situation or does it just end up being purely hurtful and gratuitous?  These questions to ourselves are important filters through which to test whether or not to disclose, or confront others with, our “truths”, as we subjectively experience them.  Taking a moment to reflect upon our motives vs. impulsively blurting out the “truth” is essential!

Since truth is often a subjective interpretation of matters, it is  our  truth and not necessarily another’s.  (And, by the way, IT IS INDEED important to attempt to be as honest as possible with ourselves!)  Much thought must therefore go into whether or not it would be helpful to confront another with our views/feelings.  There certainly are times when it is of great value.  As often, though, there are times when silence or letting a person come to their own sense of themselves and/or their actions is equally as valuable and perhaps much more likely to bear positive fruit!!


Save Your Analysis for Your Patients!!??

Posted on October 26, 2013 at 10:12 PM Comments comments (0)
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Enlist Them in Your Bind™

Posted on October 26, 2013 at 9:55 PM Comments comments (2)
Enlist Them in Your Bind™

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When we want to tell someone something that is not so easy to tell - that might even be somewhat confrontational or “loaded" in nature - and we find ourselves in conflict, and equivocating, over how to tell them, there is a technique that may well be of some use!

A parent may have to set a limit for a child who he/she knows is not going to like it.  A husband, wife or partner may need to explain some behavior to his/her spouse.  An employee may wish for his/her boss to change a particular policy or assignment that is irksome.

People come to me all the time with such dilemmas.  And though there is, of course, no one answer for all situations, quite often, the advice to “enlist them in your bind” or, in other words, ask them what  they  would do in your shoes - has served many quite well.

This strategy allows the person being confronted, who might otherwise become defensive, to stay (or, rather, feel more) in control and be the one to come up with the idea or co-write the solution!  It also serves to inspire empathy vs. immediate negativity and venom. 

If the answer the 'person being confronted' gives "the enlister" is somehow still not incorporating the view the enlister was hoping to hear, and this certainly may sometimes happen, then the enlistee may need to become more oriented to the idea that a dilemma even exists.  For example, a parent asking a child how he or she would handle consequences for breaking curfew, could, on the one hand, hear back that the child would be rougher on him or herself than the parent would ever be.  Or, on the other hand, a parent may find that the child just doesn’t see why ANY parent would set a curfew.  In this latter case, there is still probably a greater chance for dialogue, philosophy-sharing, negotiation, evolving mindsets and/or educating than if the situation starts out contentious and devolves into everyone digging in their heels out of urgent frustration!

This technique of enlisting another in one’s bind requires patience and openness.  If there is a shortage of these, then other help may be needed before this strategy is likely to pay off.

Shared Meaning™

Posted on October 19, 2013 at 8:59 PM Comments comments (0)
Shared Meaning™

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All too often we converse with each other yet seem to be having two different conversations. One is speaking about apples and the other is speaking about oranges, though we think we are talking about the same things. 

The truth is we each process our experiences and interactions through our own subjective filters that are born of multiple sources (such as family of origin influences, genetics, what we've learned, self-esteem needs, peer interaction history, past traumas, projection, etc.).

All too often our pool of common or shared meaning is all too shallow. How can we gain more shared meaning?

We really have to walk a mile in the other's shoes - achieving empathy, actually - to really get the full meaning of the other's words and experiences. Each word or experience expressed by a person has a contextual background with unique associated feelings.  It behooves us to get to know and understand all of this to really "get" a person.

This work pays off nicely as intimacy starts to increase in proportion to the feelings of being heard, understood, validated, at times, and truly communicated with in general!!

These ideas sound easy enough, but they may, at times, require an ability to communicate through lots of potential walls and layers of subjective historic experience to arrive at achieving this shared meaning. But how rewarding to feel so heard and to really "get" someone.

Impatience, denial and various aspects of our personalities and histories might also be obstacles to achieving this shared meaning. These may need individual attention.  Also, communication ground rules may need to be in place before genuine and fruitful efforts to mine for this shared meaning and more effective communication can really happen. Not all partners can do this on their own. Many seek counseling and/or couples therapy and/or family therapy to facilitate this work. Others seek encounter groups or peer groups to raise consciousness around these ideas.

Approach, Tone and Attitude™

Posted on September 22, 2013 at 4:53 PM Comments comments (0)
Approach, Tone and Attitude™

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All too often we take the ones we are closest to the most for granted.  We feel that "they know us" or that they will love us unconditionally, and thus we can say whatever we want to say however we want to say it.  The assumption is usually that they will simply "understand what we mean".

First of all, what I have found from working with couples in couples therapy (and parents and children in family therapy) is that this is exactly NOT true!  We ought never lose sight of, nor forget the value of, mutual respect!  In truth, we probably want to be   particularly  mindful of those to whom we are closest. This doesn't mean we can never let our guard down nor feel 'in the pocket' with a loved one.  It does mean, however, that we should never take them for granted and assume that all is okay - that they will tolerate anything we dish out when we are on automatic.

So, in the end, becoming aware of, and being conscious of, our APPROACH is as much as  85% of the battle at times: so many couples' (or parent-child dyads') issues can be reduced, in the end, to approach patterns/styles.  It is often not so much about WHAT is being said (i.e., the thing being discussed) as much as it is about the TONE and ATTITUDE with which it is being said! 

We really can react in quite (often historically loaded) ways to another's approaches, tones and attitudes - even when we don't really mind what the other is actually saying.  It is so often about HOW something is being said.  There is, more often than not, a diplomatic or reasonable way to put something across!  These efforts may often take practice and more work at first, but I believe that they also lead to better outcomes over time.

If tweaking one's approach does not seem to bear better relationship fruit, then perhaps a stint in couples or family therapy or some other consciousness-raising activity together or individually might prove of some value - at least until both parties can operate more on the same page (the page of showing genuine interest in making these concepts of mutual respect and couples consciousness important)!

Too Much Jargon Doth Not a Great Therapist Make!

Posted on September 20, 2013 at 2:16 PM Comments comments (6)
I try not to use too much jargon!

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