Monthly archives: June, 2014

It’s easy to see how the eyes and our expressions play an important part in how we communicate, but what about those other body parts? What is your body language communicating to your partner?

What is Your Body Language Communicating to Your Partner?

What you are saying without saying it

The Eyes Have It

When it comes to flirting, tempting or teasing your partner, you know that one long, deep look into their eyes can say more than words ever could – “Come here you sexy love muffin.”

The same can be said for the penetrating stare you give your partner when they say something really embarrassing about you in front of a group of friends. – “You’re really in deep doo-doo, mister.  Wait until later when we’re alone.”

It’s easy to see how the eyes and our expressions play an important part in how we communicate, but what about those other body parts?  What is your body language communicating to your partner?

Hello and Goodbye

In my Los Angeles couples therapy sessions I often ask couples how they communicate.

  • How do say goodbye to each other in the morning?
  • How do you greet each other at the end of the day?
  • How do you say goodnight?

The body language we use with our partners can say a lot, so I have an interest in how couples say hello and goodbye.  So, for instance:

If a wife is clutching her hubby’s jacket lapel and laying a big, sexy kiss on him, she’s probably saying that she really doesn’t want him to leave (at least he could be a little late for work); if she is standing with her hands on her hips as her husband is leaving the house in the morning, she could be expressing that she can’t wait for her husband to leave so she can have some alone time; and if she’s holding a rolling pin in her hand, there’s probably something we could be working on in couple’s therapy.

People who have attended my Los Angeles couples therapy sessions have told me that they see how passionate I am about getting couples communicating openly again.  It makes me happy to help couples get back on track, and we start that process in the very first session.

Please, Have a Seat

For instance, if you and your partner were attending one of my Los Angeles couples therapy sessions, I might first observe where and how you sit in relation to one another.  Are you clutching the chair like you’re riding in a rocket ship or are you relaxed?  Are you facing your partner or away from them?  How does one of you react when the other one is speaking – are you looking at them or at the floor – or taking selfies (actually, that’s never really happened in any couples therapy session I’ve ever been a part of, but you get my meaning).

In addition to asking questions and listening to answers, as we delve into your couples therapy I’ll often observe how a person’s body reacts as they speak of a tense or tender moment.   I’ll also observe their partner’s reaction to what they’re saying.  If they’re gritting their teeth or tapping their feet, it tells me that that they’re not too happy.

What your body language is communicating to your partner is very telling to them, but it’s also very telling to me, especially at first when some people might feel cautious about opening up.

In my Los Angeles couples therapy, I’ve experience great success in bringing couples closer together and if you live in the Los Angeles area and you feel that you and your partner could benefit from couples therapy, let’s talk.  As I often say, this is my passion and nothing would make me happier than to see you and your partner live a happy life with lots of good body language.

What is ADHD?

External and internal factors affect our children

It’s not clear how many children are misdiagnosed with ADHD annually, but a study published in 2010 estimated the number could be nearly 1 million. ADHD a brain disorder characterized by impulsivity, hyperactivity, and an inability to focus has become a go to label for educators, parents and even clinicians for hard to manage children who are disruptive and inattentive.

Taking a closer look at my Los Angeles family therapy practice, in one specific case, I saw that some of the children had been misdiagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder(ADHD).  Trauma which has similar characteristics, such as, hyper-vigilance and dissociation for example, could be mistaken for inattention. Impulsivity might be brought on by a stress response in overdrive.

I found that in some cases, despite my best efforts with behavioral therapy and referrals for medication, it was difficult to get the symptoms under control.  I started to consider that a lot of what I was seeing was more externalized behavior as a result of trauma or dysfunction in the family.

Looking at the statistics of 6.4 million children in U.S being diagnosed with ADHD, it raises the question that inattentive, hyperactivity, and impulsive behavior may in fact mirror the effects of adversity, and many pediatricians, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists don’t know how or don’t have the time to tell the difference.

