Sample Chapter From Secrets From The Sofa: A Psychologist's Guide To Personal Peace
By Dr. Ken Hermanpersonal transformation

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Table of Contents
Introduction (Below)
Chapter One

Introduction

My compliments to you for deciding to read this book. Whether you selected it on your own or received it as a corporate gift doesn’t matter. My name is Ken Herman. I am a Clinical Psychologist. I have been in practice for over 45 years and have conducted over 100,000 hours of psychotherapy. I have seen people through just about every aspect of life, from the hardest times to the best of times, those going through personal challenges as well as those growing towards personal triumphs. Feelings of inadequacy, indecision or simple malaise, dissatisfaction with a small aspect of one’s life, depression and anxiety, illness and loss, death and birth, overcoming guilt, marital problems, suicidal thoughts and attempts, helplessness, hopelessness, and despair have all made their appearance in my office. It has been my greatest reward to see individuals achieve healthy lives and relationships, improved careers, personal successes, and most important, peace of mind.

Throughout my career, I have derived considerable pleasure from seeing my patients grow— I have observed the numerous and varied ways in which people have succeeded in changing their lives for the better. I have witnessed the inner strength that we are humans all lossess. I have been given the opportunity to observe individuals rise from the depths of despair to heights they didn’t even realize existed. In fact, this is why I choose to name the book, Secrets from the Sofa. It has been decades since the stereotypical psychoanalyst’s office contained the obligatory sofa, on which the patient lay down to share his or her innermost thoughts with the goateed, note-taking therapist.

However, it is still a stereotype that people relate to today. And since my intent here is to
impart you the methods that I’ve developed and used, the tips I’ve fine-tuned, the practices I’ve seen work over and over, all from the inside of my office, in a way I am sharing with you these tools, these nuggets, these secrets.

Contrary to what the title may seem to imply at first glance, I am certainly not sharing or publishing any confidential information about any of my patients. I do present dozens of case examples in this book since I believe it is immensely helpful for people to see what other similar people have gone through, party to understand that no one is alone—no matter how bad one’s problem seems, others have probably gone through the same or worse before. And I also believe it is human nature to want to compare yourself to others.

By seeing that other very normal, often successful people have issues, problems, and  difficulties at times is usually immeasurably reassuring and bolstering when going through issues of one’s own. The case excerpts in this book provide those comparisons and reassurances with clarity of specific, points throughout the text. However, in each and every case, fictitious names are used and no information is given that could possibly lead to divulging whom the case is about. I have always held patient confidentiality in the highest regard, and it is certainly not compromised in this book.

Now, what can this book do for you? Perhaps you have never sought or needed help from a psychologist or other professional. Maybe you have thought about seeking a therapist but have not pursued it because of financial constraints, time restrictions, or fear of what being in psychotherapy might mean to you. Perhaps you have received professional help in the past or currently are working with someone. Whatever your situation, in choosing this book, you have acknowledged that you have the desire to become a stronger, more confident, and more balanced person. I want to share my knowledge and experience to help you achieve growth and change. As you read this book, take what is most applicable and meaningful to you and use it to effect positive changes in your life.

Secrets from the Sofa can point you in the direction of a more fulfilling life. It provides you with a step-by-step guide for overcoming a wide variety of emotional and interpersonal problems. All too often, we let our problems defeat us. Faced with a vexing frustration or conflict, we may not even know how to begin to resolve it. Secrets from the Sofa walks you through a process that will enable you to reach your goals no matter how unhappy, uneasy, or unhealthy you feel. I have written this book to help you think more highly of yourself, to enjoy rich, rewarding relationships with loved ones, and to lead a productive life.

There is a term I use throughout this book— the Personal Peace process. I am referring to the conscious steps we take, day after day, to get us closer to a state of happiness, serenity, peace of mind, fulfillment, contentment, harmony, improving self-confidence, and balance, or, in my words, personal peace. Each step you take forward in dealing with issues, fears, worries and problems is a step along your own personal peace process. In Part Three, I devote a whole chapter to the “Personal Peace Plan,” that is the specific goals, strategies and tactics that you can deploy in order to help yourself grow, become more stable, strengthen your ability to handle difficulties, and ultimately, attain your personal peace.

