6 Topics a Marriage Counselor Will Discuss with You

Marriage Counselor In North Brooklyn

A marriage counselor in Brooklyn can help.

Before your first marriage counselor session, you may be wondering what the counselor will tell you or what you’ll discuss. No need to be anxious about it! Your counselor is trained in this type of situation and is there to help facilitate healthy communication between you and your partner.

If you’re still not convinced, here are a few things your marriage counselor will likely discuss with or tell you to do.

  1. Fighting

This may sound like a strange thing to discuss with your marriage counselor, as you’re probably thinking, “fighting is why we’re here in the first place!” But hear us out. Fighting/arguing in a relationship is very healthy, if it’s done the right way. Fighting should end with understanding of others thoughts and feelings, not resentment or anger. On the other hand, a lack of fighting can also be a sign of trouble as well. Indifference in a relationship is never a good thing.

  1. Growth

Believe it or not, growth in a relationship continues for both parties. People can find themselves surprised that a spouse or significant other has developed beyond what they might have consciously noticed. Your marriage counselor may discuss if you’ve noticed growth or development in your spouse overtime. If you haven’t, that’s okay. Marriage counseling can help you begin to embrace the changes you see in your spouse, and in yourself.

  1. Enthusiasm

Remember the saying, “distance makes the heart grow fonder?” When you’ve been separated from your spouse, greeting him or her enthusiastically can be a great way to show you care. It might sound silly, but think about how you’d feel if after a separation your spouse seemed indifferent to your presence. Your marriage counselor may ask how you greet your spouse after a long absence. This could give him or her an indication of where the issues may lie.

  1. Appreciation

Saying “thank you,” is a simple way to show your appreciation for your spouse. Even when it comes to the “little” things, like your spouse DVRing your favorite show or remembering to tell you that it’s on, can go a very long way. In these instances, a simple “thank you” will show your spouse that you’re noticing the things he or she is doing for you. Your marriage counselor may address this subject, so try to be prepared with an example.

How A Marriage Counselor In North Brooklyn Can Help

At North Brooklyn Marriage and Family Therapy, marriage counseling is at the core of our expertise. Our trained and certified professionals are ready to assist you in getting your marriage back on track or just learning great techniques to  better communication in your marriage. Contact us today at our Williamsburg location to make your appointment.

What Are the Types of Treatment for PTSD?

Learn the best techniques in PTSD therapy

Fight PTSD with PTSD therapy

There are several PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) therapy treatments an individual can use to help manage and treat the symptoms of PTSD.  Some of the most common include the following.

Group therapy

Group therapy can help someone struggling with symptoms of PTSD feel as though they aren’t along in their fight to get well. According to TraumaCenter.org, “There is often a felt sense that ‘nobody understands’ and a group can help you to feel less alienated, normalizing your reactions to an abnormal event.”


People are often very leery of about medication, feeling it signifies that they are “crazy” or out of control. This is, of course, not the case and many people take medication for varying lengths of time following particularly stressful life events. PTSD symptoms can be treated with medications, but many experts also recommend some type of therapy to coincide with the drug treatment.

Behavioral or cognitive therapy

Behavioral or cognitive therapy looks at ways in which a person thinks about a problem, their learned responses to certain triggers associated with that problem and ways in which their thinking affects their emotional state. Symptoms of PTSD can be managed using this technique. However, make sure a licensed and trained professional is providing this treatment.

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)

According to TraumaCenter.org, “this treatment modality uses exposure to the traumatic memory paired with ‘bilateral stimulation’ of the brain by tracking the therapist’s finger or string of lights with the eyes or listening to alternating tones.” Current thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and beliefs can be activated with this technique. Therefore, the tracking helps to reduce emotional and physiological reaction to the memory.

Before you make a final decision about a therapist to assist you with PTSD, consider asking the following questions:

  • What is your formal training background?
  • What specific training have you had in the area of trauma?
  • How long have you been doing this work and with how many people?
  • What is your treatment philosophy and approach (methods)?
  • How will we know when we are finished?

Let North Brooklyn help

At North Brooklyn Marriage and Family Therapy, the symptoms of PTSD are no match for our licensed therapists and counselors. They can provide you with the right techniques to treat your worst PTSD symptoms and help you get back to living the life you’ve always wanted. Contact us today to set your appointment.

4 Tips for Reducing Stress and When to Seek Stress Counseling

Visit our clinic for stress counseling

What can cause stress and how do you avoid it?

Stress is everywhere and is caused by many things. The idea that we can avoid stress altogether is nice, but not realistic. In fact, you need a certain level of healthy stress in order to keep you competitive and drive your actions in a positive way. According to experts, stress is a burst of energy that basically advises you on what to do. In small doses, stress has many advantages. This is “good” stress. On the other hand, “bad” stress can cause your appetite to change, body aches, the inability to concentrate, etc.

Some everyday situations that can cause “bad” stress include:

  • Working in a high stress environment
  • Financial worries
  • Family responsibilities
  • Being over-competitive
  • Having high expectations of self

How can you reduce stress?

Therapy such as stress counseling allows you to learn techniques that can help you reduce or avoid the unhealthy stress in your life so you can be more productive in your everyday life.

Before you consult with a professional, however, it may be helpful to use the following tips to manage or reduce stress.

  • Get organized

Decluttering your life is a great way to help deal with stress. Plan, schedule, take notes, and keep good files. Make lists. Organizing reduces stress. Find the scheduling method that works best for you.

  • Learn/Practice acceptance

Accepting the actions of others and situations that you can’t change will help relieve some stress. Coming to terms with certain circumstances or decisions you’ve made will help to ease your mind and lower your level of stress.

  • Focus on goals

Focusing your mind on positive things, such as goals you’ve accomplished at work or even your loved ones’ accomplishments, can help take your mind off stress.

  • Just say, “no!”

Sometimes, it’s easier to just agree with something and move on. However, if saying “yes” causes you undue stress, saying “no” is always the right way to go.

When do you need to seek a professional stress counselor?

If the following tips weren’t enough to assist you in reducing your stress, it may be time you seek stress counseling. Here are a few signs that you need to reach out to a professional for stress management.

  • Stress is interrupting daily life
  • Stress is causing conflict within your important relationships
  • Stress is affecting your physical health
  • Stress is causing you to cope in unhealthy ways or with unhealthy habits (i.e., drinking excessively or smoking)

How can North Brooklyn help?

At North Brooklyn Marriage and Family Therapy, our licensed and certified professionals are trained to help you manage your everyday stress. The counselors at our Williamsburg location want to provide you with support and show you techniques that can allow you to overcome stress in any situation. Please contact us today and find out how we can help.

Tips to Help Build a Better Relationship

Couples Therapy – Build a Better Relationship

Build a Better Relationship with Couples Therapy

Hectic schedules and people’s difficulty with saying “no” to accepting new tasks often results in little down time and scarce attention to surface-level actions that help relationships thrive. Take the ideas below with a grain of a salt and ask yourself if they’re practical for you and your partner before jumping into them to build a better relationship.

Below are a few ideas for couples who are looking for new ways to build trust, consistency and a deeper admiration for their partner. Exploring these, and many more factors, allow couples to appreciate each other’s differences and create deeper significance for the future of their relationship. Furthermore, each idea includes a tip on how to maintain consistency by using a digital calendar.

Note About Digital Calendars

Digital calendars, aka iCal, Google Calendar, or your favorite calendar app are great tools to help increase productivity, give your memory a break and provide added structure to your life. Non-digital calendars offer similar benefits with more obvious downside. However, using a digital calendar to remind you to do something for your partner is much different than automating an action to offload that responsibility using digital calendar. None of your actions should ever be automated to your partner. No automated “I love you” text messages, no automated “happy anniversary” emails, no automated monthly flower deliveries to your partner’s office. Automation removes any sense of authenticity and significance in the relationship and is most likely masking a deeper insecurity or fear of engagement.

Attention to Compliments

Go to your partner and share with them something positive they did in the past day, week or month. Express how the act made you feel. Set an intention of not expecting anything in return. Just say it and let it be. Ideally, you’ll point something out that surprises him or her leading to healthy conversation. Be prepared to learn how your partner responds to a compliment. He or she may deflect it, accept it, minimize it, etc. A negative reaction to a compliment is not a reflection of your action.

The key is to learn what your partner likes and listen to your partner if the compliment isn’t received well. Couples who engage in selfless compliments (as opposed to compliments that often have a hidden agenda) on a fairly regular basis have an incredibly strong advantage over couples who don’t. Just like learning any new skill, it takes a combination of practice and an optimistic and curious mindset towards the obstacles that can get in the way.

Calendar tip: The difficult part is identifying the positive act and remembering it so set a weekly reminder to practice this skill and if you identify a positive act, note in within the calendar reminder.


Set reminders to give your partner a gift. A gift doesn’t have to involve a monetary purchase. A gift could be as simple as posting a positive message on the fridge for your partner to find. If you’re into creating gifts for your partner, put the reminder on the calendar months in advance. If your style of gift giving often involves purchases, save the link to that item in a calendar reminded for a specific date, milestone or not. Again, a simple idea that many couples often forget to do because life is “too busy”.

Calendar Tip: Set a recurring reminder to yourself to gift something to your partner. Create a list of a few things to choose from and replace those ideas when you feel they’re getting old — unless your partner is totally into it.

Learn from your Partner

Many of us have skills worth sharing. Admiration for your partner’s skill is a strong indicator of a healthy relationship and for many couples, having that admiration for each other is satisfying enough. Asking your partner to teach you their skill not only provides a rewarding experience but may present you with a totally new perspective of your partner. When one partner becomes the teacher and the other becomes the student, there is a great deal of vulnerability and trust happening that requires healthy communication to not turn a learning experience into a competitive and raging argument. Sound familiar?

The important factor here is to set a positive intention going into the learning experience. If you’re not properly equipped with conflict management skills and you and your partner often have clashing egos, this idea may not be a good place to start. Strong indicators of success for this type of activity are ending the day without letting your ego get the best of you, not turning the activity into an unhealthy argument, and most important, communicating to your partner that you are able and willing to set aside time for something he or she is interested in.

Calendar Tip: Schedule a date night or day dedicated to being your partner’s student. Be creative with it and tell your ego to go for a walk.

Mystery Trips

Mystery Trips require a great deal of trust. Simply put, a mystery trip involves one partner planning a vacation or small getaway unbeknownst to the other partner. The partner who doesn’t know the details may be surprised when the plane lands, or after a long drive or even just a full day out around town. Yes, there are many difficulties in a plan like this, which is what can make it fun for a couple. Does this sound terrifying to you? It could be worth exploring for personal reasons let alone relational trust. If it’s an annual vacation, for example, partners would switch roles annually.

Calendar Tip: Not much here besides the obvious scheduling of the trip. The only thing you need to clear with your partner is the date(s) of the trip. As a side note, be sure to mask any indicators of where you’re going and what you’re doing from your email, mail, etc. This may be one of the few things OK to hide from your partner!

How We Can Help

Not all couples may be ready to delve into these ideas, which is why we’re here. At North Brooklyn Marriage and Family Therapy, we work with you and your partner to understand each other’s relational dynamics, family of origin and intrapersonal agendas. Our goal is for you to have a better relationship with your spouse. Learn more about us and how we can help, or contact us today to make an appointment.

Premarital Counseling and Workshops: Are They for You?

Premarital Counseling

Join us at our premarital counseling workshops.

What is premarital counseling and workshops?

Premarital counseling is a process that benefits all couples and we encourage and welcome every to participate—of varying ages, same and different gendered couples, and multi-cultural, interracial and interfaith couples.

Our premarital workshop is grounded in group instruction and will provide tools in:

  • conflict resolution
  • building communication skills
  • navigating discussions around
  •  finances
  •  sexuality
  • future visioning
  • other topics related to the preparation for marriage


Why attend a premarital workshop?

This is a great way to connect intimately with your partner while enjoying the benefits of group work. At its best, a premarital group feels like a circle of supportive peers, gathering to compare notes and share ideas.

What are the benefits of a premarital workshop?

Listening to the experiences of other couples as they, too, approach marriage often provokes a sense of recognition, relief, and a great deal of head nodding and laughing.  It can be helpful to know that you are not alone in feeling challenged by the emotional and organizational gauntlet of wedding planning. We will openly address the unique concerns of those couples present, though the session is fairly teaching oriented.

How many sessions do I attend and how long do they last?

These one-time courses are especially convenient for couples who prefer to distill their premarital work because of time constraints or test the waters for the possibility of pursuing more in-depth exploration through private premarital sessions. Sessions are five hours long, including a lunch break, and are typically scheduled on weekends.

How do I register and when do sessions start?

The groups are facilitated by North Brooklyn Marriage and Family’s Clinical Director, Christina Curtis, MA, LMFT. She is a Prepare/Enrich certified facilitator and a couples therapist with 25 years’ experience in the field of marriage and family therapy.


This workshop will take place on April 9 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Please call 718-785-9718 or email info@northbrooklynmft.com to register.

Characteristics of Separation Anxiety in Adults

Separation anxiety in adults

For the most part, everyone has heard of the term separation anxiety. And for the majority of those who have, they’re likely to associate the term with children or animals.

In children, separation anxiety can manifest very early on and can be felt by both child and parent. For example, separation anxiety can occur when a child begins daycare for the first time and experiences distress when detached from a primary caregiver. When it comes to adults (who don’t have children), we usually don’t hear too much about separation anxiety, but it still exists.

So, what are the signs of separation anxiety and how can they be addressed?


How can separation anxiety be addressed?


Common characteristics of separation anxiety

Distress when attached from a specific person or thing.

This is the most common characteristic people associate with separation anxiety. We all know the feeling of missing someone or something when we’re separated from him/her or it. In separation anxiety, the feeling can be overwhelming and may impede on everyday life and routines.

Excessive worry about losing this person or thing.

Worry and stress are parts of life. Excessively worrying about losing someone or something can be debilitating, causing the person to go into depression and not function as he or she normally would. In this case, it’s important to seek help from a professional and learn coping techniques.

Anxious, “worst case scenario” thinking about separation.

We all have a tendency to think of the “worst case scenario” when it comes to something we really want. Usually, this is a defense mechanism to help protect our own feelings if that particular thing doesn’t work out as planned. For people who experience separation anxiety, the “worst case scenario” can put strain on the person and make it difficult to disconnect from the someone or thing he or she is worried about being separated from.

Trouble sleeping when away from a specific person or thing.

Insomnia can set in with people who experiences separation anxiety. When a person is so worried about being separated from someone or something, it can make it difficult to relax or to “shut off” the brain when the worst case scenario replays itself over and over.

Physical complaints when separation appears eminent.

It’s likely that we’ve all been guilty, at least once in our lives, of fabricating an illness when we don’t want to engage in a specific activity, go someplace or see someone. When someone experiences separation anxiety, manipulating a situation with a faux illness to keep someone from disconnecting from you is a tell-tale sign of a deeper issue.

How we can help

At North Brooklyn Marriage and Family Therapy, we have trained professionals ready to help you tackle your separation anxiety. They can provide you with the necessary tools to live a life free of debilitating anxiety and worry. Contact us today, and make an appointment at our Williamsburg location.

How to Communicate So People Will Really Listen – Part Two

Communication Skills

Communication skills are important in a relationship

From Nonviolent Communication by Marshal B. Rosenberg

Positive vs. Negative Requests

People are more likely to respond positively to a positive request and more likely to respond negatively to a negative request. We have all heard the axiom about saying “don’t look down,” right? It’s the best way to get someone to look down, telling them what not to do. And yet, many of us make requests of our partners, coworkers, children, family and friends in much the same way—leaving us angry, sad or depressed when they do not do as we ask. Enter frustration when we have asked multiple times.

Misconstruing or Misinterpreting a Request

Often, when we request something from someone by saying what we don’t want them to do, we are not being as clear as we think. For example, Partner A might want Partner B to spend more time with him or her. Partner A might say to Partner B, “I don’t want you to spend so much time at work.” Partner B might respond by signing up for the painting classes he or she has always wanted to try. Has Partner B ignored Partner A’s request? No. Partner B is spending less time at work, as asked.

The Consequence of Misreading a Request

Partner A might have thought it was obvious that he or she was asking Partner B to spend more time together, but why? B could have interpreted A’s request to not spend so much time at work as concern that B has been working too hard. So, while Partner B has walked away feeling cared about by A, A is feeling frustrated and disappointed with B for not listening. A might even take B’s response as a way of showing that B he does not want to spend any time with A. Things escalate when A retaliates by giving B the silent treatment for days before yelling at B for not caring about the relationship. B, confused and frustrated by A’s irrational behavior retreats back to overworking.

How to Avoid Misreading Requests

Who is at fault? Well, it would be easy to place blame on either, but each partner has responded to the situation before them logically, although reactively. Imagine how things might have gone if A had made a positive request (asking for what he or she does want) instead of a negative one (asking for what he or she does not want). Partner A might say, “I would like you to come home earlier on Fridays so we can spend time together.” Then Partner B would know exactly what is being asked of him. He may or me not be able to give A what they want, but an exchange started with a positive request lessens the possibility for misinterpretation, disappointment, and frustration.

B might say, “Well, I am working on a major project right now so that is not really possible right now. But if you’d like to spend more time together, maybe we can schedule a special date for next Saturday—I’ll be done with the project by then.” Because B could easily understand what A was asking for, B could respond clearly and honestly. A might not have gotten what was initially asked for, but they were assured of a time when they would.

Let North Brooklyn Marriage and Family Therapy Help

Miscommunication happens to everyone, but it doesn’t have to ruin a good relationship. If you’re having issues effectively communicating with your partner, make an appointment at our Williamsburg or Greenpoint location. Our licensed therapists can teach you better communicating techniques to help your relationship be more open and harmonious.

How to Communicate So People Will Really Listen

Communication Skills


Get counseling if your communication skills need work in your relationship


From Nonviolent Communication by Marshal B. Rosenberg

Many people begin individual and couple’s therapy citing “bad communication” as a problem. There are hundreds of books, usually self-help books, that talk about communicating better with your partner. Pulling together some of the useful advice from noted therapists, writers, and researchers, “How to Communicate So People Will Really Listen” blog entries can help you understand the ways you are already communicating and how to do so more effectively.

Requests vs. Demands

Do you know the difference between a request and a demand? Most of us don’t. However, it is important to make the distinction as long as we want others to respond to what we ask of them with compassion—and who doesn’t want that? When people feel that something is being demanded of them, they are more likely to respond by either protesting or acquiescing. It seems clear that we wouldn’t want people to protest when we ask something of them, but we also might want to think twice about what it means for them to acquiesce. The dictionary definition of acquiesce is “to accept something reluctantly but without protest.” This means that even though the person is giving in to your demand, they are doing so begrudgingly. Would you like to be around someone who makes you feel like that?

Decipher a Request from a Demand

So, how can you tell the difference between a request and a demand? Well, it really has to do with whether the person being asked feels blamed or punished when they do not comply. Another way to see it is, you can tell if it’s a request or demand by how you react when the person you asked doesn’t do what you want.

A Demand Looks Like This

For instance, Partner A says to Partner B, “I wish you wouldn’t go out tonight. I’ve had a rough day and would like your company.” Is that a request or a demand? Well, we might not know yet. Partner B might say, “I’d love to keep you company tonight, but I’ve been looking forward to this night for weeks. What do you say to hanging in tomorrow all day?” Here is where we find out if it was a request or demand. If Partner A says “Fine. Forget it. I should have known you’d ditch me when I really needed you. And after all I’ve done for you, you can’t do one thing for me!” That is a response that is meant to make Partner B feel guilty. That’s a demand. Now, whether B decides to go or stay, imagine how they are going to feel toward A.

A Request Looks Like This

A request looks like Partner A showing empathy toward Partner B: “Oh, that’s right. You have been talking about tonight for a while now. Would you be willing to give me a call when you get in?” Not only is A being empathetic to B’s feelings, they are reinforcing this as a request (not a demand) by asking if B is willing to make a small compromise.

Making a request doesn’t mean that you give up when the person says “no.” It also doesn’t mean that you were unsuccessful at requesting if they ultimately do not comply. It simply means that you show the person that you understand and empathize with what is keeping them from saying “yes.” This way of communicating, nonviolent communication, is not about changing other people so they do what we want. It is about building a feeling of trust and empathy, a strong foundation for any relationship.

At North Brooklyn Family & Marriage, your therapist can even help you find ways to apply, strengthen, and master your communication skills. Please contact us, and set up your appointment today.



False Expectations That Might Be Ruining Your Relationship

Couples Therapy

Couples therapy

  1. Things Must Always Be Fair/Equal

I’m sure you’ve heard that “life is not fair.” Well, sometimes relationships aren’t exactly fair all the time, either. There may be times when your partner needs to lean on your strength and resources more, and you may not find that you get “paid back.” And while you definitely deserve appreciation for your efforts, you might discover that what is making you unhappy with your partner is that you are keeping score.

  1. It Is My Partner’s Job to Make Me Happy

That’s your job. Ask yourself if you’re blaming your partner for your problems and hoping that he or she will do something different. If so, you’re focusing your energy in the wrong place. You can only control yourself and the things you do. If you keep telling, yelling, begging or wishing that your partner will do something different, you’re spitting into the wind. Try asking yourself, “how am I responsible for the situation I am in and what can I do to change it?”

