Tips to Surviving Thanksgiving

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If Thanksgiving brings out the worst in you or your family, you are not alone.  Sadly, Thanksgiving often shines a light on family, tensions, losses, and unresolved family conflicts.  

Here are some tips to get you through:

1.  Set boundaries before you get there.  What conversations are you going to politely end before they get ugly?  How will you take care of yourself so that your resentment doesn't build and blow up? You can always step away from triggering conversations.  Boundaries are not punitive.  They are self-protective.  Think of where things went awry at previous family gatherings and set boundaries to protect yourself.

2.  Try to eat mindfully.  So often we think about the next bite rather than the one we are enjoying and gorge ourselves with food that leaves us feeling ill.  Or, we think about our diet to the point that we can't enjoy the food we eat without feeling stressed out about it.  It sounds so simple to just enjoy the food and yet it's not as easy as it sounds.  Try to be mindful of the food that you eat and all of the work and love that was required to land it on your plate by both people you care about and people you've never met (after all, the food didn't grow in your fridge).  Really notice how the food tastes.  Take your time between bites and pay attention to how it feels.  You may enjoy your meal more if you are able to eat mindfully.  Try.  Enjoy the experience of eating a piece of pie rather than thinking about the calories in it.

3.  Don't get drunk.  It probably feels like a good idea to have another drink if tensions are mounting, but if you have it, you are likely to feel more depressed and/or irritable.  Alcohol is, after all, a depressant.  Uncomfortable family drama is rarely made better by more booze.  

4.  Don't be afraid to abandon old rituals if they are not working for you.  If the turkey doesn't thaw in time, the day is not ruined.  If your children aren't interested in trying the yams, it's not the end of the world.  Make Thanksgiving work for you and your family.  Forget the rest of it.  I celebrated Thanksgiving with my kids last year over monkey bread and bacon at breakfast.  It was one of my favorite Thanksgivings.   

5.  Notice any feelings that come up around the holiday.  Don't pretend the feelings don't exist -- they'll just surface when you least expect it or push you toward the liquor cabinet.  Noticing an uncomfortable feeling is not going to ruin the holiday.  You can feel it.  It will pass.  You will be okay.  Modeling this for your children is an incredible gift.    

6.  If there are big changes this year -- a divorce, a death, a loss, a move, a new baby-- be especially gentle with yourself and your loved ones.  Big life changes may sting or bring up challenges that make it harder to appreciate the gratitude at the heart of Thanksgiving.  Give yourself space.  Acknowledge whoever's not at the table who you wish was there or any changes that have thrown you for a loop.  Treat yourself with the same kindness you would treat a friend going through the same thing.    

7.  Try to connect with gratitude but don't feel pressured to be thankful.  Gratitude in studies is correlated with a greater sense of experienced happiness so focusing on what you are grateful for may actually make you feel happier.  However, there is a lot of pressure to be thankful on Thanksgiving and if that's not where you are at right now, there's nothing wrong with you.  You don't have to be thankful.  Bad moods don't observe holidays.  Try to be grateful if just for the fact that it might boost your mood. 

8.  Be kind.  I have been reading Brene Brown's Into the Wilderness and she talks a lot about how we separate ourselves from others based on beliefs or experiences and that it prevents us from really connecting.  No matter what you think of your family or friend's beliefs, be kind to them.  Lean toward connection rather than separation.  Agree to disagree.  Accept them for who they are rather than what they think.  If their political beliefs don't align with yours, talk about the memories that connect you instead.  That's more important.   

9.  Listen.  There is no greater gift that to be heard.  I was once at a Thanksgiving with the most offensive racist sexist old white man I have ever met.  Everything that came out of his mouth was unbelievably offensive.  But I did not argue and I don't regret it.  Arguing would not have changed his mind.  I listened.  And when I could take no more, I politely excused myself.  You don't have to agree with everything everybody says.  Yet it's not your job to convert their opinions, thoughts, beliefs, or feelings to yours.  It never hurts to just listen to what someone has to say even if it's absurd.  Truly listening to someone is a gift.  It's connective in and of itself.  If your partner or a family member is complaining, resist the urge to fix it and just listen and let them know that you get what they are saying and it makes sense.  Most of the time they will appreciate that you've listened more than any attempts to fix.  