Unfortunately, no book can substitute for a good psychologist. Depending on the nature of your problems you may need support in addition to this book. The last chapter provides you with information concerning how to know if you need to work with a professional, and provides additional resources that may prove useful as well. What you will learn in Secrets from the Sofa is how to develop a plan to address your current difficulties. Perhaps you feel lonely, depressed, or isolated. Perhaps you feel trapped in a bad marriage or a dead-end job. In Secrets from the Sofa you can also find actual inspiring case studies that demonstrate how others have tackled similar challenges, as you follow the steps, you will also begin to master coping skills that will improve your ability to handle new stresses as they come up. As long as you make a commitment to change, you can overcome even long-standing problems.

Since I first began psychotherapy nearly a half century ago, the field has undergone major changes. After World War II, psychoanalysis was in its heyday, and intensive longterm treatment was not uncommon. Today, because of the factors like managed care and the widespread availability of psychotropic drugs like Prozac, the general time spent in therapy has been limited dramatically. Short-term therapy (one to 20 sessions) has become the norm. Not surprisingly, the editor of the bible of psychotherapy research, The Handbook of Psychotherapy and Behavioral Change, recently decided to eliminate the chapter of brief therapy in the last edition because, in his words, “… almost all therapy is brief now.”

Secrets from the Sofa is based on the principles of the most widespread form of therapy,

the cognitive behavior approach. Cognitive is another word for thought. Cognitive therapy assumes that an individual’s thoughts, perceptions, and attitudes significantly affect his or her feelings. Depressed people, for example, are often paralyzed by self critical thoughts. Cognitive therapy attempts to bring about a change in mood by encouraging people to think differently about themselves. Although this concept may seem simplistic, it can have a far-reaching impact on a person’s self-concept, attitude and emotional well-being.

Self-deprecating thinking can produce a never-ending cycle of distress. Cognitive behavioral therapy teaches you how to reverse this course. Once you start reaffirming your self-worth, you can begin to mobilize your strengths and cope with your problems more effectively.

Distorted thinking underlies many problems besides depression. This book will help you examine your thinking style so that it doesn’t continue to sidetrack you. Unhappiness or emotional issues often stem from negative thinking and negative perceptions about yourself. That negativity is, in turn, often rooted in childhood misfortunes. Secrets from the Sofa provides exercises that will help you understand how your background may have contributed to negative perceptions about yourself and your future. (Many times people don’t even realize that they have these perceptions.) Once you make the connection between your past and current difficulties, you can start developing healthier ways of thinking and acting. Although the process may involve some bumps along the way, it does not last forever.

Break bad habits and negative patterns

This book is goal-oriented and will guide you as you struggle to
 break bad habits and negative patterns. However, I must warn you that change requires dedication and hard work. Patients who have made the most progress made a commitment to preserve for the “long haul.”

Unfortunately, for you to grow, you will have to learn to tolerate difficult feelings from time to time, such as anger, anxiety, and sadness. But if you consider your future and your emotional well-being are at stake, the trade off is well worth it.

Through the ages, people have struggled to find the key to personal peace. Having devoted my life to studying human behavior, I am convinced happiness cannot be purchased in a store or derived from the acquisition of worldly possessions. The most enduring sense of satisfaction ultimately comes from seeing yourself as a worthwhile person and respecting what you think and do.

In my role as a psychologist, I often observe that my patients have strengths of which they are no aware. Do you readily see yours? In the final analysis, you can count on yourself like no other person in this world. But you will never know how much you can achieve until you have tapped into your own inner resources. If you don’t take charge of your life, it can easily take charge of you in the guise of unwanted habits and psychological symptoms, such as depression and anxiety. In order to reach your potential, you will need to confront issues and problems head-on. As you gain confidence, normal everyday problems will no longer over whelm you.

Most importantly, keep an open mind. It is possible— just possible— that you are a much stronger person than you think. Give yourself a chance— help yourself! You are worth it!

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