You've decided that it's just too difficult trying to manage things on your own and now you're ready to reach out for a little help, but web research has you completely overwhelmed. Understandable! Finding a therapist can be difficult especially if you don't have the benefit of a referral from a trusted friend or colleague, and you're likely unsure of the type of counseling that would best suit your needs. Sources such as Psychology Today and GoodTherapy can provide profiles of therapists in your area, as well as list the expertise of the counselors, psychotherapists, psychologists and psychiatrists. Professionals tend to specialize in many areas such as: grief and loss, aging, adolescent concerns, transitions, crisis counseling, anxiety, depression, addictions, alcoholism, stress reduction, trauma resolution, marital and relationship difficulties, family concerns, spirituality and more. To make your search a little less daunting, I've included a partial listing of psychotherapy modalities that licensed psychotherapists and psychologists use with their clients.Read More
As a therapist who treats clients with Eating Disorders, I am constantly reminded of the need for an integrative treatment approach and psychotherapy that addresses the complexities that ED's present for clients. Does Mindfulness help or hinder eating disorder recovery? The best answer may be that it depends on the nature of the eating disorder, and the stage of treatment. This is a much-debated topic within the ED treatment community.
Mindfulness, in addition to DBT Skills can be incredibly helpful for patients and clients in recovery, and in many aspects of their lives, especially when trying to manage powerful emotions and regulate mood. Some clients have reported that attempts at mindfulness early in recovery, especially during meals, creates intolerable anxiety and distress that interferes with the process of eating. Clients with Anorexia Nervosa find that distraction is the most helpful way to eat. "Thinking" about what's being consumed and eaten in early ED recovery is described as excruciating by clients. Distraction allows them to "pair" an enjoyable activity with mealtime, which is a very different experience than meals with the demand that they be "mindful" of excruciating feelings of fullness and any other sensations.Read More
As a therapist who enjoys providing marriage and couples therapy, I've made the observation that partners struggle to work as a team during the busy, stress-filled and conflict-ridden holiday season. Feeling torn with competing interests such as family needs, travel and extra demands on time and energy can bring many to exasperation and exhaustion. If you tend to suffer because of your "people pleasing" nature and an inability to say NO, protecting your boundaries or creating healthy boundaries for yourself (perhaps you're new at this?) can be a real challenge.
Don't suffer in silence, or loudness. Many couples and partners enter marriage and family counseling after the holiday season because they feel disconnected, hurt and misunderstood, in addition to a range of other experiences, including losing once-enjoyed intimacy. Being in the company of family and friends can trigger feelings of resentment, reignite old wounds as well as highlight family of origin issues--leaving even high-functioning couples feeling de-skilled and in need of help to sort through the chaos.
So, how do you reconnect after fighting, communication problems and hurt feelings? Having some simple tools at your ready can help you avoid the downward spiral. What follows areRead More
Many of my psychotherapy patients ask for a Dialectical Behavior Therapy or a DBT cheat-sheet to have handy because... life happens, it's easy to feel overwhelmed, and it's hard to remember what to during those challenging moments! This is a basic list to remind you that you DO have other options at your disposal to help you better manage your relationship problems, trauma symptoms, addiction and eating disorder triggers, anxiety, depression, self-harm urges, relationship challenges, stress and strong emotions. With the holiday season comes lots of stress--and with no shortage of emotional triggers--people struggle with: alcohol and food in abundance, family stressors and memories that reignite feelings of anger, loss, sadness, longing and loneliness.
Even though situations and stressors are present, DBT can help you make healthier choices for yourself! A good place to start is to remember to focus, breathe and be mindful. When the skills don't workRead More
If you're curious about how EMDR psychotherapy can help you resolve trauma, negative experiences and other challenges, please enjoy this short YouTube video that includes the voices of clients who now experience freedom and hope as a result of their EMDR treatment. Not just for trauma resolution, EMDR psychotherapy is an effective treatment for a variety of concerns including: eating disorders, addictions, compulsions, phobias, guilt, depression, anxiety, shame, negative self-concept, performance problems, self-sabotage, feeling "stuck" and more. You can learn about EMDR, or find an EMDR therapist by visiting EMDRIA and by watching this video.Read More
“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won't either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.”