10.  Connect with the people you love.  We run around in circles trying to get the stuffing just right and make sure that the turkey isn't too dry, but none of that matters.  Thanksgiving is an opportunity to connect with the people you care about.  Lean in to connection and vulnerability.  Remember, if the turkey burns but you are able to connect with your family, that's a great Thanksgiving.  Be present with the people you care about.  

In an effort to abide my own tips to lean in to vulnerability, Thanksgiving has been a challenging time of year for me personally.  The stars have aligned such that some of the most amazing things (the birth of my twins) and most painful things have happened right around this holiday.  I share this because I want you to know that if this holiday is hard for you, I can say with absolute sincerity that you are not alone.  

We will get through it.  We will thrive through it.  

Happy Thanksgiving.  

News Induced Anxiety -- Tips for Coping and Managing

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Is the news leaving you feeling anxious and scared?  Does it feel like the world is not safe?  You are not alone.  You can't change the news but there are some things you can do to cope and manage the anxiety.

Part of the problem is that news is a business for consumers who respond to entertainment.  It is designed to hook us and make us want to read more.  Often, headlines twist the news with such sensationalism and drama that it leaves us feeling we are in immediate danger.  Throw in a massive tragedy like the horrific shooting in Las Vegas, and that anxiety skyrockets.  The news allows us to witness people's pain in extreme detail, 24/7 if we choose to.  Our feelings of safety plummet, our anxiety escalates, and we feel like the world is not safe.  These feelings make sense but they also give a lot of power to our news sources and people like this cruel human who did something truly evil. 

Take a deep breath, look around, notice what's here and now.  More than likely, in this very moment, you are safe.  You are supported. For right now, just notice how safe you are.  

If you are struggling with news induced anxiety, set boundaries to protect yourself.  These days, you download a news app to your phone and your phone will alert you all day long to every horrible thing that happens in the world.  I strongly suggest turning off some or all of those push notifications.  They are not necessary or helpful.  Limit and control your exposure to the news.  TV News is designed to keep you engaged with constant hooks demanding your attention.  Watching news stories with these built-in hooks can feel like an emotional roller coaster.  Get off.  Read the news.  Choose less sensationalized news sources such as NPR.  Consider turning the TV off altogether.  Even if something horrible has happened in the world, you do not need to immerse yourself in it all day every day.  It's too much.  Setting limits on how much time you spend even just reading these stories is a healthy self-protective boundary.

And when something horrible happens like what happened this week in Las Vegas, it's okay to feel sadness around it.  Grief.  Make space for those feelings.  When I read about a local family who lost a mother there last week, I felt pain.  To think that a family woke up one morning dealing with the same daily struggles as most people and went to bed that night with a loss that can never be undone is heartbreaking and so hard to come to grips with.  It hurts.  And so many more families suffering so much.  It's painfully sad and it's okay to feel that sadness.    

But that next step that some of you may take with it -- I can't go to concerts anymore, I can't go to work, I can't send my kids to school because bad things happen-- slow down.  Anxiety can distort reality.  For every concert like the one in Vegas, there are millions upon millions where nothing ever happened at all.  For every cruel human like the shooter in Vegas, there are millions upon millions of good, kind people.  Just look at the hundreds upon hundreds of people out there right now taking care of those who have suffered.  That's all true too.  Our brains distort when we feel traumatized and afraid.  We can take that concert in Vegas and catastrophize it into a world where nobody is safe.  But there are far more loving, kind safe humans than there are cruel ones.  

Take a moment and look around -- you will see it.  Look for the kindness in humanity -- pay attention to all of the good people like you who are helping and sending prayers, love and warmth.  

If you are feeling news induced anxiety, set boundaries around how you interact with the news, take time to breathe and be gentle with yourself.  You may need some extra self-care whether that's exercise, time with friends or a hot bath.  If your anxiety continues to mount, reach out for support.  When traumatic events happen in the world, it sometimes opens up our own traumatic wounds.  Having someone to help you process and work through the anxiety and feelings that come up is helpful.  Getting support is not weakness, it's strength.  Therapy can help.

 

Taking Amazing Care of Your Kids is Not Enough to Be a Good Parent -- You're Missing Someone

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As I watch all of the parents running around with the start of Fall busting their butts for their kids, I feel their pain and exhaustion.  It's so hard.  The expectations of parents today in the world of technology that allows us to do so much with our time (too much sometimes), well, it's ridiculous.  And yes, it's important to take care of your kids, but if you're feeling resentful and annoyed with them and not able to enjoy them, you're not doing them any favors.  I get it.  I struggle with this too.

