Help For Anxiety, Obsessions, And Compulsions

Although some forms of anxiety are helpful because they motivate us to take healthy action (for example, anxiety about illness might lead us to seek treatment), there are other times when feelings of anxiety can lead to a disorder (for example, if the anxiety doesn’t make sense in a given situation, or if it is either so much or so intense that it interferes with a person’s sense of wellness or quality of life). The diagnosis “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder” (OCD) specifically refers to a type Continue reading →

Dealing With Narcissists

Based on the work of Heinz Kohut’s Self Psychology What are Narcissistic Vulnerabilities? Many of the “difficult people” that we encounter in life can be thought of as having narcissistic vulnerabilities. This means that it is very difficult for them to regulate their self-esteem, and that they are vulnerable to feeling very ashamed. These people often feel the need to use other people as selfobjects, meaning that they use other people to fulfills functions of their own selves that they cannot fulfill on their own, Continue reading →

Marriage Counseling and Couples Therapy

“A crisis is an opportunity for growth.” A marriage counselor, much like an alchemist, must take raw materials and somehow transform them into something precious. The raw materials of couples counseling are different for each couple- for some, it might be a sense of distance and growing apart, and the loneliness that comes with that. You might be asking yourself, “What’s happened to my relationship? We used to be so close but I can hardly remember those feelings because they seem so elusive right now”. Continue reading →

Childhood Dynamics in Adult Relationships

Childhood Dynamics in Adult Relationships     The past has a funny way of repeating itself, and many people find themselves re-experiencing family dynamics from childhood in their current adult relationships.   Whether it comes about through attraction to partners who match up with our mental pictures of what family life is supposed to look like; or by a process in which we subtly provoke our family members into roles that fit what’s in our minds; or even by simply imagining our family members to Continue reading →

Decision Anxiety

Decision Anxiety   What is it that makes it so hard for some people to make decisions, sometimes even simple ones?   Whether it’s feeling unable to make a decision in the first place; making decisions and then undoing them (for example, getting into a relationship and then immediately pushing the other person away, or getting a job only to start sabotaging it from day one); or sending mixed messages about what we want (for example, telling our children to lose weight, only to act Continue reading →

Shared Avoidance in Couples Therapy

Shared Avoidance in Couples Therapy Most of us know that difficult times can either bring us closer to the people we love, or draw us apart. Some relationships thrive in the face of adversity, while others break under the strain. What is it that makes the difference? Why do some couples manage to support each other when the going gets rough, while others seem to pull away from or blame each other?   One way to try to understand couples who start to unravel in Continue reading →

Learning from Experience is Painful Sometimes

Learning from Experience   It’s a well-known and sometimes paradoxical thing, but I do think it’s true: People often repeat painful experiences over and over again simply because they are afraid of the unfamiliar. Sometimes what we know, even though painful, is much easier than opening ourselves up to something new. However, even more problematic than our fears of the unfamiliar, can be our fears of focusing on the negative long enough to learn from it.   This came up recently with a young woman Continue reading →

Building Up “Distress Tolerance” in Ourselves and Our Children

The Benefits of Healthy “Distress Tolerance” Skills   Although pain and distress are inevitable parts of life, many of us lack the skills to manage our pain in effective ways.   Sometimes this comes from growing up with overprotective parents (who shielded us from having to learn skills to cope with discomfort), or from life experiences that were so painful that we learned to avoid pain because we were often overwhelmed by it.   Now, most people do not appreciate hearing about the benefits of Continue reading →