Relationships, Part 5: Getting behind the masks

maskYou know the drill. You start dating someone and they seem like the most wonderful person in the world. Then you become familiar with each other and, all of a sudden, they are the spawn of the devil.

You know the reasons. People are polite on their first dates. They’re putting their best feet forward. They want you to like them. And you are doing the same thing. When you begin to date, you are not getting to know the real person, you are getting to know that person’s masks. And they are only seeing yours.

I believe that the masks you choose are as authentic a part of your self as what lies beneath. Appearances do matter. The fact that you select, for instance, a bragging, audacious persona versus a reserved, deferential one says something, even though both may hide a fragile ego.

However, the mask is not the whole story. Sooner or later, in any meaningful relationship, the hidden person shows up. Then you have a choice. You can:

  1. Split up and start the whole process over again with someone else.
  2. Try to change your partner so that the inside of him matches the outside.
  3. Deal with the reality of the situation and learn to respect your partner, even the things you don’t initially like.
  4. Put on a new mask and collude as your partner puts on a new one himself.

Number 4 is a common choice that people make. It leads to trouble. In the next post, I will show you how.

Click here to go to the entire Relationships series.

The Shrink’s Links: Subtext

Bringing you the best of mental health and relationship articles on the internet.

Links

Today’s link from the shrink is:

SubText Consultations & Writer’s Clinic

Sometimes fictional characters need to see a shrink, too. They have angst, just like anyone else. If you know a fictional character that needs to have their head examined, refer them to this clinic. Martha M. Crawford and David Amarel will put them on the couch and scan for psychological continuity. They will also minister to their authors who suffer from writer’s block.

Click here to go to the link

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Announcement: Impaired Driver Assessments

It’s official. I’m now recognized by the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) as an Impaired Driving Offender Clinical Screening and Assessment Provider.

Please read that sentence carefully before jumping to any conclusions.

No, I was not convicted of drunk driving. But, if you have been, or if you are just facing charges, I may be able to help you get your license back and ensure that you don’t make that mistake again.

Lots of things happen when you are arrested for a DUI or DWI. You might have to meet with an Impaired Driving Offender Clinical Screening and Assessment Provider. That person will determine whether you need chemical dependency treatment.

There are certain regulations that dictate how we make an assessment, as well there should be.

If you come to me for an assessment, I’ll have to meet with you at least twice: two fifty minute sessions.

In the first, we will talk about the incident, what and how much you used, what were the circumstances, and how you came to get arrested. Was there an accident? Were there any injuries? So on and so forth.

We will also talk about your general relationship with substances, if this has been a problem in other ways or if you’ve had other arrests. We’ll also have to talk about the rest of your life, just to put the incident into context. I’ll ask about your job, your relationships, your family, your health, what you do for recreation, other legal issues. I’ll assess for mental health problems.

You’ll have to give me permission to review your driving record and interview at least two others who know you well, about your substance use.

You’ll have to go to an ACM Medical Laboratory Patient Service Center and pee in a cup.

We’ll meet a second time to go over all the information I have collected, I’ll tell you my assessment, and we’ll devise a plan.

In some cases, no treatment will be necessary. If it is, I may be able to provide it. If you need more intensive help, I can refer you to a group or rehab, or another counselor if we don’t click.

I will enter all of our findings in the Impaired Driver System (IDS), a state-wide database. The courts, the Department of Motor Vehicles, and OASAS have access to the IDS.

If you disagree with my assessment, you’re free to get a second opinion, but you have to comply with the second one. Are you feeling lucky?

The cost for the whole assessment is $350. That’s two sessions, reviewing the record, the lab results, interviewing the collateral sources, and writing it up. It doesn’t include any treatment. It does include the cost of peeing in the cup.

Next time, for God’s sake, call a cab.

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Announcement: New Office

It’s moving time again for me.  The lease will soon be up for my office on East Ridge Road. Therefore, I will be moving to a new location at 1596 Monroe Avenue, near Twelve Corners, in Brighton, and will begin seeing clients there on December 2nd, 2013.