Last week, as I juggled all of my kids' activities and starts of school and school supplies and temper tantrums and laundry... oh, and work... I started to feel something I didn't like.  Irritability.  I felt like a drill sergeant ordering my children from here to there and demanding that they keep their shoes on their feet and not throw their food and trash on the floor of the car or the house, or scream in the car -- why oh why do they do scream in the car?  Suddenly, everything and everyone was pissing me off.  Especially the telemarketer who called me fifteen times last week.  I was irritated with my friends and children before they did anything at all -- the problem was not with them.    

The problem was with me.  

The problem was that I was taking care of everybody except for me.  

With good reason, I didn't have much time for me.  But that left me feeling irritable.  Feeling irritable does not make for a good parent, a good friend, or much of anything at all (My apologies go out to the telemarketer who was just doing her job and got her head bit off at the end of the week... I'm sorry).   

I went for a walk with a friend and was telling her that I felt like a mean, bitchy mom sometimes.  It's true.  I do.  Another mom passing by overheard me and kindly said, "You're not."  And that's true too.  I'm not.  But I am not always my best self.  And when I am not taking care of myself, I am definitely not my best self.  

Taking care of yourself is not selfish.  It's the opposite.  

It allows you to show up and be present for the people you care most about in the world.  This past weekend, I went to yoga, I ran, I got a cheap massage, and watched a movie on demand while I caught up on laundry.  I feel fantastic.  

When clients show up in my office guilty to spend money or take time for themselves, I remind them that taking care of themselves is what makes them able to enjoy and show up for their family.  Self-care is a gift not just for you but for everybody around you (including obnoxious telemarketers).  On top of it, you're modeling healthy self-care for your kids.  Do you want them to grow up sacrificing themselves for everybody else feeling  irritable and annoyed?  If that's what you're doing, that's what you're teaching them to do too.    

If you're not taking care of you, do better.  You deserve it.  So do your friends and family.  

Growing Up with a Parent with a Personality Disorder -- It's Not You

Many of my clients struggle with the wreckage caused by a parent who has a Personality Disorder.  Having a parent who has Narcissistic or Borderline traits is confusing growing up. 

Their erratic behavior may leave you feeling as though there is something profoundly wrong with you.  

Their inability to empathize with you or offer consistency in the parental relationship may feel traumatic.    When a client realizes that their parent has a personality disorder, it is sometimes a relief -- they finally understand the parts of their childhood that felt so confusing before.  However, there is often work to be done as a result.  Therapy can help.

Most clients who have a parent with Narcissistic or Borderline traits experience a great deal of grief.  

They continue to reach out to their parent for the kind of care their parent isn't capable of giving and, as a result, they are consistently disappointed.  It's painful.  Setting healthy boundaries is critical.  It's not about punishing your parent -- it's about protecting yourself.  You can't change them, but you can change the way you engage with them.  You can adjust your expectations and interact accordingly. 

Another piece of fallout as a result of having a parent who has Narcissistic or Borderline Personality traits is that you may struggle with having healthy relationships of your own.  

You may unconsciously attract and/or be attracted to people with personality disorders because you're good at managing them and it feels like home to you.  Sadly it was.  

Your comfort level around personality disorders makes it easy for you to fall into an emotionally disconnected relationship with someone with a personality disorder even when that's not what you want.  You may crave emotional connection and at the same time feel incredibly uncomfortable with it.  The good news is that we can change the way our brains fire and function which means we can change the way we do relationships. 

Having a parent with Borderline or Narcissistic traits is not easy and may leave you more vulnerable to disconnected relationships.  It may require some work and even some discomfort to get there, but I am inspired my clients who take it on and create the healthy relationships they want for themselves. 

It is possible to create healthy relationships and process the grief and trauma that come from growing up with a parent who has a personality disorder. If you need help, I am here to support you and help you move through it.  

Why Dating Sometimes Leaves Strong Independent Women Feeling Like Insecure Needy Teenage Girls

Something that I have noticed with many of my clients who are successful, high-achieving, independent women navigating dating is a struggle that transcends age, race and socioeconomics -- when it comes to dating, they feel like insecure needy teenagers. 

