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The Long Road to Eagle Pass Texas

johnsommersflanagan:

This is a re-blog because I’m back in Eagle Pass . . . one year later.

Originally posted on John Sommers-Flanagan:

Hi.

I’m re-posting this because today, exactly one year since I made my long trek to Eagle Pass from Montana . . . I’m back again. The drive was just as long as before, but I’m back because the folks in the Eagle Pass School District are pretty darn fun to hang out with. And so here’s the original post from last year:

It’s a very long way from Missoula, Montana to Eagle Pass, Texas.

Just saying.

This epiphany swept over me after the early morning Missoula to Denver flight and after the Denver to San Antonio flight and right about when, after driving from San Antonio in a rental car for about an hour, I finally saw a green mileage sign that said: Eagle Pass – 95 miles. I just laughed out loud. And even though I was all by myself, I said, “It’s a long way from Missoula…

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Posted by on August 19, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

A Little Something I’ve Been Writing

Occasionally, against my better judgment, I (John) log into and read discussion boards in various online venues. These venues include sites where the public is invited to comment on newspaper or magazine articles, blog posts, books, and videos. Even worse than reading these discussion boards, I sometimes experience powerful emotions, emotions that draw me to the keyboard and into an internet discussion or debate. When I read something I find provocative or offensive, it can be very difficult to stop myself from commenting. But if I control this urge, after a few minutes, hours, or days, the impulse subsides and I’m then enlightened as to why my initial impulses to deliver a quick and clever retort were misguided. It also helps when I consult with wife on what it is that I’m wanting to write. Her sarcastic analysis of my juvenile impulses helps me inhibit my desire to make a fool of myself.

But there are times when I don’t wait long enough. And there are times when I don’t consult my wife. Instead, I channel the emotion I’m feeling (usually anger) into what I consider, in-the-moment, to be a pithy, clever, or creative retort.

Flaming

The online world has a name for this phenomenon; it’s called flaming. Flaming is defined as a hostile and insulting interaction in an internet forum or discussion. It may include profanity and name-calling. I like to think I never stoop quite that low. Some internet users are intentional flamers who comment on specific topics in an effort to inflame or incite; others, like me, are occasionally drawn into an internet brawl.

In June, 2013, while perusing books about boys and male development, I came across the book: Raising Boys Feminists will Hate by Doug Giles. If the title of the book was a spark, the first page fanned my fire. Giles opened with:

Parent, if you have a young son and you want him to grow up to be a man, then you need to keep him away from pop culture, public school and a lot of Nancy Boy churches. If metrosexual pop culture, feminized public schools and the effeminate branches of evanjellycalism lay their sissy hands on him, you can kiss his masculinity good-bye because they will morph him into a dandy. (p. 1)

In this case, I could have taken a few deep breaths and waited. There was no hurry for me to respond. Why not wait? It also would have been advisable for me to consult my wife. But what fun would that have been? I knew what she would say. I also knew that instead of self-control or restraint, at that moment, mostly I wanted immediate gratification. Such is the nature of contemporary internet flaming. It’s about instant gratification; it’s not so much about thoughtful and reflective discourse. So, before I could fully contemplate my actions and while avoiding contact with anyone who might push me toward a more mature perspective, I quickly wrote a short book review:

This guy clearly has an ego of immeasurable proportions. I think the main problem is that he’s deluded himself to believe that just because he said it or wrote it, it must be true. I’m not sure anyone in the mainstream is against raising boys to be strong men with good character. But I suppose he’s just creating the image of Nazi-feminists so he can blast away at them and consequently increase his media attention. The real title of this book should be: “I hate feminists and because I’m a real man who knows everything, you should too.” I’d like to challenge him to a debate on Fox, but I’m afraid I’d lose control and get into fisticuffs and consequently damage my sissy-feminist reputation.

In retrospect, I see that this wasn’t my greatest moment. When I start a commentary with “This guy. . .” whatever follows isn’t pointed in the direction of intellectual sophistication. And when I deteriorate into mentioning “fisticuffs” well, then it just becomes a process of embarrassing myself.

Fortunately, I was posting on a relatively “quiet” discussion board. The first response to my post didn’t come until months later. Here’s a clipped version of what a person with the online handle “Jeffery Bozo” had to say about Giles’s book and my review of his work:

The Feminists stayed at the party too long and now they are just beating a dead horse. It’s time for them to find another hobby.

