Connecting Effectively

I have had some opportunities in the past few months to represent myself as an expert. I don’t shy away from these opportunities because out of all the times in life I fall, the one thing I am most confident in is my work. Which is why it is sometimes so difficult to apply what I know to be true and best and effective in my personal life. Because when I am being clinical, I am not being vulnerable. When I am intuiting and guiding and suggesting and validating and empowering, I am not taking a personal list. This is […]

Connecting During Therapy

Why would someone go to therapy?  Because of significant traumas, severe depression, a personality disorder (borderline, bipolar, schizophrenia)?  Or because of debilitating anxiety and panic attacks?  Oftentimes it is not so severe.  Perhaps it is more of a feeling of being stressed and overwhelmed, or a little sad and not sure why.  Maybe it’s grief, or figuring out a big decision, or developing executive functioning skills or digging out the buried self-motivation.  Body image issues.  Low self-esteem.  Feeling like there is nothing to look forward to… If I asked each of my clients that question, I think I would get […]

Connecting Without Regrets

Three years ago I lost someone close to me to cancer. Jenna was my friend of 20 years and also my sister in law. I came back from her funeral and looked at my week ahead. I had more clients that week than ever, and as much as I love (LOVE!) what I do, I got scared. I was turning 40 and my kids were growing up, and my husband and I were basically talking logistics when we saw each other. Life was passing me by. I made a list then, that night, a list of changes that I promised […]

Connecting by Empowering

Confirm or Empower. I never considered these two words as opposites before I was the parent of a twelve year old. I grew up a pleaser. I come from generations of them. I can be who you need me to be and you don’t even have to know what you need from me. I can intuit it. I think that is one of the reasons I am a good therapist. I will “get you”. Addiction, self esteem, anger, trauma, guilt, hopelessness… I rarely fail my clients and if they don’t feel understood, I work harder until they do. That is […]

Connecting Lovingly

Marriage has been on my mind a lot lately. Not only because of the couples I see who work hard to better theirs, but also because I am in one. I learned in college that 50% of marriages end in divorce. I also know that some marriages are far from happy. What makes a marriage good? Enjoyable? Fulfilling? Heidi Stevens wrote an article in the Chicago Tribune in 2014 about Chapman’s Five Love Languages. I even mentioned this in my recent interview for the North Shore Weekend (http://dailynorthshore.com/2015/01/02/resolutions-for-couples/) as it really resonated with me. The Five Love Languages are words […]

Connecting With Focus

I am my toughest critic.  It took me a lifetime to figure that out, but yet it still doesn’t stop me from continuing to be just that.  I am also quick to recognize self-critics in others, especially in my clients who are often given my own special diagnosis of “hard on yourself”.  I am fortunate because my clients are willing to be reflective with me, and work towards change and practical solutions.  What about those out there who only add fuel to this inner fire?  I thought about this as I read another article about attachment parenting.  Another article about […]

Connecting through Change

Why would someone go to therapy?  Because of significant traumas, severe depression, a personality disorder (borderline, bipolar, schizophrenia)?  Or because of debilitating anxiety and panic attacks?  Perhaps it is more of a feeling of being stressed and overwhelmed, or a little sad and not sure why.  Maybe it’s grief or figuring out a big decision or developing executive functioning skills or digging out the buried self-motivation.  If I asked each of my clients that question, I think I would get that many different answers.  I used to try to simplify those answers under the big umbrella of “to make life […]

Connecting with your Inner Voice

You know that voice I am talking about. The one that never blames, criticizes and guilts… anyone but yourself. Oftentimes when I talk with clients about their inner voice, tears come immediately. Whether they are fifteen or fifty, they know exactly what I am talking about. Their harsh critic. Their unforgiving words. Their denial of good work. It is that voice that thanks publicly but chastises privately. So many people have this, but so many are unwilling to talk back to it. I was reading a magazine article about questions we should be asking ourselves. The questions ranged from caring […]

