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Kathy Marshack News

Why PTSD Sufferers Should Seek Help

Monday, July 25, 2011


Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD can affect anyone. It can strike after someone experiences any type of traumatic or serious event. Natural disasters, such as floods and earthquakes, or accidental disasters, such as car accidents, airplane crashes, fires, collapses of a building, or deliberately caused disasters, such as rape, assault, kidnapping, torture or combat are all events that could cause PTSD. Though the trauma may have occurred months or years ago, the survivor continues to have problems because they keep re-experiencing the traumatic event, or avoid stimuli associated with the event.

If you are a survivor of a trauma experiencing one or more of these symptoms you may be experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:

  • Depression
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Tendency to react under stress with survival tactics
  • Psychic or emotional numbing
  • Emotional constriction
  • Loss of interest in work and activities
  • Survivor guilt
  • Hyper-alertness
  • Fantasies of retaliation
  • Avoidance of activities that arouse memories of traumas
  • Suicidal feelings and thoughts
  • Flashbacks
  • Fantasies of destruction
  • Cynicism and distrust of government and authority
  • Alienation
  • Concern with humanistic values overlaid by hedonism
  • Negative self-image
  • Memory impairment
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Hyper-sensitivity to justice
  • Problems with intimate relationships
  • Difficulty with authority figures
  • Emotional distance from children, spouse and others
  • Self-deceiving and self-punishing patterns of behavior, such as an inability to talk about war experiences, fear of losing others, and a tendency to fits of rage.

If you are experiencing PTSD, it is vital that you seek professional help immediately. Divorce, depression, physical illness, alcohol and drug abuse are often the tragic result of undetected or untreated PSTD. PTSD is very responsive to a variety of psychotherapies. In individual therapy, the survivor can learn a new perspective on the past. With the gentle support of an experienced psychotherapist, you will find new and healthier ways to put old memories to rest. In couples therapy, you and your spouse will learn to help each other through the stressful periods. And group therapy with other survivors gives you an opportunity to learn from, and help other, who’ve “been there.” If you or someone you love is experiencing PTSD, contact my office to set up an appointment.

For more information, visit Living with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.


A New Method for Teaching the Art of Conversation to Aspies

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


For many years now, I have been working with clients with Asperger Syndrome. A major challenge that those with Asperger's face is the lack of social or emotional reciprocity. I am continually looking for new and improved ways to break down these barriers with my clients and help them communicate more effectively. One method that I have found particularly effective is to have Aspies enlist in acting classes so they can better understand the reciprocal interaction in a relationship. I have recently stumbled across another method that I think is brilliant and want to share with you.

The Temple Grandin School and the University of Colorado's Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences have joined forces to develop a program called "The Perspectives." This three week course is designed to teach interview skills to Aspies. They teach how to come up with topics for conversation, how to ask appropriate questions, and how to adapt to the shifts in conversation. The interviews are recorded and then played back to the student. This gives them an opportunity to see how they did and what work they need to do to improve. What a clever idea! This may be something that more therapists will want to implement with their Aspie clients. Click here for more information on this program.

If you would like more information on Asperger Syndrome, visit Asperger Syndrome Frequently Asked Questions.

Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Update

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Good news! The word is spreading quickly about our Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Support Group. I recently received an email from a member of another Asperger Support Group - Aspergers and Other Half: The Other Half of Asperger Syndrome. She had heard about us through another member in her group and decided to become an online member of our group.

I wanted to express my appreciation to all who are spreading the word. The response has been overwhelming! It is a reminder of how many people are out there who are in need of support. This is a great start, but there’s much more work to be done.

Thank you to all our members who continually add a level of love and honesty that makes our group so special. If you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, join us Saturday July 16, 2011 as we discuss the topic "Equality or Freedom." So often we NTs (neurotypicals) get stuck on the lack of empathy or reciprocity in our relationships with adults on the Autism Spectrum. While it is true that the "mind blindness" prevents many with ASDs from recognizing our feelings, thoughts and needs, there may be another way to survive this lack of reciprocity.

I think we have to stop thinking in terms of "Equality" and instead think of "Freedom." We are much better able to detach from our feelings of anger and hurt, when we step back and accept "Freedom" as our guide. We seldom win equality, but we can get to a place where we have Freedom . . . at least to us.

What is Freedom to each individual just depends, doesn't it? One person may find Freedom in his or her life by leaving the relationship. Another may devote his or her energy to more reciprocal relationships in the family. And still another may relish the few moments that his or her Aspie makes you laugh. It all just depends what each of us thinks is freeing.

Let's use this summer meetup to expand our concept of how to cope with these difficult relationships . . . without giving up who you are.

Entrepreneurial Couples - Is it Time to Renegotiate the Partnership?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


One of the most challenging of lifestyles is working with your spouse in a thriving business. Most entrepreneurial couples love the opportunity to be independent, in charge of their own destinies, and to work alongside the one they love and trust most. What do successful entrepreneurial couples need to know to keep a marriage and a business on track? One strategy is to renegotiate the partnership.

