Therapy That Works...

The Dangers of Texting In A New Relationship - By Chris Gearing

Friday, April 08, 2011

Sex Comes Faster For Couples Who Text - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Eating Disorders In Older Women - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Eating disorders affect up to 70 million people worldwide with 24 million Americans suffering from this disorder according to the National Institute of Health. While current studies indicate that 95% of eating disorders affect girls between the ages of 11 and 25, new research reports that record numbers of older women are now affected by eating disorders.

So, why would an older woman develop an eating disorder at this time of life?

There are four principle reasons that women develop a midlife eating disorder:

Control and Eating Disorders: Control is the common denominator between all eating disorders. A current trauma or dramatic change in her life that makes her feel vulnerable and helpless can precipitate an eating disorder. Husbands leave, parents die and friends move away leaving her without the support system she has known for years. An eating disorder can become a comfortable, familiar “friend” during these dark times. Micromanaging your food intake either through restricting food or binging with food can leave you flush with a momentary exhilaration in an anxious life.

Social Pressure: Women are subjected to continued pressure to look young and being super thin is associated with being young. The $40 billion dollar diet industry is all too willing to help her strive for the ideal body type found in only 5% of American females. Most eating disorders begin with body dissatisfaction and shedding pounds gains her enormous social approval.

Undiagnosed Depression or Anxiety: Depressive and anxiety disorders commonly co occur with eating disorders. Eating disorders are cruel masters and the constant striving for perfection can wear any woman out. If binging is the disorder of choice, the extra weight causes increased self-loathing and depression.

Previous Eating Disorder Returning: Eating disorders are complex, chronic mental health illnesses that can lie dormant during the childrearing years to return at midlife when there are fewer distractions and less applause.

Why are these disorders so difficult to detect in older women?

We associate eating disorders with a young girl’s struggle. By midlife, most people think you should be over those vain concerns about your body. But tragically, highly negative beliefs about your body never leave most women. We develop a self loathing toward our bodies early in life (78% of 17 year olds despise their bodies according to one study), we never consider if we are logical or rational in our self appraisal and we reinforce our negative self appraisal constantly by comparing ourselves to all the celebrities that have obvious eating disorders!

Most midlife women tend to escape notice from medical professionals since we are so adaptive in so many other areas of our lives. We often do not realize that we even have a problem. In addition, our friends and colleagues praise us when we are razor thin. No one ever stops to ask if all that exercising, food restriction or binging are really healthy for us.

Do the same eating disorders affect both young and older women and what are the signs?

Both age groups seem to develop similar disorders. However, the older woman may evolve quicker to the binge eating disorder than her younger peer. But there are important facts to keep in mind about eating disorders in any age category:

Deadly Disorders: Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. Twenty percent of people suffering from anorexia will prematurely die from complications related to their eating disorder. These disorders can be deadly since the malnourishment strikes at the very metabolic and cardiac systems that are foundational for good health.

Three Distinct Disorders:

Anorexia Nervosa: No one sets out to develop an eating disorder. We “back into them” usually in response to a growing dislike for our bodies. This disorder usually begins at age 17 just as she is headed out into the world. Symptoms include a relentless pursuit of being thin, obsession with being perfect, an obsessive fear of gaining any weight and a denial of emaciation.

Bulimia Nervosa: The woman engages in binge eating and then inappropriate methods of preventing weight gain including purging or excessive exercising.

Symptoms Include:

  • Rituals built around eating large amounts of food within a 2 hour period
  • Feels out of control with the eating.

Binge Eating Disorder affects about 3 percent of Americans. Some experts believe that the disorder is rising faster than anorexia and bulimia. Women who binge hide their disorder and ask for help much later in life.

What should we do if we are worried about a woman we love?

  • Educate yourself about eating disorders first and acknowledge that they are dangerous. Remember that these disorders gradually build and are much easier to treat the earlier they are diagnosed.
  • Approach her with compassion and support when you express how concerned you are for her. Lead with empathy before you give advice.
  • Remind her of her lifetime of accomplishments—the children she has reared, the career she has built and tell her that this is a surmountable challenge.
  • Encourage her to get a professional evaluation with a psychologist specializing in eating disorders.

