by Joseph Eliezer, Vancouver Counsellor & Psychotherapist on August 17th, 2016

Every time you start a conversation with someone, they're asking you to listen to them.

A therapist not only listens carefully to what a person says but also pays close attention to communication that may be surfacing from a person's UNPAST. 

What's UNPAST?

The UNPAST is a blend of unresolved conflicts and emotions that occurred in the past but still influence how a person feels, thinks and behaves in day to day living.

Here are some examples. 

The next time you have a conversation with someone, ask yourself the following questions:

1) Do the emotions this person is expressing seem excessive or over the top?

2) Is the person talking about a sensitive matter but showing little or no emotion?

3) Do they seem overly critical, harsh, aloof or uncaring with you or to themselves?

4) While listening to them, do you feel like if you say the wrong thing they'll lash out at you? 

Or

5) Do they seem open, expressive, approachable and reasonable, given their circumstance?

If the answer is yes to any of the first four questions, chances are the person you're listening to is strongly being influenced by their UNPAST. 

If the answer to question five is yes, then it's likely that the person speaking is present enough and able to separate the past from the present, which is an essential ingredient to working through ANY challenge.  

Learning to spot the UNPAST when it surfaces, or even just keeping the concept in mind, can help you become a better and more compassionate listener. 

When a person's UNPAST does surface, it's often a signal that they're needing you to be kind, patient and gentle with them.    

The better you become at responding to these signals, the more people will feel safe and comfortable with you, and in the world. 

Special Thank you to Dr. Dominique Scarafone for coining the term "UNPAST".   

​Photo credit: gareth1953 Cataract Creating Chaos via Visual Hunt / CC BY

by Joseph Eliezer, Vancouver Counsellor & Psychotherapist on August 1st, 2016

​People often come to therapy thinking the therapist will solve their problems for them. Truth is, therapists don't do that. 

Therapists help people to see their problems differently, enabling them to make better choices and experience different outcomes. 

Photo credit: Nanagyei via Visual Hunt / CC BY 
 

by Vancouver Counsellor & Psychotherapist Joseph Eliezer on September 4th, 2013

Taking yourself to see a counsellor can be an extremely frightening ordeal.  Aside from what you may actually experience in session with your counsellor, just making the initial phone call or sending that first email can make you feel anxious, afraid or inadequate.

A colleague of mine once told me that the average person makes contact with her office seven times before booking his or her first consultation. I took it as a confirmation that taking your time to consider coming to counselling and choosing the right therapist is normal.

This post is about the possible reasons for your trepidation contacting a counsellor.

Why you may want to see a counsellor

You may consider coming to therapy for a number of reasons. Perhaps you feel your life is missing something, but you can’t put your finger on what it is. Or maybe you recognize that your responses to life circumstances are out of balance.

You may have a hard time relating to people, or you may feel depressed or anxious. You may be craving a meaningful connection with another, but you either could never form one or found yourself in an unhappy or troubled relationship.

Whatever your reasons may be, it doesn’t change the fact that contacting a counsellor may feel very unsafe for you.

What may hold you back from contacting a counsellor

Many people have had at least one, if not several, experiences of being mistreated, neglected, abandoned or belittled by others at some point in their lives. You might be one of those people who suffered at the hands of others, either because they have taken actions against you or didn’t protect you from somebody else’s actions.

Because of the mistreatment, you may have become less trusting. Therefore, bringing yourself into therapy can almost seem counter-intuitive.

You’ve been hurt by other people, and yet, for the therapy to work, you have to trust a human being to help you. Seeing a counsellor means showing parts yourself that you are not comfortable sharing with others. It means being open and vulnerable and letting someone else care for you.

Another reason why you might hesitate to contact a counsellor is because counselling requires commitment and an investment of time, money and energy. You might be asking yourself, “Am I ready to show up every week and let myself be seen for who I am?”

The upside of taking the first step

The upside of making contact with a counsellor is that as soon as you break through the first barrier, you will feel like your life has already moved forward. You will also feel a sense of accomplishment.

Once you reach out to another human being and receive a response, you will feel you are no longer alone facing your challenges. You will get a sense of who your counsellor is, which should help you feel more confident about your decision.

Potentially, the very first session can provide you with an immediate relief from the burden you have been carrying for a long time. At the very least, you will have the experience of being heard, understood, validated and supported.

By making the first step of contacting a counsellor, you can set a new course for your life.

Conclusion

Trusting somebody new, especially if you’ve been hurt, is not easy. Depending on the severity of what you’re living with, it can take months, or even longer, to develop a sense of security with your therapist so that what exists beneath the surface can come to the surface and be healed.

Real healing doesn’t occur overnight, but the rewards you get from the experience should last you a lifetime. 

Question

Have you thought about going for counselling but have not been able to make the first step? What were your reasons? What would help you make the first step?

by Vancouver Counsellor & Psychotherapist Joseph Eliezer on June 25th, 2013

When it comes to intuition in the North American culture, female intuition seems  to dominate the conversation. Is it fair? What about men? Is male intuition the same as female intuition? How does it work? 

