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Kathy Marshack News

Benefits to Forgiving and Forgetting

Monday, March 12, 2012


It is an understatement to say that at some point in life, someone will hurt you. Whether or not it’s intentional, it will happen and probably many times over. Because of this reality, forgiveness is a necessary part of life. It is not only beneficial when it comes to relationships with others, but it also has many physical and emotional benefits. When you forgive, you’re not just giving to the offending party, but giving to yourself.

What are some of the benefits that come from truly forgiving:

  • Anger, bitterness, and resentment will lessen
  • Lower stress levels and blood pressure
  • Stronger immune system
  • Less back pain, headaches, and stomach aches

These benefits don’t just come with forgiveness. Forgiveness must be accompanied with forgetting. What do I mean by forgetting? It doesn't mean to literally forget. That might just be impossible. What is does mean is that you graciously forgive by choosing not to recall the incident to mind along with the negative feelings of resentment. Simply, you must learn to let it go! This sounds much easier than it truly is, but it is possible.

One way to cultivate forgiveness is by working to build up the quality of gratitude. Doing so will help you to see what is good in yourself and in others. Also, is there a lesson that can be learned from the incident that caused you pain? Focus on what kind of person and quality you can develop. Overtime, this will help you be a stronger more confident person.

There are times when psychotherapy might be necessary to help with the process of forgiving and forgetting. This is especially true when abuse, abandonment, or other serious issues have occurred. There is no shame in looking to a professional who is equipped with the right tools to get you on track to a becoming a forgiving individual. If you are looking for a therapist in the Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington area, please contact my office to set up an appointment.

Stress Management is also an important tool when it comes to forgiveness. Click here for more information.

A Look at Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder "OCD"

Monday, March 05, 2012


Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a type of anxiety disorder affecting millions of Americans. A person with OCD has unreasonable thoughts or fears (obsessions) that leads them to repeat behaviors (compulsions) over and over again. It is a vicious cycle of using a certain behavior to control the irrational thoughts or fears, but sadly the thoughts and fears to do not go away. This type of disorder is debilitating and can easily take control over a person's life.

What are some common obsessions of OCD? 

  • Fear of germs, contamination, or dirt
  • A need for exactness, order, or symmetry
  • Aggressiveness, thinking evil thoughts, or causing harm to others
  • Sexual thoughts or impulses

What are some common compulsions of OCD?

  • Fear of touching others or objects that have been touched by others
  • Excessive bathing or hand washing
  • Counting aloud or silently while repeating a regular task
  • Performing the same task over and over again
  • Rechecking (For example: Locks on a door)
  • Hoarding

OCD could be caused by biological factors or by environment. Regardless of the cause, if you suspect you have OCD you should seek help to dramatically improve the quality of your life. Psychotherapy and medication are available treatment options. Seeking the help of a doctor and mental health care professional will help to decipher what is the best treatment for you as an individual. Avoiding drugs and alcohol is also very important. Many with OCD turn to drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism, but it will only worsen the symptoms. If you live in the Portland, OR or Vancouver, WA and would like professional help to cope with OCD, contact my office for more information.

For more information on Anxiety Disorders, visit Coping with Anxiety Disorders on my website.

The Upside to the Novelty-Seeking Personality Trait "Neophilia"

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Are you always moving on to the next best thing? The personality trait, neophilia, is defined as liking anything new or being a novelty-seeker. For a long time, this trait came with a negative connotation. It was linked with ADD, addictions to drugs, alcohol, or gambling, and criminal actions. Now researchers are saying that neophilia combined with certain other personality traits could contribute to a sense of well-being and overall happiness.

C. Robert Cloninger, the psychiatrist who developed personality tests for measuring this trait stated, "Novelty-seeking is one of the traits that keeps you healthy and happy and fosters personality growth as you age. It can lead to antisocial behavior, but if you combine this adventurousness and curiosity with persistence and a sense that it’s not all about you, then you get the kind of creativity that benefits society as a whole.”

Dr. Cloninger says that the secret lies in a "trio of personality traits". That trio is novelty-seeking, persistence, and self-transcendence. Persistence gives you the motivation to keep trying even if you don't get what you want immediately. If you’re persistent, you look for new and better ways to achieve. Self-transcendence refers to getting lost in your thoughts or in moments and allowing amazing connections to form.

