July 20th & 21st: Workshops
University of Minnesota
Anatomy of Trauma: Past & Present Approaches to Healing
Bipolar Reality: Defining, Conceptualizing & Treating the Disorder
April 8, 2017
February 16, 2017
October 18, 2016
September 20, 2016
August 10, 2016
Article from UW-Continuing Studies on fall workshops in Madison:
July 18, 2016
September 14th and October 19th: Workshops
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Manic Depression in America
June 16th, 17th & 18th: Workshops
University of Minnesota
Trauma & Substance Abuse
Manic Depression in America
Our Moment of Zen: Making Space for Compassion
June 3, 2016
NASW-MN (handouts link; posttest link)
Archer, A.J. (2013) Pleading Insanity. Bloomington, IN: Archway Publishing.
Greenberg, G. (2013). The Book of Woe: The DSM and the Unmaking of Psychiatry. New York, NY: Penguin Group.
Martin, E. (2007). Bipolar expeditions: Mania and depression in American culture. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
van der Kolk, B. A. (2014). The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. New York, NY: Viking Press.
Watters, E. (2010). Crazy Like Us. The Globalization of the American Psyche. New York: Free Press/Simon Schuster.
February 21, 2016
MSSA Conference March 18th in Minneapolis, MN:
Bipolar Reality: Separating Truth from Historical Fiction
University of Minnesota Continuing Studies program March 17th and 19th:
November 23, 2015
Led by Andrew Archer, LCSW and Devin Coogan, CAPSW, SAC-IT
September 9, 2015
Register for this free teleconference series.
I will be presenting at 11am on October 8, 2015 for the Wisconsin DHS Public Psychiatry Network:
July 30, 2015
University of Wisconsin
I can't wait to teach at the Pyle Center with its spectacular view of Lake Mendota. Join me if you are able:
June 10, 2015
Workshops at the University of Minnesota
I will be doing a number of workshops in August at the University of Minnesota. I hope you can come and check these out (information below):
The Culture of Psychosis: Order from Disorder
Thursday, August 13 - 1:00pm to 4:15pm
Being involuntarily filmed with everyone in your life a paid actor for a broadcasted, reality television show, is new content for an ancient form of delusion. “The Truman Show” delusion did not exist prior to the film’s conception in 1998. What role does culture play in psychosis? Is culture overlooked in the treatment of mental health disorders? How does childhood adversity, urban environments and immigration increase the likelihood of psychotic symptoms? To properly intervene with clients that have extreme beliefs, one must seek to learn their meanings. Let’s examine the causal factors for psychosis to foster rapport and compassion for the most misunderstood of clients.
How did we arrive at a disease-centered paradigm of care for mental health issues? This workshop will scrutinize the evolution of macro and micro level processes related to confinement, differential diagnosis and pharmaceutical mistreatments of bipolar disorder. Listen to anecdotes of what mania and depression feel like through the speaker’s own bipolar reality. New approaches to treatment will be offered based on evidence-based current research, video testimonial and clinical examples.
April 29, 2015
"See You Next Week"
Judy Neiman had an affectionate smile. I can’t actually picture her in my mind without an expression that includes that cherubic grin. She was playful and almost flirtatious at times, yet had the most exceptional clinical boundaries and a grounded, compassionate spirit, like you cannot imagine.
Judith Rose Wiesenberg-Neiman, LICSW, LMFT (1948-2015)
Judy was the first psychotherapist I truly connected with. We met in the fall of 2005. I had had a hell of a year, but was functioning well in a lot of domains. We processed my father’s stroke from that year and the family stress that was the skull collectively holding his brain deficits. She was integral in moving me out of a stage of containing symptoms of bipolar disorder and into a state of acceptance. Our time was the early beginning of me understanding who I was—who I wasn't—and more so, the potential for who I could be. Despite my skepticism at the time, Judy emanated who a therapist really is: someone providing loving kindness, unconditional presence and non-judgmental empathic responses to whatever arises. She didn't fake this. To me, she was so thoughtful and caring that it appeared to be a caricature of what love was. Usually I wouldn't allow myself to believe that she really cared that deeply for me.
It was my own defense against the manifested feelings that occur when one is truly vulnerable. Judy suggested researching social work programs during my pursuit to become a psychotherapist. In 2007, we physically parted ways as I was heading to graduate school in Madison, Wisconsin. She was maternalistically there to hold onto me when I made that huge step. It would be utterly absurd to think that her guidance then didn't have everything to do with my ability to return to Madison in 2015 on a similar type of path.
She would reconnect with me via e-mail through the years: “wishing you all the best, Andy. And feel free to drop me a note anytime if you'd like. I'd love to hear how things are going” (2007).
These weren't automated, obligatory messages to patients with an identification number in a chart. She was a sincerely curious person: “I'm also wondering how things are going for you in terms of dating and if you are still "single" or seeing anyone?” (2008).
Judy is anonymously referenced throughout my memoir (Pleading Insanity). She helped me develop strategies to manage anxiety, gently contested my substance use issues, explored my insecurities and navigated the adventures my relationships led me on.
