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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Wishes from The Wake Up and Dream Challenge

Thought for the Day: For a change, today, I decided to have pictures be my post. Here goes:

When resolutions be forgot & never brought to mind, try... 

Learning how to Wake Up and Dream...

Monday, December 30, 2013

Miraculous Mondays: How To Move On When Relationships End

Thought for the Day: As the year draws to a close, it is a time for reflection. On Mondays, I have been sharing Miraculous Moments from therapy with couples. Up to now I have shared techniques that I used with them to help resolve their differences and make their marriages work (Psychotherapy: Miracle or Science? &  Can Writing a Letter Save a Marriage?). Today, I will share a technique that I used to help someone move on after a divorce. In light of the New Year, ways to move on when we are stuck seem relevant.

Judy, came to me for an initial session many years ago. She reported that she was depressed, had no energy, cried for no reason and had no motivation to go out or have fun. When I took her history, I found out that 10 years prior to coming to see me, Judy's ex-husband, John, had an affair with and then married her best friend, Colleen. John and Colleen lived just blocks from Judy. She spoke about the affair as if it had happened yesterday. She said it. "still felt like a bad dream and that, eventually, I will wake up and find out it was just a nightmare." She told me that she had kept everything just the same as the day John left.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Saturday's Songs for the Soul: Bono & Pavarotti: Inspiration for the New Year

Thought for the Day: As we near the end of 2013 and look forward to 2014, I chose an interesting longer music video from YouTube. It features 2 songs. First Bono lead singer from the group, U2,  & social activist, delivers a powerful rendition of the song, "One." The lyrics:
"One love, One blood, One life. You got to do what you should. One life With each other Sisters, brothers. One life But we're not the same. We get to Carry each other. Carry each other."
are a strong message to carry with us into the new year. He uses his celebrity to fight for social justice, end poverty & war worldwide.
     After "One,"  the great tenor, Luciano Pavarotti, joins Bono to sing Ave Maria, with Bono singing the English translation. May the words inspire us to find ways to bring peace to our troubled world.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Friday's Fabulous Finds: Saving Mr. Banks: The Therapeutic Value of Creative Writing

Thought for the Day: Somehow life around the holidays gets a bit hectic and I did not have time to post yesterday. Today, is also going to be a busy day, but I want to post at least one find for the week. 
     I went to see the Disney movie, Saving Mr. Banks, with Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and Emma Thompson as PL Travers. I had not heard much about the movie, but knew it was about the classic film Mary Poppins. I expected a children's movie; however, I would not recommend it for young children. If you do not mind seeing a tear jerker and want an insightful look at the life story and psychology of the author of the Mary Poppins, it is well worth seeing. It clearly exemplifies the therapeutic value of creative writing. Great writers for adults or children must touch universal emotions in their stories to connect with readers. In order to do so, at times it touches unexpected memories and uncovers unfinished business from childhood. When this happens, the result is so personal that they may have difficulty sharing their stories with others. The movie depicts the painful process of adapting the author's personal story to the silver screen. Disney had the patience, perseverance and ability to recognize the importance of convincing the author to share her story with the world.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Tuesday's Psychology Tips: Seven Ways to Avoid the Holiday Blues

May all your dreams come true!

Thought for the Day: Holiday music is playing in every store and on every radio station around the world. Television and movies are filled with stories of loving families and people enjoying the holidays. If the whole world is so joyous, many people wonder why they feel blue? If you are feeling stressed or depressed despite this holiday season, know you are not alone. Here are some tips to help you avoid the holiday blues:
  1. Television and movies are scripted with actors portraying perfect holidays. Remember real life is not so perfect;
  2. Don't expect perfect gifts, meals or encounters or you may find yourself disappointed;
  3. Family get-togethers can be stressful. If you are an alcoholic trying not to drink or if you lost a loved one recently, it may be hard to stay upbeat. If you are feeling stressed at a family gathering give yourself permission to go for a walk or take a ride to clear your head or reach out to a family member to talk about your feelings;
  4. Know that if you are not happy with a gift you can return it and exchange it for something more to your liking;
  5. Try to keep your sense of humor when things don't go as planned. My grandmother's apple pie was the best I've ever tasted, but in our family we still laugh when we remember the time when she put salt instead of sugar in the pie! Take the minor imperfections with a "grain of salt;"
  6. If you are not getting along with your family, try to make amends, shorten your visit or spend time with people whose company you enjoy; and
  7. Remember you don't need to wait for others to make your dreams come true. Start moving towards your dreams on your own. Help Santa and give yourself a gift that will help you do it on your own.   Have a Merry Christmas or whatever holiday you celebrate this season! 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Miraculous Mondays: Part II: Can Writing a Letter Save a Marriage?