  1. We Must Always Agree/Never Fight or If My Partner Upsets Me, He or She Doesn’t Love Me or If I Am Upset With My Partner, I Don’t Love Him or Her

Couples are always surprised when I tell them that even the happiest couples argue. If you spend a long time with someone, you’re bound to disagree, annoy, and even hurt each other’s feelings from time to time. You are, after all, two separate people from separate families with separate minds! So, you’re going to bump heads. Whether or not you argue isn’t really that important, it’s how you repair the relationship afterward that matters. Strength isn’t found in the easy times, the strength of your relationship can be built when you can disagree and argue and still feel and show love for each other.

  1. The Relationship Should Always Feel Good or Things Should Be Easy

It isn’t unusual for couples to go through periods of being happy and excited with each other, annoyed by each other, angry at each other, and, most of the time, content. Early on, couples tend to have a joyous honeymoon period, but that goes away over time. This is normal. Something can only be new for so long before it loses its novelty. Many couples are distressed because “things are not like they were before.” This can seem disheartening at first blush, but think of all the good things you could be doing and learning here and now. Sometimes partners are fighting for that old feeling when it’s really time to discover the people you are and the relationship you have now.

  1. We Must Always Have/Enjoy Sex

Movies and TV have done a lot to ruin our expectations of love, dating, and, especially, sex. Many couples spend a lot of energy fretting about how much or little sex they are having (compared to whom?) and how sexy or enjoyable that sex is. The fact is, sex is awkward sometimes. Also, you have a life outside the bedroom and it doesn’t always stay the same. More stress and obligations can sometimes mean less time and desire for sex. That’s okay. The worst thing you could do for it is panic. However, that is not to say that there couldn’t be a physical explanation for low desire: inability to get erection or maintain arousal, or pain during sex. It’s always wise to consult a physician before worrying too much (try and worry just enough to get you to the doctor’s office). Once you have some answers there, you can decide whether you want to seek couples/sex therapy.

At North Brooklyn Marriage & Family Therapy, our certified and seasoned therapists are ready and able to assist you and your partner in your relationship. To set up an appointment, contact us today.

What Are The Three Types Of Sex?

Defining Sex

“Sex” can be difficult to define. Most often, when we refer to sex in this society, we are talking about penetrative sexual intercourse. But sex can include other acts as well including oral sex and foreplay. Foreplay itself can range in definition, depending upon who you ask and can range from the kissing and touching of erogenous zones to laying around in bed together before, between, or after a sex act(s)— laughing, snacking, etc.

The science of attachment theory has shown us that there are three kinds of sex. Dr. Sue Johnson, in her book Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love, describes these kinds of sex and dispels some of the myths about sex—“good” sex—that many of us have come to believe. Myths like: sex is always best at the beginning of a relationship, it is always “good” and effortless between partners that really love one another, that “good” sex means both partners have an orgasm, and that sex happens between people who have a lot of love or a lot of chemistry. Maybe you can think of more!

Surveys have shown that people have reported their best sex when in a long-term relationship in which they speak openly and honestly about their sex life and are willing to do the work it can take to improve and build upon the sex they are having (or not having). These couples understand that sexual desire ebbs and flows over the course of a relationship, and they do not define the health or quality of their relationship by this natural cycle.

The following types of sex are common and “natural,” and we may have experienced one or all three at some point in our lives. These descriptors are not meant to be critical or judgmental of any one particular type—whatever kind of sex you are having, there are perfectly reasonable circumstances that have led you there. There is no “bad” or “good” type. However, in becoming aware of the kind of sex you are having, you may find that you would like to either continue having that kind of sex, or try and find a way to have a different kind. Therapy is one effective way of building upon that awareness and creating the change you want to see.

Solace Sex

Solace Sex is a reassurance seeking sex. When a person is having this type of sex, they are hoping to be assured by their partner that they are desirable and valuable. The main emotion driving Solace Sex is anxiety. Dr. Johnson quotes a patient, Mandy, who says: “Sex with Frank is okay. But to be truthful, it’s the cuddling I really want. And the reassurance. It’s like sex is a test, and if he desires me, then I feel safe. Of course, if he ever isn’t horny, then I take it real personally and get scared.” If this sounds familiar to you, you may be engaging in this type of sex.

This kind of sex has the benefit of helping to keep a relationship secure (seemingly) for a while. A drawback is that it can feed into patterns of anxiety maintenance and exacerbation. The main object of this type of sex is to please your partner through your sexual performance so they can reassure you, through their sexual response, that you are loved and your relationship is good. Or it can show up in the form of becoming sexually demanding—requiring frequent or performative sex that can sometimes have the opposite of the desired effect and causing your partner to desire sex less or even avoid it.

Ironically, with this type of sex, a person is more susceptible to being hurt. If the partner does not feel in the mood for sex or perhaps doesn’t orgasm, for whatever reason, the anxious person is likely to take this as a personal rejection and/or a sign of something wrong (with him or herself or the relationship as a whole).

Sealed-Off Sex

This type of sex is common among people who have never learned to trust another person enough to become emotionally close or among people who feel insecure in/about their relationship. The focus is on self-assurance through stellar sexual performance and achieving orgasm. Here, the person remains emotionally aloof while maintaining a singular aim of arousal and orgasm. Emotionally connective acts like kissing or cuddling are usually avoided. In long-term relationships, this sex can seem mechanical.

This kind of sex is perfectly fine for a one-night stand or brief tryst. However, this kind of sex is very damaging to a long-term romantic partnership. The partner may often wind up feeling used and, in fact, there may be many partners. In order to maintain distance and passion at the same time, the novelty of a new partner can become necessary.

Synchrony Sex

This type of sex can occur when we are feeling emotionally safe enough to express our needs, communicate openly, be playful, curious, engaged, and relaxed during sex. It is during this type of sex that partners can be more in synch, being in tune with and responding to each other. These emotional traits also tend to exist outside of the sexual life as well.

This is not to say that partners who are having Synchrony Sex are always having “perfect” sex. Real-life sex can involve some awkwardness or a misalignment of desire, just like relationships outside of the bedroom can involve some disagreements.

Partners who feel secure emotionally with each other can feel safe enough to explore sexually and endure the differences and difficulties that arise over the course of a long-term relationship—again, both emotionally and sexually.

Movies and TV shows give the impression that sex is “easy” and that partners do not need to work at it or even talk about it. However, studies show that couples who speak openly and honestly about their needs and preferences have more engaged and satisfying sex. If you are looking to achieve (or regain) Synchronous Sex, which is most conducive for a long-term relationship, it will require some work. One way of getting help with that work is through therapy.

At North Brooklyn Marriage and Family Therapy, you will have the opportunity to work with licensed and certified therapists to explore what is working in your relationship. We can help you use those strengths to reinforce any areas that feel less secure so you can be on your way, together, to having the sex and love you desire.

6 Signs It’s Time to Visit a Marriage Counselor

Couples Therapy

A lot of people go into marriage believing it should be easy. While marriage shouldn’t exactly be an uphill battle constantly, it definitely takes a level of work. In order to help your relationship be more successful, both parties must be willing to serve in the best interest of the relationship. If only one partner is making all the effort, there’s a good chance of failure.


To cultivate success, some couples seek marriage counseling. Every couple may not need to seek a professional’s help, but it’s a good idea to recognize the warning signs of a marriage on the brink of self-destruction.

  1. Most communication is negative

No one likes to hear negative words spoken about them. This can affect emotional and mental states. In a relationship, if all the communication between spouses is mostly put-downs, pointless arguments, etc., then you may need a professional to mediate constructive conversations.

  1. Affection is withheld as punishment

Affection should never be used as a weapon or a form of punishment. This could be considered a form of` emotional abuse where one spouse manipulates a situation with the promise of affection or even sexual favors. That’s not to say all situations fall under this category. However, if you notice you are giving/being given ultimatums in exchange of affection, consider professional help.

  1. Your sex life shifts significantly

It’s not uncommon for sex to taper off over time. This is sometimes the natural progression of a relationship when other responsibilities interfere with the ability to find alone time. However, significant changes in the bedroom can signal an issue. Consequently, an increase in sex can also hint at marital challenges. This can point to one spouse trying to compensate for unfaithfulness or immoral behavior.

  1. You don’t feel attracted to your spouse

Physical attraction in a marriage is important and it can be a sign of compatibility and overall happiness. If you find yourself not attracted to your spouse or you notice that attraction seems to wane, you could be experiencing some problems. A lack of attraction to your spouse can also cause a major shift in your sex life or level of intimacy.

  1. You don’t respect each other’s opinions

Everyone wants to feel as though their opinion matters. You may not always agree with your spouse about a particular topic or situation, but there must be a level of respect when disagreeing. If you find yourself refraining from speaking your mind for fear that your spouse will ridicule you for your opinion, there is a problem. This can also mean you’ve lost a certain amount of trust in your spouse to divulge your inner most thoughts and feelings.

  1. Children pretend there isn’t fighting in the home

It may surprise you to learn that your children are more aware of strife in the home than you realize. Older children especially can be negatively affected by a crumbling marriage or constant fighting. If you notice your children overlooking fights or telling others his or her parents never fight, that could be a red flag.

It’s important to pay attention to the signs that your marriage may be in trouble. At North Brooklyn Marriage and Family Therapy, our master-level, state-licensed clinicians want to help you and your spouse build back your relationship. Contact us today and find out how marriage counseling can be beneficial for the health of your marriage.

What’s Your Story?

Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own unguarded thoughts.

– Buddha

We all have an inner dialogue that begins the moment we wake up in the morning and continues until the second we fall asleep at night. This conversation we have with ourselves assists us in organizing our day and making sense of the world. It often includes a running mental list of things we need to do, things we didn’t do, and things we could have done differently. Unfortunately, this internal commentary isn’t always helpful or kind, and for many, it ends up distorting our self-concept and view of the world. For example, if you criticize yourself for doing a less than perfect job or for not making it to the gym today, the meaning you attach to these thoughts may be “I’m not good enough” or “I’m a failure.”

Neurologist, Robert Burton’s research shows that our brains reward us with dopamine when we recognize and complete patterns, regardless of whether or not they’re correct or accurate. Burton explains, “Because we are compelled to make stories, we are often compelled to take incomplete stories and run with them. Even with a half story in our minds, we earn a dopamine ‘reward’ every time it helps us understand something in our world. It does not matter whether that explanation is incomplete or wrong.” So if we’re in the habit of thinking, “I’m not good enough,” “I’m unlovable,” or “bad things always happen to me,” this type of thinking may become integrated into our personal narrative. Ultimately, it can deter us from setting and achieving goals, rob us of our creativity, sabotage our interpersonal relationships, and cause us to doubt our abilities as professionals, partners, and parents. In extreme forms it can become so insidious that it manifests in debilitating depression or anxiety.

Reap the benefits of meditation.

Here are some ways you can combat negative self-talk:

Create awareness

Begin to notice how you are speaking to yourself and when you are engaging in negative self-talk. What is the story you tell yourself? Maybe it’s that you’re not good enough or you’re unlovable? Challenge this thinking by reminding yourself that thoughts are not truths and replace them with positive affirmations. Some examples are: I am lovable, I deserve to be happy, I am good enough, I work hard, I am beautiful. Even if you have a hard time embracing this new thinking, fake it ’til you make it. Research shows that changing your behavior first can create a shift in your thinking.

Start a meditation practice

Meditation and mindfulness techniques will help you to detach from your thoughts in order to create space for a healthier self dialogue. If you are new to meditation this may seem like a daunting task, but don’t get discouraged! You can reap the benefits by practicing just a few minutes a day. Try downloading a meditation app or attending a class to help you get started.

Practice gratitude

If you often find yourself focusing on the negative or what’s wrong in your life, it might be time to introduce some gratitude into the mix. Start to think about what you are appreciative of. Perhaps it’s something beautiful that you saw or something that brought a smile to your face, like a kind gesture by a friend, lover, or stranger. People who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they’re thankful for experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems. Try writing a gratitude list in the morning or before you go to bed. It’s amazing what a little perspective can do!

Limit exposure to social media and time spent on internet

We are constantly bombarded with messages from the internet to our inboxes,  reinforcing the idea that we are in some way deficient or not good enough as we are. As if that weren’t enough, how many moments of our day are we judging and comparing ourselves to others on social media based on our physical appearance, marriages, child-rearing, finances, and professions? With the constant judging and comparing, we strip away our ability to be loving and kind to ourselves, which creates more space for negative self-talk.

Get support

Talk to a professional who can guide you in the process of developing a healthier relationship with both yourself and others.

How Can Couples Best Manage An Argument?

The Four Horsemen

Often, skills learned and practiced in couple therapy seem near-impossible to perform when outside the therapy room. As two people ramp up in argument or disagreement, many factors have the potential of dictating whether or not the argument will be a healthy agree-to-disagree or an unhealthy explosive fight. A well-known relationship expert, coined these factors The Four Horsemen. These factors have more to do with how conflicts is managed as opposed to how much conflict there is in a relationship.

Couples therapy can help conflict in your relationship.


Dr. Gottman explains that a criticism “attacks the character of the person” while a complaint “focuses on a specific behavior”. The key factor that differentiates a criticism from a complaint is blame. If blame is non-existent and the person making the complaint expresses a specific needs based off the complaint, there is a high likelihood that the complaint will not put the other person on the defensive.


Becoming defensive signifies that one person in the argument or disagreement is attempting to protect themselves from the other person’s “perceived attack”. Defensiveness strays the couple off the path towards conflict resolution and can easily result in both people becoming defensive resulting in no resolution and a new “instance” for both people to bring up during a future potentially unhealthy argument. Dr. Gottman states the best remedy to prevent defensiveness is to accept responsibility, even if for the slightest part of the conflict.


Dr. Gottman states that contempt is the greatest predictor of divorce. When one person in a couple is speaking to the other person from a “relative position superiority”, it demonstrates a lack of appreciation and respect for the other person. Taking the time to learning and admire passions and interests of your partner can bring on a newly found appreciation for who your partner is as an individual, leading to a more fulfilling and joyful relationship.


Stonewalling is a term Dr. Gottman uses often to describe a person who is no longer present in conflict and has withdrawn from the interaction often leading to unhealthy thoughts as to why conflict resolution is so difficult within the relationship. The recommendation, as per Dr. Gottman’s extensive research on the matter, is for the person stonewalling to “self-soothe”; trying to read something, going for a walk, taking a shower, etc.

If any of these “Four Horsemen” exist in your relationship, a couple therapist is highly recommended to help you and your partner learn how to appropriately diffuse and prevent unhealthy arguments from repeating themselves. Conflict, even if frequent, is normal. How well a couple manages conflict is a crucial and often accurate indicator as to how whether or not the couple will feel happy and satisfied within their relationship or marriage.

3 Argument Styles in Your Relationship

Couples Therapy

We will help you improve your argument style.


Chances are, if you are in a long-term relationship, you began your relationship feeling a mutual attraction and something of a bond. Over time, most couples experience alternating periods of conflict and harmony. Sometimes, you may recognize that your disagreements tend to follow a similar pattern—maybe you even find yourself saying “Oh, not this again!” Arguments will happen, and negative thoughts are not indicative of something wrong in your relationship. What matters is how you repair the inevitable wounds of conflict and maintain the security of the relationship.

Through therapy you can learn to recognize how your pattern is triggered and, using that awareness, work toward conflict that is less frequent, less intense, and that is shorter in duration.

The first step is to recognize your pattern/style.

Keep in mind, these patterns, cycles, or dances may reflect the usual style of conflict but can look like other cycles as well. Your dance may not always be the same, but you may recognize one or two that are typical for you.

  1. Protest —Withdraw to Keep Together

This pattern is most common. In this dance, one partner tends to pursue or provoke during conflict, while the other retreats—each behavior triggering the other to further pursue and further retreat in kind.

Some provoker/protester behaviors include:

  • Probing or poking
  • Complaining
  • Questioning
  • Confronting
  • Accusing
  • Attacking
  • Demanding

On the other hand, withdrawer behaviors include:

  • Reasoning
  • Appeasing
  • Defending
  • Placating
  • Clamming up
  • Accommodating
  • Smoothing things over
  1. Be Loud to be Heard

Partners in this category tend to respond to difficult feelings by reacting harshly to each other. Rather than sharing their fear or being vulnerable with each other, they become simultaneously defensive and offensive to obtain reassurance from their partner. Behaviors in this pattern include each partner yelling, demanding, complaining, and criticizing.

  1. Avoid Conflict at any Cost

In this cycle, each partner tends to avoid or withdraw (physically and/or emotionally) as a response to difficult or hurt feelings. If you are exhibiting this type of behavior, you may find that you try not to have difficult conversations or say what you are really thinking in order to avoid discomfort or disharmony in the relationship. While this may result in less arguments, the drawback is that you and your partner may feel unseen and unheard.

Remember, these styles feed on themselves. How someone deals with difficult emotions is both a reaction to a threat and a trigger for the other person. Couples therapy can help you, not to eliminate disagreements, but to learn from them in a way that strengthens your relationship.

 At North Brooklyn Marriage and Family Therapy, we will help you identify and improve your current argument style. Contact us today and discover how you can overcome any difficult conversation between you and your partner.



4 Facts About Counseling Psychology

What is Counseling Psychology?

Counseling psychology puts a strong focus on the individual health of a person. Unlike clinical psychology—which concentrates one the problems and difficulties some individuals face—counseling psychology is concerned with the choices, decisions, and plans that every individual must make.

Counseling psychology for your relationship.

Though this may seem like a new concept, counseling psychology has been around since the 1950s, and has been continuously evolving in that time. Here are some interesting things you may not know about counseling psychology.

#1 – There is a difference in counselors, therapists and psychologists

Counselors, therapists, and psychologists are different kinds of trained mental health professionals. Counselors often work in schools, at community health centers, on university or college campuses, and family planning clinics. Therapists, or psychotherapists, often work in private practices, alone or with a group of other professionals. Psychologists have doctorates in psychology (PhDs or PsyDs), have completed many supervised training hours, and are licensed by the state.

#2 – There are many different avenues counseling psychology can take

Counseling psychologist, you might find positions in university counseling centers, private and group practices, rehabilitation centers and crisis counseling centers. The study of psychology is good preparation for many professions. According to Icc.edu, related careers can be found in marketing research, special education, clergy and advertising. People with a bachelor’s level degree in counseling psychology typically work as assistants in rehabilitation centers, high school psychology teachers, administrative support, etc. At the master’s degree level, individuals typically work as psychological counselors or handle research and data collection and analysis in universities, government and private companies.

#3 – Counseling psychology focuses on many individual areas

It may surprise you, but counseling psychology can help people dealing with the following situations in life (per APA.com):

  • School and career/work adjustment concerns
  • Making decisions about career and work, and dealing with school‐work‐retirement transition
  • Relationship difficulties‐including marital and family difficulties
  • Learning and skill deficits
  • Stress management and coping with negative life events
  • Organizational problems
  • Dealing with and adjusting to physical disabilities, disease or injury
  • Personal/social adjustment
  • Development of one’s identity
  • Persistent difficulties with relating to other people in general
  • Mental disorders

#4 – There are several types of counseling psychology

What you may not have realized is that if you’re been attending counseling sessions, you’re participating in a form of counseling psychology. Some of the most common types of counseling psychology include:

  • Marriage and family counseling
  • Guidance and career counseling
  • Rehabilitation counseling
  • Mental health counseling
  • Substance abuse counseling
  • Educational Counseling

What you may not have realized is counseling psychology is being used in may therapy and counseling sessions without your awareness. At North Brooklyn Marriage & Family Therapy, our trained counselors and therapists use counseling psychology to dive deep and find out about the individual. We want to help you rediscover your emotional and mental health. Contact us today and let us assist you in being more confident in the choices and plans you make throughout the rest of your life.

4 Ways to Bring Mindfulness into Your Life and Relationship

Mindfulness is “the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something”.

We often fall into the trap of being on autopilot, especially in this city. We wake up, go to work, take care of our families, come home, and do it all over again. We get stuck in doing the routine and this leads to disconnecting. To bring mindfulness back into your life and your relationship brings you back to the present and allows you to connect with your day to day and those around you.

Bring mindfulness into your life.


How to start to bring mindfulness into your life:

Bring awareness to your day.

  • Start to notice what you see, hear, smell, and touch. This can be as simple as putting your phone away and looking around on your commute to work. Are you noticing your surroundings? Do you notice the Christmas lights on the street, the sounds of the subway, how massive the buildings are around you?
  • Start to notice how you are feeling throughout the day. Remember that feelings are fluid and you can have many throughout the day and many at the same time. Be aware of how you feel and give it a name. Learn to tell yourself “I am feeling happy, sad, excited, nervous, bored, etc.” in the moment that you are feeling it.

Be present.

  • Focus in on your surroundings. We often have a mental checklist we are running through our heads all day. This consumes us of worries, reminders, and responsibilities that is taking away from the present moment. As we continue to live in our heads we become more disconnected from the loved ones around us.
  • Make a point to connect with each loved one when you come home from the day. This is as simple as giving your spouse a meaningful kiss hello or having a special snack time with your child.

Use your breath.

  • When emotions become overwhelming or “take over” you are often unable to express yourself and connect to your partner. Learn breathing techniques to give yourself moments to get back to being mindful and present.
  • Check out this 5-minute mindful breathing exercise.
    • http://www.mindful.org/a-five-minute-breathing-meditation/

Communicate with your partner.

  • As you become more mindful of your emotions and are able to have a handle on them, allow your partner to know about them in detail. Blanket statements such as “I’m just so frustrated” or “I can’t stand you right now” relay a feeling but not one your partner can connect to. Work on explaining to your partner when your feeling began, how it got more powerful, and how you are feeling presently. Slowing it down and explaining in detail allows your partner to understand and connect to your journey.
  • Be present to your partner when they are talking to you. This allows your partner to feel that they matter to you and that you are interested in connecting with them.
  • Use mirroring, validation, and empathy.

