The Art and science of living well blog

One of the problems I specialize in working with is repetitive skin picking (also known as excoriation or dermatillomania). People struggling with this problem experience intense urges to pick at blemishes or perceived imperfections in their skin. They may spend a few minutes to several hours (e.g., 8 hours or more) picking at many places on their body. The result is usually scabs, bleeding, and scarring—and everyone I’ve worked with experiences intense shame, guilt, and embarrassment immediately after they stop actively picking.

 

Many struggle to hide their picking for years without realizing that there’s a name for their condition—that other people struggle with similar problems. Even fewer are aware there is treatment. Unfortunately, few therapists are trained in what are called...

There’s no shortage of self-help books on the market. There is, however, a paucity of research on whether those self-help books are actually helpful to the people who use them. In an ideal world, every self-help book would be submitted to scientific scrutiny to determine if people actually benefit from using them. Unfortunately, this happens only rarely.

 

Even a self-help book that is based on well-researched cognitive behavioral principles and written by leaders in the field is not guaranteed to be effective.  For example, one recent study found that college students with greater rumination exhibited more depressive symptoms after using Greenberger & Padesky’s Mind over Mood, a well-respected cognitive behavioral self-help book for depression. These findings suggest that evidence-...

Hello friends and colleagues. Below is our annual report. The annual reports is part of our mission to be a responsible and transparent business that is an asset to our local and international community. We strive to be responsible stewards of the revenue provided by those clients and customers who purchase our services. We strive to use those limited resources efficiently and effectively to serve the greater good. Transparency comes through out providing updates about what we are doing with that revenue. This report summaries the most important event that occurred over the last year at Portland Psychotherapy.

 

OUR COMMITMENT

Portland Psychotherapy strives to make quality, evidence-based mental health services

available to all members of our community. ...

posted in annual report

The Research Lab at Portland Psychotherapy is proud to announce they have developed and implemented the first cycle of an internal research grant program to support advances in contextual behavioral science and evidence-based psychotherapy. The first grant was dispersed in 2015 and named the Aaron S. Luoma Portland Psychotherapy Behavioral Science Research Grant/Award, in honor of Dr. Jason Luoma’s brother. Awardees included Drs. Paul Guinther, Brian Thompson, and Scott Rower. The grant has supported their ongoing work on RFT and perspective taking, ACT and OCD, and CBT-I and insomnia, respectively. A new grant cycle is underway in 2016 to continue supporting these researchers and Portland Psychotherapy’s mission of contributing to the wider community through...

posted in grant | research

Because I work with people who struggle with addiction, I am particularly attuned to the ways that the public perceives people struggling with addiction and in recovery.  Too often, media portrayals of addiction dramatize or glamorize addiction in unrealistic ways.  These images contribute to a negative perception of addiction and recovery and lead to misunderstandings, fear, and stigma.

 

In my work, I’ve had the fortune to witness and be inspired by some of the many people who stop using alcohol or drugs each year. Based on this experience, I want to propose an alternative perspective on addiction --- that most of us share a lot more experiences with folks struggling with addiction than we realize.

 

Think of a habit or behavior that you know is not so good for you or gets in the way of who you want to be.  This might take the form of a (more) socially approved of “addiction”.  Things like

  • chocolate,
  • ...

This post is written for people with misophonia, a condition in which a person has an automatic, sometimes intensely unpleasant internal reaction to specific sounds.  Sounds that lead to this reaction are typically sounds from everyday life, such as others’ chewing food/gum, sniffling, or heavy breathing. For people with misophonia who struggle with eating-related sounds, holidays such as Thanksgiving can be a real challenge.  In addition to sit-down dinners, many people tend to “graze” between meals, so the chewing can be almost constant.  This can be really difficult. Many people with misophonia cope with the distress of being triggered by the sound of eating by leaving the situation or avoiding eating with others entirely. However, during the holidays this means that we are isolated from gatherings of friends and family that are commonplace.  ...

posted in misophonia

Everyone has experienced intense fear at some point. Our hearts start racing when we realize we forgot to pick up the kids at school, our hands tremble and sweat as we struggle to unlock the door as a dark stranger looms in the shadows, or we feel dizzy and nauseous as we get up to present that speech we haven’t really prepared for. Whether a threat is great or small, the people and things we care about might get hurt if we don’t respond quickly.

