Monday, January 13, 2020

Spotlight: Guest Post from Todd E. Pressman, PhD, Author of Deconstructing Anxiety

Book Title: DECONSTRUCTING ANXIETY The Journey from Fear to Fulfillment by Todd E. Pressman, PhD
Category:  Adult Non-Fiction (18+) (336 pages)
Genre:  Self-Help/How To
Publisher:  Rowman & Littlefield
Release date:  January 2020
Tour dates: Jan 13 to Feb 7, 2020
Content Rating: PG
In Deconstructing Anxiety, Pressman provides a new and comprehensive understanding of fear's subtlest mechanisms. In this model, anxiety is understood as the wellspring at the source of all problems. Tapping into this source therefore holds the clues not only for how to escape fear, but how to release the very causes of suffering, paving the way to a profound sense of peace and satisfaction in life.
With strategically developed exercises, this book offers a unique, integrative approach to healing and growth, based on an understanding of how the psyche organizes itself around anxiety. It provides insights into the architecture of anxiety, introducing the dynamics of the “core fear” (one's fundamental interpretation of danger in the world) and “chief defense” (the primary strategy for protecting oneself from threat). The anxious personality is then built upon this foundation, creating a “three dimensional, multi-sensory hologram” within which one can feel trapped and helpless.
Replete with processes that bring the theoretical background into technicolor, Deconstructing Anxiety provides a clear roadmap to resolving this human dilemma, paving the way to an ultimate and transcendent freedom. Therapists and laypeople alike will find this book essential in helping design a life of meaning, purpose and enduring fulfillment.

 Guest Post:

Todd Pressman Author of
Deconstructing Anxiety
Executive Coaching
Help for Businesses in These Difficult Times
Todd E. Pressman, Ph.D.
The Center for Management Excellence

The phenomenon of the Executive Coach has exploded on the scene in recent years.  As businesses have become ever-more focused on excellence, coaching programs have cropped up everywhere, to help increase productivity, cut costs, and build a dynamic workforce.  In these turbulent economic times, executives are recognizing the crucial role of the business coach for helping navigate the ordinary, and now extraordinary, challenges we all face.
Executive Coaching is considered the “sexy” new way for businesses to move through obstacles and advance toward excellence.  It employs strategies from popular psychology and motivational teachings to achieve what is sometimes called “Breakthrough Performance”--a qualitative and quantitative shift in a company's ability to reach its goals.   Executive coaching begins with such tasks as creating a mission statement, setting goals to achieve that mission, building motivation, developing accountability, and organizing networks of support.  But the real “gold” of Executive Coaching lies in its ability to help the executive develop a deep understanding of what drives the business—both the unhealthy behaviors causing its problems and the positive potentials that account for its successes.
 The power of this kind of insight is not to be underestimated.  A survey taken at our Center for Management Excellence (Pressman and Associates, 2007) showed that after our 6-month “Performance Breakthroughs” program, for example, sales increased by 55%, absenteeism was down by 50%, medical costs from stress-related problems decreased by 45%, job satisfaction shot up by 70%, employee morale increased almost two-and-a-half times, and the time it took to complete a project was estimated at 33% less than before the program.  More formal studies are beginning to emerge that further demonstrate the power of coaching to help businesses reach their goals (see, for example, Wasylyshyn, 2003; Smither et. al., 2003).  But the greatest testimony to the success of Executive Coaching is the increasingly long line of companies that are clamoring for “more”.

So why are so many hiring coaches?  To answer that, we must examine the need which gave rise to this movement in the first place.  The Executive Coach is actually a reincarnation of what used to be called the industrial psychologist, someone who would go into a business, study the environment, and come up with needs assessments, strategic designs, etc.   This was a valuable but limited service, not really offering much in the way of corrective action.  The next iteration came when Abraham Maslow developed his famous “hierarchy of needs”, putting “self-actualization” at the top of the pyramid.  The concept was quickly applied to the self-actualization of a business, pumping new energy into the idea of maximizing productivity and job satisfaction.   