Some of these women have blown up a romantic interest's phone with texts or held on to men who they knew were not right for them for fear of being alone.  They are not stupid women or crazy women -- they are the opposite.  Intelligent and articulate.  They know that it does not make sense even as they do it.  And yet they continue to struggle with this insecurity and neediness.  

Why?

No matter how successful, accomplished, independent or strong we may be, all human beings are wired for connection.  We crave it.  Most of us reach for it in our electronic devices using social media or online dating apps but it's not the same as real human connection.  We are desperate for it to the point that when we get sight of it, we sometimes lose ourselves trying to hold on to it.  And texting is too easy.  It does not leave wiggle room for impulsivity.  

Once upon a time, you had to make a phone call and leave a voicemail on an answering machine.  Now, you can have instant gratification and send your immediate reaction to whoever whenever you please.  Our first impulse is rarely our best.  Processing our reactions before sharing them is an important skill to remember which is why I encourage many of my clients to write the text they want to send in a private note on their phones instead -- if they still want to send it the next day, by all means.  Often, the impulse fades before any damage is done.

When self-respecting women repeatedly cling to men who treat them poorly, it's often a sign that there's some work to be done.  I am committed to helping women work on dysfunctional relationship patterns and deal with hidden negative beliefs they have about themselves that hold them back.  It can be painful but closing the door on challenging chapters often opens the door to healthier happier ones.  

There's a book that I like quite a bit about holding on to your sense of self and setting healthy boundaries while dating.  While I like the book, it has a splashy title that I hate and find misleading.  It's called, "Why Men Love Bitches" by Sherry Argov.  I do not recommend that you read this book to become a bitch that men love.  If that's what you're looking for, this book will disappoint you.  However, I do recommend this book to set strong boundaries and hold on to your sense of self while dating which is a critical life skill for any single woman.  

Beyond that, I encourage you to have compassion around the neediness that comes up.  It's okay to feel it and not send the text messages.  There's nothing wrong with you -- you're human and you crave connection.  

If you're struggling with these issues, I'm here to support you.      

So your partner's a sex addict. 5 Things you need to know:

Maybe you discovered that your husband is spending more time with porn than with you.  Maybe you found a credit card bill for strip clubs that could buy a car.  Maybe you suspect that your partner is having an affair.  Whatever it is, there are five very important things you need to know:

1.  You are not crazy.  

If you think there is something amiss, there probably is.  He may turn it around on you and make you feel like you're the one who's crazy -- it's called gaslighting and it's what many people do when they want to redirect attention away from the shame they feel for something they have done.  It's very effective and it's confusing.  It tends to leave people feel like they are crazy because gaslighting is crazy-making behavior.  

But you are not crazy.  

2.  This discovery may leave you questioning everything about yourself, your partner and your relationship.  

Discovering that your partner is a sex addict is overwhelming.  You may question your relationship, your judgement, your attractiveness, your sexuality, your history with your partner, your future with your partner and your very sense of who you are.  You may feel shameful about his behaviors as though they are your own, and shame around your decision to stay or to leave.  You are not alone.  These feelings make sense given what you have been through.  What you thought you knew about your life just got pulled out from underneath you.  It's hard to find steady ground.  But you can and you will, in time.  

3.  Your partner's sex addiction is not your fault.   

It's not because you aren't attractive enough, sexual enough, smart enough, available enough or nice enough.  You are enough, even if you are not perfect and have not been a perfect partner.  That's not what sex addiction is about.  You are not responsible for what your partner has done and you can not control what your partner will do.  You may feel like a victim and in some ways, you are -- you have been betrayed, lied to, cheated.   And this leads me to the next thing you need to know:

4.  You can't manage your partner's recovery. 

It may be tempting to focus your attention on your partner and your partner's recovery but you can't control your partner or their behaviors.  You are not responsible for what they have done and you can not be responsible for what they will do.  If your partner doesn't make the effort to recover, you can not make the effort for them.  It doesn't work that way.  And that sucks because it means you can't control this and you can not control what will happen.  It might feel like if your partner gets better, you will be better too.  But recovering from this trauma is not that simple--  

5.  Discovering your partner is a sex addict is traumatic -- you need to heal too.

Do not underestimate the trauma of what you have been through.  Having your world turned upside down and being forced to question everything you thought you knew about yourself, your partner and your relationship is so very hard.  Your world has been rocked.  Be gentle with yourself.  This is a difficult time and you need all the support you can get.

