Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Relationship Advice May Prevent Marriage Counseling

Yes, some Relationship Advice may prevent Marriage Counseling!

Currently 50% of all marriages will end in divorce. Celebrations of twenty-five or more anniversaries are becoming rare.

Marriage Counseling and professional relationship advice could and would decrease this trend. It is a very real preventative and ongoing choice for a healthy union continuation. Think of it in terms of gardening or vehicle and house maintenance. As we change our parenting techniques with the growth and development of our children so is our relationship growing which also demands our attention to changes and needs. A relationship advice from a friend or clergy have always been in this area however many couples may need the specialized talents of a “Marriage Counselor” to provide for the appropriate relationship advice.

Intimacy versus independence: It is common to adopt declarations regarding the empowerment of the self and individual creativeness. Similar declarations are needed in my opinion regarding the empowerment of true intimacy. More often I find the lack of shared intimacy among couples who use these terms. It has been my observation that in many cases partners with conflict have had deep difficulty to trust each other. This conflict developed either to protect their autonomy or strengthen it. Sadly enough, many of the couples I have met never had a chance to inherit intimacy and heart to heart communication patterns from their parents. Intimacy therefore is a priority on my agenda for the couples’ marriage counseling and relationship advice.

Sexuality: I often check how quickly my clients are willing to examine their sexuality patterns. Sexual communication is complicated and difficult. We knew at the start of our relationship how to keep our sexuality alive with intrusions of work or family obligations. In time, couples develop the tendency to overlook this issue. Related to sexuality is the issue of romance. The effort to ‘fall in love again’, should be considered as a life long term mortgage. A good marriage counseling program will use ‘mechanical building blocks’ in order to keep the romantic spirit alive.

Styles of Communication: Every couple faces situations that are identical to any business team: who does what, why, and when: to purchase, to expand (children?) or not, and so on. Executive roles are part of marriage life, so communication and decision making skills must be analyzed, re-shaped and smartly shared.

Fighting resistance: People love the comfort zone of stability and resist change, even if their circumstance is gloomy. My marriage counseling process always includes some tactics to overcome objections and rejection of new modalities: mirroring and feedback regarding withdrawal from conflict, rules to avoid the tendency to escalate conflict during disagreements in our sessions and rules to avoid sabotaging our progress by provocative acts and attitudes by either partner, in- between our sessions.

Dr. Joseph Abraham, Director, Center for Human Growth and Business Insights, Mechanicsburg, PA Tel 717-943.0959 Online Psychologist and Life Coach: Marriage Counseling, Relationship Advice and Management Consulting. Online Counseling and Small Business Advice

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Marriage Counseling: What, Why, How

What is Marriage Counseling?

Any intervention in which a third party – www.dr-joseph.com/Social_Adjusment.html, Marriage Counselor, Life Coach, Medical professional or clergy – provides types of ‘therapy’ for either a married couple or a partnership who tries to resolve problems in their relationship. Typically, the two attend the counseling sessions together, or in the case of Online Counseling - the same phone or computer conference call. There are however many cases in which only one partner may actively participate as each may have different agendas.

So what is ‘therapy’, in the context of marriage counseling? It is a systematic and structural process in which the marriage counselor, who must be trained in psychotherapy and family systems, focuses on understanding the clients' symptoms, underlying needs and expectations and the way their interactions contribute to problems in the relationship.

What is the difference between ‘good talk’ with a friend or a family member and the discussions with a professional Marriage Counselor?

Marriage counselors are trained in behavioral science models, psychotherapy processes and techniques and anonymity with no bias to one or the other. Most likely the professional also consults with colleagues or other experienced therapists regarding their cases.

How does it work? Marriage counseling is usually a short-term therapy that may take only a few sessions (1-12 sessions) to work out problems in the relationship. Typically at first I ask questions about the couples’ history and personal background, their past and current roles, dating, sexuality and communication patterns, personal or mutual goals, and their current value/belief system. I summarize my initial meeting with the couple, assessing the aspects of the relationship; thereafter we create a preliminary understanding about their issues, regarding sexuality, recognition, achievement orientation, etc. The process in most cases continues to zoom in on the ‘Identified Client’ - the partner who “appears” to contribute the most to the problems in the relationship. The talented professional will soon diffuse and reveal to both clients the fallacy of one being the sole responsible and help them see the reciprocal nature of the events.

Only with total acceptance of this, can the two explore ways to change their interacting. A well practiced tool is a ‘contract’ in which each partner describes and commits to remedial behavior he or she will try to achieve.
Does it work? I know that my marriage counseling processes help 70-75% of the couples who meet with me to deal more effectively with problems and alternately, years of agony and unhappiness could end within two or three months of working together. Case follow-ups after a year show that those problems with tendencies to reappear do not repeat themselves in most cases. My personal data is aligned with continuous academic research results: effective professional marriage counseling does improve the couples’ physical as well as mental health, while improving their satisfaction with the relationship.
Dr. Joseph Abraham, Director, Center for Human Growth and Business Insights, Mechanicsburg, PA Tel 717-943.0959 Online Psychologist and Life Coach: Marriage Counseling, Relationship Advice and Management Consulting. Online Counseling and Small Business Advice

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Do I Support Temporary Separation while the Marriage Counseling is in Process?

‘Short Separation’ as a Marriage Counseling Tactic

“Can a marital separation save a marriage?” Usually my opinion is: it depends…

Whether the separation will help or hurt the marriage is unknown, unless you know the couple, have listened to them and assessed their mental state. Needless to say, a professional marriage counselor should feed-back his or her gained impression to the couple. Since the outcome could go either way, depending on what each of them really wants, this tactic should be an important topic during the marriage counseling sessions.

As a Psychologist who practices as a Marriage Counselor as well as a Life Coach and professional Relationship Advice provider I may quickly support a separation, for example when one spouse is living in an intolerable situation in the marriage. Perhaps one partner is verbally abusive, chronically has affairs, or shows continued disrespect towards his or her spouse in some other way. A number of couples are miserable living together and can’t seem to co-exist without continuous arguing. Living apart can help each partner to better use their emotional strengths and problem solving skills. In situations like this, a separation can sometimes save the marriage.

But fortunately enough, these are not the majority of cases I have encountered; which result in more complexities for me, as the professional counselor. The main issue is the motivation and the attitude of each partner: does each spouse want the marriage to work? Is there a strong willingness to seek marriage counseling and work on the problems and issues while they are separated? Does the couple in this situation plan to use this separation period to “let the dust settle,” and reflect on the marriage but taking responsibility for their part, and work with me on their individual and joint issues?

Sometimes the serious problems that the couple present and share are only a cover-up for more deeper and underlying issues: unfulfilled desires and a lack of trust for a better future. When there is a hidden desire to split apart, or try living under an alternative roof and relationship, a split could be a one-way ticket from renewing the marriage. There is therefore a need to use this simple ‘test detector’ apparatus: Do both spouses agree not to date anyone else? Do both commit to improve their marriage only?

A separation can be a time of healing, gaining strength and adding social resources to build new ties. Conversely living apart will allow each to pursue alternative relationships in which distance detachment and distance prevails while this period of ‘trial for a better luck’ continues.

Does it mean that a ‘free zone’ arrangement is the beginning of the end of the relationship? NO.

Human behavior is often as you see on the dance floor: two steps forward, one back, and then turn. It could be that one spouse or even both want to use the separation to build new relationships. Once they are on their own, they grow emotionally stronger, more independent but at the same time more in touch with their weaknesses. Each can now have a clearer perspective about their past negative contributions. Reconciliation in such cases is quick, meaningful and usually long lasting.

To summarize my Marriage Counseling approach regarding temporary separation: once you use a temporary split as a tool to heal your marriage:
1. Set a tentative time period for the separation; three, six, nine or twelve months, but no longer.
2. At three month intervals, set a time to meet and re-evaluate the decision to separate.
3. Agree to seek individual and joint counseling during the separation.
4. Set clear guidelines about how much contact you’ll have with each other during the separation; the less the better.

