Still Face Experiment

Humans are wired for connection.  We develop emotional resilience and stress tolerance from our earliest experiences with our primary caregivers.  These caregivers also help orient us to the world.  Research now indicates that we carry our earliest attachment patterns from infancy into adulthood for better or for worse. Continue reading

Getting Help For The Mentally Ill

When a friend or family member is experiencing a mental health crisis and presents a possible threat to themselves or others, most people are at a loss as to where to turn.

The situation may not qualify for police intervention and the person may refuse to see a mental health professional. Continue reading

Victim-Rescuer-Perpetrator Triangle

“The adult survivor of abuse enacting the Victim-Rescuer-Perpetrator triangle is emotionally locked into the child logic of the locus of control shift.  The core belief, ‘I am bad,’ gives license to play victim (bad things happen to me because I am bad) or perpetrator (I am bad because I do bad things)  rescuer (I am all powerful and so if I try hard enough I can make everything right in my world).” –“Trauma Model Therapy: A Treatment Approach for Trauma, Dissociation and Complex Comorbidity”- Colin A Ross,, M.D., and Naomi Halpern, CQSW.

Insecurity and Achievement in the Workplace

In my practice, over the years, I have noticed that may of my clients who are most successful in the workplace were parentified children who spend their lives trying to live up to impossible levels of perfectionism that leave them feeling perpetually insecure and overworked.

This article from The Harvard Business Review is the first I’ve seen explicitly addressing the way companies often take advantage of employee’s insecurities to help them achieve success.  Work-life balance suffers.

“…these individuals are immensely attractive to elite professional organizations because they are entirely self-motivating and self-disciplining.”

The State of Affairs

Ester Perel’s new book, “The State of Affairs” is a groundbreaking book on infidelity.  Most books on the topic either give advice on how to avoid an affair or deal with the difficult task of putting together a relationship in the aftermath of infidelity.  Ester, an expert on the intersection between desire and safety, acknowledges what most people would rather not- the reality that affairs can be BOTH transformative and destructive.  She uses her years of work as a couple’s therapist and researcher to delve into the fact that affairs are often not about what’s wrong at home but what’s missing internally. Continue reading

Love vs Limerance

lim·er·ence
ˈlimərəns/
noun

PSYCHOLOGY
the state of being infatuated or obsessed with another person, typically experienced involuntarily and characterized by a strong desire for reciprocation of one’s feelings but not primarily for a sexual relationship.
In my practice, I have seen more than a few clients who have had the experience of being painfully infatuated with someone who did not return their affection. In this article, therapist Pamela Milam, defines this experience of limerance and compares and contrasts it to the experience of being in love.

 

In my therapy office, psycho-education was a big part of my job. Clients came in to discuss their feelings, and I taught what I knew about feelings. One of my clients (I’ll call her “Leslie”) felt miserable, reporting that she was in love with her supervisor at work. She saw him every day, dressed in the morning with the goal of impressing him, and imagined that he might be her soulmate. Leslie suffered through fantasies that kept her awake at nightfocusing on unrealistic and improbable scenarios in which she would discover that he loved her, too. She had trouble concentrating.

We discussed the fact that a simple crush on her boss had turned into something damaging and unhealthy. She said that she had been in love before, but the prior love had felt healthier somehow—a more positive, mutual experience. The more recent experience had a whole different set of features.

In her book Love and Limerence: The Experience of Being in Love, psychologist Dorothy Tennov describes the typical features of limerence:

 

Continue reading

How Culture Can Affect Your Relationship

Intercultural-MarriageCultural can affect your relationship more than you may think even if you or your partner seems perfectly acclimated to the current culture in which you’ve been raised.  In my practice, I’ve seen a number of clients who are in intercultural or bi-racial relationships and, over the years, it’s become clear to me that, in many cases, what the client thought was a negative dynamic due to a personality or attachment issue was really a cultural belief being looked at through the wrong lens (the lens of their own cultural bias.)

A relationship can be considered intercultural even if both partners were born and raised in the environment where they live.  The question is really HOW were they raised and with what cultural values? In the case of many people I’ve worked with, we have talked about parents who are from a completely different culture, who coming here as adults, raised their children according to the cultural customs and mores of the country from which they came.

This does not mean that the (now) adult child in question who is my client or the partner of my client is not also acclimated or assimilated into the larger culture in which they find themselves. They often grow-up possessing traits of both cultures.

Going into cross-cultural relationships KNOWING that there are bound to be differences in perspective directly related to cultural differences is half the battle in many cases.

The following article by Fouad Alaa outlines a few of the ways in which culture can cause controversy between couples.  However, you can add to the list: level and type of attachment to family members (including extended family), the way in which emotion is expressed  (or not) and the way material goods are prized (or not), just to name a few.

THERE’S a beautiful honeymoon phase at the beginning of every relationship where couples fall madly in love with each other regardless of any major differences.

After the honeymoon phase comes the adaptation phase. Personal quirks that used to be cute become annoying. Discomfort, issues and even fights take place; doubly so for interracial couples.

Every culture affects our personal habits and preferences. In interracial relationships, personal habits might cause issues the same way they would when they are acceptable in one country but not tolerated for long in another.

A lot of interracial couples mistake cultural influence for personality flaws. The ability to differentiate between a cultural norm and a personal quirk is very important to prevent any misunderstandings or issues regarding compatibility. Continue reading

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Relationship dependency South Lake Union Therapy

Numerous studies have shown that once we become attached to someone, the two of us form one physiological unit.  Our partner regulates our blood pressure, our heart rate, our breathing, and the levels of hormones in our blood.  We are not longer separate entities.  The emphasis on differentiation that is held by most of today’s popular psychology approaches to adult relationships  does not hold water from a biological perspective.  Dependency is a fact; it is not a choice or a preference. -Amir Levine M.D., and Rachel S.F. Heller, M.A. “Attached: The New Science or Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find-And Keep-Love.”