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Attachment style in both health professionals & their clients, therapeutic alliance & mindfulness

I had lunch with a health professional friend the other day.  Later he emailed me saying "The last few times we have met you have mentioned the importance of attachment style in determining aspects of the interaction between patients and health care professionals."  He went on to raise a series of questions about health professional-patient relationships, about the way that the attachment style of both health professional and patient can affect outcomes, about how adult attachment is measured and the possibility of improving attachment patterns, and about links between attachment & mindfulness.  Gosh a lot of interesting questions being raised here.

Do psychotherapists, doctors and leaders develop "emotional chainmail"? Some ways of building both stability and empathy.

In the last couple of days I've written two posts on the possibility of developing "emotional chainmail" when faced with repeated experiences of suffering.  I have quoted research showing that being emotionally empathic to another's psychological or physical pain activates parallel pain areas in oneself, that medical training is frequently associated with reductions in empathy, and that a sense of power can lead to a deadening of sensitivity to the suffering of others.  And this matters.  Reductions in empathy strongly reduce how helpful we are for others.  But how can we maintain or increase our levels of emotional empathy while maintaining our stability & resilience?  In today's post I would like to suggest half a dozen ways of doing this.  The diagram below is one that I use in explaining to clients why they have ended up in the distressed state that they're experiencing.  However the sequence is also rele

Do psychotherapists, doctors and leaders develop "emotional chainmail"? Description of a possible problem.

I've been in a peer "psychotherapy group" residential retreat again recently and I was involved in an interaction that has crystalised a series of thoughts about potential "emotional armouring" in therapists that I've been aware of more vaguely for some time. And in fact these "suspicions" involve not just psychotherapists, but also doctors and leaders more generally as well. Happily there are great advantages of this emotional stability & resilience, but I believe there can also be very genuine personal & interpersonal costs. So what am I talking about here?

Could increasing our compassion for others be even more "therapeutic" than increasing our self-compassion?

"It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life, that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself."  Ralph Waldo Emerson

"We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."   Viktor Frankl  

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