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Therapist Notes Blog

Relationship Minute: Where does relationship success begin?

Posted by on Sep 15th, 2016 in News | 0 comments

There are many facets of healthy relationships, elements of strong foundation ideally resting underneath a couple.  Trust, security, emotional safety and goodRelationship Minute communication are just a few.

But where does relationship success truly begin?

Don’t even bother looking towards your partner.  Hold up a mirror to yourself because that’s where relationship success starts.

In order to have the best relationship you need to be the best version of yourself first.

As yourself the following:

  • Do I have any old wounds blocking me from emotional and or relationship health?
  • Am I carrying issues around trust, sense of self or other insecurities that I’m looking to another to fix?
  • Do I have work to do?

If you are in a relationship currently that is struggling and you answered “yes” to any of the above, ideally, you work together as a couple to understand your dynamic together first.  Once you understand your role, begin the work on your own.

I help couples understand each of their roles in their relationship dysfunction and create a path towards reconnection.


Emotional Health Minute: One happiness Rx?

Posted by on May 5th, 2016 in Emotional Health Minute | 0 comments

Ok – so happiness can’t possibly boil down to one solitary thing, however many researchers believe that if you HAD to it would be gratitude.  Gratitude can not onlyEmotional Health Minute be the path to a more life satisfaction but even improve your heart.

But being “grateful” isn’t necessarily easy, especially if you are prone to a strong negativity bias.  (The glass half empty vs half full world view.)

How to bring more gratitude into your life?

  • Start to notice.  Noticing what’s around you environmentally and your thoughts, feelings and behaviors.  They all help to prime the pump for gratitude.  
  • Take in the good.  What is around you that you’ve never noticed?  Practice awareness of the positive things throughout your day.  Spend time really thinking about them and savoring.  This also helps rewire your brain towards more gratitude.
  • Daily review.  At the end of the day either journal about or reflect upon three good things that happened or are already a part of your life that you’re grateful for.  This is a nice practice to do before bed to further seep into your self-conscious.

If you try the above and still struggle with happiness or feeling grateful, know that you are not alone.  Sometimes there are deeper and tangled unhealthy roots of experience that make this difficult.  Problematic parental relationships, family of origin stressors or past trauma can be a block to happiness but know that these things can be resolved with additional support.


Relationship Minute: Seek happiness from within or from your marriage or relationship?

Posted by on Aug 18th, 2015 in Relationship Minute | 0 comments

If you are frustrated because your marriage or relationship isn’t “making” you happy you might want to re-think that.  There is a vast Marin-couples-marriage-counseling-therapy-larkspurdifference between being happy with your relationship rather than seeking happiness from your relationship.  What is important is a sense of safety and trust.  This is a condition that’s important for you and your partner to feel.

The question isn’t, “Why aren’t you making me happy” but might be “Why aren’t I happy?”

Seeking happiness from others or from external situations can be a set up.  People have moods, their own issues and daily variations.  Things happen that can be wonderful but life can also take us for a ride.  Seek contentment and “happiness” from within to avoid being on someone else’s rollercoaster.

Reflect on the ways in which you feel good with your partner and the ways in which you feel good with yourself.  Sometimes people need help in clarifying the differences between internal and external validation.

I offer individual therapy and couples counseling to help tease out these issues and help people understand healthier ways to be with each other – and with themselves.



Emotional Health Minute: Getting enough sleep?

Posted by on Apr 29th, 2015 in Emotional Health Minute | 0 comments

Getting enough sleep is more important than you might think.  It not only resets the nervous system but consolidates learnings from that day Emotional Health Minute:  Are you getting enough sleep?and fosters physical health in heart, lungs and immune system.  According to Linda Graham, MFT, “Researchers have found that 97.5% of the population need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night yet, on the average, Americans get 6.5 hours of sleep per night.”

How do you ensure you are getting enough?