 

We evolved the sympathetic nervous system to prepare us for threat


The physiological response we feel during intense fear and panic is a result of the body’s sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system evolved to help us prepare to respond to dangerous situations.  Activation of the sympathetic nervous system leads to the kinds of biological changes we experience in fear and panic, including changes in heart rate, blood vessel...

posted in fear | panic | panic attack

I resonated with a recent article in Psychology Today about the difficulties people have in finding therapists who offer effective treatment. The authors Dean McKay and Scott Lilienfeld—especially Dr. Lilienfeld—have been extremely active in promoting science-based psychotherapies.

 

As an example, they offer the experience of “Jerry” (a pseudonym). Jerry struggled with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Having educated himself on OCD, Jerry knew that...

Misophonia is a condition in which a person has an automatic, unpleasant internal reaction to specific sounds.  This reaction can vary from frustration to panic and even rage, and can be quite an intense experience for the sufferer.  Sounds that lead to this reaction are typically sounds from everyday life, such as others’ chewing food/gum, sniffling, or heavy breathing.  People with misophonia will often refer to “triggers”; a trigger, for someone with misophonia, refers to any sounds that produces the intense internal reaction.

 

Many people who have misophonia experience a lot of shame before they come to understand that this is a condition experienced by many others and that they are not alone in their struggles.  They can experience a lot of shame about both the intensity of the internal reaction and their response to those who have...

posted in misophonia

I ran across this excellent 5 minute video on obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) by Helen Blair Simpson, MD, PhD through the Mental Health Channel. Dr. Simpson is a professor at Columbia University and director of the Anxiety Disorders Clinic. She is one of the leading experts on anxiety and OCD and related disorders.

 

In this brief video, Dr. Simpson walks through different types of OCD and describes the range of severity with which people may struggle. She provides specific examples of some of the people with whom she has worked. At the very end, Dr. Simpson gives provides a summation of our current understanding of OCD and the brain in plain language.

 

If you or someone you know struggle with OCD, I highly...

posted in OCD

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Our Colleagues Say it Best

"Portland Psychotherapy is special. I have the utmost confidence in each of the clinicians here. They are compassionate, genuine, and have formed a model clinic in the scientist-practioner tradition. They are committed to effectively implementing research-supported treatments and also work to advance the science in our field through psychotherapy research. The clinic enjoys an outstanding reputation among other mental health professionals as a top-notch evidence-based practice. This is a place I would refer a family member or close friend."

- B.G.

"Portland Psychotherapy is a unique practice. It not only provides knowledgeable, compassionate and highly effective treatments for their clients, but it is also a place where the therapists are actively involved in cutting edge clinical research to find ever more effective ways to serve their clients to help improve the quality of their lives. I know all of the therapists in this practice through participation in an ongoing peer consultation group for over 2 years, and I can say without hesitation that these are the professionals I would send my family and friends to if they needed help."

-S.B.

"This clinic is run by leading experts in the field, using evidence based methods that have been shown to work. If you are facing complex or long-standing problems then this is definitely the place to go. You will receive treatment from experienced, compassionate, well trained therapists who will deliver a high level of care. I have known and worked with Jason Luoma for over 6 years and can tell you that he is very committed to helping people develop lives that are fulfilling and satisfying."

- M.W.

"Portland Psychotherapy is a unique and valuable resource in our community as it is staffed by therapists trained in various specialty areas. Drs. LeJeune and Luoma, who started the clinic, are highly respected professionals in the community, known for their extensive knowledge and expertise as therapists, researchers, and trainers. I have referred several of my clients to Portland Psychotherapy and have been most impressed and reassured by the feedback I have received about their experience. I have no hesitation about continuing to refer my clients to Portland Psychotherapy and appreciate the high quality of care that is provided by the professionals in this practice."

- M.B.