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Kathy Marshack News

Self-Sabotaging Behaviors that Elicit Rejection

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


self sabotaging behaviors that elicit rejectionA person’s own faulty thinking can cause so much unnecessary pain. Fear of rejection especially entraps people in a pattern of stress and depression. An article by Mike Bundrant recently highlighted five ways a person might be inviting rejection without realizing it. What are these five ways?

  1. Being afraid to ask for what you need. Have you ever caught yourself thinking, “I’d really like ______, but I know he or she will say no, so why even bother to ask.” (You’re making someone’s mind up for them without giving them a chance.)
  2. Wanting something so much that you keep pushing until your partner explodes. (He or she might agree given time, but you don’t allow them that time.)
  3. Avoiding confrontation by refusing to discuss hot button topics. (If it’s a hot button topic, emotions are already involved so it’s going to have to be dealt with sooner or later.)
  4. Hiding the truth. Your spouse notices you have new clothes, but you say, “Oh, this old thing. It’s been in my closet for a long time.” When in reality you just purchased in with the credit card that you both agreed to only use for emergencies. (Not only will your spouse find out this is a lie, but now you’ve violated his trust.)
  5. Agreeing when you really disagree. You promise, “Of course, I’ll cut the grass”, when you’ve already planned to go golfing with your buddies instead. (Agreeing in order to keep peace will ultimately backfire when you don’t follow through on what you’ve said.)

All of these are self-sabotaging behaviors. They’re setting you up for the very thing you’re trying to avoid – rejection. The good news is that you can retrain your thoughts through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, so you break the cycle of these habits and behaviors. The techniques of CBT are designed to change faulty irrationally thinking into more constructive, solution-oriented thinking. Often people are stuck because they have an irrational belief from childhood that keeps them from living the way they wished they could. CBT is usually considered short-term therapy, perhaps 8-10 one-hour sessions. If you’d like to make an appointment, contact my Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA office.

Learn more about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy here.

Three Ways to Avoid Toxic Life Choices

Thursday, June 12, 2014


Make your choice positive not a toxic life choiceWhen you review the people you’ve let into your life, are they supportive of you or do some of them make you feel bad about yourself every time you talk with them? When things go wrong in life, do you feel like it’s always some else’s fault? When you meet someone, do you find yourself trying to become the kind of person you believe they want you to be, rather than being yourself? All of these responses can lead to toxic life choices.

The level of your happiness is largely dependent on you and your choices. If you find that you’re struggling through the same problems over and over again, it’s a good indicator that you need to consciously make different choices. As Albert Einstein described it…”Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

How can you begin to make better decisions that help you avoid toxic life choices? Here are three suggestions:

#1 Be Aware of How You Feel
It’s important to remember that you always experience your feelings first. Emotions, such as, happiness, confusion, pain, pride, boredom, or fear, determine how we will respond to situations. Closely following our feelings are our thoughts or interpretations that come from those feelings.

Interestingly, those with Autism aren’t as likely to make irrational decisions that are influenced by “a gut feeling”. Of course, this emotional disconnect creates difficulties in social situations, but it enable them to avoid potentially irrelevant emotional information and make more consistent choices. This illustrates that it’s useful to create self-awareness of your feelings so you think before you act, thereby using emotions to make good decisions.

#2 Be Yourself
Rather than worrying about what others think, ask yourself what’s important to you? What do you want you life to be like? How can you be the best YOU? Trying to please others and do things that we think they want, is a pretense and it will lead you to choices and results that will be toxic to you.

#3 Be Vulnerable
It’s a sign of strength to ask for help when you need it. None of us know everything. So we don’t need to pretend that we do. On the other hand, if you always rely on everyone to fix things for you, you won’t learn how to grow. Finding the balance depends on you being willing to ask for help and then being willing to do the work.

It’s never too late to make your life richer and more meaningful. You can change how you react to situations so you avoid toxic choices and can make good choices that support you. If you continue to struggle with personal problems, you may need to seek professional help and that’s okay.

For more information, visit When to Seek Professional Help for Personal Problems.