  • Go to bed earlier
  • Avoid your devices
  • Contemplate what you’re grateful for just before sleep to fight against any negativity bias leading to nighttime worry and rumination
  • Manage stress levels during the day

Sometimes there are medical issues related to sleep problems.  But other times we can be our own worst enemy.  If your emotional and psychological life is causing you duress and you suspect it’s related to your sleep quality, you might consider working through what’s bothering you.  Additional support might be helpful in that.




Relationship Minute: Avoid These Four Negative Communication Patterns

Posted by on Dec 17th, 2014 in Relationship Minute | 0 comments

It can be easier said than done to eliminate these damaging habits in your relationship.  Many of us have learned problematic communication patterns in our families of origin or struggle with issues around trust in relationships that leading to knee-jerk, unhelpful responses.  If you make attempts to follow Dr. Gottman’s suggestions but still find yourself in a negative cycle, I can help you dig deeper into the underlying issues at hand.



Emotional Health Minute: Be aware of how the news media is impacting you.

Posted by on Oct 16th, 2014 in Emotional Health Minute | 0 comments

There has been a spike in stressful news being covered by the media.  Whether it’s ISIS, Ebola or Enterovirus-D68, there are worrisome issues at hand in ourEmotional Health Minute world and own country.  This would be enough to be concerning for anyone but if you have a tendency for generalized anxiety about “bad things happening,” you might find yourself particularly anxious.

What you can do:

  • Take in the good.  Commit to a daily practice of noticing what’s right, beautiful, inspiring and positive going on in the world and around you.
  • Avoid obsessive media consumption.  If it’s important for you to stay aware of the goings on, pick one time in the day to check in with the news, preferable not before bedtime.
  • Do what feels good.  Do one thing a day that feels good or is relaxing.  Take a bath, a walk, a run, cook, spend time with a pet, your child or whatever resonates with you.
  • Be present.  Spend a few minutes a day sitting in a quiet place with closed eyes and noticing your breath fill and empty your lungs.  For the most satisfying breath, try to bring it all the way into your belly.  Notice your thoughts float by like clouds.  Let them pass with no judgment.

Life can be hard sometimes.  It can be painful, disturbing and hard to believe.  No one is immune to fear and worry at times.  Will we be ok?  Will those who we love be ok?  And these times are pushing some boundaries for many.  But excessive fear and anxiety can be a disservice to us.

If you make an effort to practice the above without much relief in your worry, considering getting additional support.




Relationship Minute: Your mistakes don’t need to mean the end of your relationship.

Posted by on Sep 3rd, 2014 in Relationship Minute | 0 comments

If you’ve messed up, the relationship is worth saving and your partner is open to allowing for positive change, you’re off to a good start.  But you have some work toRelationship Minute:  Your mistakes don't need to mean the end of your relationship. do.

To begin with, you and your partner should hone your communication skills to allow for the kind of dialogue that will be necessary to facilitate repair and change.  Your job is to fully own your part in what’s happened.  Your partner needs to feel validated in their feelings and that you are remorseful for your role in this.  Apologizing can be tough for some people as it’s a very vulnerable place to be!  But it’s important for you to go there in order to set the stage for your opportunity to be different moving forward.

Do some personal reflection on why you’ve behaved in a damaging way.  For the most part, people are not inherently mean but more likely driven by defense mechanisms and old wounds from the past.  Seek to understand yourself and what your history has to do with how you function in relationships.  If there is something there that needs resolution, do the work.  It can pay off big time in the long run.

Creating long term positive change can be hard work and the likelihood of falling off track again is high.  As long as you own it and repair it when it happens, you can chalk it up to being human but you must continue to try to do things differently.  Sometimes old conditioning and habits are tricky to change but give yourself a break.  Hopefully your partner will give you a break too and allow the opportunity to continue ahead.

Sometimes making change requires a helping hand.  I help couples interested in repairing hurts move ahead, alter their dynamics and find emotional safety together.


