GRATITUDE: Not Just For Them, It's For You Too


Gratitude: Not Just For Them, It's For You Too

This time of year, being thankful is the new trend. Good thing too, because showing gratitude correlates directly with your quality of life. There is a wealth of information describing the benefits you can derive from appreciating life, others and what you have. But what about you? When is the last time you stopped to acknowledge yourself?

All too often we tend to focus on others and forget about ourselves. Yet, maintaining a healthy relationship with ourselves is the key to having one with others. So, this month while you’re expressing your thankfulness for those around you take some time to appreciate yourself as well.

Positive Self Talk

“Are you serious?” “Did you really HAVE to do that?” “Oh my…” We’ve all been there. We all have that one negative voice in our minds that criticizes us. No, hearing this voice doesn’t mean something is terribly wrong with you (trust me, I’m a therapist), it means that you are human. It is easy to fall into the habit of negative self talk, but it is harmful. These constant criticisms take a toll. They can cause anxiety, depression, or an overall sense of sadness.

Practice gratitude for yourself this month by actively focusing on reversing that negativity. Any time you notice a criticism forming in your mind replace it with something positive. You can respond to a dig such as “Are you serious?” with the thought, “Yes, I meant for it to go better and next time I will try harder and learn from this mistake.” The same response works for most negative thoughts. Focus on the learning process and appreciate your efforts no matter the outcome. After enough corrections the negative voice will begin to fade.


You have been giving and giving to those around you. Whether it is in the form of gift purchases for the impending Christmas holiday, support to those you love, or time and energy to your employer, chances are you may be feeling drained. It is also probable that you haven’t been giving generously to yourself.

Take a moment to reflect on the following questions:

  • When is the last time you spent an hour alone with no obligations?
  • When is the last time you did something to bring you toward one of your goals?
  • When is the last time you gave yourself care?

Follow through on caring for yourself by taking time to work on you. Get some quiet time. Read a book. Go to a movie. Eat your favorite meal. Take action toward one of your goals. This will not only make you feel better, it will also revive you. It will give you more energy to show gratitude to those around you. A better you is better for those around you.

You should also practice generosity in your thoughts. Always work from the perception that you had the best intentions in mind. That way when the negative self talk rears its ugly head, you can respond with, “I’m doing the best I can.”


There is nothing wrong with seeking help from those that are available. Think about it, your gratitude is expressed through actions and words to the ones you love. It would be hypocritical for you to get down on yourself for reaching out too.

Show gratitude to yourself through seeking out others who will act and speak in a way that assists you. This can be done by reaching out to a close friend or family member, or talking to a professional.

I have learned how to practice gratitude for myself and through that process I’ve enhanced my ability as a therapist to help others do the same. One of the many things I am grateful for in life is the opportunity to work with you on being the best version of yourself.


Why Women Stay in Toxic Relationships

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Have you ever been in a toxic relationship? You've been there.  Your gut told you run, but every time you entertained the thought of leaving, you couldn't muster up the emotional strength to do it. There was always a excuse that seemed viable enough to stay. 

Is being in a relationship where you are consistently unhappy your idea of love? If so, I've got news for you; If you're in a relationship with someone who used to make you happy and now no longer does, what keeps you there isn't love, it's fear. 

You're afraid that if you leave, you may never find someone else; you're afraid of being single again; you're afraid that what you really want may never happen, so instead of taking a chance and moving on, you decided to settle. Unfortunately, you just don't see it that way. 

People in a toxic partnership may feel like they're walking on eggshells around their spouses, or that they have to clam up about their own emotions to keep the peace. And of course, they might feel their partners think they can NEVER do anything right. 

It sure doesn't sounds like a true romance. 

But interestingly, "toxic relationships don't start out that way," says Eric Charles (a relationship expert). The problem comes when one or both people believe that the other person should make them happy and it's their duty to do the same. 

"Nobody else can be ultimately responsible for your emotions," notes Charles. "That's the soil in which a toxic relationship dynamic can take root", he goes on to say.