For more on this fascinating look at neophilia, read the NY Times article - Novelty-Seeking (Neophilia) Can Be a Predictor of Well-Being. If you are a neophiliac and want to get the most out of this personality trait, seeking therapy can be highly beneficial. If you do not seek to use this trait in a positive or effective manner, it could lead to extreme frustration and disappointment. Contact my office to set up an appointment if you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area.

Autistic Teens are Caught Up with TV & Video Games

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Does it feel like your teenager is addicted to TV or video games? That can be a real concern to parents, but especially for parents of autistic children. The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders published a study online about autistic teenagers and their preoccupation with TV and video games. Researchers are concerned that this preoccupation could interfere with important socialization and communication.

After evaluating 1,000 teenagers with ASD, around 60% spent most of their time watching television or videos while 41% played videos games. Interestingly, 64.4% do not use email or chat online. This is largely due to the fact that email, chatting, and social networking require social interaction, which is difficult for those on the spectrum.

Since autistic children and teens are drawn to technology, it can be a beneficial tool if used properly. In a previous blog, I discussed the benefits of using the iPad with specialized autism applications. Research also showed that autistic teens who use social media showed improvement with cognitive skills. A word of caution for parents – if your autistic teen is using social media, help them to use it properly since there are risks involved. Be alert to who their "friends" are and their privacy preferences. You do not want anyone to take advantage of your child especially since they may lack the ability to see genuineness. For more on helping your child develop social skills, click here for some practical suggestions.

In addition to whatever you are doing at home for your child or teen, seek out a therapist who specializes in autistic disorders. They will be able to help you find ways to develop your child's cognitive skills. Contact my office for an appointment if you live in Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington.

Another Look at Online Dating

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Online dating has become increasingly popular over the last few years. It is also a multi-million dollar business. Everywhere you look, you see advertisements claiming that you can find your true love by joining an online dating service and paying a fee. Online dating services claim that matchmaking is science and by using mathematical algorithms, they can find you your perfect match.

Psychological Science in the Public Journal is publishing an article about the other side to online dating . . . The side that online dating sites don't tell you. For one thing, can there really be a scientific formula that accurately matches two people for endless love? The algorithms that are used to match prospective lovers are not published, so you do not know what they are using to match you. They also do not collect enough data and they do not factor in how an individual's environment can change what they are looking for. In order for a real match to be evident, you need to meet and evaluate how you communicate, how to solve problems, and if there is a physical connection.

This blog is not to tell you not to use online dating, but rather to give you the other side of the coin. Finding a loving and compatible relationship takes a lot of hard work and persistence. A key factor in finding someone is first knowing yourself. Self exploration will make it easier to identify what you are looking for in a partner. Take note of your strengths and weaknesses and include everything from physical, emotional, and spiritual.

Therapy is also a powerful way to learn more about yourself. A therapist can also give you practical tools to finding someone compatible with you. If you live in the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington area, contact my office to set up an appointment.

For more information, visit my webpage - Advice for Singles Only.

Developing and Maintaining "The Love Relationship"

Monday, February 13, 2012


Maintaining a loving and healthy relationship is complex. Many are not taught how to make love work, how to make love last, or even how to make love. We are severely uneducated in this department. Most "education" is based off television, movies, or adult entertainment. All of those sources are fantasy not reality. Love is exciting when it is fresh and new, but overtime many complain that their relationship become dull, stressful, or even nonexistent.

Sexually intimacy is placed as high value for many couples. While sex is a critical part of relationship, it is not the most important. In addition to an intimate relationship, a loving bond of friendship must be there for the relationship to stay healthy and intact. Since life is constantly changing, love, sex, and intimacy must also change.

Ask yourself these questions so as to evaluate your "love relationship":

  • Is there joy and excitement in your relationship?
  • Are you more in love today than when you first met? 
  • Do you view sex as a time to bond and to learn more about your partner?
  • During intimate moments do you feel as though you are sharing your true inner self?