Remember that mindfulness is a practice so be kind to yourself as you build up your practice. It may be frustrating if you are not able to achieve the level of mindfulness you want right away but continue to work at it daily and you will begin to notice the benefits.

Post-Election Anxiety Group

A Safe Place For Discussion

Given the polarized nature of this past election cycle, it makes sense that tensions are still running high. Regardless of political affiliations, this election has had people feeling stressed, agitated, angered, and exhausted. For some, the results were a seen as a joyous occasion, a welcome change from the status quo; for others there are feelings of helplessness, fear for how the new administration could impact their lives, and a profound sense of loss. This election was deeply personal for many- there was an apparent shift from typical policy differences to a discussion about values and identity; whether certain groups of people have a place in this country or not. For many, these intense emotions have caused strains on relationships. People find themselves arguing or distancing themselves from friends, family members, or significant others. The election may be over but the fears and anxieties people are experiencing are still very present. But now we are all faced with a question- what do we now? How do we channel these emotions toward constructive and positive causes instead of getting swept up in fear, anger, or hate?

We offer a safe space for post election anxieties.

Some pieces of advice:

1. Be present: It is important to understand that your feelings are valid, instead of fighting against them. Allow yourself to feel the anger, anxiety, or fear. People often hear phrases like “everything will be fine” or “it will all work out”. While they may be well intentioned, those comments can make people feel worse- unknowingly invalidating the legitimate feelings of others because there are many who worry that everything will not be fine. Instead, make room for pain or anger so that you can understand what those emotions mean to you and where they stem from; utilize this understanding as a motivating force to gain control, take action, or begin the process of healing.
2. Take Action: This post-election anxiety is a feeling of dread that is fueled by uncertainty. To combat the fear of the unknown it is helpful to take action, however small, to effect change in your communities. Become educated about causes that you care about, find out how you can get involved in local causes or larger scale organizations. Taking a proactive stance will diminish feelings of helplessness and allow you to take back a sense of control.
3. Remain Engaged: Approach the world with a curious mind. Don’t allow yourself to succumb to hatred. Instead of writing off those who have different view points, ask questions. We all live together in this society; it is important to resist the urge to shut people out. Talk to one another, ask questions, explore possibilities. Compassion and desire to understand one another will take you farther than isolation.

Remember, the emotions evoked from this election are complex and real. It will take time to understand what the results mean to you and how you can exercise a sense of control in the community around you. Here at North Brooklyn Marriage and Family Therapy, we recognize the need for people to work through these emotions, to have a safe place to discuss these pressing matters. Therefore, we will be holding a Post-Election Anxiety group each week starting Saturday, January 21st from 4:30pm to 5:30pm to provide a place for people to discuss their concerns or anxieties that have developed from this election. $20 suggested donation. RSVP to marc@northbrooklynmft.com.

Post Election Anxiety Group

posted in: Anxiety, Counseling, Counselors | 0

A Safe Place For Discussion

Given the polarized nature of this past election cycle, it makes sense that tensions are still running high. Regardless of political affiliations, this election has had people feeling stressed, agitated, angered, and exhausted. For some, the results were a seen as a joyous occasion, a welcome change from the status quo; for others there are feelings of helplessness, fear for how the new administration could impact their lives, and a profound sense of loss. This election was deeply personal for many- there was an apparent shift from typical policy differences to a discussion about values and identity; whether certain groups of people have a place in this country or not. For many, these intense emotions have caused strains on relationships. People find themselves arguing or distancing themselves from friends, family members, or significant others. The election may be over but the fears and anxieties people are experiencing are still very present. But now we are all faced with a question- what do we now? How do we channel these emotions toward constructive and positive causes instead of getting swept up in fear, anger, or hate?

We offer a safe space for post election anxieties.

Some pieces of advice:

1. Be present: It is important to understand that your feelings are valid, instead of fighting against them. Allow yourself to feel the anger, anxiety, or fear. People often hear phrases like “everything will be fine” or “it will all work out”. While they may be well intentioned, those comments can make people feel worse- unknowingly invalidating the legitimate feelings of others because there are many who worry that everything will not be fine. Instead, make room for pain or anger so that you can understand what those emotions mean to you and where they stem from; utilize this understanding as a motivating force to gain control, take action, or begin the process of healing.
2. Take Action: This post-election anxiety is a feeling of dread that is fueled by uncertainty. To combat the fear of the unknown it is helpful to take action, however small, to effect change in your communities. Become educated about causes that you care about, find out how you can get involved in local causes or larger scale organizations. Taking a proactive stance will diminish feelings of helplessness and allow you to take back a sense of control.
3. Remain Engaged: Approach the world with a curious mind. Don’t allow yourself to succumb to hatred. Instead of writing off those who have different view points, ask questions. We all live together in this society; it is important to resist the urge to shut people out. Talk to one another, ask questions, explore possibilities. Compassion and desire to understand one another will take you farther than isolation.

Remember, the emotions evoked from this election are complex and real. It will take time to understand what the results mean to you and how you can exercise a sense of control in the community around you. Here at North Brooklyn Marriage and Family Therapy, we recognize the need for people to work through these emotions, to have a safe place to discuss these pressing matters. Therefore, we will be holding a Post-Election Anxiety group each week starting Saturday, January 21st from 4:30pm to 5:30pm to provide a place for people to discuss their concerns or anxieties that have developed from this election. $20 suggested donation. RSVP to marc@northbrooklynmft.com.

5 Activities to Help Teens Cope with Anger

Anger Management Counseling

Anger is a real issue that many people have a problem controlling. Anger counseling is a great place to learn productive ways to handle anger. But for adolescence or teens, some of the techniques used in counseling may not be as effective as with adults because life experiences are significantly different.

Anger counseling can help your teen deal with issues better.

The are several activities or games that you can utilize when your teen isn’t attending anger management sessions. Make sure, though, to present these activities to the therapist first so as not to undermine or disrupt treatment plans.

  1. Angry Paper Toss

Many individuals have issues speaking aloud their anger or telling others what actually is causing the anger in the first place. Just as some people are more visual with their learning, anger can be presented in visual expression and some people, teens especially, are much more comfortable with this method. This activity can be used for any age group.

  1. Creating a Calm Down Box

Simply “calming down” isn’t an option for many teens who struggle with controlling their anger. But creating a Calm Down Box is great for encouraging younger children to calm down from a tantrum or occupy themselves while waiting for something (like lunch), or anytime they feel frustrated, angry, or sad. Everything in the Calm Down Box should represent a positive and acceptable means of managing emotions. Again, this activity is more useful for younger children, but can be effective for older children if in the box are items like electronics devices, books or board games.

  1. Deep Breathing Activities

While this activity doesn’t require any physical items, it is probably one of the most important anger management activities in which your teen can participate because deep breathing essentially “fools” your body into thinking it is in a calm state. Your teen’s anger counselor or therapist may include breathing exercises into their management plan. If this is the case, speak with your teen’s therapist to find out which breathing techniques he or she is utilizing and incorporate this activity at home to further enforce this the counselor’s overall plan.

  1. Angry Tornado

This anger management activity is more about teaching your teen about how anger works, as opposed to why it is caused and how to treat it. It is important to understand anger before it can be treated. This activity is about showing your teen how anger can build up inside a person. It also shows your teen that when he or she feels anger building up, he or she can enact the coping techniques learned during sessions.

  1. Board Game Challenge

Your child’s counselor or therapist may use this activity to break the ice and make your teen more comfortable during sessions. This can also be used at home as a technique to help your teen learn how to display good sportsmanship in the face of a competitive situation.

Remember, managing anger does not mean you suppress it. All the techniques discussed are about expressing anger or using techniques to calm your teen before an episode escalates to the point of no return. At North Brooklyn Marriage and Family Therapy, we can provide your teen with a licensed professional who will help him or her learn about anger and present useful techniques that will put your teen back in control. Contact us today to learn more and schedule your anger counseling session today.

4 Ways to Explain Family Therapy to Children

Family Therapy Services

Many families struggle with issues and sometimes, simply talking it out amongst individual members only serves to exacerbate an issue. Family therapy can serve families by using a third-party to listen, assess and present a plan that will lead members to communicate in a more constructive way so as to work through the problem. While other family members are more privy, if not directly involved in the immediate problem, younger family members may have difficulty understanding what is going on.

  1. Family therapy can help your children.

    Therapists help with feelings

For kids, therapy might seem a little scary: going to a strange place, to speak with a stranger about private issues. It’s important to tell kids that expressing their feelings is okay, regardless of how bad they might sound or if they may hurt another family member’s feelings. They may be feeling like they are root cause of all of their family’s problems. Children tend to internalize things and conclude—because the family as a whole is attending therapy sessions—people who love them really hate them. If your child has questions about family therapy, be sure to answer them open and honestly.

  1. Therapists will help every on in the family work together

When working with a family, it’s important to include the children and make sure they understand what’s happening. Children don’t exist in a vacuum and if a child is struggling then the parents surely are, too. Family therapy is meant to help everybody, which means helping the child be his or her best self and helping the parent be his best parenting self, too.

  1. Therapists will let the family set the pace

Many children attending family therapy sessions aren’t always forthcoming, because, they’re children. Being guarded with a new person—particularly a new person who’s been enlisted to help the child over a sensitive topic—is natural and appropriate. Playing games to help break the ice can definitely help introduce family therapy as a positive activity. During sessions, therapists don’t usually force communication in children or reluctant teens.

  1. Therapy is not a punishment

Allowing the family to set the pace during therapy is also another good way to let children included in therapy sessions understand that therapy is not a punishment. According to BuildingFamilyCouseling.com, “If children get the idea that seeing a counselor is one step away from being sent to juvenile detention it makes it awfully hard to build rapport. It goes back to #1 up there; if people believe that only screwed up people go to counseling then the threat of counseling might get seen as a weapon.”

Family therapy can leave any family member with a negative sense of self if not handled with care. In cases where children are involved, especially, sessions are always conducted with the utmost professionalism. At North Brooklyn Marriage and Family Therapy our therapists at Contact us today at either our Greenpoint or Williamsburg location to find how you can ready your family for a session with a licensed professional.

4 Therapies for Children

Child Therapist Services

As children, we’ve been told—at least once in our lives—to sit still, stop fidgeting or to be quiet. Some of these behaviors may seem normal during childhood, but sometimes they are brought out by chemical imbalances in the brain that cause the body to act uncontrollably. This is when some type of “child therapy” is needed. The four types of child therapies include: occupational, educational, speech therapy and social skill groups.

Child therapy can make changes early in life.

  1. Occupational Therapy

With occupational therapy, professionals are called in to work with children who have trouble with dexterity and using their hands or being active and maintaining balance. Therapists will help children practice physical skills that can aid them in gaining more confidence in their everyday movements. Occupational therapy can help children with various needs improve their cognitive, physical, sensory, and motor skills and enhance their self-esteem and sense of accomplishment.

  1. Educational Therapy

Therapists in the study of educational therapy in children are often mistaken for tutors. According to the Association of Educational Therapists, “While a tutor generally focuses on teaching specific subject matter, an educational therapist’s focus is broader. Educational therapists collaborate with all the significant people concerned with the student’s learning, and they focus not only on remediation but also on building self-awareness and underlying learning skills to help clients become more self-reliant, efficient learners.” These therapists are trained in specialized areas such as math, writing and reading skills, and they help teach children in ways that work with and around the specific learning and attention issue.

  1. Speech Therapy

Speech therapists help children with speaking more clearly and feeling more confident in their speech. This also includes children with language-based issues. These therapists work with children who have issues understanding what they hear and communication in social settings. While educational therapists may also focus on reading comprehension, speech therapist are usually called upon when this is the case.

  1. Social Skill Groups

Social skills group is a type of therapy that involves helping children socialize more easily. This helps children start conversations, control their emotions and make friends. Social skills groups can help children who also have issues with paying attention, or in children who have problems understanding and interpreting social cues. Social skills groups are usually monitored by occupational and speech therapists that focus on developing social skills for those with pervasive developmental disorders or those who experience difficulties in the areas of expressive communication and social interaction.

It can be difficult to see the signs of normal childhood behavior and a pervasive issue, but that’s why we’re here to help. At North Brooklyn Marriage and Family Therapy, our therapists are trained in the latest therapies that can help you and your child understand where his or her issues lie and how to address them. Contact us today at either our Greenpoint or Williamsburg location to find out the kinds of child therapies we provide that can assist your child in any social situation.

4 Reasons to See A Specialty Therapist

When To See a Sex Therapist

Sex therapy may seem like a taboo topic, but it’s just like any other therapy. It’s designed to help an individual or couples with emotionally and psychosocially driven sexual issues. Contrary to popular belief, there’s nothing kinky or deviant about seeking help from a trained sex therapist. If you are experiencing issues with your sex life, the last thing you probably want to do is talk about it. But, the naked truth is, sex therapy can be very beneficial.


Sex therapy can make your relationship stronger.


4 Reasons to See a Sex Therapist

  1. Learning basic sex education

It’s not uncommon for parents of teens to seek help when wanting to properly address questions regarding sex. Think back to your big “the birds and the bees” talk. Nine times out of 10, it was likely one of the most embarrassing, awkward conversations of your life. And more often than not, it was probably the only time your parents ever mentioned sex again. Seeking a sex therapist to help with the questions that will likely come about when you have a pre-teen can be the difference in a traumatic experience and an open conversation about sex.

  1. Addressing sexual trauma

Unfortunately, we live in a culture of rape—meaning, we are a society that tends to victim blame and normalize sexual violence. With that unsettling reality, speaking with a sex therapist may be the only opportunity a survivor of sexual trauma may have to find peace with their experience. Many survivors of sexual trauma may approach sex therapy from an entirely different angle than non-survivors. In this sense, these clients may require more unique techniques and styles of sex therapy.

  1. Concerns about sexual functions

Believe or not, sexual dysfunction is very common. In fact, according to Clevelandclinic.org, “43% of women and 31% of men report some degree of sexual difficulty.” While sex therapists don’t treat medical sexual dysfunctions that require addressing an underline medical condition or hormonal change, they can help pinpoint emotional or psychological reasons for sexual dysfunction.

  1. Enhancing a sexual relationship

For any number of reasons, a couple may feel that their sex life isn’t as satisfying as they’d like it to be. Sexual issues don’t have to ruin your relationship. Speaking with a sex therapist can help you and your partner work together to create a plan to improve your sex life. It’s important to remember that men and woman tend to define and experience sex in different yet interrelated ways. In order to better enjoy sex for both partners, it may be a matter of freeing oneself from preconceived notions of what a sexual relationship should be.

At North Brooklyn Marriage and Family Therapy, we can provide you with a professional sex therapist that can help you feel more comfortable about seeking their expertise. Let’s face it, consulting a sex therapist may be a bit uncomfortable at first, but our therapists at both our Williamsburg and Greenpoint locations will set your mind, and your nerves, at ease. Contact us today, and let us help you find the sexual satisfaction you’ve been searching for.

4 Characteristics of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

A Therapeutic Technique

It’s safe to say, that when a major decision is looming over your head, research can be a God-send. This especially rings true when you or a loved one is considering therapy. Researching and learning about available therapists in your area, as well as their treatment plans and techniques can help lay to rest feelings of uncertainty. One most common utilized technique in therapy is cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT.

CBT is a form of psychotherapy that emphasizes the important role of thinking in how people feel and what they do. CBT doesn’t exist as a distinct therapeutic technique, as it is simply a generic term for classifying therapies with similarities. There are several approaches to CBT, including Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, Rational Behavior Therapy, Rational Living Therapy, Cognitive Therapy, and Dialectic Behavior Therapy.


Cognitive therapy can help you understand your choices.


4 Characteristics of CBT

  1. CBT is based on the Cognitive Model of Emotional Response.

    CBT is based on the idea that thoughts cause feelings and behaviors. External elements such as people, situations, and events have no bearing on our feelings and behaviors, according to CBT. The benefit of this, even if a situation doesn’t change, we can still change the way we think to feel/act better.

  1. CBT is briefer and time-limited than other therapies.

    For many therapists, CBT is considered among the most effective and rapid in terms of results obtained. Other forms of therapy, like psychoanalysis, can take years because it’s most often used to treat longstanding difficulties. With CBT, clients are usually aware and understand at the very beginning of the therapy process that there will be a point when the formal therapy will end. Professionals will inform clients that CBT treatment will eventually end—a decision made by both therapist and client.

  1. A harmonious therapeutic relationship is important for effective therapy, but should not be the focus.

    Like all forms of therapy, a sound therapist client relationship is essential to effective there; however, it is not the primary focus like some therapies According to NACBT.org, “Some forms of therapy assume that the main reason people get better in therapy is because of the positive relationship between the therapist and client. Cognitive-behavioral therapists believe it is important to have a good, trusting relationship, but that is not enough.”

  1. CBT is a collaborative effort.

    As mentioned above, a harmonious relationship between therapist and client is essential, and Cognitive-behavioral therapists seek to learn and understand what their clients want out of life (their goals)—as well as the therapy itself—and then they help their clients achieve those goals. With CBT, the role of the therapist is to listen, teach, and encourage. And that’s not to say that those three things encompass the entire scope of the therapists role.

At North Brooklyn Marriage and Family Therapy, you’ll find that our professionals are well-versed in the latest and most up-to-date therapies in the field. Our dedicated therapists and counselors are ready to help you take back your life and your health. Contact us at either our Greenpoint or Williamsburg location today.

6 Determinations When Choosing the Right Drug and Alcohol Counselor

Drug and Alcohol Counselor

When you have a loved one who is struggling with the debilitating ailment of addiction, it’s tough to know who and where to turn. Choosing the right drug and alcohol or addiction counselor can be the difference, literally, between life and death.

Get help from one of our drug and alcohol counselors.


  1. First and foremost, check their credentials to see if they are who they say they are. Make your prospective counselor has an associated degree of the professional discipline from an accredited educational institution. The professional you see should also be licensed, and the license should be current and clearly indicated on his or her website or profile listing.


  1. Determine what expertise the person has in the field of addiction.

    This can be daunting because, across disciplines, there is no standardized way of determining one’s expertise in addiction. Moreover, addiction counselors may have a certification through a state board, yet they may lack the background and training that a psychologist receives in mental health issues.


  1. Research online reviews.

    It’s easy for a counselor to talk up him or herself, but what do other people have to say about his or her services? There are excellent therapists who don’t yet have reviews online, perhaps because they haven’t had an online presence. To combat a lack of internet presence, many professionals will have colleagues write reviews for them.


  1. Understand the type of treatment the professional utilizes.

    Review the professional’s website and other sites where his or her practice might be listed to get an idea of his or her treatments. You’ll want to be sure your therapist or drug counselor is knowledgeable about the most up-to-date evidenced-based treatment approaches. If this information is lacking online, don’t hesitate to contact the counselor directly and ask about the treatment the professional uses that is evidenced-based, 12-step facilitation or motivational interviewing.


  1. Have a phone conversation to determine an initial connection.

    If you feel some sort of connection to your addiction therapist, that’ll make an in-person meeting much more comfortable for both parties. It’s completely appropriate to notify the potential professional that you’re still shopping around for a counselor that fits you personally. Not only are you gauging the relationship, but your therapist or counselor may be vetting you as well. This also allows the therapist to gauge whether you’re a good fit for him or her, and if not, to offer a referral to someone else who may be able to help.


  1. Make a follow-up appointment so you can meet the counselor face-to-face.

    This’ll help you determine if your initial instincts were correct. It’s also reasonable to meet once or twice before you decide whether to commit to working with the professional full-time. Most important, you’re looking for someone you personally connect with. You and the professional should be on the same page in terms of treatment and progress.

It goes without saying, you’re looking for someone who you believe can assist you in your journey back to physical and mental health. At North Brooklyn Marriage and Family Therapy, we have drug and alcohol counselors that are trained to assist you in repairing relationships affected by your addiction. They can prepare comprehensive treatment plans that will give you the confidence to begin living life without the weight of addiction holding you back. Contact us today at our Greenpoint or Williamsburg location, and find the right addiction counselor for you or a loved one.


4 Types of Family Therapies

What Is Family Therapy?


Family therapy is a type of psychotherapy that is used when dealing with couples and families.  It emphasizes family relationships as an important factor in psychological health. As such, this type of therapy focuses on family problems, which are seen in relation to family interactions, instead of based only on individual members of a unit. Family therapists usually focus on the interactions between family members and how those interactions may foster issues. For many family seeking help, understand that family therapy is frequently short-term and may be used in addition to other types of treatment.Family therapy will help everyone.


Family therapy can be useful when you encounter the following issues:

  • Family relationships and changes in family life
  • Adult mental health
  • Parenting issues
  • Couple relationships
  • Trauma
  • Work stress
  • Parenting skills
  • Chronic health problems, such as asthma or cancer
  • Supporting family members through separation, mediation and divorce
  • Child and adolescent behavior
  • Emotional disorders including anxiety, depression, loss and grief
  • Anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorders
  • Supporting family members in step-family life
  • Emotional abuse or violence
  • Financial problems
  • Self-harm
  • Drug, alcohol, and other substance misuse

What Are Types of Family Therapy?

There are four types of family therapists most often utilized by professionals: supportive family therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychodynamic ideas and systemic family therapy.

Supportive Family Therapy  is often used to help family members expression their feelings regarding a problem that is affecting the entire family. This type of family therapy provides a safe and open environment in which everyone can express who they feel. This is an opportunity for families to get together, and openly talk about the issues plaguing them, as well as an opportunity for the therapist to offer practical advice.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) techniques attempt to change the ways people think or behave in order to reduce or get rid of the problem. The therapist may assign each individual family member with homework tasks to complete or specific behavioral programs might be drawn up.

