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Aug 5, 2022

Emotional regulation is a necessary skill for secure attachment. In other words, people who are a "hot mess" have difficulty feeling secure about themselves or having good relationships with others. 



you're listening to psych with mike for more episodes or to connect with the show with comments ideas or to be a
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mike or like the facebook page at psych with mike now here's psych with mike
welcome to the site with mike library this is dr michael mohan i'm here with mr brett newcomb and intern michael
hello hello how are you gentlemen doing doing well i i asked if we were ready and the response i got did not seem
overly enthusiastic ho-hum is a response it is a response sometimes no news is good news uh that's
yeah that's what they say no news is good news so uh
this is uh a subject that i find compelling i'm not sure the rest of the room finds
it compelling is that fair to say interesting uh i i don't know how compelling it
needs to be to to talk about it uh what what are you talking about
what are we talking about uh my i told you this morning when you got
here that i did something that i never do which is i actually listened to an
episode of psych with mike and i listened to the episode that i
posted today which is friday the 8th of july for anybody keeping track at home
and in that show we had michelle stieg here who you had brought
with you a couple of weeks ago and uh we were talking about theoretical orientation and i was saying that you
know my theoretical orientation comes from the psychodynamic perspective and
heinz kohut and the development of
parenting models which leads to attachment and i have talked about piaget's original stage of
development which is trust versus mistrust and it's just so
uh that is so much the foundation of how i understand human psychology that when i
think about doing therapy and i think about people who have had challenges in their sense
of security and in their attachment styles the question becomes as an adult
what can you do about that let's assume that this underlying
theory of psychology that i subscribe to is cogent that it makes sense that it's
accurate and you have struggles with those early
years in those early relationships as a lot of us have brett you and i know that we talk about that all the time we don't
know as much about michael's relationship with his primary caregivers as an infant but we know that you and i
really struggled with that and so as adults we've had to learn compensatory
behaviors or whatever compensatory abilities to be able to be
in attached relationships and to feel more secure and so how do you give that
to somebody in therapy that's that's really kind of my my focus
so you are questioning whether or not
atypical if there is such a thing client coming in for the first time that you don't know
whatever their presenting uh issue or reason for being there is is in all likelihood suffering from some
kind of attachment disorder suffered from childhood
distress or trauma is that is that what your postulate
i think i would agree with that that that that's an accurate
encapsulation yeah and capitulization of what's going on in therapy yeah and i
think a lot of therapy if it's successful involves re-parenting
that wounded inner child whether that's the individual learns how to reparent
themselves or whether you model and demonstrate for them how to re-parent themselves i think if the
therapy is beneficial and successful it will involve re-parenting some of
those scripts that are wounded in broken scripts that we carry around inside ourselves yeah i remember when i was in
graduate school i don't know if you knew this at the time but
uh people talk about inner child and and back in the uh in the mid 90s when i was
actually in grad school uh it was a buzz it was like absolutely and i used to say all the time the only
thing that i want from my inner child is his skittles and then i'm going to kick his ass
you know and because i didn't want to hear that kind of language it felt
i mean i it felt offensive to me and what i realized later was not because that's not true
or accurate but because i wasn't ready you were too resisting yeah yeah i
was resisting it big time um and so i think that that that that we
look at things like internal family systems right where when we ignore or suppress those inner children or
whatever parts of us that they are they really show up in other places in our life yeah and in ways that we didn't
necessarily absolutely yeah absolutely i think that's the central premise of ifs yeah yeah
and listen to your parts and be aware of their existence and i don't know if you've seen the episodes that we've done
with michelle but she is an ifs therapist and so that was exactly the
conversation that we were having and you know brett and i have always been i think brett's more open to it now i'm
still less open to it the idea of ifs which i don't for me it's a it's a
descriptor you have to find a language that you and your client can share yeah so one of the challenges of being a
therapist is to listen to the language that the client uses so that you can
do appropriate feedback and and reflective listening in a way that demonstrates that you hear
them accurately uh so if i have a client who's a truck driver
and i can do it appropriately i try to use driving analogies as often as i can because it's like what you experience if
i have a client's computer programmer i'll use computer examples whatever i can do if i can do it if i
can't do it then i say you have to educate me i don't know teach me your language but i listen and
some of it is neuro-linguistic programming you hear the things they say
and you can determine the way they experience the world if they do it visually if they do it orally if they do
it tactically and that helps you then speak in the rhythm that they can hear so i think
that's a critical component i think ifs also offers that language too because children talk about
this idea that oh there's a part of me that got angry and so it's really easy to latch on to that apart oh let's talk
about this part and not take ownership of the whole thing that was just a part a minute and it reminds me of um uh you
talk about it's just another frame or another language or another structure on top of some very good very old ideas it
reminds me of you know gestalt's uh empty chair technique where we
