A Tale of a Misunderstanding…

I recently took a continuing education on self-regulation for children and was surprised at how it improved my communication with my son. I hadn’t realized that his reactions to things could be due to his perception and interpretation of the situation. I’ll give you an example so that you can see how powerful this can be, not just in communications with children, but with anyone…a partner, co-worker, friend, family member, etc.

So, after taking this class, I was so excited to give it a try. It talked about how we often don’t hear the message that someone is trying to send us, or misinterpret actions. Another way to think about this is that often a perception that someone’s reaction is crazy or out of line/control is because we don’t know how what is going on is impacting them. Most reactions or behaviors are completely understandable once you hear how the other person viewed it and how it affected them.

I’m going to break this down for you so that you have a clear example. It was a Tuesday evening. I had picked my boys up from school, they did their homework, then had Hebrew, then we had to quickly get dinner in before hockey practice. Stressful, right?! So, I’m getting their dinner together, I have a picky eater, so I making him his usual cheese tortellini, with butter and parmesan cheese. He has told me before that he likes to put the parmesan cheese on his pasta but I was in a rush, so I did it for him. He comes to the table, looks down at his food, huffs and gets up and goes to the refrigerator. I’m still in the kitchen, so I ask him what he needs. He tells me the parmesan cheese and I hand it too him. He eats but I can tell he is frustrated. Unfortunately, we have to eat and get out the door. I feel bad that I can’t address it in the moment but know we will have time to talk during my other son’s hockey practice. It ends up being a good move, it gave him time to calm down. He was overwhelmed and frustrated in that moment and needed time to come back down to a place where he could express himself.

Once I dropped off my hockey player, I was able to ask my younger son if we could talk about what happened at dinner and explained that I wanted to understand it so that if there was something I was doing that frustrated him that I could change that behavior and do better. I did two things there: I asked his permission to talk about it and I let him know that it wasn’t my intention to upset him and wanted to understand his reaction. This made him more receptive to the talk because he could hear that

I wanted to understand so that I could make changes and wasn’t accusing him of “acting crazy”.
He told me that he had already told me before that he likes to put the parmesan cheese on his pasta himself. I explained that I know that but was in a hurry. I asked him to explain why it is important that he put the parmesan cheese on his pasta. It could have been: I’m old enough to do it myself, you put too much/too little on, I just like to do it myself- these were all thoughts I had. But it was none of those. He explained that if I put the parmesan cheese on and it sits then in sinks into the pasta and butter and then its not “fluffy”, and he likes it “fluffy”- think pillows of parmesan cheese sitting on top of the pasta- he likes a lot. I never would have figured this out without getting curious about his reactions (the huffing, getting up and getting more parmesan cheese, etc.).

I could take this two different ways and it would get me two different results. The first way is to say, “well, I was in a rush and have to do it myself sometimes and you need to get over it”. This tells him I’m not listening to him or his message hasn’t been heard, that his feelings aren’t important, and that I don’t care and will do things my way because I’m the adult and I’m in charge. I didn’t take this route. Instead, I let him reset so he could be open, I asked him if we could talk instead of telling him we needed to talk, I asked him why it was important to him (because why I did it doesn’t matter and invalidates his feelings), and then I said I was sorry and that I could understand and would do my best to do better. I asked him if he could be patient with me if I make a mistake and let me know that I’ve made the mistake so that I can keep trying and let him know that I am always trying to do my best just like I know he is always trying to do his best.

This same misunderstanding could happen with anyone, and its important to realize that often when we think that someone has done something to wrong us or isn’t listening, that it isn’t because they don’t want to hear our words but that there was just a miss in the message received.

If you are finding yourself having trouble in your relationships, I’d like to help you learn to work through these misses so that you can have happier, healthier relationships with others.

Exploring your own sexuality

I recently participated in an Esther Perel Forbidden Conversations Webinar on Sex. It really made me think about how we view sexuality and how those views or beliefs affect our relationships.

We often look at sexuality as what someone does to us, putting it on the other person. I’d instead ask you to look within and ask yourself the questions you need answers to, that will help guide your partner (or yourself during self exploration) to meet your sexual needs.