Psychodynamic ideas used in family therapy tends to look more into the individual’s own unconscious (sometimes called subconscious) minds. This type of therapy attempts to reduce problem(s) by uncovering the underlying problems. It is the hope of many therapists who use this method that, by providing the individuals with the real reasons for strife, family members will be able to deal with—and work through—their difficulties more successfully.

Systemic Family Therapy puts emphasis on the entire family’s feelings. It attempts to identify the problems within a family dynamic, as well as the ideas and attitudes of the entire family to uncover what may be going on with the family as whole. Once the therapist has a full understanding of these areas, he or she may attempt to shift the problem(s), attitudes, relationships, to a position that is more beneficial, less damaging, or simply more realistic.

Family Therapy in Brooklyn

At North Brooklyn Marriage and Family Therapy, we can help you and your family members pinpoint the specific problems and execute a plan of action that can fix the turmoil. Contact us today at either our Greenpoint or Williamsburg location and let us help get you and your family back on track.


5 Signs Your Child May Need a Therapist

Child Therapist Services

When it comes to your children, nothing takes precedence over their physical and mental health and well-being. But what if they’re struggling with something that is beyond your capacity to deal with? When and how do you know when it’s time to seek out a professional?


A child therapist can help the entire family.


When your child is endangering him or herself.

It’s normal when kids talk about odd things, especially when they begin to learn about life and exploring the concept of death. However, repeated talk about death and dying is definitely a red flag that you should be looking for. Pay attention to statements about suicide or excessive talk about killing others. Any talk about suicide or killing another person requires the immediate help of an expert.

When your child’s behavior is interfering with daily life.

When a child is struggling with his or her emotions, he or she will tend to behave badly across the board — acting out at school, home, and during any extracurricular activities. If you’re having to attend parent-teacher conferences or speaking with coaches pretty often about your child’s behavior, this is definitely cause for concern.

When your child’s behavior puts a strain on your personal relationships and/or marriage.

If you find yourself unloading onto your friends about your child’s behavior, there is a problem. Your child, while a priority in your life, should be running your it. If you and your spouse seems to always be at odds as to how to deal with your child’s behavior, or one (or both) of you is regularly responding to the child’s behavior by getting completely enraged, it’s time to seek help.

When you’re at your wits end.

Something else to consider is seeking therapy yourself. You’re no good to your family if you’re completely out of sorts. It’s so hard to see the forest for the trees when you have a child who cannot live without chaos. When you’ve exhausted all the ideas and routines suggested by professionals online and you still find that your child is suffering, there’s nothing else you may be able to do other than seek the help of a therapist.

When he or she regresses.

Kids tend to regress when there’s a major change in their lives, such as the birth of a new sibling, a move, or a divorce between their parents. That is completely normal when it’s temporary. However, new or regressive behavior such as bedwetting, clingy behavior, whining, excessive fearfulness, and tantrums that seem to have come out of nowhere or don’t seem to be linked to a life-changing event, may signal a problem.

Ultimately, you should trust your instincts as a parents. If you think something is going on, trust that feeling. Never be afraid to make that first phone call to find a child therapist that can help your child with whatever he or she is dealing with emotionally. At North Brooklyn Marriage and Family Therapy, we have professionals who are available to help your family through your child’s struggles. Contact us today so we can help you and your child repair your family dynamic.


5 Things to Remember Before Your Couples Therapy Session

Couples Therapy

While couples therapy can provide an open environment for you and your spouse to speak honestly about your relationship issues, it’s important to be prepared for what’s to come before you walk through the door.

Couples therapy in Williamsburg.

5 Things to Remember Before Your Couples Therapy Session

Be yourself

It goes without saying that you should always be yourself, but especially so during couples therapy. Don’t try to change who you are for someone else or try to be the person you think your partner wants you to be. Come to therapy without a mask. It’s never a good idea to put on a façade when you’re attempting to help your relationship. You’ll want to come in being yourself: the good, the bad and all that’s in between.

Focus on why you’re in therapy

No one ever said fixing a relationship would be easy, but it’s always good to remember why you’re participating in therapy in the first place. Many couples come in because of disagreements about major life events or they have struggles with communication. And while you may not see eye to eye on those particular things, it’s always good to gear up for couples therapy by coming to the consensus that it’s all for the greater good: a healthier relationship.

Understand your therapist isn’t “Mr. or Mrs. Fix It”

Many couples can have the misconception that once they attend therapy, all will be right with the world. Therapy can definitely help give you the tools to work through issues and communicate better, but your therapist can’t fix your relationship. It’s up to you and your partner to utilize the techniques provided by your therapist and work through your situation toward a mutual goal.

Prepare to answer some tough questions

Before attending a therapy session, you may be feeling disillusioned and disenchanted with your relationship and your partner. That’s normal. But you should be prepared to answer some questions about yourself and your relationship, such as:

  • What brings you to therapy?
  • What’s the issue in the relationship, in your opinion?
  • If you had the power to change anything about your relationship now, what positive changes would you make?
  • What made your fall in love with your partner in the first place?
  • What do you expect to get out of couples therapy?

Prepare questions for your therapist

Let’s face it, going to a complete stranger and delving into your personal relationship can be uncomfortable. The unknown is scary, which is why it’s good to have questions for your therapist if you’re unsure about the process and its outcomes. Some good questions to ask your therapist could include:

  • How long do you expect the sessions to last?
  • How do I know if couples therapy is making a positive impact on my relationship?
  • What happens if my partner refuses to attend a session? Can I come alone?
  • What is your experience working with couples in my current situation?

At North Brooklyn Marriage and Family Therapy, our licensed therapists have the experience and the expertise to provide the tools you’ll need to overcome any relationship woes. Contact us at either our Williamsburg or Greenpoint location to begin working toward a healthier relationship.


Guided Meditation Workshops

Benefits of Guided Meditation Workshops

Guided meditation workshops are becoming popular places to gather with those who seek to improve aspects of their lives through the practice and study of meditation. Workshops are led by professionals who have usually been teaching and practicing meditation for many years, which makes these meeting places beneficial for someone who may have never meditated before. The benefits of guided meditation workshops stem from their ability to gather like-minded individuals. But before we discuss these benefits, let’s first talk about how meditation itself can benefit your life.

Guided meditation workshops are for everyone.

What are the Physical Benefits of Meditation?

Some individuals believe, with meditation, a person experiences a change in physiology and every cell in the body is filled with a type of energy. The results include joy, peace, enthusiasm as the level of positive energy in the body increases.

  • Help lower high blood pressure
  • Help reduce anxiety attacks
  • Help increase serotonin production that improves mood and behavior
  • Help increase your energy level
  • Help lessen inflammatory disorders
  • Help improve the immune system to fight off diseases faster and more efficiently

What are the Mental Benefits of Meditation?

In 2014, Harvard University conducted a study that unveiled what meditation does to the brain. The study found that, while meditating for 30 minutes a day, participants displayed an increase in gray-matter density in the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain associated with memory and learning. It’s no surprise that meditation has the ability to effect the brain, as it can help bring your brainwave pattern back into a relaxed state that promotes healing. Thereby, the mind becomes aware and refreshed.

  • Help improve emotional stability
  • Help increase creativity by clearing the mind
  • Help increase a sense of happiness
  • Help develop a better sense of intuition and knowing
  • Help obtain clarity and peace of mind
  • Help reduce stress, thereby making problems seem smaller

 What are the Benefits of Guided Meditation Workshops?

With all the positive outcomes that go along with meditation, you may be wondering, “how do I get started?” Meditation is more than breathing exercises, and a guided meditation workshop is a great way to learn the proper way to obtain all the benefits you seek.

  1. You’re not expected to come in knowing anything about meditation

If you’ve never meditated before—or even if you have—you’re not expected to come to a workshop knowing exactly what to do. This is why it’s a guided workshop. The teacher or instructor will show you what you need to do and, hopefully, motivate you to return.

  1. The atmosphere is calming and not judgmental

Because most individuals who participate in meditation are looking for positive outcomes, there is a sense of belonging and peace. The soothing mood is almost palpable when you enter.

  1. Everyone wants to support you and whatever has brought you there

Being a novice or someone who has studied meditation for years makes no difference when you’re surrounded by people who are looking for the same level of serenity you are. Everyone is there to support you and help you attain your goals.

Join Us – Meditation Workshops

Consistency is key if you want to experience the benefits of mindfulness meditation. Allow one of our licensed therapists to kick start your new practice through guided meditations and helpful insight.

Breakdown: 10 minutes of mindfulness education > 30 minute guided meditation > 10 minutes of group discussion (not mandatory)

Please, reserve your spot on our Facebook group, as space is limited.

Workshops are held every Saturday beginning October 22, from 4:30–5:30 p.m. at 315 Graham Avenue at our Williamsburg location. For more information, please contact us and find out how you can meditate your way to better well-being.



5 Myths About Anxiety Therapy

Anxiety Therapy

The internet is abounding with information about anxiety, it’s causes, treatments and how to avoid it. But still, we have a generation of people who don’t quite understand anxiety or how anxiety therapy can be beneficial to them or someone they know who is suffering from it. Debunking these myths is the only way our society will finally see the merit in anxiety therapy and encourage a loved one to reach out to a professional for help.

Anxiety therapy helps all areas of your life.


  1. Therapy isn’t needed for anxiety; sleep/exercise/a change of scenery is.

Simply exercising, sleeping more and getting out of the house may provide temporary relief, but it doesn’t address the real situation. And while these activities are also important in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, they aren’t cures for anxiety. Anxiety therapy uses cognitive behavioral therapy to help a person cope with panic attacks, obsessive thoughts, incapacitation phobias, etc.


  1. Anxiety therapy is just going to teach you how to avoid stress.

Avoiding stressful situations can help to a certain extent, completely evading stress is virtually impossible. In fact, some stress can be good. According to Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), “Treating yourself as if you are fragile and avoiding risk leads to feeling demoralized. Avoiding anxiety tends to reinforce it.” Anxiety therapy can help you reduce worry and suffering, as well as teach you coping mechanisms and how to manage emotions.


  1. Medications offered at a therapy session are strong and can be addicting.

First-line antidepressant medications, such as SSRI and SNRI for anxiety are not addicting, according to ADAA. This way of thinking suggests that most psychological problems are caused by biochemistry, rather than viewing biochemical changes as a symptom.


  1. You don’t need a therapist unless things get really bad.

Contrary to popular belief (therapy is only necessary if there’s a chronic or debilitating issue), treatment for anxiety is more than a last resort. While it’s true that most people will experience some form of anxiety or depression in their lives, the types of individuals that visit a therapist vary. Not everyone who sees a therapist has experienced a manic episode or been hospitalized. Therapy patients are everyday people that may need assistance in moving past a difficult or tragic life event, managing feelings of worry or simply learning how to cope with life changes.


  1. Therapy is passive. You just need someone to listen to you.

This misconception definitely comes from Hollywood. Try to think of movie scenes featuring someone participating in a therapy session. What is happening? Is the “patient” lying on a leather chaise lounge while the therapist silently jots down notes and nods accordingly? Having someone to speak with about your feelings of anxiety is important, but it isn’t the end all, be all of anxiety therapy. Active listening skills are fundamental to therapy treatment, but a consummate professional should personalize his or her methods for your particular situation.


At North Brooklyn Marriage and Family Therapy, our therapists have the skills that can help you cope and manage feelings of anxiety and depression at both our Williamsburg and Greenpoint locations. If you or someone you know is ready to experience life-changing therapy, please contact us today.


Relationship Counseling 101

Relationship Counseling Services

No romantic relationship is easy. Like a car, they need constant maintenance to keep them running efficiently. If there is an issue, it’s best to deal with the problem right away to avoid further complications down the road.

Often times, we can perform basic maintenance to repair the relationship ourselves. Other times, however, despite our best efforts, we need the help of a qualified clinician and relationship counseling.

Sadly, many couples try therapy after the damage has already been done. Maladaptive behaviors are already entrenched, the emotional bonds between partners are weakened, and a high level of resentment prevents the healing process to move forward. Thus, it is critical to get the help you need at the first signs of problems.

Here is everything you need to know about couples’ therapy in order to help you and your partner move forward.

Relationship counseling can change how you live together.

What is Relationship Counseling?

Couples’ therapy, also known as relationship counseling, is a sector of psychotherapy that utilizes a therapist with clinical experience working with couples who most often has a Family Therapist license or Marriage Therapist license. They help to provide two people involved in a romantic relationship gain insight into their relationship troubles, resolve conflict, develop better habits, and improve the satisfaction within the relationship through a variety of therapeutic interventions. The same generic elements are typically included within the therapy sessions:

  • Honing in on a specific problem
  • Active participation on the part of the clinician on treating the relationship rather than each partner separately
  • Solution focused and change-oriented interventions at an early stage in the treatment
  • A clear, concise establishment of treatment objectives

Who is Couples’ Counseling For?

Relationship counseling is beneficial for any type of romantic relationship, whether the partners are married, straight, gay, nixed-race, young, old, dating, or engaged. If you are in a romantic relationship and need help resolving problems or conflict, a therapist might be right for your needs.

What are Some Benefits of Relationship Counseling?

  • You will learn how to resolve conflict in a healthy, beneficial manner
  • You will learn how to communicate your needs openly and clearly without anger or resentment
  • You will learn how to effectively process and work through unresolved issues
  • You will develop a deeper understanding of your partner’s needs and who they are


How can North Brooklyn Marriage and Family Therapy Able to Help?

North Brooklyn Marriage and Family Therapy’s therapists are state-licensed and master-level clinicians who are specialists in their field. We are revolutionizing the way therapists practice relationship therapy, always having our patients in mind.

Our therapeutic perspective is rational and systemic in focus, providing you with great results.

If you feel like you and your partner are in need of relationship therapy, contact North Brooklyn Marriage and Family Therapy today for a free phone consultation by calling 718-785-9718.

Does My Teen Need Therapy?

Professional Help For Your Teenager


Teen therapy is good for the entire family.


As a parent, you only want what is best for your child. But sometimes, though, it can be tough to admit that they need help. There are certain issues that go way beyond the helping hand and love of a parent. Some instances call for professional intervention.

Maybe you blame yourself for your teen’s misbehavior. Or maybe you agonize that you did not recognize the warning signs weeks, months, or even years, sooner. It’s perfectly natural to experience a wide range of emotions, from regret and guilt to anger and confusion, when it comes to your child. But seeking professional help from a qualified teen counselor should not strain your emotions or make you feel embarrassed or ashamed.

The longer you decide to wait, the worse your teen’s problems may become. So it’s critical to seek help as soon as you can for teen counseling. Here are some ways to determine if your teenager may need help.

Questions to Ask Yourself

The first thing to do when establishing if your teen needs the help of a professional is to start observing their daily life and behavior. Ask yourself these questions:

  • How is my teen doing in school?
  • Does he have friends?
  • Does she discuss with me what’s going on in her life?

If you noticed changes in your child or have concerns, contact their physician or a therapist. A trained professional can offer guidance if there is an issue or give you peace of mind by saying everything is okay. It’s always best to err on the side of caution if you have doubts.

Warning Signs to Look For:

  • Signs of sadness or depression
  • Running away
  • Drug use or drinking
  • Participation in illegal activities
  • Failing school
  • Acting up at school
  • Isolation
  • Sexual acting out
  • Self-harm or cutting
  • Eating problems (purging after a meal, overeating, or resisting eating all together)
  • Lashing out either physically or verbally
  • Significant changes in weight
  • Significant changes in behavior
  • Loss on interest
  • Changes in friends

What You Can Do

A teen-in-counseling can create lasting changes.


If you are worried about your teen, the first thing that you can do is to try and talk to them. Check in with them regularly and talk to them about what is going on in their day and life.

Monitor their social media accounts, including statuses, messages, and pictures. A photo can say a thousand words.

Monitor their phone, including calls, texts, and online behavior.

You can also seek the help of a qualified counselor. At North Brooklyn Marriage and Family Therapy, we have licensed New York State clinicians who really care about your teen’s wellbeing and want them to succeed. We offer a wide array of counseling that can help your teen and family heal.

Contact us today at 718-785-9718 for a free phone consultation.


Should You Seek Premarital Counseling?

Relationship Therapy

When you initially get married, you believe you’re getting the fairytale, complete with a dazzling courtship and happily ever after. What the fairytales don’t tell us is that a relationship takes work. Before you say your “I do’s,” consider if you and your partner need premarital counseling. Here are some trigger points and behaviors that point to the answer “Yes.”


Premarital counseling helps everyone.


No Communication or the Wrong Kind of Communication

As the old adage goes, “Communication is key.” This especially rings true in a relationship. If you aren’t speaking to your partner, a clinician may help new ways to facilitate communication. If you find yourself finally talking and it’s always negative, making your partner feel shamed, judged, or insecure, you may want to seek a premarital therapist. Negative communication may escalate into emotional abuse, which puts your future marriage on the fast track to divorce.

When Secrets are Kept

You should want to share almost everything with your future spouse. While each of you has a right to your privacy, secrets are a sign of distrust.

If You are Having an Affair or Contemplating One

Fantasizing about an affair can be a sign that something is lacking in your relationship and you are willing to venture outside of your relationship to feel fulfilled again. Before you tie the knot, it is important to find out why you are thinking about an affair or already having one. While some relationships cannot survive an affair, other can, if both partners are committed to the proper therapy.

Being Financially Unfaithful

Financial infidelity can be just as – if not more – damaging than a sexual affair. If you feel like your partner is keeping you in the dark about their spending, it may be a signal to a bigger problem. A therapist can shed light on the issue and ensure it does not carry over as a problem in your future marriage.


Get premarital counseling and start your life together on the right foot.


If you think you are in need of a premarital counselor, be sure to contact North Brooklyn Marriage & Therapy today. Our facility is equipped with the best clinicians in the state of New York who care about your success. We look forward to hearing from you!

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Behavioral Therapy

Be Proactive

There are many different types of therapy available out there, but which one is right for you? Behavioral therapy enables you to take the initiative and be proactive in your life. Human beings learn by consistency, and behavioral therapy can train your brain in a systematic manner so that you no longer passively react to life and that anxiety can be alleviated.

Here are a few benefits and drawbacks when it comes to behavioral therapy.

Behavioral therapy can change your life.

It Changes Brain Physiology

Also known as cognitive therapy, behavioral therapy can help transform the neutral pathway associations in your brain. This permanently changes how we feel and react to the world around us. Your brain can change only after you take the proper action, and once behavioral steps are made, the brain chemistry and neural pathways in the brain will change.

Results Are Definitely Seen in a Quicker Manner

With the correct type of therapy and cognitive framework, patients are able to be rational and not have lofty expectations about their progress. This keeps them from having setbacks and dwelling on old thoughts and feelings from the past, enabling us to move forward and ward off depression. Because of your prior history, you may expect things to turn out poorly. As your thoughts and beliefs change, you can begin to think more rationally and see things for what they really are. This quickens the progress against social anxiety and gets you faster results.

You No Longer Avoid Participating in Life

Cognitive therapy can change how you act. Instead of avoiding certain social situations and people, you learn how to feel comfortable in your own skin and be confident, because you took the correct action. A small step against avoidance will boost self-esteem and make you more comfortable in different social situations. Your newfound calmness in one situation can spill over into other anxiety-provoking situations, giving you control of your life again.

The Drawbacks of Behavioral Therapy

  • One of the biggest drawbacks is finding a qualified cognitive therapist. Thankfully, North Brooklyn Marriage and Family Therapy employ master’s-level clinicians licensed by the State of New York who are solely dedicated to your progress.
  • Another pitfall can be that you must do the work. The secret ingredient for success when participating in behavioral therapy is that you need to do your homework. Although this type of therapy is considered comparatively short term, it does take time and work to modify behavior through reinforcement, and replace negative thoughts and actions with new positive ones.

If you are considering behavioral therapy, contact North Brooklyn Marriage and Family Therapy today and discover the plethora of benefits that come along with retraining your brain.


Relationship Myths

The Unique Nature Of Relationships

Throughout our lives we encounter various rules or standards of what makes a relationship good or bad, healthy or unhealthy. They guide the way we think, shape our beliefs, and determine the way we interact with others; they often serve as the basis for assessing levels of satisfaction in our romantic relationships. We form these assumptions from what we see and experience; whether it be from a television show or movie, or the relationships of the friends and family around us. These unwritten rules of engagement, or relationship myths, about how we are supposed to feel and how we should be acting are often misleading, can lead to disappointment, and fail to represent the dynamic components involved in starting and maintaining relationships. Instead of setting the framework for a fulfilling and satisfying relationship, these myths have the opposite effect by creating confusion, distress, and unhappiness. By subscribing heavily to these myths of how things are supposed to be, we ignore the unique nature of relationships and the individuals within them. The reality is these myths are counterproductive and force us to chase an unattainable ideal of what a relationship should feel and/or be like. The misconception that there is a set of standard norms that all relationships can be measured against is destructive and can create a sense of hopelessness when your relationship falls short of these widely accepted myths. While numerous myths exist, these are a few of the most commonly held myths.

Relationship myths can often be destructive.

Common Relationship Myths

Myth 1: if it is meant to be it will work itself out. Relationships require active engagement and effort. Challenges cannot be worked through if they are ignored and opportunities cannot be created through passivity.

Myth 2: Avoid voicing dissatisfactions early on. Communication is key to setting a foundation of roles and expectations in a relationship. While no one wants to appear overly critical or argumentative, staying silent about things that bother will only send the message that you do not have any issue, which could cause confusion or frustration as the relationship progresses.