~Louise Erdrich, The Painted DrumRead More
“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt.” ~Charles M. Schulz
It's good to try new things, especially if you're focused on creating a healthier lifestyle for yourself or your family! Many are now being told that they must eliminate gluten, excess carbs, added sugar and dairy, because of health concerns and food sensitivities. If this is the case for you, I believe that you'll be happier and more successful if you find ways to continue enjoying food by finding creative ways to eat, and avoid foods that contribute to autoimmune problems, inflammation and other health concerns. Restriction tends to be a recipe for relapse.
Healthy, raw fats like coconut oil and avocado helps your body manage sugar better. We get the pleasant experience of sweet, with significantly less "crash." Nature's exquisite elixir honey, in addition to raw cacao, both contain an abundance of B-vitamins, antioxidants and essential minerals--all natural immune system boosters. Enjoy this "guilt-free" and very satisfying, healthy raw and yummy desserts.
Raw Chocolate Avocado Mousse:Read More
As a psychotherapist and coach in Manhattan, I treat clients with a range of concerns from stress and life challenges to recovery from addictions and trauma. Many have suffered developmental trauma(s) or single incident trauma and now have symptoms of PTSD which impacts many aspects of their lives, including personal relationships and work. In order to understand EMDR, one needs to be clear about how trauma can affect the brain.
When an individual experiences a traumatic event or multiple traumas they may develop what is known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD as a response to the overwhelming event(s). When this occurs, the brain fails to successfully process the trauma leaving it "stuck" or "frozen" in the central nervous system. This often leads to numbness, dissociation, severe anxiety, depression, insomnia, addictions, physical complaints and an inability to experience "safety." In everyday life, in the "here and now," the body fails to recognize that the person is now "safe" and it reacts as though the danger is current and in present time, leaving the individual in a state of emotional and physical arousal.
EMDR therapy as a treatment is unique because it facilitates the processing of trauma information that has become "stuck" in the central nervous system. The various elementsRead More
Whether you're trying to manage eating disorder symptoms or alcohol/substance abuse problems, creating a "coping skills" toolbox--a place to keep things that can help you feel calmer and more grounded is a practical and helpful tactic in supporting your recovery goals. Instead of using symptoms and negative behaviors, turning to your toolbox can give you other options that immediately engage your five senses and include healthier distractions, self-soothing strategies and making different choices in the moment!
What you will need for your self-regulation and coping toolbox:
Tactile (something to feel) - textures, warm or cold objects, stuffed animal, stress ball, the ground beneath your feet
Visual (something to see or look at) - flowers, photos, art, vivid colors
Auditory (something to hear) - music, focusing on sounds in the environment, meditation guides, books on tape
Olfactory (something to smell) - essential oils, perfume, candles
Gustatory (something to taste) - gum, mints, sweet or sour candies
How to Distract yourself when you have the urge to reward yourself in negative ways or when you have self-destructive urges:Read More
There is an art to being "present" especially in a stressed-out culture of distractions, hyper-productivity and social media, however you can learn to think differently and even rewire your brain. Many therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists recommend Mindfulness and MBSR (mindfulness-based stress reduction) to help cope with anxiety and depression. What is the goal with mindfulness meditation? To learn to give your attention fully to whatever you may be doing -- eating, loving, working, parenting, exercising, doing chores, as examples. The application of mindfulness is limitless, and can generalize to good health, life-satisfaction and enhanced well-being.
It's easy. Heres how to begin:
Find a comfortable seat. Keep your back straight, soften and drop your shoulders. You can close your eyes, or keep them open. Take a deep breath.
Notice your breathing, without changing it. Focus on the sensation of air moving in and out of your nostrils, notice your lungs expanding and contracting with each breath.
It is normal to have thoughts that distract you from your focus on the breath. Acknowledge these thoughts and then return your focus to your breathing. Keep doing this.
Don't judge yourself, simply notice any distractions, sounds in the environment, and especially, that the mind wants to wander. A new thought comes into your mind, notice it, then return to your breathing.
