(503) 222-6678 - Portland, Oregon
(360) 256-0448 Vancouver, Washington


ADD in Adults
Parenting a Child with ADD
Coping with Anxiety Disorders
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Overcoming Depression
Managing Stress
Conquering Fears & Phobias
Overcoming Social Phobia
Couples at Work & Home
Dual Career Couples
Families in Business
Recognizing High Conflict Divorce
Conflict & Communication
Couples at Work & Home
Love, Sex & Intimacy
Maintaining Strong Marriage
Dual Career Couples
Advice for Singles Only
Alcoholism Recovery
Stop Smoking
Weight Control
Headache Relief
Holistic Health
Managing Blood Pressure
Releasing Unresolved Stress
Am I a Good Parent
Blended Families
Gifted Child
Coping with ADD/ADHD
Adoptive Families
Gifted Adults
When to Seek Help
Psychotherapy Options
Laid-Off from Work
Calendar of Events
Media Coverage
Press Center
Related New Stories
Enriching Your Live Archive
Entrepreneurial Couples Archive

Enriching Your Life!

Sign up for my FREE newsletter! Get practical tips for you and your family.

Kathy Marshack News

How Do You Cope with Unwanted Male Sexual Advances in the Workplace?

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

When the Seattle Times reported that former Washington Rep. Jim Jacks was forced to resign his seat in March 2011 for “inappropriate behavior” toward a young female staffer, it got me to thinking about why this problem is surfacing now.

Women and girls have been sexually harassed and assaulted for centuries — and it continues to this day. What’s different in our culture that encourages the painful, horrible truth to surface now?

As I state in a recent article for the US~Observer, I just don’t believe women who tell me “It has never happened to me.” I suspect they’re in denial or are fearful of opening up — or worse they accept that this is just the life of being a woman. There isn’t a twelve year old girl alive who hasn’t learned how to handle grown men who make sexual comments or reached out and touched her inappropriately. As a watchful mother myself, I kept a careful eye on my daughters and taught them how to handle themselves, too.

How do you cope with unwanted male sexual advances in the workplace? Here is a list of some common answers I’ve heard. This is excerpted from my recent article in the US~Observer.

1. “It’s just part of what I have to deal with. I shrug it off.”
2. “I’ve never told anyone. I would lose my job.”
3. “I’ve been told to let it go. No one will believe me.”
4. “It’s never happened to me.”
5. “Why would any woman put up with that? I wouldn’t.”
6. “I wish I had been brave enough to speak up long ago.”
7. “Irrational fear kept me quiet.”
8. “I spoke up and got fired. He got promoted.”
9. “That doesn’t still go on, does it?”

As long as any of us keep quiet about the harassers, we’re leaving women to protect themselves, which has lasting and traumatic consequences. As a psychologist, I know only too well how long it takes a woman to recuperate from sexual harassment (and abuse) — years, if ever.

Let’s keep the #MeToo Movement going strong. The US~Observer wants to know your story. If you’ve been victimized by Jim Jacks or any other unethical, corrupt politician or strongman, let me know. And, if they haven’t been brought to justice, let the US~Observer champion your cause.

My newest book, “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS: How to stop those hell-bent on destroying you,” is about people like Jim Jacks. If you’ve felt powerless in the face of abuse by someone with severe Empathy Dysfunction and are ready to take back your power, please grab a copy as soon as it’s available. (To stay up-to-date on it’s release, please sign-up for my “Enriching Your Life” newsletter.)

If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA and need to talk about your experience so you can begin the healing process, please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

Exercise May Help Boost the Effects of Brain-Training

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The latest studies indicate that you can see the greatest benefits of brain-training if it is paired with a regular exercise routine.By now you must have heard about one of the hottest new trends in self-improvement – brain-training. The general idea is that you can improve your cognitive abilities such as memory and attention by performing certain tasks, such as crossword puzzles and memory games. Proponents of brain-training claim it can make you smarter and make your life better.