Myth 3: Healthy couples have X amount of sex in a month/week/day. The reality is there is no set number of times a couple should be having sex and frequency of sex is dependent on a multitude of factors. A common cause for sexual dissatisfaction is the faulty or unrealistic expectations we set for ourselves. Each relationship is unique so comparing your sex life to others will not be helpful, talk to your partner and see what factors are impacting your sexual satisfaction.

Myth 4: Couples in good relationships don’t argue. This is simply not true. All couples argue, the important things are how these arguments happen, the problem solving skills of the couple, ability to reach conflict resolution, and to avoid escalation. Striving to never argue will set a relationship up for failure.

Myth 5: Good relationships don’t require work. This myth is the farthest from the truth. Relationships require lots of work and attention: building a life with someone requires understanding the values, desires, hopes, etc. of yourself and your partner, and how these things fit together as a unit over time. Working at a relationship is a shared responsibility and requires each partner to be an active participant.

Myth 6: If my partner truly loves me they should know what I am thinking/what I need although your partner may be the one person in the world that knows you the best, they cannot possibly know what you are thinking or feeling at all times. Expecting your partner to anticipate your needs/thoughts is like expecting them to read your mind. Communication must be a reciprocal engagement- be open and honest about your needs, thoughts, and feelings.

Navigating relationships is hard and contrary to some of these myths, there is no one set of rules that applies to a successful relationship. These assumptions do more harm than good, so next time you are tempted to compare your relationship to the standards held by these myths, keep in mind that each couple’s experience is unique to them.

Others can be found in an article in Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-squeaky-wheel/201508/10-common-relationship-myths-and-why-theyre-all-wrong

Guest writer: Hillary Geffner

How to Save Your Relationship from Anger and Depression

Williamsburg Therapy For Couples

Being with someone who has anger issues or is depressed is not not only emotionally exhausting, but can take a toll on your relationship.



Whether you are the one at the receiving end who has to put up with such behavior or the one who happens to be pushing your partner’s patience and tolerance to the limits, it is important to strive to have a deeper understanding of anger and depression. You will definitely find this intrinsic knowledge indispensable in improving yourself as an individual and your relationship as a couple.

Help With Anger Problems Williamsburg

When you’re angry, you can’t see or hear clearly. You lose your sensitivity, composure, control and clarity, as if a total stranger has come over you. On an extreme level, you might even temporarily lose your sanity and end up hurting the person most dear to your heart. Such is the power and influence of anger. So how do you curb your anger somehow, for your own sake and for the sake of your loved one?

The answer is quite simple: a little guidance from Williamsburg anger management experts, plus lots of love. Certainly, there will naturally be petty arguments or disagreements. After all, being a couple doesn’t mean giving up your individuality. But such small squabbles are usually easily resolved without having to evolve and take root as anger.


Therapist for Depression Williamsburg

Dealing with depression is tough, and maintaining a healthy relationship requires extra care, sensitivity, patience and love. For this particular type of partnership to be fruitful and lasting, both parties should make the conscious effort to better understand depression.

Depression is not a choice; it can sneak into your life, placing a huge and unwelcome burden on you and your relationship. With a little help from a Williamsburg depression therapist and lots of love and support from your partner, you can conquer depression. After all, real and unconditional love conquers all.


3 Tips to Help Keep your Relationship Anxiety-Free When Buying a New Home

Anxiety-Free Relationships

In relationships, transition is inevitable. And with transition can come fear of the unknown. Although transition can be overwhelming, it doesn’t always have to stress you out or cause anxiety problems. For most couples, the dream of owning a home is just one more thing on a long list of must-haves for the future, but the process can sometimes be a relationship tester in how you and your mate navigate the uncharted waters of anxiety. The journey to homeownership doesn’t have to be a rocky one, it can be anxiety-free if you keep these three things in mind.



Keep Anxiety-Free Relationships when Buying a Home

Communication is always key.

When buying a home, there are a lot of moving parts: from gathering documents for the underwriter to being present during a home inspection—everyone needs something from you. Don’t get so bogged down with completing tasks for others that your spouse gets lost in the mix.Communication is and will always be the basis for a successful relationship. Communicate your stresses, worries, excitement and all the other emotions that come about when trying to purchase a home. Talk, talk, talk and talk some more! What’s really the point of having a partner if you can’t open up to him or her?

Make time for non-home buying-related activities.

Most of the home buying experience is just playing the waiting game, so unless you’re going to sit around twiddling your thumbs waiting to hear back, get out of the house with your partner and have fun! Helping to take your mind off of all the paperwork and the things that could go wrong will certainly help retain the positivity in your relationship. Some quality-time activities could include:

  • Going for a walk
  • Seeing a movie
  • Dining out
  • Bike riding
  • Working out

Any activity that would allow you and your partner to spend time together will help relieve stress and bring you both closer.

Discuss and make decisions together.

Remember, you’re a team; and a team is only as good as the teamwork that’s put in. Don’t leave your partner out of major decisions like the style of home, location, etc. Also, make sure to share in all the responsibilities that’ll help get you into your new home. For instance, don’t make one person the primary contact, share in speaking with your mortgage lender and/or realtor. This is one thing that contribute to resentment in a relationship—one person taking on the bulk of responsibility—and cause undue stress. Help alleviate anxiety by tag-teaming tasks.

Anxiety will most likely creep in when you’re making a huge decision like buying a home, but it doesn’t have to intrude on the tranquility of your relationship and make things more difficult than they have to be.

If you’re ever feeling like you’re not doing so well in managing your stress, connect with our Williamsburg anxiety therapists and Greenpoint therapists, and let us help transition smoothly into the next stage of your life as a homeowner.



Top 3 Tips for Successful Relationship Therapy

Getting Through Relationship Therapy

Sometimes we need a professional to help us through relationship issues. Making the commitment to seek couples therapy is a huge step, but the work doesn’t stop there. Couple’s therapy and counseling takes a significant amount of effort and understanding from everybody involved. For many couples, relationship therapy is the last resort. If you are truly ready to accept help for your partnership, the results can be life changing but you have to make a few adjustments to the way you are used to dealing with each other.

couples therapy greepoint

Top 3 Tips For Williamsburg Therapy

Invest Time

After signing up, one of the most detrimental things to do is to stop going before you’ve seen the full benefits. Be ready to commit to the time and effort relationship therapy takes, and be ready to stick it out when it gets difficult. Both parties in the relationship need to agree that the relationship is a priority and set aside the necessary time to work through issues with professional help. You’ve already agreed to therapy, and that’s uncomfortable enough for some individuals. Often times therapists will ask you and your partner to try new and different ways to approach situations, and it’s important to stick with it.

Discuss Priorities

Having a mutual goal for therapy creates direction and helps the therapist work with both parties. Try to find out what both of you want to take away from seeking therapy. The goals can be simple or complicated. Are you just frustrated in general? Are you reconciling after an affair? As long as there is a common goal that both you and your significant other are working towards, the direction of therapy will be clear and effective. Developing a new approach to the way you interact with your significant other can be hard work, but it can help create a healthy approach to dealing with issues.

Remain Open Minded

Entering relationship therapy is a difficult step and your relationship is feeling stress. It’s easy to place blame in any situation, especially one as heated as an argument with your significant other. Upon entering counseling, you have to agree to look inward, and examine your own behavior. Even if you truly feel your significant other is at fault you have to be ready to ask: “What have I done to make this situation better? How can I react differently?” It’s important to realize that you are entering couples therapy, and both parties need to adapt to grow. Change doesn’t always come from one person, it takes all parties involved to create a healthy relationship.

Therapy New York Williamsburg

There are many factors that come into play when seeking relationship therapy, but clear communication and honesty between partners along with the commitment to Williamsburg therapy itself can create an atmosphere in which both parties can grow individually and as a couple. Set a goal and aim to achieve it, together.



Tips for Lasting Relationships


Being in a relationship is not a walk in the park. In the beginning, it might seem to be. But in due course of time, perhaps a couple of years or even just months down the road, life circumstances simply start to grow dim and dreary. What was once sweet soon becomes sour and, yes, sometimes bitter. You will discover that the happiness in your little paradise is short-lived, and in your heart of hearts, you may start asking yourself why you got into a relationship in the very first place. But breaking it off and walking out is not always the solution, and getting in and out of relationships should never become a habit.

Hopefully, the following tips can help improve an otherwise bleak or toxic relationship and somehow give it another chance.


greenpoint therapy




Accept that no one is perfect.

This very basic understanding can save your relationship. You must be honest and humble enough to admit that you are not perfect. And if you know that you’re not perfect, then it would be so much easier to understand and forgive your partner for his imperfections. Being understanding, tolerant, and forgiving, becomes so much easier when you don’t expect your better half to be perfect.

Be more selfless and not self-centered.

A relationship is comparable to a joint venture, wherein people contribute and share their resources to accomplish a common goal. It cannot work if you pursue only your own self-interest instead of your shared interest as a couple. Yet unlike in business, it is a partnership that should be based on love and not on money. Business is self-seeking while love is not. Real love means putting your loved one’s needs over your own. If you truly love someone, top priority always goes to your significant other and not to yourself.

Be respectful always.

The problem when you’ve started living together under one roof for years is that you become too familiar with your partner, as if you already know that person all too well, inside and out. You’ve seen not only his good side but also his bad one. The bubble has been popped and everything is clear and exposed. The air of mystery about that other person has slowly dissipated and thus your respect has also dwindled along with it. However, we should be very slow and careful to judge, since we can’t really read another person’s mind or heart. Thus, respect should always be there even in the midst of trials. Otherwise, it will be sheer chaos.

A great relationship makes you feel like you’re floating in mid-air and everything else seems sunny and bright. A bad one makes you feel the exact opposite, as if you’re trapped in a deep, dark well and everything else about life is gloomy and dismal. In other words, the status of your relationship has a significant effect on all other aspects of your life. It can either make or break your whole being.

Yet being the social creatures that we are, it’s almost impossible to stay alone. For instance, people still start dating again and remarry even after having experienced the exhausting and agonizing process of divorce. Most would rather risk potentially getting hurt again than playing it safe, single and alone. But you don’t have to be alone if you don’t want to, and you don’t have to get hurt either. Do check out northbrooklynmft.com and learn how to strengthen and deepen your relationship. With offices for couples Therapy in Greenpoint and Williamsburg, we would be happy to assist you with any relationship hurdles you may be experiencing.

Avoiding Anxiety in Relationships

Being in a great relationship can produce some of the most incredible feelings of being comfortable, content, and safe. It’s typically some form of this “happy place” that most of us picture, when envisioning the “perfect relationship”. The tough part is, relationships simply aren’t perfect.


anxiety in relationships


By nature, we as humans with differences in all aspects of our lives, both major and subtle, may often have different ways of perceiving what is happening around us, or communicating what is on our minds. The more we can understand these differences and potential conflicts, the more adapt we will be at navigating any difficulties in our relationships.


By understanding some of the causes of relationship anxiety and how we can best avoid and/or remedy this behavior when it shows its face, we can be prepared and equipped to deal with conflict in whatever form it may take.



What are some of the causes of relationship anxiety?

Most frequently, it can stem from a miscommunication. If anxiety could be compared to a “caution” sign while driving, it often alerts us to more serious underlying issues, or could be just that: a warning, with no actual or real danger in sight. The tough part is what happens when we let that anxiety overtake us and transition an otherwise nonexistent issue, into a larger conflict.

What are a few ways to deal with anxiety?

Don’t assume or guess what the other person is thinking.
It’s too often the case that we may think we know what the other person is thinking or feeling. In some cases, one may even go so far as to react to that assumed perspective, which can complicate things even further. If you relate it to any other situation in life it might become even clearer. Let’s say you take your first bite of food at a restaurant and it’s not the temperature requested. What if, instead of politely informing the server, you assumed that no one at the restaurant could cooke, and immediately stormed out? As you can see, by taking the step to understand the situation and address it properly, your outcome could be totally different.

Focus on the future – not the past

One of the most effective ways to alleviate anxiety in relationships is to learn from your experience and to figure out exactly how you will address a similar situation, in the future. This not only helps to resolve the current issue, but also paves the way and creates a format that both parties can work with, during any time of future conflict. Relationship counseling or couples therapy can be highly effective in helping you to understand the cause/reaction that comes with anxiety, and can make you more equipped at dealing with it in the future.

Improving Communication Skills in Work and Personal Relationships


Improving Communication Skills - Therapy in Green Point, Williamsburg


Improving Communication Skills


Effective communication is the basis for all successful relationships, and improving communication skills can have a profound impact on one’s overall quality of life. Whether it be with your significant other, or colleagues at work, there are a few vital areas of focus that can dramatically improve your communication skills.

All too often we may have an initiative or intended outcome when communicating with others, which simply isn’t achieved. We may be too focused on relaying our points or perspective, without fully considering the perspective of the other party.



Be an Engaged Listener

Listening is fundamental when understanding the perspective of the other party, and is the first step to more successfully conveying your own message. One-way conversations or long monologues often produce the opposite of the intended result. This is fundamental with couples in all relationships as well as other interpersonal relationships. By focusing clearly on the other party, what they are saying, and ensuring you have a firm understanding, you will see an increase in the quality of your dialogue.


Communicate Clearly

It’s important to convey your message in a way that can be understood by the other party. This is especially important during a conflict. Too often the offended party ends up overstepping the boundary of common courtesy and respectful communication, by escalating their dissatisfaction into yelling or swearing. The most effective way to help the other party to better understand what may be bothering you is to remain calm and identify the specific reasons you may be bothered. When communicating these to the other party, use a respectful tone and express negative points in a way that is objective.


Non-Verbal Communication

By paying attention to the “body language” of the other party, individuals can gain a better understanding of how they may be feeling in the moment. Staying aware of your own body language is also an effective tool. By displaying signs of openness, such as having your arms uncrossed, leaning towards the other party, and making direct eye contact, you are reducing any potential barriers caused by off-putting non-verbal signals.


Stress Control

In a tense discussion at work or an interpersonal argument with your signifiant other, naturally your stress levels will elevate. Staying mindful of this, and the effect it may have on your verbal and non-verbal communication, is essential. When you feel uncomfortable or stressed, it’s OK to ask for a short break from the conversation, while you collect your thoughts. It’s more effective for both parties if stress levels are under control and not affecting the dialogue.




Transitioning from Single Life to Living Together

Photo courtesy https://valeridownunder.files.wordpress.com


Making the transition from single life to living together can be quite a challenging experience for some people, especially if they have been living the single life for many years. The partner who is accustomed to leaving clothes on the bed until returning from work or leaving empty glasses on the living room table will have to learn to clean up after themselves once they move in together.

The same applies to the partner who is used to going about his or her own business without consulting with anyone. In this new “living together” status, partners are expected to share their whereabouts with their one another in order to remain connected despite busy individual lives.

The following are some of the changes that both persons would have to consider if they wish to make a smooth transition:


If as a single person you don’t cook unless you are in the mood, this practice may have to be curtailed in order to accommodate your partner’s desire for a cooked meal on a Sunday. If however if one partner  loves to cook up a storm, maybe carry on with the cooking if you both are comfortable with the arrangement


Washing clothes and cleaning house are two household chores that as single people you do yourselves. In your new status either one or both may have to take up the responsibilities. The key is that both partners must share the household work equally

Friends with Benefits

As a single person, you may have had many friends in your life with whom you experienced a flirtatiousness.  Even if things never developed between the two of you, the nature of the relationship might make your partner uncomfortable. This will require an open dialogue between the two of you.

Night Owl & Early Bird

One of you may prefer to be up all night either surfing the net or watching TV. Again, this you have been doing ever since you moved in your own place. Your partner on the other hand may have been an early riser and believes it is waste of precious time to be in bed beyond 6 a.m. Again, some amount of compromise must be struck so that the night owl will take an early night occasionally to appease his/her partner and engage in some quality time. The early bird may need to stay in the “roost” a little longer to also engage in some quality time

The Cleaner One & The Untidy One

Over the years as a single person you have kept a neat “pad” with everything in order. Here comes your beloved who is quite the opposite and places the dirty socks in the same drawer as the clean ones. This partner may argue that a pair of socks can be worn for two or more days. Before this becomes an issue, negotiate the differences and strengthen the similarities.

For couples who live together, it is expected and necessary to each accept influence and that both of you will coexist allowing for compromise on both sides.  If you’re experiencing trouble with this transition, we can help.


By Wayne Powell, PhD student, MFT

PTSD Awareness Day

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Image courtesy http://www.southfloridaconnects.com/


According to the Mayo clinic, post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is defined as “a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it.” Last month, we celebrated Memorial Day in honor of the men and women who serve our country. While PTSD is widely recognized as being associated with atrocities of wartime, it is experienced by many non-veterans as a response to abuse, serious injury, intense illness, terrorist attack, loss of a loved one, etc.


According to NAMI, about “7.7 million [adult] Americans are affected by PTSD, but women are more likely to develop the condition than men.” However, according to PSTD United, “70% of adults in the U.S. have experienced some type of traumatic event at least once in their lives. This equates to approximately 223.4 million people.” That’s a very high number.

Signs and Symptoms

PTSD can look different for different people and can be in response to different incidents. However, some of the most common include memories, avoidance and change in mood.

Intrusive memories

One of the most common and distressing symptoms is intrusive memories. These can include recurrent, unwanted memories of the event, flashbacks, nightmares, and severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you of the event


Avoiding can come in the forms of emotional or physical. Emotional avoidance can look like trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event.  Physical avoidance means staying away from places, activities or people that remind you of the traumatic event.

Negative Changes in Thought or Mood

This can include, negative feelings about yourself or other people an inability to experience positive emotions, feeling numb, hopelessness about the future, memory impairment, including not remembering important aspects of the traumatic event, and difficulty maintaining close relationships.

A Shift in PTSD Treatment

Trauma-informed treatment is quickly becoming the standard of care. “Trauma informed care is an organizational structure and treatment framework that involves understanding, recognizing, and responding to the effects of all types of trauma. Trauma informed care also emphasizes physical, psychological and emotional safety for both consumers and providers, and helps survivors rebuild a sense of empowerment.” Trauma-informed care can be implemented in any setting, and here at North Brooklyn Marriage and Family Therapy, we use it as a way of conceptualizing the work we do with clients. SAMHSA offers a much more in-depth understanding of trauma-informed care but highlights these 6 principles as key to practicing under a trauma-informed theory.

6 Key Principles in Trauma-Informed Care

  1. Safety
  2. Trustworthiness and Transparency
  3. Peer support
  4. Collaboration and mutuality
  5. Empowerment, voice and choice
  6. Cultural, Historical, and Gender Issues

A Common Language – Know Your ACE Score

An ACE score is a tally of different types of abuse, neglect, and other hallmarks of difficult childhoods.  An ACE score gives survivors of trauma a common language and an ability to validate and acknowledge past experiences without having to re-tell their stories each time. Want to know your ACE score? You can get it here.

Getting More Help

If you or someone you know is struggling with PTSD there are many resources linked throughout this post.  Also, reach out to us here to be connected to a therapist who can help you navigate the complexities of PTSD with a trauma-informed approach.


By Linda Nelli, LMFT

Reigniting the sexual spark in relationships

Image courtesy http://www.wired.com/


LTR’s can be hard work

Maintaining a long-term relationship (or LTR) is hard work; in the face of challenges, couples must have open lines of communication, the ability to have honest discussions, and the willingness to actively engage with one another. Often times, couples get stuck in a negative cycle because they are either unwilling to confront problems head on, perhaps because of fear for potential consequences of addressing the issues at hand, or they are unaware of how to approach these challenging conversations with their partners. This can be especially difficult when the problem is a lackluster sex-life.

Let’s (try to) Talk about Sex

As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I see many couples who are unsatisfied with the state of their sex lives and worry that they can never break this cycle. Some worry that they will offend their partner. Others fear that they are alone in this worry and their sexual frustration is one-sided. But, there is good news. First, you are not alone. If one partner is feeling frustrated it is likely a very present issue in both partners’ minds. Second, by identifying or discussing the problem, the couple can become comfortable discussing sex and begin the journey of working through their challenges.  In a recent article for the Huffington Post, psychology and sex therapy experts outline 8 strategies for reigniting the spark and move toward a fulfilling sex life.

Strategies for Rebuilding Intimacy

The first step is to get to the heart of why you are not having sex. Is it because of a busy schedule? An underlying medical or mental health condition? Longstanding resentment or anger related to other problems in the relationship? Ignoring these issues and expecting that sex will just happen will only further the existing frustrating cycle. Regardless of the reason, getting to the heart of the problem allows couples to reconnect and focus on their sex life. Because of the stressful nature of daily life, it is easy to make excuses for why you are not having sex. Sex has to become a priority for both partners.

Make Sex a Priority Again

According to Huffington Post, desire is more responsive than spontaneous; taking small steps to be sexual everyday is essential because desire needs to build, it does not happen at an accelerated pace. Making sex a priority means scheduling time to be sexual. Let’s face it, daily life is stressful and busy, in order to break the cycle of lackluster sex couples must make the time to have sex. Another important factor highlighted in this article is the relationship between feeling sexual and feeling desired. This can happen throughout the day both in person or via text, letting your partner know that you are thinking about them. Relationships evolve. You may have to work at being in the mood and consciously choosing to be sexual.

Make Sex FUN again

Finally, sex should be fun and can take you out of your comfort zone. Shifting attention from stressing about the orgasm and simply having fun with your partner can change the entire mood of the bedroom. Sex does not always go as planned, it is not always mind blowing, but that is okay. Talking with your partner about what turns you on and divulging your sexual fantasies can be a good way to change things up in the bedroom.