Here are some of the questions/thoughts that she talks about as a framework for sexuality:
1. What does sexuality mean to you?
2. Tell me who you are erotically?
3. Tell me about who you are sexually? This question speaks to who you are- quiet, aggressive, adventurous…fill in the blank_____.
This is confusing because we think of erotic and sexual as the same thing- they are not. Erotic is our imagination, the exploration in your mind, fantasies. Sex is just sex- it could be for stress release, procreation, intimacy, pleasure, you get the idea).
4. Tell me how you were loved and I’ll tell you how you make love
If you were taught that sex is only to make children, not for pleasure- you may treat it more like a job, something to just get through, so you are not an active participant in the act.
5. Love and desire- relate and conflict
Love is to have; Desire is to want. We have our partners, the relationship, the routines of the life with share together. We want (adventure, passion, excitement, mystery…
-Is sex something you do (your duty to your partner) or a place you go?

I hope that this has given you something to think about.
If you are having issues with your own sexuality and want to talk, I’d love to explore this with you.

“I assumed”…Communication Problems in Relationships

I’m always amazed when I hear someone say, “I assumed” as a response to any human interaction. I was recently talking with a friend and asked about the communication that her and one of her friends had about how the friendship would continue on as her friend moved away to a different state. The assumption is that we are good enough friends, that we will put the effort into maintaining the friendship, but that it might not continue as it has when they lived in the same state. This isn’t communication, its one person feeling that it will go one way and assuming that the other person is on the same page.

I use this example because when we assume that we know what someone else is thinking or is going to do, we are often let down when that doesn’t happen. I see this with my clients, when they believe that their partner or friend “should know”, “knows how I feel”, or “has the same beliefs as I do”. There is such a disconnect from what is and what we think is in our relationships and it ends up causing a lot of unnecessary hurts.

We need to talk with our partners and friends about our views/beliefs/values and express why we feel that way so that they have a clear understanding of these things and hopefully it encourages a conversation about their own views/beliefs/values. This does not mean that we have to agree, there may be things that we are not okay with and in these situations there may either need to be compromises made or a decision that while we don’t support these ideals, that we still support the person. This isn’t an option if these things are not discussed.

In having these conversations; we are hearing the other person, how they feel/beliefs, and why it is important to them which will lead to a greater understanding of that person. And what I find most whether it’s my friends, family, or clients is that we all want to know that we are being heard, that we are supported by those we have in our lives, and that our feelings are important to them.

If you are having communication issues with people you are in relationships with, I’d like to help you work through this to create healthier, more supportive relationships.

5 Warning Signs It’s Time to Try Couples Counseling

When you first fell in love, you could never imagine that someday the sound of your partner chewing could make you want to scream. It’s inevitable that once we are out of our honeymoon phase and reality sets in, we realize that all relationships take work and compromise. But while some couples may hit bumps in the road every so often, other couples find themselves in bigger trouble, with neither party knowing exactly how to fix things.

If you are in a relationship that is no longer feeling healthy, here are 5 warning signs that it may be time to try couples counseling:

1. There is No Longer Healthy Communication

Once you have a communication breakdown, you are unable to rationally share thoughts, feelings, and concerns with each other. Beyond this, unhealthy communication tends to leave one or both partners feeling depressed, angry and hopeless.

2. Trust Has Been Broken

When there has been infidelity, it is very difficult for the couple to rebuild trust and repair the damage. While there is no magic pill to recover from an affair, a therapist can offer tools and strategies to rebuild trust.

3. You’re More Like Roommates

If you and your partner act more like roommates than romantic partners, this indicates a lack of intimacy and a potential need for professional help.

4. One or Both of You Has Begun Acting Out

You try to mask your real feelings for as long as possible, but then you start to act out the hurt and resentment you may be feeling. For instance, if your partner has been unfaithful and you have agreed to stay in the relationship and work things out. But over time you find yourself lashing out, acting rude and trying to make them believe you are having an affair so they will feel the same kind of hurt. This acting out is unhealthy for both people and is a BIG indicator you need to seek some help.

5. When the Only “Solution” Seems to be Separation/Divorce

A break from negative energy can be very helpful to the relationship. But when a temporary break leads to more and more time away from home and someone renting their own apartment, this indicates a need for counseling. Spending time away from home usually doesn’t lead to any real resolution, just more distance.


