Benefits Of Psychotherapy

Many people find therapy to be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, and the hassles of daily life. A number of benefits are available from participating in psychotherapy. Often it is helpful just to know that someone understands. Therapy can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem or point you in the direction of a solution. The benefits you obtain from therapy depend on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn.

As a matter of fact, in November 1995, Consumer Reports published an article with their conclusions after conducting an extensive independent survey of psychotherapy clients. A startling 90% of the 4,000 respondents reported that they were doing substantially better after treatment. What’s more, researchers found that individuals who were treated with psychotherapy alone achieved the same results as those treated with medication and therapy. A copy of this article can be read at:

Psychotherapy can help you...

  • Find new ways to cope with stress and anxiety – to manage anger, depression, and other emotional pressures.

  • Improve communication skills – learn how to listen to others, and have others listen to you.

  • Get unstuck” from past relationships and family issues – break old patterns and develop new ways of dealing with old issues.

  • Heal old psychological wounds – repair damage from the past.

  • Discover creative ways to problem-solve.

  • Improve your self-esteem and boost your self-confidence.

  • Increase your ability to love yourself and love others – enrich your relationships with greater capacity for respect, compassion and joy.

Changing What You Feel In the Moment: Opposite Action To Current Emotion - DBT


Your goal is to change the way you’re feeling. Want to crawl into bed: Take a brisk walk instead. Feel like screaming and pounding the wall? How about some soothing music instead.


Feeling                                                Opposite Action


Sadness                                             Physical movement


Anger                                                Do something nice for yourself or Someone else


Fear                                                 Face it


Shame                                              Face it


Guilt                                                 Either repair it or tolerate it


      When you’re stuck in feelings that were generated hours ago, put the opposite action to current emotion by choosing an activity opposite to what your current emotion is pushing you toward. All emotions have a corresponding action potential. Anger tends to make us move toward attack, for example, while fear makes us withdraw and shame makes us want to hide. Once you recognize an emotion’s action potential, the trick is to pick an activity that is it’s direct opposite. In order to do this, you must first understand that this skill is about acknowledging what you feel in the moment. It’s not about denying what you’re feeling or judging what you’re experiencing – it’s only about accepting how things are in the moment. Be sure to accurately label the emotion you want to change and it’s corresponding action potential. You can do this by using your emotional mindfulness skill.


Opposite Action to Sadness: Physical Movement

Sadness and depression seem to drain us of our energy. All we want to do is lay down and rest. The action potential for depression is to stay still. To shake this feeling you don’t have to run a marathon, try a quick-paced walk, turn up the music and dance or go to the gym. Your mood will change as you get involved in the activity.


Opposite Action to Anger: Do Something Nice

We tend to cook our anger until it takes over our mind and ruins our day. In the case of anger, opposite action would be doing something kind for yourself or for another person; give yourself a facial, cook a special dinner for your family, take a long shower, buy yourself or someone else a little trinket. Getting involved in acts of kindness will help dissipate your angry feelings.


Opposite Action to Fear: Face It

When we are frightened or worried about something, we have a tendency to avoid those situation that are likely to elicit this emotion. When we give in to fear and avoid situations that require action, w now have two problems instead of one: the original problem plus the sense of diminished self-regard that we typically feel when we know we’re avoiding something because of worry. So if fear is making you avoid something, approach the problem head on.


Opposite Action to Shame: Expose Yourself to It

Sometimes when we avoid shame, we cut our nose to spite our face. We may be depriving ourselves of the much needed help and support available from friends, relatives and institutions. The trick is to make the best assessment you an about who in your world can be trusted with this very sensitive information and speak with them. The psychological principal at work here is known as exposure. It turns out that when we are racked with shame, exposing ourselves to the experience without judging ourselves or avoiding the experience will diminish the intensity of the shame.


Opposite Action to Guilt: Repair or Tolerate It

Warranted guilt requires you to make a repair and an apology, while unwarranted guilt requires you to tolerate your distress without repair and apology.


  1. Are you responsible for having done something, either unwittingly or intentionally, that has been harmful to someone else, or does your guilt arise from some judgment about yourself that is less reality-bases? For example, you didn’t feel like getting out of bed and decided to wait to take the dog out for a walk. The dog has an accident in the house and your parents yell at the dog and punish him for having an accident in the house.


  1. Have your actions violated your ethics or values? For example, you punish your child for repeatedly coming home late by telling him/her that next week (s)he will not be allowed to go out with friends. An old friend that (s)he hasn’t seen in a few years comes to town for one night next weekend and your child wants you to break the punishment and allow him/her to go out. While it is upsetting to see your child so distraught about missing his/her friend, you need to stand your ground.



So You’ve Decided To Get A Divorce. Now What?