Thought for the Day: The holiday season is a hard time for couples struggling with marital difficulties. Often, even when they are past the point of no return, they delay telling the kids or making it a reality till after the holidays. Last week, I introduced you to Shelly and Tom, who were at an impasse in marriage counseling. I gave them an assignment, to write a letter to their spouse. They were to imagine that were writing to each other one year after they got divorced. They were not to discuss their letters till their next therapy session. Here's what happened. When I met with them the next week, I asked who would like to go first. Shelly deferred to Tom. 

Tom preempted his letter by saying, "I had a very hard time writing this. I put it off till yesterday because I did not know what to say." His voice wavered as he read it and fought back tears. He said he still could not believe that they were unable to work things out. "It kills me to see how angry, Tom Jr is and that his grades are falling." Molly, their 8 year old cries when she has to say goodbye after visits. Five year old, Scott, has started hitting kids in kindergarten and has nightmares. Tom wrote that he hardest thing for him is, "I miss you so much. You were not only my wife, but my best friend." He went on to tell Shelly he is not ready to date anyone, but wonders if she is. He closed the letter by saying that, "Not a day goes by when I wish I could turn back the clock and take back the actions which lead to the divorce."

As he read his letter, I watched Shelly's reaction. She was also close to tears. When Tom finished reading his letter, there was an awkward silence. Shelly took a piece of paper from her pocket and opened it slowly. She began to cry as she said, "My letter is blank. I tried to write it several times, but simply could not write a word. I don't want to face what will happen if we get divorced." She then told Tom that hearing his letter made her even more sure that she wants to find a way to work things out. She admitted that she still is having trouble accepting his infidelity and doesn't know when she will be able to trust him again, but she wants to try to make it work.

This was a turning point, I had witnessed another miraculous moment. It does not always turn out this way. Often, it does since it forces people to confront what they will be giving up and what the future may hold if they cannot reconcile their differences. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sunday's Comic Strips: Thanks for Listening, Following & Sharing

Thought for the Day: As the year draws to a close, I found a funny photo that I posted on facebook when I reached 900 fans. Since then, my fans & followers have grown to 1,248 on Facebook, over 12,000 on 3 twitter handles, 1,208 in google+ circles. The numbers are a bit mind boggling to me, however,  I really appreciate everyone who reads and follows me on social media. Although I don't hear from all the readers & followers, I know you are listening since there were over 7, 500 page views on this blog last month! I decided to repost this funny photo today and thank you all for tuning in. I hope you will share your thoughts and that my posts help you to wake up and dream!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Saturday's Songs for the Soul: An Uplifting Tribute to Zach Sobiech & Art Looking for a Title

Image looking for a title by Michael Bogdanow Suggestions welcome

Thought for the Day:  When I viewed this video earlier this week, I  knew I had to share it today on Songs for the Soul. It is a very moving tribute to Zach Sobiech, a songwriter who who died of cancer at age 18. In a video about his last days of life, he said, "You don't have to know you are dying to start living." Last May I posted Zach singing this song, Clouds, a few days after he passed away. It is hard not to tear up while listening to this as many of the members of the choir were also wiping tears as they sang. His parents were there as well. His song is offering support to his loved ones and generating donations to fight cancer.

This morning, on Facebook, my brother, Michael Bogdanow, posted the amazing new piece of art which I posted above, with a request for suggestions for a title. I asked his permission to post the image on my blog & he graciously agreed. I am biased, since he is my brother, but really love the image & think it fits with the song which I had chosen days ago. So please feel free to post ideas for titles to the image above.

