I’m reading this book called Ending the Pursuit of Happiness by Barry Magid (Wisdom Publications, 2008). He is Zen practitioner as well as a psychoanalyst.   He points out the importance that vulnerability plays in our emotion health.  He says that as long as we try to avoid or are afraid of feeling vulnerable, we are paradoxically more defensive and unable to be fully human.   Being fully human is what makes us strong:  able to respond to life’s pains and pressures, and joys and surprises.

So, a way to be vulnerable is to embrace that we do in fact need each other and need support and don’t know what we are doing sometimes (or more than sometimes!).  That’s hard given our fierce commitment to American Individualism and the Western bias of intellectualism (being smart = better person).

I am reminded of the work created by my mentor Dr. Fred Newman (Lets Develop, CLRP Publications, 1994) where he invites us to not only accept and embrace our feelings of vulnerability but to actively GIVE our vulnerability to others:  don’t be so possessive for goodness sake and instead, see our human-ness (“I’m scared”, “I need your help”, “I don’t know what to do”, etc.)  as good material to give to others to build with!  What do I mean good material to build with?    Well, you tell me:  next time you want to act cool, put together, like you know what your doing when you are scared, anxious, confused – share your vulnerability with the person you are with and ask for help.  Tell me what happens, what you and the person produce together,  and how sharing impacted on you.

Imagine that. Well, I not only imagine this I work hard to practice that advice in my own life and with my clients.  And I find that I am of course failing all the time.   After all  – like the rest of us  – I like to look smart / be a Knower / look good.   I am starting my New Year’s resolution early this year and want to resolve to ask for your help to ask for your help more!  Here’s to being vulnerable together!!!!  What do you think?


Social Therapy:  How does our therapy / approach help you?

The motto on our business card is Change your life, Change your World, Feel Better
Our tag line is Create Great Relationships at Home, Work and Community

What am I talking about here?

I am often asked a question that goes along this line:  You practice Social Therapy—What’s that? I know what a therapist does, she helps people having problems in life, difficulties in relationships or who are in emotional pain of some sort, but how does social therapy help people?  And why did you choose to practice therapy in this way?

What is it?  A therapy that teaches us “A Way of Life” where we play an active role in creating our day-to-day lives and relationships.

And why did you choose to practice therapy in this way?

As both a client/recipient of, and trained-in/practitioner of Social Therapy, it has transformed me personally and professionally to a person who has learned tools to create a fantastic life beyond my wildest dreams of what I considered possible.

So, I want to help others to create great lives, while at the same time help to build a more just, humane world (you can’t separate the two, can you).

How does it work?

Social Therapy is primarily a group therapy that supports us to be more creative, effective, powerful, present, meaning-makers in how we respond to life’s wonders and challenges.

The other day I was listening to a talk by philosopher-activist-founder of Social Therapy Dr. Fred Newman, and in the talk he suggested an exercise that I was struck by:  replace the term ‘give’ every time you say ‘get’ to experience the impact:

• What will I get out of this turns to what can I give to this
• I don’t get it (i.e.-understand it) turns into I don’t give it (i.e. – give something even if you don’t get or understand what’s going on)
• Getting the love you want turns to give the love you want

Can you think of others?  Turning on its head our standard way of living and relating in personal and business arenas that is so much is about getting stuff for yourself—into what can you/we give to the world / what can we build together?

We can be other than consumers of /getters of or fitting in with what already exists (we do this all the time –which is why we have same fights, get into same bad relationships or jobs, don’t reach our full potentials, and experience the same emotional reactions over and over like a broken record, etc….)   Social Therapy teaches us how to work together to building new things – new ways of talking, relating to one another, new emotional experiences, new ways to respond to

Friendship Friday Nights

Philosophy, Politics, and Passions…Conversations, Community, and Creativity

  • Poetry and play readings
  • Movie nights – films with either a political or philosophical bent
  • Music and Dance

Second Friday of every month in 2010\6:30 pm

In Jenkintown PA

Email  for  more information:  pasocialtherapy@comcast.net

During this stressful / hustle-bustle holiday season, many people are trying to be more reflective and asking / talking about happiness–what it is and how to get it?

I do not think that happiness is a product to ‘get’ like the Christmas presents at the department store we will be ‘getting’ for our friends and relatives… no, happiness is definitely in my opinion a verb, an activity.

And to push this further / more radically, happiness is fundamentally relational. This is a hard one for us hyper-individualist westerners to accept / agree with – I have a hard time as well, but even western science is jumping on this one – see a recent study out of Harvard reviewed on NPR recently, (http://www.harvardscience.harvard.edu/culture-society/articles/

having-happy-friends-can-make-you-happy), that finds – guess what – that happiness is related to how happy your friends are and how happy your friends-friends are, interesting piece to look at.

For the not so western view, I have been reading the Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner. The journalist/protagonist is traveling around the world in search of happiness… In a Buddhist country, Bhutan, the natives explain that the western oft /overused phrase ‘personal happiness’ is bizarre and incomprehensible to them because they say that all happiness is relational, not personal.

So if you are thinking of ways to give back/ do charity work /celebrate the Christian and Jewish holidays with fellow humans in your life, one of the best gifts to give is to perform the activity of happiness with others – make it contagious and lets see where we can go!

Happy and Joyful Holidays to All!

Got Stress?

In these uncertain times of economic, political and international transition / instability, on top of the oh so ‘relaxing’ holiday season preparing to bombard us…it is important to remember that we are creators of our moment-to-moment, day-to-day lives, not just recipients of life.

So move the spotlight away from the standard: “I’m stressed / overwhelmed / anxious / worried and try on something new. What you might ask? Well in addition to what we all know to do (and sometimes actually do it!) like breathing, slowing down, exercise and getting rest, etc… I invite you to relate to your life as part of the broader performance of the bigger play of life, with all of the relationships and scenes we are creating (of course without a script).

How? Practice to tenets of improv – Yes improv. Below you will find a hand out I give for stress workshops I conduct.

My favorite daily practice is to smile when I feel one of those feelings (stressed, upset, overwhelmed, anxious…) Try it and let me know how these practices impact on your daily creation called your life.

Stress workshop hand out: What Why and How….

WHAT (Did you say improv? What does that have to do with stress?! Keep reading)

Using tools of improvisation and performance, you will have an opportunity to play, de-stress and have fun as we learn

WHY (Well, do you GOT STRESS????)

Increase skills in responding successfully and creatively to stress in our lives

Enhance communication, ability to ask for help, conflict resolution capacities

Encourage flexibility and learning to respond versus react

Slowing down and accepting what is in order to move forward effectively

HOW (Some Rules of Improv)

Creating together without looking good or knowing how
o Make the other look good! / Complete versus Compete
o Take chances
o Having fun and being silly
Life as scenes in the play of life
“Take two” and other performances
o Can we take two? Start over?
o How are we doing? can we stop and do this differently?

LAB (Listen, Accept, Build)

Yes-And (to life circumstances, people, situations) versus No-But

Accepting Offers (whether you like the offer or not!) in order to build / move forward

Post Election Blues?

Are you experiencing the “post-election blues” or “we-made-history” post-election excitement? Either way, make sure you are talking to others and socializing. Politics is important to discuss; which I know goes against the age-old tenant of not talking about politics, money or religion. Discourse is critical to our emotional health and community growth. What do you think?

Welcome friends!

I am excited to introduce our blog committed to growth and development. I am eager to begin conversation. For more about me, visit http://www.letsdevelopphilly.com (The Philadelphia Center for Human Development).