The newest research shows that children diagnosed with ADHD also experience markedly higher levels of poverty, divorce, violence, and family substance abuse. What is not clear is how trauma influences ADHD, but what is clear is how misbehaving children might be experiencing harm that no stimulant medication can fix. These children may also legitimately have ADHD, but unless prior or ongoing emotional damage is treated, it may be difficult to see dramatic improvement in the child’s behavior.

I have experienced in my work with children, that they may withhold abuse out of fear or may even be protecting their family. To get a picture of trauma from a child is much harder than looking at behavior like impulsivity, hyperactivity. And if they cluster in a certain way, then it’s easy to go to a conclusion that it’s ADHD.

As a clinician, I am extremely careful not to underestimate the prevalence of adversity.  In a years- long survey of more than 17,000 adults found that two thirds of participants reported at least one of 10 types of abuse, neglect, or household dysfunction.

Unless the parent opens up and shares more about what’s going on in the home, I often don’t have the opportunity to see the clear picture of what may be taking place for the child.

Both at my Los Angeles family therapy office and my Encino family therapy office, I regularly assesses patients for post-traumatic stress disorder instead of, or in addition to, ADHD.

Though stimulant medications help ADHD patients by increasing levels of neurotransmitters in the brain associated with pleasure, movement, and attention, I worry about how they affect a child with PTSD, or a similar anxiety disorder, who already feels hyper-vigilant or agitated. The available behavioral therapies for ADHD focus on time management and organizational skills, and aren’t designed to treat emotional and psychological turmoil.

Instead, I teach children how to cope with and defuse fear and anxiety. I also recommend training and therapy for parents who may be contributing to or compounding their child’s unhealthy behavior. This can help parents reduce their use of harsh or abusive discipline while improving trust and communication, and have shown to decrease disruptive child behavior.

3 Common Obstacles in Relationships

How to Identify and Overcome Hurdles in Your Committed Relationships

There are many reasons why people come to couples therapy. The short answer is that they want to work on obstacles in their relationships. My Los Angeles Marriage Therapy office deals with all kinds of relationship conflicts and often, the root cause is the same. Take a look.

Cause and Effect

Even though there are many things that can be considered obstacles in relationships, there are three common obstacles – ones I consider among the main obstacles, and that I encounter the most in my Los Angeles Couples Therapy sessions – which I’d like to share in this post. Let’s take a look at 3 common obstacles, how they manifest and then we’ll look at ways to remove them from your relationship.

1. Communication

Sound kind of obvious? Communication may often be considered a sub-niche of other more prevalent obstacles in relationships, but because communication (or lack thereof) is so common, I felt that communication deserved the number one spot.

“Don’t you know what I’m thinking?”

The unspoken word can be just as harmful to a relationship as the spoken word.  We often mistakenly think that our partner knows what we feel, what we want, or what we expect them to do.  However, unless you’ve communicated with partner (or you’ve married a mind reader), this is probably not the case.  You have to express yourself in order for your partner to begin to understand what you’re thinking.

“Can you tell me what I just said?”

One thing I like to do in couples therapy is to have one person express their feelings about a particular situation and then to have the other partner verbally acknowledge what was said and to repeat what they heard.  In couples group therapy sessions, other couples can easily observe where the communication barrier occurs.

This practice allows the speaker to express themselves openly, know that they’ve been heard and understood clearly and maybe even more important, that their spouse was listening.   This assures that there is no miscommunication between the couple because each has things they want to say and both want to know they’ve been heard.

2. Honesty

Being completely open and honest with someone is not always an easy thing to do for many reasons such as embarrassment or shame.  If for instance someone is not a good money manager, they may not come right out and admit that in the beginning of a relationship because they fear their partner might see it as a red flag.  However, nothing – whether it’s money related or not, stays a secret for long.  It’s better to be up-front and honest with someone who you’re in a committed relationship with.

If you’re not honest with your partner the natural assumption will become – secrets are allowed in the relationship.

Also, when couples try to hide things from each other, the one being confronted may become defensive and lash-out at their partner when questioned.  This will make the truth-seeker feel uneasy and untrusting.  Mistrust immediately puts the viability of a relationship in question.