Friday, December 20, 2013

#FF Friday's Fabulous Finds: End of 2013 Treasures & Predictions for the Future

Thought for the Day: This time of year, it seems that life is rushing by with little time for catching up on reading. It feels like Alibaba and the Forty Thieves are stealing the last days of 2013! However, I came across some treasures this week that I want to share with you today. All five look towards the future with ways to improve our lives.In the 1st,  IBM makes some predictions about what we will see in the future. The future may already be here for a lot of people who no longer need an office as the second article reports. The fourth find tells about how actress Glenn Close and other stars are making their way to Washington DC to advocate for a new Mental Health bill. The fourth, a video, takes a look back at the accomplishments of a grass roots movement, Moms Demand Action to end gun violence that began just a year ago in response to the Newtown tragedy. The fifth is a feel good story that looks back two years and forward to a bright future for an 18 year old immigrant who has been the odds & uses twitter in a very creative way. (For those of you who read yesterday's post, the reporter's personality is clearly revealed in his tweets.) I hope you enjoy them.

  1. IBM reveals its top five innovation predictions for the next five years 
  2. Office Not Required
  3. Glenn Close visiting Capitol Hill to advocate for mental health bill
  4. One Year Later: No More Silence
  5. Reporter Follows Up on a Hard Story and Finds a Really Happy Ending
Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Thursday's Psychology Trivia: Is Twitter a Reliable Personality Test?

Thought for the Day: What do you think could your personality be interpreted from your tweets? Will Twitter analysis replace the Rorschach, TAT (Thematic Apperception Test) & MMPI (Minnesotta Multiphasic Personality Inventory) personality tests? Could a computer offer reliable information about you and your personality from just 200 of your tweets? That's just 28,000 characters, not words you have written in shorthand! 
     To a degree, it makes some sense since you need to speak your mind in very limited bits of information. It requires creativity and forethought to craft good tweets, but will it create a true portrait of the tweeter? Dr. Michelle Zhou, IBM researcher at the Almaden Research Center in San Jose, CA believes she can decipher your personality from just 200 tweets.  She has developed a program which analyzes 200 tweets and prints out an elaborate personality profile. 

    Since I use twitter to let people know about my book, it would be fascinating to see what her program would say about me.  What do you think the computer would say in response to a sampling of my most recent tweets:
  1. .@StevieWonder #JoseFeliciano .@RonnieMilsap Santa Inspires Blind 2 Reach4TheirDreams #News #HolidayHumor
  2.  @WakeUpDreamNow Tue's #Psychology Tips: How to Stop a #Cyberbully An answer 2 a .@HealthTap Question 
  3. .@BarackObama "I commend Santa on his yrs of dedicated service & wish him well in his new endeavors." #Humor 
  4. Help Santa Fulfill His Dream: A Modern Version of Up On A HouseTop #Funny #Video via @youtube 
  5. #NewsFlash #Anchorman2 nixed using Santa's press conf, couldn't prove Santa was real. You B the judge .@SteveCarell 
  6. @WakeUpDreamNow Miraculous Mon: Can Writing a Letter Save a #Marriage ? #therapy #Psychology
  7. Elf's Union Support Santa's Decision2Step down from sleigh Knew he was suffering, but kept his secret #Holiday #Humor 
  8. @WakeUpDreamNow Wed's Words of Wisdom: John Dryden on #Bullying #Blog.@DennyCoates TY4Sharing #Quote   
       I'm afraid to venture a guess at what the computer might say about my personality! Perhaps, it would be concerned that I could have an obsession with Santa Claus or an elf fetish! Hopefully, it would find that I am creative author and psychologist with a sense of humor, trying to help good causes. I may try to get my personality analyzed from my tweets & get back to you on the results!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom: John Dryden on Bullying

Thought for the Day: Yesterday, I gave a tip on cyberbullying and had some very positive comments from readers on Google +.  Jason Brick wrote: "This is the best advice I've seen about cyberbullying. As a security guy, I've noticed how similar cyberbullying is to stalking...and the best response to stalking is no response at all Any contact or engagement just encourages the jerk to continue being a jerk." TheLearningStationwrote: "Many parents, teachers and children will benefit from this article. Thanks for sharing such a wealth of knowledge." Although it felt great to get the kind compliments, I was actually a bit surprised, since it was a very short tip in which the answer was limited by around 200 letters on's app. 

