Each of us enters into romantic relationships never believing that they could turn abusive or unhealthy. It is inevitable that there will be times of sadness, tension, or outright anger between you and your partner. Disagreements in a relationship are not only normal but, if constructively resolved, actually strengthen the relationship. The following will help you to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy relationship expectations:

These are the  signs of an unhealthy relationship:

  • Your partner gets jealous if you go places without them.
  • They make you choose between them and your family and friends.
  • They criticize you and put you down.
  • They constantly check up on you.
  • They try to control what you do and who you see.
  • They get angry when you talk to someone else.
  • They may even blame you for their abusive behavior.


In healthy relationships, people respect each other. 

You have the right:

  • To express your opinions and have them be respected.
  • To have your needs be as important as your partner’s needs.
  • To have separate interests and activities.
  • To be valued and appreciated.
  • To grow and develop to your fullest potential.
  • To change your mind and never be physically, verbally or sexually abused. 

Building healthy patterns early in your relationship can establish a solid foundation for the long run. Where critical differences do exist in your expectations, needs, or opinions, try to work honestly and sincerely to negotiate. Seek professional help early rather than waiting until the situation becomes critical.




Are You Always Late?

March 29, 2012

You are not alone.  The problem of tardiness affects young and old, male and female, wealthy and poor.  Oh, I know there are all kinds of excuses and each one sounds plausible at the time, but sooner or later the truth starts to set in.

People learn not to take you seriously because, frankly, they feel that you don’t take them seriously.  People can see through the excuses especially if there is a repetitive pattern over time.  Chronic tardiness affects not only the way others see you, but also the way in which you see yourself.  It compromises your integrity.

The causes of tardiness can be understood and helped by considering a few underlying issues.  One of those is rationalizing your behavior.  For instance, a person who is late may blame others or minimize the impact of their lateness (Gee, I was only 15 minutes late, why are you so  angry, what’s the big deal anyway?). Rationalizing prevents us from seeing the reality of the situation and therefore prevents us from making changes.

Another issue may be trying to squeeze too many activities into the time you have available.  Our society places  a great premium on staying busy and busy people are seen as more productive and successful. However, studies show that continuously staying busy simply creates unneeded stress.  We need down time interspersed with busy periods throughout our day.  Arriving a little early to a meeting and sitting with nothing to do can prepare you to focus more clearly on the meeting ahead.

Then there are those that seek stimulation and don’t get going until there is a deadline.  When we are running late, our anxiety builds, the adrenaline flows, and we feel alive. Being late is only one way to achieve this stimulation.  You can learn other more productive ways to enliven your experiences.  A regular exercise program is one way of doing this.

Some of us just find it diffucult to accept limitations, consequences and boundaries.  How we learned to manage responsibilies in childhood and the expectations from family influence the way we structure our activities in adulthood.  The unstructured life, although it may feel pleasant, can carry a huge price.

An additional factor that might be associated with punctuality is distractible.  For example, people with attention deficit disorder have problems with their punctuality. Also, some people play power games.  If they can make others wait for them, it gives them a false sense of power and control.

Explore the causes of your tardiness and come to understand how it has become a problem.  A professional therapist can help clarify the issues with you.  With a positive attitude, a willingness to change, and some motivation, you should be able to have a successful outcome.

Emotional Wellness Newsletter

Today many people are facing stressors that have reached a new level of intensity.

Gone are the days of dealing with just work related stress or relationship tension.  Now more and more people are facing the extreme circumstances related to layoffs, foreclosures and bankruptcy.  Even if its not happening to you directly, you may still be feeling the stress of having it happen around you and not knowing where it will all lead. 

By practicing stress-reducing activities, you can keep your body from going into chronic-stress mode, thereby maintaining increased health and wellness. 

To lower your stress in a matter of minutes try deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, hobbies, or journaling.

Take care of your body during stressful times with healthy eating, better sleep, and increased exercise.

Much of your experience of stress has to do with your attitude and perceptions.  Maintain a positive attitude with optimism, a sense of humor, letting go of stressful thoughts and socializing with friends and family.  Try to take action or make decisions in areas when you do have some control.

If you need further assistance seek help and guidance from other professionals in your area.


March 26, 2012

Major Depression occurs when feelings of extreme sadness or despair last for at least two weeks or longer and when they interfere with daily living such as social and working activities, sleeping, appetite, and energy.  Depressed individuals tend to feel helpless and hopeless and some may have thoughts of death or suicide.