“If they lied to me about this (or they didn’t tell me about that), how can I trust anything they say or do?”

Trust has to be rebuilt and honesty exhibited in order to move forward.  It’s not always an easy fix.

3. Respect

In any relationship, not just romantic relationships, respect occurs in two forms:  1) general respect that you give to someone as you would anyone; and 2) generational respect – respect that develops over time in a relationship.

When problems occur in a committed relationship, respect is often the first to get tossed aside.  When we become angered, in fact, we often disrespect someone on purpose as a means of getting back at them.

Respect goes hand-in-hand with responsibility in a committed relationship.  Part of how we gauge a partner’s level of respect for us is by how responsibly they act within the relationship.

There’s no quick fix for this obstacle.  Each couple has their own dynamic and their own issues they’d like and need to work on.

Conquering obstacles in relationships is extremely important to having a happy union.  The longer obstacles exist, the worse they get.  The sooner they are fixed, the more time you will both have to enjoy a fulfilling and happy union.

Contact me if you’re interested in seeing what we do in our Los Angeles group couples therapy, or to see private couples therapy might have to offer you and your partner, because I would really like to see everyone’s relationship thrive.

4 Signs That Your Child is Being Bullied at School -Part 1

4 Signs That Your Child is Being Bullied at School -Part 1

What YOU Can do About It

 Assessing and Addressing a Bully Problem

Situations involving bullying in school-age children are an all-too-common occurrence in our world these days. It’s something that I, as a Los Angeles LMFT (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist) have dealt with often. In my Los Angeles Psychotherapy practice, I often assist families in dealing with the pain and anguish caused by bullying and I provide them with the tools to help their children, and the family as a unit, overcome this devastating situation.

In this three-part article on the subject of bullying I want to show you:

• Part I: How you can recognize the top four signs that indicate that your child may be the victim of bullying;
• Part II: The right questions to ask your child if they are being bullied and how to get them to communicate with you about it; and
• Part III: Ways to move forward once your suspicions of bullying have been confirmed.

About Bullying

Bullying is direct, intentional, aggressive and malicious and it can also be relentless. As a parent, I can imagine the devastation one might feel upon learning that their child has been dealing with a bullying situation. As a family therapist in Los Angeles, I can be very instrumental in giving families ways to cope with, comprehend and conquer these devastating events.

Most of the bullying of school-age children comes from their fellow schoolmates. However and unfortunately, it can also come from other children in the neighborhood and even worse, teachers or other adults who are charged with the well-being of our school-age children while they are away from home.

Bullying can also come in many forms – verbal, physical and emotional. Plus the children of today also have cyber-bullying to contend with, that is because they are so much more involved in electronic forms of communication than we were in our younger days. On, a site devoted to the subject of bullying, they estimate that one out of every four children will be bullied at some time throughout their adolescence. That is a staggering statistic.

Four Signs That Your Child is Being Bullied

So what do you look for when you suspect your child may be the victim of bullying? Here are the top four signs to look for – a child can have one or more of these signs:

• They come home with cuts, scrapes and bruises on their bodies

• They have lost interest in school and school-related activities

• They often complain about not feeling well (headaches, stomachaches, etc.), which may be a physical manifestation of their problem or it can also be used as an excuse to get out of going to school

• They have few friends, if any; they are not outgoing or social and prefer to stay close to home.

If you suspect your child is being bullied, the next step after exploring your suspicions is to confirm them.

Children, especially boys, will not always be willing to come out and openly discuss what’s going on, so parents have to be the detectives.

If you have specific questions on the topic of bullying, please contact me at my Los Angeles Psychotherapy office or at my Encino Psychotherapy office.

In Part II of this three-part article, I’ll provide you with questions you should ask your child in order to assess whether or not they are being bullied and how to get them to open up to you. In Part III, I’ll explain how to handle the situation once your concerns have been confirmed, and ways in which you can help your child (and the family) recover from this situation.