Monthly Archives: June 2006

a video!

a few weeks ago, my friend carol from alphaglyph productions did an interview with me. you can see it on the alphaglyph podcast site. you can try either the “download” or the “play” button. you might need the quick time with itunes plugin for it (for some systems, quick time alone doesn’t seem to do the trick).

this video is on the intimacy of the therapeutic relationship.

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

overcoming codependency

once in a while i post poetry here. it helps process our thoughts and feelings.

but there’s no limit to the art forms we can use to express ourselves. here is the drawing of a friend of mine, literally depicting what’s going on inside his head, inspired by a list of codependent behaviours he found on the web:


dealing with the challenges life throws at us by trying to control (manipulate?) others is an understandable and very common coping mechanism. fortunately, my friend is someone who does not want to just cope anymore; he wants to live.

this very insightful drawing is part of his journey towards living a more conscious life where he deals lovingly with himself and those around him. the illusion that we can make others think, feel or act in a certain way is very seductive and can be so subtle. often we don’t even know we labour under this illusion. breaking free from it feels risky and scary – but it does lead to freedom, freedom for everyone concerned.

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

alternative thought records, pt II

a continuation from yesterday’s blog regarding alternative thought records:

this is an example of using alternative thought records. in the beginning, it can usually only be done afterwards. with time, one can get practiced enough to try and do it right in the moment.

this is an example of debriefing the next day:

harry received an email from his stepmother, where she hints that harry isn’t spending enough time with her. after all she’s done for him, stopping by her place a few times a week after work is the least thing he can do, she claims.

when did it happen?
last night.

who was involved?
harry, his stepmother, and his partner

where did it happen?
at home

what happened?
having just come home from another exhausting day at work, harry read this email, and what little energy he had left totally went out of him. instead of Continue reading

a tool: alternative thought record

cognitive therapies, which focus on examining and “repairing” one’s thoughts, are often seen as the best way to deal with depression. while i believe that the tools that cognitive therapies provides are just one among many ways to help with depression, they can nevertheless be quite useful. so here is a tool from this tool box – enjoy it!

i’ll post it in two postings – the first is the “recipe”, and the one i’ll post tomorrow is an example of an application. (and thanks to depression forums for providing this tool).

alternative thought record

situation: describe an event or situation, that occurred within the last few
hours, or days at the most, in which you experienced emotional distress.

when did it happen?
who was involved?
where did it happen?
what happened?

feelings: describe the feelings that arose at that time. rate the intensity of your feelings from 0-100%.

automatic thoughts: list one or two of the most intense thoughts or images that you had at the time of the event.

cognitive traps or distortions: examine your thoughts and images
to see if there are cognitive distortions (cognitive traps are distorted thoughts such as all-or-nothing thinking, should statements and blaming)

alternative thought: describe an alternative, balanced way of thinking about this event. notice the cognitive distortions in your original thinking, and create a new statement that balances or eliminates those distortions.

rate the intensity of you feelings now, from 0-100%.

tomorrow: an application of this tool.

take care!

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

addiction, shame and secrets

medicalnews reports this today:

An article published in the recent issue of Psychological Science … demonstrates that individuals have a strong tendency to eat only a single unit of food, regardless of the unit’s size or caloric value.

The authors conducted experiments with offering free food in public areas, varying the size of the product unit and the size of the serving utensil …

The results demonstrate an identifiable unit bias, as passersby tended to take a single unit or spoonful of food without consideration for its size or quantity. As tests were conducted both within eyesight of others and in a more discreet location, the bias in favor of consuming a single unit cannot be attributed solely to the avoidance of perceptible gluttony …

well, that may be the case for some people. however, this last sentence reminds me how little people know about the inner workings of people struggling with addictions. a “discreet location” would still not be safe enough for many people with a food addiction.

the vast majority of people struggling with addictions function quite well in the “normal” world. part of this functioning involves an intimate relationship between addiction, shame, and intricate techniques designed to conceal the addiction.

for many overeaters, a “discreet location” in a public place will still bring forth the need to appear a normal eater. the deep shame over the addiction would be much stronger than the apparent safety of such a discreet location. many overeaters will only overeat in the privacy of their homes, often alone, maybe even with the curtains drawn.

i have met food addicts who had become experts at climbing out of bed, getting dressed and driving off in the middle of the night without barely making a sound, so as to not wake up anyone in the house and alert them to their excursion to a 24 hour convenience store.

