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TEN POSITIVE WARM-UPS TO THE NEW YEAR

1. Read:Changing For Good: A Revolutionary Six-Stage Program For Overcoming Bad Habits and Moving Your Life Positively Forward by James Prochaska, John Norcross & Carlo DiClemente. Therapists from every discipline and model must read this book to understand what works and why when people achieve successful change. Anyone who seeks to make a change on their own will benefit from this book as well, which includes worksheets and information that promote self-change independent of professional support.

2. Donate: God's Love We Deliver which prepares and delivers nutritious, high-quality meals to people who, because of illness, are unable to provide or prepare meals for themselves. They also provide illness-specific nutrition education and counseling to our clients, families, care providers and other service organizations.

3. Donate:LASTWORDDESKS.COM - Lawrence O'Donnell of MSNBC has organized an effort to provide school desks for the children of Malawi, a country where the qua…

ITS A WONDERFUL LIFE: Five Peace-Promoting Practices

by Jude Treder-Wolff, LCSW, RMT, CGP
Peace on earth is sung and spoken and seen so often this time of year, which makes it a good time to reflect on this human ideal that always seems out of reach. Watch any random episode of Law & Order - a drama which pulls stories directly from the headlines - and it is clear that conflict remains a deadly issue in our personal lives as much as the lives of nations. The stresses of modern life, which include an ongoing blitz of media reminding us of Terrible Things We Must Forever Fear and All Our Inadequacies can wear us down and burn us out.
     My favorite definition of peace came to me through Al-Anon -  which means the unknown author donated a simple, powerful roadmap to personal power: "Peace is not needing to know what will happen next."It is, however, uniquely difficult to put into practice: Here are some ideas for daily injections of peace-promoting thought and action.

Fresh t…

Coaching Company Using Improv for Improving Lives - Article On The Smithtown Patch

By Kenyon Hopkins                        READ THIS ARTICLE ON THE SMITHTOWN PATCH

Jude Treder-Wolff, president of Lifestage, Inc., a company established in 1993 with her husband and business partner Nicholas Wolff that provides training seminars for professional and personal growth through creativity, believes that Lifestage's roots have more to do with her personality than anything else.


"I have so many ideas I want to experiment with in my work," Treder-Wolff said, who is a licensed certified social worker, a registered music therapist and a certified group psychotherapist. "I wanted the freedom to develop the ideas I had about applying creative arts and creative methods in innovative ways."

It is with this approach that Lifestage has created many interactive workshops, which take place at their office space near the intersection of Route 111 and Route 347 in Smithtown, or at the location of an organization that has requested their services. Many more …

WHAT THEY SAW AT THE REVOLUTION: Coming of Age in the 50s and 60s Through the Eyes of "Three Boomer Broads"

BY JUDE TREDER-WOLFF, LCSW, RMT, CGP After decades-long careers in teaching and the arts, professional storytellers (left to right) Lynn Wing, Sara Slayton, and Terry Visger vaulted their skills, years of friendship and common history into writing and performing full-length shows which opened to standing room only crowds at the Pump House Regional Arts Center in their home town of LaCrosse Wisconsin. Their first production, “Three Boomer Broads: Remembering While We Still Can,” billed as “the sights, sounds and stories of the 1950 and 1960s as told by three women who lived through them” explored what it was like to come of age during one of the most turbulent and revolutionary periods of American life.
     Using music and images to enhance exploration of their theme “the loss of innocence,” “the stories reflected the historic social transformations in which our own personal metamorphoses occurred,” writes Ms. Slayton in an article published in The Northlands Storytelling Network Journa…

WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS NOW: GETTING UP TO SPEED WITH APPLIED IMPROVISATION

Make your partner look good," a guiding principle of improvisation, was abundantly on display the night I attended a meeting of the  New York Rgional Applied Improvisation Network co-facilitated by Zohar Adner and Caitlin McClure, both professional trainers in corporate settings whose game plan for the evening transformed 25 strangers into a working group. Within the first 20 minutes, a positive, dynamic energy connected us, making the event a real-time expression of the philosophy and skill set that both trainers believe and practice in their personal and working lives, e.g., "work at the top of your intelligence; we are all supporting players; avoid judging what occurs, focus on what you can contribute," to quote the Patron Saint of Improv, Del Close.      "This is a foundational mindset and way of looking at the world that opens up possibilities and collaboration - two things the world really needs now," Zohar states. "Every cause gets stronger when peo…