More Older Women Suffering From Eating Disorders - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing on CBS 11 discussing the new trend of eating disorders in older women and what you can do to help!

Click here.

Relationship Violence In Females - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Most of us tend to think of domestic violence as solely a male crime. However, while women are much more likely to be the victim in any type of domestic violence or abuse, there are a growing number of cases in which the woman physically attacks the man.

Usually there has been an argument, tempers flare, and pushing and shoving occur. Then the woman strikes out against the man. Three factors can increase the likelihood of such behaviors—substance abuse, fatigue, or the discovery of either marital or financial infidelity.

Most men do not reach out for help since there is enormous shame associated with being the recipient of bullying or physical violence at the hands of a woman. Many men would rather suffer in silence than admit that the woman they are in a relationship with has hit or even injured them. Men struggle with shame mightily in our society anyway so their reluctance is understandable.

Remember the Tiger Woods incident in which his now ex wife engaged in physical violence? He did everything he could to avoid revealing there had been any domestic violence.

So why would a woman resort to violence?

There are four primary psychological reasons:

Antisocial Personality Disorder: Coercion and physical bullying are techniques that are readily employed when you lack a conscience. Women who are violent outside the relationship are much more likely to use violence to get their way or to punish their partner.

Mood Disorders: Women with high levels of anxiety, depression and other mental health problems are much likely to use physical force. Women with anger management issues are often depressed and are irritable and irrational as a result.

The Last Straw: Some women have no history of violence and strike out because of a sudden shock, such as the discovery of infidelity. Their loss of control is temporary and is usually followed by great remorse.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: In cases in which she has been deeply traumatized in the cases of rape or past physical violence, the woman may overreact to the current stressors with violence.

In addition, family background can greatly contribute to the woman’s tendency to use violence in a relationship:

Bullying in the Family of Origin: Emotional or Physical Violence was Permitted or Even Encouraged. She grew up seeing violence replacing words as a way of resolving conflict and began to act out these patterns in her relationships.

Over Indulgent Parents: Many women are reared in narcissistic homes that have reinforced and arrogant and entitled view of the world. Sooner or later, there are inevitable frustrations and these women lash out physically when their emotions override their better judgment.

Abuse and Neglect: In some families the child is the direct recipient of parental or even sibling violence that is abusive and deeply hurtful. Other families neglect the child resulting in an adult who has no idea how to self regulate her emotions. Anger comes out of a world view of victimization and resentment.

Men, if you or someone you know is the victim of violence -- remember this advice:

Violence Escalates: Violence in a relationship is never a legitimate way of handling strong negative emotions. It is never justified and it is always wrong. A "little push" can become a swinging fist or a weapon aggressively wielded. Remember that once violence happens once or twice, the likelihood of its reoccurrence is exponential. It is also a progressive issue and escalates when there is no enforceable accountability.

Break The Cycle: If you are the victim of female relationship violence, make it perfectly clear that you are unwilling to participate in this cycle any longer. Reach out to the professional community—your spiritual leader, psychologist, or family physician are all excellent resources for getting help.

Hold Them Accountable: Insist that the abuser is accountable and that you are no longer going to be the recipient of this cruelty. If she refuses to get help, make a plan to leave and follow through.

Are Some Dolls Too Sexy? - By Chris Gearing

Friday, March 18, 2011

Watch Dr. Sylvia discuss whether some children's dolls are too sexy.

Click here.

How To Keep Your Marriage From Becoming Predictable - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing on CBS 11 discussing how to keep your marriage from becoming predictable.

Click here.

Why People Lose Interest After Getting Married - By Chris Gearing

Monday, March 14, 2011

Marriage is a union most of us enter into with the best of intentions. But despite our best efforts, many of us lose interest in our spouse and the marriage can become boring and predictable.

So, why do so many marital partners lose interest in their spouses?