Here are the five major reasons women stay firm in a toxic relationship:

1. Thinking you can change the other person

Empathetic people, who are sensitive to others' emotions and quick to put themselves in another person's shoes, are especially at risk here. "They believe they can change someone's emotions through their actions, " Charles explains. Sure, their intentions are good but, "unfortunately, they don't see that they're attempting the impossible."

2. Living in a fair-tale world

Countless TV shows and movies portray a relationship that was filled with turmoil magically leading to a happy ending. Because of that, many of us have been led to believe that "drama, heartache, and pain will somebody lead to the happiness in the end", Charles writes. But the reality is they don't!

3. You're on an emotional roller coaster

In a healthy relationship, each partner is pretty happy, so although your interactions are loving and joyful, they're no earth-shattering. But toxic relationships have a much higher emotional contrast.

Think about it. When your self-esteem is at an all-time low and you're worried you can't please your partner, then all of a sudden, something between you actually does go well, you're mood will shoot into the stratosphere. You feel good, happy, hopeful, and inspired. 

Only problem? The reason for this emotional high is because the relationship takes you to such a low place most of the time. 

4. Your lives are intertwined

Maybe you have kids. Or you co-own a business. Maybe you own a home together or share the same tight circle of friends. Whatever the reason, an outside factor beyond the relationship can make you feel like a clean break isn't possible.

5. You can't see a way out

Surprisingly, most people who  are in a poisonous relationship actually KNOW it. But they deny it (to themselves as well as to friends and family) because they don't see any alternative.

Thinking of a toxic relationship like a drug addiction may help. When you can see that the "drug" is not really making you "high" can see the reality of what's really at play; and recognize that detoxing yourself is the only route to peace and happiness. 

If you find yourself in the midst of what you think might be a toxic relationship, help is out there. Contact me at (440) 836-3186 for a free 15-minute phone consultation. I’d love to hear about what is going on and direct you to the right help. If you are looking for help with  relationship difficulties, you can read more about how I can help here.

The Power of Positive Thinking

Do you know that great ideas and inventions of today started with someone who thought positively? By thinking positive always, you attract a lot of good things to you. This includes aspects such as your happiness, financial success and even your health.

Most people see positive thinking as being optimistic, yeah, they almost do mean the same thing. When you think positive, everything about you from how you think to your attitude brings brightness and enthusiasm.

Positive thinking entails your mental attitude towards the good and bright things of life. You believe you can overcome any obstacle just by thinking good of it. Most people don’t take this serious. But the truth is, more often than not, your thoughts leads to various behavioral actions you exhibit. Take for example an employer of labor wouldn’t recruit a salesman who doesn’t smile towards clients. The employer may feel the salesman is bad for business and wouldn’t attract customers.

Positive thinking also reflects on your reaction when things are not going too well. Adopting positive thinking helps you to see the bright side when everywhere spells doom. Thinking positive, you also expect and attract things of good and positive results. I know people who got jobs by just having the right positive mentality.  Thinking positively in every aspect of one’s life brings happiness.

Here are some steps you can take in improving how positive your thoughts are.

1.    Avoid thinking negatively

Of course, this is the very first step to take towards thinking positive. Most people talk themselves out of doing things even before they start. They don’t see the good in anything and as a result, they don’t get anything good in return too. That should change! How you think affects what happens to you. Tell yourself things that are always on the positive side.

2.    Smile some more.

People are moved by the physical attitude you exhibit. Smiling and happiness is contagious. You affect people just by the kind of behavioral attitude you show. Most people tend to be attracted to people who associate and relates with them fine.

3.    Engage in something worth doing

Most times, no matter how we try to always think positive, something may come up and then our minds are filled with negative thoughts. You must learn to rid out every negative thought that enters your mind. The only way to do that is by engaging in something worthwhile. Get something that you love doing and be positive about it.