Connecting Bluntly

“You’ve gained some weight. Is everything OK?” “I saw your son’s name in the paper for a DUI. How is he doing?” “Your son told mine that his dad has a bad temper. I thought you should know that.” “You lost a lot of weight and look different. How are you?” “I heard you have to sell your house after your husband lost his job. I hope you are doing alright.” “You mentioned treatment and you have been MIA lately. What’s going on? What can I do?” I could go on and on. These are all the things we think […]

Connecting with Working Moms

As a therapist, I have to always be conscious of countertransference. Over identifying is a caution we learned about in grad school, and during sessions I make sure to catch myself and keep it in check. Fighting with your spouse? Yep, been there. Concerned about your children? Always. Just plain hard on yourself? Often. The one that really gets me, though, is the working mom guilt. Gratefully, I have been able to keep it clinical and professional in my office. It’s those times when I read the chapter in Sheryl Sandburg’s book Lean In called “The Myth of Having it […]

Connecting with the Millenials

Today I was a hypocrite. I stood in a long line waiting for a ticket while I watched the 20-something-year-old behind the desk chew his gum and work at a leisurely pace while several other employees walked by without offering any assistance. The other “older” people in line said things like “I’ve been waiting for 20 minutes!!” and “You would think someone else would offer to help” but the employee continued at his own pace, moving casually through his tasks. I felt my aggravation grow. I looked at him with annoyance. Then I called myself a hypocrite. This employee personified […]

Connecting Now

If I could go back in time, I would do a lot of things differently. The more I thought about this statement, the more I thought. From elementary school to high school… college… to being a wife, a friend, a sister… don’t even get me started on being a mother. We all have regrets. We all have “I should have” and “I wish I’d”. Some more than others, but we all have them. But this is the thing. We have to stop. “Don’t mourn what you can’t change”; “Learn from your mistakes. You wish you had more confidence as a […]

Connecting Over Sex

Teenagers are having sex.  It almost feels inappropriate to write this.  Why?  They have been having sex for decades, centuries, so why would that feel inappropriate?  According to the CDC in 2011, almost 50% of teens have had sex.  That is a lot.  It is half of a high school.  Half of the Honors kids.  Half of the “good girls” and “good boys” who would “never have sex as a teen”.  Half of the families who tell me their child is not having sex with her boyfriend because they said they are not. Is sex still a big deal?  I […]

Connecting Pharmacologically

Horse tranquilizers?  That is what kids will take today to get high?  Not only will they take Ketamine, but they have already given it the nickname of Special K, or just “K” for short.  While this drug is more regularly used on humans, adolescents know this drug as a horse tranquilizer and still continue to snort it.  Ten years ago, there were concerns about inhalants.  We had even heard of alcoholics drinking Robitussen.  But with this new age of prescription drug highs, the risks are growing and growing. It was Ritalin for a while.  Now Ritalin is outdated, and it […]

Connecting With Teachers

A new Harvard study has shown that the quality of teachers matters over the long term, leading to more earning potential, a greater likelihood of attending college, and even a decrease in teenage pregnancy. I read on, curious about what made these teachers “good”. Having previously worked in a school setting, I was not surprised to learn that ‘good’ meant higher standardized test scores, but it started me thinking about what ‘good’ means to me, my clients and my own children. I can see the argument against “value-added ratings”. This is where a teacher is promoted, demoted or even fired […]

Connecting With Our Children

I wish I had a dollar for every time a client said to me that my children are so fortunate to be parented by me. They have benefitted from my practical suggestions themselves and at times even marvel (to my delight!) at my wisdom. I then promptly remind them that when your heart is involved, so much of what I do in my office is out the window. Am I always consistent with my children? Do I never nag? Do I pick my battles and always understand? Am I never, ever, ever passive-aggressive? Fortunately, in my office, I do not […]

