Which Horse Are You Riding On?

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Ever wonder what predicts divorce or a break up in a relationship? I do!  And so did Dr. John Gottman, known for his work on marital stability and relationship analysis.
Gottman employs scientific direct observations and methods to study marriages.  In his research, he found that not all negatives are alike.

According to his scientific studies, four patterns of interaction stood out as the most predictive of marital conflict and – ultimately – divorce.  He named these four patterns The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.




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What’s the worst betrayal of trust you can think of?  I know what you are thinking – cheating is!  It’s the ultimate betrayal – you say – and the one that ends the relationship.

Unfaithfulness is painful!  But there is another form of betrayal that is more dangerous and equally – if not more – painful!  And it starts long before infidelity creeps in.

This betrayal is sneaky!  It can be incredibly deceptive!  It enters relationship when you least expect it and sneaks out long after the damage is done!

It goes by the name of DISENGAGMENT!  It doesn’t care about you!  It lets go of connection you have!  It is selfish and only things about the self!  It doesn’t want to devote any time and effort on the relationship!

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5 Communication Mistakes Every Couple Makes!

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Communication you say?  But I talk to my partner ALL the time!  Well guess what, talking to your partner does not automatically mean you are communicating!  Lets think of the word ‘communication’ itself for a second.  The definition of which is, “exchange of information or news”.  Now allow yourself to reflect for a few seconds, when was the last time you actually exchanged information with your partner?  Take last night for an instance, when you came home from work and talked to your partner about your day.  How well do you think you were able to communicate your stress related to work, excitement with getting a new project completed, or the longing you felt as you wished for the day to be over?  Chances are, you did a good job of talking about your day without even communicating!  Don’t sweat it.  Couples make mistakes communicating all the time, and the good news is that communication is a skill that can be learned and improved upon.  Here are 5 common communication mistakes that I observed couples make:

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Does Your Personal Life Cease to Exist When Your Elder Parent Moves In?

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In the past, American culture has emphasized the traditional nuclear family consisting of a pair of adults and their non-adult children.  These days, multigenerational households are becoming increasingly more common.  As lifespans grow longer, healthcare costs rise, and financial inability to afford a home increases, more and more adults find themselves in a position to bring their aging parents into their home.  A decision to share a household brings up variety of challenges ranging from financial to personal, with caregiving (a person involved in assisting others with activities of daily living and/or medical tasks) being the most difficult.  Consider the following statistics:

·       More than 34 million unpaid caregivers provide care to someone age 18 and older who is ill or has a disability (AARP, 2008).

·       An estimated 21% of households in the United States are impacted by caregiving responsibilities (NAC, 2004).

·       Unpaid caregivers provide an estimated 90%of the long-term care (IOM, 2008).

·       The typical caregiver is a 46-year-old woman with some college experience and provides more than 20 hours of care each week to her mother (NAC, 2004).

·       Caregivers report having difficulty finding time for one’s self (35%), managing emotional and physical stress (29%), and balancing work and family responsibilities (29%) (NAC, 2004).

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What is my Prefrontal Cortex? Why Does it Matter?


Meghan Moody, Psy.D


            Prefrontal Cortex –The “Boss” of the brain (shown in red)


The prefrontal cortex takes in information from all of the senses and orchestrates thoughts and actions to achieve specific goals.” It is one of the last areas of the brain to develop or “finish growing up.” Scientists estimate that it is not fully developed until the age of 25.

The duties of the prefrontal cortex are called executive functions. In other words, think of this part of the brain as the manager or the boss of your brain – the part responsible for making the decisions.

Put your brain to work! Here’s what’s going on inside the boss of your brain:

  • Focusing your attention
  • Organizing your thoughts
  • Problem solving
  • Thinking through
  • Weighing the possible consequences of your behavior
  • Considering the future and making predictions
  • Forming strategies and planning
  • Balancing short-term rewards with long term goals
  • Shifting/adjusting behavior when situations change
  • Impulse control and delaying gratification
  • Regulation/control of intense emotions
  • Inhibiting (holding back) inappropriate behavior
  • Initiating (starting) appropriate behavior
  • Considering multiple streams of information at the same time
  • Regulation/control of “correct” behavior in social situations

Information adapted from: http://www.hhs.gov/opa/familylife/tech_assistance/etraining/adolescent_brain/Development/prefrontal_cortex/

The Effects of Video Games on the Brain

Children who have difficulty with impulse control and regulating emotional responses often feel a sense of calmness when playing video games. It’s as if all their troubles and worries, excessive energy, fast-moving thoughts, and sense of boredom disappear. So, we can understand why kids are drawn to video games. However, there is a lot going on behind the scenes that’s not so helpful.

Electronic Pollution: What’s happening to my brain?   

  • Hormonal disturbance (melatonin, and fight or flight hormones – Amygdala)
  • Neurochemical dysfunction (release and then depletion and withdrawal of dopamine – Basal Ganglia)
  • Disorganization of circadian rhythms (sleep-wake cycle)
  • Electromagnetic radiation due to screens, downloading, and electricity
  • Movement of blood flow away from the frontal lobe and cortex, which govern executive functioning and higher order thought processes.

