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With the resurgence of interest in the use of psychedelics for therapeutic purposes including many clinical studies at NYU, Johns Hopkins, UBC, and many other research centres I have been digging into some of the literature. I came across two pieces that make for an interesting contrast: Remembrances of LSD Therapy Past by Betty Grover Eisner Ph.D., and The Ten Lessons in Psychedelic Psychotherapy, Rediscovered, by Neal M Goldsmith, which is a chapter in a book called Psychedelic Medicine: New Evidence for Hallucinogens as Treatments.  
Betty Eisner

Betty Eisner

  • Psychedelics such as LSD, Psilocybin, MDMA, and Mescaline has been shown to be very powerful psychoactive tools that reach places psychotherapy and current pharmaceuticals don’t touch. Psychedelics are highly effective in reducing anxiety in terminal cancer patients, those with highly resistant PTSD, alcoholics, and new clinical research is exploring ways that psychedelics can have a positive impact on people with eating disorders, and there are many other studies researching how psychedelics work. Hope among researchers is that they will encourage governments to loosen control of these highly restricted drugs.  
  • Betty Eisner was a psychoanalyst and psychedelic researcher in the 1950s and 1960s in LA.Her unpublished manuscript was written two years before her death in 2004. Even though there were some controls on LSD in the US before it became illegal in 1966, Betty’s book documents how freewheeling the researchers were back in the day. It is mainly a collection of letters to other researchers such as Humphry Osmond, Tom Leary, Adolous Huxley, Bill Wilson the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous who fervently believed in using LSD to treat alcoholics, and many other larger-than-life characters like the LSD evangelist Al Hubbard with his private plane.
  • She is a terrific writer and documents her experiences of the first age of the LSD beautifully. It was expected that researchers regularly partake in psychedelic experiences and Betty documents these with great clarity. She noted that an eight hour trip was like four years of therapy.
  • Have a look at this short 1956 film of Dr. Sidney Cohen (Betty’s boss) chatting with people on LSD.
  • Neal Goldsmith’s Ten Lessons of Psychedelic Psychotherapy, Rediscovered is a much more nuanced and balanced account of the important lessons learned by Betty and her peers before LSD was banned in the US in 1966 up until research resumed in the 1990’s. Even though the first generation’s research was a bit loosy goosey and improvised, they discovered many very important techniques Neal documents.
  • The importance of set and setting was recognized early on. They recognized that one had a better trip if one is prepared and in a comfortable location. This might seem obvious to us now, but keep in mind that early researchers had people strapped to gurneys in hospital rooms and left alone for the duration of their trip. Probably because researchers consumed LSD themselves that they were able to understand the importance of things like set and setting.  
  • In this second age of psychedelic research, clinicians are hoping to document and validate the beneficial effects these drugs in the hope that medical authorities will relax the controls that currently exist on psychedelics. If successful, psychedelic psychotherapy will become much more common in the future and I think it will inevitably lead to a radical re-examination our current understanding of psychiatry as it has been practiced for the past hundred years. After all, psychiatrists wrote off psychedelics and mimicking psychosis and schizophrenia, but now most understand that it is the gateway to understanding altered states of consciousness which include spiritual and religious experiences.  
  • These books are available for a free download with the links posted below.  
  • Betty Grover Eisner, Ph.D. Remembrances of LSD Therapy Past
    , 2002, unpublished
  •  NEAL M. GOLDSMITH “The Ten Lessons of Psychedelic Psychotherapy, Rediscovered.” In Winkelman, M. and Roberts, T. (Eds.), Psychedelic Medicine: New Evidence for Hallucinogens as Treatments.  New York: Praeger, 2007.

