More clients have had thoughts of suicide
this year in my psychotherapy office than in the last five years. I’m not scared for them, but as a fellow traveler, I grieve for those contemplating suicide. One woman comes in and clutches a peacock pillow. In the early Spring a depressed client comes and sips chamomile/ginger tea. I want them to enter the door and curl up in comfort on a sofa. We talk about their losses, gratitude, and personal strengths in a warm den of softness.
Climb Away from Danger
Suicide behavior is an act of desperation.
Fear of the future and hopelessness grip our young people. Many don’t expect to raise children, many can’t plan the next 10 years. “I would go off of birth control tomorrow, but will my children end up living in some kind of dystopia?” Because of climate change, the Earth is becoming more and more inhospitable and disaster looms more imminently.
I’m remembering two graduate students who bravely came into therapy. They resiliently crawled away from the suicide precipice. Continue reading
Why do women put on weight after they get married?
I have recently had some clients moan about their extra pounds. This can be depressing but it’s common.
In the first 10 years of marriages women in the US happily married gain an average of 37 lbs., while those unhappily married gain 54 lbs. So choose your food and your mate wisely.
Over 6,000 Australian women were studied by Professor Annette Dobson. The 10-year weight gain for a married woman was 15 lbs if she had a partner but not a child, and 20 lbs. if she was married with a baby. Marriage is linked to increased BMI (body mass index) for men and women of all ethnic groups. In North Carolina a study found that married men and women in their early 20s gained 6 – 9 more pounds than single peers. Continue reading
How can couples work through their problems?
Solving Problems Together
To make a commitment to another person is more than a business contract. Whether you are legally married or involved in a serious relationship, it takes attention and work to make decisions. Where will you live? How much money do you need? How do you pay the bills and divide the tasks of living together? Will you raise children together? What holidays will you celebrate together? For a couple who is forming into marriage or living together, who will be your family, or your ‘peeps.’ Continue reading
As a therapist, I work with abusers and victims
, though not at the same time. Nor does anyone fall into an easy category. No one is blameless. Often violence like an addiction breeds on itself.
We’ve been hearing about the NFL
and Ray Rice’s bludgeoning assault on his wife, Janay (née Palmer). Not only is it shocking the Rice punched and kicked his wife unconscious, but Rice showed a complete lack of care or remorse for her as she’s lying bleeding by the elevator. He also beat her up several years ago. They got married the next day. He did it once without serious consequences, are you surprised that the marital violence continued? Continue reading
As a therapist I sometimes analyze what possessed Djhokhar Tsarnaev
, now accused of setting off the bombings on April 15. I did meet him a few times when he was 16 at the Cambridge high school. He came to the US
at the age of 9 from Chechnya; after a
Boston and gay pride
divorce the mother left the Tsarnaev brothers to live in Russia. His fate is wrapped up with hundreds of injured people. I cannot excuse what he did.
I work with families who come from war-torn countries. Some in my practice are Latinos, some are Ethiopians. I have clients who fled from FARC militants and families who have applied for asylum in the US. Many refugees are escaping horrific violence from Haiti and Salvador and Sudan. When my curious sons entered high school, I realized that our cities can be a war zone for teenagers. Many teens are harassed by gangs after school: they are intimidated and paralyzed. An armed police officer was employed at the high school, where some boys were told to leave the school for carrying knives.
Have you ever felt tethered with a short Leash to a whining child?
Richard Foster informed despairing parents,
“A dear friend of mine, Lymon James is a radio disc jockey. On the radio he’s called “Rhymin’ Lymon.” Lymon has a son, Zachary. One afternoon when Zachary was three years old, Lymon decided to take Zach on an outing. They went for some walks and visited some shops.
But it was one of those days, when nothing seems to go right. Zachary was fussing and fuming. Lymon tried everything. He tried to discipline him, and that didn’t work. He tried to bribe him: he gave him candy, and that didn’t work. He did somesaults in the park, and that definitely didn’t work. Lymon was a renowned radio genius, but the 3 year old was winning the battle. Lymon felt deflated. The boy wouldn’t be distracted and kept whining and sniffling for no obvious reason.
I love my work
, and I know this work delves deep into who I am. When I first started to do counseling with couples, I studied complicated techniques like Milton Ericson’s hypnosis, and Virginia Satir’s work on anxiety that burrows inside your body. I watched in amazement 15 years ago as trauma was eliminated with EMDR
(Eye Movement Reprocessing by Shapiro). I then studied with Judith Herman who wrote “the Book” on
healing after acute trauma. One never gets bored with the study of family therapy. Consider these requests by parents:
- “Can you cure children suffering from enuresis?”
- “What happens when my partner uses spyware on my computer?”
- “When I suspect Janelle’s using drugs and she denies it, should I sureptiously read her journal?”
It is my pleasure to help families, but I don’t take credit for curing the problem. Therapy can help make crushing schedules more bearable; realign the meridians of power among parents and children; get parents paddling in synch instead of rowing against each other. The stress level and complicated after school activities packs in too many expectations. Headaches and stomachaches can give cues as to whether stress is high. In therapy I deal with the irritating pebble in the shoe, and the chaos of flashbacks. Plus I now know how much the work is helping myself. The old adage says, “You teach the subject that you most need to learn.”
Jessica, John, Gordon, Alex, Rebecca, Matt, Jon, Veronica, AJ, Micayla, Jesse
fell to violent killing in Aurora CO
.This is a story of sorrow. These people have left us. Farewell, adieu, to God. It is a time to cradle our love and wish them safe journeys to the next world. We are grieving and we don’t want this type of gunning down to happen again.
With your close ones, share your feelings and reactions to the Aurora killings. Children 8 and over have heard about it, and parents will want to initiate a conversation to assure children they are safe. We need to admit what happened (no need to emphasize gory details). All family systems need a protector, because kids know they are vulnerable. Your role, along with family counseling, is to keep them safe. Be confident in this.
I’m sorry personal guns are used this century more against humans than for hunting. I grew up on a farm, and guns were for deer and geese, never to be used in self-defense. Killing was linked to the food you eat, not to get revenge or attention.
Oné of the worst imaginable things is to be separated from those you love. Some parents are in prison, others lose their right to see their children for years. They were not granted visitation rights by a judge. In abuse cases, one parent may ask that the abuser refrain indefinitely from seeing their child.
Clients enter family counseling, mourning this contact. Of course they miss seeing their children grow up. Still they can maintain and grow in their identity as a mother or father. A wise friend of mine, miscarried a child and never was able to have another child. But in those months of carrying a child, she became a mother. Her tenderness and her outlook towards others changed forever, even though she never had physical contact (well, contact outside) with her child. Still, she identifies as a mother.
It takes courage to go to therapy. Who adores wrestling with problems? But therapy could be a critical turning point for you. In Spanish (I speak Spanish), there’s an expression, vale la pena. It means the pain is worth it.
I enjoy challenges. I’m good at working with those who are anxious or depressed or who have family problems. Some of us are in deep grief, or have unresolved pain from the past. I enjoy putting puzzles together; some couples feel that their spouse is too controlling. Some want to change old patterns of yelling or speaking. Some want help as they adjust to getting older or change in medication.
As an independent family counselor I work well with angry kids and frustrated parents. I have often worked with abusive children, those who self-abuse and those who’ve bullied. Families grow, no matter how bleak the present dilemma. My model includes creativity and compassion. I include music and art in my practice.