As a guest blogger for the Love Engineer website, I explore the reasons for the cultural preference for female intuition and talk about whether guys have intuition and why. 

What do you think? Have you seen male intuition at work? Did intuition help you in a sticky situation?

Take a read and join the conversation!

Do Guys Have Intuition?

by Vancouver Counsellor & Psychotherapist Joseph Eliezer on June 17th, 2013

The power of female intuition has reached an axiomatic status in our culture. Is there any truth behind the assertion that "the wife always knows"?

As a guest blogger for the Love Engineer website, I explore whether female intuition exists, how it works, what role the brain plays and how we can improve our relationship to our intuition. 

What about you? Have you seen intuition ruin or save marriages? Do you have an understanding of your own intuition? Take a read and join the conversation!

"The Wife Always Knows: Myth or Truth?" The Work of Intuition in Relationships

by Vancouver Counsellor & Psychotherapist Joseph Eliezer on December 11th, 2011

Sometimes, inspiration arrives at odd times and under peculiar circumstances. Watching a disagreeable movie that featured a kid with an imaginary friend the other night, as an example, directed the flow of my thoughts towards the topic of children and intuition. It got me out of the movie theatre and inspired me to write this exploratory article.

Intuition has long been a subject of a particular interest for me since I’ve had a strong connection to my intuition from the time I can remember myself. Throughout my adult life, I’ve come across many of stories, personal and published, talking about children and their uncanny intuitive abilities that frequently supersede those of adults’. Why is that? - I pondered. What makes children to be more adept at accessing their intuitive insights than adults?

First, I’d like to offer my understanding of what intuition is. According to Freud, intuition is communication from the unconscious. A typical definition of intuition in a dictionary echoes Freud’s explanation, telling us that it’s a quick and ready insight or perception that bypasses cognitive reasoning. I also believe that intuition is a function of the unconscious that is either received directly and clearly or is obscured by other more loud information, distorted by competing messages or overridden by the cognitive analysis that does not agree with perceived “knowing”.

What occurred to me is that it’s not that children have a better intuitive ability, but that perhaps (a) they don’t have as many interfering factors that would contradict their direct perceptual ability and (b) due to their ongoing brain development, they might have different perceptual systems that might serve them well in making sense of the world while they develop their adult-like cognitive functions.

Serendipitously, a press release of an article titled Children and Adults See the World Differently, Research Finds, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences came across my desk (University College London (2010, September 13). Children and adults see the world differently, research finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2011, from http://www.sciencedaily.com-/releases/2010/09/100913153630.htm).

Validating my latter point, the researchers indeed established that children up to the age of 12 have a different perceptual capacity to that of adults. Although children have trouble combining information coming from different sources to make sense of the whole, they can see separate kinds of visual information that adults cannot. In this instance, children were more accurate in assessing spatial properties of an object than adults were.

My former point is not as easy to validate empirically, so I would like to offer my explanation that is informed by the study of psychodynamic psychotherapy. The seeming loss of our intuitive abilities lies in how we grow up. The more we as children experience external events, the greater the need to understand and integrate the often exceedingly complicated information. When the witnessed activities and interactions become too difficult to understand due to lack of psycho-emotional and cognitive development, these unprocessed and often hurtful events become stored internally – in our unconscious. The greater amount of information gets stored within the unconscious, the greater the separation to the intuition results.

Later in life, after sufficient psychic strength has developed, we become capable of addressing our unprocessed material. With or without the help of a counsellor/psychotherapist we will benefit from revisiting what caused these degrees of separation from our intuition and learn to see these perceptions from a more adult viewpoint. This gentle and attentive conversation with the self will help re-integrate the unprocessed material and re-open the door to our intuitive perceptual abilities.

To sum up: Intuition doesn’t require development. It only needs for us to listen and establish a better connection to it. The ability to hear it increases as we deal with the unprocessed material. The newly found clarity, infused with the voice of our intuition, creates a stronger self, improves a sense of well-being and highlights our uniqueness and personal strength.

by Vancouver Counsellor & Psychotherapist Joseph Eliezer on November 1st, 2011

In many ways, [Simply Spirit] reminded me of Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet ... Its message too is both timely and timeless and befits an age where spiritual clarity is beckoned for.
— Robert Pereira, MD
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Just when I thought I had seen it all, read it all and heard it all in the realm of spiritual literature, I came across Simply Spirit by Joseph Eliezer. Unapologetic and edgy, yet deeply comforting and inspiring, this book jolted me into a whole new level of consciousness. I love it here.

— Liora Steiman, MD, MEd in Couns. Psych., Therapist
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Simply Spirit reminds me of the valuable practice and style of the existentialists like Irvin Yalom.

— Dr. M. Hajiazim, Psychiatrist
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I found myself taking frequent breaks to contemplate, reflect and journal on the thought-provoking words of Joseph Eliezer. I could hear and feel his soul through his loving and non-judgmental words. I found myself questioning the very essence of my being and just how and who to “be” in
the world. This book strengthens reflect upon often as I continue along my spiritual journey.

