Monthly Archives: April 2006


inspired by my last blog entry, the following is a slightly altered excerpt from the satir model, giving a model of how to help people deal with feelings.

anger transformed

behaviour: what action did you take when you were angry?

coping: how were you using anger to cope better?

feelings: were there other feelings associated with feeling angry?

feeling about feeling: how do you feel about being angry?

perceptions: what words, beliefs and images are attached to your angry feelings?

expectations: when you were angry, what expectations or hopes did you have that were not fulfilled?

yearnings: underneath your expectations, what did you yearn or long for? how could you express these yearnings differently?

self: what was your level of self esteem a) prior to being agry, b) during the anger, c) following the anger?

… powerful stuff …

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

therapy, goal setting, yearnings and expectations

last week i had the great pleasure of taking a goal planning workshop with mary-lou hill. this workshop was originally designed for women who are part of mary kay cosmetics. however, since mary-lou is the mother of my friend ronnie (of part-ninja), a few of ronnie’s friends got to have a workshop designed just for ourselves.

i walked into this workshop with a bit of a prejudice, because mary-lou is an NLP practitioner, which is an approach to which i generally do not feel drawn. also, i have been to and given many workshops that involve goal setting and the like, so i was a bit doubtful that i would learn anything amazingly new.

but mary-lou’s wonderful, wise and open style, as well as her unusual approach to goal planning turned out to be a great experience. some of the things that really struck home for me included:

  • the importance of using language that excites the subconscious. it’s at the gut level that i need to be excited; it’s not enough to feel a goal is desirable on a purely intellectual level
  • the importance of being in a deeply relaxed state when imagining my goals – this way, the image is much richer
  • when unpleasant patterns of thinking/acting/feeling come up, i can interpret that as meaning that i am offering them up to myself in order to deal with them, rather than be irritated/frustrated/hopeless that they’re rearing their ugly heads again
  • when these unpleasant patterns arise, i can remember to ask what the most positive purpose behind them is, and then experiment with better ways to reach that purpose
  • some people tend to move towards goals, and others move away from unpleasant states; for me, it’s important to incorporate both

of course a lot of these things were already in my awareness but i needed to be reminded of them and, more importantly, i need to really get them, understand them on a deeper level (i guess that’s what heinlein would refer to as “grokking“)

much of what mary-lou did reminded me of the satir approach (which shouldn’t be any surprise, given that virginia satir, fritz perls and milton erickson were the psychologists upon which NLP was originally built).

for example, the positive purpose behind our patterns (what mary-lou called “highest intention”) reminded me of satir’s concept of “universal yearnings” – the longing for love, acceptance, peace, etc. that is common to all human beings. in satir-speak, the unpleasant patterns i just mentioned would be fuelled by (often unreasonable) expectations, which are really just frustrated yearnings.

and of course the other thing i got out of the workshop is yet another reminder a) of how valuable it is to question my assumptions, and b) that in therapy and many other human-to-human interactions, technique, education and affiliations don’t matter nearly as much as the integrity, talent and life experience of the persons involved in the interaction. who cares what school of therapy/religion/etc. one subscribes to! what matters is how well we understand each other, and how well we get along.

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

internet addiction?

it’s evening, and i’m really tired. i should go to bed. but wait, let me check my email. and the other email. and wasn’t i going to look up something on depth-oriented brief therapy? oh! ding! here’s another message! and i haven’t really played spider solitaire yet today. and …

now it’s late evening. i’m really, really tired. my feet are getting cold. my husband has long gone to bed and is sleeping. my eyes burn from staring at the computer too much. i’m gonna go to bed now. let me just quickly check the other email address … oh, it’s her! i should email her back. it’ll just take a minute. no, wait, i have to check whether this link still works …

now it’s late at night. i’m really, really, really tired. my feet are blocks of ice, and i’m starting to hallucinate voices, as i sometimes do when i’m way, way past my bed time. (why is it so often the voice of an elderly man with a strong east indian accent?) i’m too tired to get up, go upstairs, brush my teeth. ok, i’m going now. i’m just gonna close all those windows. hey, the spider game is still open! … it’s so much easier to stay on the chair and keep playing than dragging myself up to the bathroom … do i really have to brush my teeth?