4.     Visualize and Imagine your goals

You’re probably waiting and expecting something good. Its good practice to think and imagine what you’re aiming for, be it good news of a job offer you applied or you wish to have a successful career. Imagine it, think positive about it, let your mind be fixed on making it possible. Never think anything is beyond your reach. You can do it if you just imagine.

5.    Never Falter!

You’re going through a rough patch in your life, take for example, your finances or marriage, and things don’t seem to be going your way and you don’t know why. Most people often begin to lose confidence and they falter. But what the power of positive thinking does is that, it gives you the will to go on, it shows you another way when there seems to be no way. Thinking positively always gives you hope and shows you a brighter side to things.

Your thoughts are reality, guard it! Think positive always!


Marriage Counseling: Is it worth it?

Marriage is hard work and nothing ever really prepares us for it. Sometimes we need a guide along the way; in fact, we probably should have a guide along the way. As you know by now, marriage isn’t the fairy tale you hoped it would be. Your partner has imperfections and so do you. Also, you realize your partner can’t meet all your needs but then again, they were never designed to. Then children often come along and the relationship you used to have seems like a distant memory. Child rearing highlights issues and also causes issues in and of itself.

Marriage counseling focuses on rewiring conflict. Often through some maladaptive ways of managing conflict, we find ourselves in patterns that ultimately can bring further demise to our marriage. It’s important to do conflict differently in couple’s therapy and find a way to communicate with each other that brings safety and emotional engagement,

Couples therapy also focuses on building a friendship, again. Often in the day to day of marriage, we find ourselves forgetting to focus on nurturing the friendship. Marriage counseling will give you tools to do that again.

Marriage counseling will also focus on figuring out how to get back onto the same page for your life goals. Those goals you created early on in your relationship but now feel like a someone else’s goal. Couples therapy can help focus you and your partner back on the story of you that has already begun.

If you’ve experienced infidelity in your marriage, there often is a way back. Through hard work, both individually and together, and patience, some can experience the healing and deeper commitment to the success of their marriage through marriage counseling.

Trained in the Gottman method as well as emotionally focused couples therapy, I use a holistic approach to treating couples. Couples therapy is a passion of mine.  I enjoy seeing both the individuals in the couple relationship change and the change as a couple they experience through their commitment to relationship counseling. If your relationship needs some work, feel free to contact me to discuss further.

Mental Health Coping Strategies

Whether you have a case of the blues or suffer from diagnosed major depression or another mental health ailment, we all need strategies for coping well. There are a range of strategies that you may find helpful in dealing with mental health issues. Here are a just a few to get you started:

  1. Use self-talk. Yes, talk to yourself. We actually talk to ourselves all the time. This is being conscious of how you talk to yourself and making a concerted effort to talk well to yourself. Use positive affirmations. Write them on post-it notes. Put them where you’ll see them everyday. Make positive self-talk as habitual as exercise. You don’t necessarily feel good right away but over the course of time, you’ll see a difference and feel better.

  2. Think positively. Or like I say, cut out stinking thinking.  Some common thinking traps we find ourselves include all or nothing thinking, jumping to conclusions and overgeneralizations amongst other cognitive distortions. Try avoiding extremes in your thinking and give yourself a break. Seek help if you find the source of many of your problems as a result of the way you think of them.

  3. Get more sleep. Sleep is everything. It really is. It’s important to pay special attention to your sleep hygiene. Ask yourself, how many hours of sleep am I getting? What is my bedtime routine? Little things such as practicing meditation, deep breathing, taking a hot bath and not using your electronic 30-minutes before bed time can all help in securing a better sleep hygiene.

  4. Initiative positive social contact. Isolation can be the enemy of good mental health. Positive social contact can be if anything distracting to those negtive thoughts we have, can give us someone to talk to and bounce ideas off of and can give us perspective. Ask them to talk a walk with you or grab a cup of coffee.