     
    This is a powerful video on how MDM-A can help so many people with trauma. MDM-A is like the key that opens up PTSD sufferers who are treatment resistant.  Then the psychotherapy can take hold. One day and I hope it's within a few years, people who suffer trauma will have the option of a short course of MDM-A and therapy rather than have to endure a lifetime of addiction and suffering.
    A great article from CGMagazine about whether violent video games encourage suicide ideation. I am quoted extensively in the piece. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, suicide is the second leading cause of death amongst young people in Canada; the statistic is the same over in the United States. While there are a multitude of factors that can contribute to suicide, an American study released in January found that action category videogames can play a significant role in suicide ideation and attempt. The study, published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, found that individuals who played extensive hours of action games (which the researchers define as first-person shooter, fighting, sports, horror and crime/war-themed games) evidenced the highest Acquired Capability for Suicide, or A.C.S. This is defined in the study as traits (for example, a lowered fear of death and higher tolerance for both physical and emotional pain) that can both physically and mentally prepare one to make a lethal or non-lethal suicide attempt. To Read More, click here: http://www.cgmagonline.com/2016/02/08/lets-talk-about-suicide-and-action-games/
    Major fraud cases grab the headlines for a few days or weeks then forgotten until the next one comes along. We never have to wait long. Media typically focuses on following the money, the colourful perpetrator and occasionally on the victims. Because no violence is used, there is some sort of collusion, and sometimes insurance, fraud appears to be a victimless crime. On the contrary, fraud victims are often devastated by their loses, blamed for their perceived collusion, secrecy, greed, lack of foresight, gullibility, stupidity and so on. Is that why is there so little support for fraud victims from the mental health community? Major fraud cases grab the headlines for a few days or weeks then forgotten until the next one comes along. We never have to wait long. Media typically focuses on following the money, the colourful perpetrator and occasionally on the victims. Because no violence is used, there is some sort of collusion, and sometimes insurance, fraud appears to be a victimless crime. On the contrary, fraud victims are often devastated by their loses, blamed for their perceived collusion, secrecy, greed, lack of foresight, gullibility, stupidity and so on. Is that why is there so little support for fraud victims from the mental health community? Google help for victims of fraud and you will find various resources from police forces, governments, lawyers, accountants, and third parties who will help you navigate the legal system. Google psychological help for fraud victims and you get pretty much the same results but more along the lines of how to prevent people from falling for scams. Missing from these results are any psychologist, psychotherapists, agencies, or help lines that will help victims deal with their trauma. Where are those mental health professionals who can help victims deal with their pain and loss? You don’t even want to know what you get when you Google psychotherapist fraud. Sadly, there are many more psychotherapists accused of fraud than those who specialize in helping the injured party. Fraud is a global problem that is growing about 4% a year. You will become a victim of swindlers at some point unless you live in a monastery in Tibet. Often it is small: being over-charged for work done on your car; or giving money to a charity that funnels it to offshore accounts. Scams exist in every type of transaction from foreign trade to adoption to human smuggling. It may well be the second oldest profession. Some of the first writing ever found was on Samarian clay tablets. They were itemized lists of goods in jars used in trade to prevent loss. It’s estimated that fraud costs the US economy $400 billion each year. You find it in every country of the world.  Many of the instances of it is small potatoes, like in the two example above, but what really adds up are the major frauds like Madoff and Worldcom where billions are lost and many lives are ruined. This cohort variously suffers from PTSD, inability to trust others or themselves, depression, suicide, divorce, strained relationships, low self esteem, and anger. It’s curious to me that professionals aren’t stepping over themselves to help these people. A report by the School of Psychology at the University of Exeter on why people fall for scams reports that: “Scams cause psychological as well as financial harm to victims. Victims not only suffer a financial loss, but also a loss of self-esteem because they blame themselves for having been so 'stupid' to fall for the scam. Some of the victims we interviewed appeared to have been seriously damaged by their experience.” A British charity wants us to recognize that it is the most vulnerable people, often isolated elderly and those with mental health issues are most at risk of being scammed. The Think Jessica organization is lobbying to have (Jessica Scam Syndrome (JSS) recognized as a disorder to help prevent this vulnerable population from being victimized. But it’s not just the vulnerable who fall victim. Intelligent, skeptical people who think they would never fall for anything suspicious can also become victims. Perpetrators are a high risk to reoffend even when they get caught and serve time. The chances of getting caught is slim and the payoff so large that most fraud artists make a career of it. Perhaps if and when vulnerability to fraud appears in the DSM will the mental health community swing into action? Of course the best thing we could do as a society would be to educate citizens to stay away from anything suspicious and drastically increase monitoring and penalties for those who ruin lives. Bradley Foster

    (From Crains Chicago Business. By Shia Kapos)

    Tony Dreyfuss, co-founder of Metropolis Coffee, and his wife were celebrating Mother's Day with their infant child in 2006 when he got a call about a broken coffee brewer.

    “I said, 'Gotta go.' And I left on my wife's first Mother's Day. I wasn't taking stock,” Dreyfuss recalls. It was a low point for them, but not low enough to make him pull back from the long hours building his business. Six years and two more children later, his wife, Karen, pulled him aside and said something had to change.

    Dreyfuss saw a doctor and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder type 1, a mental illness that led to an intense attention to work. The disease often is referred to as manic depression or sometimes “the CEO's disease.”

    “I simply ran manic for years. I got a lot done, but it deeply affected my relationships. I wasn't present with anyone,” he says. Though he didn't exhibit other common symptoms of the disease—“I didn't spend money, sleep around or drive like a maniac”—“I just worked, worked, worked.”

    The Chicago businessman, 41, grew up in Madison, Wis. He was a skateboarder who took up juggling and photography. Since he was a child, “he's had a limitless imagination,” says Tony's father and business partner, Jeff Dreyfuss.

    Tony Dreyfuss says he was prone to making life-changing decisions on a whim. His career began while he was driving a cab as a student at the University of Wisconsin, where he earned a philosophy degree. He pulled over one night for coffee and was so struck by that particular cup's flavor, he decided right then to make the drink a career.

    To him, that meant running a coffee shop. “At that point I wasn't thinking about roasting it,” he says.

    He and his wife moved to Portland, Ore., which along with Seattle is the epicenter of specialty coffee. He took a job at a Peet's Coffee & Tea, working his way up from bean-scooper to management before taking a pay cut to become a taster and “fill a knowledge gap.”

    His parents, both linguists, had moved to Seattle, and his father also had become a coffee connoisseur. While attending a trade show in Seattle, father and son purchased a coffee-roasting machine with the idea of going into business.

    'JACKED UP'

    “We were jacked up on caffeine after drinking a dozen espressos. It was like drunk people getting tattoos,” says the younger Dreyfuss, who already was planning to move to Chicago, where his wife had grown up.

    Dreyfuss found retail space in the city's Edgewater neighborhood for a coffeehouse and roasting facility. That was in 2002.

    By 2003, the Dreyfusses were in business and counted Hopleaf Bar and M.Henryrestaurant among early clients.

    Today, Metropolis has 400 wholesale customers in Chicago and 200 beyond and expects revenue of more than $7 million this year. The company still operates its only cafe on Granville Avenue, and it employs people with disabilities through nonprofit Aspire.

    After his diagnosis in 2012, Dreyfuss told his staff he was taking a three-month leave. The response, he says, was “Oh, thank God!”

    Bipolar disorder, he continues, “makes you completely incapable of understanding how your actions affect other people. You have great ideas and you just dump them on other people and move to the next thing.”

    With counseling, medication, dietary changes and at least eight hours of sleep a night, Dreyfuss says he's as healthy as he's ever been. He carves out open time on his calendar, which allows him more time to think creatively. The company has thrived as a result, he says.

    Karen Dreyfuss calls the change at home “miraculous,” adding that the diagnosis explained a lot.

    “When you start out in marriage, you support all the meetings and all those fires that have to be put out,” she says. “But year after year there will always be more fires and more meetings and if you don't draw that line, it will consume you.”

    On the patio of Metropolis' new headquarters in the Avondale neighborhood, Dreyfuss' phone goes off midconversation. He pulls it out and turns it off.