If you cannot answer yes to any of these questions then it is time to take action and make a plan to restore your love and your love life. Have you considered couple’s therapy? A trained therapist will be able to help you identify what is missing in your relationship. If you truly want to make your relationship to stand the test of time, remember that it will require hard work for both partners. Even though you may feel like it is lost, you just might be able to find it again.

For more information on this subject, visit Marriage Counseling - Love, Sex, and Intimacy

Childhood Obesity Linked to Being Left Out

Thursday, February 09, 2012


Maybe you have reasoned in the past that being left out is part of childhood. Just grin and bear it and all will be fine. Sadly, being left out or ostracized – even for a short period of time – can carry along some very negative side effects on children.

According to researchers at Kent State University and colleagues at Pediatrics, children who feel left out may often make a choice to be less physically active. A staggering 41% of children in a recent study chose an inactive activity instead of a physically active one after being left out of an online computer game. Researchers are now linking obesity, an increase in eating, and other health problems to ostracism. This type of child will most likely spend more time alone and sedentary.

As a parent, it would be difficult to see your child enduring this hardship and the side effects that come along with it. When you become alert to the fact that this is in fact happening to your child, your reaction and response to the situation will greatly affect how the child will act and feel. The first thing to do is not to overreact, rather be a good listener. Let your child express how they feel without being judged especially because they probably feel judged by everyone else. Empathize with them and reassure them of your love for them and the good qualities that they have. Also reassure them that many kids have dealt with this same problem. Work with your child help them develop the power of perception, social skills, and how to set small goals to make friends.

If you are not able to reach your child and you feel that their situation is worsening, don't be ashamed to ask for help from a counselor or family therapist. With the assistance of a therapist, you can work together for the benefit of your child. Being a good parent means doing whatever you have to do for your child and that sometimes means getting a professional involved.

For more information, read Am I a Good Parent or contact my office to set up an appointment.

Asperger Syndrome Parenting and Middle Childhood

Friday, February 03, 2012


Think back to when you were 6 or 7 years old. You may not have realized it at the time, but your body was undergoing a profound hormonal change. Scientists refer this time period as the Theory of the Mind. The brain is reaching its adult size while tens of billions of synapses connections are being made. Loads of information is being "downloaded" and organized. Impulses are being controlled, plans for the future are being made as well as intense reasoning ability.

Children at this age also beginning to comprehend deep subjects such as death, justice, social rules, and relationships. In the area of relationships, children in middle childhood start to learn the value of love reciprocity. The selfishness that a toddler once displayed with no longer work. In order to get love and attention from parents, you must give in order to receive. What a valuable lesson to learn at such a young age.

Stop to consider what middle childhood would be like with an Asperger parent(s). Asperger Syndrome is a high functioning form of autism. They have trouble reading non verbal cues, lack empathy, and struggle with communication. Imagine what it would be like to not learn loving reciprocity because of the AS parent’s mind blindness. When that child begins to reach out for love and attention they are often rejected, even if it’s unwittingly. The results of this can have a damaging effect on the child.

In many cases, a child who is raised with an Asperger parent marries someone with Asperger's. This is because your childhood modeled your ideals of marriage. The question then becomes, can you change the pattern after all of these years? Can you learn to allow true love into your life even if you learned that love is one sided?

The answers to those questions will be discussed at the Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adult with ASD Support Group Meetup on February 18, 2012 in Portland, Oregon. If you do not live in the local area, please become a member of our online community and join in on our discussion groups. I would also encourage one-on-one therapy with a therapist specialized in Asperger relationships. Contact my office for more information.

If you would to learn more about middle childhood, I recommend the New York Times article - Now We Are Six - The Hormone Surge of Middle Childhood.

Domestic Violence Is More Common Than You Realize – Get Help Now!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


According to a 1997 Gallup Poll report, child abuse is ten times worse than government reports indicate. Furthermore, 70 to 80 percent of child abuse is related to alcohol abuse.

Spouse abuse and child abuse indicate an obvious breakdown in the multiple developing progressions of an individual's life, and are evidence of serious mental and spiritual problems. Chronic problems that have persisted for years are responsible for this total disregard of human values and dignity.