The Cuddle Chemical: You may have a chemical problem since we know that spouses who have been together for some time decrease their production of those hormones that stir passion and desire. Instead, your brain begins to produce more oxytocin, which is called the companionable, or cuddle chemical.

Separate Worlds: Many of us live in separate worlds that rarely intersect. We begin to redefine how we think of our partner—she becomes someone you pay bills with, mow the lawn with and the person you execute all the other mundane tasks of life with. You no longer think of your spouse as the one person who “gets you. ”

Arguments that Go Nowhere: The lack of conflict resolution drives many people away from the marriage into disinterest and disconnection. If you can’t repair arguments and you can’t build consensus, you’re left with one thing—isolation. Negativity tends to envelope the marriage. Chronic helplessness begins to define how you think about the relationship and you become indifferent and even bored with your partner.

A Lack of Emotional Skills: A lot of people lack fundamental skills in handling emotions—they don’t recognize feelings in themselves or their spouse, they don’t know how to reach out to their partner or even how to calm down when they’re angry or disappointed. As a result, their spouse feels lonely, frustrated and misunderstood.

Does physical intimacy have anything to do with partners becoming dissatisfied in the marriage?

We know that while sex is important to a marriage, it is not nearly as important as many people think. The real issue is how each partner thinks about the physical intimacy-- whether they are feeling rejected or desired and whether they feel that their partner understands their needs and is willing to compromise. Happy couples create an intimacy life that works for each person—in terms of intensity, style and frequency.

We've all heard of it -- but is there really a seven-year itch?

There absolutely is a seven-year itch but it is more likely to begin in the fifth year of marriage. By then, the couple should have figured out how to be married--how to handle money, in-laws, sex etc. If you haven’t figured things out, you’re much more likely to be fighting about it at the five year mark and then divorcing at the seven year mark. Remember that after the birth of the first baby, marital satisfaction drops significantly for 2/3 of the couples. If you never resolve those problems and remain married, after twenty years your marriage will most likely be characterized by a chronic lack of intimacy and closeness that causes the marriage to erode and then end suddenly.

If you're worried, here are some suggestions to help you recover that lovin' feeling

See Your Friends: One of the best tips I can give couples is to spend a lot of time with some really good friends. A recent study shows that dating couples who hang out with great couple friends who are happily married wind up feeling closer to each other.

Use What Worked Before: Review what activities brought you together in the first place and recreate them. Return to the music, the movies and even the food that you enjoyed as you courted each other.

Seek Adventures Together: Shake things up by exploring the world together, learning new skills and traveling. The endorphins your brain creates when you’re having fun enhances attraction.

Watch Your Tone: How you say something matters as much as what you say. Watch your tone and always try to “volley” back when he tries to engage you. An enthusiastic, warm reply is so much better than a clipped, matter of fact "hi" or “you again!”

Touch Often and Well: Touch has been called the mother of the senses. Reigniting passion relies heavily on touch. Human skin is incredibly sensitive so even the slightest grazing of the skin has a seductive effect.

Avoid Negativity: Time together is sacred so avoid dwelling on angry thoughts, past arguments or excessive worrying when you’re together. Nothing is worse than being with someone who is complaining or obsessing.

Battle Hymn of the Western Mother - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A recent best selling book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, illustrates how fundamental parenting strategies can be so violently misunderstood. Written by an Asian American Yale Law School professor, Amy Chua, the book argues that western mothers are undisciplined, over gratifying and only care about their children’s individuality. She predicts that most western children never reach their potential and live a directionless life of non-achievement.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Here are the myths perpetuated by the author followed by reality:

Myth: Parental Authority is Supreme

The premise is that children require micromanaging and constant direction that includes fear based parenting. Chua argues that kids are unable to grow without being controlled. The mother must be in the middle of their lives and has the final word, always.

Reality:

When kids are over-controlled by a parent, they learn to deny their own wisdom and intuition. Often, they become great achievers but are stunted emotionally. To survive a controlling parent, you learn to focus on the parent’s perceptions of you instead of your own thoughts. You miss the vital lessons of taking calculated risks in relationships, achievement etc. and then recalibrating your behavior based on what happiness.