    “Three years ago I would have answered it,” he says. “I really try to be present with who I'm with. That's what I've learned the most.”

    full story at: http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20150925/ISSUE09/150929894?X-IgnoreUserAgent=1

    from Huffington Post... No one ever hears a friend say "I have a doctor's appointment" and immediately thinks that they must be rich or weak or crazy. It's generally the right and less stubborn thing to see a professional when our body is injured or feels "atypical." But if someone wants to see a therapist for their mental health, people aren't as uncritical. I talk very openly about the fact that I see a therapist. While my friends and family are mostly supportive, they, along with the general population, still ask questions or make comments that remind me that going to therapy is not as normalized or as acceptableas I had hoped. I know my loved ones mean well, and I consider myself lucky; but there's still that millisecond between saying the variation of words "I see a therapist" and the polite (albeit usually misinformed) reply where the stigma lives. All the immediate thoughts and questions translate to a slight change in demeanor and discomfort reflected in their eyes. more  

    from the new york times...

    The manila folder is full of faded faxes. The top sheet contains a brief description of my first medically confirmed manic episode, more than 20 years ago, when I was admitted as a teenager to U.C.L.A.’s Neuropsychiatric Institute: “Increased psychomotor rate, decreased need for sleep (about two to three hours a night), racing thoughts and paranoid ideation regarding her parents following her and watching her, as well as taping the phone calls that she was making.”

    I believed I had special powers, the report noted; I knew ‘‘when the end of the world was coming due to toxic substances’’ and felt that I was the only one who could stop it. There was also an account of my elaborate academic sponsorship plan so I could afford to attend Yale — some corporation would pay for a year of education in exchange for labor or repayment down the line. (Another grand delusion. I was a B-plus student, at best.) more

    Anxious?

    God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
    The courage to change the things I can,
    And wisdom to know the difference.
    Reinhold Niebuhr*
    And therein lies the root of much of our stress. When we accept that there are few things we have control over, we might be able relax and just be with what is. A major source of anxiety and depression is the feeling of a loss of control. Those who are depressed surrender to the malaise. Anxious people, worry a lot. It’s our attempt to control more than we are able to that elevates our stress hormones and affects our ability to sleep well. So, just what do we control? According to most experts, very little. The only things we have full control over are ourselves. Anything external to us, our environment, other people, the weather, and pretty much anything in the world is beyond our control. Just to be clear, we control: our actions; what we think; what we say; our immediate environment; what our inputs are (what we see, hear, read etc.); who are friends are; our level of self care; how we spend our time; and our legacy. That’s not much to look after, considering the hundreds of things that are out of our hands in a day. As the poem by the preacher Reinhold Niebuhr states, it takes grace and forgiveness to accept what we can’t change and wisdom to know what we can. Everything else leads to malaise or stress. You might ask, if leading a less stressful life is that simple, why don’t more people do it? There are a lot of answers to this question; most can be reduced to human nature. As a coach I work with clients who suffer from stress, anxiety, impulse control issues, depression, and lack of discipline or motivation. The trouble is, it’s much easier to worry, blame others, be irresponsible, compare one’s self to others, be passive, or a control freak than it is to take control of ourselves and our mind. If you find that you fit neatly into the category of worrying about things outside your control you have plenty of company. The best thing you can do is to bring some awareness to your worries. Write down everything you are worried about using two columns: “Things I can change” and “Things I can’t change”. Notice how long the “Can’t Change” list is and how short the “Can Change” list is. But it’s not like we are simply going to stop worrying about things just because we conceptually know they’re out of our control. This is where the hard but rewarding work comes in. The good news is that breathing, meditation, relaxation, and yoga, all help. Training your mind to control your thoughts is essential to being able to banish worries, blame, unflattering comparisons, negative thinking, and fears. Fears are often the root of anxiety and anger so it will take introspection and perhaps some professional to root them out. * The quote by Reinhold Niebuhr is most commonly known as the Serenity Prayer, adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12 Step Programs. This is a shortened version of the original prayer penned by Neibuhr in a sermon to troops in 1943.  

    Balancing Yourself

    There is no such thing as living life in a state of perfect balance. We are either going toward balance or away from it, much as a child does balancing her weight standing on a teeter-totter. When our lives tip away from balance we are less able to deal with stress and we become dissatisfied. When we are moving toward balance, we are better able to tolerate and deal with the ups and downs of life. The trick is to stay closer to balance than to tip wildly from one extreme to the other. Here is a list of the top ten things you can do to help you move toward a more balanced life.

    Sleep

    Sleep is the pillar of mental health. When we don’t get enough, or if we get too much, we don’t function very well. Most experts say seven to eight hours is a healthy amount. Just as important as the quantity is the quality. If you wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the day, you had a good sleep. If you wake up feeling tired you probably didn’t sleep well. Stress and poor sleep become a vicious cycle. As you reduce stress in your life you will probably start sleeping better. As you start sleeping better, the better able you’ll deal with stress.

    Exercise

    Yeah, I know, all tips for a better life include exercise because it’s essential. You don’t have to work out in the gym four days a week or run a marathon. Simple things like going for a regular walk or using the stairs instead of the elevator incorporates exercise into your life. Most experts say that the best “medicine” for depression is a long walk.  There are a lot of reasons why exercise is good for your mind and body but let’s not talk about it and just do it.

    Diet

    We are what we eat. We eat too much of the four food groups: sugar, fat, salt, and starch. They affect our bodies in drastic ways: rapidly inflating our blood sugar, our blood pressure; making us feel bloated; and clogging up our arteries. It takes a bit of time to plan meals and shop accordingly, and it’s well worth doing. In other words, putting a bit of thought into what we bite into makes a lot of difference. Meal planning allows you to look at your whole week so you can get some variety as well as nutritious, wholesome food. Having good food in your refrigerator will help you avoid running out for that slice of pizza.