It sounds great, in theory. But scientists are divided about whether brain-training is really as valuable as claimed. Brain-training programs typically have limited effects. Researchers have found that persons who participate in brain-training typically only improve the specific type of memory and thinking tested. For example, if you practice crossword puzzles, you’ll get better at crossword puzzles, but your memory may not improve.

Some studies in animals indicate, however, that learning and thinking of any type can improve the survival and function of young brain cells. So there is definite value in taking the time to train your brain. But if you’re putting in the effort to improve your brain function and memory, you want to get the biggest bang for your buck. How can you enhance the effects of brain-training and thereby increase the benefits you receive?

The key to boosting the effect of brain-training is exercise.

Exercise is known to literally change the size of your brain. Regular exercise has been found to boost the size of the hippocampus, the area of the brain that plays an important role in memory and learning. It does this via a process called neurogenesis, or the birth of new brain cells. Exercise can double or triple the number of new cells in the hippocampus. These new cells translate to a significantly better ability to learn new things and remember experiences.

Now let’s link this back to brain-training. Exercise helps produce brand new brain cells. Brain-training helps strengthen them. By combining exercise and brain-training, you can continuously produce and maintain healthy, strong brain cells. The two can work in tandem to improve your cognitive abilities.

According to an article in the New York Times, scientists in Canada conducted a 6-week study to test this theory. They split their study participants into three groups: one who neither exercised nor participated in brain-training, one who exercised, and one who both exercised and participated in brain-training. As you would suspect, the participants who exercised performed better on memory tests.

The improvement in memory was most noticeable among the participants whose fitness had improved the most, especially among those who had simultaneously practiced brain-training. Higher fitness levels resulted in stronger memories. Brain-training added to the effect, improving types of memory that weren’t even part of the training.

So if you want to improve your cognitive abilities and memory, exercise both your body and your mind. This doesn’t have to be complicated. Incorporate a short session of brain-training before and after your workout to see benefits. For example, take a moment to memorize a painting or a face, and then try to recall the details after you exercise.

To keep all parts of your life in healthy, productive alignment, take time to attend to your whole person. If you feel like any part of your mind, body or spirit is out of alignment, and it is causing you stress, please contact my office to make an appointment. I also offer online therapy.

Holiday Survival Guide for Entrepreneurs

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Along with joy and festivities, the holiday season can bring extra stress and work, especially when you run your own business. How can you not only survive the holiday season but truly enjoy itThe holidays are supposed to be a time to reconnect with family and friends, relax, and refocus on the important things. Ideally it should include looking for ways to give back and showing our gratitude for the life we enjoy. Unfortunately, busy entrepreneurs sometimes view the holidays as something they need to get through or survive.

What is it about the holiday season that creates so much stress and anxiety?

Since it’s such a significant time of year, it becomes very busy, very quickly. Think about all the things you try to pack in to the last few weeks of the year: vacations, holiday parties, hosting out of town guests, school events, community functions, shopping for gifts…the list goes on and on. That doesn’t even count the things you have to do for your business. You have to think about employee bonuses, client gifts, end of the year tax and accounting details, and last-minute rush orders.

With all the things you have to do, it would easy to become overwhelmed or just lock yourself in your office until the New Year. But that won’t help the situation. Working non-stop without taking time to de-stress and care for yourself is not good for you, and will not help your business in the long run.

So how can you survive this holiday season with enough energy to start the New Year with a bang? Here are some holiday survival suggestions for even the busiest entrepreneur:

  • Acknowledge the stress. Once you are mindful of the realities of this time of year, you are in a better position to handle them. Identify which things create the most stress for you, and create a plan for how to deal with them.

  • Prioritize your time. Make a to-do list and start prioritizing. There are only so many hours in a day, so many days in a week, and so many weeks before the New Year. So decide what needs to be done, and what can wait. Be realistic about what can and cannot get done. Delegate some responsibilities to others if possible.

  • Be positive. An optimistic outlook is linked to a myriad of mental and physical health benefits. It is also contagious. Your positive attitude can bring up the attitude of those around you. Having a positive attitude will help you navigate the highs and lows of running a business over the holidays.

