Therapist Grief

As a therapist, many people come in with issues with grief. For years I have tried to help clients figure out the well know Elisabeth Kubler Ross Stages of Grief and what stage in their grief they are in: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. It has been sad to watch clients suffer and deal with grief. I have wished many times that I could...
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Anxiety and Panic

Speak the Evil

See no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil.

And in case you were wondering, the proverbial “evil” would be my dormant mental health issues.  

Growing up in an upper-class family in Des Moines, Iowa, mental health was an afterthought -- sandwiched in between tennis matches, gawky Homecoming dance photos, and college football Saturdays. While I struggled with perfectionism (presaging a later struggle with OCD), my mother glossed over my mental rigidity.  

“You just have high standards, Matthew,” she soothingly reassured to me and -- perhaps -- herself.
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What to Do When You Feel Lonely

You feel so lonely.

You are home on a Friday night without any plans. Or you’re sitting in a restaurant with a group of friends, and yet you still feel lonely.

Or you’re sitting on the subway, on your way to work, and the feeling of loneliness sneaks into that space, too. Or you’re perusing social media, looking at photos of glistening faces, of glistening lives. And the ache of loneliness surges. Or you think you’re the only one who gets panicked at the grocery store, the only one who still mourns a loved one’s loss 30 years later, the only one who doesn’t speak to their family, the only one who feels lost.
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Getting Over the Hurt of an Affair

Your partner was unfaithful and now you are trying to get past all the hurt it’s causing you. You may be experiencing a number of different emotions including embarrassment, shame, guilt, anger, and sadness. You are probably going through a rollercoaster of feelings; loving and hating your spouse, all at the same time. Maybe you are wondering if this incredible pain will ever go away and end.
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Living with an Aging Parent

My mother is 85, and she still drives and lives alone.

When people see her they say “she never changes.” She took care of me when I went through two bouts of cancer, one in 2012 and the other in 2016. In short, Mom is in excellent shape for her age.

But lately, she’s been moving a bit slower and seeming more like the octogenarian that she is.
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5 Common Misconceptions About Grief

Like many painful emotions, we don’t talk much about grief.
Grief is the emotional experience that results from any type of loss. Being the experience-that-must-not-be-named (yes, I just made a Harry Potter reference) gives rise to lot of confusion and misconceptions about what grief actually is, so I’d like to take the chance to debunk some of these erroneous ideas.
1. “It’s the same as depression.”
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Grief and Loss

What to Do When You Feel Lost After Divorce

Divorce is tough for many reasons. Not only are we dealing with the emotions and logistics and finances, but after the dust has settled, we may feel like our life's plans have changed direction. The life you planned and your vision of the future may disappear, leaving you with a feeling of not knowing what to do or where to go from here.

But when you feel like this, don’t panic! There is merely one thing you must remember:
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Grief and Loss

To Succeed in Marriage, Clear the Decks

Do you have unfinished business? Most of us do. It’s important to gain a sense of closure about a past relationship in order to succeed in a new one.    

Closure, in the psychological sense, means “the state of experiencing an emotional conclusion to a difficult life event.” 1 Typical situations that call for closure are the loss of a romantic partner, spouse, or parent. Another can involve grieving the absence of a healthier home environment in which one was raised.  
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How to Be with Sadness

The thought of going to a funeral used to be a terrifying prospect for me. Walking into a room filled with sadness and grief evoked -- well -- an intense desire not to go. Anxiety was all I could feel. It obscured the feelings I wanted to have like sadness and compassion. And, I secretly felt ashamed that I didn’t have “the right” feelings.

Core emotions, like sadness, are evolutionarily designed survival programs that all of us have. They are hard-wired deep in the middle part of the brain and arise involuntarily depending on what is going on in our immediate environment. 
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