Friday, June 12, 2015
Is one of your reasons for starting therapy because every approach you’ve tried in a particular relationship increases your frustration, hurt, and sadness?
And after explaining your outlook and reasoning to this person many times, the relationship patterns are still the same?
Therapy will give your sincere and heartfelt effort and concern, a new direction.
Step One is accepting the profound realization that you are only able to change yourself.
Despite your many good ideas and earnest care, the other person in the relationship, whether partner, sibling, adult child, any meaningful family member, may not want to understand your point, or want to agree with it.
The deeper problem is not necessarily that you have bad ideas or that the other person is intentionally being difficult.
The discontent you are facing in the stressed relationship, is a pathway to knowing more about your own standards and satisfactions in relating.
If you are upset because the other person does not accept your suggestions, instead of inwardly disapproving, utilize this feeling of rejection as a sign of how highly you value that your advice is followed.
If the other person criticizes what you consider key points in your value system, then allow yourself to appreciate that you have a clear value system.
If the other person dismisses your feelings, then this is your moment to be even more aware that your emotions are a way to express yourself.
All of these interactions are painful and tiring to some degree.
Your reason for talking with a therapist is to stabilize and ground your perspective, believe in your right to be who you are, and strengthen your confidence in handling your part in a relationship that is currently stressed, and any relationship that develops in your world.
Sherry Katz, LCSW is clinically trained in systems relational therapy, and practices marriage and family therapy in her solo practice located in Ridgewood, NJ. Comments and questions are welcome. www.newviewsfamilytherapy.com
Thursday, December 4, 2014
Smoke a joint … Drink a shot of tequila … Eat a donut … Get angry … Worry … Run on a treadmill … Climb a mountain ... Hunt for a fashion bargain.
You can get “high” by ingesting a substance, activating a thought, or moving the body in a way that triggers a chemical reaction leading to a feeling of “high.”
Until you are comfortable NOT being “high” you will search and find how to get “high.” You might stop drinking alcohol but find yourself reaching for more sweets. When you are unable to exercise you might become agitated, start shopping, drink alcohol, caffeine, or soda.
Do you think you have an addiction/motivation/discipline problem with alcohol, food, anger, worry, spending? Are you are interested in eliminating unhealthy substances and processes that make you “high?” Good! However, until you are willing and able to be “NOT HIGH” you might find yourself seeking other forms of getting “high.”
This week, I invite you to consider how you might feel “NOT HIGH:”
Confused? Embarrassed? Out of control? Terrified? Lonely? Edgy? Depressed? Anxious? Calm? Bored? Unimportant?
These are the experiences that might require understanding and attention before you stop thinking, “Let’s get high!”
Julie Davis uncovers and clears up deeply embedded beliefs and unresolved emotions that keeppeople stuck (www.juliedavismft.com). She also coaches people how to stay clear, calm and strategic in everyday life with healthy ways of thinking, feeling and behaving (www.rapidresolutiontherapy.com). Get free weekly insight and guidance by joining Julie’s Tuesday Email service (text JULIETUESDAY to 22828). Julie is a Certified Rapid Resolution Therapist, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (North Carolina, California, New York), Board Certified Hypnotherapist, and New Life Network Christian Counselor (www.newlife.com). 704-807-1101.
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
At the dinner table, we said, “Hey, pass the stew,” and “Give me the gravy when you’re done.” We didn’t say “Please” and we didn’t say “Thank you.” We talked over each other and cut each other off. Conversations were loud and there was a lot of joking and making fun of each other.
My first dinner date with my future husband was almost the last (I found out years later…).
At his dinner table, they said, “Please, when you can, pass the stew. Thank you. Are you sure you are done?” and “Would you like more? Can I get you anything? I’m fine. Thank you. Please take the last roll.” They talked in turn and listened patiently. Conversations were soft and light – usually about something outside of the room.
My language was interpreted initially as rude and crude. His language was boring and superficial to me. It’s amazing we had a second date!
But we took the time to ask questions and discovered that the language was different but the intention the same. We both wanted to be heard and understood and were interested in hearing and understanding each other. So we created our own language. He became bolder in expressing raw thoughts and feelings and I became softer and added “Please” and “Thank you” to my vocabulary.
What language is comfortable for you? If you feel “in conflict” with someone (child, boss, spouse, employee, friend, etc) take a moment to consider:
This person isn’t purposefully rude/avoidant/loud/dismissive/disrespectful; he/she just speaks a different language. Underneath this language is someone wanting to be heard and understood and accepted.
If this person is interested (it takes two to communicate and grow closer) then initiate a discussion on how YOU can learn his/her language:
What do I say that makes you feel closer to/more distant from me?
What can I say that would make you feel closer to me?
Listen to the answers. Say “Thank-you.” Work together. Create a new language that works for both of you.