When individuals embark on a journey that includes healthy self-care, creating strong boundaries, and healing, it can be empowering and actually fuel growth.  That may not seem possible right now, but it is.  I know it.  I have seen it.  I have experienced it.  Finding somewhere safe to explore these issues free of judgement is so important.  When I have the opportunity to work with partners of sex addicts, I am grateful.  

I want to help you re-build yourself and the life you want.  I know it's possible.  Reach out if I can help you on that journey.  There is one last thing you need to know and it's the sum of all 5 things:  

You are stronger than you think you are.  

 

 

Slow Down, Cuddle Up in a Warm Blanket, Try Some Hygge

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A few weeks ago, my daughter was bit by a dog.  She had to stay a night in the hospital for IV antibiotics due to infection, and a very strange thing happened on our second day there.  After spending hours playing board games together and reading books, the doctor said that she could go home that day or stay another night at the hospital for more IV antibiotics.  My daughter begged to stay another night.  I knew why.

Most days, I rush my kids from one thing to the next, hurrying them to get dressed and ready,  trying to make sure we all get there on time.  In all of the hustle and bustle, something is lost.  Something important.  Something that I just discovered a beautiful Danish word for: hygge.

Hygge is when we cozy up and enjoy the small moments.  Hygge was cuddling on the sofa under a soft throw this weekend and watching Moana with my kids while eating fresh popped popcorn by the fistful.  Hygge is looking at family photos together or lighting a candle as we share a meal.  For my daughter, hygge was hanging out in jammies, playing board games and reading books together in a hospital.  

In this fast-paced world of activities and school and appointments and stuff to get done, we are starved for hygge.  We need more moments to enjoy and connect.  That's why my daughter wanted to stay another night at the hospital.  She didn't, by the way.  We took her home.  And she's fine now -- fully recovered.  But I am making a concerted effort to find time for hygge -- for myself, for my family, and for my clients.

So when you come to my office, I invite you to wrap up in one of my blankets, help yourself to a cup of coffee or a piece of candy, or make it a Walk & Talk session and let's walk by the beach.  I encourage you to bring hygge into your self-care routine, and that absolutely includes therapy.    

If you want to read more about this Danish concept, google the word Hygge and you will find lots (it's trendy right now).  Here's a link to an article about it below:

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2017/02/04/6-ways-to-practice-hygge-danish-secret-to-happiness.html

 

 

Am I Messing Up My Kids?

I have a confession to make.  I am not proud and it is hard for me to share this.  This week, I told my ten-year-old daughter who was arguing with her 4-year-old siblings about something absurd to 'shut it.'  It was not one of my finest moments.  I can not undo it although I wish that I could.

For myself and many of the parents I work with, the question that haunts us all is the same, "Am I messing up my kids?" (Although, if I am being honest, there is often an f-bomb in the way I think about that question.)  If you've thought it, you're not alone.  I have taken coursework in childhood and adolescent development and read countless books on healthy parenting, and still I struggle with this question.  And I totally blow it with my kids sometimes.  You might not like the answer to this question of whether we are messing up our kids... because... the answer is yes.  And no.  Or no and yes depending on what feels better to you.  

The truth is that the choices we make as parents do impact our kids.  Those moments of imperfection are huge opportunities to teach our kids that it's okay to be imperfect.  I have apologized to my daughter numerous times for my outburst and let her know that even moms make mistakes.  Through my actions, I have taught her that it's okay to not be perfect all of the time.  I am trying to teach her to embrace her imperfection, grow and make reparation as I do.  And at the end of it, she will not be perfect.  She will be imperfect just as I am, just as everybody else is and the sooner she can accept that, the happier she will be.  Sometimes, it's in the moments of imperfection that we are able to teach our children the most.  

So yes, through our imperfection, we raise imperfect children who grow up to be imperfect adults with struggles and fears of their own.  

You are a good mom (or dad, depending on who is reading this).  You're a good parent to care enough to ask the question, to consider your impact on your child.   