  • Take care of yourself physically. Exercise regularly, eat right, and get enough sleep. When your schedule gets too packed, the first thing that tends to go is self-care. Don’t let that happen. To be at your best, you need to take care of your physical needs.

  • Look at the big picture. There are a lot of things that “need” your time and attention. But look at the big picture. Your friends and family are the most important things in your life. Use this time to make memories with them. When it comes to your business, instead of getting caught up in the little details, focus on the core business ideas that will ultimately help your business grow next year.

If you follow these suggestions, you are well on your way to enjoying a less stressful holiday season and being prepared to hit the ground running. As you set personal and business goals for the New Year, it can be helpful to consult a trained therapist who can help you reach them. Please call my office to set up an appointment. I have an office in Jantzen Beach, and I also offer online therapy if that’s a better option for you. I can help you prepare yourself from the inside out to succeed in life and business in the coming year!

How to Make Your Office Space Work When You and Your Partner Work from Home

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Find out how to meet the especially difficult challenge of setting up a functional shared work space that will allow you and your partner to succeed.Setting up a home office can be a time-consuming process. Of course, some people who work from home are content to set up their laptop at the kitchen table and call it good. But many of us who work from home want to make our workspace more professional and inspiring.

Do you work from home? Then you already know that setting up a great home office is hard enough to do when you are doing it for yourself alone. You spend time mapping out the space, purchasing the perfect office furniture, filling the walls with inspiring art, adding air-purifying plants, and finalizing the space with personal touches.

But what if you have to set up a home office for two?

This is a situation that many couples find themselves in. Whether you both start out working from home, or your situation evolves to where you both end up conducting your business at the house, it can be very difficult to set up a functional home office that will fit both parties.

What can you do to make the process easier? Here are a few ideas:

  • Define your workspace. Do you have two spare rooms that can be used as office space? Then separate your workspaces by room. If you don’t have the extra space, divide the one office into distinct areas. You many want to face your desks away from each other to minimize distractions and maintain privacy when making phone calls.

  • Evaluate your needs and preferences. Workspace needs and preferences can vary. One person may need more desk space either due to their type of work, or because they simply like to spread out. One of you may prefer to sit in a big cozy chair to work, while the other prefers a standard desk and office chair. Make your side of the room look and feel the way you want and need, and let your spouse do the same.

  • Create office hours. Sometimes it’s best for a couple to use the office alone. So set up office hours to share the space. One person gets to use it in the morning, and one in the afternoon. Perhaps the person not using the office can set up at the kitchen counter for a few hours, or whatever works for them.

  • Communicate, communicate, communicate. The best thing you can do for your relationship in general, but especially when you are both sharing a workspace, is communicate openly and honestly. Discuss what you need, when you need it, and what ground rules should be followed. This also applies if you want to be able to spend time with your spouse during the day. You are, after all, working under the same roof. So why not take advantage of that? If you want to chat or go to lunch, and your spouse doesn’t have time, don’t be offended. Instead, make an appointment. Schedule time together.

  • Respect each other’s space. Treat your spouse’s workspace the way you want yours to be treated. Give them privacy while they work. Don’t try to talk to them while they’re on the phone, or write them notes while they’re working. Create boundaries and respect them.

  • Give each other the benefit of the doubt. There are going to be times when your spouse intrudes on your space, and vice versa. Give your spouse the benefit of the doubt, and try to not take it too seriously, unless it becomes a habit. Just as co-workers in a traditional office can get on each other’s nerves, you will likely have moments where you rub each other the wrong way. Have a sense of humor, see the best in your spouse, and move past small annoyances.

There are many other challenges that dual-career and dual-entrepreneur couples face. It can help to work with a therapist with years of experience helping couples succeed as they build their business and their lives together. Please contact my office in Jantzen Beach to set up an appointment. If your busy schedules don’t allow for in-person therapy, please consider online therapy. Or for more advice on this lifestyle pick up a copy of my book: Entrepreneurial Couples - Making it Work at Work and at Home. I recently released the second edition and you can get the paperback or Kindle edition on Amazon.