WHAT I LEARNED AT THE PSYCHOTHERAPY NETWORKER SYMPOSIUM

The 2010 Psychotherapy Networker Symposium in March was a marathon of consciousness-raising led by Networker editor Rich Simon and his first-class panel of keynote speakers, who leveraged the not-so-good-news about the social, environmental and global problems we face with evidence-based recommendations about what we can do to turn things around. One thing was clear: complacency is not an option. Dan Goleman  -author of Emotional Intelligence, among other books, and whose writing for the Science section of the New York Times I long admired - talked about why the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a Texas-sized sort of island of plastic items out in the ocean – which the Wall Street Journal argues is maybe not really that big and even if it is that big, but what’s the big deal – should matter to psychotherapists. Because it is just one of many signs of world-class problems that we can all do something about if we expand our focus. Psychotherapy as a field is often disconnected from thes…

WARM-UP EXERCISES FOR GROUP WORK - For Therapeutic, Educational or Training Groups

Nicholas Wolff, LCSW, BCD, TEP, Director of Training at Lifestage, Inc and Jude Treder-Wolff, LCSW, RMT, CGP, Trainer/consultant and writer/performer. Follow on twitter @JuTrWolff


   “To begin assembly one must have the right attitude,” goes a Japanese instruction for assembling a particular object, as quoted in Zen and the Art of Motorcyle Maintenance. The "right attitude" is one that best serves the action we are preparing to engage in, just as an athlete warms up his/her muscles before using them in the stress of a work-out or game. Psychological and emotional "muscles" that are properly warmed up will perform more effectively and make it less likely that we will experience strain or allow fear to produce a shut-out when things get rolling.
    The right warm-up makes everything learned in a training situation or classroom more accessible and immediately useful to the trainee/student. New skills and knowledge - in education, personal growth or a professional train…

MUSIC TALKS

by Jude Treder-Wolff, LCSW, RMT, CGP

Music represents everything good about being human, but it does not have to be fancy to be authentic. This is clear from the start when learning to play the piano. Talent is not required for this, any more than knowledge about the internal combustion engine is required to drive a car. That’s not as strange a comparison as you might think - both cars and pianos operate according to certain physical laws: The Law of Acoustics, which is the science of sound, The Law of Gravity, which is the science of steering clear of any area where a piano or a car are suspended from a crane, and the Law of Reciprocity, the principle that in learning an instrument and in life, we get back what we put in.


To start, some basics. Understand that the piano is in charge. It is pure potential when well-tuned, and can deliver Mr. Rogers’ theme song and Rachmaninoff with equal commitment. The musician-in-training might think of herself as the hands, foot and consciousness …

TURNING POINTS

by Nicholas Wolff, LCSW, BCD, TEP

The scene: A psychodrama and group psychotherapy training workshop intensive, conducted by a highly-respected trainer.
The situation: We have been assigned the task of creating an on-the-spot warm-up exercise for a group. Be spontaneous, but use what we have learned.
My dilemma: I am standing in front of this group of twenty-odd colleagues, some of whom are
brilliant and a bit intimidating, and here's the thing: My mind is blank.


I am supposed to be speaking. People are staring at me, patient and trusting. But I have
nothing. Nadda. No ideas, not even a hint. Time seems to slow down. The anxiety is
overwhelming. So I take action.
I drop to the floor of the stage. I lie there with eyes closed. Still nothing. Now my heart is pounding, because I've started something here and it has to go somewhere or I risk total
humiliation. I begin to roll around on the floor of the stage, eyes still closed, mind still blank. I
pretend to be in a deep sleep, and having a…

'Lives In Progress March 2010'

The March issue of Lives In Progress features:
The Healing Force of Social Networks - an article about Kathy Hynes-Kadish, a breast cancer survivor and volunteer for SHARE, a breast and ovarian cancer support organization which demonstrates the healing power of social networks.

NICK'S PICKS include an article from the New England Journal of Medicine written by a doctor involved with relief work in Haiti, who describes the songs that rise up out of the rubble at night.

Things We Should Know: The Rule of Yes - a way of thinking and a philosophy that redirects tension and opens the creative spirit in everyday life and TheRule of Listening - which quotes from an article in the Annals of Family Medicine about improvisation as a method to train doctors to listen and respond to patients.