If you and your partner are interested in exploring treatment options, please be in touch with me. I would be more than happy to discuss how I may be able to help.

Tips for Coping with Social Isolation

Humans are social creatures and we don’t do well in isolation. That’s exactly why state penitentiaries punish prisoners by putting them into solitary confinement. It causes them great mental anguish.

Many of us have felt like prisoners in solitary confinement over the last couple of months because of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown. And many of us have been feeling our own mental anguish from this extended isolation.

Who knows how long this may go on? While none of us have control over what our governments do, we do have control over ourselves and our perceptions of the world. With this in mind, here are some tips for coping with social isolation, for however long it goes on.

Isolate Yourself from the Media

If you’re paying attention, it almost seems as if the media is trying to confuse us and cause panic more than report on actual news. Watching too much news doesn’t help anyone’s anxiety levels, so stay informed as best you can but don’t binge-watch.

Get Creative

Being isolated can get very boring very quickly so it’s important that you try and get creative with your time. This could mean painting the living room and rearranging the furniture or getting your husband and kids to learn a new language with you. It could mean experimenting with an old recipe or making up a game with your kids. Just have fun and think outside the box!


Now is a great time to reconnect with friends and loved ones you haven’t spoken to in a while. And technology like Skype and Facetime makes it incredibly easy to chat with someone no matter where in the world they are.

Stay Active

A lot of the anxiety we may feel comes from the fact we aren’t moving our bodies as much as we usually do. It’s important to stay physically active during this time. So get outside and get some sun. Go for a walk or ride your bike. Not only is exercise good for us physically, but physical activity releases endorphins that make us feel good mentally and emotionally as well.


The world is a chaotic place right now and it seems we are being hit with noise and negativity from all sides. It’s important to make time each day for some quiet meditation.

If you’ve never meditated before, that’s okay. Just try it.

One of the easiest ways to meditate is through a listening meditation. Find a space in your house where you can be alone and get into a comfortable position. Close your eyes and breathe deeply in and out… and simply listen to the ambient sounds.

What do you hear? The buzzing of a light? A fly? Your dog’s collar rattling down the hall as he scratches. Expand your hearing to see what else can you hear outside your house. Birds? Lawnmowers? Traffic?

Simply breathe and listen intently for 5-10 minutes. When you listen, you can’t think at the same time, and so you will notice finally your thoughts go quiet. This is paradise!

If you find that the social isolation is really beginning to trouble you and you’d like to speak with someone, please get in touch. I would be happy to discuss how I may be able to help.



How to Cope with the Stress and Anxiety Caused by COVID-19

If you’re like most people, you are doing your best to stay calm during COVID-19 pandemic. But that can feel incredibly difficult at times. When not worrying about friends and loved one’s health, there’s also the conflicting information provided by the media and the economic ramifications of the virus that have people on edge.

Signs of Emotional Distress and 6 Ways to Cope

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations, but most will exhibit some of the following signs:

  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs

If you are experiencing significant stress right now, here are some ways you can cope:

1. Limit Media Consumption

Hearing the media constantly spread panic isn’t good for anyone. It’s important to stay rational and do your own research to uncover facts from fiction as well as stay positive.

2. Nurture Your Body and Spirit

Be sure to get outside for some fresh air and go for a walk. Eat right and make sure to stay hydrated and get plenty of sleep. Avoid consuming too much alcohol and try and find fun ways to reconnect with your family.

3. Tap into Your Sense of Fun

If you have kids, look to them for some good old-fashioned playtime. Play hide and seek in the house. Create an obstacle course in the back yard. Watch some of your favorite funny movies. Laughter really is the best medicine so get plenty of it!

4. Support Your Local Community

Many local businesses are hurting right now. If you’re still getting a paycheck, consider buying a gift card from a local restaurant, gym, hair salon, etc. to give them revenue now and you can use the card later. This will make you feel great at the same time.

5. Be a Role Model

Remember, your kids will ALWAYS look to you first to see how they should be thinking and feeling about something. So move about each day calmly and confidently and reassure your kids everything will be okay because it will be.