Doug’s comments concerning the Feminist takeover of education are spot-on. 90% of public school teachers are female and/or gay. Does that sound diverse and balanced to you? It seems these activists only concern themselves with their diversity pie charts when it favors their natural enemies. Sounds like female-Femi/Stasi-pigs to me. The height of hypocrisy.

What I took from Mr. Bozo’s post was that he was apparently unimpressed with my clever book review. And although much of what he wrote didn’t make any sense to me, I can see why he, and many others, might take offense to what I wrote. I was neither fair nor balanced. I didn’t focus on the book’s content. I was mocking and insulting Giles and his work. Even though it felt clever and gratifying in the moment, it wasn’t helpful or constructive (both of which are more valuable in a book review than offering clever insults).

You may want to come to my defense. After all, Giles was being intentionally provocative in his choice of book title and his opening paragraph. One great way to deny personal responsibility for immature behavior is to claim: “He started it!” And, although there’s truth to that, Giles’s being provocative is no excuse for my flaming response.

Interestingly, a few months later, another reader decided to enter into the discussion and share her feelings. Her post was directed to Mr. Bozo:

Wow, you are a truly special breed of stupid and ignorant, aren’t you? Your last name is perfectly fitting, because you’re a clown.

When this comment initially popped into my email I had the horrific thought that the posting was about me. Although I was relieved to discover that the commenter was on my side and referencing Mr. Bozo, this is still an excellent example of destructive flaming.

Here’s the main point: Flaming responses, whether online or in-person, nearly always have the intent of “teaching someone a lesson” or “putting someone in his or her place.” And here’s the corollary: It doesn’t work because the other person doesn’t want to hear the lesson and doesn’t want to be put in his or her place.

 

A Bill of Rights for Children of Divorce

Originally posted on John Sommers-Flanagan:

There are lots of different “Bills of Rights” for children and parents of divorce available online. I’m re-posting this one that Rita and I originally published in November, 2000, in Counseling Today, a publication of the American Counseling Association. It’s a slight revision and has been on this blog for a while, but here it is in honor of all the kiddos out there who end up with the challenge of transitioning between two homes. Feel free to share or use as you wish.

A Bill of Rights for Children of Divorce

By John and Rita Sommers-Flanagan

I am a child of divorce.  I hold these truths to be self-evident:

I have the right to be free from parent conflicts and hostilities.  When you badmouth each other in front of me, it tears me apart inside.  Don’t put me in the middle or try to play me against my…

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Posted by on August 3, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Hey Cameron Diaz! Wanna Make a Real Difference?

Dear Cameron Diaz:

For many years you’ve been a positive and happy highlight on the silver screen. You’re smart, funny, and beautiful, an excellent combination. From your use of sperm as hair gel in There’s Something About Mary to this week’s debut of Sex Tape, you’ve given us twisted, off-beat, and edgy hilarity. You help all of us be a little less uptight.

But as a psychologist, I’m also aware there are lines that we’re better off not crossing, which brings me to my point.

In a 2011 appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live you exclaimed, “I love porn!” At the time, it seemed all in good fun—and completely consistent with your irreverent, quirky self. However, since then, I’ve come to view public declarations of loving porn as less than harmless.

Lately I’ve been reading pornography research and have discovered some very disturbing facts. As we’ve known for decades, there’s porn, and then there’s PORN. We need better ways to define this vast array of sexual material.

Because you were once a Charlie’s Angel—dedicated to saving the world from all things evil—I want to share with you what behavioral scientists are finding about the darker side of porn. Viewing more porn is associated with:

• Engaging in sexually aggressive acts (including rape or sexual assault)
• Becoming depressed, anxious, and stressed
• Functioning more poorly in real social interactions (and ironically, becoming impotent)

Research also reveals that young boys who view lots of porn are more likely to be sex offenders. And here’s the most disturbing thing I’ve discovered. Over 80% of pornography includes violence towards women. Within this violent category, a common motif involves a man having anal sex with a woman and then having her perform oral sex, so she tastes her own feces. This illustrates why we need to make distinctions between porn that is fun, educational, or artistic, and porn that is just plain destructive.

Here’s one last thing I didn’t know. The porn industry is GARGANTUAN. It hardly needs your endorsement to survive (http://abcnews.go.com/Primetime/story?id=132001). This week, the industry will make hundreds of millions of dollars on films with substantially less plot than Sex Tape, and my best guess is that you wouldn’t intentionally endorse most of these plots.

