(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

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.

How to Cope with the Stress of Being a Caregiver

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Have you heard the term “sandwich generation”? This is the group of people struggling to meet the needs of both growing children and aging parents, often alone and working full-time. Many of these caregivers may be setting themselves up for an unhealthy future due to a combination of high stress and poor health behaviors.

A recent UCLA study found that caregivers for the aging or disabled are subjected to considerable financial and emotional strain. Most caregivers didn’t need scientific research to support their everyday reality. Unfortunately the research also uncovered higher levels of serious psychological distress compared with the general population.

So what should a caregiver do to combat chronic stress which can lead to anxiety and depression? Here are some recommendations that will help you cope with the extra strain of being a caregiver:

  • Recreate. Consider relief options such as taking long weekends or vacations. You deserve some time off and can come back refreshed to care for your love one.
  • Express your feelings. Feelings of anger or frustration when they not expressed leads to more stress. You may not be able to express this to the person you’re caring for but by writing in a journal, writing a poem, or composing a letter that is never mailed may accomplish your purpose.
  • Keep perspective and look for the positive. Reversing negative ideas and learning to focus on positive outcomes sounds simple but it helps reduce tension.
  • Have a sense of humor. Keeping a sense of humor during difficult situations is a must. Laughing releases the tension of pent-up feelings and helps you keep perspective.
  • Exercise. Exercise is an effective distraction from stressful events and keeps your body and immune system stronger.
  • Strengthen or establish a support network. Studies of people who remain happy and healthy despite many life stresses show that most have very good networks of social support. Consider joining a support group for caregivers.
  • Professional help. A mental health professional should be consulted for unmanageable acute stress or for severe anxiety or depression. Often short-term therapy, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, can resolve stress-related emotional problems.
  • Relaxation techniques. Learn methods for invoking the relaxation response such as deep breathing, meditation or massage.

Above all don’t feel guilty for taking care of yourself! If you need help find a therapist who can help get you back on track or contact my office in Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington.

Could My Teenager be Bipolar?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

More than 10 million people in the US have bipolar disorder. It is equally common in men and women and the onset of the condition typically occurs in the early 20s. However, the first symptoms can also appear in early childhood or during the teen years.

An early diagnosis is critical because children with this disorder are more likely to have other problems including alcohol and drug abuse, trouble in school, running away from home, fighting, and even suicide. Treating the disorder as early as possible can help your child cope with their symptoms and avoid these problems.

During a time of mania, teenagers may throw violent temper tantrums, seem extremely happy, not sleep much and talk very fast. During a time of depression, teens may say they feel empty, sad, bored, complain of headaches or stomachaches, spend time alone and feel easily rejected. If you or your spouse has bipolar disorder you should especially be aware of symptoms in your children. Studies at Stanford University studied the genetic connection of bipolar disorder and found that children with one biological parent with bipolar disorder have an increased likelihood of getting bipolar disorder.

The trouble is bipolar disorder can be hard to diagnose in children and teens. The symptoms can look a lot like the symptoms of other problems like ADHD, substance abuse and even the highs and lows characteristic of adolescence. Which is why if you suspect your child or teen may have bipolar disorder, you should speak with your doctor right away about getting an accurate diagnosis.

If your child is diagnosed with bipolar disorder in addition to medication, you should find a trained therapist who works with children and can help your child accept the diagnosis, get educated about bipolar moods, identify warning signs, and learn strategies to manage stress. And since bipolar disorder extends beyond the patient and affects the entire family, families can definitely benefit from working with a therapist to learn how to recognize an impending manic or depressive episode and how to best manage them.

If you would like help in receiving an accurate diagnosis and/or treatment for your bipolar teenager and live in Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington contact my office for an appointment.

How Prayer, Knitting and Jogging Impact Your Mind-Body Connection

Friday, January 13, 2012

There is an inseparable connection between the mind and the body. There are complicated interactions that take place between the mind, body, and the outside world. Studies have shown that between 60% and 90% of all physician visits are for stress-related complaints. The mind/body approach to health has helped millions of men and women reduce the stress that can cause or exacerbate conditions such as: chronic pain, headaches, and hypertension.

Exactly how personal beliefs, psychological and social factors, and stress affect the health of your body is not fully understood. It is known, however, that the mind and body are in a state of constant communication. What the mind thinks, perceives, and experiences is sent from the brain to the rest of the body. And vice versa: our bodies are sending messages to the brain.

I’ve followed the research of Dr. Herbert Benson with interest for years. He’s a cardiologist who has worked in establishing the mind/body connection. His research has uncovered what is called the relaxation response which can be elicited by a variety of meditative techniques, such as diaphragmatic breathing, repetitive prayer, tai chi, yoga, progressive muscle relaxation, jogging, and even knitting. You can learn more about eliciting the relaxation response at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine’s website.

I urge you to learn how to use your own healing power to maintain or regain health and reduce stress and other negative behaviors and thoughts. If you need help in developing a healthier connection between mind and body find a therapist who works in this area or contact my office in Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington.

Don't Be Afraid of Conflict in Your Relationship

Monday, January 09, 2012

Conflict is a given in any relationship, but especially in the marriage arrangement. Two different people merging their lives into one. Everyone knows that in order for a marriage to stay strong, communication is vital. One area that communication is especially necessary is when there is a conflict. The problem is that this is the time when communication shuts down.

One of the major reasons couples have problems is their failure to confront issues head-on. They may fight openly or quietly seethe, but they have a terrible time confronting the real conflict respectfully and honestly. Maybe this happens because of the common misconception that conflict and confrontation are bad. It’s as if confrontation and conflict are impolite. However, conflict and confrontation are natural and healthy components of any relationship.

You are neither bad nor wrong for causing a conflict or identifying one. Conflict is an opportunity to open up communication on a difficult subject. Conflicts are inevitable and actually a sign of growth. Therefore, avoiding conflict is not the goal. Rather you want to develop the tools to "lean into" conflicts and resolve them early on, so that you can reorganize your lives to include the new learning.

If you are and your partner need help to learn and develop the right type of communication skills, seek out the assistance of a marriage counselor or therapist. Isn't your relationship worth fighting for?

For more information, visit Marriage Counseling - Conflict and Communication.

Parents - Protect Your Child's Brain

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Sports are a fun way to get exercise, play with friends, or just let off some steam. Many parents encourage their children to participate in competitive sports such as soccer or football. While you may feel that these sports are purely fun and beneficial for the kids, I would like to extend a word of caution.

The New York Times wrote an article entitled "N.F.L. Faces Retired Players in a High Stakes Legal Battle" that discusses the legal suits filed against the NFL. Over a dozen suits were filed by retired football players and the wives. About 120 players are claiming that the NFL knew the neurological effects that repeated blows to the head can cause and held back that information from the players or they claim if the NFL didn't know, they should have looked into it. Memory loss, dementia, disorientation, anger problems, and depression are all medical conditions that can be related to multiple concussions.

This blog is not to tell parents that their children should not play sports, but it is a word of caution to protect their brain – a valuable organ! Whether your child plays competitive sports or plays just for fun, be alert to the dangers that concussions can cause. Taking this lightly can have serious, lifelong consequences. If you or someone you love is experiencing mental side effects after a concussion, speak to your doctor immediately.

Recent Posts RSS