I am offering appointments using telehealth video-conferencing during the current pandemic.
Licensed Psychologist

What should you expect from Couples Therapy?

Tip #1 - Better Communication.

You should learn new skills to help you communicate more effectively and navigate the relationship road's inevitable bumps. In Imago, we use the "Intentional Dialogue" as our primary tool. This method has been used and refined for over 25 years, and has been the standard by which many other approaches have followed. You will learn to listen deeply to your partner and manage your reactivity in ways that allow both of you to feel safe, heard, and understood. This is an essential skill that leads to relationship success.

Tip #2 - Truly Understand the Core Issues

You should gain an understanding of your "core issues."  In my experience, every relationship has just 2 or 3 core issues that come up over and over again. These issues can turn what is essentially a great relationship into a nightmare! When these issues get triggered, we can become so hurt and angry that we forget all of what is good in the relationship. Some common issues include:
  • Feeling criticized
  • Feeling under-appreciated
  • Feeling disconnected to our partner
  • Feeling smothered by our partner
  • Feeling controlled by our partner
  • Losing our sense of independence or sense of "Self" and so on.
Couples therapy will help you identify what the core issues are that are operating in your relationship. It will also help you understand why those issues are there and how you can not only end the pain but also get your needs met in ways that you may have never experienced before in your life!

Tip #3 - Relationship Growth.

You should learn how to grow in your relationship. We believe that relationship is both our greatest source of satisfaction and our greatest source of challenge. Intimate relationships often force us out of our comfort zone. They require us to see the world through our partner's eyes and to "stretch" into parts of ourselves that may be undeveloped. For example, if your partner is the more "emotional" one in the relationship, they may be calling you to stretch into awareness of your own feelings and emotions. If your partner is the more logical/rational one in the relationship, you may be called on to learn to contain your emotional reactions and to develop your rational side further. When we stretch to meet our partner's needs, we "grow ourselves up." But first, we have to…

Tip #4 - Learn to be a more generous, loving, and giving partner.

Marriage or couples counseling is not just about solving problems or resolving conflict. It will also help you enhance the positives deepening your connection, and your ability to give and receive love more fully. We can all learn to be more loving, generous, patient, accepting, and so on. I hope these four tips help you and your partner get more connected and grow your relationship.  Every couple is different, and effective therapy will address your particular needs as a couple. It is more flexible now than ever with online therapy for couples as well. I am hopeful these general principles that I have found to apply for most couples and most couples therapy are helpful.

6 Tips on Managing Conflict in Marriage

Conflict is normal and inevitable. Here are some tips that will help:

Tip #1 - Learn to talk about issues without blame or criticism.

  • You can learn to ask for what you need without making the other person "bad." It's your need, not their shortcoming.
  • "Keep your claws in."

Tip #2 - Always fight or argue face-to-face.

  • Never try to resolve conflict on texts or emails.
  • All of us automatically add tone and attitude to the written word, whether it is real or imagined (that means YOU too).

Tip #3  - Cool down for 30 minutes if it's getting overheated.

  • Agree to meet one another back in 30 minutes on the couch to talk it through without distractions.
  • Cool down by letting it go, not by building a case.

Tip #4 - Slow down and take turns talking.

  • Do not interrupt each other.
  • Listen to your partner to understand. Don't listen to form your response.
  • When they finish, tell them what makes sense to you about what they said. When they feel understood, ask if they can hear a response.
  • This kind of dialogue will actually turn conflict to closeness!

Tip #5 - Take care of the conflict as soon as possible.

  • Don't sweep things under the rug.
  • You WILL trip over that rug later.

Tip #6 - Consider getting help from an impartial 3rd party.

Are You Having Sleep Problems During the Pandemic? 5 Likely Reasons

As a psychologist and as a human being, I am receiving this message from every direction and all sides. It’s rampant these days. People are having a hard time sleeping during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some people lie awake unable to fall asleep. Some wake up in the middle of the night and their brain starts racing. Other folks say they wake up in the early morning hours and lie awake for a long time before the alarm goes off. Then there are the ones whose sleep pattern has been thrown totally off. They’re awake when they should be sleeping and sleeping when they should be awake. What is it about this pandemic that is making a good night’s sleep so hard for so many people? In talking with many people about their sleep problems during the pandemic, particular struggles have emerged as common patterns. So, I think I have some answers that I’m going to share with you today. First, let’s review the primary causes of the problems. They will probably not all apply to you but, in reality, all it takes is one. Read the full article at PsychCentral.com...

