Sunday, November 29, 2020

This is a parenting talk I did for Doctors at a Medical Conference in 2016


Parenting is one of the hardest job in the world and yet, we do not have much training, support, or preparation in this area. As a Family Doctor, it’s not surprising to see so many parents presenting with stress, when it comes down to managing their relationship and boundary setting with their children.  

In this talk to Doctors, I wanted to highlight the following. 

1. How parenting skill training for parents can help or prevent mood disorders.

2. How to assess children with behavioral concerns. The framework we use is the WHAT, WHY, and HOW to improve.

3. What are the basic principles of parenting.

4. What are the common pitfalls around parenting namely accidental rewards and the escalation trap, and how to address those.

Please click on the following link Parenting Talk FGP16 Medical Conference.


Counseling to expand our patients’ awareness by tapping into the unconscious incompetence zone


In counseling, our patients’ awareness is often the combination of what they know, and their awareness of what they don’t know. We then try to expand our patients’ awareness by tapping into the unconscious incompetence zone. The area of, “I didn’t even know that I didn’t know that”.

Imagine if someone’s awareness is only in the 2D world, it’s going to be almost impossible for them to solve a complex 3D problem. So their limitation maybe in their level of awareness, and not necessarily their level in skills or motivation to act.

So how do we know when we have successfully tapped into this area of unconscious incompetence?

In counseling, when we have successfully tapped into this area, the external feedback we get from our patients is an “aha moment” reaction. The penny has dropped. That can the turning point for change, if we can leverage from there.

An example would be a husband, who desperately tried to make his wife happy, but keep on failing, and still don’t quite understand why she feels the way she feels. Expanding their emotional literacy around relationships was a natural starting point.  Without emotional literacy to solve their emotional problems, is like expecting them to solve maths without numeracy.

Are we are aware that sometimes we don’t even know that we don’t know what we don’t know?  Being in the space of “conscious unconscious incompetence”, will help us keep an open mind to get “unstuck”, and adapt or readjust better to our fast changing environment. 

Are you stuck in some things?

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Providing psycho-education for our patients around the balance between the human being vs the human doing


In counseling, psycho-education around the idea of finding the balance between the “human being” vs the “human doing” can be helpful for some folks.

“Human being” is more about being in the mindful, perceiving or defused state. Taking information in externally, and retrieving information from our memories without judgement and the urge to act. Think of it like data input for the computer through the webcam, external hard drive, the keyboard, microphone, the internet, and the internal hard drive. It simply about information gathering and giving clarity. 

“Human doing” is more about judging and “fusing” with the information we have, and taking action with it. Execution of a file in computer terms. When we judge and emotionally fuse with a piece of information, there is an urge to act. This is one way we can tell whether we are simply doing mindful perceiving or judging to act.

If we are too excessive with the human doing, and not enough of the human being and perceiving, we may become a bit “reckless”, impulsive, or ADHD like. We may be not be as effective as we would like.

If we are too much being and not enough doing, we may not adapt to our current environment around productivity.

Having the emotional literacy to recognize and understanding this better may guide us to better adapt to our environment. Action without clarity may be ineffective. Clarity without action equals no outcome. It’s a dynamic interplay. It is certainly a very difficult thing to balance, that’s for sure. 

Monday, November 23, 2020

Using metaphors to explain the importance of counseling for our patients


The use of metaphors and analogies can be very useful in counseling because many ideas and concepts in mental health can be quite abstract.

For some folks, I often liken the mind to a computer, with our system of values, beliefs, internal rules, principles, and the way we think, being the operating system.

The problem is, the operating system needs regular updates as our environment and society is changing so rapidly.

To complicate things, it is also hooked into the network with other computers which use different operating systems. A mixture of Windows, iOS, Linux and a few others.

With that in mind, it’s not surprising to see so many internal and external conflicts in our lives, and the lives of our patients. Furthermore, if these internal and external conflicts are not resolved, it may manifest as an adjustment disorder with anxious or depressed mood.

So counseling is to assist folks to update their operating system on a regular basis, and finding ways to reconcile with the other operating systems in the network. It can be a tough gig for sure.

Have you had yours updated recently?