At the same time, the personal growth movement was burgeoning, eventually leading to the arrival of the “life coach”.  People who wanted to reach their full potential recognized that, just like an Olympic athlete needs a coach to realize their goals, so can anyone benefit from this kind of support to achieve their own success.  It was a short leap from there to the idea of the Executive Coach who would provide help for businesses and the people who run them.  
In our supposedly enlightened age, there is still a stigma associated with the idea of hiring the services of a psychologist or counselor, and this is where the coaching phenomenon gained its foothold.  CEOs and managers could accept help from a coach—indeed, it would sound impressive to do so, implying the physical and mental prowess of the athlete in training—whereas the consensus thinking would look upon the need for a psychologist as an admission of weakness.  Our culture as a whole is moving away from a model of “pathology” (sickness) to a model of Excellence, no longer anchored down by the problems of the past but looking toward how to create a fulfilling future.  This is the new paradigm driving the spectacular momentum of coaching in the corporate world.

And so we come to the present.  The world of business was already fiercely competitive before our current economic troubles arrived.  In the face of such challenges, we all must ask the question: What is at the root of our problems? What can we do differently, how can we learn from past mistakes and—most of all—how can we turn these obstacles into opportunities?  The Executive Coach is someone uniquely trained to help a company answer these questions, someone who can help create a powerful action plan for breaking out of the rut of unhealthy patterns into a new paradigm of opportunity.  

The Chinese character for “crisis” is composed of two parts, one standing for “danger” and the other for “opportunity”.  Truly, the opportunity before us is to discover that the very problems we face hold the secret to our success...they are messengers of what doesn't work, pointing the way to what does.  The Executive Coach is the mouthpiece for these messages, the interpreter and translator of their secrets.  With the help of an Executive Coach, we may look with an intelligent and disciplined eye at the true source of our problems, to discover what is needed for correction.  This understanding holds the key to extraordinary performance.  It is the pathway to becoming unstoppable as we reach for the goals we have set for ourselves in business and in life.
Executive Coaching

Part Two: The Extraordinary Potential of Executive Coaching
and Important Pitfalls to Avoid
Todd E. Pressman, Ph.D.
Center for Management Excellence

In recent years, the field of Executive Coaching has been “growing like Topsy”.  This is a good thing in that it represents a new awareness that the secret to success lies in understanding the hidden forces that drive a business.  But there is a serious hazard in all this.  The momentum being gathered has become a bit like a train running too fast for its tracks, threatening to derail, as laypeople without training or credentials have been hanging up their shingles and calling themselves “coach”.  
The field of Executive Coaching is, to this day, unregulated.  Anybody's Aunt Mary is “allowed” to do it; and they do do it...with great conviction and authority.  True, there are some certification programs for coaching that are springing up, but most of these are created by uncredentialed people as well.  There are no standards, licensure requirements or other means to regulate the industry and protect the public.  One person billing herself as an executive coach even described her work as nothing more than “a kick in the pants”.  Clearly, this is not the kind of deep work that is going to move industrial America or even a single business forward.  

Furthermore, an untrained facilitator can actually do harm; more than once, I have seen at our Center  the “fallout” from coaching sessions led by untrained facilitators.  A case in point: The CEO of a management consulting company came to me after getting into real trouble with a coaching program she had taken.  She told me that every time she went into one of their sessions it was like going into a “hamburger press”.  When she first came to me, we quickly discovered she had a tendency to obsess about perfection.  The previous coach had unwittingly fostered this problem and created significant distress for this woman.  Together we worked through the faulty thinking that her perfectionism was healthy, and re-configured her whole idea of how one achieves success.  Ultimately, she was able to build a network of people to whom she could delegate that which she previously felt she had to do alone (“no one else can do it perfectly enough”), and this proved to be the missing ingredient for reaching her business goals.  By the next year, the company had increased its sales by a whopping 70%, and the other dimensions of productivity and satisfaction in the workplace similarly skyrocketed.

This is why, when choosing a coach, it is crucial to find someone with the appropriate credentials, training and experience.   An executive coach who also has the credentials of a licensed psychologist, professional counselor or clinical social worker, who comes from a well-established tradition of scientifically proven ways to help people maximize their potential, can easily avoid these pitfalls.  With the proper training in listening first, rather than advice-giving or mere motivation, this kind of coaching can evoke the hidden potential in another, serving as a true guide into the ways of self-actualization.  