John Dryden (photo from Wikepedia)
Today, as I searched for a quote while scanning my twitter feed, I realized that what I thought was timely, yet brief advice, could have been shorter and written by someone who lived long before the internet existed.  I guess that King Solomon was right when he said, "There is nothing new under the sun." @DennyCoates posted a quote by JohnDryden, an English poet, literary critic, translator, and playwright, who lived from 1631 to 1700. I was struck that little has changed since Dryden's time. He could have been writing today about cybebullies. He wrote, " For they conquer who they believe they can." As I said yesterday, don't let them believe they can conquer you. That is one of the reasons that learning the sport of Judo can help bully-proof a child or adult, even if they never raise a finger in self-defense. In the same way, having dreams and plans of action to accomplish them reduce the possibility for bullies to believe they can conquer you. 

Over the last week, I have tried to let as many people as possible know about this using humor about Santa admitting he is visually impaired and becoming a spokesperson for The Blind Judo Foundation. It has been a humorous campaign about a seriously supportive and wonderful organization. Today is the last day of the Christmas Countdown sale benefitting The Blind JudoFoundation. I hope you will consider buying The Wake Up and Dream Challenge to bully-proof yourself, your family and friends from bullies & start moving towards a life filled with dreams.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tuesday's Psychology Tips: How to Stop a Cyberbully

Dr. Barbara Lavi answered:
(This is a real question that I answered on HealthTap with minor editing.)

The Christmas Countdown Sale benefitting The Blind Judo Foundation is still going on. Grab a copy for yourself and/or gift it to family and friends, It can also help you build self esteem which will reduce the chances of becoming a target for bullies. You do not need a Kindle to download the e-book to your computer, phone or ipad.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Miraculous Mondays: Can Writing a Letter Save a Marriage?

Thought for the Day: Here's another segment in my Miraculous Monday's Therapy Moments from marital therapy. Last week, I completed a three part series (Psychotherapy: Miracle or Science: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) describing a technique that I have used over the years and how it impacted on a couple struggling with marital conflicts. This week I will share a letter writing technique that has saved some marriages. Even when it does not save a marriage, it can shorten the painful process of deciding what to do when a marriage is failing. Do you think a letter could save a marriage? Has a letter helped you improve your relationship? I'd love to hear your stories as well.

There are some similarities between this intervention and the one I presented in the 1st set of articles on this subject. I use this technique when a couple has been coming for a while and do not seem to be making progress. In marriage counseling, I usually see some changes that indicate whether the differences can be reconciled within a couple of months. Although the marriage may not be fixed, there is an easing of differences, a lessening of quarreling and a return of some positive interactions between the partners. When I do not see this happening and the couple report either more of the same battles or an increase in discord, I begin to worry.

When this happens, I may give them a letter writing assignment. Shelly and Tom were in this type of holding pattern in their marriage. Tom had had a brief affair. When Shelly found out, she was devastated. If they did not have 3 children, Shelly said she would have left him immediately. She wanted to try to salvage the marriage, but could not stop thinking about Tom being with another woman. Tom was doing everything he could to try to make amends with Shelly. He was remorseful and apologized repeatedly to his wife. He broke off the affair, changed his cell phone number, so that there would be no contact, gave his facebook & e-mail passwords to Shelly so that she could check his correspondence whenever she wanted. He was calling Shelly and checking in on a frequent basis. Despite all his efforts, Shelly kept picking fights with him and questioning his honesty. I tried to help them understand that trust takes time to rebuild, but Shelly did not know if she could ever trust him again and kept threatening divorce.

