Stuck in Therapy? Tired of Hearing That Ineffective Question ... 'So, How Does That Make You Feel?'

Famed NYC Therapist Jonathan Alpert Outlines 5 Steps to Reach a Fulfilling Life in New Book

If you've ever experienced talking to a therapist there's no doubt that "So, how does that make you feel?" has come up during a session. It's a question that infuriates Jonathan Alpert, New York psychotherapist, columnist and author of the just published BE FEARLESS: Change Your Life in 28 Days (Center Street, 2012). For Alpert, the question is troubling, maddening and possibly harmful.

Alpert argues that today's psychotherapists may actually be less beneficial in helping patients cope with their mental health issues, and addresses the epidemic of an over-medicated society where therapists are too quick to jot on the prescription pads medication for anxiety and depression. A significant part of BE FEARLESS examines what's wrong with therapy and why many patients have become too dependent on therapists who don't help them overcome their fears, phobias, or obsessions.

Recently, Alpert's op-ed, entitled "In Therapy Forever? Enough Already," on the subject of how therapy can be hazardous to your mental health, appeared in The New York Times.

In BE FEARLESS, Alpert and his co-author Alisa Bowman introduce an effective and easy-to-follow five-step plan that provides readers the steps to lead a fulfilling life while reaching their personal and professional goals. The plan includes:

  • Define your dream list
  • Break your fear pattern
  • Rewrite your inner narrative
  • Eliminate your fear response
  • Live your dream

Here are the most common ways people keep themselves stuck, either knowingly or unknowingly:

  • Waiting. Rather than being proactive and taking the initiative, people spend time hoping that the right person will magically walk into their life, that the job promotion will just materialize, or that their spouse will suddenly start behaving in a less irritating way. Waiting for dreams to unfold, they will remain dreams. By taking action, turn those dreams into realities.
  • Wishing. Wishing for things doesn't create change. BE FEARLESS teaches readers how to stop wishing and how to start living.
  • Blaming. Like to blame others for personal problems? Perhaps you've gotten angry at your boss, your significant other, or someone else for making your life miserable. Stop focusing on what you can't control and put energy into all of the things within your control.

Alpert's BE FEARLESS advice lends itself to many other scenarios -- from the bedroom to the boardroom. Top of mind for most people right now is still the weak economy and the status of their jobs or, for recent college graduates, looking for that first rung in their career.

The key elements in successfully climbing the corporate ladder and winning promotions, says Alpert, are innate confidence and a sense of fearlessness that nothing can block that quest for success. Yet for most people, confidence and fearlessness aren't built-in traits. Even the boss can get butterflies in the stomach when there's a big presentation. So how do you ooze confidence in the big, bad business world? 

Alpert says that "Fear is based on uncertainty, or a bad experience that colors your perception, but you can take a three-prong approach to ensure it doesn't stop you in your career track." He recommends these BE FEARLESS tips while on the job or going on interviews:

  • Turn nervousness into positive energy. Whether it's a presentation or a job interview, it's all in how you interpret the signals your body is sending. Embrace the excitement of a new professional adventure and ditch the fear.
  • Don't fear rejection whether you're asking to be the lead on a project or asking for a raise. If the answer is "no," ask for feedback on your work performance. Listen and work to reach the goals your supervisor has set for you, then revisit the conversation.
  • Know the difference between preparation and procrastination. Give yourself a deadline for the task ahead, whether it's research, a new project or looking for a new job. Make an appointment on your calendar and get it done before you start second-guessing yourself.