In a Bad Mood? It Could Be Coming from Reading Social Media

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


social media influences our moodThe brain/body connection is truly amazing. Your brain has the power to influence your body in either a negative or positive way. Studies have proven that maintaining an optimistic mood improves health. And our mood is greatly influenced by the people we let into our lives. Does this also apply to the short little tweets or posts we daily read on Social Media?

According to a fascinating new study, the answer is “YES”. An article written by Mike Bundrant, a retired psychotherapist and regular contributor to PsychCentral, discusses how the study was conducted and the discoveries it made.

Researches from the University of California, Yale and Facebook examined Facebook posts created between January 2009 and March 2012. They especially focused on how the weather influenced the posts. They found that the mood reflected in the post generated similar postings. For example, negative comments generated negative posts. However, they found that the positive comments generated more positive posting. Either way, the study shows that the mood has the capability of going viral around the globe.

That’s a lot of power! People have, at times, exploited this power to generate political and social unrest. Since Facebook has 1.23 billion users as of January 2014 and Twitter has 243 million active users, it’s very likely that you are using one of these or a similar Social Media site to stay connected with your friends, family and community. So how can you protect yourself from being infected by the negative posts? Here are some suggestions:

  • Consciously monitor your own mood, before logging onto your Social Media.
  • Be proactive and share your happy mood.
  • Before you get agitated over a comment, make sure you have all the facts. Check the source and verify “facts”.
  • Feeling down? Re-read your post, and make it more positive before you hit the send button. You’ll be helping yourself and others.
  • If someone consistently posts things that alter your mood in a negative way, don’t hesitate to unfollow them.
  • Start your day with positive thoughts, rather than reading Social Media first thing every morning.
  • Increase your face-to-face contact with people who help you stay positive.
  • Log off and go do something you really enjoy – walking, playing with your pet, gardening, and so forth.

This study’s findings are hardly surprising since we’ve known that journaling and reading positive affirmations can empower the subconscious to believe the stated affirmation. It only makes sense that what you read in Social Media will affect your mind and body, too.

Do you have any experiences with this that you’d like to share? Join me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/Kathy.Marshack.Ph.D ). Yes, I’m on Facebook. It’s one way of reaching and helping more people through support and education. But let’s keep it helpful and positive!

One Woman’s Inspiring Journey to Wellness

Thursday, March 20, 2014


hope of mental and physical wellness through holistic health approachIf you heard of a woman who struggled with debilitating anxiety, panic attacks and depression, who sought treatment through many medications, ongoing psychotherapy, electro-convulsive therapy, hospitalizations, and yet attempted suicide multiple times, would you hold out much hope that she would get better?

It may sound hopeless, yet her inspiring journey proves that we can change. Gayathri Ramprasad is a mother and homemaker. Her story on CNN proves that where we are right now can be changed to where we want to be. While recovering in the hospital from her last suicide attempt, she made up her mind to take charge of her life and create a life of wellness. She was tired of being chronically mentally ill and wanted to be well.

Despite the fears of many, she weaned herself off all medications under the supervision of her psychiatrist and turned to a holistic health approach as a way to achieve wellness.

First, she explored transcendental meditation. In the beginning, she couldn’t sit still or be calm. In time, however, she acquired those skills. She learned how to become aware of her thoughts and emotions. Instead of letting them control her, she began to control them and to live more purposefully.

Secondly, she joined a health club and started aerobics, free weights, and yoga classes three times a week. She found that exercise energized her and elevated her mood. It also helped her create a social network outside of her family.

Lastly, she learned how cognitive behavioral therapy could transform her life. Her therapist proved to her that thoughts, feelings, moods and behavior are interconnected. To change her world she needed to identify negative, faulty thoughts and replace them with positive, life-affirming thoughts.

While this approach may not work for everyone, I believe you have all the resources within you to make changes that are as dramatic as these. My role as a therapist is to assist you in discovering these inner resources and drawing them out so you can fully utilize them. If you want to achieve your optimum health and wellness, please contact my Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, WA office to schedule an appointment. Do you have non-confidential questions about how cognitive behavioral therapy works? Join me on Facebook and let’s discuss it.

