Superstitions: Coping with Uncertainty

By Suzanne Phillips, Psy.D., ABPP

black catAre you superstitious? Do you knock on wood? Wear a lucky jersey when your favorite team plays? Believe deaths occur in three’s or use your horoscope as a life guide?

If so, you are not alone. It may surprise you to know that according to a 2012 CBS News poll, 51% of Americans endorse “knocking on wood” to insure good luck or ward off adversity, and 17% of Americans believe in the power of sports superstitions, like fans wearing lucky hats, to determine the outcome of a game!



Reducing Procrastination By Addressing The Role of Anxiety

By Suzanne Phillips, Psy.D., ABPP

Most of us procrastinate about doing some things, some of the time. I may put off folding clothes and you may find yourself avoiding the mail, the boxes in the garage or the report due next week.  For 20% of men and women in the US, procrastination becomes a pervasive life style pattern that impairs quality of life by limiting success, compromising relationships and lowering self-esteem.boy sitting with dog

Procrastination and Anxiety

While there are many different reasons offered for procrastination, one dynamic that underscores many of them and much of the delaying or postponement of responsibilities is the difficulty regulating anxiety. In a sense, procrastination becomes a default position which offers a temporary fix but ultimately adds more anxiety.



Collateral Damage: What Children Say About Domestic Violence

By Suzanne Phillips, Psy.D., ABPP

Domestic Violence persists as a complicated and serious problem across geography, age, income, race, gender, religion and ethnicities. Women experience more than 4 million physical assaults and rapes because of their partners, and men are victims of nearly 3 million physical assaults. Eighty-five percent of domestic violence victims are women.girl domestic violence

Children have no control over domestic violence. In fact, they are the collateral damage of the unregulated verbal and physical abuse of the adults in their lives. Michael Paymar, author of Violent No More: Helping Men End Domestic Abuse, reports that children are present during 80% of the assaults against their mothers.

A newly published nationwide study of 517 children who had witnessed domestic violence, including beating, hitting or kicking of a parent or caregiver, is one of the first studies that actually asks what children have to say about domestic violence.



Men and Women After Trauma: Coping With Differences

By Suzanne Phillips, Psy.D., ABPP

Do men and women react differently after trauma? Yes. Does it mean one suffers more than the other? No. Do the differences confuse and often create tension for couples? Too often.



Change Perspective To Change Your Fear of Failure

By Suzanne Phillips, Psy.D., ABPP

There are lots of things that we cannot control in life. One thing that we can change is our perspective. Like the lens on a camera, how we see things belongs to us and can be adjusted to see things differently, more clearly, and from a different angle. Given that our perspective bears on our feelings, our thoughts and our behavior—the ability to change perspective can be a resource for changing aspects of our life.

In their book NLP: A Changing Perspective, Dr. Rachel Hott and Steve Leeds lay out some principles for looking at life from different perspectives. What if we applied some of their principles to the “Fear of Failure?” 



A Key to Avoiding Friendship Problems: Mentalization

By Suzanne Phillips, Psy.D., ABPP

There is considerable evidence that friendships enhance our physical and emotional well-being. A recent study by John Cacioppo at the University of Chicago even suggests that the feeling of extreme loneliness increases the risk of premature death by 14 percent.

Culturally the notion of having and holding friends is passed on to us from early childhood:

“We’ll be Friends Forever, won’t we, Pooh?’ asked Piglet. Even longer,’ Pooh answered.”― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Poohfriends

Despite the benefits, however, friendships are complicated and at times problematic. The key to avoid problems in friendships is to begin with you, the only person you can ever really know or control and to use mentalization.



Survive the First Four Years of Marriage: Use Anger Management

By Suzanne Phillips, Psy.D., ABPP

We know that only half of all first marriages make it. What we often don’t recognize is that the first four years seem to be important ones in shaping, making or breaking a marital relationship.

Research has long pointed to communication as core to a couple’s satisfaction and regulation of conflict. A study by Ronald Rogge and Tom Bradbury, uncovers another tipping point of early marriage survival.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

  • The research sample included 60 couples married less than 6 months, with average age in the mid-twenties, average incomes between 20,000-30,000 and of mixed ethnicity (White 75%, Latino 10%, Asian 7%, and African American 5%).
  • What the researchers found in following up every six months for four years was that communication did make a difference in marital satisfaction and dissatisfaction, but dissatisfied couples remained together.
  • The true tipping point to divorce in the first four years of the marriages for this sample was aggression.


Love Means–Wanting To Know Your Partner More

By Suzanne Phillips, Psy.D., ABPP

One of the most recognized signs of relationship potential is someone’s interest in knowing us. They want to know about our past, our present, and our dreams for the future. They want our opinion of the movie and whether we like sushi or pasta. They look at us with rapt attention. When we resonate with mutual interest and delight, when we also want to know about them, we share an essential ingredient for falling in love- the desire to know.



Four Essential Ingredients in Loving and Sustaining Marriages

By Suzanne Phillips, Psy.D., ABPP

In his latest book, Love Illuminated, Daniel Jones concludes, after culling over thousands of essays written to his Modern Love Column in the New York Times, that what most people really want is a loving and permanent relationship.older couple

Evidence for this is the over 13.5 million self-help books addressing relationships and the interest by so many couples in improving and sustaining their love.

Given the deluge of information offered, I have siphoned out four essential ingredients that can be found in satisfied, long-lasting marriages.



A Simple Way to Enhance Intimacy: Watch TV “Together”

By Suzanne Phillips, Psy.D., ABPP

Research tells us that what is novel or out of the ordinary has been found to change neurochemistry and actually stimulate hormones related to excitement and desire. If you are one of many couples who like different TV shows that you watch in different rooms, consider the novelty of finding, saving and watching a show together. It may well enhance intimacy!couplewatchingtv

Enhanced intimacy is much more than watching a show together once and ending up being sexual. It is building a pattern that includes a mini pause in the midst of a non-stop culture, with non-stop media prompts to privately share something interesting and enjoyable. In a couples’ life the treasures are often found in the simple things shared.



 
Healing Together

Suzanne Phillips, Psy.D., ABPP & Dianne Kane, DSW are the authors of Healing Together: A Couple's Guide to Coping with Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress. Pick up the book today!

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