Q&A with the beloved Psychotherapists Antony Chatham and Andy Roman of Hippocrates Health Institute.

Question: I miss the good old days when I ate what I wanted. I have fond memories of holiday foods and candies from my youth. Sometimes I try to recapture that feeling and “fall off  the wagon” to indulge. What can I do about that?

Answer: You’re talking about a very emotional relationship with food, and you don’t have a patent on that. I think it’s a matter of which part of you is in charge: the adult or the kid. Kids don’t see the big picture and get swept away in the magic of the moment. Trick-or-treating was so much fun—sorting and eating brightly-wrapped candy and swapping goodies with my friends! No worries, just pleasure. But later came tooth decay, stomach aches, diabetes and weakened immune function.

Now, look at the adult who sees the lurking danger, the power of the seduction, the lie beneath the fantasy. Enter the adult who recognizes that today’s pleasure can lead to tomorrow’s pain. That adult who always says “No!” That downer, no-fun parent who denies us pleasure for our own good. That “adult” who stimulates inner rebellion with rigid rules. Not much better, is it? My conclusion is this: when either a lost child or a rigid adult is in charge, damage or self-sabotage inevitably follows.

I recommend pathway #3: the benevolent adult who creatively replaces antiquated, unhealthy habits with new, fun ways to do the old holiday rituals. Enter the artistic adult who makes new healthy foods to associate with the holidays. Keep the magic going—just be smart about it. You can have your nostalgic indulgences, as long as you let the right adult be in charge. Make it work for both sides of you, not for one at the other’s expense.

 

Question: I’ve been coming to the Institute for years, but I still feel skeptical about certain parts of the program at times. Is this the Doubting Thomas in me? Does it mean there’s a chance I’ll never commit 100 percent?

Answer:  It means you haven’t yet answered all your questions. Because the Hippocrates program is so textured and complex, you probably won’t reach the end of your learning curve any time soon. Obviously you’ve got the gist of it, though. You likely return for several reasons, and these are my guesses as to why: One, you’re getting the results you want. Two, you love the atmosphere. Three, you appreciate the people, both guests and staff . Four, you feel inspired by the individual progress and spirit that you see. Jesus’s response to Doubting Thomas was, “come and touch my hands.” That means to me that it isn’t about punishing the doubters, but reassuring them. Explore more. Ask questions. Get to the root of things.

Real faith and commitment come from experience, from reaching a point of critical mass in your knowing. Keep educating yourself. The good news is that you can measure your progress on the path to health both subjectively and objectively. Critical mass is at hand!

 

Question: You suggest spending therapy time not talking about differences, but rather discussing expectations of an improved relationship. Is it not important that we share why there are problems between us?

Answer: Yes, it is important to know what the major problems in your relationship are. In a solution- focused therapeutic approach, we can know the major issues affecting the relationship when you propose your ideal solutions to the problems. Each of your perspectives will be clear when you suggest your ideal solutions.

There is a general principle that what your mind focuses on will begin to capture your energy. If you spend time on your disagreements and differences, they become the focus. In addition, many couples tend to prove why their point of view is right and the other person’s view is wrong. This process takes a major part of the therapy time. On the other hand, if we commonly think about solutions, our focus will be on resolving the differences, at least to a great extent.

As a rule, in the solution-focused approach, I ask the couple to give six different suggestions each for an improved relationship and then begin to agree on common priorities. Couples also give six different compliments to each other in such a session.

Using these suggestions and compliments, couples are helped to visualize their ideal relationship and life in a Guided Imagery/Creative Visualization Session and record them (along with each one’s compliments to each other) on a cellphone or other devices and reinforce their commitment to the improved relationships by playing back the recording in their bedroom.

This may not be practical in every case; however, according to the feedback received, many of our couples have benefited from this approach.

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