Sometimes as parents, we need more support.  We need to look at where the bubbling irritability is coming from or how our needs aren't getting met and how that impacts our kids.  Often times parent think of therapy or self-care as indulgent or selfish.  Nope.  It's the opposite.  Take care of yourself so you can show up for your kids and teach them how to feel happy and fulfilled.  And of course, if you're worried that you are becoming or may become abusive with your children, you need to get support immediately.    

If you're struggling, I can help you find your way through it.  Parenting is not an easy endeavor.  Take it from a mom who just told her kid to 'shut it.'  Be compassionate with your imperfections.  Reach out if you need support -- whitney@beachcitiespsych.com or 310-989-6465.    

Is My Marriage Worth Saving?

Many therapists share that they have been married for many decades and therefore know what it takes to have a happy marriage.  Most therapists don’t talk about their failed marriages for fear that couples will take that as a sign that they are ineffective therapists.   

I am taking a risk by telling you this.

I was married for 15 years, in that relationship for 20 years, and I am finishing up my divorce.  Yes, I have children.  Yes, it is difficult and painful.  Yes, I am absolutely certain that it is the right thing for me and our kids.  And still, it sucks.

As a therapist, I don’t like to disclose much about myself to my clients in order to uphold healthy boundaries.  However, I have decided to lean into my discomfort in an effort to support hurting individuals and couples who are walking through a difficult season.

Recently, I had a couple on my couch and the partner who is desperately wanting to reconcile the marriage said, “I don’t know if I can do this anymore.”  What she meant was that she couldn’t stand her partner’s uncertainty about the marriage and was considering pulling the plug to end her suffering.  This is what I said to her: ‘do you think getting a divorce would be any easier?”

It’s not.  Believe me.  I know this from experience.  Pulling the plug would have just changed the direction of her pain, not end it.  Sometimes, like in my own marriage, it is unavoidable in order be healthy and happy.  There are times when a marriage can not be saved, most notably when a partner must change a behavior in order for the other partner to feel safe or happy in the marriage but is unwilling or unable.  But sometimes, the idea that ending it will stop the pain is a tempting delusion.     

It took a lot of years for me of trying to salvage a marriage that was irreparably damaged for me to walk away.  My experience gave me a very clear picture of how much I was letting go of when I filed for divorce — the shared history, the partnership, the connection, the united home.  For many struggling in their relationship, these very same things look different— baggage, imprisonment, resentment, even boredom.  It’s only when they are gone that they sparkle and we see how valuable they were.  

I see it.  I know it.  

I admire and respect the couples I work with who are willing to sift through the darkness together to recover the shine — couples so committed to each other that they will do whatever it takes.  That shared history is priceless.  

It is worth it.  I believe that whole heartedly.  

I have seen couples reconnect by embarking on the therapeutic journey toward a healthier relationship together and I have been so grateful to help them get there.  

And I also know the flip side.  There are times, such as my own marriage, when nothing can be done — even after years of therapeutic work.  Holding on is like trying to hold on to air.  The diamond is just a heap of dust and the only thing left is to walk away.  I know that path intimately — I know what it looks like when you get there, what it feels like to be there, and what it takes to walk through it.  I have helped clients, both in couples work and individual work, navigate that path too.  

So can your marriage be saved?  Despite my experience on both sides of the couch, it is not a question I can answer cleanly for you or any of my clients.  My task as a therapist is to help you find the answers.  From my standpoint, any marriage where both partners are willing and wanting to honor and respect each other is a marriage worth trying to save.  If you and your partner are willing to work through it in therapy, that is a very good sign.  However, if you’re in a different place like I was where your world feels shattered because you know that your partner is unwilling or unable to make the kinds of changes you need to feel safe and secure, I can help you navigate that path too.    

Why Walk & Talk?

This week, I was interviewed by The Beach Reporter about Walk & Talk therapy.  It was a brief interview so there wasn't enough time to go into much depth.  However, I feel passionately about Walk & Talk Therapy and how it benefits so many of my clients.  I wanted to share more and so I am.  

The big question with Walk & Talk therapy is why?  Why walk?  And that's a question that really excites me.  There are a lot of obvious answers, some of which you can read on the page dedicated to 'Walk & Talk' Therapy on my website.  Moving forward physically helps us feel pushed to move forward psychologically.  Fresh air.  The ocean is a therapeutic environment unlike any other.  Movement has positive psychological benefits and forces us to connect with our felt experience as we process emotionally.  But there's another reason, a less obvious one.

