Archive for May, 2016

gratitude of grief

May 30th, 2016

This weekend I attended a retreat and gave a workshop that I called The Gratitude of Grief. After the recent loss of my incredible cocker spaniel, Cooper, grief has been palpable. Losing a pet is a different flavor of grief because pets (especially dogs) touch a very different part of our hearts. They live in our homes and our hearts. They bring us unconditional love. They provide 24/7 entertainment. The loss of a human and the loss of a pet are like apples and oranges–they really can’t be compared.

In addition to the depth of the loss, I believe that gratitude is a powerful tool at a time of grief. When we celebrate the life of a loved one, we honor the fun, joy and love that we shared. So celebrate. Celebrate their memory. Share stories. Ask others for their stories and memories. Honor the intimacy and shared experiences. This doesn’t take away from the tears and the sadness of the loss, but they can live side-by-side. Staying open-hearted allows us to love again. I recently adopted another cocker spaniel mix a few months before Cooper died. I’m still not sure about the timing of introducing a new addition at that time, but now my challenge is to make room in my heart for Bowie and to carry all of these recent experiences with respect and tenderness. Gratitude and grief…

shame re-visited

May 22nd, 2016

This weekend the Group Psychotherapy Association of Los Angeles hosted Stewart Aledort, MD who is a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and leader in the national group therapy community for a 2-day conference on the Power of Shame. His model has been compiled and synthesized through many decades of leading groups, and his expertise and command of the audience was very impressive. His lectures and demonstration groups illustrated how Dr. Aledort focuses on the power and excitement of shame which he calls the passionate bad fit (based on early misattunements). As a result, he theorizes that we tend to hold on tight to these familiar yet often destructive patterns.

In group therapy he helps his patients reveal and identify these passionate bad fits which often results in a phase of feeling lost and uncertain without the bad fit. If the individual can hang in there at a time of deep uncertainty and loss of identity, longer-term healing is possible. Through the experience of building trust and loving, nurturing relationships in group, eventually an individual will move toward dependable, satisfying relationships–sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.

In addiction recovery the highest likelihood for relapse is soon after the addictive process is identified and ended. The newly-sober person has lost their identity and feels lost and needs to tolerate and endure this uncertainty to move toward more sustainable sobriety. Leaning into the love and reaching out for help from emotionally-reliable people is essential in the same way a group provides a sanctuary for this process to be more successful and less likely to relapse into the old destructive patterns.

May 17th, 2016

Last week our brand-new Brainspotting website was launched! Along with myself, my brainspotting colleagues, Maria Gray, MFT, Claudia Lewis, MFT and Deborah Sweet, PsyD have formed a local association for Brainspotting that we’ve named the Brainspotting Consortium of Los Angeles. Our website is, and we want to share the enthusiasm and the clinical expertise with the Southern California community. Please visit our new site and let me know if you have any questions. There is a really informative video given by the founder, David Grand, PhD which will give you a very thorough overview and background. We look forward to your questions and discussions.

The Power of Shame

May 15th, 2016

Next weekend the Group Psychotherapy Association is hosting its annual conference at the American Jewish University here on Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles. We are super excited to welcome a psychiatrist and very talented and innovative group therapist from Washington, DC named Stewart Aledort, MD. Dr. Aledort has been developing his own model of groupwork for several decades, and we are lucky enough to have him here for two full days to share his wisdom and perspective with us. The conference is almost sold out so if you are interested in joining us, please visit for more details and to consider being a part of this experiential weekend exploring, shame, excitement and how these experiences show up in groups. Hope to see you there!