Although I don’t know you personally, I have trouble believing you “love” the sort of porn that denigrates women, contributes to impotence in young men, or increases sexual assaults. This leads me to a suggestion for how you might help people understand the differences between acceptable and destructive porn.

What if we planned a tour of the late night talk shows to discuss the stark differences between artistic, gently consenting porn and violent, degrading, and damaging porn? This is a discussion our culture desperately needs, and you could take the lead. With this simple, educational message you could save thousands of people from harmful sexual relationships, or no real sexual relationships at all!

Your legacy could include people not only saying, “Cameron Diaz was talented, beautiful, and smart,” but also “After the letter from that psychologist from Montana, she became an amazing role model for healthy and fun consensual sex.”

Thanks for listening and let me know how I can help!

Sincerely,

That psychologist from Montana

 

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2014 in Personal Reflections

 

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Handouts for the American Mental Health Counseling Association Conference

These past two days I’ve been hanging out in Seattle with some very cool mental health counselors (as well as my very cool sister and her only mildly deranged husband). As a consequence, I promised to post these two powerpoint presentations to enable quick internet access. And so, if you were at the conference or you’re just a powerpoint presentation junkie, links to the two presentations are below:

1. Ethics: A Fresh Approach (two hour workshop with Rich Ponton — who is also very cool)

Ethics A Fresh Approach

2. How to Listen so Parents will Talk (three hour workshop)

How to Listen for AMHCA

 
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Posted by on July 12, 2014 in Ethics, Parenting

 

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Cultural Adaptations in the DSM-5: Insert Foot in Mouth Here

Sometimes it just seems easier to be snarky than balanced. This basic truth comes to mind because of a recent analysis I did of the Cultural Formulation Interview (CFI) from the DSM-5. As I read about the CFI and looked through its Introduction and 16 questions for “patients,” I kept thinking to myself things like,

“Seriously . . . could this really be the best cultural sensitivity that the American Psychiatric Association can manage when it comes to guidelines for interviewing minority cultures?”

And,

“Who wrote this and why didn’t they ask me for some help?” (insert smiley face here; please note that some of my colleagues at the University of Montana have noticed—and commented—on the fact that I tend to insert a smiley face icon right after texting or emailing my personal version of punchy, snarky, sarcasm).

Ha! is all I have to say to them (FYI: Ha! is my programmed default back up to my default smiley face snark signal).

Anyway . . . the point! It’s way easier for me to be critical of the American Psychiatric Association than balanced. In truth, the CFI is a reasonable effort. And, if you think about where the APA is coming from (and likely going to) then the CFI is a massive effort. I should be saying, “Cool! I’m so excited to see the CFI as part of the DSM-5.

All this is prologue for the excerpt I include below. This is an excerpt from a draft chapter I’m writing for the Handbook of Clinical Psychology . . . to be published at some point in the not too distant future. Here’s the excerpt; it focuses on cultural adaptations we can make when conducting initial clinical interviews with minority clients; forgive the roughness of the draft.

Cultural Adaptations

A clinical interview is a first impression, and first impressions are powerful influences on later relational interactions, which is why we need to make cultural adaptations when conducting clinical interviews. One of the best sources for cultural adaptations is the already-existing guidance from psychotherapy research on working multiculturally. These guidelines include: (a) using small talk and self-disclosure with some cultural groups, (b) when feasible, conducting initial interviews in the patient’s native language, (c) seeking professional consultations with professionals familiar with the patient’s culture; (d) avoiding the use of interpreters except in emergency situations; (e) providing services (e.g., childcare) that help increase patient retention, (f) oral administration of written materials to patients with limited literacy, (g) having awareness and sensitivity to client age and acculturation, (h) aligning assessment and treatment goals with client culturally-informed expectations and values, (i) regularly soliciting feedback regarding progress and client expectations and responding immediately to client feedback, and (j) explicitly incorporating cultural content and cultural values into the interview, especially with patients not acculturated to the dominant culture (see Griner & Smith, 2006; Hays, 2008; Smith, Rodriguez, & Bernal, 2011).

Cultural awareness, cross cultural sensitivity, and making cultural adaptations are especially important to assessment and diagnosis. This is partly because mental health professionals have a long history of inappropriately or inaccurately assigning psychiatric diagnoses to cultural minority groups (Paniagua, 2014). To address this challenge, in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5; American Psychiatric Association, 2014), a Cultural Formulation Interview (CFI) protocol is included to aid the diagnostic interview process.

