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Happiness

Why It’s Never Too Late to Heal Your Mind

Brian had suffered for years from an intractable depression for which he had been hospitalized.

He had been through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychoanalytic psychotherapy, supportive therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT).

He received varied diagnoses from major depression to bipolar disorder to dependent personality disorder. He had tried many medications that had proven ineffective. The psychiatrist who referred him told me he was hopeless.
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Creativity

When Therapy Changes a Life

There are many forms of art that can be used in therapy. Finger painting is one of the mediums that is fun and entertaining as clients explore their emotions through paint. While art does not always require a prompt, it can often serve as a means for helping client’s see their progress in therapy.

One theme that can be used is before and after. Clients are asked to paint a picture of what their anxiety felt like before they began therapy. Most often they are experiencing a lot of distress. They often feel like something is wrong with them. They feel shame and/or embarrassment that they are unable to handle life’s challenges. They are struggling with anxious thoughts that do not make sense to them no matter how hard they try to organize it in their mind. Art allows clients to externalize their experience.
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Habits

4 Steps to Making Any Change You Desire

Lucy was drawing to a close in her counseling work with me when she said, "You know, this isn’t how I thought I would feel."

"What do you mean?" I asked her.

"When I started counseling," she said, "I thought I’d have to become a completely different person in order to be happier. That I had to fix a deficiency in some way that seemed impossible and overwhelming. But it turns out that this feeling I have now -- of lightness, of possibility, of more confidence and trust in myself -- I just needed to lean into that more. Asking myself ‘in the moment’ if something is right for me is not selfish, but is actually kinder to others as well as me. I’m pleasantly surprised and so relieved that I didn’t need to transform into someone else to be more content."
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Marriage and Divorce

The Key to Success for Marriage-Minded Singles

Often a woman (or man) who wants marriage can get in her own way without knowing it. Ambivalence about marrying can cause her to stay involved with a man who won’t commit or to reject any man who will. For various reasons, she may become involved with a man or with a series of men who lack qualities essential for her happiness. After such a relationship or after a disappointing marriage, she may become stuck in bitterness and cynicism about being able to have a successful marriage. Lana’s story below shows how this can happen and how she overcame her self-defeating pattern and is now happily married.
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Addiction

To Everything There Is a Season: Can Time of Year Impact Our Perspective on Death?

Recently I was speaking with a couple whose adult son died two months ago of a drug overdose. These parents adored him and knew he was dealing with emotional challenges. They did what they could to let him know he was loved and they were with him come what may. They attempted to get him help. He was surrounded by a multi-generational family who thought the world of him.

As we processed their experience and they openly shared their grief, they said something that in all my years as a therapist, I had not considered. They both acknowledged that as we approached the threshold between summer and autumn, they were experiencing a heightened sense of loss.
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Anger

How to Have Difficult Conversations

Human beings are hardwired for communication. It is one way in which we connect with each other initially, bond with each other eventually and understand each other, ideally. There are times when what we think, feel and say don’t mesh and a rift occurs between people both personally and professionally. One factor that often plays into communication snafus relate to gender training; and what I think of as the "universal translator" (he says one thing and she hears something else, or vice versa).

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Men

The Feeling that You Are “Not Enough”

Mike believed he had a good life and felt lucky for all the things he had. He was married to a loving wife, had a good job, owned a nice house, and had 3 healthy kids.

Despite all his good fortune, Mike could not shake the nagging feeling that he wasn’t enough. "I should be more successful. I should make more money. I should be where my boss is. I should have a graduate degree. I should have a bigger house. I should have more friends." These were some of the “shoulds” that plagued him on a daily basis.
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Depression

Even Therapists Get the Blues

"Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them -- every day begin the task anew." -Saint Francis de Sales
My first depressive episode came at the age of 19, again at 23 and then again at 27. A decade later I would graduate with a Masters degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. In that time came pharmacology and psychotherapy.  I also found what behaviors and beliefs helped me take care of myself and have allowed me to maintain my mental health ever since.
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Marriage and Divorce

Why Men Give Up Their Identity in a Relationship

Over the past 30 years of working as a psychologist with men doing individual and group therapy, I have often seen men struggling to maintain either the romance or friendship or both in their intimate relationships. It’s a subject I’ve been investigating and exploring for much of my professional and personal life. I’ve often noticed my men clients complaining about their relationships in a way that is troubling. Why is my wife so controlling? I feel like I never do things right by her, and she always finds something to criticize; is there such a thing as the-glass-is-always-half-empty syndrome?  It feels like she doesn’t appreciate me. She controls what restaurants we go to and where we go on vacation. Why doesn’t she value my input on how to raise our kids? I don’t know why I have to send the kids to private school; it puts so much pressure on us financially. I didn’t want to travel for one of my two-week’s vacation with my wife’s parents. I don’t know how to make her happy.  
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