6. Use Your Time Constructively

For many of us, there is a silver lining in this situation in the form of extra time. What can you do with the extra time that isn’t being used to drive an hour or more each day in commuting? Focus on using this time wisely. Maybe you have an ever-growing list of home projects that you just never have time to tackle. Tackle them now, you’ll feel great about it later.


If you find yourself becoming too stressed or depressed during this time, I encourage you to connect with me. Speaking with a therapist can help you cope with the situation and navigate the days ahead. I am currently able to conduct sessions over the phone or via Skype, so you won’t even have to leave your home if your state is in lockdown.


5 Foods to Keep Your Immune System Strong

As the events of COVID-19 continue to unfold, many of us are focusing on how we can keep ourselves and our families as healthy as possible. While social distancing and increased hand washing can be very effective at stopping the spreading of the Corona virus, it is equally important to keep our immune systems strong.

With this in mind, here are some of the absolute best foods you can eat to help support your immune system:

1. Blueberries

Blueberries are loaded with powerful antioxidants. In fact, they contain a type of flavonoid called anthocyanin, which has antioxidant properties that can boost your immune system. A 2016 study found that flavonoids play an essential role in the respiratory tract’s immune defense system. The researchers found that people who ate foods rich in flavonoids were less likely to get sick with respiratory tract infections and the common cold.

2. Turmeric

Turmeric is the aromatic spice that makes curry yellow. It is also often used in alternative medicine thanks to its active compound curcumin. Curcumin has been shown to improve a person’s immune response because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

3. Spinach

Popeye knew that spinach would help him be stronger. But I wonder if he knew how good it was for his immune system. Spinach contains vitamin C & E, as well as beneficial flavonoids and carotenoids. Not only are vitamin C & E great for the immune system, but research shows flavonoids may help prevent common colds in otherwise healthy people. So, it stands to reason it may help protect against other viruses as well.

4. Citrus Fruits

Most of us, when we feel an illness coming on, reach for more vitamin C-rich foods. But what is it about vitamin C specifically that makes it so good for our immune systems?

Vitamin C is believed to increase the production of white blood cells. These are the cells responsible for attacking foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses.

Some popular citrus fruits high in vitamin C include:

  • grapefruit
  • oranges
  • tangerines
  • lemons
  • limes
  • clementines

Unlike other animals whose bodies do produce vitamin C, humans must get their vitamin C from the foods they eat or through supplementation. So be sure to add more citrus fruits to your diet.

5. Red Bell Peppers

We can’t talk about vitamin C without mentioning that ounce for ounce, red bell peppers contain even more vitamin C than most citrus fruits. So if you prefer veggies to fruits, then be sure to eat more red bell peppers.

While this is not an exhaustive list of immune-boosting foods, it will get you started eating right so you can stay healthy during this pandemic. It’s also important to stay hydrated and eliminate sugars and trans fats from your diet as well.


How Telehealth May Change the Future of Therapy

A while back there was a very funny television show starring Lisa Kudrow (ditzy Phoebe from Friends) called “Web Therapy.” It was an improvised show and Lisa played a therapist who treated her patients over the Internet. Hence the title of the show.

Well, back when the show was on, the idea of treating mental health patients via a webcam seemed ludicrous. And the show did a great job at poking fun of Lisa’s character and her “wacky idea” of web therapy.

Fast forward 12 years after the show’s debut, and web therapy is now “a thing” thanks to telehealth technology. Yes, psychotherapy appointments can be held between therapist and patient while one is in one building, state, or country and the other is somewhere else entirely.

Why was web therapy a joke 12 years ago but telehealth is now gaining in popularity? The shift is most likely due to the growing popularity of tech solutions among younger generations. There’s also something very attractive about the ease of telehealth; of not having to leave your house or office to get the help you need.

As younger generations have become accustomed to using apps to have food, beer and groceries delivered right to their door, they expect these same conveniences from their health providers. While it may take a few more years before telehealth becomes truly mainstream, indicators suggest that push is more than likely to happen.

Benefits of Telehealth

We’ve already discussed the most obvious benefit of telehealth to consumers, and that is ease. But what about the benefits to the therapists?