The CFI is a highly structured brief interview. It is not a method for assigning clinical diagnoses; instead, its purpose is to function as a supplementary interview that enhances the clinician’s understanding of potential cultural factors. It also may aid in the diagnostic decision-making process. The CFI includes an introduction and four sections (composed of 16 specific questions). The four sections include:

1. Cultural definition of the problem
2. Cultural perceptions of cause, context, and support
3. Cultural factors affecting self-coping and past help seeking
4. Cultural factors affecting current help seeking

Questions from each section are worded in ways to help clinicians gently explore cultural dimensions of their clients’ problems. Question 2 is a good representation: “Sometimes people have different ways of describing their problem to their family, friends, or others in their community. How would you describe your problem to them?” (American Psychiatric Association, 2014).

Clinicians are encouraged to use the CFI in research and clinical settings. There is also a mechanism for users to provide the American Psychiatric Association with feedback on the CFI’s utility. It may be reproduced for research and clinical work without permission, which is a cool thing.

If you Google: “Cultural Formulation Interview” the first non-advertised hit should be a .pdf of the CFI.

If you Google: “Clinical Interviewing” the first several hits will take you to some form or another of our text on the topic.

Here’s a photo of me “working” inter-culturally with my brother-in-law (insert smiley face here):

Rebekah.Johnson.photo_0451

 

 

 

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Behavioral Activation Therapy: Let’s Just Skip the Cognitions

This is a short excerpt from the text: Counseling and Psychotherapy Theories in Context and Practice

It describes a research-based behavioral approach to counseling and psychotherapy.

Over half a century ago, Skinner suggested that depression was caused by an interruption of healthy behavioral activities that had previously been maintained through positive reinforcement. Later, this idea was expanded based on the initial work of Ferster (1973) and Lewinsohn (1974; Lewinsohn & Libet, 1972). The focus was on observations that:

“. . . depressed individuals find fewer activities pleasant, engage in pleasant activities less frequently, and obtain therefore less positive reinforcement than other individuals.” (Cuijpers, van Straten, & Warmerdam, 2007, p. 319)

From the behavioral perspective, the thinking goes like this:
1.   Observation: Individuals experiencing depression engage in fewer pleasant activities and obtain less daily positive reinforcement.

2.   Hypothesis: Individuals with depressive symptoms might improve or recover if they change their behavior (while not paying any attention to their thoughts or feelings associated with depression).

Like the good scientists they are, behavior therapists have tested this hypothesis and found that behavior change—all by itself—can produce positive treatment outcomes among clients with depression. The main point is to get clients with depressive symptoms to change their behavior patterns so they engage in more pleasant activities and experience more positive reinforcement
Originally, behavioral activation was referred to as activity scheduling and used as a component of various cognitive and behavioral treatments for depression (A. T. Beck, Rush, Shaw, & Emery, 1979; Lewinsohn, Steinmetz, Antonuccio, & Teri, 1984). During this time activity scheduling was viewed as one piece or part of an overall cognitive behavior treatment (CBT) for depression.
However, in 1996, Jacobson and colleagues conducted a dismantling study on CBT for depression. They compared the whole CBT package with activity scheduling (which they referred to as behavioral activation), with behavioral activation (BA) only, and with CBT for automatic thoughts only. Somewhat surprisingly, BA by itself was equivalent to the other treatment components—even at two-year follow-up (Gortner, Gollan, Dobson, & Jacobson, 1998; Jacobson et al., 1996).

As is often the case, this exciting research finding stimulated further exploration and research associated with behavioral activation. In particular, two separate research teams developed treatment manuals focusing on behavioral activation. Jacobson and colleagues (Jacobson, Martell, & Dimidjian, 2001) developed an expanded BA protocol and Lejuez, Hopko, Hopko, and McNeil (2001) developed a brief (12 session) behavioral activation treatment for depression (BATD) manual and a more recent 10 session revised manual (Lejuez, Hopko, Acierno, Daughters, & Pagoto, 2011).

Implementation of the BATD protocol is described in a short vignette later in the behavioral theory and therapy chapter in the text: Counseling and Psychotherapy Theories in Context and Practice by John and Rita Sommers-Flanagan. See: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0470617934.html

Or, on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/John-Sommers-Flanagan/e/B0030LK6NM/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_1

Several people engaging in behavioral activation therapy at a wedding.

Dancing

 

 

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