Dr. Joseph Abraham, Director, Center for Human Growth and Business Insights, Mechanicsburg, PA. Tel 717-943.0959 Online Psychologist and Life Coach: Marriage Counseling, Relationship Advice and Management Consulting. Online Counseling and Small Business Advice

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Do You Fit For Marriage Counseling?

The ‘Yes’ and “No’ as a Pre-requisite for a Marriage Counseling Success

Almost every relationship encounters rough waters. Some will need professional involvement. If you decide to start professional Marriage Counseling with a marriage counselor, psychologist, or life coach, please know that a pre-requisite is not only the fee but the beneficial process of all parties.
Here are five questions you should ask yourself prior to this process; be sure you put your 4 ‘yes’ answers and the 1‘no’ at the right places.

Question # 1: Is there a problem or you only agree to the process because your spouse wants to? ‘Yes’ is required; your definition of the problem must be well defined. Do not begin if you deny there’s a problem. The practitioner’s office is not where one should learn about the marriage conflict. It is most beneficial that both parties consent to the counseling process.

Question # 2: Do you contribute to the problem? Unless you view a marriage as a system – where there are certain homeostasis or balance occurring between the two elements of the system (the partners), there is no point seeking marriage counseling. You will find no real practitioner who will not relate to you both as two parts of one system. This means that you both can’t help but to impact and interrelate with each other. Your behavior will cause a reaction by your mate, and vice versa. It is highly unlikely that one person is solely responsible for the entire problem in a marriage. “It takes two to tango.”

Question # 3: Are you having positive expectations? A self fulfilling prophecy is a powerful force that motivates and creates reality, and this is a pre-requisite most crucial in the marriage counseling. If not, one partner would most likely be passive or expect the therapist to perform miracles to make positive things happen. The “You fix me” or “You fix my spouse” message or expecting problem solving style from the marriage counselor is absolutely unacceptable. Each partner must engage and participate. My role as a marriage counseling professional is to explore, analyze and understand behaviors or chain of behaviors. Then I help to re-engineer the relationship. So you better expect to see powerful changes occurring between you and your spouse.

Question # 4: Are you ready to accept and adopt changes in behavior? Before considering your answer, be aware that most people declare that they would expect to see their partner change, or at least change first… Without a willingness to make your own adjustments in the marriage, there is no point in beginning the marriage counseling process. The ‘yes’ attitude in essence gives a strong message that you are going to be an active partner in the ‘renewed’ marriage.

Question # 5: Is it O.K to dedicate an entire week-end (only) to the marriage counseling process? Your busy agenda… The amount of time marriage counseling takes is dependent on a number of factors; the amount of resentment, period length of unhappiness and willingness to change are just a few. It’s definitely an investment of time, effort and money which can be stressful for some people. You must accept the ‘NO’ answer, since there is no “quick fix”.

Dr. Joseph Abraham, Director, Center for Human Growth and Business Insights, Mechanicsburg, PA Tel 717-943.0959 A Psychologist, Online Life Coach, Marriage Counselor and Relationship Advice provider. Psychologist and Relationship Advice and Life Coach and Marriage Counseling and Small Business Advice

Friday, July 31, 2009

Relationship Stage Analysis During Marriage Counseling

Why do I do what I do as a Marriage Counseling Professional?

This article continues the theme that was discussed in http://dr-joseph.blogspot.com/2009/06/basic-learning-principles-help-marriage.html and http://dr-joseph.blogspot.com/2009/06/what-and-why-i-do-what-i-do-as.html.
As an effective Psychologist, Relationship Advice provider, Life coach and Marriage Counseling practitioner, while working to save a relationship, I find it very helpful to form an opinion as to the current “stage” of the relationship.

This article will explain the ‘how’ and ‘why’ behind this practice.

Many scholars and practitioners agree that relationships generally go through five phases of development: Honeymoon, Accommodation, Challenge, Cross Roads, and Rebirth.

Phase 1: The Honeymoon
This is the romantic, passionate, stars-in-the-eyes phase. I either get the impression that sex is good and there is never enough of it, or I stop and ask about it. There ought to be plenty of attraction and sexuality between them and if not, it becomes a priority in my discussion. The Psychologist role is leading here.

Phase 2: Accommodation

We all have to deal with the day-to-day realities of life. In the Accommodation stage, compromises are made regarding the fulfillment of our needs and expectations. As a result we engage, from time to time, in power struggles when our partners’ habits, needs, anger and withdrawal patterns become uncomfortable to us. It is important for me to question the proportion of these struggles to the entire marriage experience.
A few examples are “how soon’, ‘how much’, and ‘how intensive’. I have an
opportunity to learn from this stage the potential strength of the couple in problem
solving, managing conflict, and their communication patterns. The Life Coach role is the leading one here.

Phase 3: The Challenge

Starting a new job, dealing with unemployment or the unfortunate occurrence of an accident or family illness are events that allow me to assess how strong the relationship is. It is fair to say that challenges are usually unwanted but nevertheless necessary for the couple if they really want to know what to expect from each other. I also need to know these expectations also. Raising children is a positive challenge; I definitely need to know how it reflects each partners’ qualities and their value system and ability to prioritize the family’s future needs. I’m a typical Marriage Counseling professional here…

Phase 4: The Crossroads
When a couple reaches this stage they have experienced a number of challenges (e.g. medical or money problems). In addition, more life decisions will be made (e.g. to have children, where to live, spending habits). This stage is different from the Challenge Phase because the couple has learned how each responds to these situations. This is the stage in which I learn how mature their emotional patterns are in dealing with their differences. It is most common at this stage for serious problems to develop. Typically, I expect to hear one or more from the following three: debates and regrets regarding the relationship, emotional withdrawal as a survival mechanism and attempts to force the other person to drastically change. When both individuals clearly see this progression I am able to offer a therapeutic strategy. Here I can fully exercise my role as a Relationship Advice provider.

Phase 5: Rebirth (New marriage lifestyle)
70-75% of all couples whom I have counseled have reached this positive stage of a “new beginning”. At this point, folks really know the person they have married; couples feel once again appreciated and loved. It is my scientific Psychologist role practice to arrange a one-year follow-up consultation either in person or by phone to gather the qualitative as well as quantitative data in order to identify the couples’ continued ability to positively communicate with each other their disappointments, hurts, frustrations and most importantly their sexual intimacy.

Dr. Joseph Abraham, Director, Center for Human Growth and Business Insights, Mechanicsburg, PA Tel 717-943.0959 Online Psychologist and Life Coach: Marriage Counseling, Relationship Advice and Management Consulting. Life Coach and Marriage Counseling and Small Business Advice

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Save Your Relationship with Six Marriage Counseling Steps

'Save Your Relationship’ - Marriage Counseling Guide

Six steps of my marriage counseling processes are reviewed; the various qualities of being a marriage counselor, a psychologist, a life coach and a relationship advice provider are outlined.

Step # 1: I ask to speak loud and clear; to lay the problems on the table. I want to fully understand as quickly as possible. Describing a recent fight in detail often helps partners begin to identify core problems. Most couples fight about pragmatic issues, laundry or paying bills, for instance, but it's the emotional needs underlying these tiffs that need my attention as their marriage counselor and life coach. Is it sex? Need for emotional support or career expectations?

Step # 2: I help couples to recognize the cause of their detachment to each other and try to identify their inner needs and fears that are not being met. As couples more carefully explore the underlying source of their arguments, they begin to realize that the enemy is not the partner but their own unhealthy or too vague communication style. This awareness is the first relationship advice they get. In this step I ask the couple to use “I want”, “I need”, “I would like to have” sentences. Ultimately my questions will uncover their needs, fears or expectations they might have (sexuality, recognition, equality, rejection, failure, temptations) which are driving the negative dynamics of their relationship.

Step # 3: I assist couples to articulate their emotions and perceptions regarding their spouses and link it to their own behavior. Both partners have to be non-judgmental while explaining to each other their disappointments. It is my job as their marriage counselor to teach them and keep them listening while a positive feedback process is taking place. This is the second relationship advice they get.