Learn more about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

Are We on the Verge of a Drug-Free Cure for Depression?

Friday, February 21, 2014


the cure for insomnia and depression linked togetherResearch is being done on the causal link between insomnia and depression. And the results are very promising. They are finding that treating insomnia will also alleviate the suffering of depression. That is good news!

I was happy to read The New York Times’ report about recent studies that are confirming this. A team at Ryerson University in Toronto found that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for insomnia resolved the insomnia for 87 percent of the patients within four treatment sessions.

The bonus to this treatment of insomnia is that these patients also had their depression symptoms disappear, almost twice the rate of those whose insomnia was not cured.

Another study from Stanford University gives us similar hope. The patients all suffered from insomnia plus depression, and they were all taking an antidepressant pill. Sixty percent of those given seven sessions of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for insomnia in addition to the pill recovered fully from their depression, compared with only 33 percent in a control group that got the standard advice for treating sleeplessness.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy grew out of a need for solving problems that more traditional therapies couldn’t. Depression, for example, can take months of therapy, so many people resort to anti-depressant medication for more immediate relief. Now that we see the link between insomnia and depression we can use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to teach people to establish and stick to a regular wake-up time, avoid daytime napping, spend less time in bed, and reserve bed only for sleeping – not watching TV, snacking or reading.


As the studies above reveal, this treatment may not take very many sessions, but the results are spectacular. NET practitioners like myself have known for some time that the mind/body must be treated in a holistic mannerIf you think insomnia is playing a role in your depression and you want to get to the root of your health problems, perhaps it’s time to look into Cognitive Behavior Therapy. If you are looking for a holistic approach to your mental health issues, contact my office in Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington, and set up an appointment.

Do you have questions about how therapy works? See my FAQ page for the answers.

The Hot Buttons of an Asperger/NT Marriage – Sex, Socializing, and Parenting

Friday, January 24, 2014


Sex Socializing and Parenting are three problems that can challenge a marriage between an Asperger and non-Asperger marriageIt would be nice if marriage was easy, but it’s not. Even with a lot of work, commitment and love, marriages will have ups and downs. If you are married to someone who has Asperger’s Syndrome, you especially face challenges that most people can’t even imagine.

Because of the lack of empathy in your Aspie partner, you will often feel misunderstood and unloved, and this may cause you to think that your marriage cannot survive, let alone thrive. So I wanted to share with an article by columnist, Regina Boyle Wheeler that I really appreciated. She centered on the hope-filled message that you CAN DEVELOP SKILLS THAT WORK in your NT/ASD relationship.

In writing this article, she sought my advice since I’ve written books on the topic of marriage and Asperger’s Syndrome; Going Over the Edge? And Out of Mind – Out of Sight. I was able to share with her insight into three specific areas of life that are critical for a marriage to go beyond merely surviving to actually thriving: Sex, Socializing, and Parenting.

Sex becomes a problem for two reasons. Generally we desire physical contact, yet those with Asperger’s Syndrome may have difficulty with being hugged, kissed or caressed. Shyness can cause a Neuro-Typical partner to be unable to speak about what is pleasurable sexually - you just want your partner to intuitively know what you want. However, those with Asperger’s can’t read your signals. It can quickly kill the mood when you have to talk your way through sex, saying what you like or don’t like.

Socializing becomes a minefield of potentially embarrassing situations. The NT partner is always on the alert to head off potentially embarrassing social blunders or topics, so the social event quickly become an exhausting and stress-filled occasion. Rather than endure this, some choose to avoid social settings, or they turn to misusing alcohol or pharmaceuticals to “cope” so it doesn’t matter so much. Either option is destructive for the individual and the marriage.

Parenting becomes a battle of conflicting views even though both parents love the child. It can tear your heart to pieces when your Asperger mate fails to recognize when your child needs comfort, reassurance, praise, or even loving correction.

There are ways that you can learn to cope and thrive as an individual and in your marriage. A mental health professional who has specialized training in Asperger Syndrome can help you develop the skills you need. Life is too short to be merely enduring a relationship, especially when you can learn skills that will turn things around for your family. Please contact my Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA office and make an appointment today to find out what they are.

