Who of us does not wish to feel at ease, able to express our fullest self wherever we may find ourselves. The counseling process is an invitation to grow, to remember who we are, to gain ways to fully express our true self and our potential. You will find my style to be both supportive and collaborative, and the environment in which we meet to be warm and welcoming. My education and therapeutic training is in cognitive/behavioral, humanistic and transpersonal approaches.

It is my hope that you may find these topics and stories rich with meaning. May they bring a greater understanding into your life with regard to a particular situation that you are facing. All the thoughts that you will find here are intended in a variety of ways to support you on your life’s journey. If there is a topic you are interested in and do not find it on this page, please feel free to email me and I will include it in these pages.

Red Light / Green Light / Yellow Light–The Art of Making Choices

Ask your adolescent (as well as yourself) the following question:  traffic_lights_narrowweb__300x425,0When you are driving or when you are with someone who is driving, and the light turns yellow, what do you do?  Often times the answer is “I speed up and I go through it.”  You might then say, “That’s interesting because in the driver’s manual the instruction is “prepare to stop.” So, what’s the point of this conversation with them?  It would be good for them to know that red means stop, green means go and yellow means prepare to stop.  Actually, when we see green it means go after checking oncoming traffic from both sides.  And when the light is yellow it means prepare to stop unless doing so puts you in the middle of the intersection—then it means proceed and put yourself out of harm’s way.  Read more »

Buying Milk at the Supermarket

Often times we find ourselves agreeing to do something, sure we are clear about the agreement, sure that the other person has the same understanding of the agreement—but then milk cartonhow come there can be such misunderstandings that leave us so perplexed?  “I don’t want you home late tonight” can mean one thing for a parent (e.g., 10:00 pm) and another for an adolescent (e.g., midnight).  Clean the kitchen may mean one thing for a parent (clean and put away the dishes, clean the counter, sweep the floor) and another thing for your adolescent (put the dishes in the sink).

To teach your teenager about agreements and the need for them to insure their own clarity and that they and the other are agreeing to the same thing, you can do the following exercise: Read more »

Real Guilt / False Guilt

There is a difference between the two.  There are two questions to assess real guilt:  did I break the law; did I do something to better myself at the expense of another person’s well being.  guiltIf the answer is yes to either of these questions, then the feeling of guilt is very healthy because it tells us we are doing something that isn’t okay.  False-guilt is driven by the tyranny of should and it is a consequence of self-accusations that are demoralizing.  The experience of guilt in this case is very real—no doubt about it—but the source of the guilt is not based in reality but in our self-berating thoughts that have as much substance as dust bunnies.A friend and colleague of mine,  Karen Stevensen, MSW, had said that one of the purposes of guilt is to give us a sensation, a tap on the shoulder so to speak, that whispers to us we  need to correct the behavior.  Once we acknowledge that, then we can let go of the guilt because it has served its purpose.  The purpose of this guilty feeling is corrective in nature and once we change our behavior guilt must be released.

Disappointments are Bound to Happen

Baseball has its curve balls, golf its sand traps and water holes; football its blockers.  Clouds protect us from the sun and they also bring rain—sometimes of torrential magnitude.  We must make room for lamentations; make space to grieve lest we become cynical.

disappointmentWhen we are infants our cries brought the world to us, cry and we were fed, cry and we were changed and cleaned, cry and we were held.  We were the center around which others came to meet and serve our needs.

Recall, if you will, being two years old, hearing and comprehending “no” in a way as never before.  “What do you mean I can’t have that pretty red balloon?”  “Why can’t I put this in my mouth?  But I want another cookie!!!”  Cry we did as we have always done.  BUT, it doesn’t get us what we want.  So, we cried louder and we still didn’t get what we wanted. What’s going on?  It used to work!  Who changed the rules?  Now we are not only crying as a way to indicate what we want, we are crying because we are NOT getting what we want.  So, we cry louder and more persistently.  Still not getting what we want.  Now not only are we crying as a way to indicate what we want, and not only are we crying because we are frustrated we now are crying because we are confused and cannot get the world to do as we bid.  Disappointment… bound to happen.

Our children need to know:  disappointments bound to happen, part of life, not an indication of an inner defect!  Thwarted outcome… bound to happen.  Curve ball… bound to happen.  Choppy waters… bound to happen.  Not getting what you want… bound to happen.  Disappointment is bound to happen.  Our sacred charges as parents is teaching our children of its inevitability and affirm for them their innate inner resiliency to prevail.

Recognizing our children’s worst behavior as their greatest strength:

Wendy Mogel, a talented and insightful author of the books, Blessings of a Skinned Knee,  spoke of the array of behaviors and traits that are to be found as expressions of our personalities.  One of our jobs as a parent is to acknowledge that we need to get to know who this individual is that has blessed our home with his or her presence; to know that apart from our own desires and dreams for this child, they are their own person.  strength2Our job is to know who they are as they unfold.  All too often we we feel our expectations are thwarted because our children (or for that matter our friends or significant others–be it a spouse, parent, sibling) are not meeting our expectations we will tend to respond with frustration and reactions that will attempt to get them to align with our desires.  So, if a child is not studying as we would like, we may think of them as lazy.  If our friend is showing anger we may say they are controlling.  Wendy invites us to consider other lenses out of which to look.  Consider the following and how these points of view might make a difference in how you would respond to another:
A stubborn or whining child is persistent.
A complaining child is discerning
An overeating child is lusty.
A loud child is exuberant.
A shy child is cautious and modest.
A reckless, accident-prone child is daring and adventurous.
A bossy child is commanding and authoritative.
A picky, nervous, obsessive child  is serious.

Tiger Woods and His Golf Game

Our children need to know that disappointments, problems, failures are bound to happen, they are inevitable, and that is part of life.

sand trapThe box problems come in, the way we think about problems is, “there is something wrong with me” or “this shouldn’t have happened, I’m dumb.”

Let your adolescent know: Feelings are not facts and self-critical thoughts are not facts. Problems and failures don’t mean anything negative about us or that there is something wrong with us of that failure shouldn’t have happened.  Tiger Woods is the best golfer in history and his golf ball will sometimes go into a sand trap.  Sometimes he might have aimed it there because his stance was off or his concentration; sometimes he didn’t aim it there but the wind took it there.  Read more »