Step # 4: The transformation process begins here. Partners realize they're both hurting and that neither is to blame. As the couple begins to see the negative dynamic as the source of their problems, they become more aware of their own needs for attachment, as well as those of their partner. My part is to nurture the move towards empathy. I’m the psychologist here. Partners can now approach their problems with a less combative mind-set. Sometimes their honesty makes them feel increasingly vulnerable, and my job is to encourage and support them and to help them remain responsive to each other. Here I play the life coach role.

Step # 5: Partners create new solutions to their problems by analyzing their past processes and viewing their history in a different light to allow newer, healthier ways to surface while approaching pragmatic problems. At this stage of I do not hesitate to be an active facilitator; I will offer creative ways to get the couple moving in a new direction. This solving problem stage also calls for my qualities as a life coach.

Step # 6: In conclusion, I employ my psychologist role and help the couple to reflect what got them off track in their communication and how they found their way back. The therapeutic circle could be completed.

Dr. Joseph Abraham, Director, Center for Human Growth and Business Insights, Mechanicsburg, PA Tel 717-943.0959 Online Psychologist and Life Coach: Marriage Counseling, Relationship Advice and Management Consulting. Life Coach and Marriage Counseling and Small Business Advice

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Basic Learning Principles Help Marriage Counseling Practices

Here is another short article about Why Do I Do What I Do as a Marriage Counseling Professional?
An effective Psychologist, Relationship Advice provider, Life coach and Marriage Counseling practitioner (which means: help to bring a change), should always remember the first year in college, where the basic psychological principles were presented. Not all wheels could and should re-invent themselves. What do I do and why as a Marriage Counseling professional has a sound foundation, once basic Principles of Learning are applied.

Stage One - How It All Began:
Most human emotion and sex related interactions start due to an environmental condition that elicits a reflex response. A reflex is a simple unlearned response to a stimulus. In psychological textbook terms: once upon a time, when the two first met, there were: (1) an unconditioned stimulus—a stimulus that elicits a response without any prior learning, and (2) an unconditioned response—an unlearned reflexive reaction to that unconditioned stimulus. Using Psych 101 terms: everything started with a Classical Conditioning event: a neutral stimulus (i.e.: smell) that elicited an unlearned natural response (i.e.: attention and erotic sensation) was paired with a new stimulus (i.e.: her or his real face). As a result, the new face came to elicit a new response (i.e.: attraction, dating, sexual fantasies) that is identical or very similar to the natural reflex.
The best Marriage Counseling mission therefore is to lead the couple back into such a stage.

Stage Two - The Building Blocks:
Positive reinforcement is any of your behavior that leads to an increase of your partner’s behaviors. Marriage Counseling therefore has a lot to do with inventory check: what are the actions of each of you that lead to an increase of your partner’s behaviors that are desirable by you? Are they positive (i.e.: you ask something and your spouse razes some difficulty about it; you smile and ask again, so eventually your spouse accepts it) or problematic (i.e.: you ask something and get your spouse’ reservations; you then use loud and abusive tone so your spouse agrees with you, hoping to calm you down)?
Using Psych 101 terms: Marriage Counseling has a lot to do with Operant Conditioning:
learning from the consequences of our behavior. Many times the counseling meeting takes a form of a study session, as the counselor teaches the concept of Timing: reinforcements should be given within a short amount of time following the desired response. The greater the delay between the response and the reinforcement, the slower the learning of your partner would be.

Another basic concept within any Marriage Counseling process that involves sexual difficulties is Shaping: the method of successive approximations. Behaviors that are successively more similar to the desired behavior are reinforced.

Stage three - Targeting The Marriage Counseling Long Term Goals:
Classical conditioning usually involves reflexive, involuntary behavior that is controlled by the spinal cord or autonomic nervous system. This is how the Chemistry of Love is constructed. The more therefore you blend your life with erotic features that fit your spouse’s taste, the more you increase your chance to get to the promised land of continuous mutual attraction.
Operant conditioning usually involves more complex, voluntary behaviors that are mediated by our cognitive system. The more you identify appropriate reinforcements and link them to your spouse’s behaviors which you like, the more you increase the likelihood of achieving a pleasurable marriage life for yourself.

Dr. Joseph Abraham, Director, Center for Human Growth and Business Insights, Mechanicsburg, PA Tel 717-943.0959 Online Counseling on Behavioral issues and Small Business Advice Provider regarding efficiency and effectiveness. http://www.dr-joseph.com/
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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What and Why I Do What I Do As a Marriage Counseling Practitioner

100 Years of Marriage Counseling Theory and Practice

What Do I Do and Why as a Marriage Counseling Professional? In order to be a creative and effective Psychologist, Life coach and Marriage Counseling practitioner (means: help to make a change), I am also required to be a student. Not all wheels should re-invent themselves. What do I do and why as a professional Marriage Counselor has a 100 years of theory history.

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) claimed that the roots of psychological problems are innate motives (sexual and aggressive) and that conscious mental processes have trivial importance compared with the unconscious mind. Since his time, the topics of sexual gratification and the need to control (a form of aggression) are the core issues in most marriage counseling cases.

B.F. Skinner (1904-1999): A strict behaviorist who commanded us to deal only with measurable and overt behaviors and expect behavioral changes as a result of reinforcements or sanctions. His ideas are the core of all structured learning and un-learning tasks of marital communications and role functions. ‘Shaping’ is the name of the game.

Albert Bandura (.. 1925.. ): his Social Learning Theory emphasizes the processes of learned behavior through observation and imitation of significant persons in our environment. Most undesirable behaviors, in regards to marriage harmony, like verbal, physical and substances abuse are well explained by his theory. Understanding the source is many times followed by treating and healing.

Humanistic Psychology (..1950-70..) takes for granted that human being possess an innate tendency to improve and determine their lives by the decisions they make. Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) theorized that we all try to achieve positive self esteem and to search for self actualization. Theses powerful motives explain both wide spread human habit to get married as well as many ‘bad marriage behaviors’, such as infidelity or divorce. Carl Rogers (1902-1987) developed the Unconditional Acceptance therapy method, which helps marriage partners to achieve a ‘second chance’ attitude, both from therapists and spouses.

Virginia Satir (1916-1988) helped to understand the required Change Process Model, which works well for two person’s team as well as for entire organizational change wave. She also trained the profession to pay only little attention to the “presenting issue" or the surface problem, since this is seldom the real problem; rather, to understand, and later change, how people cope with the issue, since their behavior at that point creates the problem.

Dr. Joseph Abraham, Director, Center for Human Growth and Business Insights, Mechanicsburg, PA Tel 717-943.0959 A Psychologist, Online Life Coach, Marriage Counselor and Relationship Advice provider. Psychologist and Life Coach and Marriage Counseling and Small Business Advice

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Modern Psychologist and the Old Relationship Advice Tool: Your Dreams

Yes, it is true these days too: Relationship Advice and Marriage Counseling processes do benefit from your dreams...

In order to understand how and why, let us first explain the first term: 'Day Residue'. A large part of the content of dreams is related to occurrences going on in our lives during the day; they referred to as Day Residue.

And now to the second term: 'Dream Interpretation'. Modern theories of dream analysis frequently focus on the person’s interpretation of the dream rather than on the inherent symbolism (Freud) or the expression of archetypes (Jung). From this view: dreams are an internal replacement for external stimulation.

However, for Freud: dreams are the “Royal road to the unconscious”. Manifest content: refers to the overt story of the dream. Latent content: is the hidden, usually unconscious, message. According to Freud, these messages were expressed indirectly because they were threatening or shocking to the conscious personality. This assumption is the link between the traditional Dream Theory material and current modern counseling processes.
Dream interpretation is therefore a valuable counseling component since it can pinpoint to the larger framework: the roots deep in the psyche or within daily life. Dream images and associations are most instrumental in personal problem solving. Since every person is responsible for their own growth, progression, and health the solutions are many times inside their mind or spiritual domain.