Approximately half of all marriages in the United States end in divorce. Unlike creating a marriage, ending one is far more complicated since there are more issues to sort out especially when children are involved.


Finding a Lawyer


Just as there are specialists in medicine, there are specialists in law. The need for a specialist will vary with each case and is primarily dependent upon the complexities of the dissolution of the marriage. If there are complex issues of property or custody, it probably is best to seek a lawyer with substantial experience in family law. Hiring a specialist in family law does not necessarily cost more than hiring an attorney in general practice, although, an attorney with a very high reputation in any field is more likely to be higher than for other attorneys.


Mediation Advantages


Economical: Perhaps the greatest benefit for opting to mediate divorce verses litigation is the money each party will save. The total cost of divorce mediation is usually less than half the cost of one spouse’s lawyer in a litigated divorce.

Divorce mediation clients negotiate directly with one another with limited attorney involvement. By cutting the cost of divorce, mediation preserves more of the marital assets for the parties and their children after the divorce.

In divorce litigation, each party hires an attorney to bargain on his or her behalf. Then each spouse pays his or her lawyer to negotiate with the other spouse’s attorney. Then each spouse pays his or her attorney to review and explain what the lawyers negotiated.


Confidential: If the mediation fails, the mediator will not become a witness for or against either spouse. In addition, neither spouse is permitted to disclose confidential communications or materials that were made in the course of the mediation in any judicial proceedings. Parties sign an agreement to mediate with a qualified mediator.


Enforceable: A spouse who violates a separation agreement after it was found to be “fair and reasonable” in court may be held liable for breach of the contract and found in contempt of court. Breach of contract can generate financial compensation (including attorney fees) while contempt of court can generate monetary and legal sanctions. A separation agreement found to be “fair and reasonable” in court is as enforceable as any other court order, and as a contract.


Stability: Every year, a large number of spouses return to court to contest some aspect of their litigated divorce. Divorce mediation is a self-determined process, one which allows couples to set their own goals and to allocate their own resources. This reduces the probability of post-divorce disputes and increases the likelihood of post-divorce compliance.


Relief: When couples achieved a fair and reasonable agreement, their own feelings of frustration and helplessness are often relieved.

Even after a litigated divorce has begun, both spouses can decide to “freeze” the litigation and mediate their divorce. Divorcing couples who successfully mediate spare themselves and their families the agony that characterizes an adversarial divorce.


When mediation is not appropriate


In some cases, as in cases of domestic violence, it is best to seek legal representation. With domestic violence cases, the concern is that mediation will give the abuser an opportunity to harm the victim again. Victims of physical abuse may not be able to adequately express and protect their own interests. For many, the decision to end a marriage is a difficult one; one that can be filled with ambivalence and anxiety. When the decision to divorce is reached, however, it also can be a time of relief.


Taken from (American Bar Association) Web site.





Emotional Mindfulness - DBT


“When we can identify and accurately label our emotions, we are building a kind of mental box to contain them safely – plus we avoid that awful sense of being ambushed by our own emotions.”


The following are techniques that can keep you from being swept away by your own emotional tidal wave: become mindfully aware of your feelings before they escalate to a troublesome point.

Step 1: Turning your Attention to the Experience of the Emotion

  • Try to locate where in your body you feel the emotion. For example, most people when they feel sad feel heaviness in their chest; they may also experience a tightening in their face as a way to prevent the tears from flowing and a trembling in their lips. When we’re angry, we feel a tightening of our fists as our jaws move forward. The trick is to begin observing and describing these sensations as soon as you become aware that you’re getting emotionally charged up.

  • Notice whether you’re making any judgments about your emotions (ex- “I am wrong to feel angry” or “It’s dumb to feel sad”) and, if you are, work at letting the judgments go. In a nonjudgmental fashion, accept this moment as it is. By observing and describing your experience, you will bring your prefrontal cortex into play. When that happens, you’ll find that you’re more likely to become more rational and balanced.


Step 2: Doing What the Situation Requires

  • At the time a situation arises, you may need a break and come back to the issue at a later time or if you feel you’re in emotional control, you’ll want to discuss the situation with those involved. Make certain not take action until you are confident that you have your emotions under control.

  • It is important to practice these skills in noncrisis situations first.

Explaining Divorce To Children

-Elma Pisano, LCSW-R


For many divorcing parents, one of the hardest things they face is telling their children about the impending separation and divorce. The mere thought of the conversation can create anxiety for parents. How the breakup is handled initially, both with the children and with the marital partner will have a significant bearing on how children adjust and on the couple’s ability to cooperate in the years following the divorce. When parents approach this subject with unity, honesty and allow for an ongoing dialogue between themselves and their children, the possible detrimental long-term effects of this sensitive topic can be greatly minimized.