Myth: All That Matters is Compliance

The child is an extension of the mother and must be commandeered into compliance. Nothing matters but the outcome and the child must blame only himself if the goal is not achieved.

Reality:

When you are over controlled, you over-emphasize how you are perceived by others. You pursue activities that will result in high achievement, praise and applause from others. However, you pay an enormous price for this. You don’t learn the basic tenants of emotional intelligence that can only be mastered by years of having a separate experience from your mother where you figure things out for yourself.

Myth: Nothing Matters More to Child’s Future than Achievement

Chua conjectures that all that matters in the world is achievement that in turn, honors the sacrifice of the parents. The parent’s duty is to financially facilitate opportunities that they choose for the child.

Reality:

Achievement creates self-esteem, but there are many valuable ways to define what achievement is. Emotional stability based on a well-developed and accurate view of yourself is invaluable in the world. Navigating the world without emotional stability is like sailing on a ship without a rudder and a compass--you could end up shipwrecked before you know it. Childhood should equip children with the following capabilities:

Failure: The ability to fail and bounce back from a setback

Self-management: A willingness to disappoint authority figures if you disagree with them

Decisiveness: Making the best call with the information you have even if you discover later you were incorrect

Understanding of Others: Emotional perceptiveness of others based on your own keen understanding of yourself

Self-confidence: Kids build an inner strength from thousands of experiences in which they made a decision on their own, self corrected and did better the next time.

Self-effectiveness: This is an essential part of managing in the world since it’s hard to assert yourself if you see yourself as ineffective and helpless.

Myth: Verbally Berating A Child Is Helpful

Chua argues that kids must be threatened to perform, which is the top goal in her parenting model. Calling a child, “lazy, cowardly, self indulgent and pathetic” somehow is motivating according to the author. She justifies her strategy by the achievements of her kids—if she hadn’t verbally assaulted them, she predicts they wouldn’t have achieved.

Reality:

There is no psychological research in the world that supports verbal humiliation, name-calling and threats as a viable parenting technique. The constant contempt of a parent out of control is damaging. The younger the child, the greater the emotional damage.

Myth: Parents Should Micromanage their Children’s Emotions

In Chua’s paradigm, there is minimal instruction in handling the inner dialogue in our heads that all children have. That inner dialogue doesn’t matter since it’s not something Chua is thinking.

Reality:

Longitudinal research shows that emotionally dismissed kids grow into adults who cannot articulate what they feel or how to manage it. They are often exquisitely sensitive to others, since they had to be that strong to survive in childhood. They tuck their feelings away and they dismiss their normal reactions. She insists that the child should meet the parents’ demands since they know better. Focusing on the parent handicaps the child’s need to measure his own reactions, learn to manage his own behavior and monitor his reactions.

Myth: No External Activities

This model of parenting rejects the usual features of Western childhood—weekend sleepovers, play dates, TV, video game, choosing their own extracurricular activities, and any grade less than an A. The child must conform, at all times, to the desires of the parent.

Reality:

Childhood is an extended practice arena for adulthood during which the child learns how to effectively communicate, to navigate conflict and to fail and bounce back. Parents need to provide the optimum environment for these skills by helping the child learn about himself and his own interest.

Myth: Western Mothers Are Slackers And Over-Indulge Their Children To Meet Their Own Needs.

Western mothers are relentlessly devoted to their children and buffer them against all forms of stress, adversity and failure.

Reality:

America has been the strongest country in the world for generations due, in part, to the work ethic and fortitude of American mothers.

We have taught our children how to fight against their fears, how to join with others against tyranny and how to accord all Americans the same civil liberties and rights. Such virtues require enormous courage and strength which are found in a people reared to define themselves as individuals, not as extensions of others. Obedience to authority at all costs, which Ms. Chua celebrates, can only get you so far. Our dedication to individuality, independence and creative thinking built this country and will continue to shape the world.

Battle Hymn of the Western Mother - Eastern vs Western Mothers - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

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