Click on the link to read the newsletter:
'Lives In Progress March 2010'

NICK'S PICKS: Some Ideas For Making What's Good In Life a Little Better

by Nicholas Wolff, LCSW, BCD, TEP

In the days and months following the World Trade Center attacks in 2001, immersed in my role as a lead trauma counselor on a team working with survivors and family members of the missing, I felt the stirrings of change within myself that continues to this day. Tragedy feels darker, acts of kindness more transcendent. A heightened sensitivity to the effects of disaster on victims and the healers who rush to their side when things are at their worst is with me always now. An article by a physician doing relief work in Haiti after the recent earthquate published in last week's New England Journal of Medicine resonates to this and adds a haunting reminder of the humanizing power of music:

"After the January 12 earthquake, I traveled with a national disaster team from the Department of Health and Human Servicesto Haiti, where we set up a mobile tent hospital on the sitesof a devastated school and a nearby adolescent clinic. My 2-weekdeployment was m…

THE HEALING FORCE OF SOCIAL NETWORKS

A fantastic, food-centered fund-raiser I attended at Chelsea Piers last fall – the annual “A Second Helping of Life” event for SHARE, a not-for-profit organization that provides free support services for women with breast and ovarian cancer - turned into a mini-reunion with some remarkable women I was privileged to work with at Gracie Square Hospital in the 1980’s. Reconnecting with this group to celebrate and champion our colleague and dear friend Kathy Hynes-Kadish, a metastatic breast cancer survivor and SHARE volunteer, combined with the “right-over-there” celebrity-sightings and nonstop samplings of some of New York’s best food and drink made the evening a trifecta of good energy that was almost too much of a good thing. (When I spotted Judy Gold with a tray of canap├ęs and called out her name 3 times as if she were an old college buddy I knew the wine-tasting portion of the evening was over for me.)

Kathy has been living with metastatic breast cancer since 1999, presently shows “n…

FLYING SOLO

by Wells Hanley
As a self employed musician, I am always in a state of current economic crisis! The sense of security provided to most by their jobs is a luxury which I have certainly never received from my workplace. On the first day of every job, I am holding in my mind the reality that it will end. But the self employed artist finds his security in his ability to adapt and his faith in the strength of his nimbleness muscle. I think it is safe to say that there is a psychological space which the entrepreneur/artist inhabits very comfortably which is now being thrust upon the workers of the world.
For those who have derived their security from their relationship to an institution, being laid off can be as much an identity crisis as a financial crisis. If there is no external stability from which we can derive a feeling that everything is going to be okay, we can either go crazy or find a way to live in an ever changing workplace. My life as a creative professional has taken me to both …

NETWORKING: THE LOST ART OF THE INTROVERT

by Wells Hanley, MA

As a self-employed artist, part of me easily resonates to the painful relationship many artists have to networking - we view it as a necessary evil, having to gear up for surface level conversations in the hope of scoring a gig or a gallery placement. Something we feel pressured to do but do not want to do. Some people are just good at it and I’m not.
Part of the issue is that many artists are introverts, happiest in our own home, tending to our inner creative process. We find a room full of people we don’t know exhuasting - even terrifying. The popular American “go-getter” model makes no sense to us. We prefer instead to build our careers from the inside out.

When we think of the art of networking as surface level, meaningless, and not nearly as important as what’s going on inside our heads creatively, we distance ourselves from something that is actually much more relevant to our lives and livelihood. If we can think of it as working a “net” that is an extension of …

WHO AM I THIS TIME: ROLE-TAKING FOR 21ST CENTURY LEARNING AND GROWTH

by Nicholas Wolff, LCSW, BCD, TEP
Merlin the Magician, according to legend, trained the boy who would become King Arthur by transforming him into various animals through which he experienced different ways of thinking about power and groups. As a snow goose, he participates in a peaceful culture in which leaders are chosen based on their ability to navigate. Things are quite the opposite when he is turned into a falcon and nearly killed when a competitor picks a fight with him, or a fish when he is nearly devoured by a much bigger one. As an ant he can only adapt by becoming robotic, hearing "a noise in his head, like a song on the radio that repeats over and over, and he hears a voice, constantly giving him directions," because the ant culture has eliminated independent thought.

Merlin's method would be called "role-taking" in our world, a learning method that is powerfully effective for internalizing an unfamiliar skill or new information, e.g In a recent trai…