Want to Be More Productive? Try Doing Less.

We’ve been taught that if we want more — money, achievement, vitality, joy, peace of mind — we need to do more, to add more to our ever-growing to-do list. But what if we’ve been taught wrong? What if the answer to getting more of what we want isn’t addition at all, but subtraction? As it turns out, evidence supports that if we want to ramp up our productivity and happiness, we should actually be doing less. David Rock, author of Your Brain at Work, found that we’re truly focused on our work a mere six hours per week, which starkly contrasts our collective buy-in to the 40-hour workweek. When you stop doing the things that make you feel busy but aren’t getting you results (and are draining you of energy), then you end up with more than enough time for what matters and a sense of peace and spaciousness that constant activity has kept outside your reach. As people with full lives — kids, careers, friends, passions, logistics, and more — how can we apply the wisdom of doing less to give ourselves more time and alleviate stress without jeopardizing our results? Read the full article at the Harvard Business Review

Tips to Fall Asleep Naturally/Common Heart Tests

Tips to Fall Asleep Naturally

Get the nightly rest you need with these smart strategies.

Sleep has many important health benefits: It cleanses the brain, allows memories to consolidate, helps the immune system to function optimally, and restores and rejuvenates tissues. Not enough sleep impairs judgment and physical function. And let's face it, when tired, most of us can be rather irritable and grouchy. Serious health problems can result from poor sleep, including feeling more depressed and increasing the risk of falls. Read the full article...

Common Heart Tests

What these tests reveal and when you might need one.

In broad terms, the heart mainly consists of a plumbing system and an electrical system. There are two pumps: one uses arteries to push oxygenated blood from the heart to the rest of the body; the other pump uses veins to usher blood back to the heart and into the lungs to get re-oxygenated. Your pulse, or heartbeat, is controlled by the heart's electrical system. These systems can be measured with various tests to check for abnormalities. Given that heart diseases claim more lives than all forms of cancer combined, it might seem logical to get all the common heart tests possible as a preventative measure. But that's not what experts recommend. Read the full article...

"Shelter In" for COVID-19 Does Not Mean Sit Around

Link to an article written by Ashley Anderson, PsyD, CEDS In the wake of COVID-19, we have come to find our actions restricted slightly. It is possible that you live in one of the many states that have implemented some form of a “shelter in” plan, where public activities are limited to necessities and other essentials. While it may be easy to focus on what we cannot do, I encourage you to focus on things within your control and what you can do. Our routines have changed, temporarily. So it is important to create a new structure or routine, filled with various activities. Create a schedule, where each day has at least one different activity for the day. Work, school work, meals, social time, family time, individual time, creative/artistic time, relaxation time, and movement can all be worked into your weekly schedule. Blocking time for each of these helps reduce the likelihood that you will tire or get bored of an activity. Read the full article here...

The Power of Girlfriends

In an evening class at Stanford University the last lecture was on the mind-body connection - the relationship between stress and disease. The speaker (head of psychiatry at Stanford) said, among other things, that one of the best things that a man could do for his health is to be married to a woman; whereas for a woman, one of the best things she could do for her health was to nurture her relationships with her girlfriends. At first, everyone laughed, but he was serious. Women connect with each other differently and provide support systems that help each other to deal with stress and difficult life experiences. Physically this quality "girlfriend time" helps us to create more serotonin - a neurotransmitter that helps combat depression and can create a general feeling of well being. Women share feelings whereas men often form relationships around activities. We share from our souls with our sisters, friends, and evidently that is VERY GOOD for our health. He said that spending time with a friend is just as important to our general health as jogging or working out at a gym. There's a tendency to think that when we are "exercising" we are doing something good for our bodies; but when we are hanging out with friends, we are wasting our time and should be more productively engaged. Not true. In fact, he said that failure to create and maintain quality personal relationships with other humans is as dangerous to our physical health as smoking! So every time you hang out to schmooze with a gal pal, just pat yourself on the back and congratulate yourself for doing something good for your health! We are indeed very, very blessed! So let's toast to our friendship with our girlfriends (inc. grandmas, sisters, mothers, nieces, cousins, aunties...). Evidently it's very good for our health. Forward this to your girlfriends to stay in touch, just like I just did! Thanks to all the women in my life who have helped me stay healthy, and feeling very loved.

