Connecting With You

Being a therapist in Tucson, AZ practicing psychotherapy and behavioral health care, I specialize in helping people work through problems, have better relationships, improve their communication skills, and increase their connections with their loved ones.

I WORK OUTSIDE THE BOX.

I work with you and your family to find out what’s stopping you from having the relationships that you want, whether it’s an easy-to-resolve issue or one that runs a little bit deeper. On average, I see patients 5 times before they feel like the situation has resolved (of course this varies, sometimes it’s more and sometimes it’s less).

Your initial session is short, designed to fill out necessary paperwork, get some background on what you need, and make a plan. I do conventional sessions with individuals, couples, families, teens, and kids, however often times your initial session may be your only session with me… other times we may set up a plan for long-term management of behavior… every situation is different, and every situation needs to be looked at in that way. With evening and weekend hours, there are many possibilities.

If you love me, then why do we fight?

“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything!”

“Don’t talk back to me!”

 “Don’t raise your voice to me!”

There is a belief that you shouldn’t feel angry with someone you love, but it is irrational to expect two unique human beings (no matter how much they love each other) not to have some conflict. As kids we are all taught that expressing anger is wrong, we are taught that angry feelings aren’t acceptable but this only teaches us to be ashamed of a natural response that can’t be avoided, and ultimately an appropriate expression of anger is not learned.

Kids who are ashamed of their feelings don’t learn how to fully express themselves. These kids grow up to be adults who can’t express their anger. We often struggle in jobs or relationships because people don’t understand what we aren’t communicating.

But anger and love do mix.

It is important to communicate anger in a healthy way to people you love, and it’s important to teach our children to do the same so that they can express their desires and dislikes without emotional chaos.

If you are struggling to be understood, counseling can help. A licensed therapist can help you communicate more effectively. Schedule an appointment today… learn to express your anger in a healthy way.

If you care, you’ll find the time.

No matter how “busy” a person is, they will always find time for something they value.

So what does that say about your life? What are you putting off doing? Who do you keep forgetting?

If you really look at your own actions, what is really happening when you put off cleaning the house? Where are your priorities?

What about when you put off going to the doctor, or dealing with your medication? Where are your priorities?

How about exercising?

If we are just too busy to take care of ourselves, what does that say? That we are not our own priority? That we don’t care enough about ourselves to make the time? That watching the latest and greatest reality TV show is more important than our health?

If you really put it into black and white, every time you put off your own needs you are telling yourself that you’re not worth it… and if you don’t think you’re worth it then why should anyone else?

If you’re ready to value yourself, counseling can help. A licensed therapist can help you recognize your priorities. Schedule an appointment today… Find direction in your life.

What happens to kids when the relationship is over?

Kids don’t handle change well. It’s just a fact.

The more things you change in their daily routine, the more out of sorts they feel. But the ways that they act out can all be traced back to the insecurities that come from not having stability… not knowing what will happen next.

  • They are more argumentative… sometimes it seems like they aren’t being heard, other times they know that there are new boundaries they need to feel out, wither way they are going to push. You have to provide clear and consistent guidelines, in both homes, as well as let them know that you are listening to their needs.
  • They will be more needy… your 3-year-old may decide that she needs to sleep with you every night even though she’s been in her own bed for years, it’s normal. When they change caregivers and environments everything feels like it’s unstable. They reach for you at night so they know you will be there. Getting through this stage can be a challenge, but it’s up to you to decide whether to comfort them and allow it or have them ‘cry-it-out’. Either way, they will be fine.
  • They will pit you against each other… no, they don’t do this on purpose. Kids hear your tone, they see your body language, and they know how you feel. If they come home and tell you about the horrors at daddy’s house, don’t freak out. Most of the time they know that you aren’t that happy with daddy, and they can see that you will want to talk to them, listen to them, and connect with them more if they don’t like him either.
  • Their grades will drop… when kids go through a lot of change they don’t do as well in school for a number of reasons. They don’t have the same consistent help, you are just busier, and they are more scattered from all the chaos. Get them the extra-consistent- help to get through this so it doesn’t have long term effects on their grades.

The most important thing to remember is that you loved your ex at some point. There is good in them. Try to connect to that for your kids. Co-parenting is as important for married parents as it is for separated ones.

If you’re struggling to find that common ground, counseling can help. A licensed therapist can help you work through it, for your happiness and your kid’s. Schedule an appointment today… Get the advice you need.

How to be Happy

Did you ever notice that we all seem to be on this journey to find the all elusive ‘Happiness’ that is never quite in reach?