    Avoid Excess

    I was raised with the value of “everything in moderation” and it’s served me well. At its root, it’s about knowing when you’ve had enough. We don’t have to drink until we pass out or eat until we feel nauseous to know that excess isn’t a good idea, yet millions do it every day. We live in an excessive society where there is a lot of everything so the temptation to keep piling it on (what ever it is), is always there. At the root, it’s all about knowing when you feel like you’ve had enough. We are driven by lifestyle demands, peer pressure, the demand for more (because more is better isn’t it?). At some point we have to decide for ourselves. A friend of mine recently purchased a kitchen safe, which is a clear plastic cube with a time lock. She puts a bag of cookies in it and when the timer allows her to open it, she takes out a few cookies, then locks it for another 24 hours. If you don’t have the will power to resist eating the whole bag at once, either don’t buy them or get a safe.

    Avoid Overstimulation

    We live in a state of constant stimulation. It’s death by a thousand cuts. We over stimulate ourselves when we check our phone, watch TV, listen to the news, spend time in front of any screen, hear sirens on the street, or even listen to the radio. When stimulation creeps in it has an insidious effect on us, because we don’t pay attention to it. We may notice at some point in the day that we feel tense, but have no idea why. For the most part we are passive receivers of stimulation. Even the humming and clanking of our homes adds a tiny bit of stress to our overworked nervous system. Why not go on a stimulation diet? If you must listen to the news, do it only once a day. Turn your phone off when you get home and avoid other forms of stimulation. Read a book. For those who are extra sensitive, earplugs might be an option.

    Control your Schedule

    Talk to anyone who specializes in being “busy”, as in too busy to meet for coffee, or too busy to chat on the phone, and you will find someone who is a slave to their own busyness. Of course they have more control over their schedule than they let on and for reasons known only to them, they like it that way. How many times you have said, “I have to do …”, or “I should …”, without really considering why? We keep ourselves in a state of constant busyness at times, which unbalances us, makes us crazy and stresses us out unnecessarily. Take a break from the habit of busyness and take a 30,000 foot view. Ask yourself, do I really need to do this? What will happen if I don’t do it right now? Can someone else do it? You might surprise yourself how many things you can scratch off your to do list. Find blocks of time where you control your schedule. Do things that give you pleasure or allows you to unwind. Only you control your schedule.

    Monitor yourself

    Take a moment to check in with yourself several times a day. Notice what you are feeling. Are you feeling: overwhelmed; tired; excited; nervous; bored; hungry; or stressed? Most people are too busy, stressed, or unaware to check in with themselves. It’s only when you notice your state that you can do something about it. Typically once you’ve gone into overload it’s too late. For instance, if you are having a stressful day, you might take a break from your work to stretch and walk around a bit. If your plans include watching the latest action movie with friends tonight, you might want to give it a pass and have a quiet night at home. Noticing how you’re doing is half the battle and that starts with awareness and self control.

    Resolve Stuff

    Too often we leave things unsaid, stay angry at people, or stew in the juices of frustration and resentment. It’s the sort of stuff that keeps us awake at night. To truly be able to sleep at night and to live without the past chasing you, consider cutting past hurts out of your life. If you have something to say to someone who hurt you, say it either in an email, in phone or in person. Life can be difficult and stressful enough without lugging this stuff around with us. Forgiveness can be tough for those of us who don’t come by it easily. The only way to really be at peace with yourself is to leave the past behind so you can face each day with a relatively fresh page.

    Review Your Habits

    We are a combination of good habits and bad ones. To know what they are, take an inventory. If you are falling out of balance, chances are good that some of your habits are dragging you into that territory. Reinforcing good habits is a good way to remain in balance. Conversely, erasing a bad habit will help you keep in balance. If you have habits you would like to change, tackle them one at a time. For instance, if you tend to be messy, make a point of cleaning up after yourself for a couple of weeks. Get into the habit of looking around and taking away an empty cup or washing it right away. After a few weeks you will transform a bad habit into a better one. Once you feel you have that one under control, tackle another one. Replacing old habits with new ones will make it easier to maintain balance in your life.

    Be Grateful

    It’s easy to focus on negative things in our lives, because our brains are wired to prevent a recurrence of pain. That means we have to consciously reflect on the positive things in our lives instead of taking them for granted. Some of us are so wired for negativity that we have a difficult time thinking of anything to be grateful for. By focusing on positive things in our lives, we automatically spend less time being negative. Thus we are more balanced on the positive/negative scale. If we truly appreciate the good things in our lives, and yes, there are millions of them, we balance our thinking. Spending even a few minutes a day reflecting on gratitude actually changes the way we think. With a more positive outlook, we will be less prone to depression, more upbeat, and probably more fun to be around.
    This is a wonderful story about a man, madly in love with his wife, who has gone mad. He talks about madness, psychiatry, trying to help without getting in the way, and about the dilemmas he has faced. It's really worth the read if you have about twenty minutes to spare. Read the full post on Pacific Standard....

    The History and Future of Psychedelic Psychotherapy

    relationship therapy

    September 22, 2016 | Posted in anxiety, psychedelic psychotherapy, psychotherapy, Uncategorized | By