— Jivi Khehra, TV Host of Winds of Change with Jivi.
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by Vancouver Counsellor & Psychotherapist Joseph Eliezer on November 1st, 2011

Fresh spring of warm support

As an avid, "omnivorous" reader, I was thrilled to be given a copy of a newly released book Simply Spirit by Joseph Eliezer.

At first blush, this small book did not appear to be an attention-getter, but rather, a softly presented collection of insights, as offered by a warm, intentional writer. I soon realized that every page was an invitation to sink into thoughtful reflection. At no time did I feel I was being patronized, but rather was being encouraged to bring my own thought processes to bear on my personal journey.

My two copies are picked up and opened randomly. With each re-reading of a passage, a new layer of "ah-has" is brought to mind, and I find myself submerged in a fresh spring of warm support.

— MJA, retired teacher. Amazon review.
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Truly Simply Spirit

Easy to read, easy to understand, and yet there is nothing easy about this book. It'd hit me hard and then comfort me only to hit me again... If you want something to think about deeply, then buy this book. If you want a quick scan through, then don't bother - you'll miss the essence.

— Reader. Amazon review.
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Simply wonderful

This was simply wonderful for the Spiritual primer to be read by all. A guide to life and wisdom!

— Marie. Amazon review.
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SIMPLY SPIRIT is an easy to read awesome book. I LOVE IT!! I love to read books on spirituality but this is by far my favourite. It is packed with wisdom and the insights keep you glued to the book and the next page. It is also very entertaining. A great delight! I can't wait for the next book.

— Lulu.com review
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A very needed book to remind us all how to align ourselves with our best selves and our destinies and live our lives with dignity. The format makes the book so incredibly accessible, yet each page made me stop and reflect deeply on my own values and believes and check in with myself on what I hold dear to my heart. I noticed I was breathing easier after reading it. A great gift.

— Google Books review.

by Vancouver Counsellor & Psychotherapist Joseph Eliezer on November 1st, 2011

These are just some of the stories, reviews and messages that I received from my readers. If you have read the book, you are invited to share yours here.
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Hi Joseph,

I just wanted to thank you for sharing with me your very thoughtful words in your new book. I've always valued a piece of work that inspires others to look inside themselves for their own voice, awakening or mobilizing their own intentions, so your writing has been very meaningful to me. I especially appreciated its ability to both ground me and lift me up to dream. I folded the corners of each page that really resonated within me, only to find that I marked most of the pages!

— Joanna (Email)
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Dear Joseph,

[Your book] is an extraordinary work that is so clearly inspired. I know this because it takes me to a nameless, formless place within me that resonates quietly as I read and ponder. I must admit that I am spell bound by the notion that "Behind every feeling of fear is a seed of love." That is germinating in me deeply as it resonates with my own conviction about the essence of transformation as the release of fear into love. But to honour fear as the genesis and teacher - this is a new and compelling direction for me to move. Thank you again for the gift of this new insight.

— Prof. Michael Hryniuk, Theologian, Author and Educator. (Email)
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Hi Joseph,

...I wanted to say that sometimes I find a books so precious, like a beautiful piece of art, and I so cherish it. I have had some of these books in my life, and, that is what your book is. I take a long time reading them, so slowly so that it is part of my life for a long long time. It is beautiful, and I can see the work that has gone into it. ... Congratulations on its creation, and thank you for this gift to all of us.

— W. (Email)
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This book is pure poetry.

— C. (Email)
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Such Beauty

Your book is wonderful, every time I open it, I feel as though I am sitting beside a warm fire place with a wise old friend and we are sharing our lives.

— Diane Auld RPC, MPCP, HT (Email)
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I can’t read more than one quote or one page per day. There’s too much in it.

— Reader (Email)
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Simply Spirit is so beautifully written. It is real and down to earth, and that’s what I love about it. I keep it by my desk at my office and if I ever need inspiration, I open the book – it doesn’t matter what page I land on, I read the quote, I think about it, it fills me up and I’m good to go.

— Dianne Gilmour, MA, Counsellor (personal note)
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Unbelievable! Beautiful! Raw! Human! Genuine! A Gift!

— G. (Email)
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I have just finished my first read, of many, cover to cover, with a glass of peppermint tea. I have a feeling that this book may accompany me on my journey for years to come. Through my first read, I smiled, I laughed, I teared, I enjoyed.

— C. (Email)
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In my deepest and darkest hours, during the wee hours at the times where I feel most alone, I read this book. It brings me comfort when no one or nothing else can. I am living with cancer, and this book sometimes feels like my only friend.

— Reader (Email)

by Vancouver Counsellor Joseph Eliezer on September 2nd, 2011

A group of wonderful writers started a blog website to share their adventures with each other and the world. I was honoured to be the first guest blogger with the Black Ink, White Paper. They posed a number of interesting questions to me and encouraged me to reflect on such things as what I want to do before I die, what I would be if I weren't a psychotherapist and much more.

I invite you to read through what turned out to be a very personal sharing of myself: Joseph's blog on Black Ink, White Paper.

Sincerely,
Joseph.