The meanings of dream symbols and themes can be common or complex; will cross cultural, social and interpersonal boundaries and have distinctly different interpretations for each dreamer. Freud suggests that the main and common subjects and issues in our dreams are: human body and persons within our surroundings, parents, children, siblings, birth, and death. The main and common messages: a male is often represented as a building with regularly shaped sides. The female is represented as a building with porches, cupolas, wings, etc.; these are appendages for grasping onto and holding close. The birth experience is usually represented in water. Death is often represented as a journey.
As is true of the theory in general, Freud used most of his symbols to represent sexual ideas and objects. The number 3, for example, is a substitute for the male genitals.
Words that indicate penetration may also indicate penises—i.e., knives, swords, or tools. Any object or event that fights against gravity symbolized penile erections.
Female genitals, on the other hand, were represented by objects that enclose a space: pits, caverns, boxes, jars, luggage, pockets, mouths, and shoes, for example.

But… in order to be a good counselor and a responsible client we always remember Freud’s warning: “Oftentimes a cigar is only a cigar.”
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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Do Poor Relationship Have a Chance to Improve?

Do Poor Relationship Have a Chance to Improve? What Do We Know (so far) about Human Behavior that Allows an Answer?

Here are some basic facts and agreed upon assumptions that have a valuable impact regarding relationship advice, therapy, online counseling and traditional modes of counseling: they all do have a chance! Once we take a special look at the ‘Intimacy Factor’, we may declare the following positive statement: Poor relationship has 66% chance to be fixed.

1. Human beings are biological creatures – our biology determines our behavior to a grate extent, but we are not rigidly programmed by it.
2. Every person is different, yet much the same – our personalities, intellects and interests differ, but we are similar in our capacities to think, feel, remember and so on.
3. People can be understood fully only in the context of their cultural, ethnic identity and gender identity – since beliefs about right and wrong, food preference, language usage, religious practice, as well as male or female essence are influenced by the socio-cultural forces.
4. Human lives are a continuous process of change – because of the biological tract that leads us from infancy to old age, and because of life events and experiences.
5. Behavior is motivated – and helps us to meet our needs. However, not all our motives are simple or easy to reveal.
6. Human are social animals – and not only in order to accomplish things that single individuals cannot. We need company. We suffer when we are lonely.
7. People play an active part in creating their experiences – the human nervous system interprets the outside world and creates the reality for us.
8. Behavior can be adoptive or maladaptive – and each direction could be changed.

The following traits were isolated, along with the estimated percentage of the inherited trait:
• Extroversion (mixed easily, likes to be the center of attention): 61%
• Conformity (respects tradition and authority; follows the rules): 60%
• Worry (easily distressed and frustrated; feels vulnerable): 55%
• Creativity (tendency to become lost in thought and abstraction): 55%
• Paranoia (feels exploited, thinks “world is out to get me”): 55%
• Optimism (confident, cheerful, upbeat): 54%
• Cautiousness (avoids risks and dangers; takes safe route): 51%
• Aggressiveness (tends to be violent; has a taste for revenge): 48%
• Ambitiousness (works hard to achieve goals; perfectionist): 46%
• Orderliness (plans carefully; tries to make rational decisions): 43%
• Intimacy (prefers emotional closeness): 33%

The basic known facts and agreed upon assumptions about human behavior creates a valuable impact regarding counseling and therapy. Once we put together all we know about human nature, the optimistic point of view must capture our horizons.
The conclusion is both simple and impressive: we all are capable to adopt and change; relationship advice, therapy, online counseling and traditional modes of counseling do have a chance!


Dr. Joseph Abraham, Director, Center for Human Growth and Business Insights, Mechanicsburg, PA Tel 717-943.0959 A Psychologist, Online Life Coach, Marriage Counselor and Relationship Advice provider. Psychologist and Life Coach Online Counseling and Small Business Advice

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Infidelity - Can Marriage Counseling Help?

Infidelity is one of the most hurtful things that can develop in an unhealthy relationship. Can a Marriage Counselor help a couple get through and overcome such an upsetting event?
In most cases yes, but there are two ‘but’: first, the underlying causes and the unhealthy aspects of the relationship need to be addressed. Second, in the course of working through the Marriage Counseling process, the starting place usually is not with the marital relationship but the individual’s personal relationship with themselves.

K., a mother of two, had been in a relationship with her husband for 5 years; he had been unfaithful many times during the course of their relationship. Recently she discovered that he had a 1-month-old baby to another woman the result of one instance of his infidelital behavior. “We are still together but I am finding it difficult to deal with. I know he wants to see his son and he does so very often. I don’t have a problem with him seeing his son. It’s the lady I have a problem with. She had no respect for our marriage; neither did he come to think of it. I don’t trust her and after all he’s put me through I don’t trust him to be alone with her either.” K. started to explain.

K. was starting to open up and I’m certain, not-realizing it, that subconsciously she was telling me exactly what her problem was even though she didn’t fully realize it herself at the time. As K. continued the true underlying issue became more apparent. “Yesterday my husband came home with his hair done differently. When I questioned him about it, he told me his baby’s mother did it!” She exclaimed in obvious exasperation. “I'm not sure how to deal with this at all. They are obviously still friends I can only assume because of the baby but how can I be sure that’s all it is. I don’t think that he should allow her to do his hair. I already have enough reminders of his infidelity.”

K. finished off by expressing her concern for where his continued relationship with the baby’s mother would lead. “I know the problem is the mistrust I have for him. I wonder if I’m being unreasonable about this; it’s just a haircut.”

At this point K. stopped. I remember a childlike look of hope in her eyes as she sat there waiting for my response. It seemed she was trying to convince both herself and me that that’s all it really was, ‘just a haircut’. I knew as a Life Coach and Marriage Counselor that it was not just a ‘hair-cut’. There is unfortunately no easy way of telling someone that.

Being sympathetic and trying to make her realize what she already knew deep inside I answered her as kindly as the circumstances allowed. “No, I do not think that the mistrust issue between you and your husband is the real trouble here. The major issue is the disrespect that you have towards yourself. You do not see yourself as strong, independent and well deserving of a true relationship.”
Having approached the subject as conservatively as possible I continued. “You sound very immature and very insecure; possibly both. It sounds like you have an ‘Empowerment Issue’, lacking the capacity to challenge traditional forces (your husband’s marriage lifestyle) now that it has suppressed your personal belief system.”

As both a Psychologist and Life Coach my therapeutic recommendation therefore was that she absolutely needed to restructure the way choices are being made in her marriage life. “Be a model of a good leader and a responsible parent to your kids. Show them that they should not at any time accept to be treated as the second best.” I told her.

The art and the science here is to accomplish this restructuring in a way that the Relationship Advice not only occurs without harming the marital equilibrium but also strengthens it. Many husbands do enjoy an empowered partner. My advice to K. therefore followed my theoretical approach; I knew she needed to empower herself very quickly, in order to be able to create a loving happy relationship for herself. I found no better way than to say loud and clear: “Just grow up!” I then advised her further in very concrete terms: “this meant that within 24 hours you either force your husband to start Marriage Counseling process with you or kick him out with no delay. Either you or her! Do not now worry about visitation procedure, since they could be worked out, once the counseling process starts!”
Dr. Joseph Abraham, Director, Center for Human Growth and Business Insights, Mechanicsburg, PA Tel 717-943.0959 Online Counseling on Behavioral issues and Small Business Advice Provider regarding efficiency and effectiveness. Online Counseling And Small Business Advice

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

There is Hope for Abused Wives

On more than one occasion I have been contacted by a partner in a relationship who thought there could be some instant ‘magic’ solution to their relationship problems. As an Online Marriage Counseling provider I regularly come across people who think that the solution to their marital problems is a click, call or just an email away.
Well, there is no ‘cook-book’ Relationship Advice solution for an unhealthy abusive relationship.
Being involved in a relationship that has reached the point where it’s a constant cycle of abuse is not healthy for either partner and unfortunately there is no ‘quick-fix’ for this type of situation. Long term Marriage Counseling with a certified Psychologist is usually required. When R. contacted me about her personal situation it seemed that she was searching for just such a ‘quick-fix’ solution.