Keeping the love alive as an entrepreneurial couple must be the top priority. If there is no time to give or receive love, from each other, then it becomes time to renegotiate the terms of the partnership. If life isn't meaningful or fun for either of you, it is time to re-evaluate the marriage or the business partnership or both.

In order to keep a business healthy, a business owner must not only be aware of market trends, but they must also be prepared to alter their business plan accordingly. The same principal applies in your personal life. What are some reasons for negotiation? A marriage agreement that worked when you were twenty, may be outdated for a couple in their forties. Or aspects of the marriage contract may be archaic while others are still solid. Don't throw the baby out with the bath as the saying goes, but if some things need changing, do it now, or suffer the consequences of a loveless marriage.

I have met too many entrepreneurial couples where the only thing holding them together is the business. They have forgotten that the business is a function of their love for each other. By recognizing that the love is diminishing in your relationship and by being willing to renegotiate the terms of your marriage and partnership, you may be able to rekindle the romance and re-direct the business to new heights.

So, when you get off course, stop and renegotiate the terms of the contract, so that you can nurture and sustain business and marriage growth. If you find that you are unable to renegotiate on your way, you may want to seek the assistance of a psychologist who specializes in this type of therapy. Often problems that have a couple stuck, can be unraveled with professional help. For an appointment, please contact my office for more information.

For more information, visit Marriage Counseling - Entrepreneurial Couples. Available for purchase Do You Have What it Takes to Work with Your Spouse? Workbook.

How Managing Daily Stress Can Help You Avoid a Panic Attack

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Do you suffer from a panic disorder? If so, you are not alone. According to The National Institute of Mental Health, about one adult in twenty suffers from agoraphobia. Agoraphobia is a panic disorder in its most severe form. Symptoms of panic disorders include difficulty in breathing, rapid breathing or choking, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, shaking, shuddering, sweating, dizziness, insomnia, and increased sensitivity to sounds and light.

A new study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders shed light on panic disorders and its findings could help those who suffer from panic disorders. The study was performed by researchers at Brown University. They focused the study on how day-to-day stress affects a person with panic disorders. They concluded that panic attacks can actually stem from a gradual build up of stress not necessarily from one event. This new information can help those with these types of disorders to work on regularly managing their stress level. Dr. Martin Keller, the principal investigator, suggests keeping your guard up for at least three months after the stress subsides.

Panic disorders can be treated. There are a variety of therapies that are beneficial such as deep relaxation, systematic desensitization, and "flooding." It is important to seek help from a qualified and trained therapist to help reach the root cause of your disorder. If you live in Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington contact my office to set up an appointment.

For more information, visit Conquering Fears and Phobias.

How to Manage Anger Effectively

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Anger is a natural human emotion. When dealt with correctly, anger can be constructive, even providing clarity to a difficult situation. Sadly, most anger is not used constructively, but rather destructively. Anger when uncontrolled can be a danger to yourself and others. Do you have a problem controlling your angry outbursts? If so, you may need practical help also known as anger management.

Here are some tips to help you control your anger:

Breathe Deeply. This is a simple and quick way to gain control over your emotions. Focus and take long, deep breaths. If breathing is not your forte, then try visualization or repeating a mantra.

Separate Yourself. It's okay to give yourself space when you become angry. Step away from the situation and get your emotions under control. Once you have calmed down, you will be in a better place to deal with whatever made you angry and to reflect on the cause of your anger. This will also help you manage your anger more effectively in the future.

Exercise. A regular routine of exercise is highly beneficial for dealing with regular stress, anger, or frustration. If you find yourself getting heating up, exercise is also helpful in relieving anger. Find an exercise that has a calming effect not a stimulating one.

Be Solution Oriented. Take responsibility for your actions and learn from them. Shaking off the blame will only enable you to continue a cycle of anger. Write down what you felt when you had an angry outburst. Include the situation, your emotions, and your response. This will help you to see what your triggers are. Once you have identified those things, come up with a way to deal with those specific instances in the future. Own it!

Anger management takes time and patience to master. You may need assistance from a mental health care professional to help you conquer your anger issues. They can tailor specific anger management techniques to your personal needs. Feel free to contact my office to set up an appointment.

Is There a Disconnect between Cognitive and Emotional Empathy for People with Asperger’s?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Does the subject of "empathy" confuse you, especially with regard to your Aspie loved ones? They seem so sensitive at times and yet clueless about your feelings. Could it be a disconnect between what is in their hearts and what is in their heads?

Simon Baron-Cohen, a British researcher, tells us that a defining quality of Autism is a deficiency in empathy. But in practical terms just what does that mean? A deeper look into the research tells us that those with Asperger's may have a disconnect between the two major types of empathy, Emotional Empathy (EE) and Cognitive Empathy (CE). If you have Emotional Empathy (EE), you can feel the emotions of others (or animals, a noted Autistic strength).

But there is a huge problem with having only EE. Can you tell if what you are feeling is yourself or the other person? And even if you can figure out that these feelings are coming from another person, can you talk about it? You need Cognitive Empathy(CE) in order to recognize the bigger picture of who is feeling what and how to talk to the other person "empathetically."