Bilateral stimulation.  I am trained in something called EMDR which you can also read about on this website.  I don't use it with all of my clients, but at its core is something called bilateral stimulation which just means that we stimulate both sides of the brain using eye movements, tappers that alternate tapping in each hand, or auditory cues that alternate ears.  EMDR is very effective and it is thought that the bilateral stimulation is part of the reason why.  When I do EMDR, I follow a rigid protocol that goes along with it.  When I do Walk & Talk therapy, it is not EMDR.  And yet, it does benefit by this principle of bilateral stimulation that is at the core of EMDR.

Walking provides bilateral stimulation.  Bilateral stimulation helps the brain process psychologically.  And that is one of the biggest reasons that I believe Walk & Talk Therapy benefits many of my clients.      

Surviving Infidelity - Should I Stay or Should I Leave?

Infidelity can feel soul crushing in many ways.  It is so layered, so complex.  Often times, men and women come into my office after discovering a partner's infidelity feeling confused.  Before it actually happened, you likely imagined that if you were ever betrayed, you would be out the door.  Then it happens, and it's so much more complicated than you ever thought possible.  

Everyone reacts to infidelity differently.  However, for many it rocks both the foundation of their relationship and the foundation of their sense of self.  It impacts confidence, self-esteem, safety, security.  It is wide-reaching and painful and can spur or exacerbate issues of anxiety, depression and even previous trauma.  Additionally, it can be difficult to talk about with friends or family because they may have judgements about your partner's behavior, and your partner's behavior may open the door to uncomfortable or unwanted gossip.  

Whether to stay or leave is often a complicated question to answer, especially when there are children involved.  Sometimes a relational betrayal can spur healing that deepens the intimacy within a relationship.  It can be an opportunity for couples to come together and create an intimacy far deeper than they imagined possible.  I enjoy working with couples in this capacity.  However, I also appreciate being able to support a partner in individual work as they reevaluate their relationship and rebuild their sense of self.  

The question of whether to stay or leave may feel most pressing, but it's secondary.  The real question is how do you heal?  How do you recover the confidence, self-esteem, safety and security that feels so out of reach?  As a therapist, I support my clients as they heal and answer those questions.  

Whether it's an incident of infidelity or you're the partner of a sex addict, the journey toward healing can be a challenging one.  I want to help you get through it and find a stronger, deeper sense of self than you ever imagined possible.  The rest of the answers will come along the way.  

 

EMDR -- Letting Go of Negative Beliefs

Often I have clients who come in who are successful and intelligent who reveal to me that deep down they feel that they are not good enough and never have been or are unsafe in the world or deeply damaged or unworthy of good things in life.  It shocks me every time but I get it every time.  It's not about being good enough or being safe or being unscathed or worthy.  It's about the human brain trying to make meaning out of trauma.  

When something traumatic happens, whether it's a big scale trauma or a smaller developmental trauma, our brain creates meaning.  After all, we are always looking for meaning.  Unfortunately, the meaning we create is usually not an empowering one but something involving feeling defective, unsafe, unloved, or unworthy.  When something else traumatic happens, our brains look to further that meaning and find more proof that this meaning we have created is true.  

EMDR can be a helpful tool to process some of that trauma and work through the negative cognitions or destructive negative beliefs that our brains have orchestrated.  It fascinates me when EMDR is going well and I see clients let go of their beliefs that they can't stand up for themselves or they are not good enough.  I have seen clients stuck in abusive relationships finally stand up for themselves and free themselves up for healthy ones.  I had a client once terrified to drive as a result of a trauma who enthusiastically set out to get her license after completing EMDR.  

As I finish up my work towards EMDR Certification, I have come to really believe in the power of EMDR.  I don't use it with all of my clients.  However, when I do work with a client using EMDR and we process trauma together, I enjoy watching them let go of the destructive cognitions that have held them back for so long. 

Welcome to my imperfect blog.

I have been staring at my blank blog for weeks afraid to post anything because anything I post couldn’t possibly be enough.  A first blog entry should be moving and powerful.  Eloquent, articulate.  Relatable, insightful.    

That's not going to happen because I am done staring at my blank blog waiting to be struck with inspiration to write the perfect blog.  

I am breaking in my blog with this entirely imperfect entry inviting you to be imperfect with me.