R. was in a marriage that had, by the time she contacted me, almost completely come undone. Here in her own words are the details of her relationship: “My husband says constant insults and does a lot of name calling. It has gotten physical at one point; he said that I provoked him. I am constantly being reminded of working it out. But in the process, I feel myself weakening emotionally because there is no time for me to heal. He apologizes, but eventually he just does the same things again anyway.”

I informed R’ that verbal abuse, from a Psychologist point of view, is just like any other addiction. It is a serious problem that has many explanations, theories and treatment approaches. My treatment method focuses on the concept that everything relates to the relationship: either the relationship between the individual and his ‘self’, the self esteem issue, or towards his spouse.
My basic understanding of any marital relationship always takes me first to each one of the partners. Only thereafter I assess the relationship that the partners have with one another. In cases involving excessive verbal abuse it can be, for both the giver and receiver, an almost addictive quality and like any addiction it can lead down an ever escalating path.

I further went on to explain to R. that as the abuse had started to escalate, both partners need professional help, since the 'relationship issue' is complex and not simple to solve and fix. There is no quick-fix solution, I again reminded her; Marriage Counseling is definitely required. As a long time Psychologist I tend not to provide direct answers, but facilitate the process of empowering my clients, allowing them to boost their ability and produce the desired outcome. “You need to transform both your life as well as your marital lifestyle” I told her. Whether you call it a Relationship Advice or Life Coach mentoring or Marriage Counseling you and your partner need to seek long term continuous help!

I further went on to address the areas of focus that the Marriage Counseling would begin with and expand upon. There were three major ‘learning and change’ missions for which I identified:
A. Your husband - should assess and change his value system and perceptions, habits, culturally accepted behaviors and also his stress related reactions.

B. You - should asses your tolerance level, and change towards the ability to be strong in order to say and act “No More”.

C. You both - should assess and change parts of your marital lifestyle in order to find more common grounds and shared positive experiences.
Dr. Joseph Abraham, Director, Center for Human Growth and Business Insights, Mechanicsburg, PA Tel 717-943.0959 A Psychologist, Online Life Coach, Marriage Counselor and Relationship Advice provider. Psychologist And Online Marriage Counseling and Relationship Advice And Life Coach Online Counseling And Small Business Advice

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Life Coach Online Counseling: From a Better Parent to a Better Husband

L. contacted me for an Online Counseling relief and Relationship Advice session. She had reached a point in her relationship with her husband where she was just completely and thoroughly frustrated with him and the situation she found herself in. “My husband made the decision for me to quit my job based on the cost of daycare vs. my teaching salary. Also the fact that he did not want to have to dress and take them to daycare in the morning influenced his decision as well.” She began. “Now that he is the only one providing income he believes that everything concerning the house and kids is my responsibility.”

I listened to L. very intently as she describe her situation. I wanted to make sure I was in fact getting the whole picture before I jumped to any conclusions regarding her relationship and her partner. As a Psychologist I could not offer constructive advice that would allow her to build her relationship if I went in looking at the situation with any prejudices. L. went on to describe a scene similar to a TV show of the 40’s and 50’s. The ones where the father had a job and the mother took care of the house and kids. There is of course nothing wrong with this type of relationship and family setting “if” it’s what both partners desire. As a practical Life Coach, it was apparent however, as L. continued describing her situation, that she was not happy and that it was most definitely not what she wanted.

“We were fighting every night about who had to do the dishes or bathe the kids. I got tired of the bickering and didn't want the kids to hear us arguing over who "had" to give them a bath...so I came up with a schedule for every day of the week alternating dishes or bath. Each of us does one of these tasks while the other does the other and it alternates every night. It was fine for a few weeks...but now we are back to him saying that he does not understand why he has to give them a bath ever or do dishes. He should be able to come home, take a nap and play with the kids but that is where he believes his part of parenting responsibilities stops.” She paused here sighing in obvious exasperation then continued. “I have tried to explain to him that I need a little bit of down time too. Otherwise I was giving baths, getting kids in bed and doing dishes (and packing his lunches-another requirement) and not even sitting down until 9 while he is on the couch at 7. How do I get him to see that I “AM” busy during the day and that I deserve his help and to rest in the evenings too? What do I do to keep the peace and also get help? I feel like a single parent!”

L. did clarify one thing for me when I asked her about it. I was curious as to their partnership in taking care of the children on the weekends. “He gets mad if I leave him for even an hour with both kids awake in the evening or on the weekend. He expects me to take them both to the grocery store rather than letting me go when he is home....even though he would NEVER dream of taking them both with him.” At this point looking at the situation I had to agree with L. She was very much like a single parent who had a live-in part-time babysitter. I assured L. that I could certainly understand her frustration. “Whoever still holds traditional 19th century view of parental roles is either blind or just mistaken” I advised L.

I have no simple one line Relationship Advice to offer, I said, but through Marriage Counseling you both should certainly be able to remedy the situation. A structured guidance and counseling program along a 2-3 months period should allow you to do that, I informed her.

These are the three themes of the program:
A. Attitude change: how do you value and assess each other’s strengths and abilities; life aspirations and challenges.
B. Acquiring the right child rearing practices: hoe each parent can and should react and contribute to the children; what are the appropriate parental and gender role models?
C. Enriching marital communication, relationship, sexuality and mutual emotional growth.

Do not give up, I said; you both have a lot of work to do, but I’m sure you can handle it and even enjoy it. Since marriage is a reciprocal chain of behaviors, there are a lot of actions and behaviors that you could do that have the power to trigger your husband to transform his attitudes and parental style. Lead him to learn to enjoy his kids and help you both to enjoy each other in the process!
Dr. Joseph Abraham, Director, Center for Human Growth and Business Insights, Mechanicsburg, PA Tel 717-943.0959 A Psychologist, Online Life Coach, Marriage Counselor and Relationship Advice provider. Psychologist And Online Marriage Counseling and Relationship Advice And Life Coach Online Counseling

Monday, May 18, 2009

Online Marriage Counseling: The Empty Nest Needs Adjustment

As every couple knows there are many different stages in any relationship. Sometimes when a couple enters into a new stage of their relationship it can become very difficult to maintain an open and healthy line of communication. Through every phase of any relationship the ability to communicate is essential. Sometimes as the relationship grows and moves forward into the next stage the partners in the relationship seem to grow apart. This was the situation that J. had reached when she decided to contact me, searching for an Online Marriage Counselor service.

J. and her husband had been married for about 21 years. Recently both of their children had gone off to college moving out of the house to live on campus. Here is her situation in her own words as she described them to me through our initial Online Counseling session: “I am trying to figure out how to communicate better with my husband. I don’t know if it’s me or him. My husband is a picky type person so I have to make sure things are taken care of, including him. Greet him at the door, be home before him, dinner on time, bring him his plate etc. It’s getting tiring, but he is a wonderful person and a joy to be around when he is not agitated at something.” J. explained.

J. continued with some of the family background at this point. She explained how her relationship had been closer with their children although her husband did seem to enjoy spending time with them as well. She explained the recent situation just before the children went off to college. “Our son has had some health problems this year that I have been helping him with that, working full time, and taking care of our home.”

Since her children had gone off to college their relationship had become strained. J. thought perhaps it might be empty-nest syndrome. I advised J. that it could indeed be empty-nest syndrome but that I needed a little more information before I could make any assumptions as a Psychologist or Life Coach. I asked J. more about her current situation.

“Something sets it off and it just escalates from there. Usually it’s something silly like ‘Why did I only get $30.00 worth of gas instead of filling it up?’ He has said it’s not fun when he comes home anymore just things need to be done. He doesn’t do them though. He just gets on the computer and I don’t think he realizes how much he is on it. After our most recent argument he ended up leaving and driving for two hours and was ready to call it quits. I made him talk until 4am. We have been really good in our relationship until just recently.” She confided in me.