Happiness is something we will get when we make it to the next point. It’s a moment that will be achieved when we find the right person, when we get a better job, when we finally get a vacation.

Then, suddenly, happiness was something we had before we lost it. We mourn for the moments we had with our friends who are now far away, for the job that we lost because it wasn’t that bad, for the times when we were happy with our spouse.

Happiness always just seems a step away.

An Ani DiFranco lyric goes…

“When I look down

I just miss all the good stuff,

When I look up

I just trip over things.”

Maybe it’s time to live for the now.

Don’t look to the past and miss what is happening now, and don’t look to the future and loose site of what you have.

Be happy in the things you can find today.

If you’re ready to find your happiness, counseling can help. A licensed therapist can help you work through it and be able to live in the now. Schedule an appointment today… Get the advice you need.

Life isn’t fair…

Do you ever wonder why life isn’t fair?
It starts with… Suzy got a new doll, Bobby got a new bike, I should have it, not them.
Then… Billy got an A on that test and he didn’t even study… I worked so hard and I still failed.
Next thing you know it’s… Why did Sally get that raise? I work twice as hard as she does?

All of that turns into resentment and negative feelings about the other person, the situation, yourself. We become jaded because of the inequalities we experience.

But let’s flip the coin…
Take two siblings… The older one no longer needs the constant attention of an infant- is it fair to give each child the same amount of attention?
What if they both get in trouble? Should a 2 year old and a 6 year old have the exact same punishment?

Life isn’t equal, but that doesn’t mean it’s not fair. We get what we need out of life… The cards fall like they should to get us to where we need to be. It’s not fair, or equal, or just… It just is.

We all muddle through life making the best decisions we can, but sometimes we get ourselves stuck in circular logic… Patterns of thought that don’t let us enjoy an experience just because it is… Patterns that we can’t get out of because life isn’t fair.

If you’re stuck in a pattern of thinking, counseling can help. A licensed therapist can help you work through it and find light at the end of the tunnel. Schedule an appointment today… Get the advice you need.

Memories of Holidays Past

The holidays can be tough.

Not only do we have chaotic family dinners and crazy in-laws, but the holidays bring up memories of times past…

Weather the loss of a loved one, a job, a pet, a home… the joyous times of Thanksgiving past, the crazy Yuletide events from previous years, or the celebratory twelfth bell ringing from every New Year can be vindictive reminders of what we once had.

How do we get through the holiday season, with rooms full of happy people, when inside we feel like we’re wobbling on the edge of an abyss? But in the end we just do.

We get through the holidays by pushing those feelings away, struggling to just get through the movements and make it to the next day. It’s sad.

It’s sad that we lessen the value of all those moments from our past by pushing them away.

It’s ok to take a second in the grocery store and remember Mom’s stuffing, and how she always added a little too much celery. It’s ok to place a dog bone under the tree for fluffy, and remember how great a dog he was when he played with the kids. It’s ok to take a moment and bless your new home (even if it’s a rental or your aunt’s basement) and be sad that your kids have to share a room this year. Taking time to remember our losses gives us a chance to grieve them. Taking time to morn gives us time to heal.

Taking time gives our memories value.

Take time with your loved ones this holiday season. If the burden becomes too much, seek help from a trained counselor who can guide you through the process of enjoying your present and embracing your past.

Is it ADHD?

ADHD is one of the most misdiagnosed disorders I deal with. 99% of the time this diagnosis was made by a medical doctor who, with all good intentions, tries Ritalin to help struggling parents. Diagnosis is not that easy, though. I spend hours interviewing parents and kids, and reviewing school accounts, before making an ADHD diagnosis (at least 3 to be exact).

So why is it so hard to diagnose?

The standards say the child must have six or more of the following signs of inattention for at least six months (and that it is disruptive and inappropriate for developmental level):

  1. Often does not give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities.
  2. Often has trouble keeping attention on tasks or play activities.
  3. Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
  4. Often does not follow instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (not due to oppositional behavior or failure to understand instructions).
  5. Often has trouble organizing activities.
  6. Often avoids, dislikes, or doesn’t want to do things that take a lot of mental effort for a long period of time (such as schoolwork or homework).
  7. Often loses things needed for tasks and activities (such as toys, school assignments, pencils, books, or tools).
  8. Is often easily distracted.
  9. Often forgetful in daily activities.