To start, telehealth means those people who would otherwise feel too uncomfortable seeking therapy in person will now be open to seeing a therapist “privately.” This means a therapist has a larger number of people to deliver their services to.

Also, since these services can be delivered from a home office, a therapist can easily reduce their practice’s operating costs and overhead expenses.

Many therapists are saying the adoption of telehealth should have come sooner, but support and guidance on telehealth are finally coming from the American Psychological Association (APA) and other psychological organizations.

Therapist Need to Get Ready for the Switch

You can’t expect a therapist who has been treating patients face-to-face for x number of years to suddenly do well sitting in front of their computer’s camera. There are some subtle but important differences in working with patients over electronic connections.

For instance, in person, when a therapist breaks eye contact with a patient to take down a few notes, there is still a connection there because they are still in the same physical space. But over the Internet, when a therapist looks away to take notes, it may seem to the patient that the client is distracted. Providers interested in offering telehealth services to their patients will have to keep things like this in mind and always assure they are paying attention.

The APA offers continuing-education workshops on telehealth at its Annual Convention, and several divisions have begun providing training in telehealth as well. Therapists can also find online courses and training offered by the American Telemedicine Association.

No one is laughing any longer at the idea of web therapy. Instead, both consumers and therapists are embracing technology to bring about positive change and outcomes.



Boundaries in Relationships during COVID-19

As we are all doing everything from one place: working, parenting, homeschooling, eating, playing, learning, exercising, etc…how do we make sure to continue to express clear boundaries with those we love and share space with?

It was much easier when we could leave the house to go to work or school, to drive to the place we exercise, to take a night for ourselves away from our household by meeting up with friends out somewhere.  Now that we are confined to one place and our social outlet is getting on Zoom with friends, how do we still carve out that space that we need for ourselves in order to reset.

I’m going to share a few ways that I am trying to hold up the boundaries and make time for myself and hope they will encourage you to think of ways that you can do this in your own home while we are under stay at home orders:

  • Set clear expectations with those in your home when you are on a personal Zoom call, exercising, reading a book, etc. (many people are only setting up these boundaries in regards to work calls/meetings)  Let them know the time you will be unavailable, for how long, and when you will rejoin them.  This lets them know that it is important and that it is a time when you will need to be left alone.  This can be difficult if you are the only adult in the home with children, but think of ways that you can steal 15 minutes here and there as a reset for yourself.  Something I need each day is some form of exercise and so I let my family know when I will be doing a particular yoga or pilates class and ask them not to interrupt me unless it is an emergency.
  • Have a routine or schedule that helps you and others get the things that need to be done completed while also having time to be alone or family fun time and stick to it.  By keeping on a routine, it gives you and others the ability to set time aside for themselves and still have time together.  This might be really difficult as many of us are working from home and our workday is going longer because of the other responsibilities that we have taken on (homeschooling, babysitting, etc.).  Have a set time, regardless of what you have gotten done, that you will stop your workday and have time to spend together.  Our day consists of some form of exercise, eating, school work, work work, and always ends with bedtime routines and family fun.
  • Go to bed when you need to in order to get enough sleep.  Getting sleep at night is a way for your body to reset, so a good nights sleep is really important.  Again, this can be really difficult because many of us aren’t going into work and we think that we can stay up later because our work day looks different but it benefits you to get the sleep you need to have the energy (mentally and physically for the next day).  Its okay to say what you need, and if what you need is to go to bed early one night- do it!  If you have children, keep them on a bedtime routine as well- they need their sleep to reset too.  If I am feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, I tell my family that I am going to sleep and that I will see them in the morning and take that time for myself.
  • Even if you don’t have something set up and just need some personal space., let those around you know that you are feeling like you need your own time out and then have a space that is just yours to go to and recharge.  This could be a room or area of your home or you could even venture out for a walk alone just to clear your head.  Many people are taking to going on drives (not necessarily to go anywhere, just to get out of the house) and for some people going to the grocery store for their family is a welcomed break from the mundane.  Scheduling yoga or pilates or making my weekly trip to the grocery store is a reset for me and feels like a break.
  • Meals and other household tasks can be a way that you set boundaries.  We are all home more than we were in the past and with that being said, we are all contributing to the things that are part of living in a home.  There can be a task chart of what needs to be done and who will do it each week.  It doesn’t have to be one person’s responsibility to cook, clean, homeschool, etc.  By asking for that help or creating that chart, it shows that you are a team working together to get through this by supporting one another.  I have begun to ask my family to help with chores, take on cleaning up after themselves more, and being aware of how they can make our home better.
  • Something as simple as asking to pause a conversation and stating when you can come back to it can be a healthy boundary.  If you are feeling overwhelmed by the conversation or the constant questions or requests for help; its okay to say that you can’t talk about it or answer that question right now.  And its okay to tell friends and family that you don’t want to talk about COVID-19 anymore.  While it might be comforting to some to talk about all the precautions they are taking or the latest news or statistics; this can be very anxiety producing for others.  You have the right to set the boundary that while you are talking, that you don’t want to hear about the latest news and to explain how it makes you feel (anxious, depressed, fearful, etc.) and let others know how you will handle it if this boundary is crossed.  An example of this would be to state that you don’t want to talk about COVID-19 and if it comes up you will ask that the person not talk about it while you are on the conversation or that you will have to leave the call.  I haven’t had to do this, but have this plan in place should I begin to get overwhelmed with it.
  • Encourage others in your household to also take time for themselves by asking for space or time to do something they want uninterrupted.  Its no longer an option to have parents ask each other for one night each week that is their’s to do what they want with because we can’t go out with our friends, go shopping, etc.  But it doesn’t mean that we don’t need to still be carving that time out for ourselves and for others to be doing the same.  It can be asking to go on a walk alone, do the grocery shopping this time, or if you can take a nap.  Making sure each person in the family is having time to do something just for them will help the family function as a whole.

