DEA Meeting: Dr. Paul Chafetz, PhD

Chris Clausen, CNC Home Care introduced Dr. Paul Chafetz.  Chris has known Dr. Paul, psychologist, for 28 years and describes him as a great man who is compassionate, empathetic, and an active listener who is involved in so many things!  He has listened to needs in the community and helped development programs to meet those needs.  The majority of services Dr. Paul provides, everyone can use at some time in their life.  He is an easy referral!

Dr. Paul Chafetz said he loves being a psychologist, but it’s not easy – everyone feels this compulsion to tell him their latest psychology jokes – that are not funny at all!  For instance, the other day a friend insisted on telling him the following joke.  There was a psychologist with a very busy practice and one day as he was swamped with patients, his receptionist buzzed him and said, “Doctor there is a man here with an emergency, and he wants an appointment with you right away because he thinks that he is invisible.” The psychologist says, “Tell him I can’t see him right now.”  See…the jokes are not funny!!

Dr. Paul received his Bachelors in Psychology from Brown University, his PhD in Clinical Psychology from University of Florida; he then did a one year internship at Duke University Medical Center in Clinical and Health Psychology and finished with a two-year post-doctoral fellowship at T.R.I.M.S in the Houston Medical Center.  He opened his private practice for clinical psychology when he arrived in Dallas in 1982, working part-time until 2003 when it became full-time.  Along the way he taught psychology at Texas Women’s University for 1.5 years and taught as an associate professor at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center for 19 years.

One secret that psychologists know is that life is hard!  There are many scrapes and scratches along the way. Just like an old baseball, your hide gets worn and your stitches become torn in life.  It is his belief that life’s struggles and dilemma’s give us so much opportunity to learn.  We learn from living and grow from learning.  Whatever adjustment life is asking us to make, our job is to grow into our challenges.  This is normal psychological human development…and it’s his job to help people do just that!

Dr. Paul’s work deals with 4 areas of expertise:

  1. Psychotherapy : patients who have an instant response reflex to certain specific situations in life
  2. CODOP (Children of Difficult Older Parents) : loving difficult relatives
  3. Forensic Psychology : application of psychological science to the law; specifically evaluating mental capacity
  4. Mental Readiness for life after work : be it through retiring or selling one’s business

The foundation of steps 2-4 is Dr. Paul’s availability to help each patient progress through life and complete the transitions to their next stage in life, which he calls a Psycho-Therapeutic Approach.

Now back to his main area of expertise, Psychotherapy. For these people, particular situations touch a nerve, or trigger an unpleasant emotion because of a painful past experience that left a wound.  The brain remembers the painful past experience, whether we like it or not – it is automatic.  This memory is called an implicit memory.  The result is a residual “button” that can last a lifetime.  These buttons are usually not conscious, we are not aware of the connection between the past experience and the present experience.  This sort of painful sensitivity can easily block a person from effectively coping with any related current life challenge.  Some people may have just one button, but more commonly people have several buttons.  Dr. Paul’s uses the following process with his patients.

  1. Slowing Down
  2. Looking Inside
  3. Discovering the roots of the feelings
  4. Examining and Understanding the past events and the players in them
  5. Finding Compassion

Dr. Paul discussed Contrasting Marital Sequences showing how one sample interaction creates friction and unhappiness in a marriage, and how a simple change in the interaction leads to harmony and happiness instead.

Dr. Paul also discussed Self Optimization Strategies, mainly for young adults.

  1. Orient yourself toward the future
  2. Manage your time wisely
  3. Protect your financial health
  4. Maintain your body/health
  5. Connect
  6. Keep Growing

Dr. Paul sees his patients and himself as a Therapeutic Team, together they move the patient into his/her future better equipped to succeed in life!

Besides his 20 years of teaching, Dr. Paul has served 2 terms as President of Dallas Psychological Association, created his website content, public speaking, podcasts, blogs, and vlogs and of course his book “Loving Hard-to-Love Parents”.  He gets a secret thrill when clients bring in their own copy of the book with notes all over it!

Lastly, Dr. Paul is fascinated by the ways adults create meaning in their lives – what is more fundamental to our contentment that meaning? Below are 10 major strategies to Create Meaning by Always Growing:

  1. Learning
  2. Helping Others
  3. Creating
  4. Producing
  5. Experiencing
  6. Loving
  7. Self-Awareness
  8. Self-Management
  9. Spirituality
  10. ???? he’s looking for a 10th one if anyone has any suggestions!

Leads welcomed by Dr. Paul:

Direct Client Referrals: anyone age 21 and up with emotional distress or facing a dilemma in living.

Connection to Referral Sources: introduction to your doctor, clergy, or attorney

Outreach: forward and recommend his book to friends and family of all ages, anyone in journalism or other media

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