Depression

8 Ways to Be a Better Partner in 2016

I posted this a few years ago, however it is always good, as we approach a new year, to improve the ways we approach our relationships. With the New Year, people often take the opportunity to re-evaluate who they are and consider the changes they'd like to make in their lives. This is something people would benefit from doing year round -- reflecting on the choices we make, the way we treat others, and our commitment to self-care. One of the mistakes people often make in their relationships is attempting to change their partner. Eventually, they end up realizing that the more they push their partner to change, the more resistant their partner becomes to that change. One of the secrets of a successful relationship is for each partner to continue to improve, both as a person and as a partner. If each person make the effort to be a good partner, the relationship takes care of itself. You each focus on taking care of each other, rather than worrying about how the other should take care of you.
Continue Reading

Anxiety

When is it Time to Change Therapists?

Based on my previous post about the usefulness and necessity of anger at one's therapist in the treatment -- rather than abandoning the treatment in these moments -- it was brought to my attention that a follow-up could be helpful to explore when switching therapists may be a good decision. It can't be overstated how complicated of an issue this really is. What makes changing therapists so complicated is understanding the greater picture of what's triggering the urge to leave. Is it something the therapist is specifically doing? Is a pattern being re-enacted by the client -- with the therapist --that happens in their own lives outside therapy as well (a very common phenomenon that can actually enhance the treatment)? Is it a dynamic that's triggering past emotional states that could actually be useful to understand in the treatment? Is the client wanting to leave the therapist for actually not being a good therapist, or is it more about the difficulty of facing the negative emotions within an overall good treatment? And so on. Basically, how does a person determine when the therapist is problematic, versus when the difficult emotions of an otherwise positive treatment are triggering a desire to leave?
Continue Reading

Anxiety

Fear of Flying: A Focused Approach

Fear of flying is a difficult phobia to treat with conventional therapy techniques. Therapists often attempt to treat this phobia with standard cognitive-behavioral techniques, but run into roadblocks because of realistic obstacles. For example, systematic desensitization runs into problems because nowadays a person can only get to security without a ticket. So a person can't just build up steps to the flight the way a person can do with, say, going to the high floor of a building in an elevator. Many therapists also attempt to treat this fear by focusing on relaxation techniques: mindfulness, meditation, etc. These are useful and can be helpful, but are generally not enough on their own when trying to overcome fear of flying. Some airlines try to help this phobia by offering courses to learn about flying, why it's safe, and all of the logical components of this issue. But this is rarely, if ever, enough to overcome this fear. While the professionals referenced above have good intentions, fear of flying is difficult to treat without a multi-faceted approach that specifically focuses on fear of flying itself. In other words, flying phobia requires its own focused approach.
Continue Reading

Divorce

How to Be Happy

Happiness is quite complicated, yet at the same time it really doesn't have to be. The problem with happiness is that there are certain fantasies that people hold onto that really distort a healthy sense of happiness. That being said, when it comes down to it, "happiness" is whatever it means for each person. However, movies, tv, media, and others have strongly influenced unrealistic expectations for what some people expect happiness to be.
Continue Reading

Divorce

Why Depression is So Difficult

I'm not naive enough (at least I don't think?) to think that I have the one reason that depression is such a difficult state of being. Depression has a different root for everyone -- and it's often a collection of sources, rather than just one thing contributing to depression. That being said, there is an overarching theme that I see with how people who are in depressive states experience depression, versus how people who are not in depressive states feel about depression.
Continue Reading

Divorce

Relationships: Breaking It, and Putting It Back Together?

Taking things apart can be such fun. It's a behavior often observed in children as they sit on the floor, building blocks, doing puzzles, etc., just to then turn around and destroy it, and then start over again. Or sometimes, it's taking apart household items and then attempting to restore them. Either way, this isn't only seen in children. Adults can also possess the drive to create, destroy, re-create, and so on. This can be in more obvious ways (and not all enactments of this process are 'unhealthy'), such as updating and re-updating a home, or having strings of relationships in which each new partner seems good at first, but then becomes expendable in favor of the newer, theoretically upgraded version of the last.
Continue Reading

Divorce

Are You Becoming Your Parents?

It's one of the most subtle, underlying questions that I hear in various forms nearly every day in my office. Some version of, "Am I going to become like my parents?", or "Please don't let me turn into my parents." Some people believe that they are doomed to the fate of carrying on their parents worst qualities, while others try their hardest to be as different from their parents and their parents' values as possible with the hope of drowning out any possible identification with their parents.
Continue Reading

Divorce

The REAL Reason Relationships Break Up

A while back, I wrote an article about why relationships break up.  Though that article still stands, there are certainly things that could be added to it.  Why do relationships actually break up? In another previous article, I discussed what causes attraction. In short, we as people tend to cut-off parts of ourselves that are unsafe or threatening in some way. For example, if we figured out when growing up that we would be scolded for being open and free-spirited in certain ways, it's possible we may become more reserved and close-off. What tends to happen with attraction is that we subconsciously find people both who remind us of "home" (family environment), emotionally, while also bringing in those previously cut-off parts of ourselves that we unconsciously crave. So if the closed-off person finds someone who is free-spirited, that's often an attractor because the person has learned that it's too risky to experience free-spirited feelings inside, and is now able to live out the free-spirited feelings externally, through another person.
Continue Reading

Divorce

Migraine Therapy — More Effective Than Medication?

Can a specialized form of psychotherapy, geared towards relief in chronic migraine headaches, possibly be just as effective, if not more effective, than medication? It's long been assumed that when a person has a history of migraines, they have a purely medical (physiological) issue. This isn't necessarily incorrect, by any means. It certainly seems purely medical when a person has a debilitating headache, nausea, and visual and/or aural disturbances (along with many other types of migraine auras that exist). When there is a medical issue, usually medical treatments are utilized to resolve the issue (conventional and/or alternative treatments). But what happens when you exhaust the various medical approaches, and you still find yourself struggling with chronic migraines?
Continue Reading

Divorce

The Value of Therapy: Opening the Past…to Create Change and Happiness in the Present

It can be difficult to appreciate who we are. There's so much each of us has to offer to each other, and so much to offer the world. It would be nice if everyone could look at themselves and realize the power they possess within themselves. Unfortunately, it isn't so easy. We feel the pain, hurt, and rejection  more than we feel the happiness, satisfaction, achievements, general positives, and so on. As a result, we end up with depression, anxiety, addiction, repeated unhealthy relationships, and more. Wouldn't it be nice if we could just let the negatives roll off of our backs, rather than holding onto them to the point of emotional injury? Obviously, it's not a conscious decision. We don't desire to hold onto the negatives, but when the hits are painful and repeated, eventually we're going to get hurt. I imagine it more along the lines of rug burn. At first, it's not such a big deal, but if you experience it repeatedly, it becomes raw and painful.
Continue Reading