On March 7th, Existential Humanist NW hosted its first ever Case Conceptualization Salon. The event was an informal conversation, hosted by Bob Edelstein, our president and founder. To preface the conceptualization, Bob led us through his own process and views toward conceptualizing a client, and how this looks, for him, from an EH perspective.
Firstly, Bob emphasized the nature of there being no one EH approach. Rather, how each of us conceptualizes varies because we vary as therapists, and as humans. Conceptualization involves being open to how each unique person exists in the world, and honors those differences. As such, this process will look differently for each of us.
Bob also spoke to the importance of conceptualizing lightly. This is because the emphasis is put on openness to another individual’s human experience, rather than on any agenda. One participant spoke of this as viewing the process as being like being a “stranger […]
On February 14th, Elliot Geller (LCSW) led us through a beautiful and life-affirming conversation around his therapeutic work with men suffering from degenerative neurological diseases. Elliot began his work in the field in free clinics working with Vietnam veterans. This led him to attend graduate school for his social work degree as a 29-year old, and on to 7 years of work in community mental health where he started the program that is now Cascadia. After leaving community mental health to go into his own practice, he received a federal grant to work with HIV patients, utilizing hypnosis. Most recently, he has focused mainly on working with individuals and couples experiencing neurodegenerative diseases and terminal illness. After committing his life’s work to this subject area, his wife came down with a terminal cancer—an experience that he spoke affectionately and vulnerably to later in the presentation as both a deep […]
On December 13th, Ray Nelson, NCC and a member of the board led us through a lively discussion of less common sexual practices. As a member of the kink/BDSM community for 20 years, Ray began his talk by speaking to the importance of this topic, especially as it pertains to therapists. Namely, Ray, like many others, have had a challenging time finding a therapist who felt competent to see someone around topics related to less common practices of sexuality. In addition to a lack of therapists who specialize in such topics, it is not uncommon for people to be let go from their therapists who have felt inadequately prepared to discuss or engage with such things. And even when one is involved with a therapist, it is common to feel judged and misunderstood for engaging in kinky practices. As such, Ray is passionate about educating and creating a space to […]
By Gemma Baumer|2020-10-28T11:34:36-07:00January 26th, 2020|
The most recent Existential Humanist Salon, “On the Importance of a Theoretical Orientation”, was another lovely chance to connect with a variety of board members, affiliates, and those new to EHNW. We connected over wine and a selection of cheeses that left us all continuing to eat and process for nearly an hour afterward. The salon was facilitated by board members, Dave Fischer and Deborah High, in Deborah’s cozy home.
The conversation was begun by Dave, posing the question, “How do you choose, and why should you choose a theoretical orientation?”. Dave emphasized that research into common factors for successful therapy has indicated that therapy is most effective when the clinician is aligned with a theory and can work from it. And this starts with knowing who you are, because it must resonate. It is from this inner-knowledge of self that one can find a theory to support their perspective. In […]
By Gemma Baumer|2020-10-28T11:34:42-07:00January 17th, 2020|
Last week in our monthly board meeting, we sought to discuss whether or not, as an organization, we wanted to utilize a tool such as Facebook. As it has come out in recent years, Facebook and its founders have acted wholly unethically, with no precedence for privacy. This is not an unusual dilemma in this modern world, in which we are born into with so little choice but to persevere—to play the game, if you will. This question launched itself into an existential dilemma, a conversation which had no obvious, if any, solutions, so much as thoughts and speculations about who we are, and where we’re going.
As any good existential dilemma, the conversation began with responsibility. What responsibility do we, as an organization, have in choosing an obviously unethical and corrupt platform? The conversation started with acknowledging that while Facebook may be unethical, so many of our world’s systems […]
By Gemma Baumer|2020-10-28T11:34:48-07:00November 21st, 2019|
I have been an existential-humanistic therapist for over 45 years, and there is one major underlying theme for just about every client I see. This theme also applies to me and, I believe, to all of us.
In my practice, each client feels, on some level, that they are unlovable. I believe this toxic message pervades the ethos of our culture in the United States. Thus, if everyone is imbued with this message, it can’t be avoided.
You can learn it verbally or non-verbally from your parents. If your parents don’t communicate this message, you will still eventually experience some form of this message from your friends, your teachers, or from society. Examples of this message are: “You are unlovable because you are not competent,” “You are unlovable because you are not thin,” and “You are unlovable because you are not cool.”
The cultural wound that you are “unlovable” is […]