    With the resurgence of interest in the use of psychedelics for therapeutic purposes including many clinical studies at NYU, Johns Hopkins, UBC, and many other research centres I have been digging into some of the literature. I came across two pieces that make for an interesting contrast: Remembrances of LSD Therapy Past by Betty Grover Eisner Ph.D., and The Ten Lessons in Psychedelic Psychotherapy, Rediscovered, by Neal M Goldsmith, which is a chapter in a book called Psychedelic Medicine: New Evidence for Hallucinogens as Treatments.   [caption id="attachment_198" align="alignright" width="185"]Betty Eisner Betty Eisner[/caption]
  • Psychedelics such as LSD, Psilocybin, MDMA, and Mescaline has been shown to be very powerful psychoactive tools that reach places psychotherapy and current pharmaceuticals don’t touch. Psychedelics are highly effective in reducing anxiety in terminal cancer patients, those with highly resistant PTSD, alcoholics, and new clinical research is exploring ways that psychedelics can have a positive impact on people with eating disorders, and there are many other studies researching how psychedelics work. Hope among researchers is that they will encourage governments to loosen control of these highly restricted drugs.  
  • Betty Eisner was a psychoanalyst and psychedelic researcher in the 1950s and 1960s in LA.Her unpublished manuscript was written two years before her death in 2004. Even though there were some controls on LSD in the US before it became illegal in 1966, Betty’s book documents how freewheeling the researchers were back in the day. It is mainly a collection of letters to other researchers such as Humphry Osmond, Tom Leary, Adolous Huxley, Bill Wilson the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous who fervently believed in using LSD to treat alcoholics, and many other larger-than-life characters like the LSD evangelist Al Hubbard with his private plane.
  • She is a terrific writer and documents her experiences of the first age of the LSD beautifully. It was expected that researchers regularly partake in psychedelic experiences and Betty documents these with great clarity. She noted that an eight hour trip was like four years of therapy.
  • Have a look at this short 1956 film of Dr. Sidney Cohen (Betty’s boss) chatting with people on LSD.
  • Neal Goldsmith’s Ten Lessons of Psychedelic Psychotherapy, Rediscovered is a much more nuanced and balanced account of the important lessons learned by Betty and her peers before LSD was banned in the US in 1966 up until research resumed in the 1990’s. Even though the first generation’s research was a bit loosy goosey and improvised, they discovered many very important techniques Neal documents.
  • The importance of set and setting was recognized early on. They recognized that one had a better trip if one is prepared and in a comfortable location. This might seem obvious to us now, but keep in mind that early researchers had people strapped to gurneys in hospital rooms and left alone for the duration of their trip. Probably because researchers consumed LSD themselves that they were able to understand the importance of things like set and setting.  
  • In this second age of psychedelic research, clinicians are hoping to document and validate the beneficial effects these drugs in the hope that medical authorities will relax the controls that currently exist on psychedelics. If successful, psychedelic psychotherapy will become much more common in the future and I think it will inevitably lead to a radical re-examination our current understanding of psychiatry as it has been practiced for the past hundred years. After all, psychiatrists wrote off psychedelics and mimicking psychosis and schizophrenia, but now most understand that it is the gateway to understanding altered states of consciousness which include spiritual and religious experiences.  
  • These books are available for a free download with the links posted below.  
  • Betty Grover Eisner, Ph.D. Remembrances of LSD Therapy Past
    , 2002, unpublished
  •  NEAL M. GOLDSMITH “The Ten Lessons of Psychedelic Psychotherapy, Rediscovered.” In Winkelman, M. and Roberts, T. (Eds.), Psychedelic Medicine: New Evidence for Hallucinogens as Treatments.  New York: Praeger, 2007.

     

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    MDM-A Tedx talk by British Psychiatrist

    Reminder Image

    October 19, 2016 | Posted in anxiety, Integrative, psychedelic psychotherapy, psychotherapy, suicide | By

    This is a powerful video on how MDM-A can help so many people with trauma. MDM-A is like the key that opens up PTSD sufferers who are treatment resistant.  Then the psychotherapy can take hold. One day and I hope it's within a few years, people who suffer trauma will have the option of a short course of MDM-A and therapy rather than have to endure a lifetime of addiction and suffering.

    Read More...

    DO ACTION GAMES ENCOURAGE SUICIDE?

    Reminder Image

    February 9, 2016 | Posted in psychotherapy, suicide, teen, video games | By

    A great article from CGMagazine about whether violent video games encourage suicide ideation. I am quoted extensively in the piece. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, suicide is the second leading cause of death amongst young people in Canada; the statistic is the same over in the United States. While there are a multitude of factors that can contribute to suicide, an American study released in January found that action category videogames can play a significant role in suicide ideation and attempt. The study, published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, found that individuals who played extensive hours of action games (which the researchers define as first-person shooter, fighting, sports, horror and crime/war-themed games) evidenced the highest Acquired Capability for Suicide, or A.C.S. This is defined in the study as traits (for example, a lowered fear of death and higher tolerance for both physical and emotional pain) that can both physically and mentally prepare one to make a lethal or non-lethal suicide attempt. To Read More, click here: http://www.cgmagonline.com/2016/02/08/lets-talk-about-suicide-and-action-games/

    Read More...

