A Logical Lesson in Emotional Regulation

When the first Star Trek reboot film came out in 2009, not only did it finally become cool to like Star Trek, but we were introduced to the cadet version of the highly logical and limitedly emotional character of Spock. For those of you who are now thinking, "Really, Star Trek?" bear with me. What is lesser known about Vulcans (the "ethnicity" box that Spock would check when applying for a drivers license) is that they are an intensely emotional race. In fact, their passions run so high, they … [Read more...]

“It Is What It Is” – Radical Acceptance

I used to keep a needlepoint pillow in my office that had the phrase “It is what it is” stitched across the front of it. I have always loved this idea and have found comfort in my own life when I’ve been able to attain that level of complete acceptance, but it wasn’t until my second year of graduate school that I learned it has a clinical name and application: Radical acceptance. Radical acceptance is a principle from Dialectic Behavioral Therapy (DBT). It is based in Eastern philosophy and … [Read more...]

How to Talk About “The Hard Things”

  In spite of all my training both personally and professionally, I still have moments when I struggle with how to talk about "the hard things". We all have those moments where we are so emotionally involved in the situation, that we forget to step back and really look at if our approach is helpful. Here are four guidelines that can help us plan and prepare to talk about sensitive subjects and tricky topics in our relationships. I share them with you, recognizing that we can all … [Read more...]

It’s Not You, It’s Me

What happens inside of you when someone says “You!” to describe you, your feelings or your behavior? For instance, what if someone asks you, “Why are you always angry?” Or, “What is wrong with you?” Do you feel your internal defenses rising? Dr. Thomas Gordon, clinical psychologist, developed the Gordon Model. Gordon’s method is a system for building relationships. Dr. Gordon advised using I-statements in our relationships. You-statements are usually received as criticism. Notice the … [Read more...]

How to Start Being More Assertive: A Balancing Act

There are three main types of communication styles and you've probably heard of them before: passive, aggressive and assertive. Let's define what those styles mean. Passive communication means that you often put your other's rights/needs first and your's second. Aggressive communication means that your rights/needs take priority and other's are second. Assertive communication means that you are respecting both your own needs and the needs of others. It's a balanced middle ground between the … [Read more...]

When It Isn’t About You

Life is full of tests, trials, hardships, and barriers.  Sometimes it seems like they all happen at once.  Do you ever find yourself asking, "Why me?"  Or trying to figure out what the point of all your tribulation is?  In my last semester of grad school I was having one of those weeks, when everything seemed to be going wrong.  It was during midterms, and on top of all of my papers and exams, my blood sugar was also acting up.  One night it would be high all night, and the next night it was … [Read more...]

The Power of Praise – Living the 5:1 Ratio Rule

Here's an experiment for you: Take a moment and think about the most recent genuine compliment you remember receiving. Is it hard to come up with one quickly? Hopefully you’re not going too far back in your memory banks to recall that occasion - but chances are that it took a few seconds, at least, to identify that event. Now take a moment to recognize the emotion you experienced when recalling the praise. Chances are, the feeling was positive – even remembering praise is powerful! The 5:1 … [Read more...]

Oh What Do You Do in the Summertime?

Popsicles. Picnics. Camping trips. Fireworks. Swimming. Long days in the sun. What do you and your family like to do in the summertime? While both structured and unstructured time are beneficial for children, research actually shows that quality family time is among the most beneficial activities that families can engage in anytime of the year. Yet, 1 in 4 parents state that they feel too busy to engage in family time together, and the average family only spends about 34 minutes of … [Read more...]

What Are Enduring Vulnerabilities?

Can you remember a time when a discussion with your partner escalated without warning to a blowup, followed by distance? UCLA researcher and psychologist, Dr. Thomas Bradbury, uses the term “enduring vulnerabilities” to describe sensitivities we develop, often in childhood. These vulnerabilities can trigger strong reactions in adulthood. Knowing our sensitivities, and our partner’s, can improve our relationship, deescalate conflict, and deepen our emotional connection. Common … [Read more...]

Great therapeutic book series for kids

  Today I wanted to share a book series I often recommend to parents to do with their children. One population I enjoy working with immensely is children. One reason I love kids is because they are concrete learners. So when it comes to learning therapeutic skills, almost more than any other population, there has to be a concrete application. For this reason children can benefit from therapy books which are workbook style. This style benefits kids and parents have a guide to and home … [Read more...]