I suggested that they write a letter to their spouse. They were to imagine that they got divorced tomorrow and that a year had gone by since they untied the knot. They were not to discuss their letters till the next therapy session. Come back next week to hear what happened when they returned.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sunday's Comic Strips: A Funny Modern Version of "Up On The Housetop" (Video)

Thought for the Day: My intern, Sarah Snider, and I have been having fun preparing videos to help support the Christmas Countdown Sale on Amazon of my book benefiting The Blind Judo Foundation. Here's a new twist on the song, "Up On the Housetop." Santa wants to change the way he does business. I hope you will help him reach his dreams while you learn how to reach yours! Please share if you like this idea & have a great end of the weekend. Here in CT we are shoveling out! Stay warm & safe!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Saturday's Songs for the Soul: In Honor of Newtown, Sarah McLauchlan's "Angel"

Thought for the Day: This is the 1st anniversary of the Newtown Tragedy, as the town tries to commemorate without an influx of media and the nation will take a moment of silence at 9:30 AM. I am saddened that Congress has failed to take action to make significant changes in gun control, mental health and protection of our children. I will continue to work for gunsense (Why Shrinks Need to Protect Children,  #Gunsence: Send Your Message to Congress). Sadly, yesterday another shooting occurred in a school in Colorado. In honor of all those who died last year in Newtown and the senseless loss of lives daily due to gun violence in our country. I have chosen Sarah McLauchlan's "Angel."

Friday, December 13, 2013

#FF Friday's Fabulous Finds: Blind Matters Radio & Kindle Book Sale

Thought for the Day: I usually promote others articles & finds on this post, but I am very busy with a radio show tomorrow and a Christmas Countdown Kindle promotion that started yesterday & runs until the 19th of December. Therefore, I will simply tell you about these two events. You may have seen the press release that I posted yesterday: Breaking News: Santa Admits He Is Visually Impaired: Becomes Spokesperson for The Blind Judo Foundation.  The release has been picked up by newspapers from across the country. The press release is meant to be funny, but it is serious about supporting an amazing Dream NonProfit organization. Please share the story & video with friends & family & know that every book sold will donate 1/2 of the profits to The Blind Judo Foundation. You do not have to own a Kindle to download the e-book version, since they have a free app that works with computers, ipads & even smart phones. If you know someone who is blind or visually impaired, there is also a Kindle reader app which will allow them to listen to the book on their computer, ipad or smartphone. So help Santa & Rudolph lighten their load and help someone you love find a way to accomplish their dreams. Grab a copy & gift it while the sale is on (the price goes up every 2 days so do it ASAP).

Tomorrow, December 14th, at 4 PM EST I will be speaking on the  Blind Matters Radio program (Radio Show Call in # Saturday, 3pm to 6pm EST: 800-788-9575) on How to Prevent Bullying of the Blind (or sighted community) by following your dreams & enhancing your self esteem. It is a live program and questions are welcomed. I hope that you will call in & listen.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Breaking News: Santa Admits He Is Visually Impaired: Becomes Spokesperson For The Blind Judo Foundation

Santa Admits He Is Visually Impaired, Becomes Spokesperson For The Blind Judo Foundation

An emotional Santa admitted his vision has been failing for years. With Rudolph at his side, Santa became the spokesperson for the Blind Judo Foundation.

