Joan Fenold, LMFT

Psychotherapy for Individuals and Couples

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Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco

Relational Mindfulness in Psychotherapy

by | Apr 13, 2013

My intention for this blog is to share some thoughts about things I’ve learned that impact my life and work; poems and quotes that touch me and perhaps will be meaningful to you as well. By way of introduction I thought I would be here/now with you by expressing my views of what heals in psychotherapy since I have recently attended some wonderful trainings and workshops that are inspiring me.

Joan Fenold, LMFTThese trainings, consultations and workshops have been about the healing integration of mindfulness, relational psychology, self compassion (which can then lead to genuine compassion for others), the neuroplasticity of the brain (that old thought patterns can be causing suffering in the present in the brain can be rewired) and creative collaboration. We can learn to catch/notice these patterns and then be more at-choice as to how we relate to them. We can develop new capacities: the ability to be flexible, adaptive, coherent, energized and stable (FACES is a Dan Siegal, M.D. acronym)…to make wiser choices…

It is through a compassionate collaborative relationship with a therapist who is deeply trained herself in these ways that some deep changes can occur. Other relational experiences can, of course, be helpful yet given the commitment to meet regularly and knowing that the therapist is not in your social life can provide a level of reliability and safety that is different from speaking with a friend or relative. Good therapists may have many years of doing their own personal work and while only human, hopefully have received training in learning how to be present for others.

“Dealing with others is
dealing with ourselves
dealing with others”.

Norman Fischer (From his new book, Training in Compassion, Shambhala Publications, 2013).

It has been twenty-eight years of being a mindful therapist. I came to meditation and and spirituality many years before becoming a psychotherapist. Soon after I became licensed to practice I discovered an article by Daniel Siegel, M.D. about integrating mindfulness in psychotherapy. This article validated my already growing awareness of how much I had been helped, in learning to work with my own mind/body/heart, by participating in many mindfulness meditation retreats with Jack Kornfield, Ph.D. and Joseph Goldstein. I was a student of Adyashanti for ten years and currently I am a practitioner of awareness in with the Everyday Zen community guided by Norman Fischer.

I believe that we all have been given both innate gifts and gifts/talents/strengths that we can and have developed. The practices of mindfulness, compassionate self-understanding, learning how to rewire one’s thought patterns, experiencing what a healthy relationship feels like… to both ourselves and others… can be ongoingly developed. I am happy to feel grounded in and excited that my work and life is being informed and enriched by these experiential heart-wisdom processes.