I hope you found this helpful as a beginning list of things to do to cope with life a little better. If you find yourself needing more mental heatlh coping strategies and need some help, contact me at (440) 836-3186 for a free 15-minute phone consultation. I’d love to hear about what is going on and direct you to the right help. If you are looking for help with codependency issues or relationship difficulties, you can read more about how I can help here.

Activities That Alleviate Depression

Depression is one of the most common mental health problems today. Major depressive disorder affects approximately 14.8 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older, in each year per the Archives of General Psychiatry, (2005 Jun; 62(6): 617-27). While medication can be effective in helping, there are other things you can do to ease depression. Here’s a brief list of how you can start alleviating your depression today:

1.     Do not sleep too much. Staying in bed or taking naps throughout the day may only worsen depression and make it much harder to cope with the symptoms. The best approach to sleep is to wake up at the same time each morning and go to sleep at the same time every night. This may be difficult but easier once you get into a routine.

2.     Eat well. A healthy and balanced diet will not only help the way you feel, but will also improve your thought patterns. Eat regularly and aim to eat three balanced meals each day. Quality food is vital for your mind and body to function properly.

3.     Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself to things that are calming and improve your mood. Scented candles, bubble baths and a tranquil environment can help you feel better. Find relaxing activities that help you unwind. Listening to music, reading or adult coloring books are just a few examples. Allowing yourself even 15 minutes of downtime can make all the difference.

4.     Practice self-acceptance. Do not let others define you. Accept yourself for who you are; not who others would like you to be. There is not a single person in this world that is perfect; everyone possesses good qualities as well as bad qualities. Many different characteristics, including personality, background, character and sexuality make us who we are. Everyone in this world has something to offer, and everyone is entitled to respect.

All those tips being said, depression is tough. It’s like a dark fog that seems to follow you. It can also feel like it will never end. There is hope and there is help. If you find yourself with the dark fog and need some help, contact me at (440) 836-3186 for a free 15-minute phone consultation. I’d love to hear about what is going on and direct you to the right help. If you are looking for help with codependency issues or relationship difficulties, you can read more about how I can help here

Does Your Own Mental Health Affect Your Relationships?


All helping professionals will tell you the answer is absolutely! Your mental health contributes immensely to your ability to form and maintain close bonds with others. The symptoms of many mental health conditions inhibit people from creating or sustaining vital relationships, whether it be with a spouse, family members, or friends. Some mental health conditions can even put a road block in the way of attaining the basic skills necessary to form a relationship. But don’t despair, you can learn to have healthy relationships despite these challenges. Here’s some beginning tip on how to build healthy relationships: 

Tips on Building Healthy Relationships

  1. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff: Try not to be concerned about the small things. People with mental health issues (particularly depression) often focus on their faults. Seek to look at the big picture, including the things you are doing well! 
  2. Express Yourself:  Express your feelings; I cannot stress this enough! Keeping your feelings inside (whether good or bad) is never a great idea. Talk it out, release your thoughts, worries and concerns. Holding your emotions in will eventually cause bad feelings to accumulate and further damage your mental state and thus your relationships. 
  3. Take Care of Yourself: Yes, taking care of yourself is key in building a healthy relationship. Evaluate what you do for yourself in key areas such as physical, emotional, social, relational and spiritual and consider adjusting your self-care routine to include more time to nurture yourself. It would be tempting to nurture the relationship over yourself especially if you are feeling like the relationship is vulnerable because of your mental state. But the reverse is true. Taking care of yourself is the most important part of securing a healthy relationship. 

I hope you’ve found these tips helpful. If you re feeling stuck in your journey towards self-care and healthy relationships, feel free to call me at (440) 836-3186 for a free 15-minute phone consultation. I’d be happy to hear about what is happening and help direct you to the right person. If you are looking for help with codependency or relationship issues, you can read more about how I can help here



Top 5 Myths About Counseling, Therapy, Psychotherapy and Coaching in Cleveland

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The process of finding a counselor in Cleveland is hard and that is an understatement. Seems like getting the therapist to even call back is half the battle let alone making sure they can address your specific problem and be a good fit for you as a person. But maybe you’ve gotten past that point. You found a few therapists in Cleveland that seemed nice enough. You probably have a ton of questions-that is completely normal. I’m here to help you dispel some of the common myths about counseling, therapy, psychology and coaching in Cleveland.