North Pole & Weston CT – WEBWIRE – Thursday, December 12, 2013

I had changed from a Ho Ho kind of guy, to feeling Ho Hum about life, embarrassed and depressed about my declining vision.
The Blind Judo Foundation caught up with Santa at a surprise press conference at the North Pole. Santa revealed he can no longer hide his serious visual impairment. The true reason for hiring Rudolph was not bad weather, he needed a seeing-eye reindeer for many years. Mrs. Claus encouraged Santa to get help, tell the truth and become a positive role model for blind & visually impaired children, young adults & wounded warriors. In an apology to his fans, he revealed that in therapy with Dr. Barbara Lavi, author and Clinical Psychologist, he learned to cope with his vision loss and about  the Blind Judo Foundation.
Santa began training in the sport of Judo. He reports that, “ Judo helped me regain not only my strength and balance but also my self confidence.” Mrs. Santa is pleased with her husband’s progress. Santa said, ”Dr. Lavi’s book,   The Wake Up And Dream Challenge helped me realize I wanted to do more with my life.”
Therefore, “Rudolph will be delivering the gifts this year, while I train for Judo tournaments. I hope to make the US Paralympic Judo Team.” He also says he is excited to train with the former US Olympic and US Paralympic Judo Coach and iconic legend, Coach Willy Cahill, at Cahill’s Judo Academy.
Santa announced and encouraged everyone to secure a copy of Dr. Lavi’s Kindle book, The Wake Up And Dream Challenge which will be on sale at Amazon with 1/2 of the profits from every book sold donated to the Blind Judo Foundation from 12/12 - 12/19. (
The Blind Judo Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c) (3) organization whose mission is to empower the blind and visually impaired using the tools and tenets of Judo. These include but not limited to confidence building, character development, how-to make commitments and follow through, humility, respect and responsibility. All members of the Foundation are volunteers. Funding of blind and visually impaired athletes to train, travel locally, nationally and internationally are through tax exempt donations, the financial life-line. Donations can be made at which are tax exempt. To learn more about the Foundation, check out and at or contact Ron C. Peck at roncpeck(at)blindjudofoundation(dot)org or 425-444-8256.

Dr. Barbara Lavi
Licensed Psychologist
ACt Now Psychotherapy
Contact via E-mail
This news content may be integrated into any legitimate news gathering and publishing effort. Linking is permitted.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom: Helen Keller Visionary

Thought for the Day: Today, I chose a quote by Hellen Keller: "We can do anything we want to if we stick to it long enough." On Saturday, December 14th at 4 PM, I will be speaking on the Blind Matters Radio program (Radio Show Call in # Saturday, 3pm to 6pm EST: 800-788-9575) on: How Taking The Wake Up and Dream Challenge Enhances Self Esteem and Prevents Becoming a Target of Bullying. Sadly, adult blind and visually impaired adults are often targeted by bullies. Hellen Keller's perseverance and adherence to her dreams made her an inspiration to anyone dealing with challenges. Many people would have succumbed to their disabilities and led a simple life letting others care for them, but Keller kept challenging herself, intent to live as independently as possible.She became a world renowned leader and role model for the visually and hearing impaired community, as well as to the sighted world. I hope you will join me on Saturday & welcome questions on the live show.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tuesday's Psychology Tip: Self Esteem Building Tip

Tuesday's Psychology Tip:

     "Exposure to varied hobbies will help 

your child discover their strengths and 

build self esteem. "  Dr. Barbara Lavi

Thought for the Day: Today, I decided to share a tip from my HealthTap profile. If you are not familiar with the site, it is a great place to get answers to all your health related questions. For longer articles that address building a child's self esteem take a look at Motivational Monday: How To Parent A Malala or Thursday's Trivia Answer: Can A Few Minutes Impact On Self Confidence?  Have a great day!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Miraculous Mondays: Part 3: Psychotherapy: Miracle or Science?

Thought for the Day: It is Monday & I have not posted for three days. A friend is here doing work on our house. When I need to help make sure he has all the supplies to complete projects, my writing gets neglected. In the interim, I have also been moved by the outpouring of both tributes and celebrations of the life and work of Nelson Mandela. Ironically, one of his quotes inspired my Wednesday's Words of Wisdom post last week, the day before he died. Therefore, some of my thoughts on miracles in marital therapy today, will include my perception of Mandela's contribution to the psychology of reconciliation. At a later date, I will write about the mourning process in South Africa, since I am fascinated by the cultural differences in our societies. As promised last week, today, I am finishing a three part series on: Psychotherapy: Miracle or Science? (Part 1, Part 2). Although Linda & Henry's therapy is not completed, I'll be reporting the progress & thoughts about the science behind the miraculous moments in their work.