How Smartphones May Be Endangering Your Teen

Monday, December 11, 2017

Smartphones are changing the way adolescents communicate and spend their time, so parents need to know how smartphones endanger pre-teens to young adults. Smartphones are profoundly changing the way adolescents communicate and spend their time. As a parent, you hear some experts say it’s too soon to be alarmed, while others recommend restricting smartphone usage based on their understanding of childhood emotional and developmental vulnerabilities.

The conflicting information can be confusing. To help you make an informed decision, I’ve collected interesting findings from recent studies.

Cyber bullying. The 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Study (of high-school students) found that “19.6% had been bullied on school property in the previous 12 months, and 14.8% had been electronically bullied.”

Smartphone addiction. Nomophobia (NO MObile PHOne phoBIA) is a 21st-century term for the fear of not being able to use your cell phone or other smart device. (Take an online quiz to see if your child has it.) One National Center for Biotechnology Information study identifies 4 features of smartphone addiction: compulsion, functional impairment, tolerance, and withdrawal.

Wasted time. Roberts, Yaya and Manolis (2014) found that college students spent almost nine hours daily on their cell-phones. Those are hours spent that can never be recovered. Were they spent wisely? You decide.

Injuries and death. A 2010 study by the Pew Research Center said nearly one in three 16- or 17-year-olds said they have texted while driving. According to Pew, fifty-nine percent of people between the ages of 18 and 33 reported texting while driving. In midtown Manhattan, 42% of pedestrians who walked through a "Don't Walk" signal were distracted by an electronic device. A 2013 study found a tenfold increase in injuries related to pedestrians using cell phones from 2005 to 2010.

Mental health and sleep disorders. Another NCBI study indicates that depression, anxiety, and sleep quality is associated with smartphone overuse.

Behavioral and personality shifts. Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University and author of iGen, explains how today’s super-connected teens are less happy and less prepared for adulthood. They are “different from all previous generations in how they spend their time, how they behave, and in their attitudes toward religion, sexuality, and politics. They socialize in completely new ways, reject once sacred social taboos, and want different things from their lives and careers. More than previous generations, they are obsessed with safety, focused on tolerance, and have no patience for inequality. iGen is also growing up more slowly than previous generations: eighteen-year-olds look and act like fifteen-year-olds used to.”

Psychosocial and cognitive impact. Some research links media multitasking—texting, using social media and rapidly switching among smartphone-based apps—with lower gray-matter volume in the brain’s anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). This is the region involved in emotion processing and decision-making. Researchers from Korea University in Seoul, used brain imaging to study the brains of 19 teenage boys who were diagnosed with internet or smartphone addiction. Compared with non-addicted teenagers, their brains had significantly higher levels of GABA than levels of glutamate-glutamine, a neurotransmitter that energizes brain signals. GABA is a neurotransmitter that slows down the neurons. This results in poorer attention and control, so you’re more vulnerable to distractions.

Security issues. A 2012 Pew Research Center survey reports that 6% of teens 12-17 use the services to share their location. Their 2016 survey found that 28% of U.S. smartphone owners say they do not use a screen lock or other features to secure their phone. Although a majority of smartphone users say they update their phone’s apps or operating system, around four-in-ten say they only update when it’s convenient for them. And 14% say they never update their phone’s operating system, while 10% say they don’t update the apps on their phone.

You, as the parent, are in the best position to determine if your child is mature enough to properly use a smartphone. If your child is personality type A experiencing high stress levels and low mood, he or she is highly susceptible to smartphone addiction. Positive stress coping mechanisms and mood management techniques can be very beneficial for helping your child overcome this addiction. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

Learn more on my website: Smartphones Damage Relationships.

How to Make Your Mind, Body and Spirit Happy

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

How to Make Your Mind, Body and Spirit HappyAre you happy? Are you waiting for your family, your lover, your lifestyle to make you happy? Then you’re going to wait forever. Because truth to tell, you’re the only one who can make YOU happy. Happiness depends on achieving an inner harmony between your mind, body and spirit. But how do you do that?