Dedicate 5-20 minutes per day to this practice of mindfulness. As it becomes easier, you can practice being fully present with your daily activities--breathing, observing, noticing whatever may be present for you in these moments with acceptance andRead More
When you work with couples, the topic of sex is likely to surface at some point. If it doesn't, that becomes interesting, and something worthy of exploring during relationship counseling. Sex is complicated! It's an area that suffers when other problems and conflicts arise within the relationship. Sex, or lack of it, can be impacted by stress, anger, illness, hormones, parenting and other life challenges. Some people use sex to reward or punish their partner. Individuals certainly have varying levels of interest in sex. We know that one's ability to enjoy their sexuality can be impacted by many factors including: family of origin, culture, religion, media messages, past experiences and sexual trauma. People get lazy, especially in long-term relationships.Read More
As a mind-body practitioner and psychotherapist in New York City, I love considering the exquisite interplay between the mind and body, especially when clients present with symptoms that can be confusing. Both women and men who seek therapy or consultations frequently report symptoms that seem to point to anxiety or depression such as: fatigue, lethargy, insomnia and sleep disturbances, decreased social activity, lethargy, decreased libido, appetite changes, and anhedonia. The picture, and the treatment plan, is not always immediately clear. As a society, we are quick to prescribe an antidepressant or medication ignoring some easily-remedied or even the root cause of suffering. Psychotherapists, when they are oriented to a mind-body connection are in the perfect position to take a comprehensive and holistic approach to helping clients improve both emotional and physical well being.
What do we know about depression and chronic inflammation? Studies show a link betweenRead More
"If you're engaged in 'hating and blaming' yourself, you're unable to love your world." (Paraphrased) ~Tara Brach
How does your self-blame and hate give you the illusion of control?
Can you pause and notice how often you "turn" on yourself each day?Read More
No, you can’t always get what you want…
But if you try sometime, you just might find
You get what you need" ~The Rolling Stones
What if many or all of life's obstacles or challenges are placed before us to help us grow and learn--a gift, if you will? When I consider the difficult people or circumstances in my own life--the complicated feelings and emotions that are ignited in me, triggers that I didn't even know existed, I always find that I learn something important about myself. What I choose to do with the information or lesson is a different matter. Life can be messy; the love, the hate, the range between the two extremes, so much confusion, conflict and ambivalence--it's no wonder that it can feel safer to hide and protect yourself, rather than face vulnerability, pain and uncertainty. As protective as this may feel, it keeps your life small, and the many potential opportunities to grow unmet. We are taught that dark feelings and emotions are bad, and that shadow parts of us should be suppressed or disavowed. This is never an effective strategy because it doesn't actually work. Shadow aspects remain, and fester; they will most certainly find their way to the surface in some other form. Embrace the range of your emotions, this will help you feel "whole" and lead a fuller and more authentic life.Read More
We all struggle with frustrations that tap our reserves. Some stem from life, external circumstances and interactions with others, and many are self-imposed. What are you "putting up with" in your life -- at home, at work or with friends, and how much is your capacity to please or tolerate things impacting the quality of your life? Are you wired to just ignore the mess and tolerate the "noise" in your life, or are you ready to tackle the things that are keeping you from living a life that gives your more satisfaction and self-efficacy? The problem is that these minor and major things have a way of building until it becomes a pile-up, which then feels so overwhelming that it's hard to know where to begin. Start with making a list of the things you'd like to more effectively manage or eliminate.
A few examples of the usual things that we put up with, or minor annoyances are: household clutter, broken things, tasks that have been put off, friends with bad behaviors and so on. Some major sources of things we tolerate might include an abusive work situation, a devaluing mother-in-law, an abusive relationship or the bullying behaviors of a partner. How are you impacted when the things you tolerate build and build until things feel, well, intolerable? What might you lose (real or fear of) if you confront these problems Most importantly, how would your life improve if you made some important and helpful changes?
Not addressing the growing pile of things in your life that torment you leads to many problems, including: mounting anxiety and stress reactions, feeling overwhelmed and stuck, feeling energetically drained and tapped as well as feeling sad and depressed. Eventually your ability to feel confident and effective and have a sense of agency in your life is compromised. So, how do you begin the process of fixing some of these problems, or at least minimizing the personal impact?
- Decide where to begin, maybe pick three things that you'd like to focus on. You can't do it all. A commitment to change and taking action can lead to feelings of empowerment and wellbeing.
Do you push people away, and if so, do you know what it is that you do, and why? Chances are, you might not be aware that you do this. Generally done out of fear, it's easier to tolerate ending it, before you are rejected, or hurt someone else before they hurt you. Often, this behavior is unconscious, or you may have some awareness that you do this. When you push others away you guarantee that you will be alone. You also miss out on important and possibly rich opportunities by avoiding potential pain that may or may not ever happen. Your life can improve by becoming aware of this reflexive and habitual pattern.
- Think of ONE thing that you do that pushes people away.