set somebody down and we say what would you say to yourself but now instead of talking to your whole self maybe you're just talking to one part of yourself
absolutely and if you've ever had an opportunity to experience that literally making them move from one
chair to the other yeah is an essential component of that technique they they sit in one chair and
they say what their mother said then they sit in their chair and say what they would say right if their mother
could hear them if you're if you're saying you want to your mother even if she's dead
and she could hear you and understand you what would you say give yourself permission say it out loud then get back
in the chair and so the you facilitate that conversation but they do all the work yeah they have all the conversation
they generate all the concepts but let's not gloss over the technique it's super
super important that they change chairs oh absolutely because psychologically they change they shift the viewpoint and
and you don't have to understand why that happens as a therapist but you got to understand to try and ask them to
remain in the same chair and have that dualistic kind of
message going on in their brain is extremely difficult which one you can't do therapy with yourself you need another what what you hate
you can't do therapy with yourself and therein lies the rub [Laughter]
well even the article talks about this idea of when you're making interpersonal changes making peace with the past
they quote one participant is saying that she was able to observe
something that happened in her past and become aware of it so we're talking about how do we inch towards security
and how do we how do we progress towards that idea of the secure attachments and awareness i think is what we're
really touching on being critically aware of all of these things that got you to the place that you are
and then being able to critically ask yourself what do i like what don't i like what do i just have to live with
and because they said it doesn't make it so correct uh i was told you're too
stupid to go to college
so okay also the article the article talks about in the process of doing that this individual was able
to reframe her understanding and compassion for her mother who had
been pretty traumatizing for reasons that she now had a better uh grasp on
which helped her reframe the dance between she and her mother
and you know that i'm like in a real young phase right now i'm reading all of
young stuff and everything and so that's kind of my where my focus is and one of the things
that i am really starting to realize
and i'm going to go off track here because i'm building a clock uh you know you talk about all the time
um whose perspective is it that you can't uh uh
kernberg's idea that you can't really address your
whatever they are bipolar or narcissistic or whatever personality issues until in your 50s or later late
40s early 50s and i am so in that vein right now because i've been doing all of
this study with jung and one of the things that i'm recognizing is this idea
of trying to embrace the shadow and so you know this and michael you probably may or may not know this but i'm blind
in my left eye and it doesn't always track with my right eye when i tell
people this the first time most people say oh i never knew that i never and and it's amazing to me how little other
people but people don't really pay attention to their environment and and so it's amazing to me how much people will say
oh i never knew that because it's been such a my retina detached when i was in high
school playing football it was the end of my football career and if i tell people this it makes me
seem very sympathetic to most people right to me it's something that is
embarrassing and shameful and i've always tried to hide it so it's been a part of my shadow and so i've really
been trying to work on embracing that but that to me that's what young's
so what jung talks about in the shadow and the persona and the self is really
an aspect of ifs sure yeah and and i know i only just now
made that comparison because we've been talking to michelle and there's nothing new under this
there's nothing new under the sun yeah it's amazing but so when we're talking about the inner
child what seems to me to be the clinical
focus would be how do i help you brett or you michael
identify what are those pieces of your wounded
child that you live with or try and hide and how can i help you to embrace that
not so that you can resolve the trauma but so that you can live with it without
fear insecurity or shame so i think one of the ways that a therapist does that is to begin with
what carl rogers called unconditional positive regard i
want to say to you that i hear what you are saying and i
honor you for surviving whatever your experience was nothing shameful or
disgusting or horrible or evil or wicked in what you did to survive
however you managed it you got here how you got here today is
not on you that's on others and the adults in your life in particular how you leave here is on you and what i can
offer you is the the promise that if we do this work properly you will leave here
with more power and more control than you've ever had yeah at
hearing the voice from among those voices inside you that you want to hear that you need to hear
so if you will talk to me and you will trust the process what you'll see is that i absolutely
accept and honor who you are and how you got here especially those that have had
severe and chronic abuse experiences in right life who were shamed
and threatened and punished because of that to say to them you don't have to be in
touch with that part of that any longer than you want to you don't need it anymore to survive you survived to this
point let's talk about what you need to go out of here and be able not necessarily to get rid of that but to
put it back in the bag and keep it so that you can take it out if you want to so let's go to our break and then when
we come back i really like the language that you're using here and so i want to ask you a question about that but let's
go to our break and i'll do that on the other side all right hey everybody dr michael mahon here from site with mike and i couldn't be more
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it's friday it's psych with mike okay we're back and so i really like
that language that you're using and what i'm wanting to to know the the
to try and crystallize this for me is how do you initially
approach that shame that the client