As our introductory Online Counseling session came to a close J. asked me for some Relationship Advice regarding her situation. I advised J. that I felt her relationship could be turned into a healthy one again if we could open up the lines of communication again. I advised her that to begin the process there were two situations that we should explore further.

As a Psychologist I informed her that. “It could indeed be empty-nest syndrome but that there were many more aspects of the relationship that needed to be explored before I could offer any real Relationship Advice. There are many “MALE’ things that are related to that life period; family restructuring issues, loosing the sense of mission, missing the ability to control others, the weakening of their leadership status while the wife’s position begins strengthening in the family and so on. However I informed her that at the current time I didn’t have enough information to get a full view of the situation.”
Many other things, I told her, are related to the "Age Factor" and the perceived “Quality" of previous and current relationship. J. had not included the sex topic yet in our Online Counseling dialogue and males are very sensitive about that aspect of a relationship.

I also offered J. an alternative to empty-nest syndrome for her to consider, looking at another theoretical ground and potential explanation: the Push-Pull theory. Generally speaking the concept holds that most deviations from a relationship is not because the person is being pulled (attracted) to a new circumstance or a relationship but mainly because he or she perceives that they are being pushed away from their current one.

Marriage Counseling was recommended and accepted; as always, good assessment became the key to a workable solution that helped this marriage relationship to go again into harmony.
Dr. Joseph Abraham, Director, Center for Human Growth and Business Insights, Mechanicsburg, PA Tel 717-943.0959 A Psychologist, Online Life Coach, Marriage Counselor and Relationship Advice provider. Psychologist And Online Marriage Counseling and Relationship Advice And Life Coach Online Counseling

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Online Family Counseling: Attitude Change Was Needed

Expecting to be a first time mother is usually a joyous occasion. However such was not the case with L. whose recent pregnancy caused an already tenuous relationship with her mother to escalate.

L. called me in this unfortunate situation and here is what she was currently experiencing during our initial session of Online Counseling: “I am 27 and three months pregnant. I have been with the father for over four years and we live together abroad. Both of us work and are financially independent. My mother has never cared much for my boyfriend and doesn't have any time for him refusing to make a place for him in her life. She doesn't think he is good enough for me.” She confided to me as she began telling me about her situation.

“Since I told her I am pregnant, she has barely said a word to me. She told me not to have the baby! Obviously this hurt my feelings very much as we are very happy and excited about it. She hasn't asked me when it is due; how I'm feeling; or any of the normal questions a mother would ask. Her attitude and lack of support has left me feeling quite anxious and depressed.” At this point L. sighed deeply and sounded looked like she was trying to hold herself back from sobbing.

Looking back on my previous experiences as a family Online Counseling Psychologist and Life Coach, I knew how stressful a time and experience L. must be going through. At this point I started asking questions directing her away from her current experience and trying to see what her relationship was like with her mother in the past.

After taking a few deep breaths collecting herself L. continued: “My mother has always been too overbearing and controlling. This is one of the reasons I moved abroad. Still I can not believe how disgraceful she is behaving towards her future grandchild and my happiness. I don't want to create conflict and make things worse but I am starting to feel as though I don't want her in my life, or my child's. I have to see her in a few weeks when I have a hospital visit in my home country. I don't know how I should behave. She is not the sort of women that 'talks' about things and she is very hypercritical, childish and sulks when she does not get her way. I am really at a loose end, and unable to enjoy the most special time in my life.”

L. called my Online Counseling Services for help; understandably, she wanted to solve quickly the difficulty around her mother’s support during this very special and very stressful time. I therefore wanted to be as directive and as efficient as possible, by providing a practical Life Coach Relationship advice. L., I said, I have no easy solution for you; there is no ‘quick-fix’ move that I can offer in order to better your situation. You time is ticking, but you must think about elaborated Family Counseling process. The sessions first should be individual and then leading to joint dialogue with your mother, her life partner and your spouse. Only together, all of you have the chance to heal the relationship. Taking the Psychologist perspective, I added: I could only help to facilitate the process; I could not make happen, since this is your job to do.

I further explained that in the situation that L. found herself in living abroad away from her family, my ability to offer all of them Online Counseling would be extremely beneficial as we could do the counseling sessions through phone or online web-casts. It was in her circumstance the perfect solution for her situation.

As we continued to discuss the Online Counseling process I took time to explain what is called ‘attitude change’ – a cognitive and emotional process that alternates the belief system, the values and the socially related ‘do’ or ‘do not do’ practices. I advised her that my role as the online facilitator would be to assist each one of the family members with a series of one-on-one Online Counseling sessions. There would be three major ‘learning and change’ missions here, I continued, that she would better be aware of:
A. Your life with your child’s father: you should assess the situation and see why marriage has not yet evolved.
B. You and yourself: you should asses your dependency level, and change towards the ability to say and act according to your feelings and needs. This is the Empowerment issue: lack of capacity to challenge traditional forces (your mother) once it suppresses your desire or belief system.
C. You, your spouse and your mother: you both need to change/re-establish or recreate your communication style with your mother.

Epilog: No happy end here… you need two for the Tango; unfortunately the mother was less than enthusiastic about participating and refused to anything than to state that her daughter had made her own choices and those choices excluded her and her opinions.

Dr. Joseph Abraham, Director, Center for Human Growth and Business Insights, Mechanicsburg, PA Tel 717-943.0959 A Psychologist, Online Life Coach, Marriage Counselor and Relationship Advice provider. Psychologist And Relationship Advice And Online Marriage Counseling

Online Counseling Psychologist Assessment: Empower Yourself First, Deal with Your Marriage Later

“My husband had been physically and emotionally abusive since even before we married. I think I became addicted to the drama of it.” These were the first words that K. told me during our initial Online Counseling session. “At night when our children sleep I would feel trapped unable to leave without waking them and risk letting them knows what was happening.” She continued.

Sometimes, as a Marriage Counselor, the most important thing to do is listening. Couples or individuals come to you hoping to find a kind voice and an open ear. K. seemed very much at this point where she just needed someone she could talk to. As a Psychologist, it is understood that this is an excellent place to be at as it reveals a self-realization about ones self and the situation they’re in.

As K. Continued to talk about her relationship I listened closely and supportively to what she had to say: “My husband and I have been married for nearly 10 years. This is my second marriage and his first. Over the course of 8 or so years there have been probably 50 or so incidents of physical aggression from him just shoving me up to him actually repeatedly hitting me. Many times this would occur after he had been drinking. Numerous times he would even go out on a drinking binge after work and just not come home.” K., in a somewhat shaky voice continued to tell me.

As K. spoke she seemed to relax slightly. I visualized her as someone who after a long hard period of traveling was able to take off their load and relieve themselves of a heavy burden. Soon she continued with her story becoming more at ease as she went. “I am ashamed to admit my main reason for not divorcing is money. I also feel a little ashamed that this would be my second divorce and I worry about how that would affect our children.” K. confided in me. “I deeply loved my husband when we were first married. I still love him and worry about him if we divorce. I don't know how to be in love with him anymore and I don't know how to want it to work like he seems to want. I don't know why I can't pull the trigger and just end it, or suck it up and take him back and try again.” K. told me.

At this point although I knew most of the details concerning the history of the abusive relationship I was not sure I completely understood the current context of this marriage. “Are you and your husband still together?” I inquired. “He… ah, he moved out a week ago and went to live with a friend.” She answered me in a somewhat quieter voice. K., I said, there was no good ‘quick fix’ reply for your situation. Quite honestly, there was no simple solution to such a very complex situation like yours. I advised her that Marriage Counseling that take some weeks and months, was very much needed if there was to be any chance of her relationship building itself back together again.