Monroe Ave OfficeThe new office is on the first floor of a former residence, constructed in the 1920s, with gumwood trim and leaded glass windows. Drive through a carriage porch on the side and there’s plenty of parking in the back. Enter through the front door if aesthetics are important or through the back door if you’d prefer to cut down on steps. I’ll have a private waiting room, well stocked with newish magazines and coffee and tea. There’s a rest room downstairs. The building also houses a lawyer upstairs, a dressmaker on the first floor, and a collection agency and computer genie in the basement. It’s unfortunately too old a structure to be handicap accessible.

I will no longer be seeing clients at East Ridge on December 2nd and will begin to phase out the Victor Office as well. Stop in a see me sometime; or, better yet, make an appointment.

My new address, as of December 2, 2013:

Keith Wilson – Counseling
1596 Monroe Ave
Rochester, NY 14618
Cell 585-732-1970
FAX 585-486-1960
keithwilsoncounseling@gmail.com
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Relationships, Part 4: Hugging till Relaxed

Try this exercise at home with your partner. Hug her until you are both relaxed.

When do people normally end a hug? Sometimes a social alarm goes off in their heads and tells them that if they held an embrace too long, the other one would get the wrong idea. Sometimes you hug until you get tense; it gets awkward, or you get horny, or you can’t breathe.

In this exercise, if you are tense, or get tense, continue hugging until you get relaxed.

This is how you do it. Stand on your own feet. Don’t lean on your partner or she won’t be relaxed.

Put your arms around your partner, not too tight, not too loose. You have to be able to breathe. Figure out where to put your noses.

Two minutes like this can seem like an eternity, but don’t stop when you are tense. Don’t stop until you are relaxed.

It’s best to focus on yourself, relaxing yourself, not relaxing your partner. When you get relaxed, your partner can relax. You’re not holding each other. You’re centering yourself while you and your partner have your arms around each other.

All the issues you and your partner have will emerge in this exercise. Who dominates? Who submits? Who initiates? Who  makes who adapt? This is your chance to work out these issues, but hold onto yourself as you do and everything will be OK.

Hug until relaxed.

Click here to go to the entire Relationships series.

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The Shrink’s Links: Sleep Time

Bringing you the best of mental health and relationship articles on the internet.

Links

Today’s link from the shrink is:

Sleep Time

If you have an iPhone and ever wondered what happens when you fall asleep, then Sleep Time is the app for you. Put it under your pillow at night, and, using the phone’s accelerometer, the app will deduce your sleep cycle from your movements. When you wake up, you’ll get a display that looks something like this:

Sleeptime

It has an alarm clock that will wake you gently out of light sleep, not jolt you from the depths. The app is free, but paying a few cents extra gives you the ability to save as many reports as you want for thorough analysis. It’ll also give you soothing sounds for dropping off.

Click here to go to the link

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Relationships, Part 3: Be careful how you tie yourself

Pair of black man shoes tied togetherLook at a shoes you’re wearing. Your two shoes go together, they match. No one can say that they don’t. Even if you lose one and leave it behind in the road, they are still a pair of shoes.

Now tie them together, one to the other. Go ahead.

Now try to walk.

You’ll be able to do it. You’ll take short, mincing steps. If you had to walk that way, you could. If you lived in a world where everyone tied their shoes together that way and walked, you might not think to do it differently. However, I think you’ll agree it doesn’t work well that way.

Go ahead and retie them the way they are supposed to be tied. This is the end of the demonstration.

Now think about your relationships. How do you tie people to you? Why do you do this? Do you keep them close so that there can be no question that you are a pair? Are you afraid to lose your partner? Or is it you that might get lost?

Think about how you lose a shoe. You don’t lose a shoe because it’s not tied to its partner. You lose it when it’s not tied to itself.

Keep yourself tied to yourself and you won’t get lost. In other words, be a fully functioning adult. Take responsibility, have composure, and practice moderation and meaningful endurance.

When your partner keeps him or herself tied, he or she won’t get lost, either. Both of you, keep yourselves tied and you’ll be able to walk, together.

Click here to go to the entire Relationships series.

The Shrink’s Links: The Gottman Institute

LinksBringing you the best of mental health on the internet every week.

Today’s Shrink’s link of the week is

The Gottman Institute

As I sat down to write a new series on relationships, I drew my inspiration from two influential writers in the field. One is David Schnarch. The second are John and Julie Gottman.