    Missing in Action: Mental Health Community Fails Fraud Victims

    toronto psychotherapy

    November 12, 2015 | Posted in balance, Fraud, Integrative, psychotherapy | By

    Major fraud cases grab the headlines for a few days or weeks then forgotten until the next one comes along. We never have to wait long. Media typically focuses on following the money, the colourful perpetrator and occasionally on the victims. Because no violence is used, there is some sort of collusion, and sometimes insurance, fraud appears to be a victimless crime. On the contrary, fraud victims are often devastated by their loses, blamed for their perceived collusion, secrecy, greed, lack of foresight, gullibility, stupidity and so on. Is that why is there so little support for fraud victims from the mental health community? Major fraud cases grab the headlines for a few days or weeks then forgotten until the next one comes along. We never have to wait long. Media typically focuses on following the money, the colourful perpetrator and occasionally on the victims. Because no violence is used, there is some sort of collusion, and sometimes insurance, fraud appears to be a victimless crime. On the contrary, fraud victims are often devastated by their loses, blamed for their perceived collusion, secrecy, greed, lack of foresight, gullibility, stupidity and so on. Is that why is there so little support for fraud victims from the mental health community? Google help for victims of fraud and you will find various resources from police forces, governments, lawyers, accountants, and third parties who will help you navigate the legal system. Google psychological help for fraud victims and you get pretty much the same results but more along the lines of how to prevent people from falling for scams. Missing from these results are any psychologist, psychotherapists, agencies, or help lines that will help victims deal with their trauma. Where are those mental health professionals who can help victims deal with their pain and loss? You don’t even want to know what you get when you Google psychotherapist fraud. Sadly, there are many more psychotherapists accused of fraud than those who specialize in helping the injured party. Fraud is a global problem that is growing about 4% a year. You will become a victim of swindlers at some point unless you live in a monastery in Tibet. Often it is small: being over-charged for work done on your car; or giving money to a charity that funnels it to offshore accounts. Scams exist in every type of transaction from foreign trade to adoption to human smuggling. It may well be the second oldest profession. Some of the first writing ever found was on Samarian clay tablets. They were itemized lists of goods in jars used in trade to prevent loss. It’s estimated that fraud costs the US economy $400 billion each year. You find it in every country of the world.  Many of the instances of it is small potatoes, like in the two example above, but what really adds up are the major frauds like Madoff and Worldcom where billions are lost and many lives are ruined. This cohort variously suffers from PTSD, inability to trust others or themselves, depression, suicide, divorce, strained relationships, low self esteem, and anger. It’s curious to me that professionals aren’t stepping over themselves to help these people. A report by the School of Psychology at the University of Exeter on why people fall for scams reports that: “Scams cause psychological as well as financial harm to victims. Victims not only suffer a financial loss, but also a loss of self-esteem because they blame themselves for having been so 'stupid' to fall for the scam. Some of the victims we interviewed appeared to have been seriously damaged by their experience.” A British charity wants us to recognize that it is the most vulnerable people, often isolated elderly and those with mental health issues are most at risk of being scammed. The Think Jessica organization is lobbying to have (Jessica Scam Syndrome (JSS) recognized as a disorder to help prevent this vulnerable population from being victimized. But it’s not just the vulnerable who fall victim. Intelligent, skeptical people who think they would never fall for anything suspicious can also become victims. Perpetrators are a high risk to reoffend even when they get caught and serve time. The chances of getting caught is slim and the payoff so large that most fraud artists make a career of it. Perhaps if and when vulnerability to fraud appears in the DSM will the mental health community swing into action? Of course the best thing we could do as a society would be to educate citizens to stay away from anything suspicious and drastically increase monitoring and penalties for those who ruin lives. Bradley Foster

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    A coffee company chief recovers from ‘CEO’s disease’

    Toronto psychotherapist

    September 30, 2015 | Posted in balance, bipolar, Blog posts, psychotherapy, reframe | By

    (From Crains Chicago Business. By Shia Kapos)

    Tony Dreyfuss, co-founder of Metropolis Coffee, and his wife were celebrating Mother's Day with their infant child in 2006 when he got a call about a broken coffee brewer.

    “I said, 'Gotta go.' And I left on my wife's first Mother's Day. I wasn't taking stock,” Dreyfuss recalls. It was a low point for them, but not low enough to make him pull back from the long hours building his business. Six years and two more children later, his wife, Karen, pulled him aside and said something had to change.

    Dreyfuss saw a doctor and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder type 1, a mental illness that led to an intense attention to work. The disease often is referred to as manic depression or sometimes “the CEO's disease.”

    “I simply ran manic for years. I got a lot done, but it deeply affected my relationships. I wasn't present with anyone,” he says. Though he didn't exhibit other common symptoms of the disease—“I didn't spend money, sleep around or drive like a maniac”—“I just worked, worked, worked.”

    The Chicago businessman, 41, grew up in Madison, Wis. He was a skateboarder who took up juggling and photography. Since he was a child, “he's had a limitless imagination,” says Tony's father and business partner, Jeff Dreyfuss.

    Tony Dreyfuss says he was prone to making life-changing decisions on a whim. His career began while he was driving a cab as a student at the University of Wisconsin, where he earned a philosophy degree. He pulled over one night for coffee and was so struck by that particular cup's flavor, he decided right then to make the drink a career.

    To him, that meant running a coffee shop. “At that point I wasn't thinking about roasting it,” he says.

    He and his wife moved to Portland, Ore., which along with Seattle is the epicenter of specialty coffee. He took a job at a Peet's Coffee & Tea, working his way up from bean-scooper to management before taking a pay cut to become a taster and “fill a knowledge gap.”

    His parents, both linguists, had moved to Seattle, and his father also had become a coffee connoisseur. While attending a trade show in Seattle, father and son purchased a coffee-roasting machine with the idea of going into business.

    'JACKED UP'

    “We were jacked up on caffeine after drinking a dozen espressos. It was like drunk people getting tattoos,” says the younger Dreyfuss, who already was planning to move to Chicago, where his wife had grown up.

    Dreyfuss found retail space in the city's Edgewater neighborhood for a coffeehouse and roasting facility. That was in 2002.

    By 2003, the Dreyfusses were in business and counted Hopleaf Bar and M.Henryrestaurant among early clients.

    Today, Metropolis has 400 wholesale customers in Chicago and 200 beyond and expects revenue of more than $7 million this year. The company still operates its only cafe on Granville Avenue, and it employs people with disabilities through nonprofit Aspire.

    After his diagnosis in 2012, Dreyfuss told his staff he was taking a three-month leave. The response, he says, was “Oh, thank God!”

    Bipolar disorder, he continues, “makes you completely incapable of understanding how your actions affect other people. You have great ideas and you just dump them on other people and move to the next thing.”

    With counseling, medication, dietary changes and at least eight hours of sleep a night, Dreyfuss says he's as healthy as he's ever been. He carves out open time on his calendar, which allows him more time to think creatively. The company has thrived as a result, he says.

    Karen Dreyfuss calls the change at home “miraculous,” adding that the diagnosis explained a lot.

    “When you start out in marriage, you support all the meetings and all those fires that have to be put out,” she says. “But year after year there will always be more fires and more meetings and if you don't draw that line, it will consume you.”