How Marriage Counseling Can Help

However, these changes are easier said than done and can be a source of unhappiness or anxiety for many couples. At North Brooklyn Marriage and Family Therapy, our therapists can help you navigate through this journey so that you can reignite the spark and feel more sexually connected to your partner.


By Hillary Geffner, MFT




Marriage…not quite that dire.

Photo courtesy wegiveadamn.org


As a marriage and family therapist it was hard to miss Alain de Botton’s New York Times’ article “Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person.”  In session couples mentioned the article, some with horror and some with relief.  “If I’m with the wrong person what is the point of working on this relationship?”  Or, “I knew something was wrong here (in this relationship), this proves it.”  I assured the couples that while I thought that the articles had some good points I did not have such a negative view of the whole institution of marriage.  This post is inspired by those conversations with those couples.

Give marriage a break.

Marriage has gone through a tremendous amount of change.  The author gives some useful perspective on the recent history.  He highlights that we have moved from marriages based on financial contracts and helpful alliances to marriages based on a really amazing feeling.  How could a shift of that magnitude not come without its challenges?  I agree that the basis for current long term relationships, the desire to keep that amazing feeling going, needs some reassessment, but I don’t think love is doomed.

We do long for the familiar

We choose partners based on the familiar.  De Botton makes the point that we marry the familiar because we believe the familiar makes us happy.  Though he doesn’t reference the Imago theory to which he is referring that believes that we partner with people who remind us of our primary caregivers, both in positive and negative ways.  De Botton sees this as a doomed prospect- marrying someone who reminds us of our dysfunctional family members.  If we stopped there the situation would be pretty depressing, but that is only the beginning of the story.  Life is a journey.  We are always growing and changing.  Marriage should be a journey as well.  The mistake many of us make is believing that the person standing next to us at the altar will remain as we see them now.

It can be work, but what isn’t?

Instead of looking for a partner that shares our love of design or our passion for a certain band, we are better off to look for someone who is committed to growing in spiritual depth, emotional maturity and continues to search for personal meaning.  Many challenges can be conquered when two dynamic people committed to growth are honest with one another about what they need.  Imago theory holds that we search out the familiar people because we have a deep longing to go back to that original relationship conflict and to do it differently.  That familiar person, committed to loving through honesty and growing together, can be a tremendously wonderful and healing gift.

Who said that it all works out without some effort

The dire picture the article paints is the reality of many marriages.  We have been sold a bill of goods that once we select the right person we are set.  Few of us want to be in the exact same relationship for the next forty years. If our partner is static, personally and within the relationship, we become disinterested and all that remains is the bureaucratic work of bills, chores and retirement plans.  Long term relationships have the potential to be so much more.  If you are interested in finding out if that more is possible for you and your partner, contact us!

Finding love: It’s not (all) you. Is it me, too?

Photo courtesy femaleintel.com


Have you ever wondered “Why is it that my relationships never seem to last? Is it about me or is it about the partners I have had? You might have caught a previous post we posted about the topic of finding love.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What is it I want out of relationship? Are my expectations too high?
  2. Am I too accommodating or too patient?
  3. Am I too selective or impatient?
  4. Do I usually lower my standards and abandon my value system?
  5. Do I use the relationship as a psychological “crutch” to compensate for the absence of love and affection in my childhood?
  6. Am I usually involved in rebound relationships?
  7. Am I ready for a committed relationship?


What is it I want out of relationship? Are my expectations too high?

Sometimes we enter a relationship with expectations that our partner can’t fulfill or maybe these expectations were never even communicated in the first place. When these expectations are not met with that person we terminate that relationship and move on to the next person with the hope of fulfilling those expectations with someone else.

Am I too accommodating or too patient?

Sometimes we get involved with someone who has glaring problems but we are in denial about these issues until they overwhelm us. This partner may ask for forgiveness for the “eleventeenth” time. We pardon them today and next week they commit the same indiscretions.

Am I too selective?

Some people in their bid to find the “right” partner move from one relationship to the next in quick successions. They tend to walk around with a profile of “Mr. / Ms Right” in their purse/wallet and when they don’t find the match, they terminate the relationship after a few months.

Do I usually lower my standards and abandon my value system?

In order to please the partner or secure the relationship some people disregard their own beliefs and engage in activities that are primarily geared to satisfy his/her partner. They soon realize that this lifestyle is not fulfilling and terminate the relationship.

Do I use the relationship as a psychological “crutch” to compensate for the absence of love and affection in my childhood?

 People who enter relationships with the intention of filling a psychological void in their life tend to be very clingy which sometimes drive the other person away and as such the relationship is short-lived.

Am I usually involved in rebound relationships?

 Starting a new relationship immediately after you left one is usually problematic. It makes a lot of sense to put closure on the former relationship. Spend some time doing a post mortem (evaluation) of the past relationship so that you may avoid the same missteps.

Am I ready for a committed relationship?

 If you are not ready to settle down and your partner is, chances are he or she will “walk” when they realize that you are not serious.

A relationship is a serious investment that will only survive in an atmosphere of love, commitment and honesty. We work with people all the time who are experiencing difficulty finding or maintaining romantic relationships and we would love to hear from you, too.

By Wayne Powell, MFT Intern, PhD candidate

3 Ways to Slow Down This Summer Season

Image courtesy of www.sultanssuites.com/

As Americans, Memorial Day is a time to honor those who risk their lives for our country every day.  For many of us, it is also a long-awaited 3-day weekend and opportunity to unwind.  The concept of “me time” probably sounds like a fairy tale to most of us. Whether you live here in Brooklyn, or anywhere else in New York city, sometimes just getting to work in the morning can use up a lot of your energy.  But very often, we extend the distractions of these busy days by being buried in our phones or worrying about tomorrow before today is even done. At North Brooklyn Marriage and Family Therapy, we see all the time the effects of these daily diversions can have on our relationships with our partners, friends, children, coworkers, etc. To kick off the summer season, commit to taking a little time to slow down.

1) Be More Mindful

A few months back we offered a Mindfulness Group here at North Brooklyn.  The goal of mindfulness is to help you slow down, be in-the-moment and aware of your surroundings.  How often do you find yourself out with friends or talking to a spouse and half-listening because you’re thinking about that RSVP you forgot to mail out or an interview you’re concerned about the next day?  Most of us are guilty of this at some point. But for many, mindfulness feels like just another to-do item on our ever-growing lists. Here’s a VERY simple technique that you can try now.  Set your phone timer for one minute.  Breathe in and out naturally for 60-seconds, focused only on your breathing.  If your thoughts stray, take note of that, and re-focus on your breath.  That’s it. Sounds too simple? It’s not.  It works to start slowing your mind.  Try these other 1 minute mindfulness techniques.

2) Put Down Your Phone

This one is a no-brainer. Research shows that our cell phones negatively impact our relationships.  Try this: put your cell phone somewhere unreachable for one hour each day.  You will probably be surprised with how distracted you are once you realize you can’t just grab for it. See above.  Practice slowing down and being present in the moment.

3) Make a (small) Plan

This one might sound contradictory to slowing down your already busy life.  The idea here is not to add to your to-do list, but rather make a spontaneous plan. Try taking an after dinner walk over the Williamsburg Bridge, color for half an hour, or finally reach out to the old friend you’ve been meaning to call.  It doesn’t actually matter what the plan is, the smaller the better! What matters here is that you commit to doing something different and just do it.  Don’t save it for another day.

Most of us are guilty of doing too much and being too tired.  We might not be able to slow the pace of the outside world but we can incorporate some things to help us slow down and take notice of our own worlds.


By Linda Nelli, LMFT

Nostalgia: Bringing the Past into Your Present

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We hear and talk about them all the time, those elusive “good old days.” Sometimes these recollections can elicit an eye roll. Like Billy Joel sang, “the good old days weren’t always good and tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems.”  But maybe there really something is to those good old days. According to a recent Psychology Today article “psychologists are building a case that meditating on episodes from the past is, for many, a mind-opening remedy for every day malaise,” (Huston, 2016).

The Psychology of Nostalgia

According to Merriam-Webster, nostalgia is defined as a “wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition.”  In one study of college students, participants were asked to write essays about an event that made them feel nostalgic.  Outcomes showed that people writing about nostalgic events experienced more feelings of positivity.  Using a program called Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC), researchers were able to analyze words in the text associated with optimism. Those writing about nostalgic events used more optimistic words than those writing about ordinary events.  In another study, where one group of participants was asked just to think of nostalgic events while the other was asked to think of ordinary events, similar results were produced. According to Markman, “optimism increased above and beyond any influence that thinking about a nostalgic event had on people’s positive feelings in general,” (2013).

The Impact of Nostalgia on Relationships and Conflict Resolution

No matter how many positive relational interactions we may have, most people experience will experience difficulty in their relationships throughout their lives. During times of relationship distress, it can be helpful to think about times in the past when we were feeling more connected. In a study by Routledge and colleagues, psychologists at North Dakota State University, “reflecting on times when things went smoothly can assure us that we’ll be able to get past it,” (Huston, 2016).  Often, we can overgeneralize an experience, i.e. “we NEVER seem to be able to resolve problems,” as people tend to filter information through cognitive distortions. However, if we allow nostalgia to influence our thoughts, perhaps bringing to mind a positive interaction will increase optimism and allow us to feel more capable of resolving the conflict.

By Linda Nelli, LMFT


Image courtesy https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/bf/4e/4d/bf4e4dc5b30b2b93269384146d6d5abc.jpg

Based on an article by Matt Huston:

Huston, M. (2016, June). Believe in yesterday. Psychology Today. 49, 9.


Two Amazing Years in North Brooklyn

North Brooklyn Marriage & Family Therapy


All that’s happened!

Two years ago we had this idea that North Brooklyn could benefit from a quality therapy practice serving the needs of individuals and couples.  We had a thought that there was a need, but we had no idea of the response we would get!  We have grown to ten therapists with a focus on wholeness and connection.  We combine the latest research on mental health care with heart for the people we treat.  Over our time in this community we have seen the need for both excellence and affordability.  We began a training program that also allows us to offer therapy at sliding scales, lower fees that makes therapy more accessible.

What we’ve seen.

Our training includes a systemic perspective on human interactions.  This makes us particularly well suited to working with people who need help with communication or conflict resolution.  These two years have brought us lots of couples and individuals, but we have also seen business partners, families and adult siblings in need of assistance.  Our couples include every kind of New York City couple you can imagine.  We see clients struggling with the rebuilding of trust after an infidelity.  We see separated couples working toward better co-parenting.  We see couples adjusting to the life changing event of a first child.   We see individuals who long to find the right partner.  We see people wanting to find work that is a passion for them or wanting to reduce their anxiety.

Where we are going.

To meet the needs of North Brooklyn we are expanding into a second location in Greenpoint.  As our neighborhood grows and changes we hope to grow with it.  Our new location includes space for groups.  We plan to continue to offer premarital groups and baby preparation groups.  We hope to add an anger management group.  If you have an idea of a group that you would find useful and that others might benefit from, please let us know.  We have added the services of a certified sex therapist, in order to help with intimacy issues and sexual dysfunction.  We are pleased to be able to offer therapy in both Greenpoint and Williamsburg. We look forward to many more years of helping couples move closer together and individuals improve their lives.  Thank you!


By Jennifer Aull, LMFT and Owner

Feel an Argument Coming On? Here are 4 Ways to Help Manage Physiological Arousal

Photo credit inckpen.com


This article was originally written for WellnessFX, a digital health company based out of San Francisco, CA. For the full article, click here.

Can you remember the last time you were in a heated argument? How did you feel? Did your body temperature rise? Did your hands start sweating? Did you possibly say things you regretted saying?

Our bodies have an array of defense mechanisms to keep us safe and most importantly alive. Having a strong understanding of what those signs and warnings are can allow us to reverse the effects in an efficient and responsible manner, allowing for more effective problem solving, communication and ultimately stronger relationships with others.

Dr. John Gottman, who has spent the last 40 plus years researching couple dynamics coined the term diffuse physiological arousal (DPA). DPA is the physiological overload a person experiences when you’re in fight-or-flight mode. It is a sympathetic nervous system (SNS) response.

4 Ways to Help Manage Physiological Arousal

1. Measure Key Biomarkers

Gain an understanding of where your baseline and hs-CRP and cortisol levels stand. (various WellnessFX panels test these biomarkers)

Hs-CRP, or high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, is currently the human body’s best indicator of inflammation. When you’re injured, your body goes through a process of rushing blood to the injured area, allowing immune cells to begin the healing process. Interestingly enough, inflammation is shown to be a crucial marker of depression, whether mild or severe. This study digs into how inflammation can affect people when they’re feeling depressed about any of life’s stressors. Maintaining healthy hs-CRP levels means your body isn’t constantly injured, or in terms of mental health, depressed. Let’s be real when we use words like depression, you don’t need to be diagnosed with depression to experience depressive symptoms. Knowing that your baseline hs-CRP level is optimal predicts that your body is capable of managing those symptoms effectively which in turn keeps one from experiencing depressive symptoms for extended period of time which is one of the indicators that would lead to a depressive diagnosis, as per the ICD-10.

Cortisol levels can give you insight as to how frequently you engage in fight-or-flight mode. When you’re stressed, your adrenal glands secrete cortisol to help bring your body back to baseline. If you’re constantly stressed (aka constantly secreting cortisol), your baseline cortisol levels are going to be high which can have several implications to your body. If your baseline is over 19.5 µg/dL, you may want to seriously consider the next three tips.

2. Work with a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)

If you’re experiencing any of the aforementioned physiological reactions due to your style of conflict (confrontational, avoidant, etc.) or due to perpetual arguments with a loved one, a marriage and family therapist can certainly help you and your significant other (or you and your family) work through these issues and teach each of you appropriate coping skills to prevent DPA. LMFTs are specially trained to facilitate individuals, couples and families’ presenting concerns from a systemic approach. They can help their client(s) systematically recognize how recurring issues manifest themselves in different aspects of their lives. LMFTs, like most holistic therapists, help their client(s) work on the root cause of the issue while providing tools for symptom management. Psychotherapists trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can also provide effective and evidence-based treatment plans when working with an individual to help the client gain the skills and tools needed to manage stress.

3. Practice Some Form of Mindfulness Meditation

photo credit huffingtonpost.com


Mindfulness meditation can be a beneficial way to reduce stresses like anxiety and depression as noted in a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine. Mindfulness meditation can help one gain a deeper and more personal understanding of how to manage stress by allowing the individual time to explore thought patterns which may provoke stress in a relaxed and non-threatening environment. Being mindful to stress provoking thoughts, with practice, could allow acceptance to replace anxiety, leading to new perspective and meaning to these thoughts. A great way to start if you’re a complete beginner is with the HeadSpace app.

4. Track Your Heart Rate Variability

Tracking your heart rate variability (HRV) can give you a strong sense of how resilient you are to daily stressors. To briefly summarize, HRV is the variation in the time interval between heart rates. Heart rate fluctuations are regulated by the autonomic nervous system (ANS) which works to maintain the body in equilibrium by way of managing blood pressure, heart rate, etc. The ANS consists of the sympathetic branch (fight or flight) which is responsible for speeding your heart rate up and the parasympathetic branch (rest and repair) which is responsible for slowing down your heart rate. Interplay between these two branches gives you an HRV reading. Tracking this measurement can provide you with great insight as to how your own autonomic nervous system functions in response to stress. An easy way to track your HRV is by using the SweetBeat HRV app and a bluetooth chest strap. For more on establishing an HRV tracking routine and what your data means, WellnessFX practitioner Ben Greenfield provides a fantastic introduction (and more advanced resources) to HRV here.

Click here for the full article on WellnessFX’s blog

Cognitive Distortions and Anxiety


Anyone who has experienced anxiety will recognize the symptoms all too well.  Feeling irritable, tired, difficulty concentrating, trouble falling asleep, muscle tension, etc. These are some of the most common experiences reported by people with anxiety. Have you ever found yourself pre-worrying? Or thinking about every possibility that could possibly happen? And then land on the most troubling one and convince yourself of its inevitably? Well, if you have, you’re not alone.

Anxiety Disorders: Common Diagnoses

According to The Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are most commonly diagnosed in the US, affecting 18% of the population age 18 and over.  Annually, anxiety disorders cost the United States $42 billion, which is one third of the country’s $148 billion mental health bill. With the fast-paced, over-scheduled life that most of us lead, especially in New York, this probably does not come as much of a surprise.

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

One way of thinking about anxiety is to look at it as a cycle. The most widely used and effective form of therapy for anxiety is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT.  According to CBT, in the most simplistic of terms, an event creates a thought, which triggers a feeling, which influences our actions.  For example, your boss sends you a short email, “I’d like to meet with you later this afternoon.” This is the event.  The thought might be, “That’s it.  I’m going to be fired.”  The feelings that follow may be sadness, fear, and of course, any number of anxious symptoms.  The actions that come next are very much determined by the ways in which the information is filtered.  So if you’ve already decided you are going to get fired, you might act by responding with a lengthy email to your boss about all of your hard work.  Or, you might call and text your circle of friends and tell them about all of your fears.  Or, you might begin to have trouble focusing on anything other than the upcoming meeting, pacing and feel a wave of exhaustion.  If you experience anxiety, this is a recognizable scenario.

Recognizing Cognitive Distortions

There are many cognitive distortions, or filters, through which people use to process interactions in the world.  These filters impact people’s experience of anxiety.  The following are 2 common filters that many people experience when they are struggling with anxiety. Click the link above for a more comprehensive list of cognitive distortions.


This is described in the above example.  For example, “my boss wants to meet with me; therefore she is probably going to fire me.” This is an example of catastrophizing something through the “what ifs.”

Black and White Thinking

I refer to this one as the “always” and “never” distortion.  “She is ALWAYS inconsiderate of my feelings.”  “My husband NEVER considers my feelings when he is late.”  The gray is a very uncomfortable place for most people.  Try eliminating “always” and “never” from your vocabulary and replace it with “both, and.”

Challenging Cognitive Distortions

CBT offers a set of tools to challenge these maladaptive distortions.  As with most therapeutic work, recognizing the patterns that exist is an important first step. Once distorted filters are identified, therapists will often have clients keep a thought record to track feelings during times of distress.

Continue to follow the North Brooklyn Marriage and Family Therapy blog for more posts on anxiety disorders and the use of CBT as a helpful collection of tools to combat anxiety symptoms.
By Linda Nelli, LMFT



Before popping THE question, which others should be asked?

Photo Courtesy of Bridal Guide


Will you marry me? This is a question posed all over the world by couples of all races, cultures, sexual orientations, religious backgrounds, etc.  While society has romanticized most facets of marriage and businesses have profited off of most facets of weddings, it’s easy to forget that at the heart of these unions are two people, committing to spend their lives together.  As couple’s therapists, we know the importance of knowing one another deeply before embarking on this journey together.


We’re in love, what else is there to Know?


In a recent NY Times Article, journalist Eleanor Stanford writes about the “13 Questions to Ask Before Getting Married.”  Some couples talk about most topics freely and the lines of communication are open and free flowing.  For others, talking about some of the more taboo subjects, like say, sex, are a little more difficult.  What so often happens with couples that fall into the latter category is that these issues bubbling under the surface do not go away, but rather will need to be addressed later when some of the loving feelings of pre-marriage may have dissipated.  We highly recommend checking out the whole article, the questions posed are open-ended and can be a great way to get a conversation rolling. While they’re all useful, the following 2 seem to come up most in our work with couples, related to conflict resolution and finance.


Question 1: How do we both view and want to tackle debt?


This one is so important.   So often, couples have very different ideas about the way individual debt should be handled.  This is a key thing to discuss with your partner before marriage.  How do we both view debt? Does debt that comes before we were together as a couple become shared debt once we’re married? Or will that be one individual’s responsibility?

How can you address the issue of finances?

It’s important to talk honestly and openly about what debts and savings you are bringing into the union.  Discuss the meaning of money you both share and how you want to handle personal vs. shared bank accounts.  It’s also helpful to talk about the way your parents handled finances.  That gives you a better understanding of where your partner is coming from and can build empathy. Some partners believe all money should be shared once married.  Other believe it should remain separate.  No matter which side you fall on these views are starkly different and should be discussed before becoming a huge divide.

Question 2: How did you learn to argue and resolve conflict? Is it similar to or different from one another?

Communication.  This one is huge.  One of the most common goals of couples in therapy is to gain better “tools” to help solve what Gottman calls, “perpetual problems.” Most of us know these.  These are the problems that tend to be about the same things over and over again, with no resolve and no way to break the argument cycle.  How do we first learn to argue? Our parents.  Ask. Your. Partner. This. Question! We can’t stress enough the importance of knowing your partner’s conflict style by learning about what they saw in their home growing up.  This is a big one.

How can you address the issue of conflict resolution?

The best advice for couples venturing into marriage? Premarital counseling.  According to HealthResearchingFunding.org, couples who participate in premarital counseling have 30% higher marital success rates than those who do not. Premarital counselors are trained to help you and your partner navigate these more difficult conversations while attempting to avoid those perpetual problem cycles mentioned above.  At North Brooklyn Marriage and Family Therapy, we are certified Prepare-Enrich counselors.  This program offers a comprehensive assessment that both you and your partner complete. The therapist then reviews the results, they are shared with the couple and then key issues are addressed.  These topics include finances, conflict resolution, sex, communication, parenting, spiritual beliefs, etc.

It’s OK if these premarital topics have not yet been discussed!

These topics are difficult to talk about for reasons; they’re touchy, they’re uncomfortable and in talking about them we run the risk of getting hurt or hurting our partners.  It’s normal if these things feel tough to discuss. That’s where premarital counseling comes in.  Contact us if any of these things sound like they might be helpful to you and your partner.