Last week, Linda and Henry left the session laughing and talking in a way I had not seen before the role play. They reported that their week, since the last session, was much better than before. They were speaking more frequently and able to work through rough moments better than in the past. Although Henry has been very busy at work, he has read more of the book and has been trying to apply the techniques he is reading about. Linda, who's life is consumed by caring for a small infant, has not made time to read the book yet, but is appreciating the change in Henry's behavior. She is not convinced that the changes will be permanent. Although she had been going out at night after Henry came home from work, she has been staying home more and spending time with him without it leading to arguments. My biggest concern is that Linda is not totally on board and still is questioning whether things can change enough for their marriage to work.

My job is to help them experience more and more of the miraculous moments in their interactions, so that they can rekindle and strengthen their relationship. Their marriage has been deteriorating since they began to live together. Linda who felt free and liberated before she married, has been feeling trapped and unfulfilled for years. I have made it clear to both of them that she is responsible for making sure she is following her dreams in life. If she feels trapped, she is the only one who can set herself free. Henry must be able to support her efforts, but he cannot do the work for her. I will be meeting with her individually to help her examine why she is feeling so stuck in her life. Reconciling their differences will take time and work on both their parts.

Here's where Nelson Mandela's miraculous reconciliation efforts are informative to me as a therapist. Mandela was oppressed, jailed and tortured as were his people. Fortunately, most married couples do not suffer to that extreme; however, if marriage begins to feel like a prison, they may begin to treat their spouse like a jailer with anger and bitterness. When this occurs, they can learn about reconciliation, as we all can, from Mandela. Other peoples have suffered from similar holocausts and have not been able to reconcile. Many survivors of political oppression remain angry, hateful and bitter. What allowed Mandela to reconcile his differences with his oppressors? After he was freed, he met with many of those who oppressed him and made amends with them. I believe, he discovered a liberating principle which allows for forgiveness without expectations of forgetting, revenge or retribution which led to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings. In these hearings full disclosure of the crimes with the possibility of amnesty led to healing. (Bill Moyer's PBS Series Facing the Truth gives a good introduction to the process).

Although the process can be painful, sharing feelings of discomfort in a marriage may be the prerequisite for the miracle moments that lead to reconciliation and healing of marriage therapy. As a psychologist, I help provide a safe place to air all the issues that have been troubling my clients in their relationships. Without trust, marriage cannot work. Therapy gives them a place where they can be truthful with one another. What do you think? Is psychotherapy a miracle maker or a science or a bit of both?

In subsequent posts I will share other techniques that tend to help people work their miracles in therapy.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Flashback Thursday's Psychological Trivia Answers: How to Prevent Divorce

Wake Up And Dream Catalyst: Thursday's Psychological Trivia Answers: How to Prevent Divorce:

Here's the question: What is the #1 predictor of divorce?
      a) lack of physical intimacy
      b) lack of similar interests
      c) poor communication skills
      d) financial problems
      e) infidelity  & the answer.

Did you get it right? Read on to see...

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom: The Fastest Way To Change the World is To Educate a Girl

Thought for the Day: I saw a quote on Facebook yesterday which said that "Education is the most powerful weapon to change the world. Nelson Mandela." I thought about using it for today's post. However, this morning I awoke with my own quote which must have been inspired by what I read yesterday: "The fastest way to change the world, is to educate a girl." 
      My grandmother grew up in small town in Russia. At the time, only boys were sent to school. She was fortunate that her parents believed in education and allowed her and her sisters to learn to read and write. She would sit at the back of the boys' class in order to take part in the lessons. After coming to America she continued to learn throughout her life. It is not surprising, that my mother not only went to college, but also became a lawyer at a time when there were next to no women in the legal profession. My mother and grandmother's examples helped me to follow in their footsteps to attain higher education. The pattern, however, is more significant than my family's history. It reflects a revolution in the history of mankind, or should I say womankind. It may be the greatest change our world has seen, giving us hope for the survival of mankind. This may sound like hyperbole, but I mean it with sincerity. 
       Much has been written about the differences in how men and women view the world. From the self help psychology books like Men Are From Mars Women Are From Venus by JohnGray to the academic work, In A Different Voice, by Carol Gilligan. Women tend to think and speak differently from men on ethical issues focusing more on relationships and caring. 
       Women's liberation represents more than just a means to reach financial equality and independence. The more education women gain, the more they will be able to influence the world both economically and politically. Women's unique thought process and view of the world has already lead to major accomplishments. The impact of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is just one example of how educated women's efforts have paid off in raising awareness of the dangers of drunk driving and changing the laws to enforce stricter controls and penalties for driving while intoxicated.
       Hopefully, the feminine perspective combined with masculine ones, will help mankind find alternatives to war, solutions to world hunger and poverty, through cooperation and compromise. Women like Melinda Gates, Indirah GhandiHillary ClintonOprah Winfrey are examples of educated women making a difference in the world. Educated women's power goes beyond the  political and economic sphere. Since they are also influential in the education of their sons and husbands, as well as their daughters, educated women are capable of changing society from the ground up.