Myth #1: A therapist is a therapist is a therapist
All therapists aren’t created equal. They have different educational paths, different clinical experiences and specialize in different topics and issues. It’s important to find a therapist that not only specializes in your specific issue but also is one you feel comfortable with as well. Check out this blog post on ideas or questions to ask a potential counselor or therapist in Cleveland.

Myth #2: The counselor will just sit and stare at meAlthough this might be true for some therapists, it’s not true for most them. Most therapists are trained to actively listen, reflect what you share and ask thoughtful and insightful questions.

Myth #3: The psychotherapist will give me advice or tell me what to do
Again, this might be true for some counselors but the majority are trained to not give advice or tell you what to do. Therapy is a process of self-discovery and figuring out the best options for your problem and the road blocks to the life you want.  The counselor is there to help you in that quest.

Myth #4: If I go to therapy, it means I’m crazy
Therapy is for everyone with any issue and any level of severity. If you have something you’d like to see improved, no matter how large or small, counseling is the place for you. Therapy means you want more out of life than you are experiencing now and that is entirely commendable.  

Myth #5: My problems aren’t that bad and the counselor will think I should just get over it There is no problem too small. Again, if it’s prohibiting you from getting the life you want, it’s worthy of seeking help. Rest assured the therapist won’t judge you and think your issue too trivial. If anything, they’ll think you are brave and courageous.

I hope this has been beneficial to you in dispelling the common myths related to finding a therapist, counselor, psychologist or coach in Cleveland. If you are still feeling perplexed, feel free to call me at (440) 836-3186 for a free 15-minute consultation. I’d be happy to hear about what is going on and connect you to the right person. If you are looking for help with codependency or relationship issues, you can read more about how I can help here.



What To Expect From Counseling, Therapy, Psychotherapy, and Coaching in Cleveland

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So, you have found a counselor in Cleveland and you’ve even scheduled your first appointment. But what should you expect from counseling, therapy, psychotherapy, and coaching In Cleveland.

I’m here to help you with fill in the blanks. Here are some of the things you can expect in your first appointment with a therapist, counselor, psychotherapist or psychologist in Cleveland:

How will my therapist know I’ve arrived: The first thing you can expect is that the therapist will greet you in the waiting room at the time of your appointment. It could be they may have asked you to come early to fill out forms and if that is the case, usually they are available to you in the lobby, maybe on a clipboard. The therapist may have a call light that usually has their name marked on it. It’s designed to let the therapist know you are waiting. Other times, like in my practice for example, there is no call light and I’ll greet you at your appointed time.

Informed consent or Consent for Services: The therapist will usually first go over what we call an informed consent or consent for services. Basically, this is a document you probably have signed, either electronically or on paper, that states all the policies and procedures around the therapist office. Things included might be what to do in case of an emergency, their cancellation policies, their duty to warn and protect as well as policies around payment for services including any insurance specifics. The therapist should also go over it with you in the first session but even if they don’t you need to ask questions if you don’t fully understand the content of the informed consent.   

Policies around payment: Some therapists collect their payment or any co-pay/co-insurance in the beginning of the session and some at end when they are scheduling your next appointment. Don’t be afraid to ask what they prefer and what forms of payment they accept.

Reason for referral: If you haven’t already talked to the therapist and indicated why you are seeking assistance, they will usually ask why you are needing counseling services now or they will want you to expand on what you had initially discussed in your phone consultation. It’s important to be thorough and honest with the therapist about what is going on so they best know how to help you.  