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Diminished ability to enjoy oneself
  • Loss of energy and interest
  • Difficulty concentrating, indecisiveness, slowed or fuzzy thinking
  • Feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt
  • Decreased or increased sleep and/or appetite
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Recurring thoughts of death

Three other forms of depression: 

Post-Partum Depression is linked to hormonal changes following the birth of a child.  This can be a serious form of depression, sometimes with psychotic features, but most sufferers respond well to treatment.

Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD is found among those who are sensitive to the shorter days or winter, especially those who live at northern latitudes.

Dysthymia is another common form of depressive disorder.  This involves having chronic, long-lasting symptoms of depression, that occur more days than not, for at least a period of two years.  The symptoms are not as severe as in Major Depression, but prevent a person from functioning at top capacity or from feeling good. 

Symptoms of dysthymia include:

  • Poor appetite or overeating
  • Lack of sleep or oversleeping
  • Low self-esteem
  • Poor concentration or difficulty making decision
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Fatigue or low energy

American Psychological Association:  Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition-TR.  Washington D.C., 2000.



The Process of Therapy

March 26, 2012

Part of the process of therapy is to find your own truth, not what someone else has told you, but to decide for yourself and then to own those parts of yourself.  Seeking the truth and telling your truth can be very liberating.

In therapy, you are supposed to get helpful information from someone who does not have an emotional stake in the outcome.  Your therapist should not be confused with your best friend.  You need to work with someone who does not foster dependence but rather helps you learn how to trust yourself to ask and answer difficult questions to find what works for you.  

If you were my client you would have the answers to these questions:  What are my obstacles? What patterns do I tend to repeat? What are my triggers? How has my past impacted who I am today? What are my defenses?


Careful What You Choose

March 26, 2012

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”  Eleanor Roosevelt

My daughter recently shared this quote with me and I thought what a powerful statement of fact.  We so often blame others for what we feel or why we react the way we do.  The truth is we are constantly choosing our own options, both positive and negative, along the way.  Look within and ask yourself, “Why did I choose that, what are my other options, and what can I do that will bring inner peace?”  You are responsible.  You may not be responsible for what has happened to you, but you are responsible for how you feel and how you choose to react to it.

Couples Counseling

March 23, 2012

Marriage, Relationship and Family Counseling may be of benefit to you if you or your family has experienced difficulties such as:

  • communication problems
  • infidelity
  • sexual problems
  • balancing the demands of home and work
  • misbehavior or school problems in a child
  • the loss of a family member
  • childhood traumas
  • conflicts in blended or remarriage families
  • step-parenting problems
  • family violence, or
  • substance abuse

Understanding the sources of conflict in your relationship is one step towards resolving the differences between you.  Looking within and accepting who you are – and then sharing this with your partner – is healing.  It is a way to wholeness, both personally and as a couple. 

Couples counseling can enhance your relationship by learning skills such as effective communication, conflict resolution, assertiveness, intimacy, and time management.  Couples counseling can also help to reveal the obstacles that block the development of a deeper sense of intimacy between you.  Couples can learn to move into the stage of deeper sharing and more fulfillment in their relationships. 


The longer I work in this field, the more I believe that good therapy should consist of a few basic essentials. 

A strong relationship, a clear and honest dialogue, a safe place for experiencing strong emotion, time to reflect in depth and challenge old beliefs, insight into patterns and dynamics, the ability to tolerate frustration to work through the discomfort of change (yes, even good change can be uncomfortable at first), a strong focus on appropriate goals, and a place where personal responsibility is encouraged and dependency is discouraged.

The therapist needs to have a working knowledge of the prominent aspects of a number of therapuetic approaches including  – family systems, psychodynamic, developmental, cognitive-behavioral and existential. Transformation will happen when one is allowed to ask and answer individual questions in a safe environment and tap into their own undeniable intuition and truth.


What can families do to emerge stronger than ever during these difficult financial times?  The families that tend to do best discuss their problems openly and work together to find solutions.   

Have family meetings.  Share ideas on how to economize within your own family.

And then, help each other to learn to live within the family budget.

Find age-appropriate ways for children to contribute to the good of the family. Let them help out with household chores.  Continue to make sure that they do well in school.  Keeping family rules and routines are especially important during stressful times as they provide stability and reassurance to children.

Let this be an opportunity for the family to come together to explore options and solve problems for the benefit of the family.  Working together will help to relieve emotional distress, increase a sense of control over the situation, and bring families closer together.