Couples Covid Resilience

These are trying times. Our lives have been upended. We’ve been mandated to stay at home and work from home; our social outings have been drastically reduced, as have our social interactions with others. We’re faced with 24/7 interaction with our partners. The result is a unique form of cabin fever, which when combined with the stressors of an invisible enemy), (covid 19) creates profound uncertainty (When will this end? How? Will it return? Will I or my loved ones get sick?), major changes to our routines, and economic concerns, and becomes a stressful burden on even the happiest couples. These are times that call for our best—but how can we be our best when the natural human response is an uptick in anxiety and/or depression levels? Most of us have “COVID-brain”: It’s hard to think clearly when we are so worried and scared or feeling like molasses from our blueness. There’s just too much going on! We’re living in unprecedented times, locked out from the outside world and somewhat locked out of ourselves; we are unable to digest and reflect. This lessening of our cognitive function can impact our ability to ride the choppy waves in our couple relationship. Cindy Baum Baicker PhD,a clinical psychologist, interviewed senior psychoanalysts and described 5 factors which can be guide posts for couples during this stressful period. Pragmatism: Now is not the time for minor irritations. Let things go.  If you have had some alcohol and are annoyed or angry at your partner, let it go and if you’re still angry the next day, bring it up for discussion. We’re myopic when we drink, and nothing good can come from conflict resolution when we’re in an altered state. Think existentially: Who do we want to be when all of this is over? What will it have meant for us? Balanced Paradox: We’re separate, and we’re attached. Allow for each of these realities in your relationship. Make space to spend time together and apart, even though you’re living in the same space. Cognitive-Affective Differentiation: Allow for difference! A couple’s resilience during this time will depend on the state of the two people who are in the relationship. Stress affects each one of us differently and we each cope differently. Affect Optimization: The act of naming your emotions has been found to benefit wellbeing. Let yourself experience the range of all that you’re feeling and share it with your partner. That said, wise relators allow for “emotional blend,” but have also learned to lean towards or focus on their positive emotions. These are difficult times and also times to deeply feel one’s gratitude for what one has, and perhaps even for who one is. Emotional Generosity: Kindness, patience, humility, and deep regard for the other are all aspects of emotional generosity that you can bring to your relationship. Find that olive branch if there’s a disagreement, and extend it. When asked what they thought was required for a good long-term relationship, these wise elder clinicians said one word more than any other: tolerance. During the COVID-19 crisis, when we can all get underneath each other’s skins a bit too often, remember that word. Tolerance. And while you’re at it, remember why you fell in love with that person in the next room or in the room with you, and reconnect with those feelings.

Helpful Thinking During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak

From the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs: During the COVID-19 outbreak, you might have concerns about safety, feeling unable to cope, helplessness, guilt and anger. While it is understandable to feel this way, focusing on such negative feelings can make coping even more difficult. You may find it useful to become more aware of unhelpful thoughts and consider focusing on more helpful thoughts. Use the table at this link to identify thoughts you might be having now, and helpful thoughts you can try instead. Then, it's important to practice using more helpful thoughts as often as you can.

Advice During Coronavirus

As the coronavirus robs us of the life we cherish, a renowned therapist, Esther Perel has some advice. Anxiety, dread, depression — these are just some of the emotions that hit us as we shelter in place and as death tolls rise. The irony of the moment, is that in a time of unimaginable death we can be reminded how to live. Social distance doesn’t preclude our coming together. Ms. Perel counsels us to create moments of connection - whether by volunteering, picking up the phone or sharing a story that made you laugh. It is important, she says, to keep living - particularly in moments of grief.
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