Connecting After Intoxication

Black Out Thursday.  Maybe you had Black Out Friday.  Or maybe your nickname was Black Out Bobby, or Black Out Bauer, or Black Out Bitch.  Whatever the name or designation, blacking out after consuming alcohol is not only more common, it seems to be a whole lot less scary to adolescents today. When I was in college, my roommate often blacked out.  Those nights were miserable for us, her three other roommates.  She would cry, scream about migraines, literally in agony, and we would take care of her and console her for hours.  Finally she would pass out and sleep […]

Connecting Through Grief

We all know someone who has passed away, and we’ve all comforted someone who is grieving.  Our first experience with death stays with us.  Perhaps a grandparent or other older relative passed away.  We might notice someone wearing a ribbon or read an obituary that asks us to offer condolences.  As a therapist, I’ve run Bereavement Groups.  I have sat and talked with children about losing a parent or sibling and with adults trying to cope with their grief.   In my current practice I marvel at the resilience of my clients as they continue on:  Through suicides, illnesses and accidents. […]

Connecting Over Weed?

“Weed”.  That is what they call it now.  I learned very quickly in my private practice that if I were going to talk with teenagers about their drug use, I had to stop saying “pot”.  And “smoke” usually means smoke marijuana, where in my youth that meant actual cigarettes.  I still feel funny when I hear the word weed roll off my tongue; I have to use my clinical judgment depending on the client and our relationship and weigh that against the silliness I sometimes feel talking like they do.  Other words I have heard in my office I have […]

Helppro.com Blog Submission: Does Your Therapist Like You?

I was asked to submit another blog to helppro.com’s website.  You can read my discussion below, or find it at: http://www.helppro.com/Blog/post/2011/02/22/Does-Your-Therapist-Like-You-One-Therapists-Perspective.aspx Most professionals in the helping profession chose their job purposefully.  We enjoy helping, listening, and problem solving.  I found an online quiz that supposedly determines if one would make a good therapist.  It asked questions about one’s understanding, ability to help others control emotions, make decisions, give feedback and read social cues.  These are definitely telling questions, but is there more to it?  Do therapists ever think of their clients as more than a job?  Do clients feel that […]

Connecting Kindly

I presented last month on a topic I’ve been studying, learning about, and practicing with for over ten years. Overweight adolescents, bullying and self esteem. What is it about our society that teaches one must never discriminate or be prejudiced against others for reasons such as race, culture or socioeconomic status, but then considers discrimination and prejudice against someone who is overweight not that bad? It’s been called the last socially acceptable prejudice. Even therapists, when polled, have associated overweight people with negative characteristics such as lazy and ugly. Why? What gives people a right to judge? As I learned […]

Connecting Appropriately

What, in 2010, is appropriate? Or, better yet, what is inappropriate? Is it inappropriate to ignore a phone call? Use a curse word? Forget to say thank you? Use poor grammar? Is Brittany Spears still inappropriate? Is Madonna? When I was growing up, Madonna’s album had come out and Material Girl and Like a Virgin were all the rage. Were parents cringing then as I do now watching Kesha’s video? I watched her, in her video, put on sexy clothes, leave her family to eat dinner without her, and then cozy up to a male figure in his car and […]

Friendly Connecting

What does hearing the word “popular” do to you? It stirs up a lot of emotions in many people, ranging from anger and sadness to fondnesss and happiness. But what does popularity mean? Is there a price to pay to “be popular”? It is not a trait any of us were born with, and it is not a characteristic anyone can assign to themselves. One must be given the status of popular. I did a presentation this weekend called “The Price of Popularity”. While there were a lot of parents present wanting to know where their child fit in to […]

Connecting in Greek

Some of you may feel this topic does not apply to you: You never joined a sorority you life was not affected by sororities, you are now out of college and life went on, or you are a male. However, for the sake of every young woman you know, daughters, friends’ daughters, nieces, neighbors, babysitters, and the like, this can be considered your pre-primer to the world that does not seem to have changed over the last 40 years. While a lot of my information comes from Alexandra Robbins’s book “Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities” (like the “last 40 […]