Internally I had numerous questions rushing through my head. Many, I knew would have to wait for the appropriate time. I did have one question, as a Marriage Counselor, that absolutely needed to be answered before we could continue to go any further: Do the both of you, do you think, want to try to make the relationship work? I asked her. I needed to see how much, if any, motivation was still left with K. and her estranged husband long experience. “I, I just don’t know. I mean I want to try to make it work, it’s what’s best for the kids I think.” She answered me. I listened to what she DID NOT SAY; she did not mention HERSELF. I then new that K. was not yet ready… Another process had to be called for, prior to ant Marriage Counseling attempt.

I therefore assured K. that since I’m not a lawyer, I was not going to replace her decision making process and try to produce the answers for her. As a Psychologist and a Life Coach it was my place to try to facilitate the process of EMPOWERING her decision making ability, allowing her to boost HER ability to produce the best possible outcome through HER own personal choices and decisions. It was my job therefore to help her continue on the path she had herself finally chosen to start. She needed to continue on her journey of Self-Actualization and that I could help her to achieve that goal.

I advised K., that it was my opinion; that prior to re-constructing her marriage / family life she need first to start a dialogue with herself and only thereafter with her husband. This situation that she found herself in definitely required an on-going professional Marriage Counseling but the relationship issues were just too complex and she was too weak. I wanted to make certain that she understood therefore that a one time detailed Relationship Advice (free or as a paid service) would not be the right remedy.

Through an ongoing Online Marriage Counseling program, including both joint and individual sessions, K. and her husband managed to reconcile and were able to have a much more fulfilling and nurturing family and personal relationship.

Dr. Joseph Abraham, Director, Center for Human Growth and Business Insights, Mechanicsburg, PA Tel 717-943.0959 A Psychologist, Online Life Coach, Marriage Counselor and Relationship Advice provider. Psychologist And Relationship Advice And Online Marriage Counseling

The Marriage Counseling Relationship Advice: Male Partners Must Do It Too

As a Psychologist an understanding of behavior and providing Relationship Advice is what allows me to help people work through their troubles. Helping people to adjust their behaviors and better their relationships is one of life’s greatest rewards. It can be just the smallest thing or even just the slightest change in behavior which will allow them to have a more fulfilling and stronger relationship.

Through Online Marriage Counseling I get to observe, first hand, these changes and watch relationships blossom and become more fruitful. Seeing Relationship Advice or a long term Marriage Counseling process resulting successfully for a couple is a very heart-warming and it amazes me that sometimes it is the smallest of changes the bring about the most fulfilling results.

This was the case with J. who recently contacted me about some problems that had developed in her relationship. The development was not a new one, it had been inherent for quite some time and she had just finally reached the point where she couldn’t stand it any longer. “My husband thinks because he has a job and provides money that when he gets home from work he doesn't have to do anything.”

“I am not his freaking maid! It’s not my job to clean up his mess all the time.” J. angrily complained to me. Her voice seethingly bared all of her pent up frustration. She sounded like she was on the verge of tears from her built up frustration.

I had J. pause here for a moment. Many times when people come to Online Counseling the first time they are, understandably so, overcome with emotion. I therefore advised J., “collect yourself and your thoughts for a moment; then continue.” J took a couple of deep breathes and then noticeably calmer began to tell me about her situation.

“He gets home from work, takes his boots and socks off and just leaves his dirty laundry right in the middle of the living room. Even when I did have a job he still never helped around the house. He comes home all the time complaining cause the house is dirty. I do clean up but I have a 2-year-old that just make messes again. My husband thinks that I should follow my 2-year-old around the house all day cleaning up her mess and if I don't I am a bad mother.”

I couldn’t help but notice her using the possessive term “I” here. Wanting to make sure I fully understood the situation I inquired about it. “Is the two year old his?”

J. told me. “No, it’s mine from a previous relationship.” I advised J. to continue her story.

“I do work at home. I do daycare watching a 4 month old right now. Also I do the shopping, cooking, cleaning and the laundry. He gets home and does nothing!” Her voice is faltering slightly giving way to her agitation.

J. finishes up her explanation of her current situation by relating to me two distinct instances that expressed her growing frustration about the issues she has with her husband. “He is supposed to fold the laundry but can’t even manage that. I wash the laundry and put it on the counter so he can fold it later. It just sits there! I even told him I wasn't washing anymore of his laundry until he folds the laundry on the counter. He still refused and called me lazy.”

“After I cook dinner, I expect him to load the dishwasher. Most times I end up waking up in the morning and having to load it after he goes off to work. There are days where I’ll just let the dishes stack up. When he asks, “What’s for dinner?” I tell him, “Well since I have no dishes to cook on, nothing.” He ends up just ordering pizza or going to a fast food place and the dishes still just sit there.”

When J. finished her initial observation of her situation, she asked a question I found to be very curious. “Is there a reason men think because they go to work they don't have to help around the house?”

I wanted to get a little more information from J. So I turned the question around and asked her. “Do you think there is a reason men think because they go to work they don't have to help around the house?”

J. replied. “I don’t think there’s any reason a guy can’t help around the house. Most of the guys I know don’t though. My friend’s boyfriends, my father and brothers and my previous boyfriend, they didn’t help around the house at all. None of them. I don’t get it.” She concluded.

From a Psychologist perspective, I offered my professional point of view: we could assume that this is his way to show dominance and control. A related explanation is that this is his way to retaliate about something that he felt was unfair to him and a common way of doing so employs the ‘Passive-Aggressive’ mode. These are too far away speculations, I said, so we have to gather more information; but let us assume that this is the case here. If indeed so, do not worry, I continued: marriage is a reciprocal chain of behaviors. Something within one spouse’s actions triggers the others, which means that you can do things that would effect and change your husband’s behavioral pattern.

The ground for a mutual Marriage Counseling work was established. My professional Psychologist assessment triggered the husband to join and participate in a structured Online Marriage Counseling process. No, it was not a quick-fix Relationship Advice; but yes, it was done within less than two months; only six counseling sessions were needed in order for them to move into a different, happier and more equality fulfilling lifestyle.

Dr. Joseph Abraham, Director, Center for Human Growth and Business Insights, Mechanicsburg, PA Tel 717-943.0959 A Psychologist, Online Life Coach, Marriage Counselor and Relationship Advice provider. Psychologist And Relationship Advice And Online Marriage Counseling

The Psychologist Dilemma: Marriage Counseling issue or Sexual deviant topic?

This article summarizes the initial stage of an Online Marriage Counseling process.

Recently I was contacted by N. that told me she had been in what she thought was a great marriage for several years. During those years her husband regularly spent usually 3 nights out every week that were “work related”. Eventually after several years N. grew suspicious of this behavior but was never able to catch him doing anything herself. Finally N. hired an investigator to follow him. The findings were that he would drive around all night and talk to many different women.

N. confronted her husband about his behavior and he confessed “I had been an exhibitionist for 20 years.” N. was shocked by her husband’s revelation. She decided to stay in her marriage until she recently felt like she had done everything she could to try to hold it together.

During the year since she confronted her husband they had tried very hard, together in the beginning, to make it work; they had attended local Marriage Counseling. However, after a few counseling sessions and support meetings her husband had quit going to the counseling session. “Dealing only with my problem cured me”, he said. Since the end of their Marriage Counseling sessions together there had been a few very suspicious occasions. The husband of course denied anything happened each time.

In a state of despair N. came to me and advised me: “I feel like he is a pervert.” This was eventually followed by her question: “Am I crazy to consider trying to go on with him at this point? Everyone in my life seems to think so”.

As a Psychologist I started thinking objectively. “What are the real issues occurring here?” N. of course was agitated and feeling despair about the whole situation but what was the underlying cause for it all. After a little more counseling time with N. it became obvious to me that the biggest issue for HER was the issue of trust. It seemed she felt she couldn’t truly trust her partner anymore. Trust is of course key in any relationship. But what was HIS issue?