just another addiction?

feminism and body image

recently, i’ve had a number of interesting and sometimes heated discussions about plastic surgery. according to one view, plastic surgery is an artificial way to prop up a twisted body image – one that is only available to those who can afford it. according to another view, undergoing plastic surgery is not much different than wearing jewellery or nice clothes – and Continue reading

the process of therapy: vulnerability in the here and now

these days i am often called upon to talk about psychotherapy. i am very much of two minds about this. on the one hand it’s something that i feel very passionate about – this is what i do, after all! on the other hand, i find it difficult – therapy is such a private, intimate experience, and it is so multi-layered, and in many ways so intangible.

two people meet in this encounter that we call psychotherapy. two people in person. but since we bring our imagination into this encounter, we always bring more people with it. the reason why one seeks out therapy as a “client” is because one wants to deal with discomfort around the past or fears of the future. the past and the future exist only in our imagination, in the sense that they are not present here and now. they are present in our memories, thoughts, ideas.

so here we sit, two people in person, and a whole lot of other people in our imagination. in the beginning, when we talk, there is much tentativeness, and a tendency to talk to the whole audience. for example, the “therapist” talks to the client, the client’s mother, and the therapist’s supervisor. the client talks to her boss, her father, her own little child, and to the therapist. part of the task of the encounter is to bring it more and more into the present, where therapist and client talk directly with each other. naming the other people in the room might be helpful:

“wait a second – what i was just saying, maybe i said that more to your mother than to you. so let’s sort this out. this is what i might want to say to your mother, were she here in this room, and this is what i want to say to you.”

“okay, come to think of it, i’m talking this way because i know this is what would please my daughter. what i REALLY want to do, if i felt i didn’t need to please her, would be …. ”

slowly, naming and acknowledging the presence of others can soothe these ghosts enough so that they don’t have to accompany us all the time anymore. we can carve out a niche in the here and now and really talk one-on-one. really engage with each other. and then hopefully this niche can be widened, to bring more here-and-now into our lives, more engaging with what’s right in front of us, rather than wrestling with the past and future.

this takes enormous courage and trust. a willingness to be vulnerable, on both parts.

maybe that’s one of the reasons why it’s difficult to talk about psychotherapy. the vulnerability is frightening, and it takes fortitude to put this vulnerability out in the open, where strangers can see and hear us.

i pray for fortitude, then. for all of us.

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

words of depression

random words about depression, collected from the past:

i must confess that during my depressive time, i was more productive, but that was because i didn’t focus on such things as selling the car, keeping the house clean, all those things that one does to stay gainfully alive.


i am fighting panic and depression and it looks like i’m winning. i mean, a little bit of panic keeps one on one’s toes and helps one appreciate the good things in life, and a little bit of depression gets one in touch with one’s underbelly but hey, enough is enough, and this one was getting too much for my taste.

it seems that whenever i spend too much time here in the house, depression sinks down on me. i have to get out. have to connect.


i’ve worked myself through two huge piles of paper. now i have a number of small piles of paper. i can’t think straight. what do i do now? i have anaesthesized myself with food: 6 or seven rice cakes and two cups of orange juice. that’ll do the trick. i am amused by the person who thinks addiction only refers to drugs. i am addicted to subtle forms of mood alteration. the crunch, crunch, crunch of the rice cakes in my brain, the brittleness of the dry rice and the sting of the orange juice acid on the roughened edges of the roof of my mouth will do. i cannot handle anything. i just pretend. i do a good job at pretending. and one day everything will blow up. – ok, i guess i am depressed. so what now. what if i let myself fall into this hole of depression. but of course i won’t. and how much longer? how much longer won’t i look into this hole? how much longer will i paste it over with rice (sic) paper? but if i fall into the hole i won’t know what to do anymore. all my knowledge will fall through and because it is heavier than me, this thin nothing-body, it will fall faster and disappear. and i will not even fall down the hole. i will just disappear into nothing somewhere half way. oh, she’s gone, oops.

i am depressed because we are going to visit my parents. i am depressed because i feel so goddam helpless. i am so sick and tired of all my coping mechanisms. but i don’t know what else to do.

i give up.

no: i have to give up. that is the only way.

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver