John Sommers-Flanagan

John Sommers-Flanagan is a counselor educator at The University of Montana. For more information on counseling, psychotherapy, parenting, or clinical assessment, check out his blog at

  • Boys Will Be Boys . . . Unless We Teach Them Something Better

    Dec 18, 2013
    Some of you may already be aware of Rosalind Wiseman’s work. She initially became recognized as a national parenting authority with the publication of her popular book, “Queen Bees and Wannabees” (2003). This book inspired the movie “Mean Girls.” Despite her lack of academic credentials (a B.A. in Political Science from Occidental College), she has done some good work around the topic of girl bullying.
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  • Why Big Boys Should Cry

    Mar 13, 2013
    Aaron was asleep on the couch in my office. I decided not to wake him, even though I don't advocate napping during counseling. But Aaron had just spent several minutes intensely sobbing and unable to speak and so a short nap seemed reasonable.
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  • Secrets of the Miracle Question in Counseling: Part I

    Dec 04, 2012
    You might want to sit down because this could take a while. Developed in the 1970s by Insoo Kim Berg and Steven de Shazer, the miracle question has become a very popular therapy intervention. It’s standard fare for solution-focused therapists and has been written about extensively. In 2004, Linda Metcalf wrote a whole book about it and in 2010 Ryan Howes of Psychology Today declared it the #10 most “cool” intervention in psychotherapy.
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  • The Classroom Swat and Why I Don’t Believe in Spanking

    Jun 25, 2012
    Mr. Carter was 6’2” and so I had to look up 14 inches to make glancing eye contact one last time before he said, “Grab your ankles.” Then I bent over. Then there was a loud pop. And then . . . the searing burn. It was my first and last classroom swat. I stood up quickly. I stuck out my chest and held my head high. I knew from watching the swat routine previously that it was all about the walk back to your seat. Don't strut too much. Don't smile or Mr. Carter might call you back for an encore. But keep your poise, don't look defeated, and never, ever cry.
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  • Ambivalently Thinking about Resistance (or Reluctance) in Counseling

    Jun 11, 2012
    Lately I’ve come to the point where I’m not completely comfortable using the word “resistant” when referring to clients. Given my psychoanalytic training roots, that’s a considerable shift. This shift has inspired me to reflect a bit on the phenomenon that we used to so blithely refer to as resistance.
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