Read more about Therapy for Marriages Impacted by Asperger Syndrome on my website.

Will Insurance Companies Finally Make Mental Health More Accessible?

Tuesday, December 31, 2013


health insurance to cover mental and physical health equallyFor years those with mental health issues have struggled with getting adequate insurance coverage or have been denied insurance coverage when their mental illness is diagnosed. As a psychologist I’ve had a front row seat – watching people struggle to use their mental health benefits, if they were fortunate to even have mental health benefits. I’ve written articles exposing the sometimes life-threatening situations that have been created by a broken system.

So I was happy to see the recent CNN article, Feds Boosting Mental Health Access, Treatment. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced new rules that, “Finally put mental health and behavioral health on equal footing.” Of course this has been in the works for years. President George W. Bush began the move to greater equality with The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which has made mental health care more accessible, but it hasn’t been enforced up to now.

Insurance companies have often limited the coverage for mental illness, which makes it tough on those seeking help. If you had coverage often times you were limited to five or ten visits with a counselor. If the problem cannot be resolved in five or ten sessions, you had to pay out of pocket if you could afford to do so.

The new rules require insurers to cover co-payments, deductibles, doctor visits, outpatient services and residential treatment equally for physical and mental illnesses. This is very good news for those with chronic mental health issues.

There are so many changes going on in healthcare right now that it can be difficult to keep up. Here’s a word of advice, stop looking for someone to take care of your every health or emotional need. There will never be a perfect healthcare system. Instead utilize your good old common sense and decide for yourself, with the help of professional advisors such as your trusted doctors, just what is the best psychological or medical treatment for you, your loved ones and your employees.

If you interested in scheduling an appointment with my office please take a look at Therapy FAQ page for answers to questions regarding insurance. Read more about the benefits of psychotherapy on my website – Psychotherapy Treatment Options.

Sleep Therapy Can Help Treat Depression

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


sleep therapy can help treat depression“Get a good night’s sleep. Things will look better in the morning.” It’s cliché advice, however according to recent studies, sleep therapy can help treat depression. The New York Times article, Sleep Therapy Seen as an Aid for Depression, reports on studies that are utilizing a type of talk therapy for insomnia.

The research team at Ryerson University in Toronto found, “87 percent of patients who resolved their insomnia in four biweekly talk therapy sessions also saw their depression symptoms dissolve after eight weeks of treatment, either with an antidepressant drug or a placebo pill — almost twice the rate of those who could not shake their insomnia”. This agrees with a pilot sleep study conducted at Sanford.

Does it matter which comes first – depression or insomnia? Not really. The important point is that they both be addressed and treated at the same time. In this recent study this duo-treatment routine produced a full recovery for about 40 percent of patients.

Sleep therapy or cognitive behavior therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) teaches people to establish and stick to a regular wake-up time, avoid daytime napping, and reserve bedtime only for sleeping, not watching TV snacking, reading and so on. Dr. Carney, lead author of the Ryerson report, said, “Curb this idea that sleeping requires effort, that it’s something you have to fix. That’s when people get in trouble, when they begin to think they have to do something to get to sleep.”

I’m thrilled that doctors are beginning to investigate the effects of treating sleep problems and mood disorders together. While this still isn’t a part of standard treatment, NET practitioners like myself have known for some time that the mind/body must be treated in a holistic manner. If you think insomnia is playing a role in your depression and you want to get to the root of your health problems, perhaps it’s time to look into cognitive behavior therapy. If you are looking for a holistic approach to your mental health issues and would like to see a NET Practitioner in Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington, contact my office and set up an appointment.

Do you have questions about how therapy works? See my FAQ page for the answers.

Sleeping Too Much? This Could Signal a Health Problem

Thursday, November 21, 2013


sleeping too much can be a symptom of sleep disorderWe often hear of people suffering from sleep deprivation – not getting enough sleep. They struggle through the day bleary-eyed and in a mental fog. Did you know, however, that these could also be the symptoms for those who sleep too much?

Is it really possible to sleep too much?

