Overview and Resources

This is the blog of David J. Ebaugh, LCSW, mental health professional and psychotherapist in Portland, OR. This blog has been developed as a resource for individuals pursuing a course of personal development through the implementation of mindfulness practices in everyday life. The material posted on this blog is intended for those who wish to improve their own psychological well being, including those working with a trained therapist, or anyone who is highly motivated and cannot afford therapy or lack access to a qualified therapist.

The skills developed from a well-disciplined mindfulness practice allow us to recognize urges to act impulsively, actions which invariably wind up making us feel helpless. These skills include the ability to observe physical and emotional sensations, and the thoughts, which precede and contribute to the harmful actions we cannot otherwise seem to avoid.

I used mindfulness exercises in my work, some taken from "Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life", the Acceptance and Commitment Therapy client workbook, available new or used. I ask my clients to role play situations, to recall past situations, and to describe the physical sensations, feelings and thoughts associated with these situations. Often a client can identify the exact moment, or transition, when they saw their confidence or energy shift or wilt like a flower, and they find themselves feeling defensive, anxious, or feeling a sudden loss of confidence.

I ask clients to study that transition, to become intimately familiar with the changes in physical and emotional sensations. It is the physical sensations, especially, that act as an early warning system to let us know we're headed into a downward emotional spiral. When we recognize that spiral, we can choose to take action that is in service to the bigger picture, such as maintaining positive relationships with others, or maybe just not completely embarrassing ourselves.

A key component to the task of psychological growth is the willingness of the individual to apply these techniques consistently, to assess their progress regularly, and to make continual adjustments in their application of these techniques. To that end, I recommend to my clients to supplement individual therapy sessions with weekly email and almost daily log entries through a web-based social networking tool, Twitter.

Individual therapy is an opportunity for review of progress and the identification of any barriers or resistance which interfere with weekly progress.

Weekly emails are used to summarize the outcome of a homework assignment or to provide a means to submit written homework when assigned.

Twitter is a mini-blog which accepts entries in 140 characters or less. It allows you to submit updates via the web, your Blackberry or iPhone, or even your text-only cell phone. You can then invite friends or family to subscribe to your feed and they can see what you're up to when it's convenient for them.

In addition to receiving the emails, and reading them, I ask that my clients invite me to subscribe to their Twitter feed. Email and daily journaling on Twitter allows for the added incentive that comes from knowing other people are watching your progress.