Separation anxieties are one of the primary sources of adjustment problems in young children following divorce. Children are far more likely to develop anxieties if they are not prepared for the parental separation. The best way to alleviate or prevent them altogether is to help children feel more control over the enormous changes occurring in their lives. The process of divorce is easier for children to cope with if they have been told in advance what to expect and when things will happen.

Parents can tell children about the divorce and begin an ongoing dialogue with them once it becomes a firm decision and once the parents have had some time to process their own emotions. The best approach is for both parents to sit down together with their children as a family. That way, siblings can learn to be a source of comfort to each other from the beginning. If there is too much conflict, emotions or tempers between the adults, it may be useful to include a third party such as a therapist, grandparent or pastoral counselor. The conversation should include:

  • Telling them what to expect (what’s going to happen and when)

  • Providing an explanation for the divorce that the children can understand

  • Reassuring children of their permanent and continuing relationship with both parents.


  • Tell children what to expect.

    It is important that parents exercise as much self-restraint as possible under these trying circumstances. Be clear when stating mother and father are divorcing. That is, help them to understand the permanence of your decision. That mom and dad will be living in different houses but you will always be their mom and dad and your love for them will never change. Let your children know where they will be living and how often they will be visiting with the non-residential parent. Children should be comforted with knowing they can reach either parent by phone any time he or she wishes. Explain to your children this will be a big change for everyone in your family with lots of questions along the way and that both parents will always be available to answer any questions they may have. End this part of the conversation with “What can we answer for you right now?”

  • Provide an explanation for the divorce.

    Researchers have found that having an explanation for the divorce that children can understand helps them to adjust. When parents don’t provide an explanation, children create one on their own. These fabricated explanations tend to be faulty and cause further problems because children tend to blame themselves for the divorce. Parents do not talk with their children about divorce for a variety of reasons. They may feel inadequate to respond, others are immobilized by guilt, and other parents are worried that they won’t be able to stop crying. As difficult as it may be, there is no question that children adjust better when parents give children explanations they can understand and repeated invitations to ask about what will happen when and why. If parents find this step too difficult to take on their own, professional assistance from a counselor, pastor or divorce mediator should be considered.

Be careful not to assign blame. It is highly

problematic for a child when one parent assigns blame for the divorce to another parent. No matter how angry, hurt or rejected you feel, these emotions should not be imposed on your children. I can’t stress this enough when I say that more harm is done that good when one parent assigns blame for the divorce and communicates that the child should be angry with the parent who has left or should not respect, care about, or want to spend time with that person.

Often the blame is assigned by inappropriately providing children with specific details of adult infidelities and sexual relationships.

You may find the following explanations for divorce useful when speaking with your children and may want to adapt them into your conversation:

    • “We loved each other when we got married and you were born, but we are not happy being married any more.”

    • “Sometimes parents’ feelings about each other change as time goes by, and that is what has happened to us. We do not feel the same way we used to about each other because we are different now.”

    • “It’s hard for us to get along with each other anymore because some things make us unhappy about each other. We have decided that we want to live apart from now on.”

    • “We want you to know the divorce is not your fault. There is nothing you could have done or can do about it. Divorce is a problem between the adults in the family.”

    • “Even though the way we feel about each other has changed, our love for you has not changed. We love you and will be working together to take care of you until you are grown up. Parents have a very special love for their children, and that kind of love does not change. Parents and children never get a divorce.”

    • “It’s hard for Dad and me to understand the problems between us, so I know that it is even harder for you to understand why we are getting a divorce. You can talk to us about the divorce whenever you want, and we will try and answer all of your questions.”

    • “This is a whole lot to think about. Are there any questions we can answer for you right now?”

  • Reassure children of their continuing relationship with both parents.

    Parents can alleviate children’s separation anxieties by repeatedly reassuring them that both mother and father will always want to be with them and will never go away. It’s important for parents to tell children a minimum of at least one week in advance of one parent moving. If a parent moves out before a child has been prepared, the unanticipated departure will be highly distressing and parents will not readily regain their credibility or their child’s trust. When a parent moves out without forewarning, they do not really comprehend why their parent has gone, what their future contact with him or her will be or who else will leave. This holds true even if the child is not especially close to the departing parent. Parents should provide their children with frequent, regularly scheduled contact that begins immediately upon the parent’s departure. If possible, the nonresidential parent should try to visit or telephone the child every day for the first week or so. It is essential for children to know in advance specifically when and where they will be with their parent again. Visitation schedules cannot be random or casually followed. Parents can give children two identical calendars with the visitation schedules circled (for example, days and nights at Mom’s house circled in pink; days and nights at dad’s house circled in blue) and, together, parents and children can hang their calendars in their rooms at both residences. Parents must follow through consistently and adhere reliably to whatever schedule has been established. Predictability is vital to the child’s security.


 The above is taken from the book Helping Children Cope with Divorce, written by Edward Teyber.