    On the patio of Metropolis' new headquarters in the Avondale neighborhood, Dreyfuss' phone goes off midconversation. He pulls it out and turns it off.

    “Three years ago I would have answered it,” he says. “I really try to be present with who I'm with. That's what I've learned the most.”

    full story at: http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20150925/ISSUE09/150929894?X-IgnoreUserAgent=1

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    14 Common Misconceptions About People Who Go to Therapy

    AA050386

    June 29, 2015 | Posted in psychotherapy | By

    from Huffington Post... No one ever hears a friend say "I have a doctor's appointment" and immediately thinks that they must be rich or weak or crazy. It's generally the right and less stubborn thing to see a professional when our body is injured or feels "atypical." But if someone wants to see a therapist for their mental health, people aren't as uncritical. I talk very openly about the fact that I see a therapist. While my friends and family are mostly supportive, they, along with the general population, still ask questions or make comments that remind me that going to therapy is not as normalized or as acceptableas I had hoped. I know my loved ones mean well, and I consider myself lucky; but there's still that millisecond between saying the variation of words "I see a therapist" and the polite (albeit usually misinformed) reply where the stigma lives. All the immediate thoughts and questions translate to a slight change in demeanor and discomfort reflected in their eyes. more  

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    ‘I Don’t Believe in God, but I Believe in Lithium’ My 20-year struggle with bipolar disorder.

    lithium

    June 26, 2015 | Posted in balance, bipolar, psychotherapy | By

    from the new york times...

    The manila folder is full of faded faxes. The top sheet contains a brief description of my first medically confirmed manic episode, more than 20 years ago, when I was admitted as a teenager to U.C.L.A.’s Neuropsychiatric Institute: “Increased psychomotor rate, decreased need for sleep (about two to three hours a night), racing thoughts and paranoid ideation regarding her parents following her and watching her, as well as taping the phone calls that she was making.”

    I believed I had special powers, the report noted; I knew ‘‘when the end of the world was coming due to toxic substances’’ and felt that I was the only one who could stop it. There was also an account of my elaborate academic sponsorship plan so I could afford to attend Yale — some corporation would pay for a year of education in exchange for labor or repayment down the line. (Another grand delusion. I was a B-plus student, at best.) more

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    Taking Back Control

    toronto psychotherapy

    June 5, 2015 | Posted in balance, Integrative | By

    Anxious?

    God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
    The courage to change the things I can,
    And wisdom to know the difference.
    Reinhold Niebuhr*
    And therein lies the root of much of our stress. When we accept that there are few things we have control over, we might be able relax and just be with what is. A major source of anxiety and depression is the feeling of a loss of control. Those who are depressed surrender to the malaise. Anxious people, worry a lot. It’s our attempt to control more than we are able to that elevates our stress hormones and affects our ability to sleep well. So, just what do we control? According to most experts, very little. The only things we have full control over are ourselves. Anything external to us, our environment, other people, the weather, and pretty much anything in the world is beyond our control. Just to be clear, we control: our actions; what we think; what we say; our immediate environment; what our inputs are (what we see, hear, read etc.); who are friends are; our level of self care; how we spend our time; and our legacy. That’s not much to look after, considering the hundreds of things that are out of our hands in a day. As the poem by the preacher Reinhold Niebuhr states, it takes grace and forgiveness to accept what we can’t change and wisdom to know what we can. Everything else leads to malaise or stress. You might ask, if leading a less stressful life is that simple, why don’t more people do it? There are a lot of answers to this question; most can be reduced to human nature. As a coach I work with clients who suffer from stress, anxiety, impulse control issues, depression, and lack of discipline or motivation. The trouble is, it’s much easier to worry, blame others, be irresponsible, compare one’s self to others, be passive, or a control freak than it is to take control of ourselves and our mind. If you find that you fit neatly into the category of worrying about things outside your control you have plenty of company. The best thing you can do is to bring some awareness to your worries. Write down everything you are worried about using two columns: “Things I can change” and “Things I can’t change”. Notice how long the “Can’t Change” list is and how short the “Can Change” list is. But it’s not like we are simply going to stop worrying about things just because we conceptually know they’re out of our control. This is where the hard but rewarding work comes in. The good news is that breathing, meditation, relaxation, and yoga, all help. Training your mind to control your thoughts is essential to being able to banish worries, blame, unflattering comparisons, negative thinking, and fears. Fears are often the root of anxiety and anger so it will take introspection and perhaps some professional to root them out. * The quote by Reinhold Niebuhr is most commonly known as the Serenity Prayer, adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12 Step Programs. This is a shortened version of the original prayer penned by Neibuhr in a sermon to troops in 1943.  

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    10 Tips to Stay in Balance

    balance

    February 19, 2015 | Posted in balance, Blog posts, psychotherapy, reframe | By

    Balancing Yourself

    There is no such thing as living life in a state of perfect balance. We are either going toward balance or away from it, much as a child does balancing her weight standing on a teeter-totter. When our lives tip away from balance we are less able to deal with stress and we become dissatisfied. When we are moving toward balance, we are better able to tolerate and deal with the ups and downs of life. The trick is to stay closer to balance than to tip wildly from one extreme to the other. Here is a list of the top ten things you can do to help you move toward a more balanced life.

    Sleep

    Sleep is the pillar of mental health. When we don’t get enough, or if we get too much, we don’t function very well. Most experts say seven to eight hours is a healthy amount. Just as important as the quantity is the quality. If you wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the day, you had a good sleep. If you wake up feeling tired you probably didn’t sleep well. Stress and poor sleep become a vicious cycle. As you reduce stress in your life you will probably start sleeping better. As you start sleeping better, the better able you’ll deal with stress.