of course, this often turns into a vicious cycle. the person wants to eat, eat, eat – but not be seen eating. so she creates a bubble of isolation around herself. this isolation is depressing, and the depression is then medicated with more food – and thus the cycle continues.

ironically, then, eating in public can be the first step towards recovery for some people. eating that second chocolate bar in public, or finishing off the big bag of chips for all to see, can be a healing experience. maybe the eating behaviour is still there, but at least the layers of shame and hiding are taken off.

isabella more
counselling in vancouver

my birthday wish

today is my birthday.

i have a wish.

at this time, there are a few people in my life who are deep in the throes of suffering.

my wish is that whoever reads this, may send good thoughts to my friends, to any friend you know who is suffering.

in the words of the buddha

may you be free from danger and fear.
may you be peaceful, happy, and free from suffering.
may you live with ease

gender freedom

as my dear readers know, one of the blogs i watch is daily dose of queer, where i found a link to jay sennett’s blog. he’s looking for bloggers to review a new anthology called “self organizing men” – women transitioning into malehood (or FtM, as it’s often called). good for him to use blogvertising to get this material on the market.  (i guess it’s a type of book tour).

i agreed to be one of his guinea pigs, and am i ever glad i did.

first i have to confess that i was not sure what to expect, and was afraid i might stumble into the badly-mumbled outpourings of a confused twenty-year-old.

well, i was wrong. i can’t be male by nick kiddle is very well written. every sentence is clean and clear, so the reader can completely concentrate on the story. as a writer, i want what nick’s got!

the piece traces nick’s travels and travails as he (i’ll refer to nick as a male here, hope that’s okay with you, nick) winds his way through the landscape of gender identity.

unfortunately, not everyone sees it as a landscape.

i guess we should be grateful that we’ve moved out of gender identity being a wasteland of two camps – male or female. at least there is a recognition now that some of us have landed in the wrong camp and need to move, so now we have four camps – female to male, male to female, female, male.

but really, i want my world to consist of more than four camps. i want a landscape with flowers of different hues of colours, many paths to journey along, hidden nooks and crannies to explore.

nick, too, wants freedom around his gender identity. there are moments when he identifies as a man, and others when he finds it useful to be a woman. one of the things that are important to nick is to have children, and children of his own. this is why, for now at least, he decides to stay in a female body.

i can’t wait to hear how other people react when they read nick’s account of meeting a psychiatrist who, instead of assisting nick in building more supportive relationships, cannot tear himself away from a morbid fascination with nick’s diagnosis of gender dysphoria. my first reaction was anger – i just wanted to go and slap that ignorant jerk – and when i got to the point where mr. psychiatrist sits back, smug in his “knowledge” that nick is “really” a woman, i just started crying.

this is not just the story about one of those transgendered people, somewhere off in a far corner of our safely heterosexual world. it’s the story of all of us who need to be free to explore who we are, free to change, free to express ourselves.

thank you, jay, and thank you, nick.

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

understanding “enough”

just as hope can be seen from opposing viewpoints, i think the term “enough” can be seen from different points of view as well.

let’s take these three examples:

“you don’t need another blanket, joe. it’s not that cold – these two blankets are enough.”

“don’t worry about making every page perfect. remember, it’s a draft; what you have here is great, it’s definitely good enough.”

“no thanks, i don’t need another helping of pasta; i have enough.”

in the first scenario, joe feels he needs more but he is dismissed by someone who feels she is in a position to adequately assess joe’s needs (and perhaps assess them better than joe himself).

in the second scenario, someone aspires to be perfect and she is reassured; the situation does not call for perfection, and what’s already there is more than adequate.

the person in the third scenario has a good sense for just exactly how much he needs; that need has been fulfilled, and he effortlessly states what his boundaries are: “i have enough.”

we could say that the first situation is about deprivation; the second one is about perfectionism and the third is about balance.

what do we want to have in our lives? deprivation, perfectionism or balance?

it is interesting to note that in the first two scenarios, both times, it is someone else who assesses what’s enough. only in the third, it’s the person himself who decides what’s enough.

we often have uneasy feelings about the word “enough”. often it’s around the phrase “good enough.” perhaps the next time this unease crops up, you can ask yourself, who is making the decision whether something or someone is good enough? and if it’s you who seems to be making that decision and you still feel uneasy, you can ask yourself, “is that really me talking, or is that someone else’s voice inside me? my mother? my teacher? is that voice still valid?”

let’s get to the point where you decide what’s good enough.

isabella mori
counseling in vancouver