Connecting Social Skillfully

There is no question that those with better social skills have an advantage. How are your social skills? What are social skills exactly? And are they a skill that can be improved? Looking at the literature and books, one would believe so. You can practice, role play and learn how to better communicate, express yourself, deal with feelings, deal with anger, care for others, listen, solve problems, be assertive, follow directions, improve your self-image… The list goes on. I have run many social skills groups, first in a school setting and now clinically. I have worked with adults who have […]

Connecting with Confidence

Sometime in my early adulthood, I figured out what makes someone attractive.  Whether it was being able to look back on my own youth, or through the eyes of all the clients I work with, it is the one quality we all wish we had more of, and the one we often feel everyone else has more of than we do.  Confidence.  What does it mean to be confident?  Having conviction.  Being self-assured and independent.  Believing in your powers and abilities I was recently told by someone that the one thing they would like to change about themself is to […]

Connecting During Change

This time of year it seems that everything is changing. Not just the seasons as we look to summer, but the school year ends, there are graduations, there is gardening to do, barbeques to plan, weddings to celebrate. There are also things changing that we don’t plan for or count on. There are diagnoses given, deaths to grieve, good-byes to say. Change is hard…. Change is good. We hear both of these phrases often, and they both ring true. I recently spoke to some groups of high school seniors about transitions. Defined, it means the passage from one state, stage, […]

Connecting With Our Children

Earlier this year, I did an informal survey on a popular social networking site.  I asked several people from around the world to post the question “If you were to teach your children only ONE quality so that they would grow up to be the adult you could be proud of, what quality would it be…”.   The response was tremendous.  Whether their child is a newborn, six, sixteen, or an adult, parents feel an immense responsibility.  Overwhelmingly, the top qualities that parents want to impart on their children, out of hundreds of responses from all over the world, are compassion, […]

Connecting Post Trauma

Is the word “trauma” being used more often, or have I become more sensitive to it’s use?   I have come across it countless times over the years, and this word can call to mind different meanings depending on the use.  Physical trauma, psychological, environmental, a “trauma team” or “trauma center”,  used in conversation, describing situations as traumatic, or “I think I suffer from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder)”.  Most commonly and especially when discussing through therapy, it is an emotional response.  The American Psychological Association defines it as “an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape or […]

The Chemistry Connection

How do you meet people is a question that is often asked, but really, what we are asking is how do we meet people we like, connect with, enjoy, and feel good around. It is that old-fashioned phrase “have chemistry”.  We talk to many people throughout our day, whether it is at our morning coffee shop, on a school playground, at the office, but who would you like to spend your free time with?  Who makes you laugh or brings out your funny-side?  Who do you have chemistry with? Literally, chemistry is the study of how matter interacts.  When we […]

Empty Your Head

At least once a week, someone will say to me something about being overwhelmed.  They are not sleeping or they are sleeping restlessly.  They have less patience.  They are frustrated, maybe even acting more aggressive than usual.  I hear this from all walks of life:  Friends, family, child and adolescent clients, adult clients.  We are all living a world of to-do lists and not-enough-time. I’ve found myself using the words “empty your head” when strategizing how to feel better.  Sometimes we do that simply by making a list… and crossing things off of it.  Other times we may talk to […]

The Happiness Connection

We’ve all heard the phrase “be happy”.  I used to wish for that as I blew out candles on my birthday cake or tossed a coin into a fountain.  I figured if I wished for happiness, it would be the umbrella covering everything; those I care about would be healthy and safe, financial stress would be minimal, I would enjoy each day… Then I read the book The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner.  I found myself thinking more specifically about what makes each of us happy. Weiner searches for the happiest places in the world and explores what happiness […]

Connecting

Thanks for visiting my blog!  I am a clinical therapist and my goal is to provide some thoughtful ideas, insights and connections that I have gleaned through my various sessions with my clients, professional opportunities, and other experiences.  I have worked as a school social worker in public schools, I presently maintain a private practice as a therapist, and I am a parent, wife and daughter.  We are all defined by many roles, ideas, experiences, beliefs and titles; they are all different puzzle pieces joining together to make ourselves whole.  We then look to connect to others and with others […]