Naturally, I sent her one of my early drafts of the book:
“My brief review, which I just completed, looks to be an amazing, well written and documented memoir which not only provides a very personal and inside view of the torment [you] went through but educates as well. I can only imagine all of the reflection, insight, and hard work that went into it” (2011).
When the book was published she was one of the first to know about it.
“I am very impressed with your writing and the account of your experience … Your openness and honesty will help many others and I admire and respect your efforts to reach out. You can be very proud of how well you are managing … I have enjoyed working with you and being a witness to your personal and professional growth. I wish you all the very best as you go forward in your life and your career. [The book] will be a permanent part of my library and one which I will recommend to others. I did, in fact, just yesterday when I suggested it to a client” (2013).
From what I read recently, Judy described her experience with pancreatic cancer as one of the happiest times in her life. She ‘had never been so able to give and receive love’. This is what she imparted in her clients; intimacy as a process to meet suffering.
Thanks for sticking with me.
March 25, 2015
MSSA Conference - Hilton Hotel, Minneapolis, MN
December 10, 2014
It’s interesting how therapy works. I’m not ignorant enough to think that I have some revelations around the process, but these past two weeks have taught me a lot. The paperwork or overall grind of leaving an agency is mildly irritating and is repetitive chore compared to the emotions that surface while with clients.I decided to give an extended resignation period to my employer. I informally resigned in August (2014) with my last day set for November 21, 2014. I wanted to be open and clear with the agency about my intentions. I decided to tell my clients in advance that I was leaving. I basically thought it was what I personally would have wanted from my own therapy experience. The idea of startling a client with “I’m leaving in two weeks!” made my spine tingle.
I’ve been saying goodbye to a lot of people that I guess I didn’t realize how much I cared about. To some extent, my past training did not focus on the attachment that occurs when you spend one hour per week with someone over a long period of time. This isn’t an hour to discuss Sons of Anarchy or the most recent, terrible I.S.I.S. killing. No, it is 50 to 60 minutes of the person’s darkest secrets; worse case scenarios; losses; abuse; tragedies; painstaking depression; falls from grace and indescribable self-realizations. These are stories you can’t make up and ethically are sworn not to share. The client narratives act like 3 millimeter mites that burrow into the therapist’s skin and lay inactive for a period of time. When you don’t suspect or notice it, you accidentally scratch the surface of the skin and expose the little mite. You brush up on something you didn’t know was there like a paper cut on a knuckle that doesn’t seem to heal. The stories shared are little cuts in constant contact with the abrasive world desperately trying to heal.
The outpouring of gratitude for a service I often didn’t realize I was giving has hit me in a powerful, metaphysical, spiritual—or whatever you want to call it—way. As a psychotherapist, one gets accustomed to the unfolding of sorrow and discontent. Watching someone release intense emotions during a session is familiar to me. This is much more predictable than witnessing an individual share, “I’m going to miss you.” I’ve found that my clients are massively more poetic and articulate than I am at these goodbyes. One adult client compared the ending of therapy to switching schools and teachers as a child; “and I’m afraid I’ll never see you again.” I am realizing that there is a pattern shift that occurs when closing out a therapeutic relationship. For so long I was a neutral, objective observer of distress that largely took place outside of the office for the client. Now, I’ve become the source or cause for the person’s agony and grief (i.e., me leaving). The locus of control shifts and you have to respond to it.
Deep conversations that give pause into how my departure is actually affecting other individuals are beyond words. For the sake of comparison, my style of therapy guides the client to examine the causes of suffering and is less directive (e.g., life coach or expert consultant). I’m like a modern day pilot that merely monitors the controls during a flight rather than actually jerking the yoke or throttle of the airplane (did you know due to automation that pilots only control the plane 3 to 4 minutes per flight?).
My clients don’t know me or my personal background in the traditional sense (I guess that resides in the hidden cockpit to keep with the metaphor). There are no pictures of loved ones at my desk or intimate anecdotes described. My self-disclosure is specific to an emotional response and is only used when it seems absolutely necessary to the moment (i.e., in my client’s best interest; not mine).
What I’ve come to understand is that therapy works because the individual entering into it attempts a process toward self-actualization. The client does this by trying to create their ideal relationship with the therapist. The closer the person can get to establishing the type of relationship they want to have with others—within the therapy experience—the more likely they will embody that process when they engage with people. By having a therapist who knows when to hold, to steer, to let go, to challenge and most importantly, when to do nothing at all, provides a space for this to happen. The image that comes to mind is teaching a child how to ride a bike. It can be a problem if you overly explain every moving part of the machine and narrow down the dangers of riding on two wheels. Another is the directive approach which is to tell the kid to “go get outside and ride that damn thing.” These are the two ends of a pendulum that swings between a rigid approach and one without boundaries. The success of therapy is when the therapist and client are able to create a system of integration that balances these two extremes.
This requires approach oriented behaviors as opposed to avoidance. I can’t think of a more appropriate example than when the therapeutic relationship—in a collaborative manner—comes to a mutual ending point or plateau. When I met with clients this week for the last time it taught me how brave people can be. It was also a demonstration of how so much of love occurs through empathy and genuine understanding as opposed to a story of who we believe we are. Individuals walked into what they knew would be a funeral in terms of the last session. However, many of them decided to celebrate the long-standing relationship that had come to an end.