- Think of ONE thing that you do that draws people closer.
Some days are better than others, this we know! If you are able, just for a few minutes, drop the "I should be doing..." and try these simple mindfulness tips to ease your way on those less-than-ideal days...
Remember: Attention and gratitude...
On the difficult days notice how capable and sturdy your body is. You've made it through these days before. You would be helped to remember that you can do it again. You are resilient and still here. Perhaps you haven't slept, your body feels weak and yet it continues to serve you. Show gratitude and respect for the parts of your self, both physical and emotional, that feel overwhelmed or weakened. Despite your struggle, you may notice how your mind and body works to maintain balance. You've survived and even thrived on the tough days before. Your mind and body is competent and able -- it's designed to push through strain and it even compensates in some interesting ways. Breathe and rest as you can throughout the day needed moments of restoration.
Remember: Ground yourself...
Feel your feet planted firmly on the ground. Notice the gentle support of the chair beneath you as you place your hands on your thighs and just breathe. Continue to notice any sensations as your feet connect to the earth. As you go about your day, however busy it may be, you can still practice this simple mindfulness exercise. Direct your focus to the sensation of your heels as they touch the ground, notice the space between the ground and the arch of your foot and then your toes as they make contact with the ground. Stillness is not the best solution for some, especially those with high anxiety or individuals who struggle to tolerate sensations in the body. Meditation and yoga experts often fail some clients byRead More
Find a comfortable spot to sit, either seated or lying down. Take a moment to focus on softening your body and releasing any tension in your shoulders. Close your eyes.
Focus your attention on your breathing. Observe what it feels like to be "in" your body, in this moment, as you slowly breath in and then breathe out. As you spend a few minutes here, Imagine that you are “riding the wave” of your own breath. You feel safe.
Next, shift your attention to your thoughts. Begin to notice your thoughts. They are just thoughts. Nothing to do in this moment butRead More
How are your boundaries, and do you know how, when and where to draw the line? I will tolerate this, but I will not tolerate that. The inability to set boundaries is a problem that many of my psychotherapy and coaching clients struggle with in their lives. Like any newly-learned skill, the practice of setting clear and loving boundaries with others takes practice. Giving away precious energy, time and power is a common issue that many of my clients experience, which then leads them to feeling confused, depleted and resentful. Women in particular are more likely to be unclear about their own boundaries, and send messages to others that their boundaries are porous, leaving them vulnerable to boundary intrusion. If your boundaries are too porous, you are vulnerable to others and unable to lead an authentic life. On the other end of the spectrum, if your boundaries are too rigid, your life can be inflexible, constricted and overly-controlled. This creates problems for yourself, and others!
Many people ask "how can I develop a stronger sense of self?" Learning to set boundaries is a great place to begin, and you can learn a lot about yourself along the way. We know how important healthy relationships are to our well being, and having boundaries and setting limits is an important aspect of human relations -- in both our professional and personal lives.Read More
My coaching and therapy clients often express the desire to lead an honest and authentic life. Many are successful, busy and dynamic go-getters. They are also exhausted, frustrated and suffer regular bouts of self-loathing, conflict and anger. Many are people pleasers and believe that they are truly engaging in honest and real relationships. But they are not. They are engaging in acts of self-deception where their "true self," the part of them that holds their real wishes and desires is held hostage by the part of them that wants to please, or in simple language, be NICE.
This pattern is problematic, and you need to know why. Because it makes you unhappy, and stressed! Your precious time and energy is spent wishing you could undo something, say what you mean, get what you need, say no, speak your mind -- you get the picture. Is that all too familiar "disease to please" and "nice-itis" sabotaging your life?
Your relationships may be suffering because you aren't being honest. You've created an identity that you imagine people want, when in reality, they want the real you. When you say YES, when you really want to say NO, or you don't share your real feelings or disappointment about something, you deprive yourself and them of an honest interaction.
What's behind this behavior? Fear and identity are big drivers. You may fear hurting someone's feelings. But if you withhold honesty, you deprive them of an opportunity to grow and learn, or have a different experience. You've saved yourself some temporary, in-the-moment discomfort, but now you hate yourself. You're tired of your "nice" identity because it creates stress, it makes you cranky and creates more conflicts in your relationships when you have to spend energy trying to "fix" things. But mostly, it just doesn't get you what you want! The takeaway message is that you're not avoiding conflict and tension, you're creating it.Read More