Symptoms and its impact on your daily life: If you are experiencing any symptoms like shortness of breath, uncontrollable crying, racing thoughts, etc., be sure to tell the therapist about all the symptoms you are experiencing. Also, therapists will be looking to understand how it is impacting your everyday life in areas like social, occupational/educational, daily activities, etc.


History: Next they might want to explore your history. This includes things like your family of origin, any history of trauma, educational history, occupational history and relationship history. They will want to know if you’ve been in counseling before and ask about your previous experience. Also, they’ll want to know about you medically because the integration of mind and body is important in mental health treatment. Some medical conditions can often be masked as mental health conditions. Again, make sure to give them as much history as you feel comfortable and ready but the more history the more they are able to create a treatment plan suited just for you.

 Treatment plans and goals: Now this may not happen until your next session but most therapist will formulate a treatment plan and treatment goals. This will include the frequency of treatment as well as target key areas you’d like to see an improvement on. This might be informally discussed at the end of the session or discussed in detail with a written plan. It should be co-created and something that is a living document of sorts.

Setting up your next session: Based upon the frequency of sessions conversation, you’re ready to schedule your next session. Some therapists make a specific day/time available for you every week and some schedule week-to-week. Ask them about their preference and relay your own as well.

Then breathe, you made it through your first session!

I hope this has been beneficial to you in finding the right counselor in Cleveland. If you are still feeling perplexed, feel free to call me at (440) 836-3186 for a free 15-minute consultation. I’d be happy to hear about what is going on and connect you to the right person. If you are looking for help with codependency or relationship issues, you can read more about how I can help here

How to Find a Counselor, Therapist or Psychologist in Cleveland

Finding a counselor, therapist or psychologist in Cleveland is a daunting task for so many reasons. So many questions to ask and things to consider – it’s a scary process and an important decision. One of the greatest hurdles alone is just figuring out where to look. There are actually many ways to find a therapist in Cleveland. Here’s where:

  • Ask a close and trusted friend or family member for a recommendation.  Chances are you have friends or family members who have had to utilize the services of a counselor, therapist or psychologist or at the very least, they know someone who knows someone. Sometimes the best referral is from personal experience so ask around and you might be pleasantly surprised.
  • Ask your primary care doctor. Your primary care doctor probably has an arsenal of known therapist, counselors and psychologist that they have referred to in the past. You aren’t the first one who seeks help for their depression, anxiety or other issues from their primary care doctor so you can count on the fact that they have referrals at their disposal.
  • Ask a therapist, counselor or psychologist. So, if you are lucky enough to know someone in your social circle who is a therapist, counselor or psychologist themselves, ask them if they were to go to see one, who would they go to and/or ask them who they admire and respect in their field.
  • Use a therapist, counselor or psychologist listing directory. There are several different directories listings available for you to peruse. Many of them have filtering options so you can narrow down exactly what you might be looking for in a therapist. Some popular ones and the ones I use are:;;
  • Using your health insurance to pay for counseling or therapy? If you plan to use your health insurance, look at your health provider’s online directory or give them a call. Your health insurance company will have a list of providers who take your health insurance. Many of them provide an online directory of sorts but you can also call the member services department and ask them for referrals. Again, most of these insurance provider directories have filtering options and member services can access the filtering options as well.
  • Call your local school or university. If you happen to be looking for a counselor, psychologist or therapist referral for your child including our big kids in college, seek out the school counselor and/or school counseling department for referrals. They will often maintain a resource list as well as may even have counselors on hand that can provide services in the school setting.
  • Google search. Yes, you can even do a good old google search. Type in the search field, “counselor, therapist, psychologist specializing in codependency in Cleveland”. Fill in the blank for whatever issue you might be seeking assistance with.

I hope this has been beneficial to you in finding the right counselor in Cleveland. If you are still feeling perplexed, feel free to call me at (440) 836-3186 for a free 15-minute consultation. I’d be happy to hear about what is going on and connect you to the right person. If you are looking for help with codependency or relationship issues, you can read more about how I can help here.