Julie Davis uncovers and clears up deeply embedded beliefs and unresolved emotions that keep people stuck (www.rapidresolutiontherapy.com). She also coaches people how to stay clear, calm and strategic in everyday life with healthy ways of thinking, feeling and behaving (www.juliedavismft.com). Get free weekly insight and guidance by joining Julie’s Tuesday Email service. Send “subscribe” in subject line to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Julie is a Certified Rapid Resolution Therapist, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (North Carolina, California; New York), Board Certified Hypnotherapist, and New Life Network Christian Counselor (www.newlife.com). 704-807-1101.
Monday, July 14, 2014
Consider this week that everything coming at you - anger, fear, judgment, criticism, avoidance - isn't personal; that it has a story behind it:
-Spouse's anger might really be fear about his job.
-Child's resistance might actually be a natural development towards individuation.
-Boss's criticism might be rooted in his fear of being criticized by his boss.
-Neighbor's avoidance of your "dog poop" letter might be he's busy taking care of sick grandma.
The only way to know is to ask. This week - instead of getting defensive, offended, scared, angry - ask for the story behind the story.
Julie Davis uncovers and clears up deeply embedded beliefs and unresolved emotions that keep people stuck (www.rapidresolutiontherapy.com). She also coaches people how to stay clear, calm and strategic in everyday life with healthy ways of thinking, feeling and behaving (www.juliedavismft.com). Get free weekly insight and guidance by joining Julie’s Tuesday Email service. Send “subscribe” in subject line to: email@example.com. Julie is a Certified Rapid Resolution Therapist, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (North Carolina, California; New York – pending), Board Certified Hypnotherapist, and New Life Network Christian Counselor (www.newlife.com). 704-807-1101.
Friday, July 4, 2014
I have had the privilege of working with patients who have had sexual trauma early in their lives, either as children or young adults. As a result of this opportunity, I have come to believe that it can be important for some who have experienced such a terrible experience, either once or over time, to work with a therapist of the same gender as the abuser. While I do not, in any way, believe that anyone should seek the advice of a therapist with whom they would experience immediate discomfort, I am of the deep conviction that a healing relationship with a therapist of the same gender as the abuser could help to lift the limitations a patient might feel with regard to letting themselves be available for a meaningful relationship with another person.
Such a venture is a very tender process, involving time and an openness of expression that could help a patient be liberated of old fears while becoming wise about how to best take care of themselves in situations that, after working through the trauma, might otherwise make them too anxious to allow involvement. This is the process of moving from the position of victim to permission to thrive, perhaps on an even higher level than even the patient might have allowed themselves to consider.
As with any patient I see, my approach is collaborative. If a patient is too uncomfortable with the work we are doing, I change my approach to take their feelings into account. If the work just feels like it is "too much", we take a break. No one should feel like a prisoner to the therapeutic endeavor.
I invite people who have had such difficult experiences to consider what, to some of my colleagues, seems a radical approach. I would hope that the discovery would be that there is nothing to lose but some time.
Gil Bliss is a Licensed Certified Social Worker-Clinical (LCSW-C) with a private psychotherapy practice in Towson, Maryland. Gil has worked with a wide variety of patients, including individuals, couples and families, along with grief work with children. His web site is www.gblisscounselor.com.
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
I am not a therapist, but I am a certified WRAP and NAMI instructor and I teach people with mental health issues and their families how to not only cope with, but rise above the challenges that people with mental health issues face.
My interest in mental health is from a strong family history of people who have either been diagnosed with mental health issues or those who clearly exhibit behaviors consistent with a diagnosis, but do not believe they have issues.
Those who have sought out treatment (both medical and therapeutic) definitely cope with life on a much higher level than those who have not. You are probably all too familiar with the reasons people choose or refuse to get care.
What I can testify to is that those who consistently monitor their behavior and track it to their lifestyle habits are acutely aware of how important our lifestyle choices are to living a ‘normal’ life.
So how do you accomplish this? Stay tuned…. Each week into February we will explore together tips and suggestions to supplement the care you are currently receiving to make sure you manage your condition instead of it managing you!
Cheryl Johnson is a certified NAMI and WRAP instructor and regularly teaches courses that provide families and individuals who face mental health challenges information to help them lead full and satisfying lives. To get more information on Cheryl’s work or programs you can be in touch with Cheryl at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
While often people acknowledge professional therapy creates gains in self-awareness, more confidence handling relationships, and improved ability to manage stress, how these results are achieved appears mysterious.
What key factors in the conversation happen during a therapy session, which inspire confidence and awareness in the patient, which were previously either weak or lacking?
From years of clinical practice, I summarize the way a therapist listens and responds to a patient, as “bi-lateral listening”. A therapist who helps you reach desired change, listens with both their mind and their heart.