       The educational revolution's inclusion of women may be the most significant change of our century. My grandmother would be proud to see how far women have come even though there is still a lot that needs to be done by women.

       Last night I learned that Nelson Mandela passed away. His wisdom will live on. It is ironic that I mentioned his quote just yesterday. May he rest in peace.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Miraculous Monday's: Part 2: Psychotherapy Miracle or Science?

Thought for the Day: Last Monday, I began to tell the story of Henry and Linda's marital therapy. I introduced them and shared a question that I ask all clients at the beginning of therapy. Namely, "If a miracle happened and therapy cured you over night, how would you know? What would be different?"  Linda and Henry's visions of a miracle were pretty similar. They would be communicating with one another and laughing more. They would be living together in harmony and would see eye to eye on religious matters.    
       Since both Henry and Linda had mentioned problems in communication, I gave them a homework assignment. I encouraged them both to read the book, Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus by John Gray. I often assign reading to clients since it can speed up the process in therapy. In sessions, I can coach them in skills discussed in the book. I explained the theory behind the book and introduced the concepts men and women's different communication styles. 
       The next week, to my surprise only Henry had started reading the book. Often, men will delay starting a reading assignment and women will have completed the entire book. Linda had not had time. Although he had only read the 1st chapter, he liked it and could already see that it applied to their patterns of miscommunication.
       The couple's week had been slightly better, but they brought up an argument that had transpired which was typical of their disagreements. I decided to try a role-playing technique to attempt to get them to imagine interacting differently. They were each to direct the other partner in a two minute ideal scene. What would a perfect interaction between them look like. Henry wanted Linda to be the director first. Linda broke into tears. She said, " I don't think we could have even two minutes of an ideal relationship. It's just not possible." 
       When Henry began to contradict Linda and said, "Come on, we can get along for two minutes." I stopped him and got him to listen to his wife. I encouraged him to just find out what was making her feel so hopeless about their marriage. I reminded him about what he had read and he listened to her in a way he had never listened before. When she had completed what she wanted to say, he was able to ask if she wanted anything from him or if she just wanted him to listen. He said it saddened him to see her so upset and asked if he could do anything to help her. She asked him to just hold her and he did.   
      After he held her for a few touching moments, I decided to ask if they wanted to try the role play again. They were both able to act out their perfect 2 minute interaction. I didn't know for sure, but I felt I had just witnessed one of the miracle moments in therapy. Next week, in the third installment, I will share how Henry and Linda's week went and you can be the judge of whether psychotherapy is a science or a miracle or a combination of the two.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sunday's Comic Strips: A Funny Sign Which Could Have Changed Arlo Guthrie's Life

Thought for the Day: This year I did not post Arlo Guthrie's song, Alice's Restaurant, for Thanksgiving, although I have in the past. Today's Sunday's Comic could actually go along with that song. If Arlo Guthrie had seen it, it might have changed his life story. If he hadn't dumped his garbage on Thanksgiving Day, he would not have been arrested, might have been drafted and we would not have ever heard about Alice's Restaurant! Enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend. Tomorrow, I will be posting a 2nd part to my new series Miraculous Mondays: Psychotherapy: Miracle or Science continuing the story about a couples' progress in marital therapy.