• Relationship &
• Marriage Counseling
Specialist in EMDR
(Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). See how EMDR can be used to work with all of the above treatment issues
My work as a counselor is based on the assumption that good character, especially accountability for oneself, is a basic foundation for living a satisfying life. It is the basis of true adult self-esteem and personal security. That assumption guides my work with people, helping them discover what it is inside themselves that is causing distress in their lives today. My specialties include Marriage and Relationship Counseling, Trauma (PTSD), Addiction, Depression and Anxiety, Loss and Grief.
Often we find that ghosts from our past haunt our present, preventing us from being our best self. Once identified, counseling becomes a shared journey toward the resolution of those issues, to be our best self . . . based on Character, Responsibility and Communication.
RELATIONSHIP & MARRIAGE COUNSELING
People usually come to relationship counseling when they are at the height of their discomfort. The most common relationship problems I’ve encountered in my practice over the last 20 years are:
- Sex and intimacy
- Unresolved baggage from childhood
- Unfulfilled expectations
- Addictions of one type or another
I often find myself saying silently “Sure wish they had come five years ago”. But alas, people are human, and humans have a tendency to avoid and deny that there is a problem right up until they simply can’t stand their unhappiness anymore. At that point hope begins. It is never “too late” to create a better life. So one message I would like to send out to all who read these pages is: “Help is available”!
If you are aware that your relationship is in trouble, early intervention is by far the best medicine for potential recovery. If you have children living at home, they deserve your “best shot”.
The word trauma means: “A deeply distressing or disturbing event.” Using this as a definition, trauma is simply a part of everyone’s life to one degree or another. There is no such thing as a pain-free life just as joy, hope and inspiration are all a part of our lives.
There is what we call “Big T Trauma” such as physical, emotional or sexual abuses, domestic violence, combat, natural disasters, or the traumatic death/loss of a loved one. There are also “small t traumas” that are more common and ubiquitous to our everyday lives such as shaming, bullying, humiliations, or chronic criticism. These distressing, sometimes overwhelming experiences, can lay the groundwork for a person’s future life, especially with regard to the beliefs they hold about themselves and particularly if they were experienced in childhood when we are at our most vulnerable.
One example of a common trauma in life would be being raised by a harsh, critical parent rather than a safe and loving one. Children raised this way can potentially grow up holding beliefs about themselves such as “I’m not good enough”, “There’s something wrong with me” or “I can’t succeed”. These beliefs are self-limiting and can interfere with a young person growing up to become all that they could be.
Another example would be growing up in an alcoholic or drug abusing home where a young person’s safety and well-being are not the top priority - the addiction is (substances, gambling, internet porn, food, work, shopping) to name a few. Examples of beliefs people can come away from that with are, “I’m not important”, “I’m not safe”, “I’m not good enough”, “It’s my fault”.
Treatment for many complaints that are seen in counseling are often the sum total of the negative (often irrational and untrue) beliefs that people hold about themselves, usually dating back to childhood. These are all treatable.
POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD)
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an actual psychological and physical disorder characterized by having exposure to a “Big T” trauma such as abuse (physical, emotional or sexual), assault, auto or other accidents, rape, combat, violence of any kind (victim or witness), to name a few. PTSD is characterized by symptoms such as:
PTSD is a treatable disorder. Early recognition and treatment are key to limiting the negative life-altering effects of trauma or PTSD on individuals and families.
- Nightmares, intrusive memories, flashbacks (re-experiencing) the original event.
- Avoidance of any reminders of the event (since they act as triggers to re-activate the original experience).
- Avoidance can become a “way of life” and prevent people from living their lives more completely, experiencing a full range of “choices”.
- Numbing of emotions, or emotional overload.
- Substance abuse and other addictions commonly co-occur with trauma, used to self medicate the discomfort of the symptoms.
- A foreshortened sense of the future.
- Physical agitation, overly sensitive ‘startle’ response (jumpy) or extreme irritability.
Addictions of all kinds are a growing concern for all of us. It is difficult to find anyone nowadays who hasn’t been touched personally by addiction in some way. That may include being the person who is addicted, knowing someone who is struggling with addiction, or being a family member of an addict.
Addiction by definition is an attachment to a substance (or behavior, such as eating, gambling, pornography, shopping or work) that the person is unable to stop “over-doing” regardless of the personal consequences - loss of family, work, friends, health, freedom (jail) or life itself.
The person makes repeated promises to themselves and others that they will stop the behavior they are unable to. That is the key to getting help - being able to see that something is a real problem in the first place and then having the courage to seek help. The long-term personal, social, physical, economic and legal consequences of addiction are astronomical once an addiction takes over a life. It is a number one concern in today’s world.
Since I work so much with pain and suffering, it is impossible not to notice the relationship between personal pain and suffering (trauma) and addiction. Substances and other addictive behaviors are the perfect, ever-available self-medication. However, please note that addiction is highly complex bio-psycho-social disorder that cannot be completely defined by any one cause. There are genetic, environmental, brain and personal resiliency components that make addiction a baffling and challenging issue of our time.
If you, or someone you know, is suffering from addiction, there is so much help available in today’s world that you would have to try not to look for the help to miss it! It takes a great deal of courage to ask for help.
Everyone feels depressed from time to time. It is a natural human condition. It comes and goes and doesn’t tend to interfere with our daily functioning overall. However there is a disorder known as Major Depression that is a psychological/biological “thief”. It can rob a person of their ability to experience joy, hope and pleasurable activity in their daily lives. Again, a very complex disorder with biological, environmental and trauma-based underpinnings, it has been the focus of counseling for millions of people for the last several decades. We have both medical and counseling help available today that were virtually unknown to earlier generations. Many have died by their own hand trying to battle the demons of depression.
Major depression is characterized by the at least several of the following symptoms occurring for more than a month, often recurring again and again for lengthy periods of time:
- Loss of ability to feel pleasure in activities formerly pleasurable
- Sleep disturbance (insomnia or sleeping too much)
- Appetite disturbance (eating too much, eating too little)
- Weight changes (gains/losses of 10 lbs. or more in a short period of time
- Sexual disinterest
- A sense that life is not worth living
- These symptoms are a pattern over time, lasting more than a few days, sometimes having no particular relationship to what is happening in the person’s life right now.
People can fee a real sense of confusion about that last one.
We can understand when we’re feeling depressed due to circumstances that come and go. With “circumstantial” depression, it generally resolves as the situations resolve. More chronic, repetitive patterns of depression are different from that. It is truly puzzling and often leaves people feeling a real sense of powerlessness, when they feel depressed even when there is no “apparent” reason for it.
By “apparent” I mean that depression can often manifest as a collective pattern of symptoms over time from childhood experiences that are “over”, but continue to exert influence over one’s life (like the traumas I referred to earlier), even when we don’t know that these earlier experiences may underlie a chronic depression. A bag of collected “negative beliefs” about oneself over time, plus perhaps a genetic predisposition to depression (it often runs in families) are enough to create a true pattern of major depression that may require professional assistance, either medical or counseling, sometimes both.
If you are experiencing the symptoms listed above, fear not. There is help around every corner.
Anxiety, like depression, is probably the most common “normal human emotion” there is, on a continuum from the very mild to the severe (often in the form of discrete panic attacks).