COVID — A Catalyst for Counseling

GoslingsTHERAPY CAN’T SOLVE A PANDEMIC. Right? So why seek counseling when our lifestyles are in chaos? The danger of contamination and illness is real. Some leaders focus on resuscitating the economy, some leaders are envisioning a universal health plan. Certainly, having a rigorous public health system that provides oodles of testing, tracking of those exposed to the virus, and investigating a vaccine is paramount. Psychotherapy definitely adds strength to the tapestry of health care. How?

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Can Couple Counseling Really Help?

Couples go through many stages of life. An unexpected change could be reason for therapy. Imagine a young couple, both about 23 and one had to precipitously leave their apartment. Due to the dearth of decent housing, Jere (not their actual name) moved into Jana’s apartment. Jana, a physics major, and Jere, a graphic artist, came together with love, passion, and optimism. They had no idea how to squeeze a fun, easy-does-it relationship into a studio apartment. How did the merger go? The bicycle helmets got in the way of the laundry baskets. Shoes got kicked around, and worse. Making love wasn’t a romp when Jana’s perched coffee cup spilt over Jere’s computer.

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Self-love in a Time of Upheaval

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

Torching Love with Cybersex

Excuses heard in the marriage therapist’s room–

Hidden Love

“I didn’t intend  my flattery to be taken as an invitation for sex.”

“She was the one to start talking dirty. I was just joking.”

“He sent me a sexy picture that blew my socks off.”  Does this sound familiar?

The internet permeates all the corners of our lives. Many people assume that cybersex isn’t a threat to the marriage. When couples commit to each other, the contract doesn’t explicitly say, ‘No sexting and no courting on email.’  Have you ever heard of a marriage vow that says, “I promise to be a loving and faithful spouse in sorrow and in joy, in sickness and in health, with flirtatious and with chaste texts. Continue reading

Marriage Happiness & Weight Gain

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.

Marriage Appetite

Marriage Appetite

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

Helpful Hints on Living in Difficult Times

Preventing Suicide

ignacio“Making a connection with one person, even a therapist, can keep you alive,” says Gil Zalsman a psychiatric researcher at Tel Aviv University. What can prevent suicide for those of us at risk? Studies, found that clinicians were able to reduce self-harm for patients with a history of self-harm by making phone calls to them. Another study discovered that when patients are released from the hospital and are then sent a postcard reminding them of a hotline number to call, their suicide attempts are decreased suicide by 50%. Continue reading

Working Through Problems, It Takes Work

Solving Problems Together

Solving Problems Together

How can couples work through their problems?

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

Does Ray Rice Need Counseling?

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. fam siloquetteWe’ve been hearing about the NFL and Ray Rice’s bludgeoning assault on his wife, Janay (nee 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

Therapy Marathon Aftershock

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

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.

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My Child Always Complains

Have you ever felt tethered with a short Leash to a whining child?

Richard Foster informed despairing parents,Cuban sisters

“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.

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