    Exercise

    Yeah, I know, all tips for a better life include exercise because it’s essential. You don’t have to work out in the gym four days a week or run a marathon. Simple things like going for a regular walk or using the stairs instead of the elevator incorporates exercise into your life. Most experts say that the best “medicine” for depression is a long walk.  There are a lot of reasons why exercise is good for your mind and body but let’s not talk about it and just do it.

    Diet

    We are what we eat. We eat too much of the four food groups: sugar, fat, salt, and starch. They affect our bodies in drastic ways: rapidly inflating our blood sugar, our blood pressure; making us feel bloated; and clogging up our arteries. It takes a bit of time to plan meals and shop accordingly, and it’s well worth doing. In other words, putting a bit of thought into what we bite into makes a lot of difference. Meal planning allows you to look at your whole week so you can get some variety as well as nutritious, wholesome food. Having good food in your refrigerator will help you avoid running out for that slice of pizza.

    Avoid Excess

    I was raised with the value of “everything in moderation” and it’s served me well. At its root, it’s about knowing when you’ve had enough. We don’t have to drink until we pass out or eat until we feel nauseous to know that excess isn’t a good idea, yet millions do it every day. We live in an excessive society where there is a lot of everything so the temptation to keep piling it on (what ever it is), is always there. At the root, it’s all about knowing when you feel like you’ve had enough. We are driven by lifestyle demands, peer pressure, the demand for more (because more is better isn’t it?). At some point we have to decide for ourselves. A friend of mine recently purchased a kitchen safe, which is a clear plastic cube with a time lock. She puts a bag of cookies in it and when the timer allows her to open it, she takes out a few cookies, then locks it for another 24 hours. If you don’t have the will power to resist eating the whole bag at once, either don’t buy them or get a safe.

    Avoid Overstimulation

    We live in a state of constant stimulation. It’s death by a thousand cuts. We over stimulate ourselves when we check our phone, watch TV, listen to the news, spend time in front of any screen, hear sirens on the street, or even listen to the radio. When stimulation creeps in it has an insidious effect on us, because we don’t pay attention to it. We may notice at some point in the day that we feel tense, but have no idea why. For the most part we are passive receivers of stimulation. Even the humming and clanking of our homes adds a tiny bit of stress to our overworked nervous system. Why not go on a stimulation diet? If you must listen to the news, do it only once a day. Turn your phone off when you get home and avoid other forms of stimulation. Read a book. For those who are extra sensitive, earplugs might be an option.

    Control your Schedule

    Talk to anyone who specializes in being “busy”, as in too busy to meet for coffee, or too busy to chat on the phone, and you will find someone who is a slave to their own busyness. Of course they have more control over their schedule than they let on and for reasons known only to them, they like it that way. How many times you have said, “I have to do …”, or “I should …”, without really considering why? We keep ourselves in a state of constant busyness at times, which unbalances us, makes us crazy and stresses us out unnecessarily. Take a break from the habit of busyness and take a 30,000 foot view. Ask yourself, do I really need to do this? What will happen if I don’t do it right now? Can someone else do it? You might surprise yourself how many things you can scratch off your to do list. Find blocks of time where you control your schedule. Do things that give you pleasure or allows you to unwind. Only you control your schedule.

    Monitor yourself

    Take a moment to check in with yourself several times a day. Notice what you are feeling. Are you feeling: overwhelmed; tired; excited; nervous; bored; hungry; or stressed? Most people are too busy, stressed, or unaware to check in with themselves. It’s only when you notice your state that you can do something about it. Typically once you’ve gone into overload it’s too late. For instance, if you are having a stressful day, you might take a break from your work to stretch and walk around a bit. If your plans include watching the latest action movie with friends tonight, you might want to give it a pass and have a quiet night at home. Noticing how you’re doing is half the battle and that starts with awareness and self control.

    Resolve Stuff

    Too often we leave things unsaid, stay angry at people, or stew in the juices of frustration and resentment. It’s the sort of stuff that keeps us awake at night. To truly be able to sleep at night and to live without the past chasing you, consider cutting past hurts out of your life. If you have something to say to someone who hurt you, say it either in an email, in phone or in person. Life can be difficult and stressful enough without lugging this stuff around with us. Forgiveness can be tough for those of us who don’t come by it easily. The only way to really be at peace with yourself is to leave the past behind so you can face each day with a relatively fresh page.

    Review Your Habits

    We are a combination of good habits and bad ones. To know what they are, take an inventory. If you are falling out of balance, chances are good that some of your habits are dragging you into that territory. Reinforcing good habits is a good way to remain in balance. Conversely, erasing a bad habit will help you keep in balance. If you have habits you would like to change, tackle them one at a time. For instance, if you tend to be messy, make a point of cleaning up after yourself for a couple of weeks. Get into the habit of looking around and taking away an empty cup or washing it right away. After a few weeks you will transform a bad habit into a better one. Once you feel you have that one under control, tackle another one. Replacing old habits with new ones will make it easier to maintain balance in your life.

    Be Grateful

    It’s easy to focus on negative things in our lives, because our brains are wired to prevent a recurrence of pain. That means we have to consciously reflect on the positive things in our lives instead of taking them for granted. Some of us are so wired for negativity that we have a difficult time thinking of anything to be grateful for. By focusing on positive things in our lives, we automatically spend less time being negative. Thus we are more balanced on the positive/negative scale. If we truly appreciate the good things in our lives, and yes, there are millions of them, we balance our thinking. Spending even a few minutes a day reflecting on gratitude actually changes the way we think. With a more positive outlook, we will be less prone to depression, more upbeat, and probably more fun to be around.

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    My Lovely Wife In The Psych Ward

    Eternal_clock

    January 21, 2015 | Posted in bipolar, psychotherapy, reframe | By

    This is a wonderful story about a man, madly in love with his wife, who has gone mad. He talks about madness, psychiatry, trying to help without getting in the way, and about the dilemmas he has faced. It's really worth the read if you have about twenty minutes to spare. Read the full post on Pacific Standard....

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