It is my habit to finalize the initial Online Marriage Counseling session with a clear expression of my opinion at this particular time: it seems to me that his behavior is more of a Marriage issue than a Sexual deviant counseling topic. I further explained that what they really both needed was renewed Marriage Counseling; not just individual sex counseling for him. Actually, by keeping his behavior hidden, I suggested, he tried to save your marriage… Could it be that your husband did not trust you as a good listener for his relationship, erotic and sexual needs? This was indeed a suggestion and a way of understanding the issue that she never took it as worthwhile to consider.
The other theme that I advised to look at was the ‘motivation factor’: you need to let HIM make the effort of trying to rebuild the relationship, by dealing with his needs and sexual aspirations with you, I suggested. Either he agrees to start intensive and serious marriage counseling - or send him out of this marriage. I advised N. that she should not be the one putting forth all the effort.

The last issue in our initial session was the reservations due to the past attempt to solve the difficulty. They have tried Marriage Counseling in the past. I therefore explained that the previous effort went to a wrong direction – HIS deviance, and not THEIR relationships, communication and sexuality. That is why, I said, Marriage Counseling processes could be beneficial.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Career Online Counseling that Turned into a Small Business Advice

Sometimes through Online Counseling people don’t always “like” the advice they’re given.

This was the case recently with M., a 31 year old professional saleswoman who had a small high end sheep leather coats import company. M. had recently lost here dream contract in early 2008 doing ‘big business’ with a nationally known prestigious clothing store. Since that time she had moved around a bit job-wise and slowly gotten herself into debt.

At the time when I starting communicating with her she had reached the point where she was willing to work part time for others, in a commission only based job. She was currently four months behind on her rent and was exhibiting the beginning stages of clinical depression.

M. lived in New York City by herself, most of her friends and family lived overseas. She did have a few friends in the area but she hadn’t seen very much of them recently because in her own words: “What friends I do have here, I rarely see anymore as I have withdrawn into my apartment. A typical weekend for me will be to stay up all night Friday night only to sleep for the next two days consecutively until I have to return to work on Monday.”

Through our introductory Online Counseling session M. revealed that she was falling into a type of depression and having all sorts of strange dreams whilst sleeping (12-14 hours). She could not afford health care at this time and did not know what she was going to do financially. The weekend she had contacted me she had simply decided to discontinue eating and stated that she, “did not even feel that hungry anymore.” It was later revealed that she had also been engaging in other activities that pointed to sings of her depression. She showed signs of drinking binges beyond socially acceptable standards; there were also some concerns about promiscuity (with one of her potential client).

I assessed that M.’s life was spiraling out of control and the things that provided her with a feeling of self worth i.e. her job, her apartment, her standard of living in general - were all dropping significantly. She was trying to get past these difficult times and just reached the point where she did not know what to do.

Three Online Counseling sessions were needed in order to formulate my assessment and professional advice; generally speaking, I appreciate someone who is having a true awareness about him / herself and wants to take the right steps - and she falls into this group.

I had the feeling that M. is having 'an o.k. personality’ and therefore is capable of getting through the current situation, if major changes would occur in four domains:
A. Drinking should be a definite target for a change in her life.
B. Job and Business re-structuring: This economy has no room for many high end products; leather sheep coats are definitely within the heavily affected range. Use your sales ability, and move into another area. You are good in that line, so do high commission jobs.
C. Love / Sex / Relationships - no more and never again with clients or potential clients. Adopt therefore another mission: to look inward for your 'self assets' and thereafter outward, to find the right one.
D. New business location - no chance in NYC. Costs are too high and market trends are alarming. You are single, I told her, with no real supportive social circle around your location. Transform this “negative asset” into a big “plus” and move int to a growing areas, economy wise. Neither you nor I are going to produce miracles that would beat the economy trend. Since I'm not a magician, only a professional, I could see no reason to support an effort to swim against the stream when she could float on it instead.

So the strategy is:
- Look for another business and or job, elsewhere in the US.
- Establish a new 'you' - no drinking, financial responsibility and healthy relationships.

M. questioned me on the necessity to move out of New York; she was slightly agitated by my recommendation. Our Online Counseling work has ended; the Small Business Advice I could give her was left untouched.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Overactive Libido: Online Counseling Was Called For

A Case Summary: Overactive Libido

G. a recently married (for 7 months) young woman, approached my Online Counseling service since she was having issues dealing with her partner's constant desire for intimate companionship as well as his personal insecurities.

During our introductory session G. informed me that "He constantly badgers me about sex; we are intimate at least twice a week but it's not enough for him. He constantly sends me emails at work about wanting to see me naked or wanting to be intimate with me… when we're at home alone it's all he talks about." "It's gotten to the point where he can't even hug me without touching me in a sexual way and when I try to talk to him about it he takes it as rejection and just seems to shut down.
A different, very scary but related issue was then added: G told me that recently his adopted daughter had accused him of doing some 'horrible things' to her as a child. She was bothered and reflected that it definitely had affected their intimate relationship.

G. became very insecure and that was the underlying reason behind turning to seek a professional opinion: "I'm starting to wonder if what his daughter said is true…"

I started off by advising G. that a strong libido and continuous urge for frequent sex with a spouse does not necessarily indicate pathology or any other 'abnormal misbehavior'. Nevertheless, it clearly does create a lot of tension if the spouse's 'Tempos' are at different levels. Marriage Counseling therefore was called for, accompanied with individual sessions about personal and sexual issues. There was no "Quick Fix" type of a response for her since her issue involved both different value systems regarding affection and intimacy as well as unclear accusations regarding the past.

As a professional I could not comment on the adopted daughter's accusations, since there were no supportive information that I had an access to. Nevertheless, I did put my expertise to work there, informing her to be aware that things like that do happen, regardless of the male's intense sexual desire for his adult partner.

The Online Marriage Counseling process started to be effective in this case once we touched the issues that were causing the anxiety in their relationship: lack of proper communication, prior misinformed 'stories' about men and general inhibition regarding sexuality.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Online Counseling Processes for Troubled Marriage

This case study summarizes an example of individual and couple's marriage Online Counseling processes.

The process of Online Counseling starts with you, I informed J., my client; not with your husband. I was trying not to add to her sorrow, stress and anger by saying this and assured her that I was in no way implying that what she did for her "family's sake" was incorrect.

I simply advised that before she could set things right for her husband or family, J. needed to situate things right with herself first.

Through our first session it became obvious that J's anger and confusion over the memory of the event was still there. The story is about a loving mother and wife that recently discovered that her husband (of 33 years) had been unfaithful. In her own words: "For the family's sake, I accepted his apology and promise that it would never happen again." She therefore encouraged her daughters to give him a second chance. This had all occurred about two months ago and things seemed to be back to normal in her household. Except that J. just couldn't forget that he had cheated on her.

J. started her Online Counseling sessions since she was worried, over anxious and stressed about whether she could truly trust her husband again and was concerned about being hurt again. Another issue was her fear regarding setting a poor example of tolerance for her daughters to follow in.

My experience with situations like hers showed that a period of about 2-3 sessions of Online Counseling was normally enough for most clients to move into a new and better sustainable place for their relationship, as they start to reflect on their own behavior and take responsibility for their part of the marriage that brought the spouse to react as they did.
It was easy for me first to address HER concerns for her daughters during our first Online Counseling session. I decided to share with her MY concern: she focused on repairing her family relationship prior taking the time to begin her own personal healing. I let her know my feelings: she appeared to have been re-acting to her situation instead of dealing with it.

Psychologically speaking, I explained, it is easy to choose retaliation in time of stress, shame and anger. I did not hide my impression that she reacted to the situation by (unfortunately) making the mistake of pulling her children into the marital issues and therefore complicating things even more.

The Online Counseling process with J. confirmed the old wisdom that psychological processes do not erase memories; they heal them. This is being done by zooming in on the "WHY" and examining the fundamental deteriorating factors. Only thereafter the Online Counseling process can deal with the "WHAT NEXT" question, which was addressed via five sessions of Couple Online Counseling.

Dr. Joseph Abraham, Director, Center for Human Growth and Business Insights. 204 W. Main St. Mechanicsburg, PA 17055 Tel: 717-943.0959 See www.dr-joseph.com for Online Counseling on Behavioral issues and www.dr-jo-consulting.com for management and small business advice issues.

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