My husband and I have always liked the outdoors. We enjoy hiking and have even spent a week long summer vacation visiting Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Once or twice a year we actually manage to take the kids out with us hiking in our local National Park. We take the dog, Rosie, with us too, and feel proud of ourselves that we “aired our family out,” by getting them away from their screens. However, in this time of Covid 19, we have taken hiking to a whole new level. Instead of participating in family hikes once or twice a year, we are now hiking two or three times a week.
Normally we are a very busy family. My[...]
My 30 year old patient just told me he recently asked a woman he met on Hinge “Would you rather go on a first date through: FaceTime, Zoom or scream at each other from 6 feet away in a park?” Being quarantined home alone in his apartment reminded him of his deep desire to develop a healthy relationship. For some people living alone, the loneliness they are experiencing helps them prioritize the importance of forging intimate relationships.
For other people who are already in intimate relationships and living together, it may feel like the ultimate stress test. In fact, there has been research that looked at how people cope after tragic life events. In 2002 The Journal of Family Psychology produced a paper after Hurricane Hugo looking at how people in devastated counties of South Carolina coped after this tragedy. In this paper, the authors[...]
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, fear and worry abound. We are confronted with preoccupations about our physical health and safety, financial security, and the uncertainty of the timeline projected for the current quarantine. Additionally, we have been required to make drastic changes to our daily routines, seemingly overnight. Keeping up with news and social media updates can further exacerbate our already precarious state as each piece of new information seems to be more dismal than the last. Fortunately, we are now well-equipped with some practical information about protecting our physical health. My hope is that this post will provide practical information to safeguard your mental health during these uncertain times.
It is important to stay informed about changes be[...]
As a psychologist specializing in healing from addictions and relationship counseling, I am frequently confronted with difficult situations in relationships. The pain involved in an unhealthy relationship is enormous yet people stay stuck in their discomfort for many years. Why? When confronted with this overwhelmingly difficult question, I like to explain it in more simple terms. Recently, I have been utilizing Stephen Karpman’s Drama Triangle (1968) to explain dysfunctional relationships and why people stay in them.
Although Karpman described this triangle over fifty years ago, it can [...]
One of the most important life lessons I have learned occurred while I was watching an old interview with Toni Morrison. Morrison described how when a child enters the room and looks to see her parents, what she is searching for is to see if their faces are lighting up. Are their eyes sparkling? Do the grown-ups in the room care if she is there?
So often parents are preoccupied on their cell phones and spend too much time checking their texts and emails, worrying about the next event they have to attend, or their next deadline. If they do notice their child, it is usually to focus on her imperfections. The parents may fix their daughter’s hair or tuck in her shirt. They may believe that this is caring for their child by trying to fix her and make sure she looks “presentable.” However, the message the[...]
In 2020 there seems to be an unwritten rule that all holistic therapists are supposed to recommend that their patients meditate. This recommendation has become so popular that it feels “on trend” like eating kale or suggesting yoga. The goals of meditation are varied, but generally the purpose is to encourage our patients to “be in the present,” unplug and focus inward. Many therapists suggest meditation apps as well as going to private meditation classes. While that is a great aspirational goal for many people, it does not work for everyone.
Several years ago, I googled “surrounding meditation classes” and did not find many that were close to where I liv[...]
In March of 2019, the country was outraged when two famous actresses, Lori Loughlin and Felocity Hoffman, were discovered to have cheated in the college admission process. They paid college admissions coach, William (Rick) Singer to get their daughters into college unethically by helping them cheat on their college admissions test (SAT) as well as by blatantly lying about their credentials. Singer even went as far as to assist applicants to pose as recruited athletes in order to improve their chances of admission into prestigious colleges. These actresses were not alone in their participation. Dozens of other wealthy parents disregarded the values of h[...]
As a psychologist specializing in addictions and relationships, I need to make a full disclosure: I met my husband in a bar. It was 26 years ago when we first locked eyes at Rock Lobster, a popular outdoor restaurant/bar on Delaware Avenue in Philadelphia. We had an easy banter and although we had never met before we quickly realized that we had several friends in common. He was a handsome young lawyer with a warm smile.
On our first date he disclosed to me how tough his last year had been. He shared that he had recently failed the Bar Exam and was subsequently fired from his job. He told me how ashamed he was and described a painful experience of going out to the holiday[...]
- Stay informed and follow recommendations
Coping with Toxic Family Members
Yesterday one of my patients asked me “Are all families as dysfunctional as mine?” I looked at her with a smile on my face and shared one of my favorite quotes. “The only perfect families are the ones you don’t know.” What that sentiment was intended to imply was that all families have some dysfunction if you look beneath the surface. Although I stand by that statement, I do want to acknowledge that some families have more toxic energy than others.
With the holidays coming up, there is often the expectation of spending more time together as a family. There are frequently overnight stays, family meals and partie[...]
“Who sits at the table in your boardroom?” I asked my handsome, elegantly dressed fortysomething year old patient. He looked at me with a confused expression on his face. He was a man in recovery from an addiction who was struggling with some difficult relationship decisions. He is similar to many of the high functioning executives whom I counsel and was not sure if I were referring to the boardroom for the financial organization where he works, or if I were looking for a deeper meaning. It was actually the later explanation.
I told him to close his eyes and then take several deep breaths. When he seemed in a more relaxed state of mind, I asked him to visualize bein[...]