Articles by Aaron Balick

Man up for Psychotherapy

Man up for Psychotherapy

When it comes to the talking therapies, it is definitely not a man’s world. Not only are women far more likely to opt for a talking therapy when feeling distressed, but as Andrew Samuels pointed out in a previous post, more than 80% of BACP members are female. In this simple context it’s no wonder some men may wonder if therapy was really for them. Wouldn’t it be better to just “man up”, like their fathers did? “Getting on with it” is certainly a British trait, one which many trace back to distant fathers returning from war unable to speak about their...
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Why You Should Sometimes Take Things For Granted

Why You Should Sometimes Take Things For Granted

If you were lucky, you got through your childhood with no major traumas, except for the odd domestic here and there. If you were one of these lucky people, your childhood was a time of taking things for granted; that your life was safe; that your parents were alive (and were going to stay that way forever); and that your home provided everything you needed.  This is likely to have provided you with a sense of abundance and safety. On balance, everything was probably going to be okay. If you are less lucky, your levels of resilience influence how secure and abundant...
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The Draper Complex: When a Man Turns Against His Defences

The Draper Complex: When a Man Turns Against His Defences

Mad Men's Don Draper is not Tony Soprano.  The weird world of psychoanalysing fictional figures  had a field day with the latter – from labelling him with narcissistic or anti-social personality disorder to settling on a severe Oedipus Complex.Whatever the conclusion, the Mafia boss was clearly symptomatic. However little you’d expect a man like Tony to seek psychotherapy, he had to. You cannot run the North Jersey crime syndicate while suffering panic attacks. People don’t turn against their defences when they are perceived to be working in their...
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Floating: Technologically Assisted Mindfulness

Floating: Technologically Assisted Mindfulness

When is the last time you did absolutely nothing for two hours? I’m not talking about lolling on the couch on a lazy Sunday afternoon. I’m talking about doing nothing - minimising distractions to the degree that all you are left with is your own mind. This can be achieved through “Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy” (REST) – in short, what happens when you immerse yourself in a flotation tank. In a previous post I spoke about how technology can get in the way of mindfulness. But what if technology might also offer us a quicker and more direct experience of...
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Mindfulness Tames the Monkey Mind

Mindfulness Tames the Monkey Mind

I screwed up. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t good either, and it was entirely my fault. In the vernacular of my youth, I dropped the ball, hard. So, naturally I gave myself a hard time about it. And then, I gave myself a hard time about it again. Whenever I thought of it (and it was a lot) the worry and shame came, the adrenaline and cortisol burned in my chest, and I chased the disturbing thought down the rabbit warren of my emotional interior. Funny, that, as I’d been practicing mindfulness for some time and I thought I’d got the hang of it. Yeah, right. The thing...
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Mindfullness is not Mindfulness

Mindfullness is not Mindfulness

The cursor on my screen moves along swiftly. My wifi is off and my mobile is on “do not disturb” – so no emails, no notifications, and no phone-calls or texts. I’m not worried. I know that in about 30 minutes I’ll check all those devices and whatever I need to attend to can wait until then. Just now I have to write this column and I want to be mindful and present for the task. In many ways, there’s something delightfully calming about this, which is paradoxical because it’s still work. It seems that as mindfulness is gaining more space in the public conversation, our...
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Fancy a Shag? There's an App For That

Fancy a Shag? There's an App For That

There is something about non-mainstream groups that enables them to buck convention. For example, it has been reported that in some areas gay male populations may be among the first to gentrify and colonise neglected urban neighbourhoods, eventually bringing them into the interest of conventional property buyers. It was gay communities too who were among the first to arrive en masse to social networking. Gaydar, a website devoted to enabling gay men to meet each other, launched at the turn of the millennium and was going strong a full six years before...
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