Hearing past the words, gives your therapist a read on your emotions. If someone tells a story that includes major life shifts, and is matter of fact while doing so, a therapist may ask a question that lifts these shy emotions into the therapeutic dialogue. By giving more attention to emotions and identifying and elaborating on them during a therapy session, the patient learns how to know and explain their feelings.
The flip side usage of bi-lateral listening is if a patient during a session talks almost exclusively about their feelings and has little understanding of when feelings arise and how they are effecting both the patient and people in the patient’s life. In this case a therapist most likely would hear the emotions and speak to the cognitive processing of the patient. Your therapist may ask questions that help you collect information and theorize on how you are responding to the ways you express yourself.
As you and your therapist repeat this basic listening process during your therapy sessions, you’ll notice greater balance in your own approach and dialogues in your everyday repertoire with others. What starts developing and strengthening is your awareness of the vastness and complexity of your emotions and thoughts, and your ability to moderate when to express your emotions and when to express your thoughts. You may surprise yourself one day with how naturally you articulate feelings in situations you did not know you had any!
You may notice as well, yourself taking a new path in conversation rather than a debilitating emotional rerun. This will be your magical moment of recognizing the rewards of working with a professional talk therapist.
Sherry Katz, LCSW is clinically trained in systems relational therapy, and practices marriage and family therapy in her solo practice located in Ridgewood, NJ. Comments and questions are welcome.
Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Couples counseling requires a balancing act in order to work well. If one person feels slighted or picked upon, the overall work is compromised. You don’t want to feel that the person who is supposed to be helping you is siding with your partner.
Typically, the subject that your partner and you disagree on feels crucial. Both people are bringing strong emotions to the discussion. For example, if you’re arguing about the frequency of sexual intimacy, one partner may feel very strongly that sex isn’t important enough to the other partner. This partner may feel rejected and undesirable as a result. The partner who looks like he/she is avoiding sex might be experiencing increased stress in daily life and may feel overwhelmed generally. The emotions this partner holds on a day-to-day basis can be debilitating. Is one person “right” and the other person “wrong”? No.
Both people are affected negatively by this disconnect in the relationship. The counselor might want them to talk to each other in the counseling session about their feelings on the topic, to explore the significance of sex, perhaps to even try some problem-solving around this subject. The counselor might help the couple build upon their knowledge of each other and their friendship. The relationship may exhibit other issues that could lead the counselor to work with the couple in building specific skills to improve the relationship. Additionally, do other factors exist that affect the sexual aspect of their relationship—medical problems, substance abuse, depression? These factors would need to be addressed as well.
In most cases, there is no “right” or “wrong” person. Counselors can look at the process of how the couple relates. Counselors can help couples focus on resolvable issues, rather than perpetual issues. Counselors can help couples learn new skills and improve upon existing skills.
Counselors that help couples transform how they relate to each other, stand a great chance of helping couples gain the knowledge to improve their relationship and love fully.
Anita M. O’Donnell, M.Ed., LPCMH, NCC provides individual and couples counseling in Wilmington, Delaware through her company SuccessWorks Unlimited, Inc. She also offers telephonic and face-to-face coaching. Ms. O’Donnell earned her M.Ed. from Temple University in Philadelphia in 1991. You can follow her at www.facebook.com/YourBestLifeToday and through her website www.successworksunltd.com.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
When someone says, “She (or he) is just a friend,” this generally means the relationship is not romantic, not sexual and not too intimate. It is also understood to mean, “You need not take this too seriously.”
On the other hand we sometimes hear someone say in a reverent way about a spouse, or a partner, “He (or she) is my best friend.” This is saying, “Yes, lots of people are married, lots of people have sex and live together, but what we share is a special trust, support and a rich love.”
What does it take to have this rich enviable friendship? For a start it takes risking being open about one’s feelings, being gently honest about what one thinks and does, being able to deal with disagreements in a relatively calm manner and being able to negotiate differences.
Unfortunately these skills are rarely taught in childhood. Instead many of us learned not to trust because we found caregivers not safe, not trustworthy and it was not smart to trust. Suspicion and fear are often survival skills in childhood but as an adult they can impede love. To learn how to be a true friend and how to choose someone trustworthy may take relearning in a safe environment.
In effective relationship therapy you may learn techniques, like how to let another person know that you heard what they said by repeating what you think you heard back to them and checking to see if you are correct. You may learn certain "no-no's" like telling someone they "should" do or be a different way. That is a sure way to create distance in a relationship very quickly, almost as fast as by telling someone they are stupid. These things certainly do not gain intimacy.
But most effective may be observing the therapist's style and emotional tone. Or you may notice that the therapist may see things very differently from the way you have seen them and wonder what he sees that you don't. You may explore why your partner's comments are so upsetting to you. What does it remind you of in your history? It can be very helpful to have a wise and experienced guide to do this and feel safe.
Gil Shepard is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Walnut Creek, California