Lee Shields Therapist Seattle
Psychotherapist and Counselor in Seattle, Washington  
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Leland Shields

2800 E. Madison, Suite 206
Seattle, WA 98112
Phone: (206) 568-0062
Fax: (206) 325-0098


Influences from My Clients

Over the years my clients have shared with me many resources and perspectives that have helped them at different times in their lives. Some of the ideas I learned of this way and that I’ve in turn offered to other clients. I’ve assembled the list below of those ideas that seemed to be most often helpful when the need was a fit for the resource.

Marshall Rosenberg, Non-Violent Communication: A Language of Life

I was first exposed to this this work through a client and have since found numerous others who found the approach to communication helpful. The method presents simple guidelines that can be used to maximize the opportunity for connection. I haven’t read the current revision of the book, but the original I found to be a quick read, simply presenting an approach that can be adapted to work for almost anyone.

Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project

A client of mine was inspired that the author brought the same intentionality and focus to her life satisfaction as she did her professional life. The book and website offered her suggestions she found helpful, including the idea to do what you liked to do when you were eleven years old – you will likely enjoy it still!

Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

It is an uncommon idea in our culture to sit with fear rather than to run from it. Pema Chodron tells us that "fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth."  Fear is universal and there is no end of reality-based things to be afraid of. If we can commit ourselves to staying with it, it we don't try to make it pretty, then we have an opportunity to learn about ourselves and the world we live in. We can also begin to find ways to stop struggling against suffering that we cannot change. When Things Fall Apart is written from a Buddhist perspective, but the ideas can be seen more universally as well.

David Richo, The Five Things We Cannot Change: And the Happiness We Find by Embracing Them

Many of us find it difficult to set appropriate boundaries in some of our relationships. It may be easier to operate from the extremes of detachment (rigid boundaries) with little connection, or enmeshment (loose boundaries) with loss of self. But to set boundaries like tuning a stringed instrument, not too tight, not too loose, can be harder to navigate.

Click here for a checklist of questions from this book that some have found helpful in reflecting on the boundaries of a particular relationship.

Michael Gelb, Body Learning: An Introduction to the Alexander Technique

We are often frustrated and bored by our repetitive thoughts and reactions to things and sometimes seek ways to break the habits and make new choices. A client of mine compellingly described how the Alexander Technique addressed this old problem for him first through his body and then influencing his mind. In the classes, my client would perform an activity for an instructor, and the instructor might simply touch a shoulder. Noticing his raised shoulder, he would relax, and he discovered with the dropping of his shoulder he was able to more completely engage in the activity at hand.

In this book on the topic, Gelb said, "When Arthur Rubinstein plays the piano, when Fred Astaire dances, or when Michael Jordan plays basketball, they all have one thing in common: they make it look easy. Alexander discovered that this quality of relaxation in action is not only the result of natural talent but can be learned."

Byron Katy, Loving What Is

Byron Katy’s approach is similar to other techniques that help us notice our own unproductive stories, and process distorted thoughts. Some of my clients have found the questions presented in Loving What Is to be particularly helpful in clarifying which thoughts are distorted day-to-day. If you’re interested, try reflecting on some of your own repetitive thoughts with the question, “Is it true?” Or, try her suggested reflection and “notice when your thoughts argue with reality.”

Eckart Tolle, The Power of Now

Various clients have found The Power of Now to be an accessible way to understand and experience the satisfaction and ease available in the present moment. Several clients have found Tolle’s presentation provided a means to explore and experience the present moment in ways they were not otherwise able to, even if they were previously exposed to the concepts.

Simon Weisenthal, The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness

This one, I confess, was not taken from client suggestions; it is a favorite of mine that I thought belonged on this list anyway. The first half of this book tells the Holocaust concentration camp story of the author, including a true story about a dying SS officer’s request that the author forgive the officer for his brutal actions. The second half of the book contains essays written by artists, theologians from various traditions, politicians, other survivors, and philosophers. All were asked to put themselves in the author’s place of having been asked for forgiveness, and they were asked for their responses to the question, “What would you do?” So many of us seem to have difficulty forgiving ourselves and/or each other, I find the diversity of perspectives on the question of forgiveness offer possibilities for inspiration.

Research and writings about shame

Brene Brown: I've been moved by the frequency and depth of shame that seems to be inherent in our culture, and the regularity with which it arises in my counseling office. Its tentacles connect to anxiety and depression, and influence the way we relate to each other. Brene Brown wrote several books with concrete ways to address it, including, I Thought it Was Just Me (But it Isn't). If you're interested, I'd suggest starting with these links to two TED Talks she gave on the subject and see if her approach speaks to you.
The Power of Vulnerability, January 2011
Listening to Shame, March 2012

The Dove Real Beauty Project: For women in particular, shame around body image is sadly pervasive. Here are a couple of YouTube videos created by the Dove Real Beauty project that can help foster compassion in the way we (women and men) see ourselves and each other.
Real Beauty Sketches
Evolution of Beauty

Alan Downs, The Velvet Rage: This is a strong book about the role of shame and anger in the journey of many gay men. Quite a few of my clients found it helpful in directly and clearly speaking to these two difficult emotions and how they lead to choices that are frequently not helpful.

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