So why not just hire a therapist and do away with the Executive Coach entirely?  There are some important differences between the two fields and, when Executive Coaching is done properly, it serves a valuable purpose with an exciting new perspective for helping businesses grow.  

In general it may be said that the difference between executive coaching and counseling is that coaching focuses exclusively on helping the client define and clarify goals, and then take the actions needed to reach those goals with power and with purpose. The chief "work" of coaching is to vigorously move through the obstacles to these goals, such that real results may be achieved within a specified timeframe.  It emphasizes the importance of accountability, again, as a way to keep one on track and on deadline.

Counseling, on the other hand, usually involves some form of insight and uses this insight to “transform cognitions” (i.e.  change one's thoughts).  (This is, of course, a gross oversimplification but suits our purposes here).  Where coaching might provide alternative thoughts, using motivation to get these thoughts to “stick”, counseling transforms them at the root (therefore, the need for insight) so they are truly replaced.  Counseling is usually reserved for those seeking fundamental change at the deep level, and involves a comprehensive overhaul of a person's or business's functioning.  Coaching, on the other hand, focuses more on attacking a specific set of problems.  It therefore doesn't expect to create the same sweeping change at the core level, and is more solution-focused.

The problem with counseling is that it takes time, a great deal of determination and commitment.  The advantage of coaching is that it is faster, empowering and comparatively “easy”.  But that doesn't mean that coaching is better.  In fact, I believe coaching cannot work to make real change unless it is combined with a certain degree of the kind of insight that counseling provides.  Slapping a new thought on top of one that is deeply held and powerfully entrenched will never work.  As one of my coaching clients once said, “that would be like putting frosting on garbage”.

About the Author:
TODD E. PRESSMAN, Ph.D., is a psychologist dedicated to helping people design lives of fulfillment. He is the founder and director of Logos Wellness Center and Pressman and Associates Life Counseling Center. An international speaker and seminar leader, he has presented at the Omega Institute, the New York Open Center, and numerous professional conferences, including the prestigious Council Grove Conference, sponsored by the Menninger Foundation. He has written dozens of articles, educational programs, and two highly acclaimed books, Radical Joy: Awakening Your Potential for True Fulfillment and The Bicycle Repair Shop: A True Story of Recovery from Multiple Personality Disorder. He earned his doctorate in psychology from the Saybrook Institute and an undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania, has studied under renowned leaders in the Consciousness movement and Gestalt therapy, and has traveled around the world to study the great Wisdom traditions, from Zen Buddhism to fire-walking ceremonies, providing a cross-cultural perspective of the extraordinary capacities of the mind and spirit. He makes his home in Philadelphia.
Connect with the author:   Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram
Tour Schedule:

Jan 13 – Working Mommy Journal – book spotlight
Jan 13 - Rockin' Book Reviews – book spotlight / guest post
Jan 13 - To Thine Own Shelf – book spotlight
Jan 13 - Reading Authors Network – book spotlight
Jan 13 - From the TBR Pile - book spotlight / guest post
Jan 14 – b for bookreview – book spotlight / author interview
Jan 14 - Everyday Gyaan – book spotlight / author interview
Jan 15 – The Clipped Nightingale – book spotlight / author interview
Jan 16 – A Mama's Corner of the World – book spotlight
Jan 20 – Sefina Hawke's Books – book spotlight
Jan 21 – – book spotlight
Jan 22 – eBook Addicts – book spotlight
Jan 23 – Locks, Hooks and Books – book spotlight
Jan 23 - Bookmark and fork – book spotlight / guest post
Jan 24 – Laura's Interests - book spotlight / guest post
Jan 28 – Tabi Thoughts – book spotlight / author interview
Jan 29 – Library of Clean Reads – book spotlight / author interview
Jan 30 – Books for Books – book spotlight
Feb 3 – Celticlady's Reviews – book spotlight
Fab 4 – Literary Flits – book spotlight
Feb 5 – I Love A Good Book – book spotlight
Feb 6 – StoreyBook Reviews – book spotlight / guest post


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