Or, the child must have six or more of the following signs of hyperactivity-impulsivity have been present for at least six months (and that it is disruptive and inappropriate for developmental level):

  1. Often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat.
  2. Often gets up from seat when remaining in seat is expected.
  3. Often runs about or climbs when and where it is not appropriate (adolescents or adults may feel very restless).
  4. Often has trouble playing or enjoying leisure activities quietly.
  5. Is often “on the go” or often acts as if “driven by a motor”.
  6. Often talks excessively.
  7. Often blurts out answers before questions have been finished.
  8. Often has trouble waiting one’s turn.
  9. Often interrupts or intrudes on others (example: butts into conversations or games).

Additionally, some of these signs that cause impairment have to be present before age seven. This impairment also must be present in two or more settings (such as at school/work and at home). And there must be clear evidence of significant impairment in social, school, or work functioning.

 

It seems pretty clear… or does it…

What about hearing problems? Couldn’t a child with hearing problems show these symptoms?

And Learning Disabilities?

How about a child with a chronic illness who is distracted by pain? Or a child with undiagnosed asthma who is having trouble getting enough oxygen to their brain?

What about sleep apnea or other sleep disorders? Could a child who’s sleep deprived have these symptoms?

Or how about these issues/disorders?

 

  • Depression
  • Oppositional defiant disorder
  • Autism
  • Instability at home
  • Medications
  • Allergies
  • Vision problems
  • Gifted children who are bored or imaginative
  • Mild mental retardation
  • Dyslexia
  • Dysgraphia (a disorder related to the ability to write)
  • Personality conflicts with other children or adults
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Tourette’s syndrome
  • Seizures
  • Anemia
  • Substance abuse

 

When you consider all the things you have to rule out… the diagnosis really isn’t that easy.

If you think your child may have ADHD (you can take this quiz to check it out), seek help from a trained child therapist or psychologist to help determine what to do next.

The Kardashian Virus

Why are we so fascinated with the Kardashians?

Really, are they all that interesting? or real?

Thousands of people think so. Thousands of people tune in to hear the latest gossip about Kim and the gang. Buy why?

Is it because there’s something entertaining about a train wreck?

As humans we are naturally voyeuristic- we watch from the sides, booing the bad guy and cheering the good. This isn’t only on TV, though. In America we have been infected with the Kardashian Virus in many things we do- watching others from the sidelines, cheering and booing, but rarely stepping in to help.

How many YouTube videos have you watched where you wonder how someone could tape the action without stepping in?

How m any times have you thought ‘that person really needs help’?

How many times have you been the onlooker?

Reality TV- weather a result or a cause- is the side kick to apathy.

At some point you have to bite the bullet. At some point you have to step away from the screen. At some point you have to realize that a reality of onlookers isn’t one worth anything… it takes participants in life to make reality worth your time.

So what’s the cure to this virus?

Mindfulness… Present-ness… Being here, being aware, and being focused.

There are several speakers who boast Mindfulness, I personally support the recordings released by Dr. Amy Saltzman. But mindfulness can be found many places. Ask for guidance from a trained professional… they can help you be present in your own life.

Chronic Illness… just another pain in the…

Do you or someone you know have a chronic illness- like diabetes or asthma?

Why is it that it is so hard to follow the doctor’s advice when you have a chronic illness?

You would think that hearing about your possible death would propel you into the gym or make you not eat that second helping of pumpkin pie… or at least get you to take your medication. And you mean to do it. But it doesn’t happen that way.

Life happens instead.

… Your cat needs food and you don’t have money for that prescription.

… All the celery in the house went bad, so you had to go get a #1 with a large fry for dinner.

… Your mom called when you were leaving the house and you forgot your pills.

… Your boss is already on your case, you can’t take another day off to go to the doctor.

Right?

But maybe that’s not all there is to it. Sometimes we have mental blocks that stop us from taking care of ourselves when it’s just too scary. The more immediate issues seem like they’re more important because the bigger issue- like hospitalization or death- are too far away. And besides, before you knew you had asthma or diabetes you were fine…

It’s this dishonest thinking that stops you from being your best you.

If you need to be honest with yourself- whether it’s about eating, or taking pills, or remembering to go to the gym… just do it. Put reminders around the house that steer you away from making the same mistake over and over. Ask family and friends to support you and help you. You are not alone. Your family and friends are affected by your illness and want to help.

If it’s a loved one that you see struggling, be honest with them. Sugar coating death doesn’t stop it from happening. Be honest and straight forward, and opened to hear their struggles. You may be the only thread of hope they can see.

Chronic illness is hard on the whole family. Seek support from a trained counselor  to help your family make it through tough times.