While this time may be forcing us to be socially distant from those that don’t live in our household, it is a time when we are spending all our time with those within our households.  By asking for time when you need it or even scheduling it in each day, you are caring for yourself which lets you care for those within your home.

Coping with Working from Home During COVID-19

How many mornings have you shut off that alarm, wishing you could just work from home in your PJs? Well now many of us are getting our wish thanks to COVID-19.

While in theory working from home may seem ideal, the reality for many of us is that it’s, well, kind of a pain. Particularly if you have young children home from school that you now have to teach while still keeping productive at work.

The fact is, this sudden and unexpected disruption to our daily lives has many of us feeling stressed!

Here are some ways you can cope with working from home for the unforeseeable future.

1. Get Your Space Right

If you don’t have a dedicated home office, you’ll want to figure something out ASAP. Having the right space at home will help you focus on the tasks at hand. It will also automatically set boundaries with family.

Do you have a spare room you can use? Is there an area in your finished basement that could work? If not, clear off the dining table and set up there.

2. Keep Your Regular Schedule

You may want to treat the next 2-3 weeks as a sort of family vacation, but it’s best if you and the kids stick to your regular routines. That means getting up and going to bed at the same time, showering, getting dressed and having breakfast as you normally would. Straying from routine will demotivate you to complete the work that needs to get done.

3. Take Advantage of the Flexibility

While it’s important to keep to your routines, that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of having more time on your hands. Instead of spending an hour plus on a commute each day, you could use that time to catch up on home projects that have been on your to-do list for a while. You can also use the added time to reconnect with your family.

4. Give Your Kids Structure

Kids need structure, so give them some each day. This could mean giving them three options of how they will spend the afternoon: playing with Legos in the living room, watching a movie or quiet reading in their bedrooms. Be sure to take a break from work every couple of hours to check in with your kids to answer any questions they may have. Lord knows they ALWAYS have some!

5. Get Some Virtual Babysitters

On those days when you have to conduct many meetings and get much done, consider reaching out to family and friends to arrange virtual playdates with the kids. Thanks to Skype and FaceTime, your virtual babysitters can read, play games and interact with your kids online while you get some important work done.

If you find you are getting a bit squirrelly, even after following these tips, you can always reach out to a mental healthcare provider who can give you some more ideas of how to manage the stress.

If you’d like to speak to someone, please reach out to me. At this time, I am able to conduct sessions via phone or Skype, so you don’t even have to leave your home if your state is on lockdown.