Happiness

Gratitude, with Attitude

It's been proven that expressions of daily gratitude increase happiness, but for many people, the idea just feels too hokey. Or maybe you've tried and found it oddly difficult to answer the question: What are you grateful for? Maybe life is a struggle right now, and that just feels like the wrong question.

Here are some ways to frame the gratitude question with a different edge.
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Adolescents

Fat-Shaming, Skinny-Shaming: What Every Mother Should Know

And it's not bad for dads to read this, either! But Moms, I'm going to be talking to you specifically.

The reason is: In most cases, body shame begins at home. While our culture undoubtedly plays a role in how our children see themselves and their bodies, the first culture any of us experience is our family's.

And when I talk to teen girls in my therapy office who have body, eating, and/or self-esteem issues, what I often hear is that the first role model they ever had--their moms--had some of those issues themselves (though those mothers often believe they've kept them hidden, they tend to eke out in small ways that I'll describe below.) Or those mothers weren't aware of the way judgmental comments they make about others impact their own children.

(Interestingly, I've actually never heard this from a young girl: "My father was always saying he was too fat." There's something cultural in that as well.  But that's for another blog.)

Here are some thoughts on how you can make your family culture a healthy one. It's never too early (or too late) to start.
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Abuse

What Makes a Relationship Toxic

You might be wondering: Am I in a toxic relationship? To be honest, the fact that you're even asking the question (or reading this post) strongly suggests that you are. Deep down, we all know what's good for us, what makes us stronger, and what does the opposite.

This post is about eliminating uncertainty, and confronting denial. Toxic relationships weaken us. Read on to see if your relationship fits the profile.
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Psychotherapy

Germanwings: A Wake-up Call for Mental Health Professionals

I have no insider knowledge of the specific mental health treatment that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz did or did not receive, or what valiant efforts those professionals may (or may not) have made to avoid the tragedy that occurred. But the unsuccessful treatment that Lubitz underwent can serve as a wake-up call to all of us in the field.

Mental health work can have significant and far-reaching consequences. When we enter into other people's psyches, we must do so with full awareness that it can be perilous work. We have to recognize the responsibility we hold.

In any profession, it's easy to become complacent, or burnt out. This is a reminder of what could be at stake if we phone it in. Because I'm fairly certain Lubitz's doctors didn't foresee this. You never know what people are truly capable of. But as a clinician, you have to stay focused on your own capabilities--your strengths, your weaknesses, your blind spots.

Here are some thoughts on how to do that.
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Abuse

Eliminating Verbal Abuse Once and for All

Verbal abuse is derogatory language with the intent to humiliate, hurt, and/or undermine.  It robs the other person of their dignity and sense of security.

Mostly, verbal abuse occurs in anger; sometimes it occurs with cold calculation (in which case, the abuser is much more of a threat to another's well-being and that relationship should be terminated immediately.)

I'm going to address the former situation: Where abuse occurs in anger, when self-control is lost, and the person is remorseful afterward.

The tips I'm going to give apply to both the person doing the abusing, and the person being abused, because ending abuse while remaining in the relationship is actually a collaborative effort.
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