How much sleep you require depends a great deal on your general health and lifestyle habits. The common recommendation is to get on average seven to nine hours of sleep each night. If you’re recovering from an illness or surgery you will naturally require more sleep. What if you don’t have poor general health but you consistently sleep much more than nine hours every day? Should this be a cause for concern?

In a recent article on CNN, Are You Sleeping Too Much, Dr. Lisa Shives, director of Northshore Sleep Medicine in Evanston, Illinois, was quoted as saying that people who wake up groggy after sleeping a long time are suffering from "sleep drunkenness." If you have slept an appropriate amount of time, you should wake up feeling refreshed not feeling disoriented, anxious, with memory problems, loss of appetite or diminished social skills.

If you or someone you love is experiencing a sleep problem, there may be a condition that needs to be treated by a physician or mental therapist. It may indicate any number of disorders such as hypersomnia, sleep apnea, thyroid disease, kidney disease, liver disease, or even depression. As a psychologist, one of my major concerns about sleep disorders is that they can easily escalate into more severe illnesses, so it’s important to identify the cause of your sleep disorder without delay and then learn how to deal with it.

Getting good sleep is vital to healthy living. It’s the body’s way of healing. One of my clients was experiencing psychosis and when he got help for his sleep apnea, he regained his normal healthy self. As a psychologist I always check the physical health issues of my clients to make sure I am treating the right problem. The mind and body are interconnected and in order to enjoy overall well-being, we must look at the both areas. If you are looking to improve your mental health, don't delay in seeking assistance! Contact my Portland OR/Vancouver, WA office to set up an appointment.

For more information visit my webpage – Overcoming Depression.

Could You be “Almost Depressed”?

Tuesday, November 05, 2013


Everyone experiences some unhappiness or “the blues”, perhaps due to a setback or loss. The painful feelings that accompany these changes are appropriate and necessary and present an opportunity for personal growth. But what if there are persisting low feelings, although you can’t say that you’re really depressed? Is this something to be concerned about? Should you just wait for it to blow over or is there something that should be done to improve the situation today?

I found an article on CNN, “Could You be Almost Depressed?”, to be very informative. It reports that as many as 12 million people in the United States may be suffering from low-grade depression symptoms. The author, Shelley Carson, described findings from a Harvard Medical School investigation. “People who are almost depressed report lower job satisfaction, lower satisfaction with their marriage and other personal relationships, more anxiety issues, less control over their lives. In fact, on some of these measures, people who are almost depressed report feeling worse off than people who actually fall into the clinically depressed range. Even though almost depression does not rise to the level of a diagnosable mental disorder, it is nevertheless associated with a substantial amount of distress and suffering.”

There’s a greater likelihood that people who are suffering these low feelings will fall into major depression if something isn’t done. Major depression is a serious mental health concern that can lead to other problems such as heart disease and even dementia. Persistent low feelings should not be ignored.

What can you do?

Get daily exercise. It improves moods due to the release of endorphins and also releases stress and frustration. Find time daily to exercise even if it is just for a few minutes. Since we are approaching the winter season, click here for some tips on how to exercise during this time of year. Getting outside as much as possible is good for everyone!

Improve your sleep habits. Without adequate sleep, your mind and body suffer and whatever you may be dealing with will only be aggravated. Depression, anxiety and stress have been linked to sleep disorders like sleep apnea. If you suspect this may be a problem for you, contact your doctor.

Maintain a balanced, healthy diet. A diet low in sugar and fat and high in protein, fruit, and vegetables is recommended. Better physical health contributes to improved mental health.

Identify faulty thinking. Emotional distress distorts our thinking and decision making skills. But we can combat these bad effects by retraining how we think.

Stay connected. Although you may feel like isolating yourself, it’s important to reach out to your network of positive friends and family so they can support you.

Talk to a mental health professional. You don’t have to have clinical depression to benefit from therapy. A therapist can help you identify underlying issues and come up with a plan to improve.

If you need help don’t hold back from getting it! You can speak to your doctor for a referral or if you live in the Portland Metro area you can schedule an appointment to see me.

You can read more on my website – Overcoming Depression.



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