Let’s Talk About Sex

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photo courtesy penelope trunk


Sex is a natural, important, and intimate component of human interaction. But let’s face it, talking about sex is hard. Whether the conversation is between a parent and child or between romantic partners, most people find it difficult to have open and honest conversations about sex and sexuality. When these conversations do happen, most of them revolve around the risks or potential consequences of sex; a series of “DOs and DONTs” and cautionary narratives about the dangers of sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, sexual assault, the importance of consent. There is no denying that all of those aspects are extremely important when it comes to understanding sex but they are not representative of the full picture of sex.


Precautions about sex is not the whole story


Rarely do we address the pleasures of sex, individual desires, setting personal boundaries, sensuality, and self-exploration. Not talking about sex does not stop people from having it.  Rather, it limits knowledge and perpetuates the misconceptions and myths about what sex should look and feel like. So, if conversations about sex are limited, where and how do people fill in these gaps?


Pornography = Sex Ed 101?

A March 2016 New York Times Article “When Did Porn Become Sex Ed?” addresses the trends and consequences when adults and teens don’t have honest conversations about what happens after consent. Author Peggy Orenstein discusses how in the absence of information, young people have turned to porn as an instruction manual for sex. As Americans we are often in pursuit to avoid uncomfortable or awkward conversations or deter people from having sex before they are emotionally capable.  It is then that we turn sex into a taboo topic that is riddled with mystery, forcing young people to blindly engage and hope they figure it out as the go along.  The intentions are, for the most part, in the right place: making sure people are being responsible and knowledgeable before they have sex. Yet, ironically, the avoidance and shaming has worked against those intentions, often sending young people into the world ill-prepared and unaware.


How do we talk about sex

Yes, normalizing sex is hard because being honest about such intimate things can be awkward. But the risk of feeling awkward is worth the reward of self-awareness in sex. If you find it hard to talk about sex or find yourself lost in how to have these important conversations you’re not alone. Our therapists can help you explore these feelings in a safe, comfortable, and non-judgmental environment.


By Hillary Geffner



There’s no “I” in Team – Increasing Empathy and Improving Communication in a Changing Workforce


Photo credit: http://www.billbachrach.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/Working-Together-Small-300×203.jpg

According to the BusinessDictionary, the definition of group norms is an “unspoken and often unwritten set of informal rules that govern individual behaviors in a group.” As a systemic therapist, the concept of group norms setting both the tone and functionality of a group is a lesson taught early on in training programs. However, when we think of fostering healthy, empathetic and communicative group norms, we don’t often think, corporate America. However, that seems to be changing.

A more connected workplace

You may have heard of team-building workshops or open office floor plans, like the one recently adopted by Citigroup. This literal knocking down of walls promotes transparency, de-mystifies hierarchical differences and, for better or for worse, increases the need for co-worker collaboration. This last one influenced the push to observe and evaluate group norms to gain and understanding of what makes a group successful or unsuccessful.

A Study in Empathy and Communication

A recent NY Times Magazine article, (Duhigg, 2016), covered a Google-forged initiative titled Project Aristotle set out to study what makes certain work groups successful, versus those that are not. The findings were clear, successful groups had very little to do with similarities in personality, education, gender or extracurricular activities. Success had much more to do with creating an environment in which a group felt “psychologically safe” to communicate thoughts and ideas without fear of embarrassment (Edmonson, 1999). This in turn increases empathy between group members.

What this means for the future of therapy

Gone are the days of putting one’s head down, doing our work and heading home. As more and more workplaces prioritize group projects, open floor plans and increased collaboration, the need to learn more effective ways to communicate is even more pressing. Here at North Brooklyn Marriage and Family Therapy we have seen an increase in requests for therapy for business partners.   As a relational therapist, my work with business partners is very similar to my work with couples, because the needs are basically the same. In any successful partnership, business or personal, individuals must share mutual respect, communicate effectively and be empathetic toward one another. Does any of this sound like it pertains to you? If you find yourself in a partnership, business or otherwise that is lacking in any of these areas, it might be time to reach out to us. We can help open up lines of communication and restore a sense of empathy and connectedness.

By Linda Nelli

Duhigg, Charles. “Work-Life.” The New York Times Magazine, February 28, 2016, 19-75.

Love: Why Can’t I Find it!

DovesWhere is Love?

Sitting at the table next to you is this couple. They seem genuinely interested in what one another has to say.  They laugh a lot and almost seem to be making fun of one another at times.  They seem pleased to be able to tell one another what happened during their respective days.  From where you are sitting their interactions seem easy.  How do I find love like that?

Why does it seem so difficult to find someone who we are attracted to who is attracted to us and like to be around?  Is it really so difficult?  There are some things that may be going on, some of which are too complex to make it onto this list, but here are some ideas to get you thinking about what may be going on.

Do you want a partner?

Society sends all of us the message that we are more valuable when paired up with someone else and it is just not true.  Check in with yourself.  Do you really want someone in your life in that full-time capacity or do you feel like it is the socially appropriate thing to do? As soon as you are a semi-functional adult all sorts of people feel free to ask about your relationship status.  Maybe those questions are subconsciously pressuring you to believe that you need a partner.

You are meeting people who want something different than what you want.

Romantic relationships can take on so many different structures.  I have seen married couples, who have great lives together, but choose to live in different houses.  Some people love to spend lots of time together.  Some couples really long for a looser, less responsible relationship.  Before you conclude that there is something that is wrong with you that is keeping you from love, make sure you are coming in contact with people who want the same thing you want.  One good strategy is having friends that have relationships that look like something you want.

Look for slow love.

Attraction can seem like a mystery when it’s elusive, but we do know some things about the laws of attraction.  There are the things we find attractive instantly, and then there are the things that we find attractive over time.  More superficial things may grab our attention, but they often don’t play out even over a couple of months.  When looking for a partner who will keep your interest over time, it’s better to get to know the person a little bit before deciding if that zing is there or not.  The June 2015 New York Times Article, “For Couples, Time Can Upend the Laws of Attraction” spoke of the joys of slow love.  Swiping left or right may seem like an efficient way of finding love, but real attraction needs a little bit of time to assert itself.

Get some help with your search.

If you long for someone in your life and what you have been doing has yet to work, it may be time to talk with one of our therapists.  We are love experts and can help you identify possible roadblocks within yourself and possible outside obstacles to finding the love you deserve.  At North Brooklyn Marriage and Family Therapy, we have couples therapists that accept a range of different fees to best meet your financial needs.  Call 718-785-9718 to learn more.


Standing your ground in an argument: Is it worth it?


Fighting-CoupleDo you know that frustrated feeling you get in an argument when you just know that you’re right but you are not being heard by your partner? Well, you’re not alone. As a systemic therapist, I see couple after couple with this exact complaint. “If he/she would just change this (insert concern here), we would be fine.”  Like a debate team, partners become skilled at going head to head, point for point in defense of their argument.  And, on a debate team, that’s a useful technique. But in an intimate partner debate that can end in only one result: loss, because after all, there is only one team here.

Digging our feet in the sand: Picking our roles

In couples, hurts can build up and each new slight can affect us deeply.  For example, “It might be nice if you would ask me about my day instead of sulking through the door ignoring me,” meets with “Well I had a long day, too.  I’m exhausted and it might be nice if you could give me some space when I get home.” But of course this is not just about the greetings this couple gives one another. It’s deeper. Neither partner is feeling heard and odds are that some accumulated pain is coloring these responses. While the dialogue here may differ, the debate has been set and inevitably, the debaters will take their stances. The most common roles? The Pursuer v. The Distancer.  In these two positions, the pursuer tends to feel invisible, that no matter how much they push, they’re not being heard.  While the withdrawer often retreats further and further into themselves, often feeling that no matter how they respond, it’s never enough anyway.

So, what can we do differently?

As any good debater will tell you, it feels great to finally beat our opponent.  In intimate relationships, we can forget that this is not our opponent, this is our teammate.  Once partners settle into the roles of pursuer or distancer, it can be difficult to break the cycle; difficult, but not impossible. This is especially true  with two willing partners.  Once couples decide that winning the battle is less important than protecting the relationship, there are a few simple communication techniques that can help partners to lay down their swords.

Setting a time and place:

Decide on a neutral place and time to discuss important topics.  I’ve worked with a couple in the past that saved heated arguments for restaurants so that it would force them to speak respectfully to one another. If out-of-the-house discussions are not possible, just be sure to set aside a time to speak and stick to it. Treat it as importantly as you would a significant business meeting.

How to be heard:

“I Statements” – We are heard much more clearly in an argument when we can label our feelings.  “I felt really hurt when you didn’t call” is a lot more effective than “You’re so unreliable I knew you would forget to call me.” It’s hard to argue when someone tells you how they feel.  We don’t necessarily have to agree with our partner’s feelings, but we can’t dispute that they have them and can hopefully find ways to validate them.

Validating does not meaning having to agree – This is a good skill to practice.  We may not always agree with our partner during arguments, but we can absolutely find ways of making sure our partner feels heard. For example, with the above scenario, “I felt really hurt when you didn’t call,” already puts our partner into a less defensive place.  It leaves us more open to the ability to validate our partner.  We have more room to respond with, “I can understand how my not calling today left you feeling hurt. That was not my intention.” It’s important to end the sentence there and avoid the ever-tempting “…but” at the end. The goal here is connection and empathy, not winning.

Knowing when our Repair Attempts are not working:

Sometimes, despite our best attempts at breaking our negative cycles and changing our communication patterns, we need a little extra help to make lasting changes.  At North Brooklyn Marriage and Family Therapy we have couples therapists that accept a range of different fees in order to best meet your financial needs.  Call 718-785-9718 to learn more.

Photo Credit: http://www.steamenginefinancialcoaching.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Fighting-Couple.jpg

Bringing Home Baby Workshop for Expecting Parents

posted in: Parenting, relationships | 0

Bringing Home Baby: Workshop for Expecting Parents

Amazing workshop to help your relationship

The childbirth Ed class for your relationship, the Bringing Baby Home workshop focuses on how to emotionally prepare the couple for baby’s
arrival. Sometimes we’re so busy thinking about how to ready our bodies and our homes for a baby that we forget about preparing our relationship.

In the workshop expecting couples and new parents will gain a sense of empowerment by learning skills to:
Prepare for the transition to parenthood
Maintain relationship satisfaction after having a baby
Promote positive parent-baby interactions
Promote quality involvement for both parents
Reduce the incidence or severity of postpartum mood disorders

The workshop is on Sunday, April 24th and Sunday, May 1st from 9am-4pm with breaks.

Fee is $295 per couple. Materials included.

About the instructor:

Kristen Mosier is a certified Bringing Baby Home educator; she holds a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, has training in childbirth education and has authored multiple articles on pregnancy and parenting. A Brooklyn mom herself, she can relate to the joys and challenges of raising a little one in New York City.


To register please call 718-785-9718 or email info@northbrooklynmft.com.

Prepare Premarital Workshop

Premarital Couples Workshop

Falling in love is the easy part; now it’s time to prepare for marriage with the help of an effective, specialized program tailored to your specific relationship needs. First you take a test that analyzes your specific strengths and growth areas as a couple, and then we follow up with a group workshop that supports and fosters a community environment. Using the results of your test, combined with the helpful feedback of a PREPARE/ENRICH professional and your community of fellow couples, you will emerge with new insight and skills to navigate the road ahead as a more united partnership!

With us, you can expect to

Strengthen communication skills
Identify and manage major stressors
Resolve conflict using the Ten Step Model
Develop a more balanced relationship
Explore family of origin issues
Discuss financial planning and budgeting

Establish personal, couple and family goals

Understand and appreciate personality differences

If you and your partner are looking forward to a life together and would like to develop and reinforce the tools you will need to keep that unity strong—please join us this March for our PREPARE/ENRICH workshop.

The workshop takes place on Sunday, March 8th from 11-4pm (with breaks!).

We look forward to seeing you there!

Cost: $300/per couple. Sign up by calling 718-785-9178 or email us at info@northbrooklynmft.com.

For more information about the Prepare inventory go to prepare-enrich.com.

On Empathy

the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.


I think about the experience of empathy a lot. Feeling empathy for another person’s emotional experience is the primary skill of a counselor. Above theories or interventions, if you can sit with a client, in their sorrow, in their anxiety, or in their joy, you are healing. And if you can’t, it’s hard to imagine that the work is being done.

Empathy is sourced in the same part of the brain as self-awareness, the insula. It makes sense. If I cannot bring awareness to my own feelings, if I cannot feel them and name them, how I can do that with another person’s feelings? And it follows that as I practice self-awareness, I develop my ability to empathize, and thus my ability to connect in a deeper sense of humanity. So I think about empathy a lot.

The layman’s understanding of empathy is feeling another person’s feelings. But there is more to it than that; there has to be. In addition to feeling another person’s feelings, going into that space with them and sitting there — without judgment and without expressing our natural and loving desire to fix that person’s problems to return their feelings to neutral — there is also necessary discernment. We cannot go into another person’s space of anxiety and take on that anxiety as our own. It is not sustainable, it is not productive, and it’s not ours to take. Rather, empathy is the ability to feel someone’s sadness around a decision we have made, and be able to stick with that decision. We know it hurts them, we know it’s a hard decision, and it remains one that we must make.

I then wonder why empathy is not on everyone’s mind. Always. A greater sense of how we affect people, and how we can support them, a greater sense of our own internal landscape and reaction patterns, is a whole, additional world of information and understanding. We maintain discernment, we maintain who we are and how we choose to live our lives, while feeling connected, loving, and with heightened understanding. These are some of the gifts of mindfulness meditation — some of the gifts of sitting with someone else’s pain while resisting our need to solve it, and ultimately the gifts of intimacy with humanity. It’s a beautiful thing, it’s why I’m a therapist, and why I teach techniques for developing empathy.

For more information check out some of these resources:

Sarah Larkin Birdsong
, MHC, considers counseling a collaborative practice in communication and connection, and she works with couples, individuals, children, and groups. Her open-minded and accepting approach to counseling helps people heal trauma, process loss, manage stress, make strong decisions and understand relationships better. Read more about Sarah.

Mindfulness Group for Stress Reduction

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mindfulnessHow often do you stress about something that happened in the past, distracting you from completing a task in the present moment? How often do you stress about a potential outcome of something that has been on your mind for days? Mindfulness is the practice of maintaining awareness of our present sensations, the environment, thoughts, and feelings. Our eight-week mindfulness group will not only teach you how to create a mindfulness practice for yourself, it will dive deep into the educating you about the practical, neurological, spiritual, physiological, psychological and systemic benefits that incorporating a mindfulness practice would bring to you.

“Everything other than this present moment is just a memory or imagination.”

September 30th – November 18th (8 weeks – Wednesdays)
8:30 pm $25 a week to be paid up front $200

Marc Fernandez
provides therapy to individual, couples, and families at North Brooklyn MFT in New York City. Additionally, Marc is co-founder of a health and wellness blog called www.theHumanBluPrint.com, aimed to help people self-educate on how to be the best version of themselves. Give North Brooklyn MFT a call at (718) 785-9718 if you think learning how to “turn inward” may be something you’re interested in
. Read more about Marc

Tips for Online Dating Part 6: Follow-Up

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This is part 6 of a six-part series on tips for online dating. Go here for the rest of the series.

Finding a match online that has the potential to result in a serious relationship can be a daunting task for many people — before you even consider the stigma sometimes still associated with online dating. Many people eschew this style of meeting people after years of navigating page after swipe after bad date after face palm. These discouraged folks are usually truly looking for a serious relationship. And, believe it or not, many of them are male.

One of the most common themes I observe in males who are looking for a serious relationship through online dating is a lack of emotional intelligence (EI). Online, just as in-vivo, a lack of EI becomes apparent through one’s insecurities and ultimately dishonesty.

In this six-part series I share — and explain!— reasonable, rational tips to help men (seeking women) succeed at online dating. Take note that many of these tips can be used for anyone—straight, LGBT, male or female. The advice here relies heavily on honesty, boundary setting, effective communication skills, and realistic expectations. Blaming “everyone else” for not being good enough in the dating world (and in other applications of life), doesn’t help change results—instead, turn inward and do a self-check up on communication style.


Be honest after Date Number 1 via text.  
How did your date go? Let her know your thoughts and feelings. Most women are dying to know! Do you really want to play the waiting game? No one does. So take some time to process the first date, be confident about how you feel, and then let her know. This is what it means to become emotionally intelligent.

She may not reply, and that is ultimately her choice, not yours. Better she walk away now than hesitantly sticking it out with you for 10 years only to walk out then. Remember, focus on what you can control. Her response or response time is not something you can control. Regardless, you have a bunch more hobby pictures to go take, so don’t dwell on a lack of response!

A male friend of mine almost imploded when I told him I sent a girl a (fewer-than-100-character) text basically stating “I am not planning to pursue this in a romantic sense anymore…” While many guys think “I’ll add her to the list,” — a guy’s personal list made up of women that went on a few dates with him, possibly hooked-up and is now on “stand-by” — these people are playing the text-wait game, sexting-game, indecisive-game, reply-once-a-week-game, and not the let’s-explore-a-potentially-meaningful-relationship strategy.

Tips for Online Dating

Marc Fernandez
provides therapy to individual, couples, and families at North Brooklyn MFT in New York City. Additionally, Marc is co-founder of a health and wellness blog called www.theHumanBluPrint.com, aimed to help people self-educate on how to be the best version of themselves. Give North Brooklyn MFT a call at (718) 785-9718 if you think learning how to “turn inward” may be something you’re interested in
. Read more about Marc

Tips for Online Dating Part 5: Presentation

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This is part 5 of a six-part series on tips for online dating. Go here for the rest of the series.

Finding a match online that has the potential to result in a serious relationship can be a daunting task for many people — before you even consider the stigma sometimes still associated with online dating. Many people eschew this style of meeting people after years of navigating page after swipe after bad date after face palm. These discouraged folks are usually truly looking for a serious relationship. And, believe it or not, many of them are male.

One of the most common themes I observe in males who are looking for a serious relationship through online dating is a lack of emotional intelligence (EI). Online, just as in-vivo, a lack of EI becomes apparent through one’s insecurities and ultimately dishonesty.

In this six-part series I share — and explain!— reasonable, rational tips to help men (seeking women) succeed at online dating. Take note that many of these tips can be used for anyone—straight, LGBT, male or female. The advice here relies heavily on honesty, boundary setting, effective communication skills, and realistic expectations. Blaming “everyone else” for not being good enough in the dating world (and in other applications of life), doesn’t help change results—instead, turn inward and do a self-check up on communication style.


Present your strengths, not your insecurities.
If you’ve had disastrous relationships in the past and you feel hopeless about finding the one, your gut instinct may be to go all-in once you come across someone who shows great potential for a serious relationship. However, it’s then quite possible that your insecurities about finding the one could become apparent and then potentially cause the person you’re dating to run.

There’s nothing wrong with having past relationships that didn’t work out. View them as learning experiences. You may want to make a list of how you present your strengths and how you present your insecurities. The ability to learn from the demise of a past relationship can help teach you how to express appreciation and gratitude for yourself and others. These are strengths that leave insecurities in the dust and help bring out your true self. As your emotional intelligence continues to improve, the person sitting across from you may just say “yes” to that second drink and you can both begin to build your ‘nest.’

Impression vs. Connection
Think about the difference between presenting yourself to impress the other person and presenting yourself to connect with the other person. Take note of what your go-to stories or topics of conversation have been on previous dates. For example, do you find yourself spewing out past accomplishments? Do you find it easier to talk about your possessions or about topics like life plans, goals, or the life transitions you’ve overcome?

I’m not suggesting you open Pandora’s Box on Date One, but vaguely brushing on these connecting topics and deflecting the focus away from seeking validation will kickstart the trust-building whether you’re on Date Number One or Date Number Eight.

Looking for a partner with the intention of long-term relationship growth may be bound to more success if the conversations brought up are meant to connect with the person rather than impress. Tinder is a great place to “impress” your matches, considering Tinder is great for quick and easy hook-ups. If you’re reading this series, though, and used to be into the quick hookups, shine some awareness on this tip as a key transitioning tool. This may be one of the most common aspects of dating that men I’ve spoken with don’t pay attention to when they decide it’s time to look for something serious.

Be sure to also ask your date connecting questions and to practice active listening — meaning, listen to learn and understand your date, not to compete with your date. If you experience some social anxiety, you’ll start to notice how much better your conversation will flow by asking connecting questions. Of course you’re going to be talking about yourself on a date, just gauge how often you’re hearing your own voice say things you already know about yourself versus actually learning and connecting with your date.

Check back tomorrow as we continue to dive deep into tips for online dating.

Tips for Online Dating

Marc Fernandez
provides therapy to individual, couples, and families at North Brooklyn MFT in New York City. Additionally, Marc is co-founder of a health and wellness blog called www.theHumanBluPrint.com, aimed to help people self-educate on how to be the best version of themselves. Give North Brooklyn MFT a call at (718) 785-9718 if you think learning how to “turn inward” may be something you’re interested in
. Read more about Marc

Tips for Online Dating Part 4: Picking the Perfect Location

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This is part 4 of a six-part series on tips for online dating. Go here for the rest of the series.

Finding a match online that has the potential to result in a serious relationship can be a daunting task for many people — before you even consider the stigma sometimes still associated with online dating. Many people eschew this style of meeting people after years of navigating page after swipe after bad date after face palm. These discouraged folks are usually truly looking for a serious relationship. And, believe it or not, many of them are male.

