What's Right with You: Debunking Dysfunction and Changing Your Life

What's Right with You: Debunking Dysfunction and Changing Your Life

by Barry Duncan, J. I. Kleinberg

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"If it's time for a change in your life and analyzing things to death has left you feeling defeated and hopeless, What's Right With You is a must read. It will debunk conventional myths about change, quickly restore your confidence and show you how to harness your hidden personal strengths to accomplish your life's goals."

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"If it's time for a change in your life and analyzing things to death has left you feeling defeated and hopeless, What's Right With You is a must read. It will debunk conventional myths about change, quickly restore your confidence and show you how to harness your hidden personal strengths to accomplish your life's goals."

Michele Weiner-Davis

author of Divorce Busting and The Sex-Starved Marriage

"All is indeed right with Dr. Barry Duncan's What's Right With You: an engaging, compelling, and eminently practical book that will help you to capitalize on your strengths and cultivate your power. The do-able exercises will guide you in discovering the hero within and in marshaling interpersonal relationships and personal resources."

John C. Norcross, Ph.D.

president, International Society of Clinical Psychology, co-author, Changing for Good

Tap into your inner resilience and change your life in six dynamic and easy-to-follow steps!

We live in a world pervaded by the unspoken attitude that we are all basically flawed, broken, incomplete, scarred or sick: we’re labeled as dysfunctional, codependent, depressed, you name it. Contrary to popular perception and drug company ad campaigns, fifty years of research shows that positive change does not primarily emerge from examining the disorders, diseases, or dysfunctions—all the stuff that’s wrong with us—that allegedly plague the masses.

Dr. Barry Duncan debunks the myth that only a therapist can help you change your life and shows how positive change really happens when you utilize your inherent strengths and resources and are supported by relationships that take your innate goodness as a given. What's Right with You gives you a research validated, six-step plan for a dynamic and refreshing approach to effecting change in your life—for good!

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The most compelling part of this book relates how Constance, who was named California's Woman of the Year in 1994, founded A Place Called Home- a youth center in South-Central Los Angeles that has become a refuge for inner-city gang members and gives them a chance to turn their lives around. APCH delivers many needed services, largely thanks to the author's hard work and commitment. Those who come through the doors can sign up for art, dance and music classes, homework help, sports and access to computers. But the bulk of this memoir is devoted to the author's struggle to deal with her father's sexual abuse; her mother's characterization of her as a fat, unattractive baby; three failed marriages; other troubled relationships; alcoholism, agoraphobia, smoking, a bout with cancer; and a traffic accident that nearly killed her. The author became sober through AA, forged a successful reunion with her alienated son and is currently in a loving relationship with a female partner. Although Constance has clearly overcome horrendous problems to get where she is today and should be applauded for her work with troubled teens, the detailed, artless and somewhat simplistic account of each obstacle is more numbing than inspiring. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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Identifying and Enlisting Change Partners

Take some time now and think about whom you have relied on in the past and whom you might depend upon now. Who is helpful in your day-to-day life? Whom have you sought out in the past who was useful? Was it a parent, partner, teacher, neighbor, colleague, friend, rabbi? Who are the candidates to be your change partner? Who is the best candidate?

When picking your change partner (or partners), please feel free to do it any way you feel would be best. You may already know whom you will ask and need no format to help your deliberations. Follow your instincts. You know whom you can trust. You may need to do nothing more than tell your chosen partner what you are up to and begin the work of changing your life. So if you feel ready, go ahead and enlist a change partner and proceed to the exercise at the end of this chapter. Take what follows as food for thought.

On the other hand, of you may want a little guidance or a more formal method to pick the best possible change partner. First, generate a list of candidates. Don’t be shy here; you are bestowing a great honor on anyone you consider. It is an honor because you are saying that this person is not only trustworthy, but is also of such high caliber that you are contemplating him or her as a companion in your very personal journey to a more satisfying life. It is better to be overinclusive at this point, so list as many potential partners as possible—a candidate need not be your closest friend or most trusted family member. Once you have identified your candidates, recall the last conversation you had with each person in which you discussed a personal concern. If you have not had such a discussion with a candidate, imagine how you think that exchange might go. Reflect upon that conversation with the following relational dimensions in mind, which have been shown to be invaluable to change in therapy.

Understood, Respected and Validated

Feeling understood, respected and validated is critical to any change endeavor. It is simply a priceless experience that sets us free to consider the possibilities of a better future. Feeling understood means that your change partner makes a sincere attempt to look at the world through your eyes. In addition, like Aretha says, we all want a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Respect, according to one of the founding parents of psychotherapy, Carl Rogers, means to value another individual as a person with worth and dignity.

In total, your change partner must assume that you can and will make a more satisfying life for yourself and that you have the inherent capacity to do so. He or she must believe that no one knows better than you—that you are the expert regarding your concerns. Part and parcel of this attitude is the belief that you are doing the best you can under stressful circumstances and that your actions are understandable given your context. In short, your change partner must have a validating attitude toward you.

Recall that validation is a process in which your struggle is respected as important, perhaps representing a critical juncture in your life, and your thoughts, feelings and behaviors are accepted, believed and considered completely understandable given trying circumstances. Change partners at their best legitimize your point of view, even if, in hindsight, you have not made the best choices. Change partners help you replace any invalidation that may be a part of the load you carry.

©2004. Barry Duncan, Psy.D. All rights reserved. Reprinted from What's Right With You: Debunking Dysfunction and Changing Your Life. No part of this publication may be reproduced,
stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc.,
3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.

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Meet the Author

Barry Duncan, Psy.D. is codirector of the Institute of the Study of Therapeutic Change in Coral Springs, Florida. Author of over twelve books, both professional and for the trade, he has appeared on Oprah, The View and other national television programs. He has been featured in Psychology Today, USA Today and Glamour magazine. Duncan conducts seminars internationally in client-directed, outcome-informed therapies in hopes of inciting insurrection against practices that diminish clients.

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