English: John Gottman with His Wife, Julie Gottman
English: John Gottman with His Wife, Julie Gottman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Gottmans, a husband and wife team from Seattle, are known for the painstaking empirical research they take into marital behavior. When other writers on relationships pull their ideas out of thin air, or from another, nether, part of their anatomy, the Gottmans conducted interviews with 95 newlyweds and followed them over years. They not only listened to what those couples had to say, they also scrutinized physical data taken during those interviews: heart rate, sweating, skin temperature, as well as microexpressions. They not only paid attention to how they fought, they also noted how they made up, and if they did. They collected the best data we have on the predictors of divorce.

As you might expect from those who take a geeky approach to determining truth, little of Gottmania has made its way into the popular culture. They are not the people to go to if you are looking for sweeping theoretical constructs or whopping generalizations. They are the people you want to quote if you want to be right.

Click here to go to the link

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The Shrink’s Links: Crucible® Therapy

The Shrink’s Links

Bringing you the best of mental health on the internet every week.

Today’s Shrink’s link of the week is

Crucible® Therapy

I recently began a new series on relationships. I should say that I haven’t come up with these ideas solely out of my own head. I have my sources. The first is David Schnarch and what he calls Crucible® Therapy. The second is Gottman. More on Gottman later. For me, Schnarch provides much of the theoretical framework of how I work with couples; Gottman helps with the application.

Schnarch didn’t come up with these ideas solely out of his own head, either. He built on a foundation first laid by Murray Bowen, one of the pioneers of family therapy. While Bowen is not a household name, even in households comprised of shrinks, such as my own; he gave us such widely used concepts as boundaries, triangles, ideas about the influence of sibling position, and the differentiation of the self. Alright, maybe you never heard of the differentiation of the self, but you will when you read my series; again and again and again. I believe the concept is fundamental.

I’ve never been one to hand myself over completely to a guru and make his or her ideas and methods my own without adding many idiosyncratic twists. And, in case you were thinking of making me your guru, I don’t think you should either. I only keep the parts that work for me and seem to resonate with the couples who come to me for counseling.

There are two more things about Schnarch that I want to say. Yes, he has a funny name. Let’s get that out of the way first. Although, I must admit that, as a person with a very ordinary name, Wilson, I feel a little jealous of him. It’s distinctive, at least.

The second is this. You’ll see it if you go to his website. He has taken Bowen’s ideas, given them his own clever turns of phrase, and trademarked them so no one else can use them.

I understand why he does it. He’s protecting his investment. I think it’s outrageous. Science (and, yes, counseling psychology is a science, as well as an art) requires that there be a free exchange of ideas. Trademarking one’s expression of them just gets in the way.

So, in my series, I will respect the trademark law even though I don’t respect Schnarch’s use of it. When I use his, and Bowen’s ideas, I use my own phrases. Please feel free to pass them on and use them yourself.

Click here to go to the link

Click here to go to the entire Relationships series.

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Relationships, Part 1: Marriage is for Adults Only

giraffes

Marriage, or any committed relationship, is not meant for children or those that act like children, except when they are just having fun. On the other hand, we are all just children until we enter a committed relationship and make it work. Relationships add the finishing touches to adulthood.

Think of the process by which people grow. An egg is fertilized by a sperm and grows into a fetus. At this stage it is scarcely indistinguishable from the mother. The fetus grows into a baby bump, but it is still the mother’s baby bump. The child is born and the cord is cut, but the baby is utterly dependent on its caretakers. Little by little, over years, the child becomes less dependent.

This process is called differentiation. You see it? The child grows increasingly differentiated from the mother until they are fully independent people.

Then the supposedly independent person gets into a committed relationship and, guess what? They expect their partner to be their mother. They are still not yet fully differentiated.

They may find a partner quite willing to be their mother, for a while. Sooner or later, the partner resents having to take care of an adult or wants some mothering, too, and unhappiness results.

People who work through this conflict with their partner grow up the rest of the way. They become adults and ready for marriage, even though they may have been married twenty years.

In the next posting, Four signs that a person is an adult.

Click here to go to the entire Relationships series.

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