One of the most common themes I observe in males who are looking for a serious relationship through online dating is a lack of emotional intelligence (EI). Online, just as in-vivo, a lack of EI becomes apparent through one’s insecurities and ultimately dishonesty.

In this six-part series I share — and explain!— reasonable, rational tips to help men (seeking women) succeed at online dating. Take note that many of these tips can be used for anyone—straight, LGBT, male or female. The advice here relies heavily on honesty, boundary setting, effective communication skills, and realistic expectations. Blaming “everyone else” for not being good enough in the dating world (and in other applications of life), doesn’t help change results—instead, turn inward and do a self-check up on communication style.

Picking the Perfect Location

Surprises are great, but not on a first date.
A surprise location can cause tremendous anxiety for both parties, and leave the unsuspecting person in a position where they may be asked to participate in something they weren’t prepared to do. And while certain personalities would appreciate a surprise first date, play it safe. Leave the surprise for date three or four, when you are both a bit more comfortable and trusting of each other.

Keep the first date location simple but creative.
Yes, it is possible to pick a place that’s simple but also creative. You just need to put some thought into it. Remember, though, that creativity is key. It’s what she will ultimately remember when she’s looking for a second date and her thumb slides up her iPhone, past all the guys who simply took her to the same neighborhood hipster café.

Don’t go too crazy when picking a location, but do keep this in mind: Simple locations with fewer activities will obviously require more conversation to fill the time. Added pressure to keep a conversation flowing can cause anxiety and lead you to seek a distraction to break the silence. Don’t let that distraction be your cell phone. Make a plan right now to put your phone on airplane mode for the entire date. Anything can triangulate relational dynamics, especially cell phone use.

Check back this week as we continue to dive deep into tips for online dating.

Tips for Online Dating

Marc Fernandez
provides therapy to individual, couples, and families at North Brooklyn MFT in New York City. Additionally, Marc is co-founder of a health and wellness blog called www.theHumanBluPrint.com, aimed to help people self-educate on how to be the best version of themselves. Give North Brooklyn MFT a call at (718) 785-9718 if you think learning how to “turn inward” may be something you’re interested in
. Read more about Marc

Tips for Online Dating Part 3: Making Contact

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This is part 3 of a six-part series on tips for online dating. Go here for the rest of the series.

Finding a match online that has the potential to result in a serious relationship can be a daunting task for many people — before you even consider the stigma sometimes still associated with online dating. Many people eschew this style of meeting people after years of navigating page after swipe after bad date after face palm. These discouraged folks are usually truly looking for a serious relationship. And, believe it or not, many of them are male.

One of the most common themes I observe in males who are looking for a serious relationship through online dating is a lack of emotional intelligence (EI). Online, just as in-vivo, a lack of EI becomes apparent through one’s insecurities and ultimately dishonesty.

In this six-part series I share — and explain!— reasonable, rational tips to help men (seeking women) succeed at online dating. Take note that many of these tips can be used for anyone—straight, LGBT, male or female. The advice here relies heavily on honesty, boundary setting, effective communication skills, and realistic expectations. Blaming “everyone else” for not being good enough in the dating world (and in other applications of life), doesn’t help change results—instead, turn inward and do a self-check up on communication style.

Making Contact

The first message: A single sentence or a dissertation?
How long should my first message be?,” is a question I hear often.

If you ever find yourself asking yourself this question, begin by drastically reducing the use of the word “should” from your everyday life. “Should” gets people into trouble. Who’s to say a 433.5-word message will give you the best chance for receiving a reply?

There are so many factors to consider when asking yourself that question—and the answer is simply found in the overall message of this series. Stick to being honest, not oversharing, being creative, and keeping your message positive. By focusing on these values, you are not only practicing effective communication, you are also shifting the spotlight from quantity to quality.

Check back this week as we continue to dive deep into tips for online dating.

Tips for Online Dating

Marc Fernandez
provides therapy to individual, couples, and families at North Brooklyn MFT in New York City. Additionally, Marc is co-founder of a health and wellness blog called www.theHumanBluPrint.com, aimed to help people self-educate on how to be the best version of themselves. Give North Brooklyn MFT a call at (718) 785-9718 if you think learning how to “turn inward” may be something you’re interested in
. Read more about Marc

Tips for Online Dating Part 2: Setting Boundaries

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This is part 2 of a six-part series on tips for online dating. Go here for the rest of the series.

Finding a match online that has the potential to result in a serious relationship can be a daunting task for many people — before you even consider the stigma sometimes still associated with online dating. Many people eschew this style of meeting people after years of navigating page after swipe after bad date after face palm. These discouraged folks are usually truly looking for a serious relationship. And, believe it or not, many of them are male.

One of the most common themes I observe in males who are looking for a serious relationship through online dating is a lack of emotional intelligence (EI). Online, just as in-vivo, a lack of EI becomes apparent through one’s insecurities and ultimately dishonesty.

In this six-part series I share — and explain!— reasonable, rational tips to help men (seeking women) succeed at online dating. Take note that many of these tips can be used for anyone—straight, LGBT, male or female. The advice here relies heavily on honesty, boundary setting, effective communication skills, and realistic expectations. Blaming “everyone else” for not being good enough in the dating world (and in other applications of life), doesn’t help change results—instead, turn inward and do a self-check up on communication style.

Setting Boundaries

Limit yourself to an appropriate amount of people to “first date” at a time
Only you will know how many women you can “first date” at a time before you convince yourself you have prosopagnosia. For me, going out with two or three people at a time, without getting past a third date, is about right. If I get past a third date, however, I generally realize I need to cut it off with the other two women. But if you’re not having any issue “first dating” a multitude of women, you’re honestly probably better off.

Identify your own “dating boundaries”
Set boundaries for yourself before going on any date. The no-kissing-on-a-first-date rule from the man’s side can come off as a test of discipline and a sign of confidence. It can also come off as a sign of shyness or inexperience, depending on the woman’s expectations and past experiences. So if you are someone who always goes in for a kiss on date one, test yourself and hold off until date two or even three. If you are more shy and inexperienced, turn inward and ask yourself, what is truly the worst that could happen, and keep digging deeper using that question. You’ll most likely take your thought process in a circle or realize how ridiculous your assumptions or catastrophization sounds. But again, focus on what you can control and be happy and honest with yourself.

Check back this week as we continue to dive deep into tips for online dating.

Tips for Online Dating

Marc Fernandez
provides therapy to individual, couples, and families at North Brooklyn MFT in New York City. Additionally, Marc is co-founder of a health and wellness blog called www.theHumanBluPrint.com, aimed to help people self-educate on how to be the best version of themselves. Give North Brooklyn MFT a call at (718) 785-9718 if you think learning how to “turn inward” may be something you’re interested in
. Read more about Marc

Tips for Online Dating Part 1: Building a Better Profile

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This is part 1 of a six-part series on tips for online dating. Go here for the rest of the series.

Finding a match online that has the potential to result in a serious relationship can be a daunting task for many people — before you even consider the stigma sometimes still associated with online dating. Many people eschew this style of meeting people after years of navigating page after swipe after bad date after face palm. These discouraged folks are usually truly looking for a serious relationship. And, believe it or not, many of them are male.

One of the most common themes I observe in males who are looking for a serious relationship through online dating is a lack of emotional intelligence (EI). Online, just as in-vivo, a lack of EI becomes apparent through one’s insecurities and ultimately dishonesty.

In this six-part series I share — and explain!— reasonable, rational tips to help men (seeking women) succeed at online dating. Take note that many of these tips can be used for anyone—straight, LGBT, male or female. The advice here relies heavily on honesty, boundary setting, effective communication skills, and realistic expectations. Blaming “everyone else” for not being good enough in the dating world (and in other applications of life), doesn’t help change results—instead, turn inward and do a self-check up on communication style.

Building a Better Online Dating Profile

Be Honest With Yourself
Proofread your profile twice before making it live. No, proofread it 10 times. If your profile features even a hint of dishonesty and you just happen to meet the one, don’t be surprised when that comment about being a Scrabble champion comes back to bite you in the ass. You might find yourself playing the game with her family years later, and end up losing because you don’t even know that qi is one of the best words in the game. If you’re not sure that it belongs on your profile, delete it and see “Don’t Overshare” below.

View Vulnerable Moments as Learning Experiences
Get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. You may notice that the more vulnerable details you include about your life, the more you will tend to capture the attention of those who are looking past your profile picture. Vulnerable moments can help you learn about yourself in a positive and honest light as much as they can make you crumble on the spot. For more on this, check out Brené Brown’s TED Talk, The Power of Vulnerability.

Don’t Overshare
Yes, be vulnerable, but don’t give everything up right away. For one, you don’t want your profile to get passed up because it’s TL;DR (too long; don’t read). But more importantly, you want to leave enough mystery so that you are still learning about each other by the tenth date. If it helps, before you start writing your profile, make a list of things you want to deliberately keep in your “mystery box” for later.

Profile Pictures
Don’t overshare here, either. Limit your profile pictures to one of each in the following categories:

  • Face: Show a clear picture of your face from at most a few months ago (remember: honesty!). If you’re experiencing winter, don’t post your peak summer tan (even if you just returned from the BVIs).
  • Posture: Include a picture showing your complete posture, since most likely she wants to see this from you as much as you do from her—there’s no need to leave her guessing. I like to refer to dates between two people who have headshot-only profiles as facedates. If you are struggling with this, turning-inward is the first step to working on the root cause of such insecurity.
  • Social: A picture with friends or family can give off a sense of ease for first-time online-daters hesitant to meet people in person. If you just moved to a new city and haven’t explored the social scene much, or you are distant from friends and family, skip to a hobby picture.
  • Hobby: Add a picture of you actively participating in your favorite hobby. However, note that checking your abs out in the mirror isn’t a hobby, it’s just a skewed reflection. Use good quality pictures and limit your profile to four pictures. Ask yourself why you want to put up more than four strategically chosen photos if you get the urge to do so. If it works out between you and your lucky date, she’ll probably follow you on Instagram within a month or so anyway to see your amazing #nofilter photos.

Don’t Treat Your Profile Like a Resumé
Many of us are entrenched in our work lives and spend a majority of our hours honing the skills that bring us success in our professions. Why not apply these skills and tools to online dating? Although you won’t be negotiating a salary with your date, you both may end up getting great benefits. Take a humanistic approach to your dating profile. Tap into and work on your emotional intelligence. Yes, many people are attracted to high-paying salaries and elite educational institutions, but if you focus on the qualities that make you a well-rounded, organic, and mindful person — like your kindness, sense of humor, or something else — you can always filter your search results for the fancy stuff later.

Check back this week as we continue to dive deep into tips for online dating.

Tips for Online Dating

Marc Fernandez
provides therapy to individual, couples, and families at North Brooklyn MFT in New York City. Additionally, Marc is co-founder of a health and wellness blog called www.theHumanBluPrint.com, aimed to help people self-educate on how to be the best version of themselves. Give North Brooklyn MFT a call at (718) 785-9718 if you think learning how to “turn inward” may be something you’re interested in
. Read more about Marc

Men Seeking Women: Tips for Online Dating

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Online dating can be thrilling, terrifying, both, or anything and everything in between. Finding a match that has the potential to result in a serious relationship can be a daunting task for many people — before you even consider the stigma sometimes still associated with online dating. Many friends, clients, and strangers I’ve spoken with eschew this style of meeting people after years of navigating page after swipe after bad date after face palm. These discouraged folks are usually truly looking for a serious relationship. And, believe it or not, many of them are male.

Whether I’m out paying too much money for brunch with friends or at a park striking up conversation with fellow civilians, as soon as I share my career choice as a Marriage and Family Therapist, the questions start flowing: “What do you think about online dating?”; “Do you spend your sessions talking about your clients’ Tinder dates?”; “Do you see couples who met online and then got married?”

My respective answers: “Loaded question.”; “In some ways, yes.”;  “Absolutely.”

One of the most common themes I observe in males who are looking for a serious relationship through online dating is a lack of emotional intelligence (EI). Online, just as in-vivo, a lack of EI becomes apparent through one’s insecurities and ultimately dishonesty.

In this six-part series I share — and explain!— reasonable, rational tips to help men (seeking women) succeed at online dating.

As I attempt to explain how men (seeking women) can potentially optimize their online game to achieve a serious relationship, take note that many of these tips can be used for anyone—straight, LGBT, male or female. The advice here relies heavily on honesty, boundary setting, effective communication skills, and realistic expectations. Blaming “everyone else” for not being good enough in the dating world (and in other applications of life), doesn’t help change results—instead, turn inward and do a self-check up on communication style.

Tips for Online Dating

Check back Monday-Saturday as we dive deep into each of these tips.

If you get through the series and realize that boundary setting, emotional intelligence, and mindfulness aren’t things you’ve touched upon in your life, therapy may be beneficial to you. Therapy can be a great tool to explore those factors and many more, especially if you’ve dealt with a string of “bad relationships” in the past. Very few people flip the lens around and focus on themselves in a healthy manner when things don’t go the way they want. No therapist will brush you off for wanting to turn inward and grow interpersonally.

Marc Fernandez
provides therapy to individual, couples, and families at North Brooklyn MFT in New York City. Additionally, Marc is co-founder of a health and wellness blog called www.theHumanBluPrint.com, aimed to help people self-educate on how to be the best version of themselves. Give North Brooklyn MFT a call at (718) 785-9718 if you think learning how to “turn inward” may be something you’re interested in
. Read more about Marc

New Moms’ Support Group

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New Moms Support Group in Williamsburg starting 4/28

Got gripes about breastfeeding, sleep deprivation, relationship stress? You’re not alone. Join our new weekly, drop-in mom’s group at the King’s Bay Y in North Williamsburg. Being a new mother can be joyful and awe-inducing, but it can also be isolating and stressful. Being able to share your feelings about both extremes can help you feel more supported and understood. This support group will allow you to express your feelings and concerns in a safe space with a therapist and other new moms in the community. This group is run by North Brooklyn Marriage and Family Therapy and is perfect for moms of babies who are under eight months (babies are welcome of course). Second time moms welcome!


When: Tuesdays ongoing beginning on April 28th from 11am-12pm

Where: King’s Bay Y in North Williamsburg (14 Hope St.)

Cost: $10 drop-in

Kristien Mosier
has an MA in Marriage and Family Therapy. In her role as a therapist, Kristen works to facilitate a greater understanding of oneself and one’s relationships, collaborating with clients to create goals for a more satisfying life — all in a safe, supportive and compassionate environment. Read more about Kristen

Being a mom can be a lonely job

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I don’t want to say it’s inevitable, but…okay I’ll say it. In the first few years of your child’s life, it’s possible at one time or another you will find yourself feeling alone in this huge role called motherhood. Perhaps it is one day when your baby has been cranky all day and your husband/wife/partner has been particularly—how can I phrase this gently—disappointing in their co-parenting role. Maybe it’s the time when your so sick and no one is around to help you get through the day chasing around a toddler when you can barely stand up. I’m not talking about the general loneliness of being stuck at home with in infant (although that is surely rough too), but a more desperate feeling of loneliness that clouds in on you like a dark storm.

Millions of mothers have come before you and millions more are yet to be, but somehow in a sea of all those mommies, you feel all alone holding up the world. That’s a rough day, or week, or even month.

If you’re in that cloud right now, I’m here to remind you, this too shall pass, and as lonely as you feel right now, you are not alone. Maybe tomorrow or the next day, or maybe a few months from now, you’ll connect with another mom in a way that you feel understood and supported. Maybe your partner will take your little one for the day and you’ll bask in aloneness instead of loneliness. Maybe you’ll begin to form a community of fellow parents in your neighborhood, and bumping into them on the street will feel comforting. Maybe someone else in your life will be there for you in a way that makes you feel supported and comforted. Whatever it is, you will know, you’re not alone in this job, and because of the loneliness you are feeling now, you’ll be able to recognize a feeling of deep connectedness. Until then, I’m sending you a warm embrace.

Kristien Mosier
has an MA in Marriage and Family Therapy. In her role as a therapist, Kristen works to facilitate a greater understanding of oneself and one’s relationships, collaborating with clients to create goals for a more satisfying life — all in a safe, supportive and compassionate environment. Read more about Kristen

As a Single Person in Your 20’s or 30’s how do you Define Adulthood?

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“Should I swipe left or right?” “I’m thinking of trying OkCupid. I know people that have gotten married through that site!” “No, you won’t meet quality people unless you pay for it, you have to join Match.com or eHarmony.” “No, I want to meet someone organically, it’s just so hard because it’s not like I have a ton of coworkers to network with.” For most singles in their 20’s and 30’s these conversations are part of the norm.  Our culture is saturated with companies interested in helping you meet that perfect someone so you can (finally) “start your life.”

But that poses an interesting question, how do you define adulthood as a 20 or 30-something when you haven’t yet found that one thing that the world around you is telling you you’re missing. We live in a culture obsessed with coupling.  As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I often work with clients struggling to figure themselves out, even when they are part of a couple.  However, when it comes to singles, the message being received often seems to be, “once you find a partner, you can finally take that big old step into being a “grown-up.”

Recently on a train I was sitting next to two 20-something women and one of them was saying to her friend, “When I go home I feel like a kid again. How do people take you seriously as an adult when you’re single?” It is often the singles in the family that get the awkwardly placed chair in the corner  of the table at holidays, the ones that might get tacked onto invites with their parents, etc.  And, it is a good life question, how do we place value on our personal achievements, growth, etc.? The answer is surely based on the individual, but no matter what your beliefs, we do live in an environment that is chock full of companies offering partner-meeting assistance.

While “singleness” allows for personal/professional growth, the ability to find one’s own individuality and the time to figure out which types of partners surely don’t work, it can also be confusing to navigate through at times. For some, there is no desire to couple at all.  The decision is a completely personal one and can often raise life-meaning questions for people.

As a family therapist I have never had an individual walk into a room completely solo. Even when working with people individually, we always bring others into the therapy room with us. Because, after all, we are each of us, children, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends, coworkers, etc. Sometimes when we hear the words marriage and family therapist we think couples therapy. And of course that is part of the work. However, as a marriage and family therapist I have found my work with individuals some of the most rewarding. It is often a space for people to explore these questions of being single, the search for a partner, or the desire not to partner, etc.

What do you think about this? Are these questions you’ve asked yourself, talked about with friends/family, etc.? Feel free to use the section below to comment, pose questions or thoughts, etc. And, if you’re interested in exploring more of your own personal experiences and think that therapy might be right for you now, see our site for more information and contact details.

Linda Nelli
is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Clinical Director at North Brooklyn Marriage & Family Therapy. Linda believes in working collaboratively with clients to make positive changes and achieve greater fulfillment from their lives. Working with the knowledge that we are all experts of our own lives, Linda believes that through the therapeutic relationship, clients can re-author their stories. Read more about Linda

5 Signs Your Arguing Has Gone Too Far

posted in: couples therapy | 0

When people first reach out to us about couples therapy, I always ask, “Why are you calling now? The most common answer is that they’re arguing.

While being proactive about the health of your relationship is always a good thing, couples are often relieved to learn that arguing isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, it’s perfectly normal for couples to argue. Of course, there are times when arguing is a problem. So, how can you tell the difference?

Here are five signs arguments could be causing more serious problems in your relationship.

  1. Arguments never lead to resolution.

Most couples have themes that recur in their disagreements, but when you have the same argument over and over without any resolution, you may have a bigger problem. It could be that the basic communication skills are in need of a tune up, or it’s possible the recurring arguments are triggering deeper issues but blocking any sort of resolution.

  1. Arguments end with one of you stonewalling.

Another way to avoid resolution is by stonewalling, which is one person shutting down the argument before you’ve reached any sort of conclusion. A person generally walks away like this because they are either too frustrated to continue or they are just emotionally overwhelmed. If one of you feels the need to just walk away from a heated conversation with your partner, your arguing may be in the problematic zone.

  1. Arguments regularly include name calling or excessive cursing.

Sometimes it’s not the argument that’s the problem, but the way in which you argue. What’s the harm in using a few four-letter words? Well, if your arguments include calling one another names or excessive cursing, this may be a sign of a higher level of frustration that should be addressed.

  1. Arguments leave you feeling disconnected from your partner.

Recently, when talking about their sex life in therapy, a Brooklyn couple agreed that they still liked having sex with one another but felt as if they were always arguing or still stinging from an argument. This meant neither ever felt close enough to approach one another for intimacy. If your arguing is affecting your feelings for your partner, and in turn taking a toll on your intimacy, it’s time to address it.

  1. Arguments are what you remember when you think of your relationship.

If arguing is OK, how do you know if the arguing is happening too frequently? When you see a picture of your partner, or hear a song they love and think of them, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? If it’s your hostile feelings from recent arguments, you are arguing too much.

Don’t worry. Even if your arguing is causing more serious problems in your relationship, you’re not doomed! Couples therapy can help identify and manage deeper problems, and help couples learn new conflict resolution skills so they can argue better. The truth is, you’re never going to not argue. The ultimate goal is having a disagreement, understanding where the other person is coming from, and moving on.

If you think arguments may be causing more serious problems in your relationship, reach out to a couples therapist sooner than later.


Jennifer Aull Marriage and Family Therapist Sex Therapist
Jennifer Aull
is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and the founder and director of North Brooklyn Marriage and Family Therapy. Jennifer brings with her a wealth of life experience. Along with her marriage and family therapy practice, Jennifer serves part-time as a pastor at the Greenpoint Reformed Church. She has also worked as a chaplain in both hospital and hospice settings. These experiences have taught her that life can be a journey toward greater awareness and spiritual growth and that such awareness can bring about deep joy and fulfillment. Read more about Jennifer.