Emotional Health Minute: Don’t sabotage your growth.

Posted by on Jul 2nd, 2014 in Emotional Health Minute | 0 comments

If you are like most people, you’d prefer happiness over unhappiness.  Being human comes with challenges, failures, adversity as well as joy, peace and life Emotional Health Minute:  Don't Sabotage Your Growthsatisfaction. Consider yourself a work in progress when it comes to your emotional health.

So if your intentions are good but something still isn’t working, consider the possibility you might be sabotaging your own growth.  Consider a few ways you might be doing that:

  • You aren’t living authentically. There is a lack of alignment between how you feel about yourself and how you present to the world.
  • You have unresolved baggage.  Old wounds have a way of serving as blockades to your sense of self and relationships.
  • You put too much pressure on yourself to change as quickly as possible.  You want things to be different NOW and get down on yourself easily rather than accepting that there is an ebb and flow to growth.

What you can do:

Take an honest look at yourself and ways you might inadvertently be bringing yourself down.  This also means considering that there is a reason you are sabotaging yourself.  This can get a little sticky and tricky to figure out and if you struggle to get traction, consider getting assistance.

I help people learn about what blocks their growth and how to get themselves


Skype sessions also available in some cases (CA residents).


Relationship Minute: How is the balance in your relationship?

Posted by on Mar 20th, 2014 in Relationship Minute | 0 comments

There are many ways people do relationships.  At the end of the day, I subscribe to the notion “whatever works.”  But I find that a distress point for many couples Relationship Minute:  How is your relationship balance?in my practice is relationship balance.  Relationship balance is the “you, me and we” parts of the relationship.  Imagine two overlapping circles with the overlapping parts representing the “we” and the side parts representing the the individuals.

The trick is that people have different ideas of what relationships are supposed to be in time spent nurturing those parts.  Perhaps you believe that the circles should be almost entirely overlapping, where the bulk of the energy and time is on each other.  Or maybe a heavy focus on seeking satisfaction individually within the dynamic resonates more.  There are many reasons behind why people settle in the places they do on this.

How is the balance in your relationship?

Sometimes couples can benefit from looking at how they see the circles overlapping and then talking about how they would like to see the circles overlapping.  A reset might be needed.  If you wish your partner didn’t seek solo activities so much – or that your partner would give you some breathing room – consider having a discussion about your balance.  This is one way to avoid the potential for resentment build-up.

I help couples get clear on what their dynamic looks like, understand the reasons behind each of their personal comfort zones and find compromise to better meet each other’s needs.

The “you, me and we” are all vital components of emotional and relationship health.


Emotional Health Minute: Your worry is not you.

Posted by on Dec 13th, 2013 in Emotional Health Minute | 0 comments

When overwhelmed with worry it’s easy to feel like it permeates your very being.  It’s hard to separate the feeling from your very core.  That’s because it can be Emotional Health Minutepowerful, especially if the narrative that runs beneath you (your story) is negative:

“Something bad is going to happen.”

“They won’t like me.”

“If I don’t keep control, I will fall apart.”

Worry can actually help keep you safe in facilitating an appropriate reaction when things are dangerous – or can nudge you to do well in a well-balanced and realistic way (not perfectionism and/or over-achievement). But it’s not helpful when it becomes a permeating and constant drive that stems from a place of fear.

“If I don’t do ___, then something bad is going to happen.”

If you are organized around preventing the “something bad” then it can keep you from enjoying life and others in the way you were meant to.

What you can do:

Remember that your worry is not you. Work with the worry by externalizing it. When it shows up and sits down next to you, say “hello” and ask it what it needs.  When you put it outside of yourself, it’s less likely to feel so encompassing and rather a visitor that you can be curious about.

I help people understand the root of their worry and how to develop a different relationship with it so it no longer holds you captive.


Skype sessions also available in some cases (CA residents).