Excerpted from http://drdunckley.com/tag/video-games-adhd/

Typical Responses

  • Time management problems
  • Complaints of being “bored”
  • Decreased interest in other activities
  • Agitated/irritable mood when asked to stop playing
  • Resistance to authority due to feeling deprived of video games
  • Cravings for more video games

From Pollution to Solution: How to manage screen time

  • Provide structure – keep organized and consistent time frames for use
  • Screen time comes after daily tasks are accomplished
  • Incorporate educational games into screen time to reduce the repetitive and over-stimulating influence of other games Increase outdoor activity
  • Have a variety of engaging activities available
  • Join your child in starting these activities, if he/she is having trouble getting started independently

The Questions that Come with Adoption

The following article was written for fertilityauthority.com from an interview conducted with Family Resource Counseling Center therapist Lisa Cobey, LMFT.

The original article can be viewed at:  http://www.fertilityauthority.com/articles/questions-come-adoption

I was adopted, day 1 minute 1 after being born – my Mother, not my biological Mother, was actually the first one to hold me. Many people have asked me about when I was told I was adopted. The truth is, I don’t remember. There was no ‘big reveal’, it was something I always knew – I was told about it in a positive light for as long as I can remember. As a matter of fact, it was always told to me in such a positive light that the only ‘big adoption moment’ I remember is finding out that my Mom wasn’t adopted herself.

(…and thinking – what?! Poor her – does she feel less special?!)

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School Tragedy in Connecticut – Personal Thoughts and Professional Suggestions


Upon hearing the horrific news of a mass killing at the Sandy Hook, CT Elementary School today, like you, my heart is broken and my mind reeling.  As a mental health therapist who specializes in working with young children and families, and as a new mother, it is difficult for me to fathom the unimaginable grief of the parents of the victims, survivors, first responders, and community at large.  What would cause someone to commit such a heinous act? I am trying to wrap my mind around how this could have been prevented.  My immediate suggestion for anyone intimately or vicariously connected to the tragedy is to seek professional help – whether it be a school counselor or mental health clinic – the best way to deal with trauma is to process your feelings in a nurturing, supportive environment as soon as possible.

It feels as if we hear about random acts of mass violence in the U.S. all too frequently ever since “Columbine” has become synonymous with the infamous school shooting in 1999.  <Note: http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2012/12/14/1337221/a-timeline-of-mass-shootings-in-the-us-since-columbine/ gives a detailed timeline of incidents since Columbine and  http://rt.com/usa/news/mass-year-people-massacre-710/ indicates that the Brady Campaign reported approximately 20 mass shootings per year with an apparent increase in 2012 so far.>  Since the mass shooting in Columbine by 2 troubled teenagers, change has occurred in terms of awareness regarding bullying.  New curriculum and policies have been established for many school districts across the nation.  We can only hope that this is yet another “wake-up” call for America to focus on the mental health needs of our children, who will one day either become healthy, high functioning adults, or god forbid one of the troubled souls who forever changes the lives of the innocent and vulnerable.

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To Lie or Not to Lie in the Online Dating World


When one considers entering the world of online dating, it brings up many questions.  “To Lie or Not to Lie” is the question for today’s topic.  At first glance this may seem like a question with an obvious answer.  But when looking at it through the lens of online dating it gets a little more complicated.

This quandary comes up when starting the process of online dating and completing your profile.  The first time is perhaps when entering your age.  People often wonder if they should put their real age or put something else.  They think I don’t feel like my age; I don’t act like my age; I don’t want to meet someone my age.  Age is just a number in the online dating world; but that number may be the difference in being included in someone else’s search or not.  When people search online they list several attributes they are looking for and age is one of the criteria people search under.  So if you are 46 you miss the cut off if someone picks to search in the category of up to 45 year olds.  So the question as to whether you lie or not becomes very relevant in terms of whether you will be seen in people’s searches.

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Am I “Enjoying the Moment” Enough? A Note to New Parents


I am writing this while my young daughter naps. I think to myself, “Type! Type faster… Hurry!” However, my thoughts and feelings about being a parent race faster than my fingers can move. Motherhood is so much more than a word. It is a feeling, an identity, and a way of life. People say when you have children your own life is on-hold, your individual identity gone. But, no; with parenthood, life is expanded. As a psychologist and parent, I integrate professional knowledge with personal experience. Most importantly, I apply the information in a way that makes sense for my daughter and me. I certainly don’t have all of the answers, but I remain conscious of our individual relationship as it evolves day to day. This blog is a glimpse into my process.

When you first bring your child home, you may still be in a daze that you now have a little person with you. Each day you gain insight about who this little one is and what your unique rhythm will be. I come from a large family, so I was fortunate enough to be comfortable with babies. However, when it is your own child, there are different feelings, responsibilities, exhaustion, as well as a noticeable decline in the ability to retain information. (The other day as I worked on my computer, I noticed the battery was depleted. Determined to charge my computer before it shut down, I ran to the kitchen. A few minutes later I sat back at my computer with only a chocolate chip cookie in hand…no charger in sight!) I know in the first few weeks I felt overwhelmed with love and also just plain overwhelmed. I didn’t always know what my daughter needed, everywhere I turned there was a new “break-through” theory in parenting or a must-have baby product. Not to mention, I was crying at any news story, good or bad, about a child. Advice could be found on every subject ? food, products, schedules, pediatricians, shots, sleep, classes. I could go on and on.

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