Ray phoned me because he was looking for a psychologist for his wife, Connie. He felt that she was extremely depressed, even suicidal. She would not seek help for herself but agreed to see me if Ray made the appointment. Over the next few weeks, Ray and Connie shared with me a most unique story of two lives nearly destroyed by child abuse, alcoholism, cocaine addiction, and sexual abuse.
Ray's childhood home life was filled with alcoholism and child abuse, but his parents never divorced. Connie never knew her mother, who died when she was very young. Her father remarried several times, and each time Connie and her sister acquired new stepsiblings. During one of these marriages, Connie and her sister were repeatedly sexually assaulted by older stepbrothers.

Ray and Connie wanted to be the Romeo and Juliet who got away. Ray and Connie had discovered a business that they thought could make them rich. The couple felt they were on top of the world. They made very good money.

But then Connie started to demonstrate serious emotional problems. She was irritable and depressed. She stopped caring about her appearance and left the children unwashed and unkempt. And she rarely left the house, which was never clean. It was at this point that Ray brought his wife to see me. Just twenty-nine, Connie was underweight and haggard-looking when she revealed to me what she had been living with. Ray was a cocaine addict, spending about $1,000 a week on his drug. In order to keep from being beaten by him, Connie agreed to use cocaine too. With increased cocaine use, the couple crossed other moral boundaries.

Connie shared these horrors as if in a daze. She was deeply depressed, but also not really aware of how extreme things had become in her life. Coming from a childhood of abuse, her boundaries were diffuse. Physical abuse and sexual abuse had always been the norm in her life. Even as an adult, she did not know how to protect herself.

Ray, too, was a victim. With no guidance from his parents, he had grown up to be a young man with no values, no ethics. He was ignorant of the devastating effects of drug abuse on the mind, body, and spirit. He was afraid, however. He was afraid of losing his wife, and he was afraid of going to prison. It took a lot of courage to seek my help, considering the potential threat to Ray's freedom.

This sad story reveals that stress, ignorance, and drugs definitely do not mix. Ongoing, untreated stress can create health problems, marital problems, drug abuse problems, and ethical problems. As a result of these problems, in combination with the weaknesses of character that evolved years earlier from neglectful and abusive upbringings, the crossing of boundaries into domestic violence is more common than you might think.

If you recognize yourself or your partner taking even a small step in this direction, you should seek the help of a psychotherapist immediately. Ask your doctor for a referral or look for a therapist who specializes in domestic violence. Contact my office if you live in Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington.

The Best Treatment Available for Borderline Personality Disorder

Friday, January 27, 2012


Borderline personality disorder (BPD) will impact how you feel about yourself, how you relate to others and how you behave. When you have borderline personality disorder, you often have an unstable self-image which in turn leads to instability in your life with frequent changes in jobs, relationships and even values.

People with borderline personality disorder often feel misunderstood and alone. You may be aware that your behavior is destructive, but feel powerless to change it. For people with BPD relationships are tough and often characterized as love-hate relationships. You may idealize someone one moment and then shift to hate over perceived slights or misunderstandings. It’s hard for you to accept the so called gray areas in life — for you things seem to be either black or white.

Borderline personality disorder symptoms may include:

· Impulsive and risky behavior, such as reckless driving, unsafe sex, gambling or recreational drug use

· Intense episodes of anxiety or depression

· Inappropriate anger

· Difficulty controlling emotions or impulses

· Suicidal behavior or self-injury

· Fear of being alone

Borderline personality disorder should be diagnosed by a trained mental health professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist. Psychotherapy is the primary treatment for borderline personality disorder. The most effective psychotherapeutic approach to date is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), designed by Marsha Linehan, Ph.D. to specifically to treat borderline personality disorder. DBT uses a skills-based approach to teach clients how to take control of their lives, their emotions, and themselves through self-knowledge, emotion regulation, and cognitive restructuring.

If you notice symptoms discussed in this article about yourself talk to a mental health provider. The right treatment really can help you live a more stable, enjoyable and rewarding life. If you notice these things in a family member or friend, talk to them about getting help. But remember you can't force them to seek treatment. If the relationship with this person is causing you stress, to avoid the trap of codependency you would most likely benefit from therapy or a support group yourself. Look for a therapist who specializes in DBT or contact my office in Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington.


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