Make your mind happy.

Acknowledge, not control your thoughts. Just as a crying baby needs to be heard before it can quiet itself, your thoughts need to be acknowledged before you can quiet them. If you don’t ever “hear” your thoughts, you won’t deal with the underlying issues causing them.

Challenge negative thoughts. Turn “I’m a failure” into “I don’t fail at everything. Yes, this is a setback but I can learn to do better.”

Ask yourself these questions:
  • What evidence do I have for this feeling?
  • Is my bias clouding my judgment?
  • Do others view this similarly?
  • If my best friend did this, would I tell him he’s a failure?

Strive for optimism. Optimism can be learned, if it doesn’t come naturally to you. Oftentimes journaling will help you change your perception of yourself. As you note what your struggle is, put an optimistic spin on your thoughts and write encouraging comments to yourself just as would for a friend with the same problems.

Make your body happy.

Breathe. Breathing deeply helps reduce symptoms of anxiety, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and attention deficit disorder. Controlled breathing also promotes concentration.

Move. Activity goes hand-in-hand with better health and greater happiness. A study about how physical activity affected moods found that people experienced the most happiness if they had been moving in the past 15 minutes.

Make your spirit happy.

Find your community. “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world” is a line from a song by Barbra Streisand. And not only are they the luckiest, they are the happiest too. Do you like your neighbors, your co-workers, and the people you meet during your day? If not, perhaps it’s time to find a new community.

Extend kindness to self and others. Generosity, volunteering and altruism are all linked with experiencing greater happiness and self-worth.

Declutter. Is your mind cluttered? Then your space likely will be, too. But which comes first…the clutter in your mind or in your space? What matters is that they feed off of each other, so improvement in one area will improve the other. Only keep that which makes you happy and joyful. And start in your bedroom. That should be your happy space, because if you’re sleeping well and enjoying a good sex life your overall happiness will increase.

These are just a few ways to make yourself happy. Therapy is also very helpful for uprooting long-held habits that foster unhappiness. I’d love to help you find your happiest you possible. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

What Does It Mean that Autistics Think in Pictures?

Monday, December 04, 2017

Autistics think visually, why this hinders good communication, and what you can do about it.Have you seen the Temple Grandin movie? She’s a high-functioning autistic who has built a life helping others understand autism. (She also specializes in understanding what spooks cattle). She’s written a book about thinking in pictures because that’s the only way she relates to the world around her. There are a number of good YouTube videos, like this one if you start at the 9 minute mark, that give you some insight into her visual thinking process.

Temple has an interesting example on how people think about church steeples. Most people think of a generalized image, but her mind flashes through images of existing churches at specific locations that she’s seen in the past. She never sees things in a generalized way, but sees very detailed examples.

Of course, we can all visualize to a degree. At least we call it that. We might see a color in our "mind's eye" when told to see red. What about a checked tablecloth? Or your first car? But we don't generally "think in pictures." We tend to use pictures, or little movies as methods of organizing data, along with words, emotions, feelings, and other types of thought.

Autistics on the other hand rely much more on pictures. This explains why they have a photographic memory or can focus on the minutest detail. As handy as thinking in pictures can be for certain tasks, it can be a disaster for interpersonal communication. Without words to go along with those pictures, we’re left wondering what they’re thinking about. Without empathy, they may ramble on about their topic of interest without realizing we can't see their picture.

For our Aspies it’s also extremely troubling that we can't see their pictures. How can they convey what they are feeling or experiencing?

If you’re a member of Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Meetup

, please join us for the free international teleconference on Thursday, December 14th, at 2:30 PM PT. Our topic is:

What does it mean that autistics think in pictures? Bring your own examples of how your Aspies think in pictures. But if it makes no sense to you yet, don't give up. We'll keep translating for you.

If you’d rather have a one-on-one session with me and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

Recent Posts RSS