As a neurotypical with a Asperger loved one in your life, have you pondered this dilemma? If so, you are not the only one. Join us on June 18, 2011 in Portland, Oregon for the Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Meetup. We will be discussing this topic in detail and would love to hear your thoughts on the subject. We will be taking this research a step further into our personal experience and discuss how we live with it and what to do about it.

If you are unable to attend, please become a member online and jump into our online discussions.

How a Psychologist Can Help You Manage High Blood Pressure

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Blood pressure is the pressure at which blood is pumped around our body by the heart. High blood pressure, also referred to as hypertension, is considered to be a very serious health issue. It is a major contributor to cardiovascular disease and medical crises such as heart attacks and strokes. It may even contribute to hardening of the arteries. It is estimated that 20% of Americans have some form of high blood pressure. It is further estimate that only half of these cases have been recognized, and less than half of those are treated.

Most cases of high blood pressure are called "essential hypertension," meaning there's no obvious medical cause or the hypertension. Emotional factors are known to play a role in most cases of essential hypertension. Blood pressure may rise dramatically during very stressful situations, but for it to remain high the stressful events must be continuing and unrelenting. Often a person with hypertension will be living or working in a situation where he is frequently very tense or angry, but does not have the option of leaving the situation or expressing his true feelings. After blood pressure remains high for some time it is thought that special receptors in the body that monitor blood pressure become adjusted to the high levels; the body may then lose its ability to lower the blood pressure to a safer level. Fortunately, it appears that the body can return to maintaining a lower blood pressure with proper treatment.

The most effective overall treatment for high blood pressure involves working with a mental health counselor on the emotional and stressful issues in your life; learning methods of stress management and biofeedback; and working with a physician to monitor blood pressure levels and oversee medication. Blood pressure medication can be a life-saving part of treatment for high blood pressure, but some may have unpleasant side effects, including tiredness and sexual difficulties. If blood pressure can be lowered under medical supervision with the assistance of counseling methods, then the person might require less medication. However, it is important to state that blood pressure must be controlled with medication until an alternative is found to lessen the need for the medication. Your family doctor would likely welcome the use of counseling to assist his or her efforts to help you control your blood pressure.

If you live in the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, WA area and would like counseling, contact my office to set up an appointment.

For more information, visit Managing High Blood Pressure and Managing Stress

The 42nd Autism Society National Conference and Exposition,

Tuesday, June 07, 2011


According to the Autism Society, 1 to 1.5 million Americans live with an autism spectrum disorder. If that includes you or a family member you may want to consider attending the upcoming 42nd Autism Society National Conference and Exposition. This is the largest autism conference in the nation and it will be held on July 6-9, 2011, at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Orlando, Florida.

According to The Autism Society - Conference website, "The Autism Society recognizes that families and individuals living with an autism spectrum disorder have a range of issues and needs. Our National Conference addresses the range of issues affecting people with autism including early intervention, education, employment, behavior, communication, social skills, biomedical interventions and others, across the entire lifespan. Bringing together the expertise and experiences of family members, professionals and individuals on the spectrum, attendees are able to learn how to more effectively advocate and obtain supports for the individual with ASD. The ultimate goal is to empower family members, individuals on the spectrum and professionals to make informed decisions."

Attendees will gain knowledge of the latest research in the field, connect with parents and professionals, and learn about local and national resources. Autism Asperger Publishing Company (AAPC) will have a booth at the conference with many of their highly-respected authors presenting more information and offering book signings. (AAPC published my book, Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge?.) Click here for more information about the conference.

Wealthy Entrepreneurs: How to Prepare Your Children for the Future

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


The challenges that face wealthy families are many. To prepare children for leadership in the family business – and in life – requires quality parenting from the start. Your child is not a miniature adult. He or she does not have the cognitive development, or the life experiences yet to handle the complexities that comprise the world of most wealthy adults. If you want your child to grow up to be successful in life, then your focus from day one should be on building his or her self-esteem.

In order to build self esteem in your children, you must consider parenting a full-time job for both parents. This is true with all children, not just the wealthy, but wealthy children require even more attention. You must teach them the skills of independence, right from wrong, how to be a good person, how to choose friends wisely, how to dream, develop their talents and work to accomplish those dreams. But in addition to all of this, wealthy children must be taught how to handle the considerable responsibilities that wealth brings into their lives.

They have more resources and more opportunities than the average child. They are expected by others to know more and accomplish more, however unfair this may seem. These differences are not only statistical; they make the child feel different. And feeling different is a hardship for most children. If a child is unprepared for these differences or responsibilities their self-esteem can be severely shaken and they can sink into depression or at the very least be an underachiever.

I believe preparing your children for handling the responsibilities of wealth in a healthy manner is one of your primary tasks in your wealth preservation plan. Carrying out this responsibility is really quite simple. Your children should be part of the wealth management plan from the start. Give your child a chance to participate in the wealth management of your family estate. Perhaps they can contribute their own earnings to buying their own clothes or they can set up a savings account for college.

So, parents, take this responsibility seriously. Take 10-20 minutes each day for meditation or prayer to center and focus yourself on your most dearly held values and priorities…your family.

For more information, visit Entrepreneurial Life - Families in Business


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