feels how do you do that in a way that doesn't get them to turtle up and
and want to defend themselves so one of the things that
occurs and do you understand what i'm saying yeah okay i think yeah one thing that
occurs is i get angry that some adult has abused a child i am angry
a child that survived that kind of abuse is hypersensitive to my anger
so i want to identify it and say i am angry but i'm not angry with you i'm not
angry at whatever you had to do to survive i have no antagonism towards that at all wow okay okay this is what
this is exactly where i wanted to go yeah yeah because i and i didn't know that it was but yeah this is exactly right so you're counter transference
is to be angry shutting off their their radar though but their transference then
is to experience that anger as similar to similarly traumatizing
to their original experience it interferes with the connection yeah and the and the uh
strengthening of that individual mm-hmm so what they have to experience from me and i don't know if you pay close enough
attention but my when when i drop into therapy mode that way my voice changes my delivery changes it's more soothing
yeah i've never noticed that uh then when i'm just casually in conversation uh that's because you've never been in
therapy with me yes i've noticed that a million different i could i could identify a million different times when
i knew brett just dropped into the he's doing it oh he's doing it yeah and i'm sure if i called your wife she would be
able to correct it robin williams and matt damon spent an entire movie getting to this point that
we're getting to here where it's not your fault it's a very powerful message
absolutely it's it's an incredibly powerful message and necessary but okay so so let me let me go back to this and
so so the the the counter transference is you would be angry and just counter
transference is the therapist projected onto you and then the the transference is the client's experience of the
therapist and therapy and and so uh well the client is constantly going to try to
manipulate me into the traditional response that they have received yeah which is you have to
they're going to say today they say are you going to give me homework i said well do you need
homework do you want homework yeah i think so well all right here's some homework the next week thinking oh
you're going to be really mad yeah i didn't do my homework well why am i going to measure i didn't do my homework okay so what
no i didn't want i wasn't going to give you homework to begin with yeah what grade yeah exactly but but i really want to go back failure you loser so so the
transference is the counter transference is that you get angry because the child's been abused the transference is
this is re-traumatizing the same way so you're saying okay so i say to them
uh i'm not angry at you i'm angry that the situation occurred
do you ever try and not be angry i don't try to not be angry if i'm angry
i'm angry what i try to do is is clarified right you are picking up accurately what you're getting
but let me clarify it's not you that i'm angry with but this is the point that i think is so
important for therapists generally and for new therapists the goal isn't for you to not have
emotions right you're not the blank mirror that beginners are told they need to be
exactly uh you are a real person with real feelings and the client picks up on all that so you have to be able to say
i'm sad and cry when you hear something sad or laugh when something's funny to you
and then say i didn't mean to offend you it just struck me as funny uh
how do we work past right but you have to be aware enough of your own internal processes i had a couple come see me one
time a black man a white woman came from marital counseling first session i'm talking to him about coming for marriage
counseling and i said i really was that clarence thomas
want to communicate to you that i think i can hear you and i want
to hear if you have any concerns about my ability to hear you and the
black man looked at his wife they looked at me and he said one of the troubles that we are having
has to do with sex and i fantasize all the time about having sex with white women
are you too white to hear that which i thought was a brilliant question
and one he needed to have answered if i was going to be able to help him if i was going to be able to sit in a room with him if i'm sitting there judging
him and and condemning him for his fantasies right i can't help him right
and i know that and he knows that so he was able to ask can you listen but i think here and and i'm glad that that
the client was able to do that but i think the point that you made about therapists in in their training are
conditioned to believe they're supposed to be blank slate which is that is an
unachievable goal it's impossible you have to be a human person in humane but
you have to be a human person capable of monitoring their own processes well enough to know when it's not your i'm
sitting here i'm angry because you're telling me this story of abuse but i'm not angry at you
because this happened to a child so that's the point of the conversation about modeling
and re-parenting because they experience in their most vulnerable and anxious moments
modeling of appropriate responsiveness not what they experienced in their childhood yeah and so then you can
process that and discuss what did that feel like what just happened do you are you aware of that can we can do what are
your reactions to it what's your level of awareness to it because in doing that we're
re-parenting their script and one of the things that i will point
out now because this is sailing or coming into my consciousness is i have had many clients
especially when i was younger because now i'm pretty old but when i was younger i had many clients who were much
older than me that were able to experiencing experience me
as a caring nurturing parent so you don't have to necessarily think oh
i'm 32 how am i going to do this for a 50 year old man you can do it because
it's not yours to do it's the client's experience that matters and the client
can have that experience i don't know if i fully agree with that you don't i i think i do but i'm mindful of the fact
that for years what i would tell my students in counseling program younger students especially is i don't care what
skills you learn you need some aging because if i walk into your office with
marital issues and i look at you and you're 27 and i'm 70.
i'm not going to talk to you i'm not going to take that risk because i can't imagine that you can understand my
circumstances so i don't know how that changes but there's a there is a presentation that they have
to learn how to make yeah that says to me okay there's something here that maybe i can take this risk right there's
something here that maybe i'm willing to float this out here right but initially my impressions
are you're too young to know what you're talking about have you ever had any children and been a parent
and i think that this goes back to the idea of there are different therapists for different people absolutely and so
if the 70 year old man comes in and can't put themselves in that position then that's not a good therapy experience for
them and they should find somebody else but what i have experienced is that you
can present yourself as timeless once you learn how to do if you get the
opportunity yeah yeah but but the client has to buy into it right and if the client doesn't then no then it's not
going to work but i have had men who were twice my age yeah who i know experienced me as a nurturing
parent and so that can happen as long as the therapist is good at their job and
doing things right and the client is able to open themselves up to it i think another part of your point there is also
you were speaking about getting angry with the not angry at the client i'm
angry with the client for the client or the client that's the language that i think i want
to pick on maybe a little bit because your job as a as a therapist is not to
feel the emotion for the client oh absolutely i have to take clearly say this is mine it's coming out of me and
my friend at the whole counter transfer message but it's not at you
it's at however you were wounded and the fact that any child is wounded that way
and that comes from me i take ownership of it and you don't need to feel it and
we need to have this is not one-time trial learning we will repeat this conversation a number of times before
you can internalize it and and the clarification the clarification though that i would make is that
we are not so counter transference i guess if technically if it's counter transparency could be the therapist's
own stuff but when you're doing therapy you are going to experience emotions as
a therapist that are being projected by the client so you're not feeling it
for them you're feeling it with them and they may not have the language to be
able to identify like the client may be experiencing shame over that trauma
event and you may be experiencing anger and so it's important for the therapist to help them be able to identify that
language and then once you do that then the client says you know what i i'm pretty angry about that yeah and i
didn't know that and so it's important for the therapist to be able to help the client develop
language around their own emotional regulation michael's right you have to make the distinction yeah
these are not your feelings or my reflection of your feelings these are mine and they're not really about you at all
they're about the circumstances you're describing and that's a it's hard and i think there's a consent
there too but your client has to be willing to feel that with you and maybe they don't feel that at all
nudge it repeatedly right if they keep coming back right right right they will and that's the other piece that shocks
me about what doesn't necessarily shock me about security but that i find interesting about becoming more secure
somebody very close to me is going through a therapy process right now and they have had an [ __ ] an abusive
an emotionally abusive mother for almost all of their lives um then they're also gay and they came out with this
they came back to me one day and said i said well how did therapy go and they said i didn't realize that not
everybody's parents called them a [ __ ] and i said that's correct
that is an emotionally abusive situation and that hurts um
and he said i got a lot out of this therapy session because suddenly i realized that that wasn't
normal and that i didn't like that i said okay very good right and so that
i i really felt that there's a marked difference in this person and how they see themselves and
how they accept themselves and their sexual identity after that conversation
right good and and and so wow you know i think that that when it works it's beautiful
it's powerful you can see it yeah you know we started this out talking about the idea of the inner child and the
relationship of that to jung's theory of the the shadow and you know
so i think that there is a part of therapy that is directed
towards helping people embrace the shadow i think that's how you truly are able to establish security as an
adult is to be able to embrace those parts of yourself that you have felt either shame or
you know tried to hide i think that that is the healthy way to be able to do that but you know when you're talking about
this is he going to embrace the idea that his
mother called him a [ __ ] for all of his life maybe not and so he it it's about acceptance i got to find a way to
accept that so do you think that he found that or is he still looking for
that i think he has accepted that that is his reality yeah and that that was and
that's very liberating and i think he always accepted that that was what happened right he didn't deny that as as
a reality it was more the understanding that that wasn't the norm yeah that that when that
happens to other people they also get angry and it is okay to feel that anger right he is
justified in that anger and it doesn't mean so maybe that's what he's working to accept is the anger that he yeah
because he was always in denial about that yes yeah well he wouldn't he wasn't allowed to feel that feeling because on
top of on top of the hate that he gets from the idea of the sexual identity there are
other ideas of masculinity underneath that and a less than man who
is gay right if i show emotion if i express this idea well that makes me
more feminine and that leans into this idea of being this thing that my parents
dislikes or my parents is picking on so many so many shame-based messages yes
it's a shame yeah so i think that's a good point to jump
off the train um hopefully this was beneficial for people as always if you have any questions or
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music that appears in cyclic mic is written and performed by mr benjamin de clue and if it's friday it's psyched